Rosamund McCarthy Etherington

For more than 25 years, Rosamund has utilised the law to create, merge or restructure charities and not-for-profits, set up efficient funding arrangements and work alongside as well as challenge the decisions of regulators. As well as advising on long term and technical charity law issues, she also advises charities in the eye of the storm, helping them to navigate through a regulatory, governance and media maze. Rosamund has a track record in defending the rights of charities and campaign bodies.

She also advises political bodies and campaigners on non-party campaigning electoral law and is the co-founder of the Electoral Law Forum. Rosamund is a trusted advisor to the Chief Executives, Chairs, and Boards of charities.  She works across many sectors, including children and young people, international development, education, the arts, faith, animal welfare and health. Rosamund’s clients include start-ups, household name charities, international foundations, membership bodies, royal charter bodies and corporate foundations.

Rosamund is recommended as a leading lawyer by Chambers and Legal 500 (Band 1) and in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame. Rosamund has had experience of advising on most issues affecting charities including:

  • Innovative charity applications, including advising on wide-ranging public benefit issues.
  • Optimal structuring including donor advised funds, community benefit societies, CICs, fiscal sponsorship, conduits.
  • Governance and membership advice for a wide range of charitable, professional and campaigning bodies including advising on comprehensive governance changes to household name organisations, as well as entities established by Royal Charter and Acts of Parliament.
    • Charities under investigation - everything from operational cases to statutory inquiries, often where there are multi-disciplinary issues. For example, Rosamund advised a household name international development charity in relation to one of the most complex and high-profile statutory inquiries undertaken by the Charity Commission.
  • Grant making including to non-charities and overseas, as well as participatory grant making, collaborations and partnerships, grant agreements, financing, Charity Commission and HMRC requirements.
  • Campaigning, political activity and electoral related activity, including advice to charities and non-party campaigners.
  • Corporate Foundations on philanthropy, donor advised funds, corporate social responsibility, including extensive advice over many years to the Foundations of FTSE100 global brands.
  • Arts charities including high profile literary prizes on governance, sponsorship and charity registration.
  • Requirements for UK charities setting up in the US and vice versa including governance, affiliation agreements, reverse VAT, trademarks, circular funding.
  • Advice on fundraising, sponsorship as well as compliance with the requirements of the Fundraising Regulator.
  • Mergers of charities, partnerships, group structures and collaborations.

Rosamund was previously a Charity Partner at Bates Wells where she trained and worked for thirty years, playing a key role in growing and building the Charity and Social Enterprise Department.

  • Advising a charity on a judicial review of the Charity Commission.
  • Obtaining a Parliamentary Scheme for a household name charity that took many years, liaising extensively with the Charity Commission, OSCR, the Cabinet Office, Treasury Solicitors and Parliamentary Counsel.
  • Guidance on campaigning, political activity and electoral related activity including advice to charities and non-party campaigners in the 2017 and 2019 General Elections, Mayoral Elections and in the EU Referendum on the Remain side.
  • Advisor to a global international children’s charity on high-profile and general issues. 
  • Advising national and high-profile dual structure entities with a charity and a campaign entity on governance requirements, funding, arm’s length agreements, name and data sharing.
  • Charitable issues arising out of peacebuilding, peaceful protest, conflict resolution, racial justice, and equality as well as links of endowments to slavery and indentured labour including a scheme for charitable reparations.
  • Representing charities subject to exposure in the national media on ‘culture war’ issues including racial justice, white privilege, trans issues and equality.  
  • Investigations into trustee conduct and other investigations where there are inter-related issues: for example, governance conflicts, external whistleblowing, internal complaints and employee grievances.

Rosamund has a degree in political science from the University of Bristol and studied for her legal practice qualifications in London.

Rosamund is passionate about civil society, voluntary and community action. She was the founder and first chair of Poet in the City and has also worked in a professional capacity as a Director or Trustee of a variety of other organisations and councils, including the Small Charities Coalition, Free Word, the Friend Publications, Citizens UK and the Samuel Johnson Non-Fiction Prize Limited. She was also Chair of the Bates Wells Foundation, that hosts the Stephen Lloyd Awards.

In order to find new inspiration for the governance work Rosamund undertakes with Boards and organisations, she is currently on a course at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations called Deepening Creative Practice with Organisations. The course takes a multi-disciplinary and non-linear approach to working with organisations.  She is interested in psychodynamic and group dynamics and for eight years was a member of a psychodynamic group led by a leading figure in the Institute of Group Analysis.

Her other interests include poetry, politics, drawing, dancing, yoga and the theatre.