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Charities and not-for-profit in South West

Stone King LLP

The charity and social enterprise team at Stone King LLP is a dominant force in the South West, advising on all aspects of charities law for over 1,000 charities a year. In particular, it has expertise in dealing with social enterprise organisations; museums and arts and heritage organisations; religious and faith organisations; educational charities; livery companies; and city corporations. Tim Rutherford, who heads up the firm's national team from Bath, has unparalleled experience working with Roman Catholic charities.

Practice head(s):

Tim Rutherford


‘Their willingness to support clients with all aspects of their charitable businesses and providing advice in a timely and friendly manner makes the practice stand above others. The team also have a thorough understanding of the organisation, which supports the provision of advice on various matters.’

‘Tim Rutherford provides an excellent service to my organisation. He responds quickly to all enquiries and provides simple and comprehensive advice, even when the subject matter may be very complex indeed. He is very approachable and is always willing to help.’

‘The team is very responsive and is made up of individuals who have a serious understanding of their subject and can explain issues to clients in a manner that is instantly understandable to the non-expert.’

‘Excellent knowledge of their subject area. Very articulate. Very good understanding of their clients’ activities, operations and needs.’

Key clients

Methodist Minister’s Housing Society

Society of Jesus

Downside Abbey

Faithful Companions of Jesus

Diocese of Arundel and Brighton

Jonathan Burchfield as Interim Manager of the Essex Islamic Academy

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church of St Mary of Debre Tsion

Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse

Brentwood Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust

The Society of St Stephen’s House

English Province of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd CIO

The Carmelite Charitable Trust

Julian House

Sisters of Christian Retreat

Society of the Holy Child Jesus

The Sisters of the Divine Saviour


The Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain

Fairfield Farm Trust

Family Action

Diocese of Westminster

The Polish Catholic Mission

Royal Society of Medicine

Catch 22

St John’s Foundation Est. 1174

Bath Rugby Community Foundation

Dorothy House

Alliance of Religions and Conservation

Work highlights

  • Assisting Downside Abbey General Trust with the separation after 400 years of Downside School and the Abbey and the transfer of the operational assets to the school, including dealing with data protection, property, intellectual property, substantive secured funding, legacies and heritage assets.
  • Advising the Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society on the statutory conversion process to a charitable company limited by guarantee.
  • Assisting the Alliance of Religions and Conservation with setting up FaithInvest, a charitable company limited by guarantee, and registering FaithInvest with the Charity Commission for England and Wales.


VWV has a strong reputation in the charities and not-for-profit sector. Its client base consists of over 1,000 charities, including a number of the most well-known independent schools in the country. Other areas of expertise include advising healthcare, arts and educational charities, as well as faith organisations. Practice head Con Alexander excels at handling major transactions, fundraising, mergers and restructurings. Also of note are senior associates Rachel Tonkin, who lends experience in Charity Tribunal proceedings, and Laura Chesham, whose specialism is advising faith-based charities.

Practice head(s):

Con Alexander


VWV’s ability to sense that ours was a charity that it was right to back and to be with us “for the journey” has been essential to our development. In my experience very few companies are willing to work like that.

Accessible, well thought of and acknowledged experts in charity law. They provide an excellent service , are responsive and proactive. VWV are considered to be one of the best firms in the city.

Excellent customer service. Rapid response to requests for advice.

Key clients

University of Bristol

Soil Association

Diocese of Truro

Harpur Trust

Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation

Institute of Cancer Research

National Star Foundation

Society and College of Radiographers

Malvern Hills Trust

University of Law

Royal Academy of Music

London Southbank University

St Peter’s Hospice

Bristol Old Vic

James Tudor Foundation

Florence Shute Millennium Trust

Work highlights

  • Providing advice on the full range of charity law, ecclesiastical and regulatory matters to the Truro Diocesan Board of Finance, parishes and other bodies within the Diocese of Truro.
  • Advising Downside School on the acquisition of the school undertaking from a monastic order, at the direction of the Charity Commission following a report issued by the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse.
  • Advising the charity which owns the Malvern Hills on complex governance matters, including the possibility of judicial review proceedings and its relationships with local authorities.

