Charities and not-for-profit in South West

Stone King LLP

Representing over 200 charities, many of which include household names, Stone King LLP's practise advises clients on all aspects of the law in this sector. Its primary client mix includes schools, museums, livery companies and City corporations, religious organisations, and military charities. This is supplemented by an increasing focus on social enterprises, with a particular emphasis on partnerships between charities and public authorities. Practice head Tim Rutherford has significant experience working with faith-based charities and almshouses, while Alexandra Steffensen focuses on the heritage sector.

Practice head(s):

Tim Rutherford

Other key lawyers:

Alexandra Steffensen

Testimonials

‘Right from the outset they understood our situation and guided us seamlessly through a complex process. The team took the time at all stages to ensure we were briefed, which included explaining things in detail and in layman’s terms. They were always available to answer any queries, quickly and completely. ’

‘Prompt and thorough attention to client queries, displaying great expertise on the issues in question. Also excellent dialogue about fees and billing.’

‘We find they are clear on who is responsible for what and we contact that person directly. They are willing to go the extra mile to support our needs.’

‘Tim Rutherford was incredibly helpful and nothing was too much trouble for him. He took the time to explain situations with us which was so helpful as we were not experienced the workings of charity law.’

‘Alexandra Steffensen was our major point of contact and was always available or would tell us if she was on leave. Stone King was chosen because of its expertise with military charities. It was a very good choice’

‘The team understand their audience of small charity organisations without specialist staff and are patient to explain matters over again.’

‘Tim Rutherford is very knowledgable about almshouse law, and more so than others who have a more general housing law background. His expertise around almshouses and the connection to permanent endowment requirements is strong.’

Key clients

The Coldstream Guards Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel’s Fund

Dr Pusey Memorial Fund

Family Action

Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood

Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society

Brentwood Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust

Clifton Diocese

St John’s Winchester

St John’s Foundation Est. 1174

Bath Rugby Community Foundation

Morval Foundation

United St Saviour’s Charity

Viva!

Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne

Society of Chemical Industry

Work highlights

  • Advised the Dr Pusey Memorial Fund on the incorporation of charity, transforming its 19th-century structure into a modern corporate charity.
  • Consolidating the regimental charities associated with the Coldstream Guards to enable more efficient use of resources.
  • Advising the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood, an international Roman Catholic order, on transforming their activities into a group structure to provide a foundation for their future work.

VWV

The specialist team in VWV's Bristol offices advises over 1,000 charities of various size on key charities law matters. Key clients include health and social care charities, and public sector bodies. It has a niche representing and advising educational charities, in particular independent schools. Con Alexander leads the practice and focuses on transactions and restructuring. Senior associate Rachel Tonkin has previously worked providing technical support to the Law Commission regarding charities law. Laura Chesham is also recommended for her work advising faith-based charities.

Practice head(s):

Con Alexander

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Tonkin; Laura Chesham

Testimonials

‘Expertise in charity law, especially in the education sector, is strong. Partners are able to draw on experiences from a wide range of clients. ’

‘Advice given is always clear and concise. While giving alternative options for action to be taken, VWV partners are not afraid to state which they consider most appropriate.’

‘VWV are one of the foremost charity and education firms in England. Well-resourced, they have ample talent at the more senior levels and also appear to be growing in-house talent themselves. They have pioneered software related to safeguarding and supporting schools in particular.’

‘Con Alexander is an extremely knowledgeable charity lawyer who works conscientiously and patiently with some of the most challenging clients who have entrenched difficulties to resolve. His briefs are comprehensive and helpful and he always identifies practical actions to take.’

‘Outstanding and in-depth understanding of the school merger process.  Honest and frank in setting expectations. ’

‘VWV show a great versatility to respond to our wide-ranging needs, from guidance on national legislation to assisting with local trusts. ’

Laura Chesham is a key part of the relationship, not only excellent in her own advice but a great marshaller of the wider VWV team in meeting our needs as a client.’

‘The team at VWV are approachable, skilful and experts in their field. Their breadth of experience and knowledge both of charity law and the HE Sector underpins innovative, thoughtful long-lasting solutions to any constitutional issue. They are in all respects a pleasure to work with and an invaluable asset.’

