Charities and not-for-profit in Scotland
Brodies LLP represents a number of the largest charities and non-profit groups operating in Scotland, and has an established relationship as adviser to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. The firm advise charities on the full range of potential issues, including employment, corporate structures and commercial matters succession issues, tax planning, disputes, investigations, governance, and property disposals and acquisitions. The firm also has a track record of work advising high-net-worth individuals on the formation of charitable trusts. Brenda Scott, the head of the practice, principally advises on matters related to governance, while Charles Livingstone, a partner in the firm’s government, regulatory and competition practice, acts on contentious matters and advises the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Eric Galbraith has advised a range of charities, trusts and non-profits on their corporate structures, while Martin Sloan provides data protection advice. Lynne Marr chiefly acts for clients in the education sector, while Gill Summers, based in Abderdeen, advises clients in the north of Scotland.
Other key lawyers:
‘Brodies’ background in regulatory and public sector advice makes it well placed to give bespoke, niche advice suitable to our organisational needs.’
‘Brodies takes the time to get to know its clients in the broadest sense and this is apparent when instructing on individual projects, such as our recent charitable trusts restructure project.’
‘Brodies have a very modern approach to collaborative working and their more relaxed approach is really refreshing. They are very personable and responsive as well as being proactive.’
‘Helen Kidd is very personable and efficient which makes working together a very smooth process. Helen has also been very proactive in taking matters forward and made it easy for us to understand the process and ensure that it has dovetailed in with the work that we have been doing with the Charity Commission in England & Wales.’
Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator
Scottish Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA)
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland
The Governors of Hutcheson’s Educational Trust
Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
Stone King LLP
Camphill (Rudolf Steiner) Estates Ltd
Scottish Ballet and Scottish Ballet Endowment Fund
- Advising the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) as the statutory regulator to the charity sector.
- Appointed to provide all legal services for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
- Advising advising the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland and six other conservation groups, who are objecting to the planning application for a new golf course at Coul Links, Embo, Dornoch.
As well as providing the full spectrum of advice required by charities, trusts, and non-profits, Burness Paull LLP has particular expertise regarding charities’ use of corporate legal structures. The firm has advised on a range of charity mergers, as well as on partnerships between private enterprises and charitable bodies, having developed innovative partnership models and consortium structures for a range of clients. In particular, the firm has experience in establishing Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIOs), and formed the first of its kind. Stephen Phillips, based in Glasgow, heads up the practice, and has extensive regulatory experience. Phillips acts as the Convenor of the Charity Law sub-committee of the Law Society of Scotland. Gillian Harkness, director of the firm’s third sector team, focuses on developing specialist corporate structures, while associates Emma Maxwell and Rhona McAdam are also key members of the team.
‘A clear understanding of our sector with professional staff that are approachable and friendly. Solution focused no matter how complex the issue seems to be. The experience and knowledge of this firm is very obvious.’
‘A prompt, clear, polite and efficient service. The business in hand was delivered successfully. I could not have wanted for a better group of practitioners.’
‘Stephen Phillips and Emma Maxwell have provided an excellent tailored service to our charity that has guided us through a very difficult period. Stephen has exceptional knowledge of charity law and is very obviously a leader in his field of work. Emma has provided excellent advice and practical solutions on request. Their advice has been invaluable.’
Kwik-Fit (GB) Limited
DFN Project Search
Launch Foods Foundation
Workshop and Artists Studio Provision (Scotland) Limited
Thomas Coats Memorial Church Trust
Friends of Kinloch Castle
First Port for Social Entrepreneurs Limited
- Advising Pancreatic Cancer Scotland on its proposed merger with the UK-wide charity Pancreatic Cancer Action
- Advised Riverside Inverclyde on the adoption of a new operating model.
- Assisting the Friends of Kinloch Castle in developing the legal framework for the proposed renovation and conversion of Kinloch Castle.
Gillespie Macandrew LLP
Gillespie Macandrew LLP is continuing to win new clients in the charity sector; in addition to mergers, winding-up, and formation of charities, the team provides the full range of day-to-day advice on matters including property transfers, employment, and disputes. Lianne Lodge, the head of the practice, has particular knowledge of advising philanthropists on the establishment of charitable foundations, with a focus on succession planning advice for family foundations. Chris Smith, who also heads up the firm’s corporate team, deals with the incorporation and governance of corporate charities and SCIOs.
Other key lawyers:
Understands the needs of the client through an excellent business relationship. Responsive.’
‘Able to offer specialist advice in all of our trust’s main areas of business.’
‘Well respected across the sector. Approachable. Personal service.’
