Setting Up & Managing a Charity

Demonstrating keen commercial awareness and continual engagement with the latest legislative and regulatory developments affecting the sector, we use our specialist knowledge, expertise and experience to provide a full range of legal services to our clients.

All our charity lawyers and our charities manager are active members of the Charity Law Association and sit on its various working parties and consultation groups to address specific issues and questions as they arise. We act for a wide range of charities working across the entire charity spectrum, including:

  • animal welfare
  • arts, heritage and theatre
  • community development
  • educational
  • environmental
  • grant-making
  • heritage and arts
  • medical
  • public sector services
  • recreation and sports
  • regeneration
  • religion
  • science and research
  • welfare, aid and the relief of poverty

We have strong links with the Charity Commission, Privy Council Office, Department for Education, and HMRC, enabling us to better represent the needs of our clients and keep fully up to date with policy development.

Contact us to find out how we can help you. Alternatively, take a look at the following areas:


1. Managing a charity

With the regulatory and compliance requirements in this sector constantly developing, we understand how important it is for charity trustees and management staff to understand their duties and responsibilities fully.

We offer a full range of legal services to help charities in their day to day functions as well as when specific issues arise, including advice relating to:

  • Adopting a Total Return approach to investments (NB we do not give investment advice)
  • Application of income and capital
  • Charity land and property (both functional and investment property)
  • Commercial interests
  • Compliance and regulatory requirements
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Constitutional structures and amendments
  • Data protection and freedom of information
  • Dispute resolution
  • Employment and pensions
  • Ethical investment
  • Fundraising and legacies
  • Governance – this needs to be a link to text below
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Mergers and winding-up -this needs to be a link to text below
  • Policies (including trustee benefits; delegation and financial controls)
  • Public benefit
  • Restricted funds and permanent endowment
  • Safeguarding
  • Tax and Gift Aid
  • Trading companies
  • Training
  • Trustees working internationally

We also offer a charity secretariat service (filing returns, preparing resolutions etc) allowing charities to use our address as their official contact address.

2. Setting up and registration with the Commission

We recognise that determining which legal structure to use for a new charitable body is a crucial decision which deserves a great deal of careful consideration. A charity's constitutional and governance provisions must be effective to enable it to function at optimal ability in an often challenging regulatory and commercial environment.

Our capable and approachable lawyers are on hand to support clients through each stage of setting up and registering a new charity, including the following:

  • the scope and extent of charitable objects and activities
  • the role and duties of Trustees and Members
  • management structure and accountability
  • the best legal structure for your charity
  • Applying for Charity registration in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Drafting governing documents including the formulation of charitable objects
  • Ongoing and regulatory requirements
  • Understanding and demonstrating the Public Benefit requirement

3. Types of charity and alternative structures

Our team is well versed in the particular nuances and challenges which apply to the various forms of charitable institution, and we seek to combine technical legal know-how with a practical and personal approach in the wide variety of work we undertake.

We have a great deal of experience in revising and amending governing documents and transitioning charities from one legal form to another (for example from a trust to a CIO). We have strong working relationships with the Charity Commission, Privy Council Office and other regulators which assist us in obtaining all the necessary consents and approvals. We provide advice on all forms of charity, including:

  • Charitable companies limited by guarantee or by shares
  • Charitable Incorporated Companies (CIOs)
  • English and Welsh Charities
  • Exempt and excepted charities
  • Faith organisations
  • Friendly and Provident Societies
  • Northern Irish Charities
  • Royal Charter Institutions
  • Scottish Charities
  • Social enterprise and community interest organisations
  • Unincorporated charities and trusts

We provide expert legal advice and representation across the charity sector, including charities to promote:

  • animal welfare
  • community development
  • education
  • the environment
  • grant-making
  • heritage and arts
  • housing
  • recreation and sports
  • regeneration
  • religion
  • science and research
  • welfare, aid and the relief of poverty

4. Trustees good governance and training

We run popular in-house masterclasses, seminars and workshops throughout the year on a range of topics, ranging from basic trustee duties to examining the latest challenges and opportunities posed by the rapidly changing legal landscape in this area. A full list of forthcoming events can be found<here>.

