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Commercial contract review for academies and schools

Academies and schools frequently enter into commercial arrangements for the supply of goods and services, this being a fundamental part of operating and maintaining a school. Browne Jacobson can offer support by way of a contract review before you enter into any legally binding arrangements.

Any type of purchase or supply agreement, be it verbal or written, will inevitably be contractual and there are certain key issues you ought to consider before entering into any legally binding agreements or arrangements.

As public bodies, academies and schools have a duty to ensure that they get value for money from spending public funds. For academies, this is no clearer than as set out in the Academies Trust Handbook which expressly states: “The trust must take full responsibility for its financial affairs, stewardship of assets and use resources efficiently to maximise outcomes for pupils”.

Besides the legal connotations of entering into a legally binding contractual arrangement, other reasons for being more diligent when entering into any contractual relationships are:

  • increasingly restricted school budgets mean there’s a greater onus on schools to achieve better value for money when purchasing goods and services
  • the economic climate is such that there’s greater financial scrutiny in schools and on their spending of public funds
  • there have been some well-publicised issues concerning onerous contracts that have been entered into by schools
  • for academies, the Academies Trust Handbook includes (amongst others) important rules on procurement and transactions with connected parties as well as the entering into of indemnities outside the normal course of business
  • avoiding negative PR for the school or academy trust
  • the changes to the education sector mean an increasing number of service providers are entering the market, meaning schools ought to be more demanding with the contracts they enter into to achieve a greater level of service.

Contracts come in many different forms, differing in length, value and type of arrangement. Faced with the financial, legal and limitation of risk factors it’s sensible to get a legal review. Our contract review service will be presented by way of written report, highlighting any key issues and flagging any unusual terms (if any) which ought to be considered. We provide practical as well as legal advice.

To be able to offer a fixed fee for a contract review we would require sight of the proposed contract and we’ll then provide you with a scope and an indication of our costs giving you assurance and ensuring a robust commercial process.

 

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