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Section 1 Introduction

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

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

•           What responsibilities and duties are attached to the role of the independent examiner.

Who is this Guide for?

This Guide is for anyone who acts as an Independent Examiner for a registered Scottish Charity, or anyone who has been asked to act as an Independent Examiner for a registered Scottish Charity.

Find out more about preparing accounts from our Accounts and finance guidance and Annual monitoring page.

How to use the guide

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

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

Within the Guide, we have posed some ‘milestone’ questions for the reader. These are designed to help indicate when to make a particular decision. We have provided some answers to these questions  and some practical tips. Hopefully you will find these helpful as you progress through the Guide.


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. Amendments to The Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations are as follows: 200720102014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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 that can help with some or all of the areas set out in the Guide and more:

Professional bodies:


  • Accounting and Reporting by Charities: Statement of Recommended Practice 2015. Copies can be downloaded at: charitiessorp.org. Hard copies may be purchased from CIPFA. Contact 020 7543 5600.
  • 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.