The charities and social enterprise practice at Birketts LLP consists of a multi-disciplinary team drawn from all four of the firm's offices to deliver 'robust and clear advice' to charities throughout the UK. Its expertise includes ecclesiastical law, public procurement, funding and regulation. Senior associate Sara Sayer in Cambridge, who focuses on regulatory and compliance issues including investigations and enforcements, co-leads the practice with Ipswich-based senior associate Liz Brownsell, who deals with incorporation, governance, fundraising, retail Gift Aid schemes and trust issues. Legal director Erika Clarke in Norwich handles charity law, regulation and procurement.
Charities and not-for-profit in East Anglia
Other key lawyers:
‘The team deliver robust and clear advice; enabling our operational and strategic decisions to be based on firm legal advice.‘
‘Every member of the team is professional and approachable and clear about their ability to reply as needed, or refer to another.‘
‘A real team of hardworking intelligent, thoughtful and considerate lawyers. There is strength in depth and continuity which says a great deal of their loyalty to their employer and to their clients.‘
‘Employment partner Jeanette Wheeler gives sound valuable advice based on significant experience – she is firm and human at the same time. She is great to work with and trust. Matt Newnham is always prepared to go the extra mile and always with a smile on his face. When the chips are down, he’s great to have on your side.‘
‘The firm is able to combine expertise in areas such as property law with specific charity law expertise, identifying the added complexities this may bring. All at rates lower than London firms, making it an obvious go-to choice for charities.‘
‘Liz Brownsell is engaged and responsive, and really gets invested in the client organisation and helping it succeed. Great at bringing together a team of colleagues with the right expertise to handle a matter from start to finish.’
‘Frances Godden quickly got to grips with the matter and provided clear and purposeful advice.‘
‘Louisa Saunders has led on the property side, taking the matter forward deftly and proactively, and providing clear, digestible advice for client colleagues.‘
The Royal Academy of Arts
Trust for London
Creative Land Trust
Walking With The Wounded
Commonwealth Heritage Forum
Institute of Fundraising
East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH)
Church of England Central Services
East Anglian Air Ambulance
British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS)
Charity Retail Association
- Acted for Seetec Business Technology Centre Limited in the acquisition of a CIC which is a prime contractor for DWP and delivers a range of prestigious contracts for various national commissioners (eg National Lottery, ESF). Managed the regulatory and governance challenges of bringing a substantial CIC into an established group structure.
- Provided template Commercial Participation and Sponsorship Agreements for Walking with the Wounded to use in-house for its range of corporate supporters.
- Advised Commonwealth Heritage Forum on formation of new international Membership Charity to advance education in Commonwealth Heritage and facilitate preservation of heritage sites internationally. Working with high-profile heritage organisations.
The Cambridge office of Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP houses significant expertise in key areas of law and plays a central role in the firm-wide charities practice. The firm acts for numerous entities in the education, research, health, regeneration, mental health and grant-giving sectors. Its work encompasses advice on governance, powers of trustees, trading subsidiaries, services agreements, employment law, compliance and contentious matters. Glynne Stanfield, who also works in the London office, handles complex charity and governance issues, joint ventures and mergers. Legal director Stephen O’Reilly and corporate education senior associate Martyn Robinson are also recommended.
UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
National Oceanography Centre
Derby and Burton Hospitals Charity
University for the Creative Arts
Further Education Trust for Leadership
Royal Society of Chemistry
Institute of Physics
Medical Research Council
South Downs National Park Trust
- Advised this substantial service-providing charity Turning Point on governance matters, including amending its articles of association, attending board meetings and advising on trading subsidiary governance.
- Advised on the establishment of the UK Centre of Ecology & Hydrology as an independent body and registered charity.
- Advised on the establishment of the National Oceanography Centre as an independent body and registered charity.
Mills & Reeve LLP in Cambridge works with some of the UK's largest charities, handling incorporation, recruitment, HR, estate management, property development, legacies, litigation, intellectual property and much more. Practice head Neil Burton is a specialist in charity law and counts Henry Smith Charity and the Francis Crick Institute among his clients. Debt capital market partner Sarah Seed runs the charity fundraising practice. Employment partner Nicola Brown, real estate specialist Nick Finlayson-Brown, IP partner James Fry and, in Norwich, real estate partner Caroline Dean also play central roles in the practice.
‘Neil Burton is an excellent relationship manager who advises as needed on more complex transactions.’
‘Mills & Reeve have a solid understanding of our business, deliver pragmatic advice, and provide excellent client care.’
‘Neil Burton goes the extra mile to ensure we are looked after on all matters and feel a valued client. On the technical side, Neil is superbly skilled at what he does!’