Good governance is at the heart of a charity that is delivering its purposes for the public benefit. We offer advice and training together with formal governance reviews (ranging from a basic health-check to a full review of the charity and how it is functioning).

We have developed a particularly strong reputation as a leading advisor to faith-based charities and institutions. We represent Christian denominations (including Church of England, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and the independent and evangelical churches) and organisations connected to Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths, amongst others. Our skilled and sensitive team recognises the need to provide governance advice that is sympathetic to each particular religious context and ethos and we have a deep understanding of the application of various religious doctrines and rules.

5. Charity commission investigations, inquiries, schemes and orders

We have an experienced team which regularly interacts with the Charity Commission, obtaining schemes to amend governing documents and orders to permit the trustees to take actions they would not otherwise be able to do. We can advise on seeking trustee orders, vesting orders, conflict of interest orders and connected party transaction orders from the Commission.

We also offer a full support service for charities subject to formal investigation by the Charity Commission. We help trustees to understand the concerns the Commission has, their rights to challenge decisions of the Commission in connection with the inquiry and to frame their submissions and responses in a way that the Commission can easily and fully understand. We advise charities subject to monitoring or other regulatory inquiries and can prepare responses and collate relevant information for submission. We support the trustees in achieving their goal of a fully compliant charity that satisfies the Commission that it is being run appropriately for the public benefit.

As part of this we can also offer governance reviews, advice on restructuring and the adoption of policies to reduce the risk of further action by the Commission or in response to key failings highlighted by the Commission.

6. Restructuring and changing legal structure

We have a great deal of experience in revising and amending charitable structures and governing documents and liaising with the Charity Commission, Privy Council Office and other regulators as necessary. Our team of experts have a great deal of experience in transitioning from one legal structure to another and we can offer advice not only on the type of governing document, but to the transfer of employees, contracts and property linked to the transition.

As a charity grows its legal form may no longer be suitable and we will work with you, supporting you at every step, to move onto a more modern format without losing your sense of history and the underlying ethos of your charity.

7. Volunteers and employing staff

Charities rely on their volunteers (including their trustees) to deliver their activities, and often their administration. We are able to offer advice on polices for managing volunteers.

We also have an experienced and respected employment team who can assist with contracts, TUPE and dismissal situations.

8. Legacies

We have an expert team who can help you to prepare a will that leaves a gift to one or more charities. We also advise charities on their rights to inherit under wills and on the meaning of trusts created by will.

9. Charity dissolution and merger

Our experience with charities, which goes back 160 years, enables us to support trustees when the often difficult decision to close or merge a charity is necessary. When a dissolution or closure is appropriate or necessary, we support our clients to comply with all the requirements in the governing document, to realise the remaining assets of the charity (including the surrender of leases or the sale of land and buildings) and to apply them for charitable purposes.

Mergers are a good way of preserving the impact and legacy of a charity that is finding it hard, in a competitive world, to continue to operate. Merging two different legal entities can be complex and rather daunting. Our expert team will help you by providing clear advice and documentation, enabling you to take well-informed decisions and transition to the new merged entity as smoothly as possible.



  • Ian Blaney
      • 0207 960 7131
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  • Howard Dellar
      • 0207 960 7181
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  • Khalid Sofi
      • Khalid Sofi
      • Partner and Head of Charity & Not for Profit
      • 0207 960 7142
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  • Susan Newell
      • 0207 960 7171
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  • Rebecca Martin
      • 020 7222 5381
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  • Nancy Purle
      • 020 7222 5381
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  • Jane Grenfell
      • 0207 960 7160
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  • Ola Olajide
      • 020 7222 5381
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