Solicitors - Request for recommendations

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Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Thomas Dalton
One of the first things the new board will need to do is find a
solicitor to go over the governing documents with, so I thought I'd
ask: Does anyone know a good solicitor that specialises in charity
law? In particular, who did v1.0 use and would they recommend them?

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Chris Wood-7
http://www.solicitors.co.uk/charitylaw/1/  is a Start gives a list of every law area possilbe and also gives a list of the solicitors who specialised in it.

Chris

> Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 13:44:41 +0100
> From: [hidden email]
> To: [hidden email]
> Subject: [Wikimediauk-l] Solicitors - Request for recommendations
>
> One of the first things the new board will need to do is find a
> solicitor to go over the governing documents with, so I thought I'd
> ask: Does anyone know a good solicitor that specialises in charity
> law? In particular, who did v1.0 use and would they recommend them?
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia UK mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_UK
> http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l


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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Thomas Dalton
2008/9/18 Chris Wood <[hidden email]>:
> http://www.solicitors.co.uk/charitylaw/1/  is a Start gives a list of every
> law area possilbe and also gives a list of the solicitors who specialised in
> it.

Yeah, I was looking at that before I sent the email and found it less
than helpful. Solicitors seem to lack useful websites giving simple
things like fees in an easy to find place...

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Alison M. Wheeler
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
On Thu, September 18, 2008 13:44, Thomas Dalton wrote:
> One of the first things the new board will need to do is find a
> solicitor to go over the governing documents with, so I thought I'd
> ask: Does anyone know a good solicitor that specialises in charity
> law? In particular, who did v1.0 use and would they recommend them?

From long experience of writing company setup documents and contract law I
was the one who gave the draft AoA and MoA a good 'going over', indeed it
was because I spotted so many pitfalls and liabilities and told the
meeting (which was otherwise about to accept them) why they were so
dangerous/bad that I got put into the position of Chair and redrafted
them!

We also didn't have the cash available (such services are not cheap) even
if we had have thought it was useful (just as with getting an accountant
to do your tax return, they aren't liable, you are) so I then used my
family solicitors (one of the major regionals) for the Swear and that was
all.

One thing: just about all 'service businesses', like Solicitors, etc, tend
to be a bit like boxed software. They don't really understand how you want
to do things so will try to only talk about what they actually know. And
as we all know, the Wikimedia ethos is like nothing people have seen
before and tend to rarely understand ;-P

Alison


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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Chris Wood-7
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
They usually charge you for their services. Some charge upto £25 for answering your question over the phone but most solicitors are legally binded to give you 30 minutes free legal advice before they charge you. My nans friend is a solicitor and he says that they charge for things such as answering the telephone and also writing letters and responding to letters and be glad your not hiring a barrister as they charge a minimum of £95 an hour.

Chris

> Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 14:09:09 +0100
> From: [hidden email]
> To: [hidden email]
> Subject: Re: [Wikimediauk-l] Solicitors - Request for recommendations
>
> 2008/9/18 Chris Wood <[hidden email]>:
> > http://www.solicitors.co.uk/charitylaw/1/ is a Start gives a list of every
> > law area possilbe and also gives a list of the solicitors who specialised in
> > it.
>
> Yeah, I was looking at that before I sent the email and found it less
> than helpful. Solicitors seem to lack useful websites giving simple
> things like fees in an easy to find place...
>
> _______________________________________________
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> [hidden email]
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_UK
> http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l


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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Thomas Dalton
2008/9/18 Chris Wood <[hidden email]>:
> They usually charge you for their services. Some charge upto £25 for
> answering your question over the phone but most solicitors are legally
> binded to give you 30 minutes free legal advice before they charge you. My
> nans friend is a solicitor and he says that they charge for things such as
> answering the telephone and also writing letters and responding to letters
> and be glad your not hiring a barrister as they charge a minimum of £95 an
> hour.

