We act for both large and small Free Church Trust Corporations and many individual churches and church charities which gives us unique experience and insight into the many legal issues that can face churches and the ways in which these issues can be resolved.
Most churches have charitable status and are subject to regulation by the Charity Commission and are subject to charity law. Our charity practice therefore gives us the expertise and experience to advise charity trustees on their duties and responsibilities and to ensure that what the particular trusts declared in respect of their church are fulfilled and that they comply with their legal duties as trustees.
We are experienced in dealing for churches in all types of property transactions from buying and selling houses to complicated redevelopments of church properties and granting commercial leases of parts of each property.
Acting for Baptist custodian trustees and individual Baptist churches, we have recently
- Advised on a multi-million pound church relocation and redevelopment project in South London with the local authority to create a new church and Christian school within a new residential estate
- Entered into exclusivity agreements with developers to enable planning applications to be prepared and submitted for redevelopment of church land held by custodian trustees
- Drafted and negotiated joint venture development agreements between churches and local developers
- Considered the provisions of a conveyance made in 1865 to ascertain the terms of a trust created to hold the charity asset and the basis for determination of the trust and delivery of the asset to the ultimate beneficiary
- Granted leases or licences of parts of church premises for use as pre-schools or places of worship for other communities
- Protected the proprietorship rights of a church from a neighbouring redevelopment, resulting in a crane oversail licence being granted with compensation
- Dealt with the disposal of a redundant church building which was listed by the local authority as an Asset of Community Value and subject to a moratorium period for local interested groups to participate
- Successfully defended claims made in the Employment Tribunals by former church ministers, on the basis that the ET lacks jurisdiction by virtue of the minister of religion’s non- employment status
We acted for a Pentecostal Church in West London in connection with its many property issues including a lease of temporary space and an agreement for lease of space in a development on the site it is vacating so that the freeholder can build a mixed use worship space, childcare nursery, community space, retail and residential building on the site, into which our client will move once it is built. We have also assisted them with a CIO application.
- Advising church trustees on the £10 million redevelopment of a listed building to create a church, a school and several high value flats including the negotiation of development documentation and advice on charity law procedure.
- Advising a local church and a charity specialising in the rehabilitation of drug users in the redevelopment of a site comprising several different buildings owned by the church, the charity and a housing association.
- Merging of nine free church charities into three charities under an umbrella charity, and incorporating the charity trustee body, including agreeing the Scheme and Order with the Charity Commission and updating titles.
- Advising a church in a redevelopment of its site with a housing association that was complicated by the presence of a substantial number of graves on the site.
- Setting up declarations of Trust and advising on Trust Deeds
- Dealing with the Charity Commission
- Incorporation of Church organisations
- Dealing with property issues, purchases, sales and developments
- Advising on employment, intellectual property and data protection issues.
Meet the team
Andrew Firman is a partner in our corporate & commercial team. His corporate practice concentrates on buying and selling mainly owner-managed SMEs and associated advice on contractual and banking documentation work. His employment practice covers all aspects of contentious and non-contentious work for both employers and employees. His charity practice majors on compliance and amalgamation matters.
In his work, Andrew looks for proactive and pragmatic solutions derived from a proper understanding of the client’s perspective and against the background of the commercial constraints.
Career highlights include
- running a David v Goliath style battle for a former employee of a US based bank related to the late vesting of share options following that employee’s termination at a time when the US markets were in freefall
- negotiating, finalising and drawing down for an off-shore SPV borrower at £310M facility to buy a group of companies which owned, as an investment, the London HQ of a multinational corporation
- reaching settlement terms on a long running shareholders’ dispute concerning a company running a niche members’ gym in a close knit area of London
More recently, Andrew has advised upon
- the purchase of owner-managed companies across a number of different sectors by a leading SME investor, incentivising existing management via equity and loan note positions in the purchasing entity
- sale by owner managers of a London based estate agency business with multiple sites, whilst preserving the sellers’ ability to continue business activity in the sector
- sale of SPV off shore companies holding UK property assets
- multi facility refinancing of a major UK specialist facilities maintenance company with asset based receivables, property, cashflow and recovery loan scheme elements
- the negotiation and documentation of departure terms for the CEO pioneer of a cutting edge national charity
- the position of a charity trustee in connection with disqualification proceedings and interim manager appointment by the Charity Commission in respect of two charitable trusts
Andrew has over the years enjoyed advising many owner-managed SMEs on the range of their needs for commercial, employment and dispute related legal advice, something for which the firm has received increasing recognition through awards, repeat and new business which in turn goes to the depth of the relationships the firm has with its clients and its target market in terms of size of business clients.
