Charities and non profit lawyers
Across the world, the charity and voluntary sectors are under huge pressure. With austerity measures squeezing, income inequality on the rise and the global economy shifting, non-profit organizations are being asked to do more with less.
As someone working in the charitable and non-profit sector, in addition to fighting for funds and resources, you are also striving to demonstrate your charitable impact and working hard to keep up with legal developments and stay ahead of the curve in the way that benefits your beneficiaries.
Thinking internationallySeveral years ago we started thinking about how we could best support those of you working on a global basis, whether in a federation or network of partners, or with affiliates tied to a home institution. For some this is about global delivery of charitable outcomes and for others, all about raising funds globally. Being able to work with the maximum pool of donors available to you globally is clearly vital and so we have developed a real specialism for charities and philanthropists who want to fundraise or invest internationally. We pioneered the use of ‘dual-qualified’ charitable structures in the US, UK and Hong Kong and are the only firm able to establish and service those structures entirely in-house. Our team of US lawyers in London can also provide timely assistance on a range of US issues for non-US organizations. We have also successfully obtained European cross-border recognition.
Supporting the sectorOur client base includes 35% of The Sunday Times Giving List and our work with some of the world’s foremost philanthropists gives us insight and connections of benefit to our charity clients. We have the largest team of lawyers in the world that focuses on the process of creating, defending and receiving charitable legacies, and regularly helps with complex charity disputes. We are actively involved in sector advocacy to try and ensure legislation and regulatory guidance reflects your needs and have built up useful connections at key regulators and sector bodies.
How we can help
Charities need to be able to show robust governance. We work with many large charities to ensure that their trustees understand their responsibilities and meet the regulatory requirements.Charity operations and commercial contracts
Charities frequently call on us for legal advice on fundraising, partnerships and sponsorship deals. We also give input on all varieties of commercial arrangements and trading activities, putting contracts in place to protect your interests.Commercial litigation
Our highly skilled commercial litigators assist with complex, multi-jurisdictional cases of all kinds, whether acting for an investor, business or brand.
Our standout commercial property practice helps well-known businesses to grow around the world. We also work with clients from charities to developers to ensure that their deals go smoothly.Education
Our lawyers act for schools, colleges and universities across the world. We understand your context and are able to advise on any legal and regulatory matters, as well as international projects.Employment
Fees for bringing and defending claims for unfair and wrongful dismissal in the employment tribunal
Mergers can be an excellent way for charities and non-profits to serve their mission better, but they need careful consideration. Our team will advise on options and any further implications.Will, estate and legacy disputes
Challenging a will (however unfair it may seem) is not an easy thing to do. As one of the only global will dispute law firms with a team dedicated purely to succession disputes, we offer families, friends, executors, and charities guidance on how to reach the desired outcome.
Privacy compliance for a students' organisation
Assisted Fawlts, a students' organisation that helps students from less privileged backgrounds find jobs, on the privacy compliance of the information provided by the students in question and on the documentation required to participate in the program.
Charitable and non-profit entities
Creation and ongoing representation of charitable and non-profit entities, including public charities, private foundations, and charitable trusts (charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts).
Non-grantor charitable lead annuity trust
Assisted an ultra high net worth individual with his charitable endeavors and continued support of research at an elite education institution. We worked with the individual to establish a non-grantor charitable lead annuity trust, a technique that also incorporated beneficial tax planning for our client.
Prominent New York historical museum
Provided ongoing pro-bono work for a prominent New York historical museum.
The giving pledge
Assisted a client with her estate plan to meet her goal to ensure more than half of her estate goes to giving back to her community and charitable organizations.
Charity of international sportsman
Assisted a well-known international sportsman with the creation of an Italian charity to support philanthropic projects and fundraising events in Italy.
Charity trust pension
Advised a large charity-sector master trust pension trustee on ways in which it could adapt and improve its business model in light of changes in the pensions legal and regulatory arenas, as well as changes in the requirements of, and challenges faced by, charitable employers.