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Nesta Arts and Culture Impact Fund
The Henry Smith Charity
Francis Crick Institute
London Diocesan Fund
East Anglian Air Ambulance
- Advising The Institution of Engineering and Technology on charity law and constitutional matters; trading subsidiaries, governance and corporate issues associated tax aspects; overseas not-for-profit branches; strategic matters at board level; and a range of commercial matters.
- Advising on the setting up of Nesta Arts and Culture Impact Fund (ACIF), which is a follow on impact investment fund established to invest in arts and cultural organisations.
- Assisted WCMC with establishing a presence in Europe and in China to prepare for and mitigate the possible effects of Brexit.
Taylor Vinters in Cambridge focuses on the needs of innovative and entrepreneurial charities and early-stage social ventures. The practice has in-depth insight into Charity Commission regulatory matters and governance issues, due to the in-house experience of practice head Chris Willis Pickup, who splits his time between London and Cambridge. The firm acts for numerous start-ups and high-growth social ventures in the technology sector, combining charity law and venture capital expertise. Senior associate Emma Millar is highly recommended.
Other key lawyers:
‘The firm provides excellent analysis and support towards the end product, with solid programme management.‘
‘Very knowledgeable and approachable with an excellent bedside manner.‘
‘Chris Willis Pickup is an exceptional lawyer who delivers a superb service to clients.‘
‘A responsive team with great understanding of the regulatory regime governing charities.‘
‘Chris Willis Pickup was formerly Head of Litigation at the Charity Commmission. He is a strong lawyer with great insight into the regulator’s perspective.‘
Teenage Cancer Trust
Royal Society of Chemistry
Alzheimer’s Research UK
Colleges in the University of Cambridge
Fauna & Flora International
British Pharmacological Society
SOS Children’s Villages UK
The Purple Oak Foundation
- Advising Teenage Cancer Trust on its high-profile events programme, and in particular its first Memories that Matter fundraising event in 2019, with Sir Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster.
- Advised the Royal Society of Chemistry on the creation of a new Commonwealth institution, to be called Commonwealth Chemistry.
- Advising Alzheimer’s Research UK across its research, commercial, data protection and regulatory legal needs. This included work on its Early Detection of Neurodegenerative Diseases (EDoN) initiative, which is a strategic collaboration across charities, universities and industry to leverage data to develop a new technology to detect dementia at a very early stage.
The Norwich office of Howes Percival LLP is home to core expertise within the firm-wide charities practice. The group frequently deals with governance issues and reorganisations, as well as charity formation and administration. Head of the private client and estates practice Catherine Scott, who is a trustee of numerous charities, is the main contact. She calls on the firm's respected planning, property and corporate practices to assist clients, among which is The Woodland Trust.
History of Advertising Trust
The Woodland Trust
- The corporate team assisted the History of Advertising Trust with reviewing and updating its constitutional documentation which included widening HAT’s charitable objects to include intended new activities and reviewing HAT’s articles of association to ensure that they reflect the current practices of HAT and to bring them in line with modern best practice.
- Acting for The Woodland Trust in respect of the development of its commemorative First World War Centenary Wood in Langley Vale, Surrey. This complex planning application comprised a visitors centre, memorial area, and significant recreational and other facilities, including the planting of over 200,000 trees over 640 acres.
Hunt & Coombs LLP
Hunt & Coombs LLP in Peterborough draws on many different practices to advise clients in the charity and education sectors. It is a key adviser to numerous ecclesiastical charities throughout Northamptonshire, Rutland and the Peterborough Diocese, and it provides services to a large number of churches. Anna Spriggs, who is a Diocesan Registrar, handles property matters while private client partner Paddy Appleton in Oundle is also heavily involved in the practice. Both have specialist skills in charity law.
‘Our experience of the practice has been good. We have been very satisfied with the service we have received from the partner dealing with our affairs, who is is skilled and responsive.‘
The Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance
East of England Agricultural Society
The Leprosy Mission
The Peterborough School
Peterborough Town Sports Club
The Chapter of Peterborough Cathedral
- Advised Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance on various matters including complex covenant releases and reverter provision, statutory disposal and management of glebe land, and commercial leases and licences for church and/or educational use.
- Advised The Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance on the sale of glebe land for development (Kettering) with complex S106 and title issues.
Stone King LLP acts for more than 1,000 charities, including more than 200 of the largest charities in the UK. The practice works from the firm's offices in London, Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge and Leeds. Key partner Robert Meakin moved to Keystone Law in London in early 2020, so senior associate Alexandra Steffensen now leads the Cambridge charity and social enterprise group. The firm handles all aspects of charity law, including property matters, incorporation, governance and financing.
