Prof Debra Morris presenting in the SLSJ Events Space. White text on a yellow tint reads 'EVENTS - CLPU Conferences and Events'

Past event highlights

Showcasing previous events hosted by the Charity Law and Policy Unit.

The Forward Thinking Conference

10 November 2023 | The Spine Building, Liverpool

The conference, organised by the Government's Insolvency Service and hosted by the School of Law and Social Justice, provided a link between academia, the insolvency sector, and policymakers with a platform for insolvency research and technical discussion.

Read about the event's successes on the SLSJ news pages.


Higher Education Institutions and Money Laundering

24 October 2023 | 13:00 - 14:00 | Online

We were joined by Professor Nicholas Ryder, from Cardiff University, who will be presenting on Higher Education Institutions and Money Laundering.


'Examining the English Necessary Interest Rule in the Charitable Trust'

26 May 2023 | 13:00 - 14:00 | School of Law and Social Justice Building 

In England, Parliament introduced the ‘necessary interest rule’ through the enactment of section 115 of the Charities Act 2011 (England and Wales), allowing ‘any person interested’ in a charitable trust to initiate charity proceedings against defaulting trustees in their administration of charitable assets. In the presentation, Dr Jing Hui, University of Hong Kong, explained the ways in which the courts have interpreted the necessary interest rule and, secondly, discussed the theoretical implications of the necessary interest rule for understanding the conceptual nature of English express trusts.

Watch a recording of the lecture


'Sticking To Their Knitting: Charities, Campaigning & Politics’

19 April 2023 | 17:00 - 18:00 | School of Law and Social Justice Building

Challenging those in power through advocacy and campaigning has always been a vital role of voluntary organisations. Yet there have long been critics who question the legitimacy of such approaches and accuse campaigning charities of going beyond their remit and "straying into politics". In this session, Rhodri Davies explored the historical background to this debate and what it can tell us about the challenges facing charities today. Does the rule prohibiting charities from having political purposes, for instance, stem from a historical error? Should we consider abandoning it? And as 'culture war' debates spread and extend the boundaries of what is deemed to be political, do charities face more challenges than ever before when it comes to campaigning?

Watch a recording of the lecture


Annual Property Law Lecture: Forfeiture, Penalties, and Damages in Property Law

21 February 2023 | 18:00 - 20:00 | School of Law and Social Justice Building

In this lecture, the Hon. Mr Justice Fancourt, Vice-Chancellor of the Country Palatine of Lancaster, Supervising Judge of the Business and Property Courts for the Northern & North-Eastern Circuits, will consider the proper scope of forfeiture of property and contractual rights, with reference to the law of penalties and damages. 

Watch a recording of the lecture


'Shifting Sands - Surviving Uncertain Times'

Thursday 9th February 2023 | 17:00 - 18:00 | Online

Speaker: Helen Rice - CEO, Age UK, West Sussex, Brighton & Hove.

Against a background of environmental shifts in the market for charities, Helen considers strategies for overcoming current challenges facing charities such as funding and workforce deficits, and the related issue of managing risk.

Watch a video


'From charity to for-profit: some questions'

Thursday 8th December 2022, 5:00 - 6:00pm

Dr Mary Synge

Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Charity Law & Policy Unit, University of Liverpool,
Honorary Senior Fellow, University of Melbourne, Associate Professor, University of Reading

Dr Synge will address the recent ‘conversions’ of the charitable College of Law (to the for-profit University of Law) and the charitable Regent's University (to the for-profit Regent's University). After considering relevant aspects of charity law (regarding sales of assets and change of objects), she will draw on Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital v Spitzer (NY Sup Ct 1999) and commentary on the spate of not-for-profit conversions of medical organisations that swept the US around that time. With little information publicly available about each transaction, she will outline some of the potential danger areas and seek to understand the Charity Commission's approach.


Restoring Trust and Confidence in Charities

Tuesday 5th July 2022, 12:00 - 1:00pm

Professor Rosemary Langford, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne.

In this seminar, Professor Langford will present the results of an extensive survey of charity trustees in England and Wales in relation to governance duties and conflicts of interest. The results help discern trustees’ understanding of, and confidence with, their governance duties; their enthusiasm for practical assistance with these duties; the strength of their conflicts management procedures; as well as compliance motivations and perceived barriers to enhanced governance and compliance. This in turn assists in critical evaluation of the effectiveness of the governance and regulatory system of charities in England and Wales. Rosemary will seek feedback on the effectiveness of aspects of this system. A copy of Rosemary’s article will be provided to registrants by the end of June.