‘Lianne Lodge is approachable, extremely professional and knowledgeable; and strikes the right balance between practicality and legal advice.’
Erskine of Torrie Institution
North Berwick Trust and North Berwick Trust Ltd
Blair Charitable Trust
Earl Haig Fund (Scotland) – known as Poppy Scotland
Johnson & Johnson Foundation Scotland (formerly known as Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust)
Atlantic Salmon Trust
Veronica Mary Bruce Memorial Fund
Royal Regiment Scotland
Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh
- Advised Johnson & Johnson Foundation Scotland on a rebrand to align with a restructure which covered a number of jurisdictions, while also continuing to advise on its impact investment program.
- Advised North Berwick Trust Ltd on full incorporation and wind up of pre-existing charity, including transfer agreement and TUPE of staff.
- Continue to advise Poppy Scotland on the intellectual property of the Scottish poppy and all other legal matters.
Turcan Connell handles high-value mergers and demergers, governance issues, transactions, risk and reputation management, and regulatory compliance for clients including the Royal British Legion Scotland, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the National Trust for Scotland. Gavin McEwan, who leads the practice, has considerable experience in charity regulation, having assisted in the drafting of Scotland’s codes of fundraising practice, and advising the UK Charity Law Association as a member of its executive committee. Although Simon Mackintosh has stepped down as firmwide chair and retired as a partner, he has remained with the firm as a consultant, notably advising the Shetland Charitable Trust in 2019 on its disbursements. Associate Debbie McIlwraith Cameron is also highly regarded.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team at Turcan Connell have really taken the time to get to know our operations and people, which has meant that their advice is consistently appropriate and pragmatic. They anticipate issues, and provide solutions before problems arise. It feels like a very personal service, whilst also being neutral and dispassionate when necessary.’
‘The team has a good breath of knowledge and expertise. They advise on detailed and complex matters with calmness and authority.’
‘Gavin McEwan stands out as being an excellent lawyer, and tremendous source of support. He replies quickly and prepares his advice carefully. We have been very grateful to him on several occasions for his support during contentious issues, and the care he has taken with compliance and governance matters in general.’
‘Debbie McIlwraith Cameron is hugely inspirational, she has supported our charity women leaders network and has engaged with our members in a number of ways. She is knowledgeable, approachable and a credit to the firm.’
‘Gavin McEwan is knowledgeable and provides confidence with his approach. He is detailed and thorough in his advice and in communicating issues and solutions. ‘
National Trust for Scotland
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Royal British Legion Scotland
Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust
Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS)
Shetland Charitable Trust
The Robertson Trust
Brink Literacy Project
- Advised New Lanark on the first ever charity law appeal to go to the Upper Tribunal for Scotland. The judgment resulted in the quashing of a First-tier Tribunal decision.
- Advising The Piper Communities Group on the demerger of a charity from the group. The case involves sensitive areas around governance and risk.
- Advised the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust on the reorganisation of the charity’s constitution in order to merge it into The Prince’s Foundation.
The team at Anderson Strathern acts for the full range of non-profit organisations and charities, including community benefit companies, Royal Charter bodies, educational charities and endowments, provident societies, and professional, trade, and housing associations. The firm advises on mergers, governance and regulatory compliance, and has extensive experience in the restructuring and reorganisation of charitable bodies. The firm has also advised wealthy individuals and philanthropists on the formation of family foundations and the tax implications of charitable giving. Victoria Simpson leads the team, working closely with Audrey Cameron on governance, restructuring, and mergers. Douglas McLachlan, who leads the firm’s IP team, handles data protection compliance, while Barry Nichol handles employment issues.
‘The team has expertise in Scottish charity issues and the workings of OSCR; understanding of the political system in Scotland; and understanding of the press and media environment in Edinburgh and Glasgow.’
‘Victoria Simpson has shown absolutely exceptional dedication to our case. Her advice has always been wise and proven correct. We trust her completely. She is a wonderfully empathetic person, naturally kind, very astute and tough when that is needed.’
Waverley Steam Navigation Company Ltd
The Great Scottish Tapestry Charitable Trust
RS Macdonald Charitable Trust
Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
Glasgow Caledonian University
- Providing ongoing advice along with bespoke training to R S Macdonald Charitable Trust, one of the largest charitable grant giving trusts in the UK.
- Setting up a charitable foundation for a key philanthropist and related tax advice.
- Providing all legal advice required to a housing association in developing a rental app.