Ashfords LLP

The trusts and estates group at Ashfords LLP has a wealth of experience in advising national charities, many of them household names, on legacy disputes, management and estate administration. Practice co-head Kerry Morgan-Gould in Exeter advises clients on contentious matters, including disputed wills and trusts, proprietary estoppel matters and Inheritance Act claims. Fellow co-head John Toth (based in London) oversees the department's non-contentious charities offering, which covers a range of charity governance and regulatory issues, as well as the setting up of new charities.

Practice head(s):

John Toth; Kerry Morgan-Gould

Other key lawyers:

Barny Croft


Ashfords is highly competent and very friendly.

A solid and experienced charity team which understands its clients’ needs well and offers a full range of services to charities.

We have been delighted with Kerry Morgan-Gould’s work for us this year. Kerry has a very sharp legal mind and responds quickly to client instructions. She always sees the bigger picture and offers charities pragmatic and cost-effective ways to resolve estate administration problems. She also listens carefully to what her clients want and is willing to adapt the tone of her correspondence to reflect a charity client’s PR concerns, rather than defaulting to the tough and uncompromising tone of so many contentious probate solicitors. Approachable, efficient and, above all, effective, Kerry is recognised as a serious player in the field of contentious probate for charity clients.

Barny Croft is fantastic to work with. Kerry Morgan-Gould is incredibly knowledgeable and exceptionally skilful in dealing with sensitive matters.

Work highlights

  • Advising a national charity on a challenge to the validity of a will on the basis of forgery.
  • Assisting several national charities with a claim for the rectification of a will.
  • Advising several national charities on defending a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charity clients of Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, including a number of notable religious and educational organisations, benefit from the team's experience across the full spectrum of private client work. Its services range from advice on legacy disputes, property and construction to employment and commercial matters. Senior partner Christopher Page and Julia Cox, both of whom have broad charity law experience, head up the team alongside commercial law specialist Mike Scott and head of the strategic land team Ian Brothwood. Associate Penelope Byatt specialises in constitutional and governance issues.

Other key lawyers:

Penelope Byatt


Penny Byatt is very knowledgeable, very approachable and can explain complex matters with clarity, thinking about all the implications of alternative solutions, and helping the charity to reach a well-thought-out conclusion as to the action to be taken.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey has a strong track record advising on legacy disputes and administration, and has been appointed by a number of national charities to manage legacy income and contentious trusts and probate matters. Other specialisms include dealing with property issues in estates and providing governance and regulatory advice. Head of the legacies team Lucy Gill (based in Exeter) has experience advising charities on how to grow their legacy income. She is supported by legal director Anna Phillips, who heads up the charity property practice.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Gill

Other key lawyers:

Anna Phillips

Key clients

National Trust

Work highlights

  • Managing a significant proportion of the National Trust’s £50m annual legacy income and working as an extension of its in-house team.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP has a strong reputation in the South West for advising charities on dealing with disputed wills. The firm is regularly instructed by national charities, including acting for Cancer Research UK on all legacy matters and disputes. Practice co-head Tony Cockayne, who is a well-known name in trusts and probate disputes, leads the practice's contentious offering from the Exeter office. On the non-contentious side he is supported by Bristol-based Edward Porter, who was made up to partner in May 2019.

Practice head(s):

Tony Cockayne; Edward Porter

Other key lawyers:

Jane Swannell; Andrew White


The USP of Michelmores’ charity team is the technical quality of the individuals, coupled with the in-depth knowledge of charity practice in surrounding teams such as property, trusts and employment. This sets Michelmores apart from similarly sized national and regional firms.

Edward Porter is the standout member of the team. He is technically superb, has an intuitive understanding of legal issues and calmly works through even the most complex of problems. Andrew White combines a scholarly approach with incisive realism, which enables him to provide a superb service. A modern lawyer with all the positive attributes associated with a traditional profession.

Very high-quality advice from lawyers who clearly know their fields well. Requests for advice are attended to very promptly. I have never had to chase an issue.

Courteous and competent are characteristics that come to mind. The advice we have been given on several cases has been clear and has been concisely articulated. Partners who we work with regularly suggest colleagues with particular skills as and when required. We value this.

