About HE Shared Legal

Background

HE Shared Legal is a dedicated, subscription-based, legal guidance and support service for the HE sector.  The service commenced operations on 1 May 2012, and is provided by HE Shared Legal Limited, an independent company limited by guarantee.

Since opening for business, we have published more than 450 items of generic guidance and attended to 940 individual legal enquiries.

Regular newsletters are produced, containing articles about legal issues relevant to HEIs, updates on recent developments and FAQs. Some of the articles can be viewed on this website.

Many of our specific ‘guidance’ enquiries have been of a substantial and/or complex nature – involving governance and constitutional issues and corporate reorganisations, in addition to the, perhaps more predictable, employment law and contractual matters. Although we are unable to undertake transactions or litigation, in appropriate situations we can provide support on case preparation and transaction planning.

Nature of the service

Practical, ‘in-house’ service

The service seeks to act on an ‘in-house’ basis. Above all, this means that the service is ‘on your side’, ie part of the HE sector, with no independent agenda or interest. Accordingly, you are encouraged to use the service whenever required, even for minor issues, without the restraints or other considerations that would apply to consulting an external legal adviser. Importantly, there is no requirement for a formal approach – treat the service as you would a legal colleague in the office next door.

For our part, we shall endeavour to understand the objectives and working methods of each subscriber institution and, in due course, the relevant managers within each institution with whom we are dealing. Where possible we shall provide a recommendation of which course of action to take, as well as guidance on the specific legal position.

‘Preventative medicine’

Subscribers should feel able to use the service at an earlier stage than one would consult an external adviser, and in respect of less important matters. In addition to the provision of guidance relating to specific enquiries, we provide practical, general legal information for our subscribers, in the form of a regular newsletter.

It is hoped that this approach engenders an increased awareness of legal issues on the part of HEI managers and a readiness to seek guidance and advice accordingly at an appropriate stage. Our plans for the future include the introduction of specialised training on topics of interest, such as practical contracting, due diligence and the management of external lawyers.

Areas of Law

The feasibility study that preceded the introduction of the service identified the fields of law that were of most significance to the responding institutions.  From these, eight broad subject areas were chosen, as follows, to which IP & IT law has been added later:

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employment law

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commercial agreements (including procurement law)

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tax and insurance law and pensions legal issues

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charity law

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environmental law

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banking and financial services law

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property law

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corporate law and governance

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IP & IT law

In practice, and subject to the limitations regarding representation, we have never been unable to provide guidance on the grounds that the subject matter is beyond our scope in this respect.

FAQs

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 and FAQs on a wide range of legal topics of relevance to HEIs
  • Legal services consultancy – assistance and support with the selection, engagement, instruction and,if required, ongoing monitoring 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 (including procurement law)
  • Banking and Financial Services
  • Corporate and governance
  • Tax, insurance and pensions
  • Intellectual Property and IT law
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 eleven 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.  We also offer legal services consultancy to other HEIs and relevant sector bodies.

How much is the subscription?

The current subscription fee is £9,500, exclusive of VAT, covering the period of twelve months from 1 August 2018 to 31 July 2019. There are no additional usage or other charges.

How is the service staffed?

There are four members of staff – all lawyers (of whom three are qualified in Scotland as solicitors, one is currently unregistered, and one is also qualified to practise law in Greece).  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, managed by its Principal Lawyer, who is the managing director of the company.  The company is planning in the longer term to convert the service from a subscription basis to a full VAT cost sharing group or some other suitable structure involving a measure of 'ownership' by the subscribing institutions.

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.

The HE Shared Legal Team

Neil Hunter

Principal Lawyer

19 20

Neil Hunter is an experienced general corporate and commercial lawyer.  He studied law at the University of Glasgow and trained as a solicitor in Glasgow.  He then worked in Glasgow and Aberdeen.  Conducting transactions throughout the UK, his main activity has been in business start-ups, mergers and acquisitions and general commercial legal advice.  Since 2002 he has conducted a sole corporate and commercial legal practice – now largely dormant – on a ‘paperless’ basis.  He is also a non-executive director of a small IT services company.

