Legal Advice Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I need legal advice on a University-related matter. What do I do?
Complete the above form with as much detail as possible and forward to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How soon should I contact Legal Services?
Please contact Legal Services at the earliest opportunity, whatever your question concerns, to allow sufficient time for the matter to be properly considered and any legal issues managed. Early awareness of the issue means that we can work with you to meet any relevant timescales.
The aim of the Legal Services Team is to provide practical business focused advice that protects the University’s interests and manages potential risk.
Q: I have received a claim for/letter before action or a third party has said it has a claim against the University. What do I do?
All claims received by the University must be sent to the Legal Services Department immediately. Failure to do so could result in the University being unable to put forward a defence and incurring unnecessary liabilities.
You must not admit liability or settle any claim against the University.
Liability can be conceded orally or in writing, or in some cases by your conduct on receipt of a claim and therefore once the claim or threat of a claim has been received you should not have any contact with the person or organisation bringing or threatening action without first speaking to Legal Services.
Q: I would like the University to enter into an agreement with a third party. What do I do?
Please provide full details of the proposed arrangements to legal services on the Legal Advice Request form, along with any draft contract/agreement/memorandum you have been given by the third party. Legal Services will advise you on the necessary steps and the wording of any agreement.
Please be aware that Legal Services may require the approval of a senior member of the University to progress the agreement.
In any discussions with a third party, whether orally or in writing (including email), you should clearly state the discussion is ‘subject to contract’, making it clear that without a properly signed written agreement the University is not contractually bound.
Q: Can I sign an agreement on behalf of the University?
Staff are not authorised to sign agreements (which includes contracts and memoranda) on behalf of the University, unless given an express written delegation to do so.
Legal Services will inform you who has authority to sign.
Contracts with third parties are entered into by the University and not individual staff members, Directorates and Faculties.
Q: Who will pay for legal advice?
Where external advice is required, we will discuss with you prior to any instruction being made, whether the advice will be paid for locally by the Faculty or Directorate or whether it will be funded through the central Legal Services budget.
Q: What information should I provide to Legal Services?
Please complete the Legal Advice Request form, website as above and provide as much information about the matter as possible. Legal Services may require you to provide us with a briefing document, setting out the key information relating to your matter. We will need to see all relevant documents, including any draft agreements that have been provided to you. We may need to see evidence that your request has been given the necessary approvals to proceed. It would also be useful to have dates when the advice is needed by.
Q: I want to obtain external legal advice. Can I instruct solicitors directly?
You must contact Legal Services in the first instance for all legal advice. Unless expressly agreed otherwise, staff are not permitted to seek external legal advice directly. This includes international legal advice.
In deciding whether a matter can be dealt with by in the in-house legal team or requires external advice, we will discuss the nature of the matter with you fully and, if external advice is appropriate, agree the scope of the legal services to be procured.
Usually, Legal Services will manage instructions to external lawyers. However, where it is agreed that it is more appropriate for the internal colleague to deal directly with the external solicitors, Legal Services will remain involved so that we can ensure costs are kept under control, to ensure the advice you receive is in accordance with your needs and to provide any additional support. In particular we will be provided with copies of advice given.
Q: Can you provide legal advice on non-University matters?
Legal Services act for the University and are not able to advise staff or students on personal matters. We are only able to advise on University matters.
Q: What is legal privilege?
Communications with people who are not lawyers cannot be legally privileged, even if marked as such.
Communications with qualified legal practitioners within the Legal Services Team, where you are seeking legal advice, will be protected by legal privilege. This means that the communications normally cannot be referred to in court proceedings or otherwise disclosed.
Advice received from the qualified legal practitioners within the Legal Services Team must not be forwarded to anyone, including University colleagues, unless otherwise agreed with us, as this may cause legal privilege to be lost and for the advice to become disclosable. For the same reason, email circulation should be limited to those who need to receive the advice.
Under no circumstances should any email, document or other correspondence from qualified legal practitioners within the Legal Services Team be sent outside the University without the clear agreement of Legal Services contact with whom you are dealing.