bto solicitors - Corporate & Commercial Business Lawyers Glasgow Edinburgh Scotland

  • "really fights your corner..."
    "really fights your corner..." Chambers UK
  • "Consistently high-quality work and client-friendly approach."
    "Consistently high-quality work and client-friendly approach." Chambers UK


The charity sector is constantly evolving. As every charity has its own specific objectives and priorities, we provide sensitive, tailored guidance and support and we will work with you to successfully meet your aspirations and deliver public benefit.

You may feel that you are under increasing scrutiny from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and from the public in general. Many charities also face funding issues and fundraising, grant and finance agreements can be key. It is, therefore, essential that you can access up to date, practical advice on the complex raft of laws and regulations affecting your charity, delivered in a spirit that reflects the culture and values of your sector.

Our understanding of the charity sector is enhanced by our hands on experience working with charities and not for profit organisations through being members of charity boards.

BTO’s clients cover a wide and representative range of charities, from large national corporations to much smaller charity bodies and voluntary organisations. When acting for our charity clients in any matter, whether contract, property, regulatory, litigation or employment law, we address charity law issues as they arise. At each stage, we provide insightful recommendations and will make you aware of any implications to your organisation.


David Gibson, Partner: / 0141 221 8012

Michael Cox, Senior Associate: / 0131 222 2939


  • Full range of services

Advising charities on all issues facing them, from governance and regulatory matters to contracts, property matters, employment, litigation, health and safety, intellectual property, data protection and so on. 

  • Training on charity law and regulations

Providing training on charity law and regulation for clients and contacts.  In this context, we also work with other organisations, like the Legal Services Agency and SHARE (Scottish Housing Associations Resource for Education), to provide training to charities. 

  • Assisting a new not-for-profit housing organisation

BTO assisted with the following:

(1) incorporate as a company limited by guarantee, obtain registration as a charity and obtain registration as a Registered Social Landlord

(2) set up a subsidiary (company limited by shares) to undertake non-charitable trading activities

(3) acquire a Council's housing stock by way of a large scale voluntary transfer, which included ensuring our clients would be able to undertake significant regeneration projects and manage housing transferred to them.

  • Setting up new charities and obtaining charitable status

Setting up of proposed new charities and obtaining charitable status for existing clients that previously did not have charitable registration. This includes advising on the new form of incorporated body, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation or SCIO.

  • OSCR inquiry

Assisting a charitable client on queries raised by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in response to representations made to OSCR by a third party.

  • OSCR secondment

For 6 months in 2011-12 Marion Davis, Associate was seconded to OSCR working on (1) individual charity cases, such as status applications, compliance inquiries, reorganisation queries, queries regarding consent applications and other miscellaneous queries and (2) more general matters such as policy development, consultation responses, guidance notes, training internally for OSCR, and externally for Strathclyde University.

  • Undertaking complex reorganisation applications for clients

Examples include: to merge two existing trusts with similar objectives into one new trust; or to amend the constitution of a charity constituted by Act of Parliament.

  • Setting up new Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)

On behalf of a client, to allow an existing charity to transfer its assets to the new SCIO; advice regarding SCIO set up; advice regarding contracting with a SCIO.

  • OSCR consents

Advising on consent applications, whether for changes to purposes, name changes, winding up and so on – from framing the application to finalising proposal once OSCR consent achieved.

  • Negotiating complex contracts

For an existing charitable client (a regeneration company) and its subsidiary, we negotiated complex contracts to ensure that the regeneration and community benefits our clients wanted to achieve could be progressed.

  • Compliance with charity law

An existing charitable client proposed to undertake a new activity and we corresponded with OSCR to ensure that the proposal was an acceptable charitable activity offering appropriate public benefit in the context of the charity's objects and charity law.

  • Social Firms

We work with Social Firms Scotland, the national support body for the development and promotion of social firms in Scotland, many of which are charities, as is the body itself. We offer advice on charity law and lead workshops on various aspects of the law as it applies for social firms.

  • Acting for a charity established by Act of Parliament - fundamental revision of its constitution

This resulted in the promotion of an Act of the Scottish Parliament and involved a consultation process prior to introduction of a Private Bill, which we drafted. We also drafted the statutorily required Explanatory Notes, Promoter’s Statement, Promoter’s Memorandum, advertisements and other ancillary documentation. The Bill was then subject to a full Scottish Parliamentary reading and committee process in which we assisted our client in production of all required documentation, formal notices and in giving evidence to the relevant Parliamentary committee. The Act was passed in the Scottish Parliament and enacted, allowing our clients to up date their constitution and manner of operation.

  • Advice regarding implications of charity status

For various clients, some of which are charities, others considering charitable status, we have given presentations regarding the implications of charitable status and OSCR's regulatory regime.

  • Intellectual property and fundraising

Advising an existing charitable client regarding various intellectual property matters, for example, advising on a possible franchise arrangement to access particular web-based intellectual property for a fund-raising venture and negotiating and completing licence and copyright agreements.

  • Advising Trustees’ on their duties

Advising trustees in connection with their duties and obligations vis-a-vis the Charity itself and the employees.

  • Governance advice

For example, amendments to a constitution to reflect changes in founding members and membership agreements.

  • Development activities

Advice on development proposals by charity RSLs, where house building or refurbishment followed by sales on a shared equity scheme or other low cost home ownership scheme are being proposed.



  • "A wealth of experience in the sector."

    Chambers UK
  • "They always call me back and meet deadlines. I trust the quality of the advice - I like the standard of the work they produce."

    BTO client
  • "I was impressed with their professional approach, expertise and ability to assimilate and promptly turn around required information, in line with our board's requirements."

    BTO Client
  • "BTO provide a very personalised and focused approach. The team had an appreciation of our workload and time pressures for staff and board in a busy mid-market charity."

    BTO client

Do you need a Data Protection Officer (DPO)?

If so, Really Good Data Protection (RGDP LLP) provides DPO services to businesses and organisations that choose to outsource all or some of their data protection requirements. Working in close association with our data protection team in BTO Solicitors, RGDP provides a high quality and cost effective DPO solution to the demands of DPA 2018 and GDPR. If you need a DPO, we would urge you to consider outsourcing and strongly recommend that you contact Claire Beckley of RGDP for more information:

Claire Beckley
Data Protection Officer

T: 0131 222 3239
M: 07935 008316


“The level of service has always been excellent, with properly experienced solicitors dealing with appropriate cases" Legal 500

Contact BTO


  • 48 St. Vincent Street
  • Glasgow
  • G2 5HS
  • T:+44 (0)141 221 8012
  • F:+44 (0)141 221 7803


  • One Edinburgh Quay
  • Edinburgh
  • EH3 9QG
  • T:+44 (0)131 222 2939
  • F:+44 (0)131 222 2949