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

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). It was noted during the discussions at the symposium that members of the public recognise the importance of charities and NPOs, but that in the UK we do not currently mirror that in our law courses.The event drew from international expertise to lay the groundwork for a robust future for charity law. It was attended by academics and postgraduate researchers from various jurisdictions, researchers from within the UK voluntary sector, and practising UK lawyers.


    Dr Karen Atkinson (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Prof Warren Barr (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Mr Paul Bater (Charity Law Association & Wellcome Trust, UK)

    Dr Oonagh Breen (University College Dublin, Ireland)

    Prof Evelyn Brody (Chicago-Kent College of Law, US)

    Mr Stephen Claus (Brabners Solicitors, UK)

    Mr Brett Crumley (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Ms Angela Fowler (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Prof Jonathan Garton (University of Warwick, UK; unable to attend)

    Prof Matthew Harding (University of Melbourne, Australia)

    Mr Dejian Li (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Prof Debra Morris (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Sir John Mummery (former Lord Justice of Appeal, UK)

    Ms Claire O’Hare (Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, UK; unable to attend)

    Assoc Prof Adam Parachin (Western University, Canada)

    Mr Hubert Picarda QC (Lincoln’s Inn, UK)

    Dr John Picton (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Ms Louise Platt (Charity Commission for England and Wales, UK)

    Ms Helen Rice (Advising London, UK)

    Dr Alceste Santuari (University of Bologna, Italy)

    Dr Matt Shillito (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Prof Mark Sidel (University of Wisconsin-Madison, US)

    Dr Jennifer Sigafoos (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Mr Matthew Smith (Maitland Chambers, UK)

    Dr Mary Synge (University of Exeter, UK)

    Dr John Tribe (University of Liverpool, UK)

    Prof Chris Willmore (University of Bristol, UK)

Symposium Structure

The day was divided into two main sessions. Teaching and scholarship was considered in the morning, whilst research was considered in the afternoon.

Each of the two sessions began with a series of short presentations which focused on both current best practice and on challenges and which were based on written papers circulated in advance of the day. Following the presentations, participants joined workshops which broadly followed the same themes. They explored solutions to the challenges identified in the first session, considering in particular how current best practice can be adapted to provide solutions in different national contexts. Each workshop was led by a participant who will steer the discussion and make a note of the key points raised. The final session of the day was a synthesis session which both provided an opportunity to draw together the themes from the day and involved a panel discussion of the potential impacts of changes to teaching/scholarship practice on research.

Presentation & Workshop Sessions

Teaching & Scholarship


  • Assoc Prof Adam Parachin – Charity & Legal Publishing: The Relevance of Current Learning Resources.
  • Prof Warren Barr – Future Learning? Braving the New World: Integrated Masters, Online Courses, MOOCs.
  • Dr Alceste Santuari – International Perspectives: Lessons from Europe.
  • Dr Oonagh Breen – Charity Law & The Legal Syllabus: Breaking Free from the Equity Straitjacket. (delivered via Skype link from Canada).


  • Making Charity Law Part of Legal Teaching (led by Dr Mary Synge).
  • The Role of Scholarship in Charity Law (led by Dr John Picton).
  • Learning and Teaching: Teaching Delivery and Staff (led by Dr Matt Shillito).




  • Prof Debra Morris – Charity Law Research: Raising the Profile – REF and beyond
  • Prof Matthew Harding – Interdisciplinary & International Aspects of Charity: Lessons from Australia.
  • Prof Mark Sidel – Charity Research: Funding Opportunities & PGRs
  • Prof Evelyn Brody ­– Charity Research: Getting Published


  • Influencing Policy: The Input of Charity Law (led by Debra Morris)
  • Research Strategies: Maximising Outputs (led by Warren Barr)
  • Working with the Sector: Research Synergies (led by Jennifer Sigafoos)

Symposium Discussions

The following key themes emerged from the discussions as areas of importance.

  • Raising the profile and popularity of charity law as a subject
  • The role of technology
  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • Making charity law research useful to practitioners and influencing policy
  • Maximising research outputs
  • Working with the charity sector: research synergies

 Full details of the discussions can be found in a report on The Future of Charity Law PDF


Next Steps

In response to the Symposium, the Charity Law and Policy Unit is committed to the following actions:

  • Publication of the key issues from the Symposium in an accessible, academic publication.
  • The creation of new Charity Law Modules
  • Fuller engagement with social media, including the creation of digital assets that can be freely used in teaching and to explain Charity Law issues more generally
  • Raising the profile of Charity Law teaching and scholarshop at academic conferences
  • Investigating opportunities to widen the impact of charity law research and scholarshop through great representation on various Committees and Panels
  • Fuller engagement with social media
  • Building networks with academics and practitioners
  • Conduct video interviews with ‘Charity Luminaries’, who have helped shape the subject and inspire others in charity law

 For further information, or to suggest other intiatives, please contact Professor Debra Morris (Director)