Law schools ‘not immune from student class action’
By Monidipa Fouzder >>
(30 November 2022)
A multi-million-pound group legal action against universities over Covid and strike disruption could extend to law schools, the Gazette has learned – as the number of law students joining the claim approaches 3,000.
More than 30,000 students across England and Wales have joined the ‘Student Group Claim’ seeking compensation from universities over disruption caused by staff strikes and the pandemic. The legal challenge is being led by law firms Asserson and Harcus Parker.
Letters before claim have been sent to 18 universities. In February, the High Court will decide whether to issue a group litigation order in relation to a claim against University College London.
Ryan Dunleavy, a partner at Harcus Parker, told the Gazette that just under 3,000 law students have joined the group claim so far. ‘Our most advanced cases on behalf of law students are against universities, largely because most of our clients have studied at those larger institutions, but increasing numbers of students and former students from law schools are approaching us via the Student Group Claim website,’ he said.
‘They are also asking us to bring cases on their behalf for loss of in-person teaching and access to facilities due to the pandemic. Although we have not formally engaged with the law schools yet in those cases, we are actively investigating those cases with a view to taking them forward.’
According to the Student Group Claim website, the litigation is being conducted on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Students will keep at least 65% of any compensation, with the remainder covering legal fees.
Should a group claim fail, students will not have to pay. The website states that suitable insurance or other cover will be in place to protect them should the university seek legal costs. How much compensation students receive will depend on what courses they are on, university fees and how their experience was affected by strikes and Covid, but the firms estimate that students will be able to claim on average £5,000 or more.
The claim is being supported by litigation funding and insurance worth £13.5m.
(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)