Overview

Our expert team advises a range of organisations and businesses operating under alternative structures including co-operatives, community benefit societies, CICs and guarantee companies, particularly in the energy, retail, housing, education, food and agricultural sectors. We advise on all relevant legislation and interact with the Registrar of Companies, the Financial Conduct Authority, the CIC Regulator and the Charity Commission. 

We are a member of Co-operatives UK and currently act for four of the top 10 UK co-operatives (as published by Co-operatives UK). We understand and support co-operative aims and principles and the law which regulates this form of jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise and we have extensive experience of what are often highly technical issues in this area.

Areas of focus

Our expertise advising co-operatives, community benefit societies, CICs, guarantee companies and other structures includes the following:

  • Specific, in-depth, knowledge of applicable legislation.
  • Advising on the best structure to meet your objectives.
  • Interacting with applicable regulatory bodies.
  • Advising on constitutional, governance and membership issues.
  • Advising on asset locks and charitable status.
  • Dealing with registrations, conversions, transfers and amalgamations.
  • M&A and joint ventures.
  • Advising on debt and equity fundraisings.
  • Tax and other day to day legal advice.
  • Supporting social enterprise and community projects. 
Experience

Advising a major retailer on its partnership with a community energy group and the use of a community benefit society to launch a share offer to raise funds to roll out rooftop solar panels across its real estate portfolio, with the ultimate goal of delivering tangible benefits to the communities local to the stores.

Advising on the ground-breaking merger of UK dairy co-operative Milk Link and global dairy co-op Arla, which required complex and novel advice on the interaction of UK and Danish co-operative law.

Advising an overseas government on proposed new community benefit regulations, which entailed advising on community benefit models in the UK, several European jurisdictions and the USA. We were then involved in drafting the relevant legislation through to enactment.

Advising Great Western Regional Capital CIC, a public benefit investment company, in connection with a bond issue to raise £1m for South Bristol Sports Centre.

Advising a social enterprise organisation on a suitable structure, involving a community benefit society and several CICs, to deliver energy efficiency projects across the UK by bringing together the public and private sector.

Advising The Resilience Centre, a community renewables developer, on the formation of two community benefit societies and related share offers to generate investment for the construction and operation of two wind farms. The surplus profits generated by the farms will be used to deliver tangible benefits to the communities local to the projects.

Advising Westmill Solar Co-operative, a co-operative, on its constitution and on the structuring and implementation of a €5 million public share offer to raise finances to acquire the 5 MW Westmill solar park, including advice on all relevant exemptions from financial services legislation.

Advising one of the UK’s largest grain co-operatives, Openfield, on corporate transactional and constitutional matters, having advised on its complex formation in 2008 on the merger of two leading UK co-operatives.

Advising dairy co-operative OMSCo (structured as a company limited by shares) on corporate and constitutional matters.

Advising the London Development Agency on the establishment of the Mayor's Academies Programme including advice on structures, the formation and constitution of the new delivery vehicle (a guarantee company), joint venturing and the application of relevant Local Government legislation.

Advising on the merger of two South West youth housing groups, both co-operatives, to form 1625 Independent People.

Advising the Carbon Trust, an independent guarantee company, on constitutional and governance issues, on the set up of its investments subsidiary and on its involvement in collaborative research joint ventures relating to a variety of energy technologies.

Advising utilities, developers, local authorities and community groups on suitable structures through which communities can own and/or benefit from renewable energy projects. Clients include Good Energy, Peel Energy, Belectric, RES, Awel Aman Tawe (a charity), Gower Power Co-op CIC, Gwent Energy CIC and Bedlinog Community.

Meet the team
Camilla Usher-Clark

Camilla Usher-Clark Partner

  • Corporate
  • Energy, Power and Utilities
  • Co-operatives
Alan Barr

Alan Barr Partner

  • Corporate
  • Food and Farming
  • Transport
Chris Godfrey

Chris Godfrey Partner

  • Corporate
  • Funds and Asset Management
  • Financial Services
Jonathan Eves

Jonathan Eves Partner

  • Corporate
  • Energy, Power and Utilities
  • Mergers and Acquisitions