Managing disputes

They are very realistic and have an integrity which has won them their reputation and means that they get listened to.

Chambers UK

Responding to the commercial and regulatory challenges faced by the education sector inevitably requires universities and colleges to examine and adapt their existing contractual relationships and forge new ones with students, suppliers of services and collaboration and accreditation partners.

Inevitably, as with any business, this can create the conditions for disputes which may be expensive and time-consuming to resolve and which divert scarce resources from the education service provider. Penningtons Manches Cooper’s skilled dispute resolution team offers speedy, commercially aware and cost-effective solutions. We work collaboratively with our clients providing them with positioning advice to avoid dispute escalation, mediation and full support during any legal proceedings, whether through the court system or arbitration.

Our team works closely with the firm's immigration, commercial and employment teams to provide higher and further education clients with a seamless service that addresses all contractual dispute resolution issues. Typically, the dispute resolution team gets involved with actual or potential breaches of students' visa conditions (and, therefore, their contract with our clients) and disputes between colleges and education partners such as accreditation bodies, other universities or overseas agencies.

While much of our work involves resolving disputes that have arisen as a result of inadequate monitoring and compliance; failures by students to comply with their visa obligations; unclear or inadequate contractual documentation; and, in some cases, rogue activity, we are increasingly advising clients on how to prevent these potential issues through audits, better monitoring and risk management systems, and reviewing terms and conditions with students. We recognise the importance of the foreign student market for many universities and colleges and their need to protect both this vital revenue stream and their HTS status.

We offer expert advice on:

  • resolution of disputes, including by mediation
  • advising on student contracts
  • advising on the Equality Act
  • negotiating compromise agreements
  • advising on contract termination/severance and recovery of fees/monies outstanding
  • complaints to the Office of the Independent Adjudication

Recent work highlights

Threat to university reputation averted

Resolving a potentially damaging situation for a UK university caused by a rogue overseas collaboration partner which could have seriously comprised its reputation and risked the loss of its Tier 4 licence.

Successful negotiation with Home Office

Achieving a successful outcome for a high profile private sector educational establishment following negotiations with the Home Office. The education provider had initially been subjected to an investigation prior to the granting of its HTS licence.

Mediation day to resolve relationship breakdown

Setting up a day of mediation to attempt the resolve the breakdown in the relationship between a private college offering technology courses and the university that provided accreditations for its courses.

Related expertise

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP