The education sector in Scotland is unique. The amount of regulation and legal issues that arise continues to grow, both in terms of number and complexity.
BTO's education team has been advising clients within the sector for many years, ensuring that the legal, commercial and practical issues are fully understood and placed in proper context. The team advises institutions, senior staff and related bodies within the sector providing innovative solutions on a regular basis.
The team advises on the myriad of legal and commercial challenges facing education establishments from property and real estate, to litigation, health and safety, employment and HR, intellectual property data protection matters, and corporate and commercial issues. The team also offers practical training packages.
- Employment law and HR advice to an institution
Providing ongoing employment law and HR advice to an educational institution. In addition to working with the leadership team, managers and HR team, we work closely with the Board. We also train senior staff in employment law and related matters.
We provide day to day support in terms of managing staff which involves a large number of differing issues, from disciplinary and grievance issues, to flexible working, discrimination matters and contractual queries. We have also defended a complex discriminatory pay claim raised in Court, which gave rise to complex discrimination law and collective bargaining issues.
- Equality issues
Providing advice and assistance in connection with various equality issues, including equal pay and the equality duties. This has included advising in connection with complex equal value issues which have given rise to considerable litigation in Scotland.
- Contractual issues
Reliance on flexible labour resulted in complex contractual positions involving different contracts for one educational institution. We advised our client on contractual issues and in relation to fixed term employee, part time worker discrimination, and age and disability discrimination issues. On a number of occasions, we advised on complex matters involving these different types of workers and their rights (for example when dealing with voluntary severance, dismissals or restructures). This gave rise to complex issues of age discrimination given the differing benefits depending upon age.
- Industrial relations
Assisting our client to manage significant challenges in the industrial relations sphere, giving rise to complex issues of industrial relations law and practice, including complicated and controversial issues relating to trade unions and staff. We also assist in relation to a number of complex matters, including Settlement Agreements, unlawful detriment on trade union grounds and Tribunal claims.
- Data protection issues
Acting on behalf of a private school which had encountered pupils whose behaviour was contrary to school policy. The parent of one pupil served the school with a Subject Access Request in the name of the pupil, under the Data Protection Act. The school required urgent advice as to the scope of the subject access request and the searches it ought to carry out. Having run a number of search parameters on its IT systems, the school then identified more than 110,000 pieces of data that were potentially caught by the request due to the very extensive use of email by the pupils. We were required to advise the school on the law in relation to proportionate and reasonable effort to collate data. We also advised on the terms of a suitable response to the parent.
The team advises institutions and individuals regularly in connection with intellectual property, freedom of information and data protection issues (including in relation to contentious information commissioner and information tribunal matters).
- Private schools – Additional Support Needs Tribunal
Acting on behalf of a private school in connection with a claim raised against it by a former pupil for unlawful discrimination. The claim was unusual as it was raised within the Additional Supports Needs Tribunal (which has specific and unique rules, procedures and remedies). This instruction gave rise to complex issues of law and practice given the nature of the discrimination complaint (involving disability and other issues) and the procedural issues arising before this Tribunal. The case required evidence from different specialists and involved complex issues of law and practice.
- Health and safety advice
Advising an institution in connection with a serious injury following an incident within the institution. We helped guide the institution through the procedures and ensured matters were favourably resolved. We regularly advise in connection with health and safety law in practice and provide training sessions in relation to this complex area of law and regulation.
- Defence of negligence claims by students
Defending institutions from negligence claims by students and working with the institutions to manage the issues that arise in these unusual court actions. With a first rate litigation team, bto is ideally placed to assist with any dispute arising.
- Property advice
Advising in terms of complex property issues from new builds, dilapidations, commercial leases to complex finance deals. The team has considerable expertise in relation to all types of commercial property matters that arise within the sector and is adept at finding solutions.
- Charity advice
Advising institutions as to the impact of charity law within the sector which can often be overlooked.
- EU procurement law
Advising in relation to the impact of EU Procurement Regulations within the sector. This area of the law is complex and needs detailed consideration given the penalties and consequences of failure to comply.
- Advice to senior staff
Given our knowledge of and reputation in the sector, we have been consulted and instructed by a number of senior individuals, including Principals and senior managers. We have acted for a number of Principals to protect their positions given the changing landscape and issues arising. In each case, the client’s interests we have been protected and a successful resolution obtained.
- Contractual entitlements
Instructed by the management group of an institution to deal with a high value issue in connection with their contractual entitlement arising in relation to their employment. This was a high value and hotly contested matter which was favourably resolved.
- Commercial contracts and debt recovery
Drafting and enforcing commercial contracts in the education sector, including in relation to debt recovery and general litigation.