Charity shops

“Their service is always high quality, with appropriate experts available across a wide range of specialisms.”

Chambers UK A Client's Guide to the Legal Profession, 2014
Our Charity shops team offers a comprehensive service to charities and their shops divisions.  

Main areas of practice

  • Trading by charities including structuring start-ups and business transfers
  • Setting up trading companies
  • Setting up start up funding, shared resources and related compliance requirements
  • Gift aid and other tax exemptions, VAT and business rates relief
  • Retail property advice - including acquisition and disposal, planning permission, leases and licences, landlord and tenant issues, business rates relief and stamp duty land tax advice
  • Pop-up and temporary shop arrangements
  • Consumer law and Intellectual property advice - including E-commerce, internet trading, distance selling, brand protection, trademark registration and defence; data protection.
  • Employment and Pensions issues - disability and equality, 
  • Social enterprise
  • Fraud and business risk


Our clients for whom we provide charity shops services include:


British Red Cross


Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research


Sobell House Hospice 
Naomi house (Wessex Children's Hospice)

St Barnabas (West Sussex) Hospices

Thames HospiceCare

The Rowans Hospice

The Children's Trust

The Charity Retail Association

Significant experience

Some of the many ways that we have advised in relation to the operation of charity shops are:

  • Advising the Charity Retail Association throughout the development of the new gift aid schemes for charity shops and providing training workshops in collaboration with them.
  • Drafting guidance for the Charity Retail Association charity shops handbook.
  • Carrying out a health and safety audit of a large national chain of charity shops.
  • Advising on setting up a charity trading arm for a national museum.
  • Advice on structuring trading activities including advice on charity tax exemptions, stamp duty land tax and business rates exemptions.
  • Advice on employment issues arising in charity shops operations including wrongdoing and disciplinary issues.
  • Several major retail acquisition and disposal projects.
  • Specialist shop acquisitions such as furniture, electrical, book, boutique clothing or music stores.

Related expertise

Main contacts

Related Knowledge & Resources

Local authority consults on removing discretionary element of business rates relief for local charity shops


Pembrokeshire County Council has recently invited views on whether to remove the 20% discretionary element of business rates relief it currently grants to charity shops in the area.

Lobbying Act guidance updated by Electoral Commission


Charities should be aware that the Electoral Commission has reviewed and clarified its guidance on the controversial Lobbying Act, which came into force in January this year.

Judicial review changes likely to become law

The House of Lords' decision to remove controversial provisions was reversed by the House of Commons on 1 December 2014 and the proposed changes have been reinserted.

Single registration portal for charities delayed

Plans to revolutionise the system for charities wishing to register with the Charity Commission and HMRC have been delayed until 2016. The Commission has been working with HMRC to set up a single portal for charity registration since early last year.

VAT rebate for charity-run hospices

Hospices, air ambulances and search and rescue charities have been celebrating the Chancellor's announcement that, from April 2015, they will be able to reclaim the VAT they pay on goods and services.