Charity Law

I am proud to help people create change in the world, which is why I particularly love working in the charitable sector.

I was a trustee of Gaia House (an Insight Meditation Centre in the Buddhist tradition in Devon) for over ten years, and a founding trustee of Appropriate Technology Asia (ATA) for whom I served as a trustee for several years. 

I have advised on the establishment of several charities and am used to working with the Charity Commission.

Setting up a Charity

There can be a lot to consider when setting up a new charity and I can support you through the process.

Any prospective charity founder needs clarity on:

  • Why be a charity?
    • pros: tax and business rates relief
    • cons: increased regulation
  • Which legal structure is best for you? The most common structures are:
    • a trust
    • charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
    • company limited by guarantee or
    • unincorporated association.
  • Who will the first trustees be?
    • You will need at least three trustees.
    • They should all understand what their duties will be as charity trustees.
  • What will the charity’s governing document look like?
    • What are the charity’s objects?
    • Will the charity have a wider membership?
    • How will decisions be made?
  • What will the charity actually do?
    • You need a plan covering what the charity will do from day one
    • This information needs to be given to the Charity Commission when you apply for charitable status.

Charity Governance Best Practice

All charities need an up-to-date constitution and governance policies. This allows trustees to manage your charity effectively and stay legally compliant.

I can carry out a bespoke charity governance review and help you implement any recommended change.In this, I ensure your documents are clear and flexible to help your trustees understand your legal duties and follow best practice.

If your charity is unincorporated I can help you decide whether to incorporate, given your risk profile. 

Permanent Endowments

There are benefits and restrictions of permanent endowment. It may be possible to identify opportunities to make changes and obtain Charity Commission schemes and orders to help your charity maximise your use of such assets in a way that honours your history whilst adapting to current needs.

Supporting Existing Charities

My approach is always based on a desire to craft practical solutions to meet your needs. In doing so I will work to understand and achieve your ambitions (which will often be far more than a purely financial) and to work within your constraints, protecting your assets and mitigating any risks arising out of your charity’s activities.

In this I can advise on all types of commercial agreements and help your charity or social business negotiate contracts suitably identifying and apportioning risk. My experience in company & commercial law gives me an ability to be able to assist with most of your legal needs – from employing staff to creating a service delivery contract.

I can help your charity protect your brands and intellectual property in fundraising activities ensuring that you comply with the law, regulation and best practice. With the establishment of the Fundraising Regulator and recent changes in data protection law, I can help your charity comply with the law when you obtain and hold data.

I pride myself on working proportionately and flexibly to provide the practical, cost-sensitive legal advice you require.

Social Enterprise Companies

Yes I know: a social enterprise company is not a charity. But philosophically they are close. A Community Interest Company (or CIC) is a special form of non-charitable limited company – it is one form that a social enterprise might take. A CIC exists primarily to benefit a community or with a view to pursuing a social purpose, rather than to make a profit for shareholders.

I can also assist and support CICs.

Have a legal issue? Get in touch:

Tel: 07967 836715