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Religious Charities

The trustees of faith charities, like those of most charities, face many challenges and many of these challenges have a legal dimension.

  • Their charity may have a constitution which is cumbersome and out of date, perhaps acting more as a hindrance than a help to the efficient deployment of the charity’s resources
  • The charity may have buildings which are out of date and too large (or too small) and which the charity could use more effectively if they were modified; these buildings may be of heritage quality; the charity may be responsible for consecrated ground; it may have investment properties to manage
  • The charity may have issues in managing its reputation – something vital to any charity
  • The charity may wish to use and protect its intellectual property more efficiently
  • If the charity provides services to young people or to other vulnerable people its trustees will wish to ensure that they comply with both the law and good practice in providing these services
  • The trustees may wish to expand their fundraising activities, perhaps embarking upon commercial fund raising activities
  • A legacy to the charity may be disputed
  • If the charity employs staff its trustees will need advice on employment and pension law issues
  • The trustees may be thinking of a merger or winding up of their charity

All these issues may raise sensitivities not present in quite the same way with a non-faith based charity. There may be clashes between the religious aims of the charity and the secular law. The charity may have to comply with old and obscure legislation. It may be answerable to different regulators.

At Charles Russell Speechlys, we can advise on all these issues. We bring together a wide range of expertise within the firm to provide a joined up service.


We have a background of long experience of advising faith charities and are sensitive to the issues involved. We can also advise against a background of knowledge of the complex legal structure of the Anglican and Catholic churches although our religious charities practice is by no means confined to these churches.

  • We act for dioceses, parishes, collegiate churches and religious communities. We have dealt with many complex issues affecting faith charities
  • We have acted for a long time for famous abbeys, cathedrals and convents in relation to charity, property, employment, constitutional and commercial issues
  • We advise Diocesan Boards of Finance on a wide range of legal matters
  • We have acted for a wide variety of churches and other religious bodies on property development and fundraising projects and constitutional reorganisations