Helping charities to remain capable, commercial and compliant

We had a chat with Gerry Morrison and Harriet Wheeldon at Rollits to see how the local law firm supports charitable organisations.

Harriet Wheeldon

Gerry Morrison is a Partner and the Head of Charities at Rollits. Her role is to lead the Charities Team and bring together solicitors across multiple disciplines to provide commercially minded and expert advice to serve charities with a wide range of legal needs, including property and land transactions, purchase and leases, intellectual property, commercial contracts and employment law.

“We provide the full spectrum of legal work to charities and make sure they’re compliant,” explained Gerry. “Our solicitors advise charities in all aspects of charity law, including legislation regarding health and safety, commercial operations and trading, and the legal responsibilities of trustees. Rollits is unique in this area, as we have a dedicated team that focuses entirely on supporting charities and not-for-profit organisations with their legal obligations.”

Harriet Wheeldon

Harriet Wheeldon is a Senior Solicitor in the Charities Team and provides expert advice to a variety of clients, including charitable incorporated organisations, charitable trusts, charitable companies and charitable unincorporated associations:

“Charities are highly valued by their local communities,” said Harriet. “Some take the form of village halls, playing fields and amateur sports clubs, each of which are subject to the same Charity Commission regulation as large not-for-profit organisations. As well as legal advice and support, we also deliver training to help volunteers, trustees and charity management teams carry out their roles properly in line with charity law.”

Gerry added: “A charity needs to register when it hits an income threshold, so we also set up charities, register them with the Charity Commission and go through the whole legal process. Rollits regularly carries out this crucial task for charities that focus on all kinds of causes, such as local food production and healthy eating, the delivery of support for people bereaved by suicide, and those that provide healthcare and community transport, to name just a few.

“Another area is ensuring that voluntary organisations are operating efficiently, commercially and in full compliance with charity law. We meet some really interesting people in our work, as charities are about people and very mission-driven, but they also have to respond to exactly the same pressures as other businesses whilst navigating the red tape of charity law.”

Gerry also explained why charity incorporation is so beneficial:

“If a charity is unincorporated and goes bust, any money owed is the responsibility of the trustees,” said Gerry. “Through incorporation, you mitigate this risk and also give funders and grant making bodies reassurance that the organisation has a proper legal structure and a separate identity from its trustees.

“Meanwhile, charity mergers are another service that we provide. If two relatively small and similar charities are operating in the same geographic area, there can be a lot of duplication of effort. The two organisations will be bidding for the same funding and contracts, plus they need their own trustees and volunteers. Through a merger, the new organisation can pool resources and operate more efficiently.”

Rollits is holding a Charities Legal Update on Tuesday 21 March from 9am till 10:30am. The event is for Charity Trustees, Chief Executives and senior managers in charities and free to attend. In this seminar, Gerry and Harriet will look at legal developments in the Charity Sector anticipated for 2023, including the implementation of the Charities Act 2022 and Charity Commission case studies highlighting requirements for robust governance as a means of helping charities to achieve their aims and a discussion of best practice. Register here to reserve your place.

To find out more about legal advice and services specifically designed for charities, we recommend getting in touch with Rollits to explore your options.