New Zealand Law Society - Growth in Charities Law

Growth in Charities Law

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Sue Barker began her charities law firm, Sue Barker Charities Law, in March last year, specialising in charities and public tax law.

Charities law is the law relating to charitable entities, which principally revolves around the Charities Act 2005. The law of trusts plays an important part, as does four centuries of case law regarding what constitutes a charitable purpose (and other matters).

Charities law also involves legislation such as the Charitable Trusts Act 1957, the Incorporated Societies Act 1908, the Companies Act 1993, tax legislation (because many charities receive fiscal privileges), together with legislation that applies to organisations generally.

It is therefore by nature both a specialist and a necessarily generalist area. It appears that litigation is also going to play an increasing part.

The sole practitioner says her business has been going much better than expected.

“I have more work than I can cope with, and am currently trying to create enough space so that I can look at options for how best to deal with that.”

She says it would be good for the firm to expand, by taking on more people who are also passionate about charities law and public tax law, and who could share some of her workload on a more permanent basis.

“The specialist nature of the area means that such people would need to be trained. So this option would not provide an immediate fix for the current workload problem.” she says. “It is a bit of a Catch 22 as being overloaded workwise presents its own challenges in terms of finding space for reflective strategic thinking. I am hoping that an upcoming holiday will provide the opportunity to start addressing this issue.”

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