Material is Copyright, VolResource - please contact if you wish to re-use it.
Skip to: Site menu | Main content | Accessibility

This version of VolResource is no longer being updated. Please use the revamped site instead:

To access the old pages for any reason (e.g. smaller file sizes):

and do check all information thoroughly.

Legal Matters

Updated 16/9/13

IMPORTANT We need to point out that VolResource does not employ legally trained staff - the information given on these pages is our understanding from experience and reading, but shouldn't be taken as definitive. The purpose here is to flag up issues which you may need to explore further and point you in the right direction. You should take legal advice where appropriate.

Follow the trail

This page


  • Legal publications page, with links for direct purchase where available. Many of the Charity Admin handbooks will also cover the main legal issues of relevance.
  • Taxation issues Essential reading, whatever your legal status. Covers VAT as well as income tax (payroll) and corporation tax.
  • Legal status of an organisation - see Registration: Charity and/or Company
  • See Health and Safety, or Data Protection under Information Management. Both are essential matters for all voluntary organisations to think about, sooner rather than later.
  • Employment regulations for such things as Minimum Wage, Employment Contracts. Note that volunteers are covered by more employment regs than most people realise.
  • Look at the Legal Services page if you want to contact professionals - commercial services, grant-funded facilities or pro bono schemes.
  • Insurance is important even where it isn't a legal requirement (note that if you employ anybody, it is required).

Copyright and trademarks

See the UK Intellectual Property Office for more details on Trademarks, Copyright and Patents.


Many people don't realise they need a licence to play pre-recorded or live music in public - this includes over phones, at events in the office, conferences etc. Some CDs for playing 'music on hold' are specially copyright free (actually they cost more to start with, but have no recurring charges). Community Matters "offers a low-cost blanket licence to charitable community organisations managing community centres or similar buildings.... The licence covers only the activities run directly by the organisation or by its sections" - annual fee for member organisations 35.25, non-members 47.00. Otherwise, contact PRS for Music (was MCPS - PRS Alliance) on 020 7580 5544. Licensing: phone 020 7306 4500.

Printed publications

Copyright exists on anything which has been published - there is no need to print the copyright symbol, although this usually helps clarify who is the copyright holder. While there isn't one central clearing house as such, there are various agencies dealing with particular areas. If you wish to reproduce more than a quote or short extract, such as part of a review, you should normally contact the publisher in the first instance.

For copyright on newspaper cuttings, features etc, contact the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA media access), phone 01892 525273, email: The Copyright Licensing Agency licenses photocopying and scanning on other works, and is owned by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and the Publishers Licensing Society, and also operates for the Design and Artists Copyright Society.

Web publishing

Copyright law extends to items published on the web (including this site). We obtain permission before reproducing items here, and would expect the same the other way round. Obviously if somebody is sending out publicity material, there is an expectation that this can be reproduced. So far, it is held that creating links to other web sites is not covered, but it would be highly dubious if a link was disguised to make the connected page seem a part of your own site (= 'passing off').


Can include charity logos, trading names. Dealt with by the Intellectual Property Office (was Patent Office), a mark can be registered for UK, Europe or worldwide, but the last can be particularly complex and time-consuming.

Other Common issues


Please see the Working Relations page.

Useful Web Sites

Other key sites