Working with Legal Services
Q: I need legal advice on a University-related matter. What do I do?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)118 378 6742 with a brief outline of the matter on which you require advice or support. We will respond with details of the next steps to take.
Q: I have received a claim form/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: 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. This will mean that we can work with you to meet any relevant timescales. It is always easier to manage any potential issues in advance, wherever possible.
If you receive a claim form, a letter before action or any other threat of litigation, please contact us immediately.
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, 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 cannot progress agreements such as this without the approval of your Head of School/Function. Financial management controls will also require sign off from Finance before agreements can be concluded. However, we can offer preliminary advice on your project.
In any discussions with a third party, whether orally or in writing (including email), you should clearly state that 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 delegation to do so.
Legal Services will arrange for documents to be signed.
Q: Who will pay for legal advice?
There is no charge for internally provided 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 by the School or Function, or whether it will be funded by Legal Services.
If the advice is linked to a project or discrete matter, external advice will normally be charged to that project code and full details must be provided to Hannah Woodward, Legal Services Administrator in order that a purchase order can be raised and the advice procured.
Q: What information should I provide to Legal Services?
You should 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. Where appropriate, we will need to be shown that your proposals have been given the necessary approvals to proceed. It would also be useful to have dates when the advice is needed by.
Q: Can you provide legal advice on non-University matters?
The solicitors in the Legal Services Department 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 the Legal Services Department, where you are seeking legal advice, will be protected by legal privilege. This means that they normally cannot be referred to in court proceedings or otherwise disclosed.
Advice received from Legal Services should 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 only to those who need to receive the advice.
Under no circumstances should any email, document or other correspondence from Legal Services be sent outside the University without the clear agreement of the Legal Services lawyer with whom you are dealing.
Communications with people who are not lawyers cannot be legally privileged, even if marked as such.
Q: What do we mean by University trade marks?
Trade marks can include words, phrases, sounds, logos, symbols, or colours, and any combination of these. The primary purpose of a trade mark is to identify and distinguish the source of the products and/or services of one party from those of others. By University trade marks we mean, the University name and crest, the University's brand and logo, the Henley Business School brand and logo and any trade marks that are created by any University of Reading School or Department, member of staff or student, any University subsidiaries, or any University partners or suppliers, if created in relation to University business and activities. Certain exceptions will apply in some cases. Please speak to the Legal Services Department for clarification.