Q&A with law firm Leigh Day
We met at the Mitre
18:32 THERE'S FREE WINE
18:34 So the talk begins…
18:35 A little bit about Leigh Day. They are a law firm that specialises in "David and Goliath" cases (on the side of David) in many fields like fair pay and worker's rights and are now fighting for students in the battle for reimbursement.
18:39 The grounds of the case is essentially that students did not receive the service they paid for during the strike action. So now it has come to legal action.
18:42 Over 200 Southampton students have approached Leigh Day since the strikes.
90% of these students pay for university through the means of tuition fee loans.
18:43 The claim Leigh Day are making is for breach of contract between students and the university. They failed to provide teaching during the strike period. They have also failed to take adequate steps to support students who have been affected by the industrial action. The nature of the breach is likely to vary on individual cases.
18:46 Leigh Day are shocked that the majority of the audience actually haven't had exams cancelled, however people have had extensions for their dissertations.
It is clear that different departments have had different mitigation responses to each other with some handing out extensions and others not.
18:48 An audience member says they've found the response of 'we're treating it a sick day' as quite insulting.
18:49 Certain tutors have taken certain topics out of exams out of a result.
'You've paid for those hours you should have a refund'
18:51 An audience member says he had the chance to talk to the VC and said he tried to justify it, saying the uni is in the contract with the students for just getting students their degree.
18:53 Leigh Day were also shocked that some students had three weeks worth of lectures cancelled.
18:54 Students are entitled to be compensated in damages for loss arising from a breach. Leigh Day believe students can be refunded which does not just include the value of the missed lectures but also other resources and facilities that were not available.
18:56 Likely compensation? This is a rough average calculated by the firm. A typical undergraduate student might receive around £720 and around £1000 for an international student.
18:58 Leigh Day warn the university might fight this all the way to court. The university may have a different interpretation of the contract with its students. But, Leigh Day hope that the university will nip these cases in the bud by coming to the negotiating table early rather than fighting it all the way to court.
19:00 "The more of you there are, the louder your voice."
19:02 The point is made that in a "no win" result for Leigh Day, students do not pay the firm. But, if we win Leigh Day are entitled to a success fee of up to around 25%.
The firm also stresses that there are other solicitors we can go to and other methods of redress that any student can take up.
19:04 An audience member asks if this will be one national court case or one specific to Southampton.
Leigh Day says there maybe multiple group litigation orders, each group sharing the risks and the benefits. The courts may consolidate each group order (such as Southampton, Leeds etc) into one order. The more people within the action, the less the cost for each individual within the claim.
19:07 'Can't guarantee the uni would have a sensible approach'
19:09 'We can't have one representative that would bring the case. In the UK it has to be a named individual, which is why people need to be fully engaged.'
19:11 A current client of Leigh Day's has tried crowd funding for their case.
19:14 An audience member comments that many lecturers did things that they weren't supposed to do such as upload documents and have separate meetings with students, which is effectively a breach of contract with their union. Leigh Day says this is something they will need to look at.
19:16 Leigh Day says they'll need subject specific course material and timetables, as they may be evidence to how many hours you were supposed to have.
19:17 There is a claim every student can join. To join the action you will need to complete this survey.
19:20 I've just accidentally spilt the free wine. The Lord giveth, and then He taketh away.
19:27 Leigh Day says the claim will depend on individual circumstances, they need to make an assessment to see possible outcomes.
An audience member asks if there is a minimum number of students to be a part of the claim for it to be taken off the ground. Leigh Day says they need to do the maths, and it depends on how the universities react.
19:29 Leigh Day believes the University should refund the students, not the loan company. They should refund students directly.
'Expect to be in it for the long haul. It may take 2/3 years, it may go to trial. The sooner they deal with it, the less insurance it will take.
19:33 Leigh Day are currently building up their legal team. The firm and barrister team have specialists in Education and Contract Law.
That wraps up everything, thanks to all our readers, TAB LOVE PEACE OUT XOXO