The name Bates Wells & Braithwaite London LLP is synonymous with charity work; the firm fields the largest dedicated charity and social enterprise team in the UK, and acts for over 2,000 charity clients.”
Legal 500 2011

We are proud of our reputation as the leading charity firm in the UK.

Our charity and social enterprise team works with more charities than any other law firm in the country, with clients ranging from household-name charities to innovative start-ups, and from international networks to local community groups.

As part of our commitment to our clients, we also spearhead legal reforms that impact on the whole charitable sector, including:

  • The rewriting of guidance on political campaigning,
  • The negotiation of sustainable development as a charitable purpose, and
  • The right for most charities to buy trustee indemnity insurance for their trustees.

We are also known for our innovation in developing new and improved legal forms, such as

  • The Charitable Incorporated Organisation,
  • The Community Amateur Sports Club and
  • The Community Interest Company, among others.

BWB was the 2013 recipient of the Legal 500 UK Award 2013 for Private client: Firm of the year (specialism), in recognition of our work in the Charity sector

Our Clients

Our extensive client base includes service providers, grant-making foundations, philanthropists, public authorities and advocacy/campaigning organisations. Their diverse causes span the world of voluntary endeavour, including aid and development, human rights, animal welfare, social housing, the science, health and social care sectors, the arts, the environment, minorities, faith and worship, community development and regeneration, research and education.

Examples of our clients are available on the CaritasData Top 3000 Charities list.

Our Services

We provide a full range of specialist legal services to charities including:

  • Establishment and registration of new organisations including charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs)
  • Fundraising and tax advice
  • Governance
  • Internal disputes
  • Advice on grants and contracts
  • Restructuring – from incorporations through to mergers and group re-organisations
  • Compliance and regulatory work
  • Political activities and campaigning
  • Public procurement and state aid
  • Social finance

We also provide advice on employment, property, immigration and dispute resolution for charities. Charities are also at the heart of many of our other practice areas and teams, which means they are used to dealing with the specialist requirements of the sector – from an employment team which understand clients with volunteers, to a property team which is familiar with the requirements of trust law, and a dispute resolution team which knows when restrictions apply to charity litigation.

We lecture on a variety of legal issues affecting charities, including fundraising and governance, and can provide bespoke training where required. We provide governance development and support via our OnBoard programme. We have written several books on charity law, and contribute regular articles to a range of publications.

To help keep our clients up to date with key legal developments and issues, we have an extensive events programme and produce regular specialist publications for charities – full details of which can be found in our Knowledge section.

Key guides for charities

BWB has published a number of documents which your organisation may find useful.

Thinking about… merger A joint publication with IVAR, written for organisations considering merger as a possible option.

The publication is available to download for free here

Duties of Charity Trustees

BWB’s pocket-sized guide to trusteeship, a must for every charity board.
Available to download for free here


The nine-partner team at Bates Wells Braithwaite is 'renowned across the charities and not-for-profit world for its excellence'.
Legal 500 2013



The experienced team comprised of dedicated specialists remains at the forefront of significant policy and legislation developments within the sector, advising on the creation of charitable legal entities and new modes of social investment.
Chambers UK 2015

Their knowledge of and commitment to the charity sector is unrivalled.
Chambers UK 2014