Charities & Social Enterprise

The charities and social enterprise sector is complex and varied; both in terms of compliance and regulation but also the size, scope and mission of the different organisations operating in this area. It is also highly competitive.

Read more

Our team of experienced and reliable advisers provide practical as well as technical advice to professionals within the charity sector. Our aim is to empower charity trustees through training and legal guidance, enabling them to achieve their organisations ambitions more effectively and confidently.

DWF is proud to have one of the most specialised and experienced charity legal teams in the UK, focusing exclusively on the charity and not for profit sector. We provide practical and commercially focused legal support for charities, their senior managers and trustees.

We deliver a range of key benefits including:

  • A team that understands your charity and the challenges it faces and has a genuine interest in building a close and effective working partnership with you.
  • Proven charity expertise which delivers results for you.
  • A cost-effective approach, providing value for money and cost certainty, enabling you to plan your budget effectively.

We understand that you face a complex regulatory and commercial landscape. Our legal experts understand your issues and provide advice in plain English.   

Our specialist core services include:

  • Charity law
  • Charities and trading
  • Collaborations and joint ventures
  • Company law
  • Constitutional and governance issues
  • Fundraising
  • Incorporation of existing charities
  • Legacies and contested trusts and probate
  • Mergers
  • Social enterprises and mutuals
  • Start-ups and registrations for charities, CICs and social enterprises
  • Trustee training

We have a close working relationship with the Charity Commission enabling issues to be resolved quickly and with a greater chance of success.

About our specialist charities practitioners:

Our core team members are all genuine charity sector specialists with a cross-disciplinary approach. As well as highly technical advice on charity law issues, including governance and constitutional issues, structuring, incorporation and trustee duties, we advise charities, social enterprises and other not for profit organisations on a huge range of matters, encompassing everything from general commercial, employment, pensions and property advice, to IP/IT and dispute resolution.

Recent examples of our work

Community Foundation
We worked with a £13 million endowed Community Foundation where the trustees required bespoke training and strategic advice on the direction that the charity should take going forward. In addition, the charity facilitated social enterprise legal structures training for those in the community interested in establishing new projects. We delivered both training and guidance.

We advised a well-known charity, operating with a turnover of approx £20m, on trustee duties and responsibilities, risk, health and safety and governance matters. We delivered bespoke training for the trustees and continue to give ongoing governance advice.

Welfare Board
A £7m charity wanted to conduct a governance review in relation to its Articles of Association and other terms of reference. The charity had attempted to conduct a governance review in the previous year but this had been unsuccessful. We drafted bespoke Articles of Association and advised on the process for adopting the new Articles including attending the general meeting to respond to questions raised by members.

Social care provider
We were asked to advise this longstanding client in relation to the proposed transfer of the business and assets of a care operation and the future management of the operation by our client. There were a number of different parties involved including two charities and our client which is a community interest company. Advice was required on constitutional and compliance issues but also detailed corporate and commercial advice together with employment, pensions and property.

View more examples of our work »


Chambers & Partners – Charities (UK)

“I think in all cases attention to detail was excellent without being overbearing. I would say they were good at speaking to clients in plain English, in addition to understanding our business and the problems we were dealing with.”

“I admire their approachability. During the couple of years we’ve worked with them, they have held a number of seminars for third-sector clients. That sharing of knowledge is a great benefit to the voluntary sector.”


How we can help

We can help you go further with a range of services and products for the charity and social enterprises sector.

Some of our experts

John Toon

Partner - Head of Commercial Tax

I am a Partner and Head of Commercial Tax.

Sean Caldwell


Elaine Fletcher


I specialise in data protection and freedom of information law. I believe that compliance done well is a business facilitator not a blocker, and that privacy by design brings commercial benefits.

David Walton


I am a Real Estate Partner with more than 25 years’ experience of providing practical and commercial advice to businesses and not-for-profit organisations for which property is not the primary activity.

Ed Meikle

Partner - Head of Retail Group

I advise on all aspects of intellectual property law, especially advising businesses in retail, food, sport and consumer products on the development, commercialisation and protection of their brands and technology.