Key clients

Cancer Research UK

Tozers Solicitors LLP

The charities and social enterprise team at Tozers Solicitors LLP excels across a wide range of charities-related work. Its client base spans local Devon-based charities and national and international charities. The team has a strong track record of acting for Catholic charities, wildlife trusts and charitable schools, and has expertise in advising private-sector organisations on establishing corporate charitable foundations. Practice head James Evans comes highly recommended for charity mergers and governance issues; his practice also includes registration, structuring and constitutional matters.

Practice head(s):

James Evans


Tozers stand out because of the breadth of knowledge and experience that they have of the charities sector. This is aligned with colleagues in other areas who are able to advise on contracts and terms and conditions, giving an all-round service for small charities.

James Evans, in particular, gives clear and practical advice on how to deal with both the wording of governance documents and the handling of potentially difficult situations for a small charity.’

James Evans is very responsive and provides excellent advice, in a timely and understandable fashion.

Key clients

The Donkey Sanctuary

Dartington Hall Trust

Plymouth Diocesan Trust

Institution of Railway Signal Engineers

British Accounting and Finance Association (BAFA)

National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain

Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Driving Mobility

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Buckfast Abbey Trust

Family Mediators Association

Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education

Devon Wildlife Trust

Dame Hannah Rogers Trust

South West Lakes Trust


South Devon Railway Trust

Hydrographic Society UK

Farms for City Children

Westbank Community Health & Care

Families for Children

Clare Milne Trust

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust

Paul’s Place


Plymouth & District Mind (now Devon Mind)

Heartswell South West (now Hearts Together)

Shared Lives South West

Railway Convalescent Homes

Community Equality Disability Action (CEDA)

Work highlights

  • Advising the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain on the adoption of a revised governing document following a governance review.
  • Assisting Hospiscare with its merger with the independent Hospiscare Exmouth and Lympstone charity.
  • Advised the Devon Wildlife Trust on a collaboration with Taste of the West in relation to catering at Seaton Jurassic visitor centre.


Wilsons counts a number of household name charities as clients, including the RSPCA, for which it handles legacy disputes and administration. A specialism which has grown considerably in recent years is in advising armed forces charities. Acting for independent schools and educational charities more widely is also an area of strength. Gillian Fletcher, who heads the charity law team from Salisbury, has particularly deep experience in the regulatory aspects of charity law. Senior associate Andrew Mackie is experienced in advising Royal Charter bodies and healthcare charities.

Practice head(s):

Gillian Fletcher


They know everything about charities and give good, commercial and sensitive advice.’

The contentious probate team at Wilsons are knowledgeable, thorough, practical and have the charity’s best interests at the forefront of their minds when making recommendations. We wouldn’t use another firm for our contentious matters.

Charlotte Watts is approachable, has great technical knowledge and always achieves a good result for the charity. When offering advice she is also considering the charitable objects and the costs versus benefits for the charity in pursuing or taking on a matter.

Key clients


Help for Heroes


The Royal Marines Association – The Royal Marines Charity

Macmillan Cancer Support

The Godolphin School


The Army Central Fund


ASCB Charitable Fund

Holland Park School

Work highlights

  • Advising Help for Heroes on governance issues and on a range of commercial matters, including arrangements with corporate sponsors, commercial participators and professional fundraisers.
  • Acting for Guide Dogs, the British Heart Foundation and other charities in a claim against the indemnity insurers of a former law firm, Dixon Coles & Gill.
  • Providing Holland Park School with ongoing reputation management and information law advice and assisting with responses to FOIA requests and subject access requests under the GDPR.

BPE Solicitors LLP

The charity and not-for-profit team at Cheltenham-based BPE Solicitors LLP advises clients ranging from local charities to organisations with a national profile. Practice head Iain Garfield's expertise in this space includes charity formation and compliance with regulations. The team also works closely with the firm's commercial law team on matters such as sponsorship deals.

