HE Shared Legal is a national shared legal service for the UK higher education sector.

HE Shared Legal provides ad hoc legal guidance to subscriber institutions in relation to individual enquiries. In addition, we circulate generic guidance in the form of a regular newsletter highlighting legal developments of relevance to the sector. We are also in a position to provide assistance with law firm selection, engagement, instruction and monitoring..

Supreme Court decision on reasonable adjustments

In the case of FirstGroup Plc v Paulley [2017] UKSC 4, the Supreme Court has found that a bus company failed to make reasonable adjustments for passengers who were wheelchair users, in breach of the Equality Act 2010. Read Full Article…

Charity Commission consultation on 2017 annual return

On 22 December 2016, the Charity Commission for England and Wales (‘the Commission’) announced a consultation on the annual return it requires from registered charities for 2017. The consultation seeks views on changes to the content and structure of the annual return and how questions are targeted. Read Full Article…

OIA consultation on the Good Practice Framework

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) has published a consultation on draft guidance on ‘handling complaints and academic appeals where more than one provider or awarding body is involved in the student’s higher education’ for insertion in the Good Practice Framework. Read Full Article…

Sales and Guarantees Directive: ‘seller’ of consumer goods includes trader who fails to tell consumer it is acting as intermediary for private seller

In the Belgian case of Wathelet v Garage Bietheres & Fils SPRL, Case C-149/15, the Court of Justice of the European Union considered the definition of ‘seller’ under Article 1(2)(c) of the Sales and Guarantees Directive (1999/44/EC) (the Directive). The Directive requires a seller to deliver goods to the consumer that conform to the contract of sale and, in the event of the goods not conforming, to repair or replace them. Read Full Article…

Charity Regulators issue data protection alert

The Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator have issued a joint alert reminding charities that, in addition to complying with charity law requirements, they must ensure that they have systems in place to identify, and comply with, any data protection legislation and regulations applying to their activities. Read Full Article…

Unified Patent Court Agreement

On 28 November 2016, the UK government confirmed that it is ‘proceeding with preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement.’ The UPC Agreement is part of the process required to establish the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (‘the Court’). It is the intention that the ‘court will make it easier for British businesses to protect their ideas and inventions from being illegally copied by companies in other countries.’ Read Full Article…

Environment Agency publishes list of non-compliant CRC participants

On 4 November 2016, the Environment Agency published a list of participants in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme that had not fully complied with their obligations under the Scheme, together with a note of the civil penalty levied. Further information about CRC enforcement can be found in Annex 4 of the Environment Agency’s Enforcement and Sanctions Guidance. Read Full Article…

Post-Christmas party events and vicarious liability

The High Court considered if Northampton Recruitment Limited was vicariously liable for an employee’s conduct. At the end of a work Christmas party at a golf club, certain employees decided to visit a hotel for further drinks. During this time, the managing director assaulted Mr Bellman following a disagreement. Mr Bellman sustained brain damage, and sought damages from the employer. Read Full Article…


Frequently asked questions

What is HE Shared Legal?

HE Shared Legal is a shared, non-profit-making, legal guidance and support service for HE institutions throughout the UK.

What does HE Shared Legal do?

There are three main elements to our work:

  • Shared, "in-house" legal service – providing guidance and support with (ie generally, answering) specific legal enquiries in the manner of an in-house lawyer
  • Generic guidance – publication of regular newsletters, detailed guidance notes and FAQs on a wide range of legal topics of relevance to HEIs
  • Adviser selection and support – assistance and support with the selection, engagement and instruction of external legal advisers
What is the significance of the ‘in-house’ aspect?

As far as possible, HE Shared Legal works with institution representatives on a friendly, informal basis, as if the HE Shared Legal lawyer was physically embedded within the institution concerned. We also endeavour to establish a strong working relationship with the relevant HEI managers and a sound understanding of the institution and its approach to governance, risk management, etc.

What areas of law are covered?

The service deals with nine broad areas of law, as follows:

  • Employment
  • Property
  • Charity
  • Environmental
  • Commercial Agreements
  • Banking and Financial Services
  • Corporate and governance
  • Tax, insurance and pensions
  • Intellectual Property and IT
Are there any other aspects to the work of HE Shared Legal?

In addition to the three main elements described above, the service also offers the following:

  • Preliminary transaction and case planning
  • Trouble shooting
  • The conduct of joint projects
  • The development of standard procedures and documents
What are the limits to the HE Shared Legal service, ie what does HE Shared Legal not do?

The service has no mandate to deal with the following:

  • Provide professional legal advice, with the benefit of legal liability (as opposed to informal, legal ‘guidance’ and ‘support’)
  • Represent institutions in relation to dealings with third parties
  • Conduct cases or transactions, although preliminary case/transaction planning is provided

Where support of this nature is required, HE Shared Legal will be happy to assist with the selection and engagement, on competitive terms, of suitable specialist legal advisers.

Who are the typical users of the service?

The service may be used by any nominated representative within a subscriber institution. Typically, the users of the service will be senior managers from one or more of the following disciplines:

  • Finance
  • Commercial
  • Governance
  • HR
  • Estates
  • Registry
  • Procurement
When did the service start?

The service opened for business on 1 May 2012.

How many institutions have joined the service?

There are currently nineteen subscriber institutions, located in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

How is HE Shared Legal funded?

Having been funded initially by HEFCE grant, the service is now financed by subscription fees from subscriber institutions on a fully self-sustaining basis.

How much is the subscription?

The current subscription fee is £8,800, exclusive of VAT, covering the period of twelve months from 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2017. There are no additional usage or other charges.

How is the service staffed?

There are five members of staff, all of whom are to a varying extent part-time – four lawyers (each qualified in Scotland as a solicitor, one also qualified in England and Wales, and one also in Greece) and an administrator (who is also trained as an employment law paralegal). All four lawyers have a predominantly commercial background, which is suited to the ‘business to business’ character and ‘employer-side’ role of much of their work.

What legal form does the service take?

HE Shared Legal Limited is a company limited by guarantee, which assumed responsibility for the operation of the service with effect from 1 May 2015, in succession to the University of Strathclyde. The company is planning in the longer term to convert the service from a subscription basis to a full VAT cost sharing group.

What are the governance arrangements?

HE Shared Legal Limited is governed by a board of five directors, of whom four are non-executive and represent the subscriber institutions as a body. The service is managed by its Principal Lawyer, who acts as the managing director of the company.

Finally, what are the main benefits of the service?

The principal benefits of a subscription to HE Shared Legal are as follows:

  • Ready access to experienced legal resources at low cost
  • Potential to achieve substantial savings on external legal fees
  • Assistance with development of good practice and assurance
  • Access to sector-wide intelligence and contacts on legal issues
  • Part of the HEI 'corporate armoury'

For further information, please contact HE Shared Legal on 0141 237 5880 or enquiries@hesharedlegal.ac.uk.