Read more about our Accountancy and audit services
You’re welcome to contact our Legal Manager directly.
Public benefit reviews
Revised legal requirements on the public benefit charities must provide, including the requirement for public reporting and assurances, impact on all charities. They also have particular implications for charity trustees and all charities that make charges for any service or facility. In England and Wales there are special issues for religious, educational and anti-poverty charities.
Through a public benefit review, we can help your board analyse and review current activities and strategies and future plans, as well as advise on what the particular issues may be for your charity and suggest how you can address the obligations in a positive and beneficial way. Our written report provides practical suggestions and recommends appropriate actions. If there is need for formal change, such as widening the scope of the charity’s charitable purposes or its powers, we advise on the legal and practical steps needed and liaise with the Charity Commission and/or OSCR to gain their support and the required formal permission(s).
Health checks for constitutions
To make sure you’re getting the most from simplifications and complying with new rules, it pays to review your constitution with our health check. The check considers the constitution in relation to English and/or Scottish charity law in force at the date of the review and also compliance with the latest provisions of company law if applicable. Our legal expert makes sure your constitution is in good shape for you to benefit, and provides a report with recommendations for improvements.
We can undertake health checks for:
- Charities (registered in England and Wales and/or Scotland)
- Social enterprises
- Other not-for-profit organisations (such as clubs and community groups, professional bodies and trade associations)
- Trading subsidiaries of charities, social enterprises or non-charitable not-for-profit organisations
- Private companies (limited by guarantee or by shares)
Charity registrations – existing and new organisations
If you are an existing organisation, subject to your first ever obligation to register with the Charity Commission in England and Wales because of the removal of previous registration exemptions, we can advise on the new requirements and help you make your application.
Amongst the many charities affected by the new requirement are:
- Churches and chapels
- Other places of worship and charities connected to them
- Church governing bodies e.g. Church of England Parochial Church Councils
- Charities connected to faith groups (all faiths)
- Scout and guide organisations
- Armed forces charities
If you are subject to dual regulation as a cross border charity with activities or a physical location in Scotland, you need to register with OSCR on the Scottish Charity Register, as well as with the Charity Commission. We guide you through both processes.
A new charity must register with the relevant charity regulator in England and Wales if its annual income exceeds £5000 and on the Scottish Charity Register, if it is constituted under the law of Scotland or it is managed or controlled wholly or mainly within Scotland or it carries out activities in any office, shop or premises in Scotland.
Trustee and board training, performance and development
Board members need a broad understanding of the duties their roles entail and well-governed organisations invest in developing and training their boards. We offer regular public seminars and briefings for clients and contacts and arrange customised training in-house for your own board, staff and key volunteers.
The outstanding breadth and mix of our team members’ knowledge and skills enables us to deal with charity, company and other legal subjects, accounting and reporting matters (at both the regulatory and practical levels), trustee and director duties and responsibilities, management roles and responsibilities, other governance matters, internal controls, risk management and reporting, the management of financial reserves, understanding financial statements, accounts and reports and other financial topics.
We also help assess your board’s performance and develop the individual and collective skills and effectiveness of your board members.
Help with governance matters and membership issues
We undertake governance reviews for charities, not for profit organisations and other voluntary bodies. The aim is to facilitate modern, legally compliant and effective governance regimes, suitable to your particular needs and circumstances.
Membership charities often need support in membership matters. Our help ranges from correcting and updating your legal membership records, acting as company secretary to ensure you meet annual and event-related reporting obligations and keep correct statutory records, to simplifying and modernising the eligibility rules and membership provisions in your constitution and drafting detailed byelaws.
Advice on fundraising activities and on trading
Most fundraising activities are subject to an array of legal controls, with obligations for charities and their trustees and penalties for non-compliance. Different rules apply in England and Wales to those that affect fundraising in Scotland. Our experts provide the advice and guidance you need to comply with the applicable rules, freeing you to concentrate on your fundraising targets.
Charities can undertake certain trading activities (directly or through trading subsidiaries). However, what is permitted and how it can or must be done varies considerably, according to the particular circumstances. We provide practical legal and accounting advice on the options, helping you reach the right decisions and comply with all relevant regulations.
Services for trading subsidiaries
Charities and other voluntary bodies can establish and use a trading subsidiary for fundraising, risk management, operational convenience, financial management and other reasons. Whether you are setting up a new subsidiary or examining your existing company, we advise on the right structure and constitution and make sure the parent organisation’s interests are protected.