Practice head(s):

Iain Garfield

Key clients

Age Against Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Aspire Sports & Cultural Trust

Blue Cross

Cheltenham Festivals

Community Foster Care

Create Gloucestershire

Gateway Family Services

Gloucestershire Everyman Theatre

House of Bread

Leukaemia & Intensive Chemotherapy Fund (LINC)

Lilian Faithfull

Roots HR Community Interest Company

St John’s Ambulance

The Cheltenham Trust

The Smallpeice Trust

Winston’s Wish

Work highlights

  • Advising Meningitis Now in relation to a commercial participation agreement in which the charity receives a donation for each pack of branded Christmas cards sold.
  • Advising Cheltenham Festivals on sponsorship terms with a broadcaster for filming rights at the charity’s programme of festivals.
  • Representing Epic CIC in a complex employment dispute resulting in a successful outcome at mediation.

Lester Aldridge LLP

Lester Aldridge LLP acts for a number of local and regional charities, focusing on providing specialist advice on the registration of new charities, governance and regulatory issues. A specialism of the team is in advising healthcare charities. Geoff Trobridge, who heads up the charities team, also has expertise in charity mergers and restructurings.

Practice head(s):

Geoff Trobridge

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Jones


Geoff Trowbridge gave very detailed and knowledgable advice in his specialist area.’

Their charity specialist lawyer was by far the best that we met, so we decided to go with them. It was a very easy decision. We have had fabulous and faultless service from them.

Geoff Trowbridge gives an attentive, instant and very helpful service at all times. I can’t fault him.

Key clients

Autism Wessex

Hammersley Homes Limited

Macmillan Caring Locally

Dorchester Municipal Charities

Talbot Village Trust

Help and Care

Bournemouth & District Recreational Charity

Lymington Commununity Association

Work highlights

  • Advising Autism Wessex on updating its governing documents and reducing the number of members so that the only members of the charity are the directors and charity trustees of the charity.
  • Assisting the founder of Hammersley Homes with proposals to establish a charity for the provision of small-scale homes for people with a mental illness, dealing with the governance of the charity and its registration.
  • Advising Macmillan Caring Locally with updating its current governing document, a declaration of trust and schemes of the Charity Commission and dealing with the incorporation of the charity as a charitable incorporated organisation.

Stephens Scown LLP

The growing charity team at Stephens Scown LLP has recently built on its client base in Devon and Cornwall with instructions from a number of national charities. Strengths of the team include advising clients in the healthcare, social housing, schools, environmental and wildlife protection areas. Laurie Trounce heads up the team from Truro, lending expertise in governance and regulatory matters.

Practice head(s):

Laurie Trounce


The relatively large size of the team in the South West means they have always been able to give us a prompt and responsive service.’

Key clients

ShelterBox Trust

Various Housing Associations

Gerrick Rose Animal Trust

Cornwall Music Service Trust

Kernow Health CIC

Duchy Heath Charity

Okehampton Town Council

Restormel Mind

Work highlights

  • Providing in-house legal services to ShelterBox Trust.
  • Advising Coastline Housing on its partnership with Legal & General Homes for the delivery of 600 additional homes in Cornwall per year.
  • Assisting Kernow Health with a variety of commercial and governance matters, including digital health arrangements and revised delivery arrangements across Cornwall following the introduction of the new primary care network areas.

Willans LLP

Willans LLP primarily acts for clients in Gloucestershire, but its strong client base also includes a number of charities with a national presence. The department is particularly well known for advising charities on their property portfolios and property-related disputes. Commercial property team head Nigel Whittaker and employment team head Matthew Clayton jointly lead the firm's charities offering.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Whittaker; Matthew Clayton


The team at Willans work really well together when focusing on their client’s needs. By working as a team there is always someone available to take your call to answer questions, give advice and solve issues, even when your main contact may not be available.’

Key clients

Cobalt Health


Trinity Hospice Shops Limited

Sue Ryder

Princess Alice Hospice


Macmillan Cancer Support

Cheltenham Family Welfare Association

New College Swindon

Cheltenham Festivals

The Cheltenham Trust

The Higher Education Statistics Agency

ICSA: The Chartered Governance Institute

Young Gloucestershire

Carers Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire Animal Welfare Association & Cheltenham Animal Shelter

Sparsholt College

Work highlights

  • Advising Sue Ryder on the acquisition of land for the construction of a new multimillion-pound care facility.
  • Advising Cheltenham Family Welfare Association on the amalgamation of four charitable trusts into one charitable incorporated organisation.
  • Continuing to act for Scope on lease acquisitions and renewals for its entire property portfolio across England and Wales.