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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the University’s legal status?
The University is a Higher Education Institution incorporated by Royal Charter. The Royal Charter was granted on 21 December 1955 under Royal Charter number RC00653.  For more information please view the wording of the charter.

Who can sign documents on behalf of the University?
There are a very limited number of people who are authorised to legally bind the University. As the signatory varies, depending on the nature and value of the contract or documents, please first ask your Dean of College or Service whether it is a document he/she can sign. If there is any doubt, please contact Legal Services.

My College/Service has a written agreement with another College/Service. Is it legally binding?
All Colleges and Services are part of the same legal entity that is the University. Therefore, although they may show the intention of how people wish to operate, agreements between Colleges and Services cannot have legal effect. 

I have a personal legal problem. Can Legal Services help?
The solicitors in Legal Services represent the University. They cannot advise individual staff or students on personal legal matters. Information regarding solicitors can be provided by the Law Society.

Who are the University’s external solicitors?
The University has a panel of external solicitors. The panel is:

Area of WorkFirmFirm
Property & Projects Michelmores Burges Salmon
Employment & HR SGH Martineau Eversheds
Commercial/Contractual/IP Eversheds  
Higher Education Issues SGH Martineau Eversheds

All instructions to panel law firms MUST be directed initially through Legal Services via Deans of College, College Managers, Heads of Service or other nominated contact point. The panel law firms will not accept instructions from members of staff who have not been nominated by Legal Services and the University will not pay for advice received that Legal Services are not informed of.

Who pays for legal costs? 

There is no internal charge for work undertaken by Legal Services for the University in-house. If we have to send work to our external panel firms then the costs will be allocated in accordance with the University's External Legal Costs policy.

Legal Services - External Legal Costs Policy 

When do I have to disclose email and other documents?
Current and former employees and students of the University, and third parties, have a right to apply for copies of documentation held by the University.  Applications may be made under the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act, or in the course of litigation against the University. 

University employees should be aware that any written document, including electronically stored documents (even if deleted) and informal notes, may become the subject of a disclosure request. Care should therefore always be taken when a document is created. Ideally, documents should be factually correct and should express fair and balanced views. Derogatory emails, or documents suggesting a pre-judgement of a staff or student issue, should be avoided.

Correspondence seeking legal advice from the University’s internal and external solicitors from staff who are authorised to obtain such advice is not disclosable, but should not be circulated unnecessarily.


The information in these Frequently Asked Questions does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Any queries regarding the University’s legal position in any particular circumstance should be referred to Legal and Insurance Services.