Robert is experienced in advising clients on applications for charity registrations, charity restructures and incorporations, high-profile charity investigations, charity disputes and mergers.
Robert is an ex-Charity Commission lawyer who holds a PhD in Charity Law and is the author of The Law of Charitable Status: Maintenance and Removal (CUP, 2008) and Charity in the NHS: Policy and Practice (Jordans, 1998). Robert has been cited in Parliament as an expert in Charity Law.
Robert offers over thirty years’ experience of advising charities on governance and structures. The main bulk of his work involves advising charities on incorporations, trading companies, mergers and trustees’ duties and responsibilities. Robert is also qualified in Canon Law.
Robert also provides legal advice to independent schools and faith schools.
It was a privilege to work with Robert to develop and deliver a blood cancer clinical trial delivery company. Robert was immensely responsive to the twin demands of developing a commercial competitive trials proposition with an underpinning not-for-profit ethos. I was particularly impressed by his insight into the UK charitable sector and greatly valued his desire to foster innovative models designed to help patients with blood cancer access to new drug and transplant therapies.
Prof. Charles Craddock CBE, FRCP (UK), FRCPath, DPhil, FMedSci
Robert was great to work with from the very outset. Very knowledgeable, very collaborative and with a clear wealth of experience that shines through. He understood our needs, communicated clearly and realistically to manage our expectations and delivered very promptly. I would highly recommend to anyone looking for legal advice in the charity realm. He will be our natural go-to person for any upcoming legal needs in the future.
Gus – The Infinity Branch CIO
Robert, this has been a revelation, impressive work, many thanks.
Peter Cox, Assistant Director, Finance & Business Development, Glebe House
Robert is a gentleman, a wonderful human being and a dedicated professional.
Julie Harwin, CEO, STARS-well-being Ltd
Robert is always able to quickly cut to the chase and apply his immense knowledge of the law cost-effectively and with the minimum of fuss.
Thomas Memery, Director, Omega, the National Association for End of Life Care
Robert has been supporting the Foundation, Mary Ward Loreto UK/Albania, for the last five years. He has remained faithful and with high expertise in establishing the UK charity on a sure footing and also supporting the development of the charity into the future. Robert is remarkably sincere and with integrity. He is a person whom I know I can trust.
Sister Imelda Poole MBE, Trustee of Mary Ward Loreto UK
I am privileged to have worked with Robert not only as a lawyer but as an honorary Trustee/advisor to several leading charities and not-for-profits, he stands out for his passion, humanity and concern to make them even better and the world a better place.
Tom Petzal – Arts and Charities Funding Consultant
Robert has been our Lawyer for over 20 years and in this time his vast wealth of knowledge and experience has been invaluable to us. He is very thorough, meticulous and always ready to go the extra mile. A genuinely kind and thoughtful man. I truly don’t know what we would do without you!
Jo Grazte, CEO, Hospice Aid UK
Robert added much wisdom and good humour to his discernments as a governor at St Mary’s School Cambridge. His knowledge of canon law alongside other legal practices was particularly helpful to the governors and executive. He was a great listener and a generous contributor.
Charlotte Avery, Headmistress, St Mary’s School Cambridge
- Charity law
- Charity restructures
- Charity incorporations
- Charity investigations
- Charity registrations
- Charity disputes
- Charity mergers
- Social enterprise
- Canon law
- Acted for an international Roman Catholic order that operates care facilities for older people on matters arising from €27m in secured borrowing from AIB that it used as financial support for its operations in Ireland. This involved obtaining consent from Rome.
- Advised a FTSE 100 sized company on options to restructure as a non-charitable group.
- Advised a landed estate on heritage charity options.
- Advised a national church arts and heritage charity on its establishment as a charity and a group of companies.
- Advised a city livery company on a restructuring involving a charitable trust.
- Acted for two charities involved in one of the largest ever Charity Commission and HMRC investigations and negotiating a successful outcome.
- Successfully represented Cambridge Islamic College in a £5m tribunal appeal against the Charity Commission, which challenged the body’s power to direct a change of name.
- Advised several national charities on mergers including YMCA, Stroke Association UK and Age UK.
- Advised Cirencester housing for Young People Ltd on its conversion from being an exempt charity to becoming a registered charity.
- Provided governance advice to a charitable care home for former members of the entertainment industry.
- Acted in the setting up of a trading company for a charity running care homes.
- Acted in the incorporation of a charitable care home to gain limited liability.
- Advised Society of Chemical Industry on the adoption of a new Royal Charter, By-laws and Rules.
- Advised on the award of a Royal Charter to Homerton College, University of Cambridge.
- Advised The Royal Society for Public Health on its merger with the Royal Society of Health and the adoption of a new Royal Charter and By-laws.
- Advised several Cambridge Colleges on registration with the Charity Commission.
- Successfully represented Cambridge Islamic College in a £5m tribunal appeal against the Charity Commission, which challenged the body’s power to direct a change of name
- Acted for an independent school being hived off from a diocese into a new charitable company
- Advised the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia on the option of their schools becoming academy schools.
- Was the principal solicitor advising Ealing Abbey on the hive off of St Benedict’s School into a separate charitable company in compliance with The Carlisle Report.
- Advised on the creation of School Companies under the Education Act 2002 as umbrella charities to enable schools to share costs and resources.
- Advised a privately owned Roman Catholic school on its sale to a commercial education provider and in particular putting in place safeguards to satisfy canonical requirements to retain the status as a Roman Catholic school.
- Advised a university on the amalgamation of its restricted trust assets
- Advised on the creation and registration of New Schools Network, a charity supporting the establishment of free schools.
Please note: The experience list above may include examples of work completed prior to joining Keystone Law.
“Robert is my go-to for any matters on charitable law; he is invaluable because he knows his area of expertise and knows who or where to go if a situation falls outside of his remit.” Chambers UK 2024
“Robert is understanding, compassionate, always responds straight away and is very knowledgeable in his field of charity law.” Chambers UK 2024
Recognised as a Leading Individual by The Legal 500 2024 for Charities & Not-for-profit
Recognised in Chambers UK (2020-2024) for Charities
“Robert is a grandee of charities law and I have a lot of respect for him.” Chambers UK 2023
Recognised as a Leading Individual by The Legal 500 2022 for Charities & Not-for-profit
Recommended as a Leading Individual in The Legal 500 2021 for Charities & Not-for-profit
Recognised in Best Lawyers UK from 2009 – 2024 for Charities Law
“He is efficient and responds in a timely manner. Robert recognises and understands the needs of charity clients.” Chambers UK 2020
Recommended in The Legal 500 2019 for Charities and not-for-profit
Robert qualified as a solicitor in 1998. Prior to joining Keystone Law in 2020, he worked at the following firms:
- Stone King
- Simmons & Simmons
- Charles Russell Speechlys
- Hogan Lovells
- The Charity Commission