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Our team of University Law specialists and Higher Education lawyers are equipped to navigate the complex landscape of educational law.

We understand that universities are more than academic institutions; they are dynamic entities that require strategic guidance to thrive in a competitive environment.

We take pride in our multi-disciplinary approach to University Law, combining the knowledge and expertise of seasoned legal practitioners across our departments all of which have specialisms within the higher education sector. Whether it’s dealing with governance structures, intellectual property, or navigating the intricacies of commercial strategy and reputation management, our team is well-versed in all of the issues that you can encounter as a provider of higher education.

From the specifics of employment law to the broad challenges of property development and intellectual property, we cover a wide array of legal areas. We’re here to ensure that your institution not only stays compliant but also leverages legal strategies to maximise its potential and impact.

Let us help you maintain your focus on delivering outstanding education while we handle the complexities of the legal landscape.

Our services

Intellectual Property
  • Advising a University on the copyright aspects of the recording and transmission of lectures for remote access by foreign students
  • Advising another University in relation to a spin out, including negotiating the patent and technology licence agreements for the use of the core technology by the spin out company
  • We have advised a University on its spin out activity over many years. This has involved dealing with IP issues, the roles and interests of academic staff in spin outs, the state of the university and ongoing support given to the spin out including ongoing payment of services and premises. In a small number of instances these companies have gone on to list in the AIM market, in rather more they have been sold and in very many they have raised funds. In other cases the approach has been a licence of IP or the undertaking of contract research. The university has consequently developed a strong reputation in relation to commercialisation and periodic receipt of cash sums as a result of realisations. The university has been keen to also be seen as supportive of students and academic staff and creating clusters of activities in relevant sectors. Our role has been to guide the university in its commercial and legal position but also to help it manage the legal, financial and reputational risks
Commercial
  • Acting for a University in a joint venture with INTO to establish a campus for the delivery of courses in London
  • Reviewing and updating a University’s standard terms and conditions for the provision of consultancy services
  • We acted for a University client to provide a review of the existing group structure, evaluating its robustness in light of its growth strategy including a Chinese subsidiary.  This review had to have regard to financial, regulatory (including charity law) and reputational issues as well as property, people and financial resources. We had to consider the Articles of Government, Statement of Primary Responsibilities, the OfS, the management and control of subsidiaries, the risk and responsibilities of the Board, the consideration of students (including the sponsor licence), information governance and the management of risks. This required a detailed and comprehensive review of the risk and activities of the university against the entire range of regulations with which it needs to comply and feed directly into the strategic review of its activities
  • We acted for a University client to provide a review of the existing group structure, evaluating its robustness in light of its growth strategy including a Chinese subsidiary. This review had to have regard to financial, regulatory (including charity law) and reputational issues as well as property, people and financial resources. We had to consider the Articles of Government, Statement of Primary Responsibilities, the OfS, the management and control of subsidiaries, the risk and responsibilities of the Board, the consideration of students (including the sponsor licence), information governance and the management of risks. This required a detailed and comprehensive review of the risk and activities of the university against the entire range of regulations with which it needs to comply and feed directly into the strategic review of its activities
Corporate
  • Advising a University on its acquisition of another University’s School of Medicine, Pharmacology and Health. This included preparing a commercial agreement which was highly complex and included the need to consider the public procurement and other regulatory aspects of the transfer, the identification and transfer of the required assets and the handling of the transfer of undergraduate, post graduate and research contracts (with the consumer rights of students under those contracts being a material concern). We also provided complex TUPE advice
  • We advised a University upon the acquisition of a school from another University dealing with teach out obligations, transferring staff and students, pensions issues and research projects
Property
  • We acted for a University on the first registration of a block of 60 houses, which were sub-let and further underlet on long residential leases, which were being enfranchised. We dealt with pre-emption rights and title defects. Subsequently we acted an exclusivity agreement leading to a sale of approximately half of the houses to a private investor for £7.25M, dealing with cross rights, maintenance of shared facilities obligations and protection for the tenants’ rights, works and clearance issues
  • We advised a University on a first registration application for parts of its estate to enable the University to seek grant funding to refurbish and develop historic buildings. We advised on the legal charge which the grant funder required to secure the funding on the newly registered freehold title. The University was able to draw down funds and substantially improve its buildings
  • We advised a University on the disposal of various surplus dilapidated properties which were leased to other entities. The University was able to benefit from a capital receipt and also extricate itself from future obligations to the tenants in respect of maintenance and other liabilities as landlord
  • We act on renewals of leases where the University are tenants and also where they are landlord dealing with section 25 and section 26 notices
