Emails for charitable companies – how long is your footer?!

We are often asked to advise on what information charitable companies need to disclose, especially in emails. 

A charitable company needs to disclose its company number (amongst other things – see below) on its email footers. As a charity it must state that it is a charity, but it is not required to disclose its charity number. However, given the company number requirement, it may make sense to also include the charity number to avoid confusion as to charitable status.

Under charity law, a charity without the word ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’ in its name must state that it is a charity in its ‘Communications’ (see below for definition). There is no requirement to give the registered charity number but recommended in the context of the company rules below.

Under company law, companies must publish, in all Communications:

• their registered name;

• part of the UK in which it is registered;

• registered number;

• registered office; and 

• the fact that it is a limited company (where the company exempt from including the word in its name).

Definition of communication 

The communications which the above applies to are:

• ‘business letters’ and 

• ‘all forms of business correspondence and documentation” (Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015) 

This applies equally to electronic and hard copies.  

There is no definition of what constitutes a “business letter" or "other forms of business correspondence and documentation" and no guidance has been published on this. However, business emails and business cards are widely accepted to be caught.  

That’s a lot to put into an email!

In practice, putting all of this in an email signature can be bulky. It is possible to move the information into an email footer. If you’ve ever had an email from one of us at Mills & Reeve you’ll see that’s what we’ve done.  By pushing much of the legally required details into the footer, it allows the individual sender’s signature block to be less detailed.

How far does this requirement extend? What about subsidiaries?

Disclosure requirements found in the Companies Act apply only to companies registered under the Companies Acts. UK subsidiaries will have their own disclosure requirements. Foreign subsidiaries (provided they do not do business in the UK) do not need to make UK disclosures, but will need to follow local rules. 

Our content explained

Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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