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Frequently Asked Legal Questions

What is the legal status of the University?

The former Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic became a Higher Education Corporation in 1989 under the provisions of the Education Reform Act 1988. The Further and Higher Education Act 1992 granted power to the then Polytechnic to award its own degrees, diplomas and certificates, and to adopt the title University. The title University of Northumbria at Newcastle was approved by the Privy Council in 1992 and took effect from 1 September 1992.

The Instrument and Articles of Government are the legal documents which determine the status of the University, and which define the basis for its operation.

The Instrument and Articles of Government (which replace parts of Schedule 124 of the Education Reform Act 1988 and the previous Articles of Government) were approved by the Privy Council in 1993 and 1995 respectively. The Articles of Government were formally adopted by the University's Board of Governors on 11 March 1996.

What is the University’s legal name?

The University’s legal name is ‘University of Northumbria at Newcastle’ and this title should be used on any legal documentation. ‘Northumbria University’ is the trading name of the University.

What is the University’s Company number?

As a higher education corporation, the University is not registered with Companies House and does not have a company registration number.

What is the University’s Charity number?

The University is classed as an exempt charity within the meaning of the Charities Act 1993 (as amended by the Charities Act 2006). Certain charities are 'exempt' from Charity Commission supervision because they are considered to be adequately supervised by, or accountable to, another authority. Although not subject to Charity Commission jurisdiction, an exempt charity is subject to the legal rules generally applicable to charities. It is therefore subject to charity legislation but is not required to register with the Charity Commission and is not regulated by it. The University therefore does not have a Charity number. The University is now regulated by HEFCE in respect of its charity law compliance.

Do all legal contracts need to be checked by the LST?

Yes, all contracts that are to be entered into on behalf of the University should be reviewed by the Legal Services Team (LST). In order to provide an effective service we require comprehensive background information to the proposed contract and the information should be provided in plenty of time before the deadline for signature in order to resolve any issues that may arise.

If a invitation to tender requires the University to sign acceptance to their terms and conditions we need to review the contract before the response to the tender is submitted. This is to ensure that the standard terms and conditions are acceptable to the University and to negotiate any required amendments to the terms and conditions before the award of the contract.

Who can sign contracts on behalf of the University?

The financial value of the contract will determine who the authorised signatory should be. The Financial Regulations set out the authority levels for purchasing, delegated authorities and contracts.

What are the University’s procedures when court or similar action is threatened against the University?

The LST is responsible for the review and management of all cases where the University institutes or defends proceedings in the courts or other tribunals.

The LST will advise the University where proceedings are threatened, or where there are thought to be good grounds for initiating proceedings. Where external solicitors are instructed, the LST are responsible for the management of the proceedings in conjunction with the department or school concerned and to ensure that external representatives have access to all relevant material and to report to the University Executive on matters of difficulty.

If you become aware of a problem which has a potential for litigation, you should bring the matter to the attention of the LST and/or the University’s Insurance Officer as soon as possible.

No member or officer of the University should make any response or comment in relation to a threat of litigation which has the potential to compromise the University’s position without the advice of the LST.

Legal Services Team

The Legal Services Team (LST) provides a range of services including Legal Advice, Records and Information Management, Data Protection and Freedom of Information compliance and the handling of Student Appeals and Complaints.

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