Andrew was educated at Nailsea School and holds degrees in law from Manchester and Leicester Universities. He qualified as a solicitor in 1995. He is a co-author of a Practical Guide to Drone Law.
Away from the office Andrew, married to a local GP and of occasional use to his three children, enjoys running and cycling and being involved in various ways in his local church and the fantastic community that is SE24.
Eleri Jones is a partner in the Commercial Property department at Carter Lemon Camerons, having joined in December 2019 from another City-based law firm.
She specialises in commercial property matters relating to the charity sector in addition to acting for a full range of commercial clients.
Eleri is experienced in acting in the sale and purchase of commercial and residential property, Development Agreements, Commercial Lease renewals and Licences, as well as advising on compliance with the Charities Act, charity governance documentation, the transfer of properties to CIO and the development and disposal of school land.
Amongst her notable cases, she negotiated and drafted a development agreement for a large residential development with leaseback to the freeholder, including provision of development by the purchaser and provision for overage. Eleri also acted on a large-scale financial restructuring of a care home business.
Eleri qualified as a solicitor in 1993.
Prod is a partner in the firm’s property department specialising in commercial and residential property transactions.
Prod qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in 1999. He joined the firm in 2008, bringing with him a substantial client base from the North London area, where he had previously worked for over 15 years.
Prod has considerable experience in residential and commercial conveyancing and landlord and tenant matters. His property work includes buying and selling of freehold, leasehold and new-build properties; granting and taking commercial and residential leases and tenancies; handling collective enfranchisement and lease extensions; property gifts and transfers; advising on defective titles, co-ownership arrangements and personal guarantees.
Prod has vast experience in dealing with regular mortgages and re-mortgages for homeowners as well as secured lending against high-value Central London and West End residential properties for private banks. He also acts for UK based private lenders providing short-term loans and development finance on properties and development sites across the country.
Prod is retained as legal counsel to a number of Christian charity organisations advising them and their associated churches on charity law and the duties and responsibilities of charitable trustees. His church work includes handling all types of property transactions on behalf of churches located in and around the Greater London area, including the purchase and sale of chapels and manses, granting and taking leases and licenses and dealing with re-developments of church land and properties.
Prod represents a wide spectrum of clients including domestic and overseas investors; developers; landlords; managing & lettings agents; surveyors; charity associations and church trustees; domestic and overseas lenders; management companies and residents’ associations; as well as a loyal following of individuals and families going back many years.
Prod is known and trusted by clients for his warm, friendly and approachable manner; for the speed and efficiency of his handling of their instructions; and for his exceptional understanding of property related matters. He is a firm believer in a non-nonsense approach to his work and the importance of using plain English when dealing with clients, professionals and others.
- Representing church trustees on a multi-million pound church relocation and redevelopment project to create a new place of worship and Christian faith school;
- Representing 30 leaseholders on a collective enfranchisement of a freehold residential block;
- Acting for a number of leaseholders in the same block on individual lease extensions to their respective flats under the 1993 Act;
- Acting on the purchase of a multi-million pound property by acquiring ownership of shares in the selling company;
- Achieving first registration of agricultural land affected by a number of rights, settlements and trusts created over a number of years;
- Completing a high-value purchase transaction within 10 days of receipt of papers;
- Successfully bringing a claim to preserve and uphold a right of way thought to have extinguished many years earlier;
- Acting for one of the largest private property investment groups in the UK in connection with the grant, renewal and surrender of commercial leases;
Prod enjoys close links to the local and overseas Greek and Greek Cypriot community and speaks the Greek language reasonably well.
Outside the office, Prod is a devoted husband and father of two, with particular specialism in home learning; chauffeuring; toy repair; football cheerleading; and sibling dispute resolution. He is a member of the governing committee of his local Greek language school, with responsibility for over 200 pupils aged between 4 and 17 years. He is also active in his local Orthodox Christian Church.
Prod enjoys DIY and believes he is really good at it, having helped renovate six properties over the years. He is also a keen gardener and boasts to have a garden worthy of entry in a well-known flower show.
In contrast to his exceptionally smart appearance (dressed always in a three-piece suit) Prod is an avid sports-bike enthusiast and enjoys a daily commute to and from work on his cherished motorbike, dressed in full leathers.