Counterculture is listed as one of the top 20 charity law firms in the UK by Chambers and Partners. We have the experience and knowledge of the Charity Commission and the special issues facing the ecclesiastical sector to assist cathedrals and churches to make successful charity registration applications when the time is right.
We pride ourselves on our 100% success rate with our charity applications. We also have a wealth of experience acting for faith organisations, churches and union projects.
Established for spiritual purposes, cathedrals are ecclesiastical corporations and are defined as having charitable purposes under the Cathedrals Measure 1999. Despite this position, they were excluded from the Charities Act 2011 and were not regulated by the Charity Commission.
However, the new Cathedrals Measure 2021 received Royal Assent and became law on 29 April 2021. This Measure presents a significant change in the governance and operational frameworks for our cathedrals. Most notably, over a period of a few years, cathedrals will need to register as charities and be regulated by the Charity Commission.
Cathedrals must follow a strict process when preparing their new governance arrangements and documents before completing an application to register with the Charity Commission. Chapters must also ensure they are aware of the updated structures they operate in and their new role as charity trustees.
We are pleased to offer our services to cathedrals seeking legal and governance advice through the registration process including:
In general, churches must register with the Charity Commission where their gross annual income exceeds £5000, unless they fall within an exception. Should a church fall with the Exception from Registration Regulations, they are not required to register unless their income exceeds £100,000 and they are not a charitable incorporated organisation. Excepted churches are regulated by the Charity Commission but do not appear on the register.
The Exception from Registration Regulations comes to an end on 31 March 2031. This means that churches with an annual income of more than £5000 will be required to register with the Commission.
The Commission is not yet ready to accept voluntary registrations. However, the Commission’s business plan for 2022, states that the Commission will “begin preparations for an expanded Register, working with the Church of England to pilot and manage the receipt of applications from cathedrals applying for charitable status and then up to 35,000 excepted church charities over the next decade.”
We can assist churches with the charitable registration of their organisation when the time is right including:
We also have a range of experience in charity law, governance, trading subsidiaries, property and employment so can also assist with more general advice for cathedrals and churches in relation to: