Charities Legal Advice & Support Service (CLASS) - Our charities fixed fee legal advice and support service (CLASS) is a genuinely innovative and cost-effective way for you quickly to obtain all the legal advice you need to ensure your charity is well governed and runs smoothly.
Our staff include members of the Charity Law Association (CLA), the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and a number of other organisations. Two partners are recognised leaders in the charities field, and several others have practical, hands-on experience as governors or trustees of a wide variety of schools and other charities. We work closely with agencies such as the Charity Commission, the DfE and other bodies involved in the sector.
We offer expert advice through all stages of the formation and registration process. Our precedents are based on the latest CLA models approved by the Charity Commission - but we give close attention to a proposed charity's legal objects and powers to ensure that they match both its likely activities and the need to demonstrate public benefit. Useful pro-formas and other guidance are given to help you cope with the legal formalities. Where advising on establishing or merging new schools, we draw on a long history of involvement with educational establishments and provide a complete range of documentation.
We provide a review service for existing charities to ensure that their activities are not out of step with their constitutions. We advise on possible changes and, where necessary, negotiate with the Charity Commission and draft suitable resolutions, explanatory letters to members etc. We can advise on whether your constitution allows a particular course of action and, if not, either seek authority for it or advise on a permanent change to allow it.
We can also advise on mergers of charities, on collaboration agreements and joint ventures.
In the light of the mandatory Statement of Recommended Practice - and the public benefit requirement - we advise trustees on points to cover in their annual report, including your reserves policy, risk assessment procedures and similar matters.
We advise on all aspects of charity giving, including setting up (and licensing of) trading companies, Gift Aid procedures, agreements with fund-raisers and commercial participators and the correct wording for (and interpretation of) charitable appeals, legacies and trusts.
We offer a full range of property services, with special regard to compliance with Charities Act requirements on sales, leases, mortgages and rights over land.
There is a common misconception that charities do not pay VAT and are always exempt from other taxes. We advise on how to reduce the tax liabilities that can arise when a charity carries out a trade.
We have advised and represented a number of charities or their trustees who have been the subject of routine enquiry or formal investigation by the Charity Commission. We have also successfully negotiated settlements where trustees have been found to be at fault.
To contact our Charities and Schools Team please call or email a member of our team below.