Key clients

University of Bristol

Bristol Charities

Soil Association

Diocese of Truro

Diocese of Gloucester

Harpur Trust

Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation

Institute of Cancer Research

Society and College of Radiographers

Malvern Hills Trust

Royal Academy of Music

London Southbank University

St Peter’s Hospice

National Star Foundation

Seashell Trust

Bristol Old Vic

James Tudor Foundation

Florence Shute Millennium Trust

Meningitis Research Foundation

Gloucestershire Rural Community Council

The Forest Trust

Novalis Trust

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Keech Hospice Care

Work highlights

  • Advised Gloucestershire Rural Community Council on the acquisition of the Independence Trust as part of its charitable group.
  • Advising Malvern Hills Trust on a range of governance and other issues raised by its day to day operations.
  • Supporting the Soil Association across all areas of its activities, including intra-group relationships.

Wilsons

Wilsons' charities practice offers a strong combination of contentious and non-contentious services, across property, employment, commercial, governance and legacy matters. The team represents a number of household name charities, but also has notable experience of working with armed forces, care home and educational charities. Notable lawyers include probate specialist James Aspden, contentious legacies specialist Charlotte Watts, and senior associate Andrew Mackie, who covers a broad range of charity law matters including advising Royal Charter bodies. The highly experienced Peter Jeffreys is also regarded for his unsurpassed 'insight into the workings and cultures of charities'. Gillian Fletcher still leads the practice but from the firm's London office.

Practice head(s):

Gillian Fletcher

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Mackie; Charlotte Watts; Peter Jeffreys; Jane Lonergan; Debbie Ashenhurst; James Aspden

Testimonials

‘Gillian Fletcher has always responded with immediate advice and reassurance when it was needed.’

‘Personal service is key here, with every approach being handled efficiently and quickly. Where research and advice are provided, it is always thorough and applicable. Wilsons is thoroughly modern, able to deal with all forms of communication in whatever form has been required, in spite of the current pandemic.’

‘The simple fact is that dealing with Wilsons is based on peer relationships. My observation is that our point of contact is totally approachable and at ease with all those with whom she deals.’

‘Overall service is outstanding, the teams in-depth understanding of how charities react and deal with matters is essential to their success. Their advice is clear, unambiguous and gives the client the precise guidance necessary. Their fees structure ensures costs do not spiral and their efforts to maintain reasonable costs on a matter. During lockdown, the team has carried on with little interruption in their service to their clients.’

‘Peter Jeffreys is unique in his approach to charities and their specific needs. His experience allows him to advise from a position of strength, with an insight into the workings and cultures of charities which is unsurpassed. ’

‘The team is always alert to the fact that charities have to operate differently from individuals so their advice always comes with a comment about the reputational aspects of the case.’

‘Extensive knowledge of the legal requirements of Armed Forces charities and a good understanding of their operating environment. Clear, constructive advice and guidance is given on both fundamentals and fine detail.’

‘We enjoyed working with Andrew Mackie, who brought helpful clarity to our discussions and responsiveness to our requests. ’

Key clients

RNLI

Royal Hospital Chelsea

RSPCA

The Royal Marines Association – The Royal Marines Charity

Macmillan Cancer Support

St Christopher’s Hospice

RNIB

Help for Heroes

PDSA

The Trussell Trust

Work highlights

  • Acted for 11 different charity beneficiaries of the estate of Ruby Watts, helping to recover significant amounts of inheritance tax.
  • Advised Help for Heroes in connection with its role in the Invictus Games regarding its sponsorship deals
  • Drafted a services agreement between the St Christopher’s Hospice and a second charity formalising an informal partnership.

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP's charities team focuses on contentious trust and probate matters, with a particular emphasis on inheritance and proprietary estoppel claims. Kerry Morgan-Gould leads this arm of the team, which frequently represents national, household name charities, with support from the wider contested wills and trusts team.  The firm has also been developing its trust administration team, providing dedicated tax advice to the sector. The 'knowledgeable and helpful' Barny Croft is also highly regarded.