We're looking for advice (desirable, but not essential) and someone to
sign off on the application (a legal requirement). The former we may
be able to get for free (as you say, you can usually get 30 minutes
free advice, although I don't know if that applies to corporate
matters), the latter I would expect we need to pay for whoever we get
(it involves writing something down - I believe that almost always
results in a fee). Since we need someone to sign the application, we
may as well try and make it someone that can offer useful advice as
well. Also, we're likely to require legal advice at some point in the
future (WM DE have been sued what, 4 times so far? And that's just
issues that have actually gone to court), so it would be good to have
a professional to turn to and not need to find one in a hurry.

We can afford reasonable set up costs, the board can fund them out of
their own pockets and get reimbursed out of the first membership fees.
We have 28 people interested in being supporting members. Assuming
half of them actually sign up and a membership fee of £10 (both
conservative estimates), that's £140 straight off. I think the
application itself costs £30, that leaves £110 to pay a solicitor -
hopefully there will even be something left over for travel expenses
(I'm just guessing what they're likely to charge - none of their
websites seem to include minor details like costs...). I'm happy to
sub the chapter £140 for the few months it will take to get the fees
in.
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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Chris Wood-7
If it costs more than £140 then you can tell the solicitor its not worth it unless they are going to give you advice before signing the document.

There is a woman that I have been looking into her background and she seems to know what she is talking about her email address is  [hidden email] < [hidden email]> and the website that she is on is http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/policy/index.asp?id=1136 which has a section on charity law with different sections leading off.

Chris

> Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 15:01:43 +0100
> From: [hidden email]
> To: [hidden email]
> Subject: Re: [Wikimediauk-l] Solicitors - Request for recommendations
>
> 2008/9/18 Chris Wood <[hidden email]>:
> > They usually charge you for their services. Some charge upto £25 for
> > answering your question over the phone but most solicitors are legally
> > binded to give you 30 minutes free legal advice before they charge you. My
> > nans friend is a solicitor and he says that they charge for things such as
> > answering the telephone and also writing letters and responding to letters
> > and be glad your not hiring a barrister as they charge a minimum of £95 an
> > hour.
>
> We're looking for advice (desirable, but not essential) and someone to
> sign off on the application (a legal requirement). The former we may
> be able to get for free (as you say, you can usually get 30 minutes
> free advice, although I don't know if that applies to corporate
> matters), the latter I would expect we need to pay for whoever we get
> (it involves writing something down - I believe that almost always
> results in a fee). Since we need someone to sign the application, we
> may as well try and make it someone that can offer useful advice as
> well. Also, we're likely to require legal advice at some point in the
> future (WM DE have been sued what, 4 times so far? And that's just
> issues that have actually gone to court), so it would be good to have
> a professional to turn to and not need to find one in a hurry.
>
> We can afford reasonable set up costs, the board can fund them out of
> their own pockets and get reimbursed out of the first membership fees.
> We have 28 people interested in being supporting members. Assuming
> half of them actually sign up and a membership fee of £10 (both
> conservative estimates), that's £140 straight off. I think the
> application itself costs £30, that leaves £110 to pay a solicitor -
> hopefully there will even be something left over for travel expenses
> (I'm just guessing what they're likely to charge - none of their
> websites seem to include minor details like costs...). I'm happy to
> sub the chapter £140 for the few months it will take to get the fees
> in.
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia UK mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_UK
> http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l


