Unlock the talent inside

Since 1962 the Koestler Awards have played a unique, national role in motivating prisoners, secure hospital patients and immigration detainees to take part in the arts. The awards are simple and powerful – we reward achievement, build self-confidence and broaden horizons for some of society’s most disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Our work harnesses the uniquely transformative power of the arts to help individuals learn the skills and gain the confidence to live creative, positive and productive lives. Each year we receive more than 7,000 entries from over 3,500 entrants across the UK in 52 categories. More than 2,000 Awards are granted by over 100 esteemed judges, and each year culminates in a curated exhibition at Southbank Centre which showcases the incredible power of the arts to transform lives.

  • Donating Dormant Client
    Account Funds

Art Class, HM Prison & Young Offender Institution Parc, James Wood QC Silver Award for Painting, 2017

Donating Dormant Client Account Funds

Unlocking funds, unlocking talent

In 2014, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) increased the limit of unclaimed funds which can be paid to charity without SRA permission from £50 to £500.

Unlocking these funds could make a big difference to the work of Koestler Arts.

We have created a guide explaining how to donate the funds in dormant client accounts, which can become a burden to law firms, but can easily and productively be disposed of by donating them to Koestler Arts.

What are dormant funds?

Unclaimed client account balances are sums of money which lie dormant in the client accounts of many firms of solicitors, often untouched for years. Regardless of their age or origin, these residual balances can all be disposed of cost-effectively and permanently.

Inside The Prison Library, Staffordshire and West Midlands Community, Rehabilitation Company, First-Time Entrant Award for Portrait, 2017

Is SRA permission required to donate these to charity?

The SRA rules that law firms must return money belonging to clients “promptly”, as soon as there is no reason to retain the funds.

Where the rightful owner cannot be traced, rules 20.1 and 20.2 of the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules permit balances under £500 to be paid to charity without SRA permission, providing certain safeguards are met – this includes taking and recording adequate steps to identify and return the funds to the rightful owner. Amounts over £500 can also be paid to charity, providing SRA permission is granted and the charity is prepared to take out indemnity insurance. Koestler Arts is happy to do this.

Unclaimed client account balances may not be used for any other purpose and become an administrative burden to Finance Managers, who must analyse and explain their existence to auditors annually.

Donating them to Koestler Arts can help transform lives and build futures.

Recognising your contribution

Koestler Arts is truly grateful to all firms who choose to support us by donating the sums in their dormant client accounts. On receiving a donation, we will:

  • Send an official certificate of thanks
  • Record your firm’s support on our website, linking back to your site
  • Provide an endorsement logo for use on your website, showing you are supporting Koestler Arts
  • Invite you to the preview of our national exhibition


For more information, please download our guide to donating dormant client account funds below. We also have template letters to send to account holders ready to download and fill in details as appropriate.

Download information pack > here

Download template letter A to account owner > here

Download template letter B with information about the Koestler Trust > here


The recognition of our efforts is what makes having the Koestlers so important. I've seen prisoners in tears reading feedback forms, and I've been one of them. Being able to exhibit work in a non-judgemental environment and to have the sincerity of that work acknowledged has certainly meant an enormous amount to me.

Koestler Awards entrant 2018