Watch the event 


CLPU Charity Briefs - 'Corporate assets and trust property in charity law'

Wednesday 23rd March 2022, 5:00 - 6:00pm

Robert Pearce QC, Barrister at Radcliffe Chambers.

The decision of Re Wedgwood Museum Trust Ltd (in administration) [2011] EWHC 3782 (Ch) highlighted the theoretical and practical importance of how charitable assets are held. In this session, Robert Pearce QC will discuss the significance of the case, consider how the law has moved on since the case was decided, and suggest what still needs to be.

Watch the event



Charitable Purposes, Demonstrable Benefit and the Role of the Charity Commission: The Fourth Pemsel Head Recast

Tuesday 7th December 2021

Dr Lara McMurtry, Keele University

CLPU Charity Briefs 07 12 21 cover


The statutory overhaul of the law of charity has brought with it challenging problems of interpretation and operation. This is particularly so in the outlying territory formerly occupied by 'fourth head' purposes.

Such difficulties have concerned whether an organisation is inherently charitable and whether it is in the public benefit. A series of decisions of the First-tier Tribunal (Charity) serve to spotlight the cautious reasoning of the Charity Commission and the fault lines in its regulatory guidance.

Watch the event


This session considered the elusive concept of a charitable purpose from the perspective of what was the fourth Pemsel head of charity. A moderated Q&A discussion followed the short presentation.

The work of CLPU is kindly supported by Brabners LLP Solicitors.


Working with and around the state – Charity law and policy developments in Asia 

Thursday 20th May 2021

Mark Sidel, Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Consultant for Asia, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL)

Charity law has been changing significantly in Asia. Developments across the region include a planned and controversial revision of the national charity law and enforcement of a law restricting overseas NGOs in China, and the inauguration of a social stock exchange in India. Nonprofits and philanthropic organizations are being pressured more by the state, are developing ways to work around the state, and in some cases are expanding across borders.

This session considered some of the key recent charity law developments in the Asia-Pacific region.

This involved a short presentation of the issues followed by a moderated Q&A discussion.

The work of CLPU is kindly supported by Brabners LLP Solicitors.

More information:

Watch the event

Please note due to technical issues a full recording of the event was not possible.

Charity Law and Executive Pay

Thursday 15th April 2021

Dr Mary Synge, Associate Professor in Law, University of Exeter
Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Charity Law & Policy Unit, University of Liverpool

Reports of high executive pay, bonuses and severance packages frequently arouse public interest and, in many cases, condemnation. When those reports relate to the charity sector, public trust and confidence are diminished.

This session asks what charity law and regulation have to say on the subject and then how that law is, or should be, applied to universities: a significant section of the charity sector (though not widely recognised as such) and one where publicised instances of high pay have drawn widespread and fierce criticism, not least from politicians.

The work of CLPU is kindly supported by Brabners LLP Solicitors.

More information:


Sticking to your knitting..? The ongoing debate around the role of charities in politics 

Thursday 18th March 2021

Graeme Hughes, Partner, Brabners

In 2020, Barnardo’s published “White privilege - a guide for parents” to assist parents wishing to talk to their children about racial inequality in the UK. This led to a complaint being made by a number of MPs, describing the publication as “ideological dogma” and “divisive militancy” and “a misguided and misjudged move away from what the charity is about and what it ought to be doing”. Calls have been made for Barnardo’s to be investigated by the Charity Commission.

We discussed the long-standing but often contentious rules that apply to charities seeking to engage in political debate and whether charities should be tackling the political issues of the day.

This involved a short presentation of the issues followed by moderated Q & A discussion.

The work of CLPU is kindly supported by Brabners LLP Solicitors.

More information:

Watch the event


Charity trustees in the dock: the implications of the Kids Company case

Thursday 25th February 2021

Matthew Smith, Maitland Chambers

What can we learn from the Kids Company case? What can charity trustees do to protect themselves? Will prospective trustees be deterred from acting?

We had an opportunity to discuss initial reflections on the ‘hot off the press’ High Court decision in the Kids Company Case. This involved a short presentation of the issues followed by moderated Q & A discussion.

