What is Charity Law?

Charities are governed by the Charities Acts 2011 and are subject to regulation by the Charity Commission. They come in a variety of different forms and additional laws will apply to them according to the form the charity takes, whether that is a charitable trust, charitable company or charitable incorporated organisation. In short, there are a wide range of governance and compliance issues that charities have to contend with.

The responsibility to comply with the law and regulation lies with the charity trustees. To ensure that charities are operating properly and delivering public benefit, it is important that trustees understand their obligations to maintain their charity’s reputation and the public confidence.

Who are we?

The firm has been advising churches, charities and not for profits for over 200 years. We are recognised experts in this field, ranked in Tier 4 of the Legal 500 Directory. The team is made up of specialist lawyers who advise charities, churches, social enterprises and other not-for-profit organisations on all aspects of running a successful organisation.

We have decades of experience between us of helping organisations, of all shapes and sizes, achieve their purpose. We also hold board positions as charity trustees, have held in-house positions with national charities or volunteer for charities, so have a real understanding of what makes a charity tick. We recognise the need for practical and timely legal advice that represents good value for money.

What can we help you with?

Governance

  • Set up a new charity. We can help you chose the right structure, draft the governing document and, if applicable, register the organisation with the Charity Commission. We have recently registered charities for the creative arts, childhood cancers, conservation, overseas aid and sport for disabled people
  • Set up and advise on social enterprises and other not-for-profit organisations that benefit the wider community, including not-for-profit companies and Community Interest Companies (CIC)
  • Incorporate an unincorporated body into an incorporated structure, such as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) or charitable company, and transfer the assets and liabilities to the new organisation
  • Review and advise on governance issues including:
    • Making changes to your organisation’s governing document
    • Restructuring and mergers
    • Incorporation of charity trustees
    • Appointments of trustees
    • Drafting polices, such as a safeguarding policy or data protection policy
    • Delegation arrangements

If you would like us to help with registering a Charity for you, please start the process by completing our  Charity Registration Questionnaire

Property

We have a dedicated team of charity property advisers who specialise in this field and can advise on buying and selling land, leases, licences, mortgages and redevelopment. We have particular expertise on niche property issues specific to charities, including school sites, places of worship, listed buildings, permanently endowed land, unregistered land and burial grounds.

Commercial

  • Advise on complying with data protection laws, including direct marketing
  • Draft and negotiate a range of commercial agreements such as:
    • Trademark licencing/intellectual property licenses
    • Partnership/collaboration agreements
    • Website design and hosting agreements
    • Data sharing agreements
    • Shared resources agreement
    • Memorandums of Understanding

Fundraising

  • Advise on how your charity can trade, including setting up a trading subsidiary
  • Assisting with the legalities of any funding arrangements, including drafting grant agreements, and advising on the involvement of commercial participators and professional fund-raisers
  • Help on any issues connected to charitable legacies, such as setting up a legacy campaigns or legacy administration, as well as disputes arising from contested wills and legacies
  • Help with Gift Aid and other charitable tax exemption

Charity Commission investigations, including serious incident reports

  • Represent and advise you or your charity in Charity Commission investigations, compliance visits, and other regulatory enforcement issues, including safeguarding, mismanagement, fraud and whistleblowing
  • Advise on board disputes and claims being brought by or against the organisation
  • Other regulatory enquiries relating to services provided by the charity
  • We have a particular specialisation in assisting organisations facing allegations of historical abuse

Immigration

Immigration matters, including applications for visas, sponsorship (both for sponsors and religious/charitable workers)

Training

We design and deliver training for charities on a wide range of topics, in order to share our legal knowledge and practical skills on issues such as financial reporting, roles and responsibilities of charity trustees, charity reserves and serious incidents.

Charity Administration

We have over fifty years’ experience of administering grant making charities and foundations. Our dedicated and experienced charity administrator can assist you with:

  • Managing the grant application process, including online grant applications and monitoring and reviewing applications against the applicable criteria
  • Hosting trustee meetings, including all preparatory work and minute taking
  • Administering the payment of grants, overseeing monitoring and reporting obligations of grantees, and preparing reports for the trustees
  • Maintaining charity bank accounts, providing book keeping services and reviewing and monitoring investments
  • Preparing end of year financial accounts and trustee/directors annual report
  • Undertaking filing obligations on behalf of the charity with the Charity Commission, Companies House and HMRC

Our charity administration services are completely bespoke and can be tailored to suit the needs of your organisation. We can do as much or as little as you would like us to do and we are happy to work with you to establish what you need from us. We have the skills and experience to take the worry out of managing your charity’s day to day activities and will provide you with peace of mind knowing that you are meeting all the regulatory and governance obligations as charity trustees.

What will it cost?

We also work closely wiWe charge on an hourly basis according to the seniority of the lawyer involved.  We recognise that charities need certainty about costs and to achieve best value for money, so we will design a fee structure that works best for your organisation.  This can also include fixed fees and special rates available for small or emerging charities. We aim to work with you to ensure that you receive the best possible service at a price that the organisation can afford.

What are your next steps?

Please get in touch with us. We look forward to helping you.