Individual Responsibility

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This issue takes as its theme the question of individual responsibility and whether one can still remain conscious of this within certain organisational structures. The double-entry bookkeeping principle of every debit has a credit implies that every economic transaction has a simultaneous effect upon both myself and the world. With this in mind if one is to face one’s responsibilities for each and every action then a current set of budgeted accounts and financial plan can provide an excellent mirror.

In the lead article Stephen Torr takes a look at the legal responsibilities of charity trustees and their ability to delegate both decision implementation and decision making itself. This is then viewed through the lens of those with the economic responsibility of carrying the initiative out into the world. The question then becomes whether this separation of legal and economic responsibility could actually have an unwanted effect on both the trustees and the entity as a whole.

In this example the creation of trustees forces those charged with the day to day running, and often medium and long term planning, to become employees. It could well be the case that this arrangement masks the true relationships both internal and external to the entity. As such an individual’s responsibility, both legal and economic, can become confused and slip from consciousness. From the stand point of trustees this could be being unaware of their legal liabilities and directorial duties, and for employees it could be that those who receive a steady income become unaware of the effects of their actions and the possible precarious status of the entity and as such themselves.

In Sign of Our Time the duties of directors operating in the UK is examined with the thought that many charities also register themselves as companies in order to protect trustees from legal challenges. However, questions are raised as to whether the protection is as watertight as some initially assume and whether acting in good faith is a prerequisite for any form of protection claimed.

The feature article details the potential liabilities faced by trustees. On face value companies offer the least exposure, but when viewed in conjunction with the previous piece it becomes clear that again an element of good faith and acting with an acceptable level of conscious awareness of the situation are required for any form of legal protection to hold sway.

The archive section showcases an article by Owen Barfield, abridged by Frances Zammit, focusing on the wisdom inherent in English Law’s treatment of equity. The importance of conscience is highlighted and helps reinforce its role in underlying the legal safeguards set out in each of the previous articles.

The AEX Pages feature contributions on the internal, or otherwise, nature of economic life, the role of financial education in helping young people take initiatives and individual responsibility for their situation, an open-ended discussion of the potential use of trusts within the US, and finally three slogans seen recently on airport terminal advertising boards.

Finally Victor’s View presents a picture of individual responsibility in action, with youths supported in their attempts to ‘walk and talk’ rather than being contained and controlled within the judicial system.

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