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Leigh Day issue first Letter Before Action in the University Strikes Student Claim

Leigh Day, acting on behalf of Cathy Olphin, a first year student at Lancaster University, has now sent what is believed to be the first Letter Before Action to a University in the UK, explaining that Ms Olphin is intending to bring a legal claim for compensation against the University.

Posted on 04 May 2018

Ms Olphin’s claim arises out of the University’s alleged breach of her contractual rights as a result of its failure to provide the lecturer contact time to which she argues she was contractually entitled and for which she is required to pay annual tuition fees of 9250GBP.
The letter cites the fact that all students are protected by the terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, and that when a student accepts a place at a University in response to a formal offer letter a contract is formed: Consequently, in the event that a University fails to provide the substance, quality and quantity of tuition time to which students are contractually entitled they may well be able to enforce their statutory rights as consumers.
Zahra Nanji on behalf of Leigh Day, commented: ‘This is an important first step in holding not only Lancaster University to account but also the 64 other universities across the country who failed to provide students with the tuition time for which they are now expected to pay more than ever before. In a time of such economic uncertainty it is vital that students have the security of knowing that no matter what the job market is doing, or the wider British economy, they will at least have had the full benefit of the education for which they are paying. Leigh Day believe that legal action is now the best way to ensure that students’ voices are heard on this issue.
This is not about undermining the lecturers’ right to strike, at Leigh Day we well understand the importance of standing up for all human rights, including employment rights; indeed we are hopeful that by enforcing their rights as consumers students can reinforce the fact that their lecturers’ time and skills are hugely valuable and that their current pension rights should be safeguarded.’
Ms Olphin and students at other universities across the UK have been disappointed by the lack of responsiveness on the part of universities to their requests for advice, assurances and compensation for those affected by the strike. Many have written directly to their Vice Chancellors, and thousands have signed petitions through the website change.org, demanding compensation.
The Letter Before Action now served on Lancaster University, gives the Vice Chancellor three weeks to respond before Ms Olphin will consider next steps which may include issuing legal proceedings against the University.
Leigh Day have now been approached by many hundreds of students across the country: The team will be organizing meetings across the UK at the end of the month to meet those affected. For more information about the meetings that are being held please contact uniclaims@leighday.co.uk