BTO Solicitors LLP
BTO Solicitors LLP has considerable experience in advising charities on internal governance and procedures. The firm advises on winding-up procedures, mergers, and charity formation, and also works with registered social landlords on meeting the complex regulatory requirements needed to operate in the sector. Patrice Fabien advises on financing arrangements between subsidiary charities and their parent companies. David Gibson, whose experience is principally in commercial and property law, provides strategic advice and handles contractual matters. Experienced senior associate Marion Davis - a Law Society accredited specialist in charity law - leads the team, while Douglas Strang, also a senior associate, handles employment issues and acts on disputes.
Other key lawyers:
‘We were impressed with the knowledge and the quality of advice we were given.’
‘The team at BTO benefit greatly from senior associate Marion Davis, who spent time on secondment at the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, and consequently has a deep and unique understanding of how they work and is able to advise clients accordingly. This is a unique resource. We also benefit greatly from their dedication to go the extra mile for charitable clients, and thinking outside their remit to put us together with other clients where there is mutual benefit.’
‘BTO have a unique understanding of the issues faced by charities which trade as a means of raising funds as opposed to those whose income is primarily donations based.’
Whistleblowing International Network
The Kinning Park Complex
University of Strathclyde Students’ Association
The Architectural Heritage Fund
The Scottish Cremation Society Limited
Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust
Aberlour Community Association
Argyll Community Housing Association Limited
Partick Housing Association Limited
- Assisted the Student’s Association of the University of the West of Scotland to incorporate, transferring its assets from an unincorporated association to a new company.
- Assisting client to set up the charity, Kirsty Maxwell Killed Abroad Holistic Support Charity, to support people who have suffered the death of a family member abroad.
- Advising CLIC Sargent Cancer Care for Children on a wide range of issues arising relating to its charitable activities in Scotland.
The charities team at Lindsays advises on governance issues, amendments to charters and constitutions and assists with regulatory compliance. One core focus of the team is employment; the firm handles a range of sensitive employment disputes, concerning dismissals of both employees and management figures. Alastair Keatinge, who is regarded as 'eminent in his field', leads the team. Consultant David Dunsire counts the Bank of Scotland Foundation and St Columba’s Hospice among his clients. Ben Doherty and Kate Wyatt specialise in employment matters for clients in the sector, while Kenneth Gray handles property transactions. Lynsey Kerr, who is prominent in the firm’s tax, trusts and probate team, advises donors on charitable giving.
‘The charities team at Lindsays are approachable and seem to always be available whenever you need them. I’ve always found Lindsays to be an easy firm to work with, more so than other firms I’ve dealt with over the years.’
‘Alastair Keatinge is exceptional in his knowledge and expertise. I cannot fault the advice received.’
‘Expertise is important, but experience counts for a lot too, and Alastair Keatinge has proven, time and again, to be eminent in his field. I always recommend Alastair for higher profile and complex issues.’
‘Kenny Gray, Scott Geekie and Alastair Keatinge stand out for the way in which they go the extra mile to get to know your organisation and deliver important advice in a timely manner with clarity and vision.’
Sealladh Na Bennie Moire
Carnegie UK Trust
St Columba’s Hospice
Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust
The Clark Foundation for Legal Education
Bank of Scotland Foundation
- Advised Sense Scotland on important governance, constitutional and contractual isses.
The charities and third sector team at MacRoberts LLP works with more than 10% of Scotland’s 300 largest charities. The practice, which is led by the well-regarded Valerie Surgenor, has recently seen an increase in work relating to regulatory and governance matters, data protection, fundraising regulation and safeguarding, as well as complex charity structuring involving tax matters. Key members of the team include Robin Fallas, who works with Community Enterprise in Scotland on a range of charity and commercial matters, and associate Jozanne Bainbridge, a data protection/IP specialist.
‘MacRoberts’ team build strong working relationships with clients and inspire confidence in their ability to quickly identify the key issues and requirements and provide binary advice. Their approach on this individualised basis is excellent and compares well to other firms.’
‘Val Surgenor continues to impress with her succinct and concise advice. Her experience within the charity sector provides credibility and practicality to her advice.’
‘The MacRoberts team we have worked with, led by partner Valerie Surgenor, have been fantastic at responding to our queries regarding GDPR, and providing a well-considered, tailored advice and assistance. We value the effort and attention to detail that the lawyers we have worked with take in dealing with our queries in a clear and easy to follow manner.’
‘The templates and policy drafting that MacRoberts provide are always of an excellent standard. Their practice of providing both clean and annotated documentation has been very valuable in giving a greater understanding of data protection law, and the reasoning behind policy formulations. The team has always been friendly and consistent in their communication, and make themselves available if we need for any urgent matters.’