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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Sam Korn
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 3:01 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> We're looking for advice (desirable, but not essential) and someone to
> sign off on the application (a legal requirement). The former we may
> be able to get for free (as you say, you can usually get 30 minutes
> free advice, although I don't know if that applies to corporate
> matters), the latter I would expect we need to pay for whoever we get
> (it involves writing something down - I believe that almost always
> results in a fee). Since we need someone to sign the application, we
> may as well try and make it someone that can offer useful advice as
> well. Also, we're likely to require legal advice at some point in the
> future (WM DE have been sued what, 4 times so far? And that's just
> issues that have actually gone to court), so it would be good to have
> a professional to turn to and not need to find one in a hurry.
>
> We can afford reasonable set up costs, the board can fund them out of
> their own pockets and get reimbursed out of the first membership fees.
> We have 28 people interested in being supporting members. Assuming
> half of them actually sign up and a membership fee of £10 (both
> conservative estimates), that's £140 straight off. I think the
> application itself costs £30, that leaves £110 to pay a solicitor -
> hopefully there will even be something left over for travel expenses
> (I'm just guessing what they're likely to charge - none of their
> websites seem to include minor details like costs...). I'm happy to
> sub the chapter £140 for the few months it will take to get the fees
> in.

One presumes WMF's offer to assist with setup costs may still stand as well?

--
Sam
PGP public key: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Sam_Korn/public_key

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Andrew Whitworth-2
On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 10:08 AM, Sam Korn <[hidden email]> wrote:
> One presumes WMF's offer to assist with setup costs may still stand as well?

As a matter of general caution, I would suggest you not rely on this
offer as your only means for success. Try your damndest to secure your
own monies for this first, before asking the WMF for aide.

--Andrew Whitworth

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Sam Korn
> One presumes WMF's offer to assist with setup costs may still stand as well?

If it comes down it to it, we can always go cap in hand to the WMF,
yes, but I think if we need to there's a problem. If the chapter can't
do enough fundraising to cover it's setup costs in a reasonable amount
of time and reimburse the board, then we need to reconsider the whole
thing. If we need to go to the WMF for setup costs, where are we going
to get the money to actually do anything?

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Sam Korn
In reply to this post by Andrew Whitworth-2
On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 3:13 PM, Andrew Whitworth <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 10:08 AM, Sam Korn <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> One presumes WMF's offer to assist with setup costs may still stand as well?
>
> As a matter of general caution, I would suggest you not rely on this
> offer as your only means for success. Try your damndest to secure your
> own monies for this first, before asking the WMF for aide.

But of course.

--
Sam
PGP public key: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Sam_Korn/public_key

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Chris Wood-7
2008/9/18 Chris Wood <[hidden email]>:
> If it costs more than £140 then you can tell the solicitor its not worth it
> unless they are going to give you advice before signing the document.

One solicitor (http://www.wrigleys.co.uk/documents/publications/publication_145.pdf)
estimates total setup costs (including registering with the charities
commission) at £2,500-£3,500 +VAT. That sounds outrageous to me, and I
hope most firms charge much more reasonable amounts. I've emailed
another firm asking about their fees, which should give us a better
idea of what typical costs are.
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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Alison M. Wheeler
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
On Thu, September 18, 2008 15:01, Thomas Dalton wrote:

> someone to sign off on the application (a legal requirement).

Not sure where you get that from, but not true. The only legally-binding
thing is to get the Swears done, which are about a fiver a time.

Alison


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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Thomas Dalton
2008/9/18 Alison Wheeler <[hidden email]>:
> On Thu, September 18, 2008 15:01, Thomas Dalton wrote:
>
>> someone to sign off on the application (a legal requirement).
>
> Not sure where you get that from, but not true. The only legally-binding
> thing is to get the Swears done, which are about a fiver a time.

"Form 12
This is the declaration of Compliance with the Companies Act 1985 in
respect of the registration. Once the Memorandum and Articles of
Association (see below) have been completed, this must be signed in
the presence of a Solicitor, Commissioner for Oaths, Notary Public or
Justice of the Peace."
(http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/infoAndGuide/companyRegistration.shtml)

Is that what you mean by "the Swears"? I have no idea what it costs,
having never done it before, but it requires going to a solicitor,
which is what I'm talking about (perhaps "sign off" wasn't the best
choice of words, but they have to sign the application). If we're
going to visit a solicitor (and presumably give them money), it might
as well be a solicitor than can actually advise us.

