Citywealth Leaders list 60 second spotlight

Date: 17 May 2023

Vicente Luckina Bunn

Penny Chapman, Partner, Head of Charities and Education, BDB Pitmans

Penny Chapman

Penny Chapmans charity expertise spans 36 years in what is now a 500 strong law firm named BDB Pitmans. BDB Pitmans was established in 2018 following a merger between Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans Law.

With 11 members of her team, Penny’s work encompasses governance issues, commercial and fundraising contracts and setting up and advising charitable organisations, including independent schools and professional bodies. She is also a governor at Abingdon School. Her focus for the last year has been working with the Ukraine.  “I am working with a number of military and humanitarian charities to obtain Charity Commission consent to enable them to work there,” She says.

The charitable sector has undergone years of regulation to future proof itself, for instance with the Charities Act 2022. This includes interesting guidance on ‘The law of ‘failed appeals’. When charities make an appeal for a specific purpose, then they must use the donations given to that appeal for that purpose unless they include a ‘secondary purpose’ at the time of launching the appeal, otherwise they break the law. 

Standout moments

Lehtimaki and others v Cooper -a charitable foundation entwined in a divorce

Standout moments for her include acting for the independent trustee of the $4bn Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) in the case ultimately heard in the Supreme Court in 2020 which she says was described as “the charity case of the millenium”. The foundation was founded by Sir Christopher Hohn, a hedge fund manager, and Ms Jamie Cooper in 2002, but when their marriage broke down, they agreed, in exchange for a grant of $360 million to Big Win Philanthropy, a charity founded by Ms Cooper, she would resign as a member and trustee of CIFF.

CIFF’s members had to approve this grant but CIFF had only three members: Sir Christopher Hohn, Ms Cooper, and Dr Marko Lehtimaki, Hohn and Cooper could not vote, leaving Lehtimaki, the sole unconflicted person and thus with the full decision. The Chancellor of the High Court felt the grant would be in CIFF’s best interests and ordered Dr Lehtimaki to vote approving the grant. Dr Lehtimaki appealed against that order, and the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal holding that, in the absence of a breach of fiduciary duty, the court could not insist, leaving the matter unresolved.

There is never a dull day in the family law sector particularly with UHNW divorce and declaration of assets, but it seems, the charity sector and disputes over foundations are fast catching up.  

Do you know Penny Chapman? You can leave a review here: Penny Chapman | Citywealth Leaders List

back to news