People’s Postcode Trust
Royal Scottish National Orchestra Society Limited
Scottish Refugee Council
Leprosy Mission Scotland
Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEiS)
Barra and Vatersay Community Company
Forth Valley College
Aberlour Child Care Trust
Beatson Cancer Charity
- Advised the Scottish Refugee Council on its ‘New Scots Connect’ project, which involves providing a publically available interactive map highlighting organisations throughout Scotland who support refugees.
- Advised The Leprosy Mission Scotland on a review of key policies and procedures, in particular its safeguarding policy.
- Continue to advise the People’s Postcode Trust on general commercial matters including advising on funding terms and conditions, service and appointment agreement and photography consent forms.
Shepherd and Wedderburn
The charities team at Shepherd and Wedderburn expanded in 2019 with the arrival of two private client specialists - Gillian Campbell, who joined from Burnett & Reid, and former Stronachs veteran George Stevenson, who joined as a consultant. The firm handles the full spectrum of charities work, with experience in structuring mergers and spin-outs, advising grant-giving bodies on disbursements, conversion of private enterprises into non-profits, and clarifying trustee responsibilities and governance structures. The full-service firm also provided strategic advice with a particular focus on reputation and risk management. Malcolm Rust and Christopher McGill, who both primarily focus on governance and compliance issues, jointly lead the team.
‘Extensive sector knowledge and depth. Strong experience in engaging with the charity regulator in Scotland.’
‘Shepherd and Wedderburn, with whom we have remained for 10 years now, has proven to us that they have the expertise to help us across the full range of our requirements. More importantly for a charity, where reputation is key, Shepherd and Wedderburn have an innate understanding of the solutions that will not only be legally compliant but which will play well in the court of public opinion.’
‘We are fortunate in having a quality charity team at Shepherd and Wedderburn. Our charitable activities are well managed and supported such that trustees have confidence that our mission is delivered in an effective manner.’
‘Malcolm Rust provides support, encouragement and wisdom.
‘Chris McGill inspires confidence in the judgements made on regulatory engagement, predicting issues and preparing submissions.’
‘Malcolm Rust wears his expertise and experience lightly but his sensible guidance has been key in helping us deal with some extremely knotty problems. He identifies solutions, rather than just highlight problems, and even more importantly he then ensures that the solutions are delivered. These are often less a matter of law, more a matter of negotiation between parties – and here he stands out.’
‘Malcolm Rust’s sound advice has carried our charity through changes in trustees and regulation as well as significant financial challenges. His personable calm approach to the issues ensures that solutions are always found.’
‘Lorna Brown is competent, hardworking and proactive. Knowledgeable about the domain in which we operate as well as the legal/commercial/financial implications of our charity’s operations.’
The Robert T Jones Memorial Trust
North Berwick Harbour Trust Association
Trustees of Army Museums Ogilby Trust
Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland
Brown Forbes Memorial Fund
The Melville Trust for the Care and Cure of Cancer
Edinburgh Cat Protection League
Clan Donald Lands Trust
- Advising the trustees of the Robert T Jones Memorial Trust in relation to the advance of substantially all of its assets to St Andrews University to take advantage of the university’s ability to pursue the charity’s objectives in a more administratively efficient manner.
- Instructed to act on behalf of Foundation Scotland in relation to its separation from one of its funds, The Women’s Fund for Scotland.
- Advising North Berwick Harbour Trust Association on matters regarding its governance and legal structure, which is part of a wider piece relating to the charity’s succession planning.
Balfour+Manson LLP has a strong track record of work for faith organisations, faith-based charities, and educational trusts, handling contentious matters such as employment disputes and regulatory investigations. Alan Gilifillan, who leads the team, formerly worked in-house at the OSCR, and advises on regulatory compliance and governance. Hugh Angus advises on commercial property and asset management matters, while Robert A Holland focuses on employment issues, including whistleblowing, pay, and health and safety matters.
‘We have found Balfour+Manson to be extremely efficient and the advice received has been clear and concise.’
‘I have found Balfour+Manson’s support responsive and knowledgeable.’
‘The team are very responsive with members able to stand in for one another at short notice if required.’
I’ve found Balfour+Manson empathetic. They have been very clear on the likely fees they will charge and keep to their fee estimates or warn with reasons why they might be different. They are responsive to our needs and in a timely manner, so there have been no unnecessary delays. Best of all, they have helped us come up with the right plan of action, which has been clearly explained, where all parties involved benefit.’
Alan Gilfillan’s knowledge and quick appreciation of our needs, combined with his ability to set out his advice in language readily understood by a layperson, has been invaluable to us.’
