Expertise and advice

We are keen to help the sport sector improve and to do this we are offering our expertise to a variety of organisations

We have developed a range of support, including a self-assurance tool and guidance, to help national governing bodies (NGBs) improve their governance.

We also assist NGBs by establishing frameworks that make it easier for them to access specialist services. We also often act in a consultancy role on a number of issues including commercial, innovation and programme development.

Legal panel framework

In 2012, Sport England, the Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA), Sport Wales and UK Sport established a framework panel of law firms to provide legal services to national governing bodies of sport (NGBs) and recreation organisations.  In 2017, the framework was refreshed for a further two years.  Sport Northern Ireland has now joined the framework, making the services available to organisations in Northern Ireland for the first time.

Sport and recreation bodies face financial and resource challenges when it comes to accessing legal services.  On behalf of the bodies we support, we conducted a thorough procurement process to establish a panel of 10 firms in England and Wales and 5 firms in Northern Ireland that sport and recreation organisations can use with confidence.

The framework aims to make it easier for NGBs and wider sport and recreation organisations to identify and gain access to high quality legal firms at fair rates – delivering better value for money and providing a wide range of value added opportunities for the sector. 

During the procurement process, we assessed the firms’ level of understanding of the sport and recreation sector, their ability to offer discounted rates to the sector alongside their legal capacity and ability.

The firms have been appointed to the 2017 framework and you can find a list of them below.


We recognise instructing law firms can be a challenging task. We have worked alongside Sport Wales, the SRA, UK Sport and Sport Northern Ireland, in collaboration with the Legal Panel Firms to produce guidance on how best to instruct them for work – this guidance can be found below. 

Part of this initiative is a Pro-Bono Fund where up to £150,000 of legal advice over two years will be available to eligible NGBs. Details on eligibility and how to apply is provided below.

The services which are available from the firms on the framework are outlined in the tab below. 

If you would like more information please contact the Legal Services Team at Sport England.

Firms on the framework

Below is a list of the firms appointed to the Legal Panel Framework.

These firms have committed to providing fixed fees, discounted rates and other value added services.

When contacting firms, please let them know that it’s as a result of their appointment to the Legal Panel Framework as this will ensure you are eligible for discounted fees.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to someone about this initiative contact the Legal Services Team at Sport England.

England and Wales


Contact person Telephone number
Bates Wells Braithwaite

Augustus Della-Porta

Thea Longley

020 7551 7750

020 7551 7796


Lydia Edgar

0161 836 8822
Bird & Bird

Max Duthie


020 7415 6082
Hugh James

Gareth Williams

020 2039 1022

John Burns

0161 836 7923

Christine Bowyer-Jones

Ben Moorhead

020 7400 5020

020 7400 5047


John Devine

Alan Grisedale

Tony McPhillips

019 1211 7905

019 1211 7956

019 1211 7908

Mills & Reeve

Mark Hovell

016 1234 8810

Wright Hassall

Christine Jackson

Richard Lane

019 2688 0774

019 2688 0707

Shakespeare Martineau

Ed Wright

011 5945 3744

Northern Ireland 

A&L Goodbody

Micaela Diver

Mark Thompson

028 9072 7592

028 9072 7591

Arthur Cox

Rosemary Lundy

028 9026 2673

Carson McDowell

Declan Magee

Fergal McGoldrick

028 9034 8827

028 9034 8827


Paul Eastwood

028 9055 3377


David Wilson

028 9043 4015

Please note

  • The Framework exists to point you towards the best firms for your needs
  • We will not be held liable for any relationship between your organisation and the firm you take up
  • We are not committing to contribute to or subsidise the legal fees incurred by organisations using the firms
  • The client/solicitor relationship is between the organisation and the firms and it is the organisation's responsibility to meet the fees agreed with the firm they instruct
  • Use of these firms is purely optional and where you have existing relationships with a firm not on the list there is nothing to prevent you from continuing to use them firms that aren’t part of the Framework.

Instructing legal panel firms

This Guidance Note will help you be effective for your organisation and get good value for money from your lawyers.

You will be able to understand:

  1. How to assess if you need a Legal Panel Firm or not to help with an issue
  2. What basic information to provide your lawyer with from the outset to ensure bespoke and direct advice can be provided
  3. What questions you need to ask your lawyer to ensure you are clear on their process and costs
  4. What you can expect from your lawyer

As part of the guidance we have also developed a Template Instruction Form for you to fill in and use when you contact one of the panel firms.