Practice head(s):

Kerry Morgan-Gould

Other key lawyers:

Barny Croft; Kate Venn

Testimonials

‘They provide really focused, pragmatic advice to their clients, and are always looking to gain their clients a strategic advantage in litigation wherever possible. They have excellent relationships with a large number of charities, who respect the sensible and commercial advice that they provide.’

‘Barny Croft is a highly knowledgable solicitor who thinks strategically and fights tenaciously to secure the best outcomes for his clients. He is excellent at inspiring confidence in his clients, gaining the respect of opponents, and providing clear and focused advice.’

‘Experts in the charity sector but also providing tangible support in the context of the South West ’

‘Kerry Morgan-Gould is strong, dependable, compassionate and highly knowledgeable. ’

‘Barny Croft and his team are attentive and always available to help. Barny has embraced the requirements of charity advice. I would wholeheartedly recommend him and his team’

‘Barny Croft is knowledgeable and helpful, and will always offer sound advice. ’

‘A well-rounded, full-service law firm which more than holds its own against other competitors in the niche field of contentious probate advice to charities.’

‘Extremely impressive across the board. Excellent communication and use of technology. Hard-working, tactically minded litigators, with good commercial awareness, friendly and compassionate for the clients’

Work highlights

  • Represented a national charity in an application for a statutory will in an estate worth over £15m.
  • Represented a national charity in defending a claim by an adult child for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance  Act 1975.
  • Acted for a national charity in successfully defending a proprietary estoppel claim.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

The Cheltenham-based team at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP leverages the firm's market-leading experience across the private client spectrum to benefit its wide range of charities clients. It has particular expertise working with educational, military and religious charities, advising them on property, employment, tax, banking and other matters. The team also has a notable focus on establishing corporate charitable foundations. This area is led by Christopher Page, who co-leads the team alongside Ian Brothwood, Julia Cox and Mike Scott. Penelope Byatt is also notable for her governance expertise.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Page; Ian Brothwood; Julia Cox; Mike Scott

Other key lawyers:

Penelope Byatt

Testimonials

‘To find a firm with a specialist charity law team is quite unusual, and it makes a huge difference to be able to speak with someone who deals only with charity law, as the depth and range of their experience are so great.’

‘The advantage of dealing with Penelope Byatt at Charles Russell is that she is an expert in all things to do with charities, and so because she has so much experience, she has information at her fingertips. Dealing with people who do charity law as only one of several areas of expertise is a much less positive experience.’

‘The Cheltenham team are approachable and responsive to requests for assistance. The advice is relevant and practical and really helps us solve our problems and challenges.’

‘Mike Scott and Penelope Byatt are knowledgeable and experienced in charity law and back this up with such a depth of personal experience of the sector.’

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey's Exeter-based charities team focuses on legacy disputes and administration for its clients. Its mix of contentious and non-contentious practitioners provides regulatory and governance support for national and local clients on legacy income earning, including income earned from property. Lucy Gill leads the team, advising clients on a variety of contentious trust and probate matters as well as income growth methods. Legal director Anna Phillips and associate Emma Facey are also notable with respective expertise in property and charitable gifts.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Gill

Other key lawyers:

Anna Philips; Emma Facey

Testimonials

‘Foot Anstey provide client-centric and solution focused plans and adapt to changes in-brief extremely effectively. The team is innovative and deeply embedded in working with charity values and behaviours. ’

‘Lucy Gill spearheads this unique approach to working with charities. She adapted the firm’s offer and service to deliver a new opportunity to the market. The team are unflappable. Emma Facey is passionate to ensure the firm delivers to brief and within targets. They offer something no other firms can do at scale and are critical to the success of our fundraising targets.’