  • We acted for a University on their taking a surrender of a lease of an office block to enable the University to take back occupation for much needed office space in a central city area
  • We acted for a University on their taking an agreement for lease of an industrial unit to which they were to carry out extensive works to construct a cavitation tunnel for testing wind impact at sea. A lease was to be granted on completion of the works. The project was key to the University to allow the cavitation tunnel to vacate a prime area within the main campus where the facility was originally located
  • We advised a University in connection with the development of land at a Hospital for the construction of a medical school. This transaction involved the negotiation of a development agreement, head lease and under lease between the NHS Foundation Trust and the University Medical School
  • We acted for a University in relation to a complex s106 Agreement relating to the university’s proposed new academic building and extension to their sports centre as well as a 1279 bedroom student accommodation development. The work involved liaising with the client and their project team and then drafting and negotiating the s106 Agreement with the council in a proactive and cooperative way that was targeted to respect the desired build period and opening of the new premises
Litigation
  • Acting for a national higher education provider in relation to numerous matters, including its defence of a defamation claim and thereafter, a separate negligence claim brought by a former teacher. The teacher was of limited means, so alternative dispute resolution processes were used to achieve an early settlement to prevent costs being incurred unnecessarily, protect the client’s interests and ensure there was no reputational damage. The client was fully appraised on the merits of its position from the outset, and subsequently advised in respect of the merits of a subsequent successful application to strike out the second claim and for summary judgment. We therefore controlled and removed the risk posed
  • Acting for a University in relation to commercial/contractual and intellectual property related claims, arising from the University’s commercial and ‘spin out’ activities. One aspect of the case was particularly sensitive and had capacity to give rise to serious reputational issues. We ensured the client was advised fully as to the merits of the dispute and the potential costs consequences in order that senior management could be kept fully appraised. Our views on merits and information on costs were updated regularly throughout the case. We project managed the litigation to ensure staff involved were aware when contributions were required, so they could effectively organise their time. We utilised alternative dispute resolution processes to achieve settlement which secured the University’s interests, and ensured no reputational damage. The claims were settled in advance of trial, in a cost-effective manner
Construction
  • We advised a University in relation to a £70m construction of a new student accommodation development comprising six accommodation blocks and ancillary construction. The blocks were of modular construction, with the modules being manufactured overseas and shipped to the UK for installation on site. The project involved complexities relating to the use of a foreign subcontractor for over half of the project value, along with the overseas construction and shipping of a large proportion of the building elements. We advised in relation to the drafting, negotiation and finalisation of the NEC3 form of Building Contract. This included advising in relation to comments received from the tendering contractors and the final negotiations with the University’s preferred contractor. We also advised in relation to the Consultant Appointments and the Novation of the Design Consultation Appointments to the Contractor.
  • We advised a University and its subsidiary development company in relation to the £8.5 new build development of an academic centre on the grounds of a Hospital. We advised in relation to the drafting and negotiation of the University’s Consultant Appointments (including initial letters of intent with the consultants), Novations of the Design Consultants to the Contractor and the drafting and negotiation of amendments to the JCT Design & Build form of Contract, including advising on the contractual clarifications received during the tender process from various tendering contractors. We also advised on the construction obligations in the Agreement for Lease, to ensure that the same were in line with the requirements of the Building Contract
  • We advised a University and its subsidiary development company in relation to the £5.2m new build economics and entrepreneurship academic building on the University’s campus. This is a three story learning centre with a 160 seat lecture theatre, double height study centre complete with student café and a new University bookshop.  We are advising in relation to the consultant appointments and the drafting and negotiation of an amended JCT Standard Building Contract without quantities. We have also advised in relation to a letter of intent
  • We advised a London based multi-disciplinary University in relation to construction problems and delays on a flagship development at their London campus. This involved advising the client on the termination of the project manager & Employer’s Agent and the appointment of a suitable replacement consultant. Thereafter we worked with the client and the new consultant to resolve the issues on site and achieve practical completion. We then negotiated and settled a £6m final account claim from the contractor and the client’s claim for damages for delay, achieving a quick and cost effective resolution for the University which allowed it to progress with the rest of its estate development plans
  • We have advised higher education clients on construction procurement issues and project structures. This has included advising on the applicability of the European Procurement Rules and the use of appropriate frameworks to assist in their development projects
  • Acting for a University in respect of a £40-£60m refurbishment and redevelopment of the site of the School of Engineering which included preparing and advising in negotiations and completion of a full suite of construction documentation
Health and safety
  • We advised a University in respect of contamination issues and contracts for the removal of contamination in relation to the medical academic facility referred to above