TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT

Please read the full terms of engagement set out below which will govern our work for you and your participation in the group claim for compensation against your university.

However, please note the following main points:

  • You instruct us as your solicitors for this claim.
  • You are not required to pay anything up-front.
  • You agree that we can keep 35% of the compensation to cover legal costs.
  • An elected committee will act on your behalf to make day-to-day decisions on the group claim, but for major issues like settlement, a group vote will take place.

1) Parties

Asserson Law Offices (“Asserson”) and Harcus Parker Limited (“Harcus Parker”) (together, “the Joint Solicitors”, “we” “us”) are firms of solicitors in England and Wales regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with ID numbers 549779 and 653501 respectively. Asserson’s head office is at 25 Southampton Buildings, Holborn, London, WC2A 1AL. Harcus Parker’s head office is at 7th Floor, Melbourne House, 44-46 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4LL.

By agreeing to these terms and conditions you are instructing the Joint Solicitors to act as your solicitors in relation to your claim for compensation from your university in respect of the disruption to your studies caused by industrial action and the responses of your university to Covid-19 during the period 2018 to 2021, and possibly after 2021 (the “Dispute”). The Dispute forms part of a group claim (the “Group Claim”) in which many other students at your university (the “Group Claim Clients”) have disputes with the university similar to the Dispute.

2) Use of information you provide to us

You agree that the information you provide to us is true to the best of your knowledge. You agree that we may present such information to a court.

3) Documents

You understand that you are required by the court rules to preserve copies of all electronic or paper documents you have which are or might be relevant to the Dispute.

4) Communication

You agree that we can correspond with you using the email address you provide to us.

If you wish to change the email address we use to contact you, you must confirm the new email address in writing to us.

For all purposes, you must write to us using the email address enquiries.studentclaim@studentgroupclaim.co.uk

5) Instructions

You agree to exercise your right to give us instructions in respect of the Dispute and the Group Claim solely through the Representative Committee (except for in relation to Major Issues, where a group vote will take place) as per the Annex below, which forms part of these terms and conditions.

6) Damages Based Agreement

By agreeing to these terms you are entering into a Damages Based Agreement with the Joint Solicitors for the purposes of section 58AA of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (“section 58AA”), which can be accessed here. Please do feel free to seek independent legal advice regarding section 58AA and/or this Damages Based Agreement, if you wish to find out more about them from other legal experts. If you are based in the UK, you may wish, for instance, to consult for free with your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau (“CAB”). Other similar organisations also exist, which you can source on the internet. English and Welsh qualified solicitors would also be able to advise you upon section 58AA or any aspect of this Damages Based Agreement. As you are entering into this Damages Based Agreement with us, the Joint Solicitors are the other parties to the Damages Based Agreement and cannot independently advise you about it, but we would be more than happy to provide you with further information about it, or section 58AA, if you wish us to clarify anything about this matter. Please do let us know. This Damages Based Agreement applies to our work for you in respect of the Dispute and the Group Claim including any appeals by either side in respect of the Dispute and/or the Group Claim.

By instructing the Joint Solicitors you are agreeing to be liable for a fair share of our fees and our expenses, for example barrister fees and expert witness fees. The amount of those fees and expenses will be agreed on your behalf by the Representative Committee. However, the fees and expenses are only payable by you in the circumstances set out below.

If you do not succeed in the Dispute, i.e. you do not obtain damages or similar compensation from your university, then you do not need to pay the Joint Solicitors anything, although you remain liable for our costs to the extent that the university is ordered to pay any costs to you, and you agree to allow the Joint Solicitors to retain any costs which the university is ordered to pay you at any stage in the Dispute and the Group Claim.

If you succeed in the Dispute, i.e. you obtain damages or similar compensation from your university, then you allow the Joint Solicitors to retain any costs which the university is ordered to pay you in respect of our fees and barrister fees, and to pay the Joint Solicitors or allow them to retain a further sum to make a total of 35% of the damages or compensation you obtain (inclusive of VAT). This further sum will be split between Asserson and Harcus Parker. You also allow us to retain any costs which the university is ordered to pay you in respect of non-barrister expenses, for example expert witness fees.

The reason for setting the amount of your contribution at this level is that we are taking a material risk by carrying out work on the Dispute and incurring expenses in respect of the Dispute without charge to you as the Dispute progresses. It is not certain that you will succeed in the Dispute by obtaining damages; we are bearing the risk of you not succeeding in the Dispute, in which case we will not get paid our full normal hourly rates. Your contribution level is intended to reflect that risk.

7) Treatment of proceeds

You agree that any money payable to you as a result of the Dispute or the Group Claim (whether in the form of damages, costs or otherwise) is to be paid in the first instance into a client account held by one of the Joint Solicitors (we will tell you which one at the relevant time) to be held on your behalf so that we can meet any liabilities you have under these terms before paying the remaining balance to you.

