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Charities and not-for-profit in North West

Brabners LLP

Working for a variety of household national charities, as well as social housing providers, the Brabners LLP team handles complex governance issues, reorganisations, mergers, and new charity incorporations, offering 'in-depth knowledge of charity legislation'. Headed up by the 'supremely knowledgeable and competent' Stephen Claus, who has particular expertise in ecclesiastical law, the department also includes Robert Nieri and associate Graeme Hughes, who provides clients with 'thoroughly researched, accurate, and clearly presented' advice. The team continues to win clients across the Midlands and London, as well as the North West.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Claus

Other key lawyers:

Robert Nieri; Graeme Hughes


‘Excellent team from all aspects concerning charity activities.’

‘The firm’s practical knowledge and expertise are second-to-none in charities law.’

‘Stephen Claus has a depth of knowledge in dealing with ecclesiastical charities and trusts which surpasses anyone else we have previously dealt with.’ 

‘The team are knowledgeable, caring individuals with the ‘human touch’ who offer expert, sound, practical advice. The practice operates an efficient service.’

‘Excellent understanding of our business with an interest in our future plans and ambitions. Very responsive.’ 

‘Stephen Claus has provided excellent advice and support to our organisation over a number of years and has an excellent understanding of our focus. He works consistently to ensure we are viewing the longer-term implications of any short term decision making.’ 

‘Stephen Claus and his team are superbly accommodating and thoroughly appreciative of the challenges of the charity sector. I would have no hesitation in recommending Stephen or any member of his team to people seeking the best legal counselling in the charity sector.’ 

‘Stephen Claus is not only a supremely knowledgeable, competent and expert lawyer in his field, at the end of the day that is what we pay him for, being a leading voice in our sector. The main reason we moved our services to Brabners LLP is that he’s also a good person to know and we get on well, never demonstrates that he hasn’t got time for you. The business relationship is strong, clearly defined and enjoyable. Wouldn’t work with anybody else.’

‘The Brabners team offers in-depth knowledge of charity legislation and practice and has the ability to relate that knowledge to the particular needs of individual charity organisations. The team also offers regular updates on charity law and practice issues and these are well-presented and informative.’ 

‘Graeme Hughes is very approachable, well-informed, and has a pleasant sense of humour too! He has produced thoroughly researched, accurate, and clearly presented information to the organisation I represent and he is always on hand to explain certain courses of action/recommendations which may not be within our immediate understanding. Graeme is patient and nothing seems to be too much trouble for him and the Brabners organisation.’ 

Key clients


Age Concern West Sussex

Autism Alliance UK

Autism Initiatives

Autism Together

Birmingham City Council

British Society for Heart Failure

Campaign to Protect Rural England North Yorkshire

Carers Trust East Midlands

Cheshire Wildlife Trust

Chester Visual Arts

Chester Municipal Charities


Community Integrated Care

Edward Mayes Almshouses

EMDR Association

Everton in the Community

Factory Manchester

Fisheries Society of the British Isles

Fleetwood Trust

Furniture Resource Centre

Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre

Grey Gables


Hoylake Cottage

League Against Cruel Sports

Lenchs Trust


Liverpool Homeless Football Club

Manchester United Foundation

Mencap Liverpool

Merchant Taylors Schools

Michael Carrick Foundation

Murray Foundation

MAB Charitable Trust

Mobberley Parish Council

National Examining Board for Dental Nurses

North West Cancer Research


Passion for Learning

Petty Pool Trust

Portico Library and Newsroom Limited

Prestbury Village Hall

Professional Footballers’ Association Charity

Pumping Marvellous Queens School Chester

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Blackburn Limited

Shaw Trust

Sir Josiah Mason’s Almshouse Charity

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

Smart Works Charity

St Ann’s Hospice

Stratford Upon Avon Municipal Charities

The Rainford Trust

Trustees of Stand Unitarian Chapel

Turner Home

UKIM Communities, Development & Welfare Limited

West Kirby Residential School

Yardley Grange Care Services Limited

Yardley Great Trust

Youth Federation Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Sir Josiah Mason Almshouses on a complex acquisition of Almshouse charities.
  • Advising Stand Unitarian Chapel on a complex incorporation of a charity established in the 18th century and associated land registration issues.
  • Advising Hoylake Cottage on the acquisition of a domiciliary care company and the subsequent registration of a company limited by shares as a charity.

