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February 18, 2013

Faith Organisations

Faith Organisations

We have built a reputation over many years as a leading firm advising the full spectrum of faith organisations. We have significant experience in the issues that affect faith clients of all denominations as they seek to fulfil their mission within the sometimes difficult constraints of civil law and regulation, in particular charity and education law. We understand the need to provide advice and solutions to legal problems in a way that is consistent with your mission and the ethos of your faith.

Our clients include organisations from across the Christian denominations (including Roman Catholic, Church of England, Methodist, Evangelical and other Independent Churches) and organisations that are inspired by the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths (as well as many others). We also advise bodies operating Faith Schools, or involved in the oversight of Faith Schools.

Most importantly we recognise the need to provide advice that is sympathetic to the particular religious context and ethos, including especially the interplay of civil law with relevant religious rules and ecclesiastical laws

We are actively involved in discussing, at a national level, issues that are relevant to faith bodies.  For example, through our engagement with bodies like the Charity Law Association, the Ecclesiastical Law Association, the Law Commission and the Churches Legislation Advisory Service.

We have been involved at the forefront of legal developments for faith organisations, for example:

  • Testing for the first time the extent to which religious organisations can make religious beliefs and practice a “genuine occupational requirement”;
  • Involvement in the leading Supreme Court case relating to the application of religious qualifications for school admission policies;
  • Assisting Catholic adoption agencies in determining whether religious restrictions can be applied in relation to adoption policies;
  • Advising on the leading case regarding the rights of pupils to wear religious dress, relating to the wearing of a niquab headscarf;
  • Working with a national charity seeking to challenge the Charity Commission’s approach to religion and public benefit, following the removal of the presumption of public benefit in the advancement of religion;
  • Obtaining charitable status for activities of closed religious communities in the light of changing circumstances and overcoming long established case law restrictions; and
  • Helping to develop constitutional documents that are consistent with faith organisations’ internal governance principles that are acceptable to the Charity Commission.

We regularly advise on a wide range of issues including;

  • Constitutional and Governance issues & trustee responsibilities
  • Charitable Status and public benefit
  • Charity Commission investigations and serious incident reporting
  • Discrimination and Equality issues  
  • Employment and HR matters
  • Education and operational advice for Faith Schools (state and independent)
  • Safeguarding of children and vulnerable individuals/adults
  • Dealing with receipt of legacies and legacy disputes
  • Fundraising regulation and practice
  • Data protection issues and intellectual property
  • Immigration Support and Advice
  • International Matters
  • Health & Safety and Regulatory advice
  • Property acquisition, management and disposal  
  • Construction and Development
  • Commercial and Financial matters
  • Canon and Ecclesiastical laws
  • Transferring missions to lay management
  • Mergers
  • Dispute resolution matters
  • Conflicts of interest affecting religious leaders as charity trustees
  • Restructuring charities as corporate entities

Faith based organisations often have a long and rich history, in many cases going back centuries. We look to build long lasting relationships with our clients to enable us to develop a genuine insight into your faith. This enables us to provide advice that is consistent with the longer term changes in your mission as circumstances change.

We appreciate that for faith based organisations reputation and integrity are core to your mission and objectives. Our significant experience enables us to provide solutions that not only address the legal issues in play, but also seek to do so in a practical way that protects both your reputation and your integrity.