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Alison M. Wheeler
On Thu, September 18, 2008 16:28, Thomas Dalton wrote:

> 2008/9/18 Alison Wheeler <[hidden email]>:
>> On Thu, September 18, 2008 15:01, Thomas Dalton wrote:
>>
>>> someone to sign off on the application (a legal requirement).
>>
>> Not sure where you get that from, but not true. The only legally-binding
>> thing is to get the Swears done, which are about a fiver a time.
>
> "Form 12
> This is the declaration of Compliance with the Companies Act 1985 in
> respect of the registration. Once the Memorandum and Articles of
> Association (see below) have been completed, this must be signed in
> the presence of a Solicitor, Commissioner for Oaths, Notary Public or
> Justice of the Peace."
> (http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/infoAndGuide/companyRegistration.shtml)
>
> Is that what you mean by "the Swears"? I have no idea what it costs,
> having never done it before, but it requires going to a solicitor,
> which is what I'm talking about (perhaps "sign off" wasn't the best
> choice of words, but they have to sign the application). If we're
> going to visit a solicitor (and presumably give them money), it might
> as well be a solicitor than can actually advise us.

Yes. A "Swear" is the usual shortened form of "Swear on Oath" and should
cost £5 or so for each one. Although some Notaries are Solicitors, not all
Solicitors are Notaries. It is the required way of certifying documents
and takes but a couple of minutes.

Alison


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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Katie Chan
It is always possible someone here know someone (directly or indirectly)
that will be qualified and willing to do it for free...

KTC

--
Experience is a good school but the fees are high.
  - Heinrich Heine

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Thomas Dalton
2008/9/18 Kwan Ting Chan <[hidden email]>:
> It is always possible someone here know someone (directly or indirectly)
> that will be qualified and willing to do it for free...

That would be the best kind of recommendation, certainly!

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

geni
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
2008/9/18 Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>:
> hopefully there will even be something left over for travel expenses

Nope. One of the reasons I've been bringing up the geographical issue
a lot is that realistically were are unlikely to be able to cover
travel expenses in the first few years.

If you are not in the same city as the other board memebers you could
end up racking up say £200 in travel costs.

--
geni

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Andrew Whitworth-2
On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 1:05 PM, geni <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 2008/9/18 Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>:
>> hopefully there will even be something left over for travel expenses
>
> Nope. One of the reasons I've been bringing up the geographical issue
> a lot is that realistically were are unlikely to be able to cover
> travel expenses in the first few years.
>
> If you are not in the same city as the other board memebers you could
> end up racking up say £200 in travel costs.

A good strategy for meetings, at least early in the chapter's
development, is going to include telecommunications like IRC or
teleconferencing. Getting your own wiki, your own moderated IRC
chatroom and your own mailinglist (covered!) are key in this regard.
Also, you should be relatively liberal at first in defining a quorum
for in-person meetings, since monetary considerations may prevent
large majorities from attending.

When we were planning for Wikimedia PA, we specifically said a quorum
at a general meeting could be met through simultaneous
telecommunications, or members who are acting via proxy or who have
specifically waived their ability to attend in writing. This way
business can still proceed as normal and you don't have to worry so
much about expensive travel arrangements.

--Andrew Whitworth

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Re: Solicitors - Request for recommendations

Katie Chan
In reply to this post by geni
On Thu, 2008-09-18 at 18:05 +0100, geni wrote:
> 2008/9/18 Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>:
> > hopefully there will even be something left over for travel expenses
>
> Nope. One of the reasons I've been bringing up the geographical issue
> a lot is that realistically were are unlikely to be able to cover
> travel expenses in the first few years.
>
> If you are not in the same city as the other board memebers you could
> end up racking up say £200 in travel costs.

Few years? How many face to face meeting are you anticipating, and how
little in terms of income do you expect the organisation to get
(assuming it get through setting up etc. okay to last a few years)?

KTC

--
Experience is a good school but the fees are high.
  - Heinrich Heine

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