8) Termination

You can terminate your instruction of the Joint Solicitors by giving us notice in writing 7 days in advance. After such termination, clauses 6 and 7 above will continue to apply, and you may continue to be bound by agreements entered into when you were a Group Claim Client. This will depend on the specific terms of such agreements.

We can terminate your instruction of us at any time by providing you with written notice of termination 7 days in advance. If that happens, you will no longer be a Group Claim Client and these terms will no longer apply to you.

9) Amendment or variation

We may wish to amend or vary these terms of engagement after you first agree to them. In that case we will write to you setting out the proposed amendment or variation. If you do not respond to the proposed amendment or variation within 7 days in writing, you will be deemed to have agreed to the proposed amendment or variation. If you do not agree with the proposed amendment or variation, you may terminate the engagement in accordance with clause 8 above.

10) Governing law

These terms and conditions and your relationship with the Joint Solicitors generally shall be governed by the laws of England and Wales.

11) Jurisdiction

Any dispute arising out of these terms and conditions or your relationship with the Joint Solicitors generally shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

12) Complaints handling procedure

We anticipate that our relationship will be successful and problem free. However, should you have any cause for concern, please write to us with your complaint.

Should you not be satisfied with the way in which the Joint Solicitors deal with your complaint, you have a right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman. You can find out more about this right at the Legal Ombudsman’s site, www.legalombudsman.org.uk.

 

ANNEX – THE REPRESENTATIVE COMMITTEE

a) The Representative Committee

A committee of representatives (the “Representative Committee”) will be elected from among the Group Claim Clients. Each case against each university will have a separate representative committee.

b) Election

There are to be five members of the Representative Committee.

We will, at a time we deem reasonable, write to all Group Claim Clients to invite volunteers to form the Representative Committee. If more than five Group Claim Clients volunteer, an election will take place to determine the membership of the Representative Committee.

Election of the members of the Representative Committee will take place as follows. We will send voting instructions to each Group Claim Client, including details of each of the candidates. Each Group Claim Client will be allowed five votes, each of which must be used for a different candidate. The five candidates to receive the most votes will be duly elected as members of the Representative Committee. If two or more candidates receive the same amount of votes, a coin toss (or series of coin tosses if needed) will be used as a tie-breaker.

c) Term of membership

The members of the Representative Committee will serve as members for the entire duration of the Group Claim unless they are removed or resign in accordance with these terms and conditions.

d) Removal and resignation

A member of the Representative Committee may be removed if a “Removal Event” as defined below occurs, and in a subsequent vote by the Group Claim Clients, a simple majority of those who voted are in favour of removal.

A Removal Event is defined as either: (a) we propose a member’s removal in writing to all of the Group Claim Clients; or (b) at least 10% of the Group Claim Clients propose a member’s removal in writing to us within the space of 28 days.

A member of the Representative Committee may also resign their position by notifying us in writing.

If a member of the Representative Committee is removed or resigns, a new member shall be elected using the process set out in paragraph (b) above, except with each Group Claim Client only having one vote and only one new member being elected.

e) Function

You agree to the Representative Committee members acting as your agents in respect of your instruction of the Joint Solicitors, the Dispute and the Group Claim. This is regardless of whether you participate/participated in the election of the Representative Committee members, and regardless of whether the Representative Committee members were elected before you agree to these terms and conditions. You agree not to revoke this agency under any circumstances other than via the removal of a member under the terms above regarding removal.

The Representative Committee will carry out all functions on your behalf in respect of the Dispute and Group Claim except for in respect of Major Issues (as defined below). For the avoidance of doubt, this includes, by way of example only:

  • agreeing engagement terms with us to supplement the terms set out here, including hourly rates for our work, barrister fees and other expenses such as expert witness fees, subject to clause 6 of the engagement terms;
  • agreeing terms for litigation funding with a funder;
  • agreeing terms for after-the-event insurance with an insurance company;
  • instructing us to commence claims, make interim applications, hire barristers and experts and generally conduct litigation on your behalf.

In the event of a disagreement amongst the members of the Representative Committee regarding any matter, the view of the majority of its members shall prevail.

f) Major Issues

The Group Claim Clients will retain the right to decide whether certain actions should be taken, regardless of the view of the Representative Committee. These actions are defined as “Major Issues”. The following is a comprehensive list of the actions which constitute Major Issues:

  • electing or removing members of the Representative Committee (as outlined above);
  • discontinuing claims;
  • making or accepting settlement offers.

The view of the simple majority of those who vote regarding a Major Issue will prevail.

In respect of discontinuance of claims and settlement offers, only those Group Claim Members affected by the proposed discontinuance or settlement will be entitled to vote in respect of the relevant issue.

g) Period before election of Representative Committee

Before the election of the Representative Committee, you agree not to give us any instructions in respect of the Dispute or the Group Claim.