Neil Hunter was appointed to the role of Principal Lawyer in December 2011, with a view to establishing and managing the operation of the HE Shared Legal service.

Neil’s particular interests in the context of HE Shared Legal are: policy, constitutional, corporate, governance and charity law matters.  He is also keen to develop further the legal services consultancy aspect of the service and to obtain joint mandates from subscriber institutions and other HEIs in relation to legal issues of concern.

In addition to his role as newsletter editor, Neil is responsible for the overall management and administration of the service, quality assurance, marketing and subscriber relations.

Amalia Maglara

Lawyer

19 20

Amalia Maglara studied law at the Democritus University of Thrace, in Greece, and as a post-graduate student (in IT law) at the University of Strathclyde.  She is a qualified solicitor in both Greece and Scotland.

Amalia began her career in commercial practice where she focused on corporate and commercial law.  She advised a range of businesses, charities and not for profit organisations in the areas of company law and corporate governance and compliance. Her work included mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, and general commercial contracts.  She also tutored in company law at the University of Stirling.

Working with HE Shared Legal since 2014 has given Amalia the opportunity to pursue and develop further her interests and skills in the context of the higher education sector.  A significant portion of her workload relates to contract review, including supplier agreements for services and goods, standard terms of purchase, and collaboration agreements with academic partners and commercial participators.  Amalia also focuses on freedom of information and data protection including, in recent months, compliance and contractual aspects of the GDPR.  She has devoted time to reviewing the application of consumer protection law to the student contract and to other services provided to students by HE providers, including package travel legislation.  Amalia also has a particular interest in the application of charity law to providers’ commercial activities, and has provided guidance on engaging trading subsidiaries and entering into funding/grant arrangements.  She also has an interest in IP and IT law.

Amalia is responsible currently for the day to day management of the enquiry workflow of the service and contributes material to the HE Shared Legal newsletter.

Nafeesa Khan

Lawyer

19 20

Nafeesa Khan studied law at the University of Strathclyde, which included a semester at the University of Copenhagen. On completing her Diploma in Legal Practice and qualifying as a solicitor, she worked in Glasgow and then Edinburgh. She began her legal career in litigation, dealing with personal injury and housing matters.  She also completed a period of work in banking and finance where she advised borrowers and lenders on banking transactions.

Nafeesa joined HE Shared Legal in April 2012, shortly before the service opened for business.  Initially, her time was shared evenly between the preparation of generic legal guidance and researching and responding to one-off legal enquiries. Increasingly, however, as the service has developed, Nafeesa has been required to concentrate on the latter, in order to satisfy subscriber demand.  Although she works on a diverse range of enquiries, across the spectrum of subjects that the service covers, Nafeesa has spent a significant amount of her time grappling with the intricacies of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and providing guidance to subscribers on issues that may arise during the procurement process.  In order to gain additional insight into the subject, she has recently joined the Procurement Lawyers Association.  Nafeesa also has a keen interest in employment law, equality law, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its implications for the HE sector.

Nafeesa also writes FAQs, case reports and other legal updates for the HE Shared Legal Newsletter and has undertaken primary responsibility for its production and distribution, which occurs approximately on a monthly basis.

Gemma Herbertson

Lawyer (unregistered)

19 20

Gemma Herbertson studied law at the University of Glasgow and trained as a solicitor in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with exposure to corporate and property law. After Gemma qualified as a solicitor she specialised in employment law.  In particular, her focus was on employment issues that arose during corporate transactions.  She provided advice about employee relations in that context and negotiated protection in respect of employment liabilities into commercial contracts.  She advised on a variety of transactions, including overseas outsourcing, management buy outs and PFIs.  Gemma then worked for a financial institution providing general employment law advice to a wide variety of corporate customers.  Clients have spanned a varied range of sectors including finance, higher education, utilities and general industry.
Gemma is building on her existing experience to address the broad range of legal issues that arise in the Higher Education sector.  Following a maternity and child care career break, Gemma is not currently registered as a solicitor, but intends to regain her practising certificate as a solicitor after a brief, introductory period of working with HE Shared Legal.