A new pan-European social enterprise legal network launched this week in Madrid, as a result of a European Commission sponsored study into the state of social enterprise across Europe. Bates Wells Braithwaite is proud to have been both a leading contributor to the study and a founding member of the network.

The European Social Enterprise Law Association, which will be known as ‘ESELA’, is a new international network of law firms, legal experts and academics specialising in all aspects of the law as it applies to social enterprise. Its aim is to promote a better understanding of the relationship between law and social enterprise, with a view to supporting the development and growth of social enterprise across Europe. ESELA seeks to further this aim by providing a forum for thought leadership, collaboration, networking and knowledge-sharing in order to encourage development of the social enterprise economy across Europe. ESELA is predominantly interested in the European concept of social enterprise, and how it relates to the broader areas of public law and competition, finance and investment and social impact.

The network is structured around a core group of specialist law firms from across Europe, each positioned as the legal leaders on social enterprise in their respective countries. From 1 January 2016, a range of membership packages will be available for law firms and other organisations and individuals interested in the relationship between law and social enterprise. The initial board is comprised of Anne Contreras, Roberto Randazzo, Alissa Pelatan, Marleen Denef, Andrea Schoeneberg and Luke Fletcher, all of whom are social enterprise legal experts, from Luxembourg, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and the UK respectively. At launch, ESELA has 14 confirmed specialist law firm members from jurisdictions across Europe, including firms in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Northern Ireland.

Members of the ESELA network have already worked together to co-author a ground-breaking new report, Social Enterprise in Europe.

Jonathan Bland, Managing Director of Social Business International and one of the authors of the landmark ‘Strasbourg Declaration’ on social enterprise, comments:

“An exciting result of this ground-breaking research is that it has led to the creation of a new European network of social enterprise lawyers, legal experts and others with a strong interest in the relationship between law and social enterprise: the European Social Enterprise Law Association. This new association has the potential to be an important source of knowledge and expertise that can share good practice, help member states learn from each other and make recommendations about the effect of EU-wide laws and policies on social enterprises.”

Luke Fletcher, the chair of ESELA and one of the authors of Social Enterprise in Europe, explained:

“The launch of ESELA provides an opportunity for anyone interested to learn more about the relationship between law and social enterprise. ESELA will also help governments and policymakers to design sound legal systems which support the growth of social enterprise.”

The launch event took place at the European Venture Philanthropy Association's annual conference in Madrid, in the company of social enterprise leaders and advisers from across Europe.

Dr. Lisa Hehenberger, Research and Policy Director at the European Venture Philanthropy Association, said “EVPA is delighted to support the launch of the European Social Enterprise Law Association. ESELA is set to provide key advice on regulatory issues to both practitioners and policy makers, a subject of increasing importance in the rapidly evolving venture philanthropy and social investment sector.”

Membership of the association is open to all and will bring with it access to a network of social enterprise legal experts and a range of related social enterprise legal resources and know-how. ESELA offers the opportunity to be part of a thriving community of legal practitioners and academics, with the aim of transforming the legal landscape internationally to create a secure platform for social enterprise growth.

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Luke Fletcher


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Posted on 04/12/2015 in BWB News

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