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About: Roman Catholic Church

Winckworth Sherwood has been advising the Roman Catholic Church for over two decades and we have built a strong, valued relationship with its Dioceses, Parishes, Schools and Roman Catholic Orders, providing them with a full range of legal services. Our experience and understanding informs the advice we give to the Roman Catholic Church in support of its objectives.

We regularly advise on property development, construction, commercial leases, procurement disputes, employment issues, particularly relating to teaching staff, matters of information and technology law including commercial contracts with suppliers and charity law issues.

In addition we are currently supporting schools in 11 dioceses with Academy conversion.  Further details can be found on our dedicated Catholic Diocesan Schools Portal, including diocese specific information on the academy conversion process.

Examples of our work include:

  • advising on the establishment of a Diocesan wide multi academy trust
  • advising the Diocese of Brentwood, Northampton, Southwark and Westminster on school building programmes (on occasion in conjunction with Academy Conversion) including funding arrangements, development agreements, construction issues, land purchase and sale
  • advising both Dioceses and Schools on Academy conversion.  To date we have converted over 900 academies, 200 of which are Catholic schools
  • advising the Westminster Roman Catholic Diocese in relation to governance disagreement concerning Cardinal Vaughan School
  • advising the Catholic Education Service on a range of matters including school building programmes, academies, employment policies and home to school transport
  • advising on the transfer of land from a Religious Order to the Diocese
  • advising on the issues associated with website development arrangements
  • advising charitable and ecclesiastical institutions undertaking a range of residential lease disputes, including complex service charge and judicial review and commercial property work
In This Section

Key Contact


Partner, London

Tel: +44 (0)20 7593 5076

Key Contact

Latest Case

The Diocese of Westminster

We have advised the Diocese of Westminster with regard to Academy conversions for schools under their care and they have chosen to use the Multi Academy Trust structure for conversions in their Diocese.

With our assistance and advice, the Diocese has incorporated The Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust (“DMAT”), a Diocesan wide Multi Academy Trust Company set up for Catholic schools in the Westminster Diocese. Schools may join this or form a geographical cluster under their own Multi Academy Trust structure.

We have also acted for schools who wanted to convert and to join DMAT. A particular challenge of this project was the tight time scales within which we worked to achieve the first wave of school conversions. The initial wave of schools wished to convert on 1 March 2012 for funding reasons. Our instructions for these schools were received in late December and the first wave of schools converted successfully on 1 March 2012 as intended. One of the schools who joined had a health and safety matter and we advised them of the consequences this had on conversion and the best approach to take to the issue in light of the upcoming conversion.

We also advised St Joan of Arc Catholic School who converted as a multi academy trust (called The All Saints Catholic Academy Trust) with the intention of setting up their own geographical cluster.

Key facts

Client Name: The Diocese of Westminster
Client Sector: Education
Project Progress: Completed – Trust established and operational
Legal Product: Academy Conversion

Core Areas: Education, Commercial, Employment and Roman Catholic Church