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1. Introduction

Published: 18/04/2019
Updated: 18/04/2019

Having your charity’s accounts independently examined is an important part of charity regulation. Independent examination is designed to make sure charities are transparent and accountable to the public. It also helps to show your charity is being run properly and that charity trustee duties are being followed.

What this Guide covers

This Guide aims to explain, in broad terms:

  • How to understand what form of external scrutiny is applicable to different charities
  • What independent examination involves
  • How to select an independent examiner for your charity 
  • What you need to do to prepare for an independent examination

Who is this guide for?

This Guide is for:

  • charity trustees
  • people working in or with charities
  • independent examiners
  • professionals who advise charities or who assist charities to prepare their accounts may wish to use this Guide as a tool to help their clients.

How to use the Guide

The Guide is split into sections to help you find the information most relevant to you and your charity.

Key terms are highlighted in bold purple type. Clicking on these terms will take you to either the charity law glossary on our website or to our specific accounting terms glossary


The main piece of charity law in Scotland that sets out the requirements for being a charity and establishes OSCR.

The 2006 Regulations set out in detail what information trustee annual reports and charity accounts must contain and when they must be submitted to OSCR. 

The SORP sets the framework for charity financial reporting in the UK for charitable companies, charities with income of £250,000 and more and all other charities preparing accruals accounts.

OSCR publishes general guidance for charities, but we can’t provide specific advice on the full range of things which can happen in or affect your charity.

Below is a list of organisations, professional bodies and publications can help with some or all of the areas set out in the Guide and more:

Professional bodies:


  • Practical Guide to Financial Management for Charities and Voluntary Organisations. By Kate Sayer, 3rd edition, 2007, Directory of Social Change. ISBN 978 1 903991.

  • The Charity Treasurer’s Handbook. By Gareth Morgan, 5th edition. 2017, Directory of Social Change. ISBN 978 1 78482 013 8.