We help you make the changes needed to take full advantage of Companies Act 2006 liberalisations, e.g. to remove share capital restrictions. Other help available includes advice on the legal and accounting aspects of trading through subsidiaries, including the relevant regulatory, charity and company law rules and restrictions and governance matters.
We also help with the documents and procedures required for corporate transactions and events, such as officer and director changes, share allotments or transfers and capital reduction.
Accounting, audit and independent examination
We help you with the management and public accounting and reporting arrangements ensuring trustees, directors or committee members have the right information at the right time and that all external stakeholders and relevant regulators have accurate and meaningful information about your organisation’s activities and achievements. We complete annual accounts within pre-agreed timescales and budgets.
Our annual audit service includes detailed feedback and advice on your procedures and practices. This includes day-to-day management, strategic long term planning, IT systems and fundraising.
We have qualified charity independent examiners, who carry out an independent examination in accordance with the revised regulatory requirements. Many more charities are now eligible to use the audit exemption option and have an independent examination and report, avoiding the need for a full audit. We advise on the options open to your organisation and help you change to examination, including making any necessary changes to your constitution and providing appropriate information to show funders and other third parties the benefits of the change.
Financial and strategic planning, IT, outsourcing
Our financial and strategic planning services include detailed cashflow analysis, assistance with budgeting and forecasting, helping you establish or review appropriate reserves policies, explaining and justifying those to regulators, members and other stakeholders and working effectively towards the reserves targets. We provide IT design, support and training on a range of accounting packages and website promotion.
To meet your outsourcing needs, we offer bookkeeping, recruitment, management and secretarial support and a payroll bureau, saving you time and money and ensuring you observe confidentiality requirements.
Tax and VAT assistance
We can provide expert advice on tax matters and on the particularly challenging VAT issues that face the charity, social enterprise and wider voluntary sector. This includes advice on the practical and tax implications of grant funding. As part of our payroll services, we advise on all aspects of PAYE and the completion of annual returns for HM Revenue and Customs.
Performance management and risk management
We help you devise, implement and review key performance indicators, as recommended by the Charity Commission and other independent bodies. Charities and voluntary organisations certainly can take risks but they must identify and manage major risks. We advise on all aspects of risk management and help you take the right risks for the right reasons, as well as meeting applicable charity reporting requirements with regard to risk.
Conversions – changing your legal form
When an organisation is changing from an unincorporated legal form (such as a trust or members’ association) to a company or other corporate form (such as a Community Interest Company), there are many legal and practical issues to address. We help organisations through all the steps needed to effect such a change of status. Our service includes custom drafting of a suitable new constitution, advice on procedures and practicalities, obtaining formal consents from relevant regulators and helping you deal with the internal decision-making process, such as meetings of the members to approve the proposals.
Changes to constitutions
We can create, change or modernise constitutions: reviewing and updating to match current law and meet your needs (ensuring fitness for purpose); custom drafting constitutions for new ventures; and altering constitutions of existing organisations, to facilitate changes in structures and arrangements.
Advice on charity law and regulation, statutory obligations and public reporting requirements
Charities operate in a climate of enhanced requirements and growing expectations – for reporting and public accountability, transparency and governance. The recent changes in law and regulation are unprecedented. We offer practical advice on how to deal with these challenges. We also advise on procedures and provide documents for relevant events and transactions.
Advice on company law and corporate administration and transactions
We offer expert help with private company law matters, including transactions and events, documents and procedures and all relevant filing and reporting obligations. We also help you deal correctly with the revised regime for corporate administration and the new record-keeping obligations introduced by the Companies Act 2006.
Setting up new charities, social enterprises and not-for-profit companies
Whether you are setting up a social enterprise, a not-for-profit organisation or a charity, or you need to alter your present legal arrangements (for example, convert into corporate legal form or set up or alter a trading subsidiary), we advise on the most appropriate corporate vehicle. We create documents and structures suitable for your needs that also fulfil the requirements of regulators, such as the Charity Commission, OSCR, Companies House or the CIC Regulator. We liaise with the relevant regulator(s) to obtain required consents, ensuring the incorporation and any subsequent charity registrations proceed as smoothly as possible.
Updating your company or its trading subsidiary – Charities Act / Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act and/or Companies Act
To gain the maximum benefit offered by the liberalisations in recent legal reforms, organisations need to alter their constitutions. We provide a modern ‘fit for purpose’ constitution that helps, rather than hinders your success. Trading subsidiaries need to take positive actions to remove old share capital restrictions.