‘The team are personable and are all experts in all things legacies, fully appreciating all the challenges charities face with this unique area’

‘Lucy Gill is exceptionally talented and has done a fantastic job building the team’

Key clients

The National Trust

Cancer Research UK

The RSPB

The Salvation Army

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Dogs Trust

Age UK

Work highlights

  • Provides a broad range of support to the legacies team at Cancer Research UK.
  • Provides a broad range of support to the legacies team at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
  • Manages a significant portion of The Salvation Army’s £60m annual legacy income.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP's charities team has strength on both contentious and non-contentious matters, working with charities across England and Wales. The firm notably serves as the preferred legal provider for Cancer Research UK. Tony Cockayne, who has a strong track record of work on contentious trust, probate and private wealth litigation, leads the contentious arm from Exeter, which specialises in disputed wills. The non-contentious arm provides clients with a wide variety of support across governance tax and estate planning and is led by Edward Porter.

Practice head(s):

Tony Cockayne; Edward Porter

Other key lawyers:

Andrew White; Jane Swannell

Testimonials

‘Very knowledgeable and extremely helpful’

‘Excellent charities know-how across a range of disciplines, in particular trusts, private client and property. ’

‘The two standout individuals are Edward Porter, who combines legal scholarship, client insight and good humour to offer a superb service, and Andrew White, who is sharp, knowledgeable and thoughtful, offering clients a rounded and technically accomplished service. ’

‘We have used the Exeter head office for Wills and PoA. We felt comfortable with the individual associate we met and the fee guideline he gave us.’

Key clients

Cancer Research UK

Tozers Solicitors LLP

Tozers Solicitors LLP offers a full suite of services for charities from its Exeter office. Its expertise in governance, charity mergers, and restructuring has allowed it to serve both a local and national client base effectively. The team has particular experience working with catholic and religious organisations, social enterprises and wildlife trusts. The practice is led by the highly experienced James Evans, who brings significant expertise in governance, mergers and start-ups. He is supported by Martin Laver, who focuses on disputes.

Practice head(s):

James Evans

Other key lawyers:

Martin Laver; Stephen Jennings; Amy Laver

Testimonials

‘The people within the Tozers charity team are very approachable and have adapted to the pressures of the pandemic in an agile and professional manner. The experiences that we have had with James Evans and Amy Laver have highlighted that they are both comfortable working in a collaborative manner to ensure the client outcome is as complete as possible.’

‘James Evans is an experienced and knowledgeable figure within the charity sector.’

‘Flexible response to COVID and have managed to continue to serve clients highly effectively. Compare very well to other lawyers we have used.’

‘Presents as an effective team of professionals ’

‘Very knowledgeable in specialist areas. ’

‘James Evans is very approachable, very quick to respond, knows his stuff and always goes above and beyond.’

‘A good team of individuals who come together to offer a first class service.’

Key clients

The Donkey Sanctuary

Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth

Devon Wildlife Trust

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust

Dame Hannah Rogers Charity

Dartington Hall Trust

Driving Mobility

Institution of Railway Signal Engineers

Havencare Homes & Support Limited

Hospiscare

National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Rowcroft House Foundation

Farms for City Children

South West Lakes Trust

Westbank Community Health & Care

Westcountry Rivers Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Havencare on its charity merger with Brook Housing Limited.
  • Advising Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust on amendments to its articles of association to facilitate online meetings during lockdown restrictions.
  • Advising North Devon Sunrise CIC on its conversion to charity status as Sunrise Diversity.

BPE Solicitors LLP

BPE Solicitors LLP's charities practice represents a variety of large and small charities on matters including formation and governance, with additional experience guiding clients through Covid-19 funding and issues. It works closely with the firm's IP teams on sponsorships, trading agreements and other commercial contracts. Practice head Iain Garfield has expertise in regulatory advice and charity formation, with additional expertise in commercial contracts.

Practice head(s):

Iain Garfield

Other key lawyers:

Heyma Holmes; Helen Martinelli; Sarah Lee

Testimonials

‘At BPE I found everyone very supportive and willing to answer what may be deemed as a silly question in a very professional way

‘Sarah Lee is knowledgeable and approachable, and transparent on costs’

‘Heyma Holmes is thoughtful in the way she presents the choices available and the risks at hand so that decisions can be more easily arrived at. She was also conscious of our constraints as a charity and is helpfully pragmatic.’