The work of CLPU is kindly supported by Brabners LLP Solicitors.

More information:

Watch a video of the full lecture


The Sixth Annual Property Law Lecture

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Held in conjunction with the Chancery and Commercial Practice Group, Atlantic Chambers.

The lecture, delivered by The Honourable Mr. Justice Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster was entitled 'Property law, the pandemic and cybercrime.'

Read more about the event and watch a video of the full lecture:


The Fifth Annual Property Law Lecture

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Held in conjunction with the Chancery and Commercial Practice Group, Atlantic Chambers, this special guest lecture took place in the new Events Space at the School of Law Social Justice, University of Liverpool.

The lecture, delivered by Professor Sue Bright (New College, Oxford) was entitled 'Property Voices in the Shadow of Grenfell'.

Read more about the event and watch a video of the full lecture:


Charity Governance: Looking Backwards to Move forwards

February 2019

A seminar hosted at Unversity of Liverpool in London. Over recent years charities have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons on a number of occasions. Scandals have arisen around sexual abuse and exploitation, aggressive fundraising methods and the very public collapse of large charities.

Chaired by Professor Debra Morris, Director of the Charity Law & Policy Unit, the panel of experts offering lessons featured Rosie Chapman (Chair of the Charity Governance Code Stering Group), Rebecca Fry (Head of Legal Policy, Charity Commission), Philip Kirkpatrick (Head of Charity & Social Enterprise Department, Bates Wells Braithwaite) and Joss Saunders (General Counsel, Oxfam). Visit the CLPU Charity Governace webpage for more information.

Annual Public Lecture by Julia Unwin

October 2017

‘The world is changing, civil society is changing: is charity law fit for purpose?’ Julia Unwin, Chair of Civil Society Futures.

CLPU Public Lecture with Julia Unwin - 26.10.17.

The Future of Charity Law: Teaching, Scholarship and Research Symposium

April 2017

This solutions-focused international symposium considered how researchers with an interest in charity law can collectively raise the profile of charity law teaching and scholarship and, as a result, generate new research interest (particularly among early career researchers). Visit the CLPU Future of Charity Law webpage for more information.

Annual Property Law Lecture by Professor Warren Barr

February 2017

In February 2017, the Liverpool Law School hosted the second annual Property Law lecture, organised in conjunction with the Chancery & Commercial Practice Group, Atlantic Chambers, Liverpool. This year, the lecture was delivered by the CLPU’s Professor Warren Barr, and was titled ‘Repudiatory Breach of Leases – Hard Lessons for ‘Contractualisation’ of Leases’.

Annual Public Lecture by Francesca Quint

October 2016

In October 2016, Francesca Quint, barrister at Radcliffe Chambers, delivered the Unit’s annual public lecture, titled ‘Protection of Charities under the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016: Too Little or Too Much’. In the lecture, attended by students, academics, charity practitioners, trustees and lawyers, Francesca focused on those provisions of the Act which deal with the protection of charities. She concluded that the Act is capable of facilitating better regulation by the Charity Commission by providing a more coherent range of powers, enabling threats to charities to be reduced or removed. However, the way in which the legislation is expressed places excessive importance on informal guidance and demands of the charitable sector a greater trust in the inherent fairness and proportionality of the Commission’s approach to its powers than, perhaps, past experience would tend to justify. The text of the lecture has now been published in the Charity Law & Practice Review.

Annual Public Lecture by Professor Elizabeth Cooke

February 2016

Professor Elizabeth Cooke, Principal Judge, Property Chamber, Land Registration Division and former Law Commissioner gave a lecture on 18 February 2016, entitled, ‘Charity Law and the Boundaries of Non-Political Law Reform’.  In her lecture, Judge Cooke described the process of charity law reform and focussed on the new power to be given to charity trustees to make social investments. Visit the Annual Public Lecture by Elizabeth Cooke webpage for more information.


Annual Public Lecture by Sir Stuart Etherington

12 February 2015

To a large audience of students, academics, voluntary sector practitioners, lawyers and regulators, Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) delivered the University of Liverpool’s Charity Law & Policy Unit’s annual public lecture on 12th February 2015.  In a wide-ranging talk, entitled ‘Beyond the Big Society, Sir Stuart, considered the state of the voluntary sector and its relationship with government.




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