Ellie Williams

Senior Associate - Charity & Not for Profit

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"I am a specialist charity lawyer with expertise in advising on charity law, governance and regulatory issues with a particular focus on incorporations, mergers, re-organisations and governance reviews. I also liaise with the Charity Commission regularly on regulatory and compliance matters. ”

I have worked as a solicitor in Higgs’ Charity & Not for Profit team since 2016, having trained at a national law firm in central Birmingham.

I advise on all aspects of charity operations, including governance best practice, constitutional advice and regulatory issues.  My work spans a whole range of charity law matters from registration of new charities and advising trustees on their ongoing legal and governance obligations to advising on amending of governing documents, sale of charity land and submission of Serious Incident Reports.

My particular expertise involves advising on complex charity restructures and mergers, governance reviews and supporting trustees during ongoing Charity Commission regulatory involvement.

I also advise not-for profit organisations on formation and operational issues.

I am recognised as a ‘Rising Star’ in the Legal 500 in Charities and Not for Profit practice area in the West Midlands.

  • Acting as Independent Reviewer for a multi-million pound and high-profile sports benevolent charity on an extensive investigation by the Charity Commission. This involved hours of interviews with key individuals and a lengthy report on the findings of a wide-ranging review which encompassed matters such as a charity’s relationship with non-charitable entities, managing conflicts of interest and loyalty, trustee duties and responsibilities and the acquisition and disposal of charity land. The outcome of the review included a detailed timetable for the implementation of our governance and organisational recommendations.
  • Conducting a wide ranging governance and constitutional review, including interviews with all key individuals, for a large charity which supports renewable energy and low carbon technologies;
  • Advising a high-profile regional charity on the rules in their Articles of Association, including how to identify their trustees and members, how to make valid decisions, how to manage conflicts of interest/loyalty and how to run an effective meeting. This work fed in to the charity needing to make an important strategic decision which would effect the charity for many years to come. Ongoing work includes advising on a constitutional review and re-structure.
  • Advising on a complex incorporation for an almshouse charity involving three different regulators, designated land, a change of objects and transfer of employees to enable them to achieve their aim of becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation
  • Reviewing the wider corporate group structure for various hospice charities, including their trading activities, from a charity law, governance and regulation perspective and reporting on the options available for restructuring to enable them to ensure efficient use of resources
  • Supporting the trustees of a local education charity by advising on and reporting a serious incident to the Charity Commission following an event involving social media
  • Advising a large cultural heritage charity on managing regulatory intervention from the Charity Commission which included the insolvency of their trading subsidiary and a wide ranging report on constitutional restructure, with a particular focus on the management of conflicts of interest, and submission of serious incident report.
  • Advising a church charity on the sale of a parcel of charity land under the Charities Act land disposals regime and using the proceeds of sale to better meet the needs of its beneficiaries, including seeking consent from the Charity Commission
  • Advising on the formation and registration of a community interest company including drafting asset lock provisions. Advice involved advantages and disadvantages of the structure as compared to charitable entities.
  • Seeking Charity Commission consent for employment of a trustee as CEO for a bereavement charity.
  • Advising a board of trustees on the need for Charity Commission consents with regard to a proposal to sell part of charity land. Advice included the identification of functional permanent endowment.
  • Advising a regional membership society representing the interests of professionals in a particular geographical area on the process of a wholescale review and amendment of their governing document, including complex and historical membership provisions.
  • Providing strategic advice on a complex merger of two citizen’s advice bureaux from a charity law, governance, regulatory and constitutional perspective including transfer of employees, property, a mortgage, grant funding and changes to constitutional structure as well as advice on amending charitable objects and Charity Commission consents required.
  • Advising a charity with a worldwide membership on a wholesale review of its governing document and constitutional structure as there was a need for significant changes to provide greater clarity about the roles and responsibilities of the members and the trustees.

More about me

Favourite food

Thai red curry and coconut rice

Interesting fact

I’m a twin

Childhood career goal

A vet


Charity Law Association

"Ellie Williams routinely advises on complex restructures and charity registrations as well as advising trustees following intervention from the Charity Commission"

Legal 500

"In addition to the outstanding legal knowledge and skills the team brings, they have a strong commitment to the charity sector, regularly organising events to help build skills and knowledge for charity leaders"

Legal 500

"They are both very approachable and unlike many lawyers in this day and age they listen and look for solutions. They, when required, stand their ground and are focused on the best outcome for their client…Ellie similarly is finely tuned to client needs and wants to help at all times.”

Legal 500

Meet the team