Julia Seary

Charities Law Legal Services

Roythornes' Charities team exists as a grouping of charity law practitioners, property and trust lawyers and probate professionals supported by a full-service company and commercial team. This enables us to tailor our charity service to the specific needs and requirements of individual clients.

We act for a wide range of charities across a number of sectors from large charity division enterprises to sole endowments, giving us insight and experience we can use to the benefit of our clients.

  • Royal institutions and other bodies incorporated by Charter 
  • National childcare and educational charities
  • Religious institutions
  • Conservation bodies and the environmental sector
  • Local charities and sole endowments

We strongly believe that our advice should add value to charities of any size and at any stage in their development. With our knowledge and experience we can provide you with practical solutions to problems and ultimately work to solve them.

Focused teams

As a broad-based firm we have the ability to bring together focused teams to meet a charity's needs.

  • With dedicated commercial lawyers we can advise on mergers and collaborative working; arrange and draft distribution and manufacturing agreements (across international borders where appropriate) - always ensuring that commercial partnerships benefit the charity in a commercial as well as an ethical manner.
  • Our property team manages the property portfolios of many charities, from shop and office leases, to multi-million pound property sales, purchases and transfers (such as buying, selling or leasing property).
  • As employers with staff on a number of different contract arrangements from full time directors to part time volunteers, charities need specialist HR planning and employment advice. Our employment law team ensures that all contracts comply with the fast-changing legislation (complex contracts, disputes and employment law issues, constitutional amendments and advice for trustees and directors) whilst our regular e-mail updates keep HR managers of charities informed of the very latest changes and what they need to be doing about them.
  • We are involved in local and national pro-bono services. The local Pro-Help Group (part of Business in the Community) aims to support voluntary organisations with free professional advice and guidance. The group is made up of professional firms from the Peterborough area to provide their professional services to local community projects in the region free of charge.
  • We have particular expertise in social media and the legalities of social media in the workplace. Social media can open up businesses to risk. We can help organisations manage and control their on-line risks by giving guidance and advice on social media policies and why a social media policy should be one of the bedrocks of your organisation. We can also give guidelines to protecting your reputation and also how to maintain a balance between your corporate image and the more personal style that social media demands.
  • Many members of our Charity team are members of the Charity Law Association (CLA) or the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). We are members of the Charities’ Property Association, which provides a national forum for those involved in the management of charity property assets. Our membership enables us to keep up to date with the latest developments for the benefit of our clients.
  • Charities often find themselves embroiled in contentious probate litigation through no fault or choice of their own. We advise and assist charities in respect of their interests, ensuring that their interests are protected and their risks carefully managed.

We can give you the advice and assistance you need in relation to these matters, taking account of the specific charity law implications which may arise.

Working with charities

Our approach is to create focused project groups to support each client, providing them with access to cross-disciplinary expertise.

The work we undertake is as varied as the charities for whom we act. From formation through to growth, expansion and mergers, we have the skills to help.

How we can help charities

  • Setting up of a charity and general charity formation and governance
  • Charity Commission registration
  • Incorporation of charities and trustee bodies
  • Creation, administration and variation of charitable trusts
  • Advice on compliance and interaction with corporate and charity regulators, including advice on charity mergers
  • Trustee advice, remuneration and insurance, trustee disputes
  • Mergers and collaborative working, distribution agreements and manufacturing agreements
  • Employment advice including service contracts, employment and consultancy contracts and advice on employee disciplinary processes
  • Funding issues and commercial arrangements
  • Acquisition disposal, letting and development of property (buying, selling or leasing property)
  • Commercial contracts and procurement
  • Community engagement and development
  • Administration of estates (including buying and selling charitable land)
  • Charity Commission schemes, investigations and reviews
  • Advice on effective legacy administration, including assisting charities in defending litigation arising out of will disputes from disappointed beneficiaries
  • Winding up dissolving charities

Working with the clients of charities

As an indication of our commitment to the charity sector, we often get involved with our charity clients further in the work they do.

A charity involved with care and services for the elderly receives regular practical help from one of our team in the form of services to its customers. Our staff have desks in their offices and provide advice and training at team meetings, and help for their clients on an individual basis.

Examples of our work:

  • A large national children's charity has a portfolio of shops and offices which need active management to maximise their use and minimise their overheads. Working closely with their head office property team, we act rapidly and efficiently to ensure that the portfolio is working for the charity at maximum efficiency.
  • A national environmental charity is busy expanding its landholding by purchasing a number of parcels of land. We have worked with the charity to develop a streamlined system of working and reporting which ensures that they always know where they stand in terms of progress, fees and timescales.
  • We provide a dedicated helpline to give assistance to the members of a professional Royal Institution. Our team has access to a full range of industry-specific advice and provides specialist sector support to members on an ongoing basis.
  • We worked with one of the UK's biggest conservation charities on a £5,000,000 project to purchase and restore 825 acres of ancient woodland in Devon.

Taking part

We believe in putting something back into society and our staff are encouraged to take an active part in the communities in which we are based, supporting local and national projects and charitable schemes. Many members of our team sit on the boards of local charities and take an active part in their growth and development. Our Charities and Social Committee Team organises a programme of fundraising events and activities throughout the year, supporting Macmillan Cancer Support, Sue Ryder, NSPCC, Barnardos, Children in Need and Comic Relief to name a few. To find out more about our community involvement click here.

Roythornes' charity of the year

Each year we select a charity to which we offer our support. The selection process is designed to be as fair and as transparent as possible; to closely involve the Roythornes staff and ensure that the selected charity means something to them. The process is overseen by our Charities and Social Committee Team.

By having a chosen charity, this allows us to focus our fundraising efforts and to highlight aspects of particularly good causes throughout our offices.


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