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Governing bodies need legal protection, because there are a whole series of situations where legal action could be taken against a school, and in many cases the governing body is the legal authority that has to defend the claim.
Most schools will have insurance through their local authority; this will cover the costs for routine claims against a school. Some, but not all, local authorities offer governing bodies access to legal advice. The NGA believes that there are gaps in the local authority support system, and as such provides this legal service for governing bodies.
This service is open to Governing Body GOLD members of the NGA, and to local associations for issues affecting their area. It is not open to individual or governing body standard members (see footnote).
The NGA is working with leading education law firm Browne Jacobson to offer an independent service.
NGA members seeking legal advice should contact the NGA office; the first approach should be made by the chair or the clerk. NGA members should not contact Browne Jacobson directly.
GOLD members can call GOLDline on 0121 237 3782, or you can email the advice team.
NGA professional staff offer advice, supported by senior lawyers at Browne Jacobson; at the first stage, contact will be managed by NGA professional staff.
If further support is necessary, the NGA may, with the support of Browne Jacobson, initiate correspondence on a governing body’s behalf. This might include letters to third parties or responses to correspondence.
All the above is offered at no cost to NGA GOLD members.
If there is a need for further advice and support the NGA may recommend direct representation by Browne Jacobson on competitive rates of payment negotiated by the NGA. If an NGA member followed that option, the governing body would have the benefit of a fully briefed legal team and NGA professional staff would continue to offer liaison and support.
To sign up for or upgrade to GOLD membership, please call: 0121 237 3780 or join online.
This service is NOT open to individual or standard governing body members.
The NGA will support GOLD members in cases that arise from the functions of the governing body.
The NGA will support local associations in cases that arise from the work of the local association as an association. This service is not open to the individuals or schools within a local association.
The service is run at the NGA’s discretion and as such the NGA reserves the right to decline cases and/or withdraw support in such circumstances as the NGA may determine. For example: where the governing body or association does not accept or follow the advice offered.
In addition it is important to note that NGA support is offered on the condition that a governing body or association will share all information and correspondence relating to the case, whether that information supports the case or not. If a governing body or association fails to comply with this obligation, the NGA may withdraw the service.
The NGA reserves the right to decline to support governing bodies or associations in cases which predate the membership of the governing body or association.
The initial approach to the NGA must be made by the chair, or by an authorised representative of the governing body or association, with the knowledge of the chair. NGA members must, if asked to do so, demonstrate to the NGA that the governing body or association executive has voted in favour of seeking NGA advice and support. The NGA may, if a dispute continues, require governing bodies and/or associations to provide further evidence of that support in the form of governing body or executive resolutions.
Legal action should not be taken lightly; disputes can be protracted and exhausting, even when properly supported. No governing body or association should contemplate legal action of any kind unless there is clear support within the governing body or association for the action.
Footnote: Individual Members
Whilst the NGA welcomes individual members, a governing body is not a collection of individuals, but a corporate group. The NGA cannot therefore offer this service to governors as individuals. It follows that the NGA will not support actions following disputes within governing bodies or associations.