This City practice continues to enjoy an outstanding reputation for its work on behalf of schools and distinguishes itself from competitors by handling the most complex of educational law matters.
Chambers & Partners, 2010
Typically, the issues faced by schools are complex, demanding, time-consuming and potentially damaging to hard-earned reputations, and often we find ourselves acting as both adviser and mentor. One of the ways we help our clients is by providing regular training sessions on issues ranging from property & planning, charity law & public benefit to employment law. We also provide discussion lunches for Heads, Bursars, and HR Managers, as well as regular legal updates.
Each client has a dedicated partner who, when required, will assemble a team of lawyers with the right mix of skills and expertise to deal with the matter in hand. One of our strengths is our ability to fully understand you and your school, its priorities and requirements. Armed with that knowledge, we can advise and guide you secure in the knowledge that it’s the best course of action.
Our clients tell us how they appreciate the approachable, pragmatic and accessible way in which we work at all times.
With decades of experience in the schools sector, this is one of our strongest and busiest practice areas, especially given the complex and fast-moving legislation involved.
Our lawyers act for a large number of well-known independent schools, and are regarded across the legal industry as the leader in this sector, recognised annually by the Chambers and Legal 500 directories.
We have a wealth of experience in education law that covers a huge range of issues and situations. These include the following:
- Charity law
We are familiar with the idiosyncrasies of all constitutional forms, from charitable trusts to statutory corporations and from Charity Commission Schemes to companies.
We have a strong relationship with the Charity Commission and other authorities and, whilst our aim is to work co-operatively with them, we have the ability to spot when the Commission is seeking to impose its view of best practice, which may not be what is in the best interests of the client at the time. In those cases, our view is often persuasive.
Our lawyers have been at the forefront of recent consultations on the law relating to fund-raising and we frequently advise clients on campaigns and fund-raising strategies, often with an international dimension.
We advise on all aspects of taxation as it applies to charities, from reliefs on gifts, through the full range of exemptions from income and corporation tax, to VAT. We are regularly called upon to support sector-wide campaigns on charity tax matters.
- Public Benefit
In the last few years, we have been deeply immersed in the reform of charity law, with public benefit being its single-most important element. Our expertise in this area is unrivalled.
- Employment and pensions
We provide the full range of employment related advice from straight-forward employment law issues, employment contracts, policies and procedures to safe recruitment practices.
- Education and pupils
All matters ranging from pupil discipline and child protection to parental disputes, special educational needs and equal opportunities.
- Commercial agreements (including intellectual property
Commercial agreements ranging from contracting out of catering or security services to significant and complex IT contracts and sponsorship, terms and conditions and procurement. We offer advice on the exploitation of previously untapped resources such as intellectual property rights including copyright, trademarks and domain names, as well as fee recovery.
We advise on international matters where for example a school is involved in the set up an international franchise using their brand name.
- Reputation management
We have worked with many schools on safeguarding their reputation and managing potential media exposure. We are used to working closely with schools’ PR advisers and to recommending advisers if schools do not have one. Clients often comment that our collaborative approach is key in producing a swift and effective outcomes.
- Property, Planning and Construction
Our property specialists are highly experienced when it comes to the issues that arise when a charity deals with its land and provide strategic advice on planning, construction contracts, tenancy agreements, joint equity schemes and other ways to maximise property portfolio to major land-owning charities.
- Equality & Diversity
We are able to provide advice on all aspects of equality and diversity, from employee discrimination and harassment issues to discrimination law as it affects pupils.
- Family Law
Any school ends up playing a significant part in the life of a family, becomes privy to issues within the family, and is likely to be affected on a family break up. We have one of the premier family law teams in the country and its lawyers have proved invaluable in helping schools to steer the correct course when they are being pulled in two or three different directions by mother, father and/or children. We provide schools with clear and practical guidance in such cases.
- Data Protection
Advice and guidance on compliance of the Act e.g. compliance with data collection forms to ensure the appropriate consents have been obtained from parents and, where needed, pupils.
- Finance and funding issues
We frequently advise schools when finance is required, for example, to fund new development. For more advisory work the same team will typically become involved in advice on FSA, Consumer Credit Act or similar regulatory issues.
We advise on all aspects of charity tax from VAT on developments to Business Rates and direct tax issues. We advise on tax-efficient giving to charities and cross-border matters.
- Representative associations
As well as sitting on numerous Government advisory panels, we also have strong and long-standing working relationships all major professional institutions and representative bodies, including AGBIS, BSA, GSA, HMC, ISBA and ISC.
For more information contact one of our specialist advisers below or visit our Press office.