‘Alan Gilfillan is exceptionally responsive and I am confident that he has an excellent grasp of the issues and is very proactive in letting me know when he may have additional questions or advice regarding the matter at hand. Given the sensitivity of the matters we are often working on, it is of great reassurance that we may trust Alan’s skills, experience and discretion.’
‘Alan Gilfillan adopts a pragmatic approach to issues and gives sensible, practical advice.’
‘Alan Gilfillan and Fiona Muirs have always been open, polite and friendly – very easy and pleasant to deal with. Their advice has proven to be spot on.’
Harper Macleod LLP advises on a range of commercial matters for both small and large charities, as well as trusts and other not-for-profit organisations. The firm has a track record of work on high-value property transfers, disputes, governance and regulatory compliance. The firm has advised on partnership agreements between different charities, and between international strands of the same organisation; the firm notably harmonised data protection policy among Veganuary’s international partners. The team is jointly led by Derek Hogg and James McMorrow; Jennifer Jack, based in Edinburgh, handles regulatory matters and disputes, while associate Kelly Fraser is another key member of the team.
‘We have formed a vital alliance with Harper Macleod, which provides us with pro bono representation. Harper Macleod has provided legal expertise and longstanding dedication, treats our alliance as a client relationship, and is very much an exemplar of proficiency and professionalism. We are indebted to their knowledge, responsiveness and commitment. ‘
Glasgow City Council
The Highland Council
Scottish Surfing Federation
Simeon Care for the Elderly
National Autistic Society
Scottish Sports Futures
Wheatley Housing Group Limited
Historic Environment Scotland
Fashion Retail Academy
North Lanarkshire Council
- Advised Glasgow City Council on the development of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, a registered Scottish charity, which is a B-Listed building owned by GCC and leased to the charity as part of a circa £21.6m project.
- Working for the National Autistic Society, the firm represent parents of children with autism who are excluded from school to safeguard the child’s rights to a fair hearing.
- Advising retailTRUST on its ongoing data protection compliance and provision of company sectorial support to ensure good governance and compliance with charity law.
Morton Fraser provides a full service to charity clients, dealing with matters including registration, social finance, investigations and property purchases. Adrian Bell is the key partner in the team; he is principally a commercial lawyer and also has significant experience across a wide range of other areas relating to charity law. Notable clients include Social Investment Scotland and The Scottish Racing Academy.
‘Adrian Bell took a genuine interest in our charity, which went beyond the call. His team were also very efficient, prompt and helpful.’
‘Even although we are a very small client, we were made to feel equally important as larger clients’
The Scottish Racing Academy
Scottish Wildlife Trust
Social Investment Scotland
Scottish Mines Restoration Trust
- Advised the Scottish Racing Academy on its formation, governance arrangements and registration with OSCR as a charity.
- Advised Social Investment Scotland on the establishment of a fund in co-operation with Big Society Capital to invest in social projects.
- Advised SRUC on a review of its governance arrangements to comply with the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016.
T C Young
T C Young works with more than 200 charities, and is particularly well-regarded for its work in the social housing sector. Mark Ewing leads the team; he is one of a select group of accredited charity law specialists in Scotland. He works in tandem with managing partner and disputes specialist Andrew Cowan, accredited paralegal Jacqui Baynham and employment associate John Norrie. Much of the firm's key recent work has related to governance reviews; the team has also recently advised on sensitive matters such as fraud allegations.
‘A personal service. Staff are all very professional and deliver on time.’
‘The staff have extensive experience in the charitable sector and across different types of charities operating in different sectors.’
‘The team has extensive experience in social housing from transfers, mergers, compliance and regulation to day-to-day tenancy and property management. Other firms have similar experience but I find TC Young responds very quickly and with suggestions as well as answers. ‘
‘Mark Ewing has been a real support to us going through changes in governance and even when we thought it might not be possible to complete the work in the timeframe, we successfully achieved this aim.’
‘Jacqui Baynham always seems to know exactly what you mean, and also is practical and delightful.’
‘Mark Ewing is exceptional in his knowledge, contacts and personal approach. I would trust him with anything.’
‘Lauren Little is expert, always available and passionate about the subject and the service.’
‘Associate Len Freedman is tenacious, passionate and good fun.’
Money Advice Scotland
Scottish Veterans Residences
Corstorphine Community Centre
Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
Scottish Islands Federation
- Advised Erskine Hospital in connection with a wholesale board and governance review.
- Advising Abbeyfield Scotland in connection with their group structure governance arrangements as the organisation seeks to develop into new areas of care activity.
- Revised Money Advice Scotland’s governance structure to ensure compliance with current company and charity law.