As a third sector organisation, choosing a legal partner can be difficult. You need someone who can offer sound, practical advice and make sure you comply with all the regulations. But you also need someone who recognises your distinctive requirements as a not-for-profit and understands why you do what you do.
The head of our team has worked in the third sector for 18 years, four of them as a lawyer with the Charity Commission, and has experience as the trustee of a charity so you can be sure we really understand the sector, the way in which it works and the way it is regulated.
Our advice covers all aspects of charity law. We can help you with setting up a charity, advising upon charitable status, the best legal structure, the governing documents and registration with the Charity Commission. As the charity develops, we can help with advice on governance and the powers and duties of the trustees, fundraising and trading.
Changes may be required and we can advise on mergers, restructuring and collaborative working with other charities and organisations. If financial problems arise, we help trustees to find the best way forward, working closely with their other advisers.
An expression that is commonly used is that successful charities “look after the housekeeping” – the legal and regulatory obligations. Our charity solicitors can help you do just that so that you can concentrate on helping your beneficiaries.
Social Enterprises, Clubs and Societies
The third sector is a broad spectrum of organisations. It includes many that are not registered charities. Some are exempt charities subject to the general law relating to charities but not to the regulation of the Charity Commission or to most of the provisions of the Charities Act 2011. Others are excepted charities that are not registered but are nevertheless regulated by the Charity Commission.
There is surprisingly no legal definition of a social enterprise. Many are clearly for the benefit of the community but not charitable. Some are set up as community interest companies whilst others may be companies limited by guarantee or even by shares with appropriate restrictions in their governing documents.
Clubs and societies are equally varied, ranging from unincorporated associations to private members’ clubs. Some are charitable and sports clubs may be registered with HMRC as community amateur sports clubs.
The variety of legal structures and the issues that arise call for sound, experienced legal advice with an ability to find innovative and practical solutions.
What can our charity solicitors help with?
Whether you are looking at how to set up a charity or social enterprise or are a long-established organisation needing legal advice, we can help. Our expertise covers:
- Setting up an organisation: formation, registration
- Fundraising, contracts and grants
- Employees and volunteers
- Mergers, restructuring and collaborative working
- Financial difficulties and winding up
Who do we help?
As well as knowing what makes you different, our charity law solicitors also know that one size doesn’t fit all. What you need as a small local charity is different to what you need as a high-profile national organisation. Our clients include voluntary organisations, charities, social enterprises, almshouses, clubs and associations of all sizes and in all parts of the country. We have a particular specialism in the healthcare sector.
Why choose us?
At Lester Aldridge, legal knowledge and expertise are only the starting point. The Charities & Social Enterprise team brings a wealth of experience in acting for all types of third sector clients and a genuine commitment to the work of not-for-profit organisations.
Our enthusiasm comes from our clients – diverse, unique and committed to their organisations. We enjoy the challenge of finding practical legal solutions to often complex problems but, more importantly, the knowledge that we are helping you to help others.
We are active members of the Charity Law Association, regularly serving on working parties to comment upon developments in charity law and practice. Keeping up-to-date not only with the law but with trends in the sector means that we can be proactive in advising our clients. Members of the team are also on the panel from which the Charity Commission appoints interim managers to charities. We are also members of the Almshouse Association and on the Association’s panel of legal consultants.
But perhaps the best ongoing training for a lawyer is to put themselves in the client’s shoes. Members of the team are themselves charity trustees and are very aware of the pressures facing the sector and the ever-increasing demands upon trustees.
Our approach is based on technical expertise, enthusiasm, empathy and a commitment to providing practical solutions – if we can help you and provide our specialist charity legal advice, please do get in touch.