- Significant refinancing of internationally known independent school Sherborne School to enable investment in new facilities.
- Advising the famous Essex school Felsted School, which was established in 1564, on all of its charity, governance and education needs, as well as immigration matters.
Clapham & Collinge Solicitors
Clapham & Collinge Solicitors launched its charities department five years ago and has built an impressive client base around its headquarters in Norwich and in other parts of East Anglia. Its work encompasses charity formation, trustee compliance issues, mergers, property transactions, employment law and litigation. Neale Grearson, who leads both the family and charities practice groups, calls upon Jade Tinney and Nicola Strefford for corporate and employment matters.
- Assisted a charity with its merger with another Norfolk-based charity.
- Advises a large charity on a large number of matters, as its ‘go to’ legal adviser for employment law.
- Acted on numerous occasions for a national organisation, notably on property-related transactions.
Greenwoods GRM in Peterborough has longstanding relationships with a number of well-known national charities, among them St John Ambulance. The firm's client roster also includes schools and other not for profits, as well as traditional charities. Its work covers incorporation, corporate and property transactions, employment law, regulatory matters and advice on GDPR. Head of corporate David Woods takes the lead with property senior associate Ann-Marie Clow central to the firm's work in the not-for-profit sector.
Other key lawyers:
St John Ambulance
- Overseeing the strategic acquisitions and disposals of surplus property in the East of England for St John Ambulance, privately and via auction. Acting on the acquisition of strategic new offices.
The charities, education and social enterprise group at HCR Hewitsons is led by Virginia Henley from Northampton, where much of the practice is based. Nevertheless, it calls upon the Cambridge office for specific support in key practice areas. Property partner James Simpson and employment partner Elizabeth Swinburn frequently advise charitable institutions. Elizabeth Davies and associate Emma Satterley in the private wealth practice also contribute their expertise.
‘The firm provides an efficient service.‘
‘There was strong performance by the partners. Good technical knowledge is expected but availability remains a key issue. The matters we were dealing with took considerable time but it was great to have a consistent team with good handover knowledge to below-partner staff.‘
‘They showed tenacity and skilful guidance not just to define the project but to ensure all parties were aware of their responsibilities.‘
University of Cambridge
Julia Norris Trust
Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry
Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs and Northants
YMCA Trinity Group
The Varrier Jones Foundation
The Papworth Trust
Wood Green Animal Shelters
The Ann Howsden Charity
Max Perutz Fund
Ward’s Charity or The Church Lands
Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre
Conservators of the River Cam
Thoroughbred Breeders Association
Girton Town Charity
Stratton Community Farm CIC
Clayton Charitable Trust
Trumpington Village Hall
Probert Charitable Trust
East of England Agricultural Society
The Injured Jockeys Fund
Cambridge University Jewish Society
Stephen Perse Foundation
Cambridge University Engineers Association
- Advised YMCA Trinity on mergers across the East of England.
- Advised highly regarded independent school Stephen Perse Foundation in Cambridge on its acquisition of the Cambridge Centre for Sixth Form Studies.
- Advised Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry in connection with the consolidation of two entities – one a charitable trust with no wider membership and the other a large membership body without charitable status.
Steeles Law in Norwich advises clients in the charity and education sector on corporate, commercial and property matters. Michael Fahy, who works from both London and Norwich, provides property advice to national charities, numerous academies in East Anglia, and not-for-profit organisations such as the Ethical Property Foundation. Head of corporate Richard Bailey acts for clients in the education sector.
Other key lawyers:
‘Michael Fahy’s colleagues and the back office team at Steeles provide excellent support.‘
‘Our organisation – a Registered Charity – has used Michael Fahy of Steeles for several years to advise on commercial property matters. This included a significant London property deal amounting to approx. £30m. His knowledge, technical and legal advice has always been excellent. He can quickly assess and summarise legal options that greatly assisted us in rationalising its property estate across London, Belfast, Birmingham and Chester. He is considered an extremely valued member of our team of external consultants, from whom advice is taken.‘
Ethical Property Foundation
Consortium Multi-Academy Trust
Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
Longfield Hall Trust Limited
- Advising Longfield Hall Trust Limited, a charity based in Lambeth, operating from a Grade II Listed Building and providing facilities for the local community in terms of drama; nursery; and a venue for the local community to hire for weddings and social events.
- Offering legal advice to all music labels who are members of the Association for Independent Music.
- Advising a charity which was set up by a prominent individual who, on reaching retirement, wanted to consider how best to lock a valuable land asset into the charity so that it could not be used for any other purposes.