Charities & Not For Profit

Operating in the charity and not for profit sector has never been more challenging or more stimulating with social, economic and political upheavals, scarce resources and mounting needs and expectations

All these challenges call for practical, commercial and innovative advice to management teams and trustees which can help charities deliver on their outcomes.  As well as broad expertise in charity law, we also support you with issues such as employment law, funding and corporate advice, intellectual property considerations and real estate advice.  The team also has particular and unique expertise advising charities on contentious probate issues.

Many members of the team are trustees of charities themselves and have first hand experience of the challenges facing charities today and can advise from the inside out.  With a thorough understanding and appreciation of the issues facing the sector, this has ensured that the team’s client base continues to grow providing invaluable advice in relation to charity registration, administration and governance.

"The team is a national team and has an increasing reputation for acting for national charities‘"

Legal 500, 2020

We can support charities throughout their ‘lives’ and have worked with various charities supporting them on:

  • Getting started - Their establishment under charity law, governance consideration and corporate structure from inception

  • Employment - Assisting on all employment related issues including contentious matters

  • Land and property - All of your real estate requirements including any contentious property dispute or litigious challenges

  • Protection – advising on intellectual property and licensing considerations

  • Contracts and commercial – For example, commercial participator agreements between charities and various commercial organisations and sponsors

  • Regulation and reporting - Assisting charities with their ongoing responsibilities regarding regulation and reporting procedures

  • Protecting income - Advising charities on contentious probate challenges and legacy management, fundraising and retail properties.

  • Private wealth - charitable giving/philanthropy and tax planning via our family office service.

Our specialties


The team has developed a particular expertise and a strong reputation and client base in the educational sector, advising on appropriate charity structures, such as charitable bodies. We act for a number of prominent and noteworthy educational charitable bodies, such as University of Warwick, Bishop Grosseteste University and the University of Central Lancashire.

Social Housing

This team has continued to build on its already significant offering to the social housing sector, many of which are charitable bodies. With a strong base in housing, charities law and regulation the team is able to support in relation to vires issues and charity law matters arising from disposals including intra-group transfers as well as the full range of corporate and governance support services.

Charity Legacy Management

We understand the importance of legacy income for our charity clients, and how crucial it is to consider the risks and regulations involved. In some instances it can be difficult to receive legacy payments, especially if executors are slow or another party has threatened litigation. Our team are well-versed in the handling of charity legacy disputes, from the beginning of claims through to the point of resolution.

Our team of later living experts have many years’ experience in working with a broad range of providers, developers and charities on the development and ongoing operation of retirement living schemes. Together, we advise on the broad range of challenges and opportunities faced by providers of retirement living solutions and have supported many successful schemes targeting the over 55s.

We're proud to be trusted legal advisors to many industry leaders

Why choose Shakespeare Martineau?

We work are with you as trusted advisors bringing pragmatic and realistic advise to your considerations and goals
We find creative solutions keeping your charities clear goals and commercial objectives in mind
We have expertise across a number of sectors ensuring we understand the specific issues the charities sector is facing
We understand that each sector is different, we bring real advice, empathy and experience to every situation
Charities’ role in improving Britain

29 Feb

Catherine Rustomji, Partner & Head of Charities
Charities’ role in improving Britain

Is it time to shift the narrative from what charities can learn from business, […]

Reforms to the Charities Act 2022

27 Feb

Catherine Rustomji, Partner & Head of Charities
Reforms to the Charities Act 2022

Discussing the next tranche of reforms from the Charities Act 2022, tailored for the […]

Advanced Trustee Training Session

13 Sep

Catherine Rustomji, Partner & Head of Charities
Advanced Trustee Training Session

This advanced session looks in further detail at some of the key responsibilities for […]

Watch our Charity Chats - topical discussion series

How we have helped charities so far

An Education Setting

We are advising an educational establishment with the permanent endowment of school land, playing fields and investment property, valued at approximately £25m. The endowment was registered by a Charitable Scheme in the 1980s and its establishing income is to be used for the benefit of the students.

We have advised the establishment on complex legal matters regarding permanent endowments and the circumstances capital that can be spent and/or utilised, and how it can ensure income is being used to benefit students. We’ve also advised on different ways the scheme itself could be amended, and options for proceeding without trustees’ consent, or by involving the Charity Commission in the matter.

As well as providing detailed advice regarding the scheme, our education team has also been advising the establishment on the impact of the proposed academisation.

An Ecclesiastical Establishment

We advised a charitable company on the registration requirements under charity law.  The team guided the organisation through the process of registering as a charity, including on the need to update its constitution to a form that is acceptable for the Charity Commission.

The firm also advised the organisation on the requirements under company law, guiding them and assisting through the process of passing the required special resolution to update their constitution.  We then completed the registration process with the Charity Commission and successfully changed the charity’s constitution to allow it to be accepted as a registered charity.

We continue to provide guidance in respect of ongoing management and trustees’ duties under charity law.

A Major Global Charity

We are instructed by a global welfare charity where they are the residuary beneficiary of an estate. A potential claim has been intimated against the estate by the deceased’s brother, who is also claiming substantial care costs from the estate.

We are advising the charity in respect of the merits of the potential claim –including whether or not the charities should be considering seeking Charity Commission approval to make an ex-gratia payment to the brother.

It is important to the charity as legacies represent a significant source of income.

A National Animal Charity

We act for this charity in relation to a disputed will case where they are a potential beneficiary. There has been suspected fraud in respect of a number of later wills, which do not include our client.

We have been instructed to investigate matters and pursue a claim to challenge the validity of those later wills, to ensure that the charity receives a share of the estate.  We have been working with the solicitors acting for our client’s co-beneficiaries to ensure that a coordinated approach was taken to evidence gathering.

The matter is important to the client as legacy income represents a substantial part of the charity’s income. It is also important given the apparent fraud and the impact that this could have on the charity’s reputation.

A Private Trust

The team provides legal advice and ongoing administration to a private individual’s trust, of which team members are also trustees.

The trust was set up with a specific and quite unique purpose –and although relatively small at some £1 million, it is very active and continues to have a great deal of impact to the cause and people it was set up to help.

The trustees have recently agreed to provide monthly donations to fund transport for young adults, and premises providing activities for children with additional needs and their families. The trust has also sponsored children through secondary education to A Level

How can we help?

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