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Who Represents Who

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According to its clients, Blake Morgan LLP’s ‘highly responsive’ team ‘always delivers’; its lawyers are ‘extremely willing to make themselves available to answer queries, always going the extra mile’. The firm’s client list includes a number of Oxford colleges, as well as the University of Cambridge and various other schools and higher education institutions, for which it handles governance, administration and student discipline issues, in addition to property management, among other matters. Recent highlights include acting for Keble College, Oxford, on the development of the former Acland Hospital site, which will provide the college with substantial additional facilities. The team also represented King Edward VI College in a claim brought by three lecturers with regards to an alleged breach of contract and unlawful salary deduction. Matthew Smith heads the nationwide practice from Cardiff, and Sheilah Mackie is the key figure in Southampton; she handles commercial IP, IT and data protection matters.

Penningtons Manches LLP is noted for its expertise in the higher education sector, advising a broad mix of universities and alternative providers on employment matters, commercial law, institutional issues and disciplinary procedures. Key clients include Kings College London, Royal Agricultural University and Oxford Brookes University; the team recently advised the last client on the renewal of a long-term lease from Oxford City Council, and on the grant of retail shop leases on its main campus site to various retail establishments. In another highlight, the firm acted for an Oxbridge college in a contentious matter following the expulsion of an undergraduate on the grounds of serious breaches of academic discipline, successfully bringing the matter to a favourable resolution. Daff Richardson specialises in governance issues, and Alison Talbot has strong charities expertise.

Blandy & Blandy LLP provides ‘an excellent service’ and ‘gives the client great confidence in its capabilities’, and the team ‘has a good understanding of the needs of educational institutions’. The practice advises schools, universities and educational charities on governance matters and trustee duties, along with commercial, regulatory and operational issues. Key clients include The University of Reading, which the firm recently advised on the promotion of a development site earmarked for a number of new primary and secondary schools, along with other commercial and residential establishments. Charities expert Nick Burrows is the key figure.

Clarkslegal LLP advises on major projects and transactions in the higher education sector, and also has strong expertise in employment, corporate and commercial, property and contentious matters specific to the education sector. Immigration specialist Monica Atwal recently advised a UK university on Tier 4 visas for a number of students, and also assisted with various staffing matters in relation to graduates seeking employment in the UK. Richard Higgs heads the department and specialises in real estate transactions, having recently advised on several major infrastructure projects. Other key figures include construction specialist David Rintoul, corporate and commercial lawyer Ashan Arif, and employment head Michael Sippitt.

Birkett Long LLP’s client roster comprises a mix of nurseries, colleges, schools and universities, for which it handles the full range of property and governance issues. Recent work includes acting for the Colchester Institute on the £1.2m sale of part of its estate to Braintree Council to use as a health centre, and advising Perryfields Junior School on its conversion to Perryfields Enterprise Academy Trust. Key figures include Martin Hopkins, who advises on employment and HR issues, and Melanie Bache, who handles commercial and real estate work. Amanda Timcke moved to Birketts LLP.

The ‘excellent’ team at DMH Stallard LLPunderstands the education sector well’ and ‘is always available for complex matters when the situation requires it’. Clients include a mix of universities, colleges, academies and educational businesses, and the team has notable experience advising on funding requirements and student relationships. Key practitioners include Tina George, who specialises in real estate matters and property portfolio management; and Rustom Tata and Simon Bellm, both of whom handle employment matters.

Baker Small Solicitors fields a team of ‘excellent’ practitioners that is praised for its ‘great breadth of knowledge within the education sector, most notably within the field of special educational needs (SEN)’. The firm counts several local authorities as clients; it recently represented Buckinghamshire County Council in proceedings before the Upper Tier Tribunal regarding the provision of education to young people aged 19 and over, and the associated education, health and care plans. Practice head Mark Small acts for private and public sector clients including parents, schools and local authorities in a range of disputes, and has notable experience within the special educational needs and disability system.

Boyes Turner has significant expertise in SEN matters where high-cost support and placement is sought, regularly liaising with social services, local authorities and Court of Protection deputies to resolve complex SEN matters. Senior associate Laxmi Patel heads the practice; her expertise encompasses appeals before the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, and working with the firm’s clinical negligence and Court of Protection groups in cases requiring funding from local authorities concerning educational provisions for children with special needs. Recent work includes assisting a family with the enrolment of a SEN child into a mainstream school within a neighbouring local authority.

Brachers acts for a range of academy schools and further education colleges, and also advises foundation, SEN and private schools on commercial property, corporate and employment matters. In a recent highlight, the team advised Priory Fields Primary School on its joint conversion to a multi-academy trust, now known as The Whinless Down Academy Trust. The firm also advised Hadlow Group on the £6.5m construction of Hadlow Rural Community School, a secondary teaching institution housing up to 330 pupils. Commercial property expert Bill Butler heads the department, advising on land acquisitions and disposals, landlord and tenant matters, and the disposal of school and college land for redevelopment.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP’s wide-ranging expertise covers tax issues, mergers, school fee recovery and construction projects, among other matters. Practice head Katie Burley handles employment matters on behalf of educational institutions; she led a team defending John Madejski Academy in an equal pay claim arising from a TUPE transfer, a matter involving approximately 180 claimants. Louise Smyth is the other key practitioner along with Caroline Airey, who handles corporate and commercial matters.

Hewitsons is ‘excellent in all areas’; its key areas of expertise cover real estate and construction projects, data protection and freedom of information matters, academy restructurings, and commercial transactions. Chris Knight advises various educational institutions on the full range of commercial and regulatory issues. The ‘consistently excellentClare Waller is ‘very knowledgeable in all areas of HR and employment law’ and ‘gives clear, sound advice, always understanding the clients’ needs’.

Moore Blatch LLP has recently handled a number of High Court and Court of Appeal cases in relation to special educational provisions, and has notable expertise in Judicial Review applications against local authorities arising from failure to make appropriate provisions for SEN children. The group also advises parent and guardian organisations on the effective application of litigation to ensure the best level of educational provision following the SEN reforms. Tim Spring is the key name to note.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s ‘strong sector team’ provides ‘pragmatic and tailored advice’, and is particularly known for its expertise in employment matters, construction, constitutional reviews and complex governance issues. Highlights included representing The University of Kent in a Judicial Review application brought by a student, which involved the student’s withdrawal following non-payment of tuition fees. Practice head Smita Jamdar is ‘a standout legal practitioner – pragmatic, personable and a genuine expert in the sector’. Geraldine Swanton is ‘a go-to person for data protection and freedom of information matters’.

Tees Law has ‘a growing reputation in education law’ and provides ‘a particularly good service to school clients due to their strength in other practice areas, most notably in employment’. Highlights for the previous year included advising various schools on the amendment of existing policies, with a particular focus on the protection of children from social media abuse. Practice head Polly Kerr is ‘passionate about education law’ and provides ‘strong legal analysis and judgement in this very specialised area’, advising parents, teachers, students and schools on the full range of contentious and non-contentious education matters.

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Legal Developments in South East for Education

  • TRANSFER OF UNDERTAKINGS (PROTECTION OF EMPLOYMENT) AND AGE DISCRIMINATION

    I have been asked to cover the topic of Employment law within my half an hour speaking slot today. I have narrowed my subject down to Transfer of Undertakings and Discrimination, with the focus on providing an update on the recent spate of cases on service provision change and on the important developments in the law of age discrimination. Needless to say, in my presentation I shall not be able to cover the level of detail which is contained in my written paper, which I will leave you to read.
    - 11KBW

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