Additional services of the legal panel framework

Here we provide information on the services that will be offered by all of the legal panel firms as part of their appointment to the legal panel framework and their commitment to service the needs of the sector in a cost-efficient way.

Free 20 minute helpline 

In addition to the individual services already offered by each of the legal panel firms, each of the firms has committed to providing a free 20 minutes helpline service to NGBs and sport and recreation organisations.

When you contact any firm on the panel you must: 

  1. State that you want to use the helpline service and quote LPF2017
  2. Confirm your funding relationship with Sport England, Sport Wales, UK Sport, or Sport Northern Ireland, and/or membership of the Sport and Recreation Alliance

Please note the information below on how to use the helpline.

Use of the helpline across the firms will be monitored. Please use the helpline appropriately and respect the generous offering from the panel firms by following the rules below: 

  1. The 20 minutes’ free time applies to the first call on new queries/matters only. It does not cover a matter where the legal panel firm is already acting for you or dealing with any correspondence in relation to it.
  1. This is not a ‘call centre helpline’ and the legal panel firms may not be able to answer your call immediately. Please do leave a message and the lawyer will return your call as soon as possible.
  2. The service covers the call to the designated point of contact for the legal panel firm, or on some occasions, when they refer you on to a specialist in that firm to discuss your initial query.
  3. If you have contacted another legal panel firm on the same query, please let the lawyer know. Please note the collaborators and legal panel firms will be monitoring use by NGBs and repeated requests to different firms on the same query will be followed up with the organisation.

Please make sure that you check if the legal panel firm covers the area of law that you require assistance on before contacting them.

Pro-bono fund

What is the pro-bono fund? 

The Pro-Bono Fund brokers free legal advice from the legal panel framework firms to small national governing bodies (NGBs) and sport and recreation organisations. 

Each firm on the panel has committed to provide up to £5,000 worth of free advice per year to the sport and recreation sector.

Who is eligible to apply for the fund? 

Organisations must meet the following criteria to be eligible to apply for the pro-bono fund:

  • The organisation must have a turnover of less than £500,000 (this is inclusive of grant income)
  • The organisation must have no budget set aside for legal expenses
  • The organisation must have no paid legal staff
  • The organisation must be a member of the Sport and Recreation Alliance and/or be funded by UK Sport, Sport England, Sport Wales or Sport Northern Ireland

Please Note: Organisations who meet the eligibility criteria are not automatically entitled to an award from the fund. Decisions to make an award are at the discretion of the collaborators (Sport England, UK Sport, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, Sport Wales and Sport Northern Ireland). 

What areas of the law will the fund assist you with?

 Small NGBs and sport and recreation organisations who meet the eligibility criteria will be able to apply to the fund for free legal assistance with the following areas of law:

  • Charity & trust law including CASC registration
  • Child protection/vulnerable groups (DBS, Protection of Freedoms Act)
  • Simple contracts/grant agreements
  • Corporate law/governance/constitutional affairs
  • Employment law
  • Insolvency law
  • Property law (such as leases, licences and security of tenure)

Please note: The pro-bono fund will not be available for assistance with disputes or contentious matters and organisations will only be eligible to receive one successful application per year. 

How do you apply to the fund?

Access to the free legal assistance is managed through a central application route coordinated by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

Once an application is successful, the legal panel framework firms are contacted to confirm who is available to provide advice on the matter.

When a firm confirms they are able to help, the Sport and Recreation Alliance puts the organisation in touch with the firm and they liaise directly with each other from that point.

A unique reference number will be given to the organisation which they must provide to the firm at the outset of the matter.

Applications to access the free legal advice must be submitted to the Sport and Recreation Alliance Governance team.

To apply, organisations must download and fill in the application form and send it along with a copy of the organisation’s latest audited annual accounts, business plan or financial information.

When will you find out if your application has been successful?

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis - the timescales are outlined below:

  • Application deadline - 20th of each month
  • Application reviewed - 30th of each month
  • Decision notification - two weeks after 30th

Applications received after the 20th of the month will not be considered until the following month.

Is there any more information on the fund?

Please read all of the downloadable documents at the bottom of this page before submitting an application. They include:

If you would like to discuss your application, please contact the Sport and Recreation Alliance Governance team.