Counterculture Partnership LLP

Counterculture Partnership LLP is a specialist firm with a strong track record in advising clients in the region’s creative industries including the cultural, heritage and education sectors. Clients include umbrella organisations, charities, not-for-profit organisations, commercial companies and sole traders. Keith Arrowsmith leads the team, which acts on a diverse range of matters including charity registrations, cultural tax relief, governance and leadership matters, fundraising regulations, capital projects, and finance and tax issues.

Practice head(s):

Keith Arrowsmith

Other key lawyers:

Grace Astbury; Laura Marsden


‘A specialist firm dealing with all matters pertaining to the Arts and Culture sector and charitable organisations. Their expertise in our area of operations is evident and invaluable.’ 

‘The individuals I have had contact with have been extremely professional, efficient, friendly, accessible and responsive in all matters, giving a great level of information in an understandable manner. Both Keith Arrowsmith and Grace Astbury have been particularly impressive.’ 

‘Because they have roots in the cultural sector, Counterculture understand how arts institutions work, and the challenges they face, they bring an invaluable broader view into the equation. Their expertise enabled what seemed like a daunting task for us as a small/medium-sized institution to become something feasible.’ 

‘Laura Marsden and Keith Arrowsmith at Counterculture are a great team to work with – they were responsive, knowledgeable and very adaptable to challenges of the project we were working on. They were able to tailor their help to the resources we had in-house and were really a fantastic team to have to support us through some complex issues.’ 

‘I can not sing their praises enough; they were like a breath of fresh air.’

Key clients

Jermyn Street Theatre

Curious Minds

Southbank Sinfonia

National Union of Students

National Operatic and Dramatic Association

Voluntary Action Sheffield

Creative & Cultural Industries Limited

The Clore Leadership Programme

Leeds Culture Trust

The Photographers’ Gallery

Work highlights

  • Advised The Photographers’ Gallery throughout its successful application to the DCMS to be granted approval under immunity from seizure provisions for any future exhibitions.
  • Advised Leeds Culture Trust on all aspects of establishing its operations, including company secretarial support, commercial and staff contracts and ongoing charity governance best practice.
  • Assisted Blackpool Grand Arts & Entertainment Ltd with creating a trading subsidiary for theatre production; prepared appropriate investment and contractual agreements to comply with both charity and tax and employment law.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Paul Knight and Simon Pedley jointly lead the cross-disciplinary team at Mills & Reeve LLP, which advises many of the UK’s largest charities on international projects. Knight focuses on data protection issues, IT matters and commercial contracts, while Pedley specialises in dispute resolution, dealing with defamation cases, reputation management disputes and contested legacies; he also provides advice on trustee decision-making processes and general regulatory matters. Senior associate Rona McPherson is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Paul Knight; Simon Pedley

Other key lawyers:

Rona McPherson; Catherine Kay


‘I appreciate the variety of experience and understanding that Mills & Reeve have. Over the years, I’ve contacted them on a number of occasions with often very different questions and each time they have been able to help. ‘

‘I worked closely with Paul Knight and Rona McPherson; they both showed excitement and enthusiasm to work with me to find a solution, which was really appreciated.’

Key clients

British Council

BBC Children in Need


Alan Turing Institute

Greater Manchester Sports Partnership

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Snowdonia National Park Authority

Institute of Directors

Hallé Concerts Society

Contact Theatre

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

James Milner Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advising BBC Children in Need on the legal implications of providing corporate partners with increased control and visibility over how funds are used.
  • Advising Nesta on grants and contracts relating to the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care, and on data protection issues relating to activity at the What Works Centre.
  • Advising on a major project to improve governance and contracting arrangements at the Alan Turing Institute.