Key clients

The Cheltenham Playhouse Theatre

Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS)

St John’s Ambulance

Wyre Forest Nightstop and Mediation Scheme

Aspire Sports & Cultural Trust

Blue Cross

Cheltenham Festivals

Meningitis Now

Winston’s Wish

Community Foster Care

Create Gloucestershire

Gateway Family Services

Gloucestershire Everyman Theatre

House of Bread

Leukaemia & Intensive Chemotherapy Fund (LINC)

Midshires Care

The Smallpeice Trust

Lilian Faithfull

Action Against Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Work highlights

  • Advised the client on amendments and renegotiations of key sponsorship agreements when the Festivals were unable to go on as planned due to COVID-19.
  • Advising the Gloucester Rugby Foundation on issues arising out of COVID19 and the effect this has had on the Foundation’s charitable objectives.
  • Advising the client on applications for grants and funding to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lester Aldridge LLP

Lester Aldridge LLP offers charitable clients a variety of services spanning a charity's full lifespan. It has a particular specialism working providing registration, governance, and regulatory services, as well as advice on data protection and healthcare-specific charities law issues. Geoff Trobridge leads the Bournemouth-based team, advising on charity registration and regulatory issues, with additional expertise with charity mergers and reconstructions.

Practice head(s):

Geoff Trobridge

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Jones

Testimonials

‘Takes time to explain and then adopt a step-wise approach to providing assistance.’

Key clients

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

Care South

Subud Britain

Exeter Homes Trust

Talbot Village Trust

International Seismological Centre

Earl of Southampton Almshouses

Help and Care

Camphill Village Trust

The Tank Museum

Work highlights

  • Advised International Seismological Centre on governance and constitutional issues.
  • Advised St Petrock’s and Heavitree Parish Lands Charity on governance issues arising from the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Advised Nuffield Theatre trustees on the implications of the cancellation of all theatre performances and funding withdrawl as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stephens Scown LLP

Though mostly working with local clients in Devon and Cornwall, Stephens Scown LLP's practice has continued to attract both national charities and other clients across the rest of the UK. It advises clients in healthcare, education and many other industries on trustee issues, legacy issues, employment and other matters. Practice head Laurie Trounce leads the team from Truro, focusing on charity formation, fundraising, restructuring and governance.

Practice head(s):

Laurie Trounce

Other key lawyers:

Olivia Miller

Testimonials

‘The practice has excellent knowledge of charity law and has made sure that that knowledge is shared through interactive online workshops so that it is accessible to charities across the country.’

‘Laurie Trounce is really approachable, happy to help and understands the diverse needs of a small charity.’

Key clients

Shelterbox Trust

Cornwall Air Ambulance

Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Cornwall Heritage Trust

St Petrocs

Duchy Health

Coastline Housing

Medic Malawi

Cornwall Music Service Trust

Birds of Poole Harbour

Work highlights

  • Provides a variety of general counsel advice to disaster relief charity Shelterbox Trust.
  • Worked with Goodwill in Action to Prevent Suicide to create a new charity that offers non-medical support to those affected or bereaved by suicide.
  • Advised the lead Age UK Brand Partner on contract arrangements with five healthcare charities for the delivery of a community hub project for older people.

Willans LLP

The Cheltenham based charities team at Willans LLP focuses on charity property law in both contentious and non-contentious matters. The team primarily acts for local charities but has been building more of a rapport with national clients, advising them on their nationwide property portfolio. Co-head Nigel Whittaker heads this arm of the practice, while co-head Matthew Clayton advises on employment law.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Whittaker; Matthew Clayton

Key clients

Sue Ryder

Trinity Hospice Shops Limited

Shelter

Scope

We Are With You

Young Gloucestershire

New College Swindon

New Start Cat Rescue

The Nelson Trust

Caring for Communities and People (CCP)

Cobalt Health

The Cheltenham Trust

Cheltenham Festivals

ICSA: The Chartered Governance Institute

Work highlights

  • Acts for national charity Scope on its lease acquisitions and renewals for its property portfolio across England and Wales.
  • Advised Sue Ryder on its leasehold retail portfolio in connection with the sale of redundant freehold assets and acquisition of a new care facility.
  • Advised The Nelson Trust on proposals to update the charitable company’s memorandum and articles of association.