Our Charities and Social Enterprise Team comprises specialists in charity law and regulation.

The team is multi-disciplinary, advising charity clients on matters relating to all aspects of their constitutional, governance and operational needs. Our team's background and experience delivers advice that is not only technically excellent but, above all, practical. Many of our team also advise public bodies, commercial entities and high net worth individuals and, accordingly, are familiar with the contracting, funding, gift and legacy issues that charities commonly encounter.

We offer comprehensive advice to all our charity and social enterprise clients including advice on:

Our experience

Our charity clients include community organisations, faith-based charities, industry and sector-related associations, animal welfare and environmental conservation organisations, through to those operating within the cultural and arts sphere. We advise Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the Suffolk Agricultural Association and The Bishop and Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and the Bishop and Diocese of Norwich amongst many others.

We have a particular specialism in Ecclesiastical law. Team member, James Hall, is Diocesan Registrar for the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese while colleague, Stuart Jones is the Diocesan Registrar for Norwich. Their respective practices extend to assisting in national ecclesiastical matters including appeals to the highest court within the ecclesiastical system, the Arches Court of Canterbury. 

Our approach

We are empathetic, understanding our clients’ objects and aims, rationales and restrictions, but are also commercial and practical. We mirror our clients’ needs to focus on outcomes and solutions, while taking into account client budgets, regulations and reputation. We recognise the impetus to “get things done” so that our clients can concentrate on their core purpose and mission.

Our cases

  • Advising a charity on a cross border merger.
  • Saving a charity a six-figure sum in VAT by resolving a dispute with HMRC as to the applicability of zero-rating on a construction project.
  • Advising on formation and corporate structures of Charities and Social Enterprises including CIOs and CICs.
  • Advising various wildlife charities on claims involving the Rural Payments Agency and the Single Farm Payment Scheme.
  • Advising a Not for Profit private provider on a dispute with a Commissioner under the new Clinical Commissioning regime.
  • Advising on an investigation into irregular administration of a charity and mismanagement of assets.
  • Advising upon consolidation of Trust Funds.


We produce a variety of newsletters covering changes in legislation, topical news and issues affecting our clients. You can download the latest issue of Essential Trustee, our newsletter for charity trustees and senior management, from our newsletter page. If you would like to automatically receive future issues please register your details.

Legal 500 UK Top Tier 2020     The National Council for Voluntary Organisations Member 

Key contacts

Liz Brownsell

Senior Associate, Co-Head of Charities and Social Enterprise

+44 (0)1473 406383

+44 (0)7525 735802

Sara Sayer

Senior Associate, Solicitor-Advocate, FRSA
Co-Head of Charities and Social Enterprise

+44 (0)1223 326763

+44 (0)7983 385840

Meet the full team

"Birketts is the first firm of solicitors I have experienced that truly put their clients first. I am constantly urged by my contacts to consider whether or not the charity really needs certain services and when it is deemed appropriate, I am offered the best solution for the task."

Legal 500 [UK 2020]