Well-known UK charities
Advising several large, well-known, UK charities in relation to their pension obligations, including in the context on a transfer of former public sector employees under a business sale, and in another case, how a regional branch office might manage its risks and liabilities in relation to a final salary pension scheme in which it participated for non-associated employers in the voluntary sector.
Landmark stamp duty decision on in the High Court of Singapore
We successfully represented our client in Zhao Hui Fang and another in a case that challenged the application of stamp duty to a residential purchase by a charity. The High Court of Singapore ruled that the additional buyer’s stamp duties regime does not apply to residential property purchased by a charity. The landmark decision had wide-ranging impact on charities and the non-profit sector in Singapore.
Football Foundation's framework agreement
Developing a framework agreement and call-off-contract documents in respect of three procurement exercises undertaken on behalf of the Football Foundation, UK's largest sports charity, and related parties.
Sport England's framework agreement
Developing a framework agreement and call-off-contract documents for Sport England's specialist design consultancy panel.
Paul Hewitt and Phineas Hirsch worked with Jersey advocates for the RSPCA, Cancer Research UK and RAF Benevolent Fund in securing an order that Mrs Ivelaw had retained her English domicile of origin after many years living in Belgium and that she had not intended to revoke an earlier Jersey will benefitting the three charities when she made a later Belgian will.
SSAFA, the armed forces charity
Acting for SSAFA over several decades. We were on hand to advise when the charity went through a redundancy exercise and TUPE transfer in Germany. We successfully negotiated when two senior executive roles were terminated, alongside more junior members of staff, one of whom brought a disability discrimination claim. We also advised an Employment Tribunal in the UK over whether the charity could be held liable for an allegedly discriminatory decision taken by the MOD, securing a ruling in our client's favour.
Macmillan Cancer Support
Acting for charities is an important part of our practice, and we act for non-profit organisations on a range of legal matters. In one recent instance we were called on by one of the UK's largest cancer support charities to assist in the acquisition of new headquarters in London.
Association of NHS Charities
The Association of NHS Charities is the voice of NHS Charities through England and Wales, and works to represent and support the interests of these organisations as well as offering a network of support. Withers acted on the Association's behalf in preparing the Department of Health's guidance for the deregulation of NHS Charities.
Dr. Lui Che Woo
Dr. Lui Che Woo is one of Hong Kong's most successful businessmen, and a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Withers was given the opportunity to advise Dr. Lui Che Woo on the creation of his aptly named LUI Che Woo Prize - the 'Prize for World Civilisation'.
The Royal Society v Robinson
An eminent physicist, Michael Crowley-Milling who made English and Swiss wills bequeathed our client the Royal Society “all my assets in the United Kingdom”. The technical definition of United Kingdom excluded almost £1 million in bank accounts in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. We successfully argued that the scientific genius had made a geographical error and had also intended to give these assets to the charity.
15 December 2023 | Article
Partnering for success: charities at the forefront of scientific innovation
15 November 2023 | Article
New inquiry into the use of sub-contractors by fundraising agencies in the UK
15 November 2023 | Article
Statutory inquiry into charity for repeat failure to file accounts in the UK
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Typical clients and industries include
GovernmentOur leading lawyers are frequently called on by government bodies in different countries to offer a view on draft legislation, or advise on the likely consequences of new policies or regulation. Find Out More
Media and reputationThe publication of private or inaccurate information can seriously damage reputations. Should the worst happen, our media law team will quickly advise on how to mitigate any potential impact. Find Out More
PhilanthropyThere is no single approach to philanthropy; what’s key is that your giving has the biggest impact possible. Whichever way you choose to donate, our team can advise on what is most effective. Find Out More
Get in touch
Our website will give you a flavour of the advice we provide - if you would like to talk to us for more information, please contact our client services team who will be happy to assist.