Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Charity law: Ward Hadaway’s Fiona Wharton offers us an insight into legislation and the Third Sector

When one thinks of lawyers, charity is not always the first thing that comes to mind. However, as more and more people begin to ‘do their bit’ for charity, the questions can mount up – which is where charity law expert Fiona Wharton comes in.

Fiona is an associate in the Charities Team at Ward Hadaway, and has worked in the sector for over a decade, after she was sent to work in the Comic Relief legal department by her previous employers, Harbottle & Lewis.

“I was initially doing one day of legal advice, before I was eventually seconded there full time,” she recounts. “Eventually I ended up working full time at the charity for two and a half years.”

In her current role at Ward Hadaway, Fiona works closely with a variety of organizations in the third sector on a vast range of issues.

“My role is two fold,” she explains. “ We offer bespoke advice on governance issues and joint work issues, as well as providing more traditional legal services around trades, mergers and grant making.”

People involved in charitable ventures come from all walks of life, and the wide variety of experiences and skills they bring to the organization can

“The funding landscape has changed rapidly in the recent years, and the way it crosses over into different sectors is likely to be a continuing trend,” Fiona continues.

“There are also many different charity structures, so we work with charities to ensure their organizational structure fits the purpose of their chosen cause.

“When forming a trustee board, you need a strong mixture of skills and experiences, but if the charity has a trading subsidiary it can be useful to have someone with business and communications experience to make sure the grants are correctly focused.”

She has now begun work on a series of training sessions for charitable organizations to help them navigate a minefield of legislation. The seminars have so far been a great success, with groups and individuals keen to help one another, as well as learning new things for themselves.

“I personally think the sector needs to be supported, and while its great that they ask questions, they also need to be able to share their own experiences, big ideas and good practices.

“At the events we organize people often want to share, which is incredibly positive – they always want to make the sector as good as it can possibly be.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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