We help charities and philanthropists make a real difference. Get advice on everything from leases to disputed wills from our legal specialists.

Who do Pitmans’ Charity & Philanthropy lawyers work for?

Historically most charities were set up as Trusts, although some such as Universities or Learned Societies are established by Royal Charter or Acts of Parliament. In recent years the preferred structure has been a Company Limited by Guarantee, and since 2012 a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) has become available.

Regulation inevitably follows charitable status from the Charity Commission and tax problems (over trading and VAT) arise with HMRC, while charities which operate abroad will be subject to the laws of other countries too.

In many ways charities are businesses, subject to regulation and legal restrictions like any other. Many embark on fundraising through a wholly owned trading company, or engage in joint ventures. Others may simply use volunteers to rattle collection tins.

Pitmans provide a full range of corporate and commercial services, including property advice and litigation, to charity clients of every kind, as well as specialist advice on the Charities Acts and Trust law. Of increasing concern are legacy disputes, for which Pitmans’ expertise in Wills and probate is vital.

We also advise would be philanthropists, whether individual or corporate on new charitable projects, selecting the right structure, avoiding conflicts of interest etc.

Do Pitmans’ Charity & Philanthropy lawyers have any particular areas of expertise?

Our specialist lawyers have the full range of expertise to handle the day to day business needs of charity clients – leases, purchases and sale of properties; employment contracts; debt collection; setting up companies; health & safety and pensions regulation; preserving intellectual property rights, advising on copyright, the licensing of material for publication and sale, etc.

When it comes to the formation of charities, and negotiations with the Charity Commission over “public benefit” or other key issues of charity law, our lawyers have experience stretching back to the 1970s of many types of charity – schools and other educational establishments; care of the disabled; learned and professional societies, museums and arts charities, including membership “Friends of…” organisations ; agricultural, medical and other research charities; animal protection; military charities; corporate, community, and family grant making foundations; stately homes and garden trusts; churches and local parish funds; and so on.

Our range of experience gives us deep insight into the essence of “public benefit”, whilst our Trust lawyers have a fundamental understanding of the duties of trustees and governance of charitable trusts, including investment policy and risk management.

Why choose Pitmans’ Charity & Philanthropy lawyers?

Pitmans and its predecessor firms have been around in Reading for over 150 years – long before the Pemsel Case of 1891 defined the main charitable purposes in English law. We became established in London in 2008. Our clients include a variety of charitable and social enterprises, many individuals are trustees of charities, or their companies may be active in corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects. We receive many enquiries about charitable activity in the UK and abroad.

Whether you wish to set up a new charity, are contemplating a beauty parade for new legal advisers to an existing charity, are concerned about the governance of a charity you are involved in, or have a legacy dispute, considering amalgamation or reconstruction, or have an innovative philanthropic project in mind, we can help.

We are happy to talk by phone, or at an initial meeting, free of charge.