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Charities Overview

Our work in relation to charities ranges from non contentious advice and drafting as to the creation and structuring of charities trusts, through applications to the Charity Commission or the court by charity trustees for advice or directions to hostile litigation in all cases both in England and abroad.  Few of the leading charity cases over the last 15 years do not feature one or more members of Serle Court.

The issues dealt with range from the high profile question of whether independent schools provide sufficient public benefit to justify their charitable status to questions of whether unusual provisions in wills or trusts create charitable gifts or are void and and from issues as to the validity of elections of a charity’s committee to questions of whether a charity has complied with the special statutory requirements for the sale of land.  Following appropriate advice many of the potential disputes involving wills are disposed of without the need for court proceedings.

William Henderson and Jonathan Fowles are the co-editors of the leading textbook, Tudor on Charities, 10th Ed. (2015, Sweet & Maxwell).


Chambers & Partners 2018

A leading chancery set that engages in key work in the charity sector, much of it on the advisory side. Practitioners offer advice to charity trustees regarding highly sensitive issues relating to their trusts and duties both domestically and abroad. The set is a well-run and professional outfit, with barristers who are junior counsel to the Treasury and often advise the Charity Commission. 

Client service:  "The clerks are extremely helpful and, most importantly, can be relied upon to give objective information about the strengths of individual members of chambers." Steve Whitaker leads the clerking team. 

William Henderson
Highly esteemed practitioner who is praised for his work with private clients, trustees and trust companies. His practice typically involves trusts, probate, estate administration, charities and professional negligence matters. 
Strengths: "Very understated but hugely intelligent and thoughtful. He is particularly excellent on charity points and is a go-to person on such matters." "William is technically phenomenal and clients are enamoured by him."

Jonathan Fowles
A man steeped in charities law, who is co-editor of 'Tudor on Charities' alongside his stablemate William Henderson. Much of his work is highly sensitive and non-litigious within the charity sector. He regularly advises trustees as to their trusts and duties, and has advised a number of interim managers appointed by the Charity Commission.
Strengths: "He's down to earth, pragmatic and commercial. He knows charity law inside out, but he doesn't allow his esoteric knowledge of the law to cloud his decision making." 

Legal 500 2017

William Henderson - "He has an excellent mind with good strategic skills and a very easy manner."

Jonathan Fowles - "He is absolutely meticulous and lovely to work with."



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Notable Cases

Regentford Ltd v Charity Commission and H.M. Attorney General [2014] UKUT 0364 (TCC_ (Upper Tribunal)

Charity Commission inquiry – nature of review jurisdiction of First-tier... more

Ferguson v HMRC (2014) TC03562

Tax avoidance scheme involving “gifts to charity” relief – s... more

Helena Partnerships Limited v HMRC [2014] EWCA Civ 569; [2012] 4 All E.R. 111

A registered social landlord which entered into a VAT mitigation... more

Re Tadros

Acted for and advised the second defendant, a multi-million probate... more

Cawdron v Merchant Taylors’ School [2009] EWHC 1722 (Ch)

Members of Chambers appeared for all the various parties in... more

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