Addleshaw Goddard

As well as providing traditional charity law advice, Addleshaw Goddard regularly acts for clients who are entering into commercial contracts with charitable bodies. The department also advises banks on charity land and asset issues, and acts for clients in Charity Commission investigations and inquiries. Private capital partner Yorke Eaton is the name to note.

Other key lawyers:

Yorke Eaton

Key clients

Bedingfield’s Trust

NFU Charitable Trust

Leeds Becketts University

Work highlights

  • Providing pro bono support to a high-profile charity in relation to its commercial arrangements with corporate supporters and sponsors.
  • Providing governance advice to the trustees of a charity established by and connected to a large Plc, including an analysis of the charity’s current constitution, considering its current and future objectives, and advising on the options for the future.
  • Advising a charity on the appointment and retirement of trustees and advising on the distribution of significant funds to a large-scale overseas charitable project in pursuit of the charity’s objects.

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP's team is headed by Nottingham-based Catherine Rustomji, who is an experienced charity lawyer specialising in constitutional, governance and regulatory issues. The firm primarily acts for clients in disputes and advises on contract and competition law. A key lawyer who assists with matters from the Manchester office is Dominic Buckley.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Rustomji

Other key lawyers:

Dominic Buckley


‘Excellent service. Very proactive and speedy in response as well.’ 

‘Polite, helpful and good at explaining the more technical details to a layperson.’ 

‘They have a can-do no-nonsense approach and turn work around in a very good time frame. They are communicative and nice to deal with.’ 

‘I greatly value the approach and professionalism of Catherine Rustomji – to the point of continuing to use her services after moving charities. Catherine has a down to earth style which does not compromise the credibility of her advice or knowledge, she is approachable and affable and has a warm manner that is second to none.’ 

‘Extremely good knowledge of the charity sector and understanding of what it’s like for their clients who work in a charity.’ 

‘Catherine Rustomji is very understanding with regards to billing, timetabling of work, giving excellent, easy to understand, not long-winded, practical and useful advice.’ 

Key clients

York Archaeological Trust


Contact Theatre/Manchester Young People’s Theatre Limited

West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity

Charities Trust

Families First North East

Outreach Community and Residential Services

Cheshire Centre for Independent Living

YHA (England and Wales)

Sir Francis Nethersole Charities

North East Theatre Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising York Archaeological Trust on all governance queries (including a proposed governance review and ongoing matters concerning members), sensitive employment issues, and commercial and IP matters regarding charity ventures.
  • Advises Birtenshaw on a range of property, construction, commercial, litigation, employment and regulatory matters.
  • Advising YHA (England and Wales) on the refinance of its entire commercial property portfolio with HSBC, acquisitions and restructuring of high-value properties, and the creation of a new YHA and National Landscape Centre.

Hill Dickinson LLP

At Hill Dickinson LLP, charities, not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises of varying sizes are acted for on a range of matters including commercial issues, group structuring work, insolvencies, property mandates, constitutional and governance issues, employment matters and compliance work. Mark Fitzgibbon leads on most of the firm’s charity-related matters.

Practice head(s):

Mark Fitzgibbon

Other key lawyers:

Paul Baker

Key clients

Big Life Group

Delta Philanthropies

Parkwood Holdings Limited

The People’s Trust (Greece)

Open Hands Open Heavens

Manchester Literature Festival

Amnesty (UK) Group


Greenwich Leisure Limited

ARICD (formerly known as Association for Research in Infant and Child Development)

Work highlights

  • Providing The Big Life Group with ongoing commercial and charitable legal advice, including on the potential restructuring of the various limbs of the group, which is considering its position around retaining legally discrete charitable entities.
  • Established Open Hands Open Heavens as a company limited by guarantee with charitable (religious) objects and then successfully registered at the Charity Commission in March 2019.
  • Advised the trustees of Delta Philanthropies on a number of overseas funding initiatives and constitutional matters.

Pannone Corporate LLP

Pannone Corporate LLP's charity and not-for-profit offering draws expertise from its commercial, corporate governance, finance, real estate, IP, IT, dispute resolution and employment departments, and advises clients on a broad range of issues. Steven Grant is the key contact.

Practice head(s):

Steven Grant