Public sector and not for profit

Hugh James is a full-service law firm with a breadth and depth of expertise. Our understanding of the issues and pressures in this sector is the result of our unrivalled experience of working with the public and not for profit sector in Wales and across the UK over many years.

We provide clear and practical advice and act for a broad range of public sector clients, from the Welsh Government, UK central government departments and local government authorities to non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies.

Many of our lawyers have worked in-house within the sector and appreciate the pressures involved, whilst a number have been on secondments to our public sector clients.

Our range of public sector legal services means we can offer the complete legal package. Our public sector team is made up from legal specialists from across the firm who regularly advise on the issues facing the public sector.

Social housing

We are passionate about social housing and committed to working in partnership with our clients to make real differences in their communities.

Over the last 30 years, we have established ourselves as a leading social housing law firm, ranked in the top tier by the legal directories.

Today we count more than 40 housing associations and local authorities among our clients. In addition to handling the day to day legal requirements of a busy registered social landlord, our in-depth knowledge of the banking sector is particularly valuable in helping housing association borrowers negotiate complex facility agreements.

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Commercial services and procurement

The Hugh James commercial team has been supporting public sector procurement and legal teams in complying with public procurement legislation for more than ten years. Given the present climate we are now seeing more challenges than ever against procurement projects thus making it essential the regulations are followed.

The team also provides advice on a range of commercial issues such as, day to day support and advice to clients on the drafting, use and interpretation of contracts. The commercial services team also advise on commercial projects, outsourcing, information technology and competition/state aid.

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Commercial dispute resolution

Our public sector lawyers are specialists in providing the public sector with dispute management advice.

Minimising costs, damage and disruption is always critical. We provide a complete legal service for all aspects of commercial litigation and dispute management including:

  • judicial review;
  • challenges to procurement procedures;
  • contractual disputes;
  • defamation claims;
  • information technology disputes;
  • insolvency;
  • intellectual property disputes;
  • liability claims; and
  • debt recovery.

Our lawyers include trained mediators and specialists in negotiation, mediation and other means of alternative dispute resolution.

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The Hugh James employment team provides a comprehensive range of services in dealing with professional and operational HR issues and handles a variety of employment work including employment law advice and tribunal representation, HR consultancy, and training.

Our public sector employment experience includes:

  • General and ongoing advice to a number of education institutions on a wide variety of issues including issues around fixed term employees, collective and individual grievances including industrial relations disputes; policy reviews, restructuring and potential redundancies. age discrimination and part time pension claims.
  • Advising a number of individuals in relation to issues surrounding pay progression on the nationally agreed higher education pay scales and retention of “silver book” terms of employment. This has resulted in advising on a number of grievances and potential litigation.
  • Advising an education sector client throughout a difficult disciplinary issue concerning allegations of unacceptable professional behaviour. This led to the individual being reported to the National Assembly under the provisions of the Education (Restriction of Employment (Wales)) Regulations 2000. The case was handled sensitively ensuring that both the client and individual were protected as far as possible from potentially damaging publicity.
  • Advising public sector clients in respect of Trade Union matters. We advised one client on how to integrate a recognition agreement with staff consultation on a voluntary basis and resist an application for Trade Union recognition before the CAC in relation to the correct bargaining unit.
  • Advising several public sector clients on a number of ill-health issues, particularly with regard to employees who have been off on long term sick.
  • Advising the Wales Audit Office on a number of matters, including issues arising out the implementation of an agreed job evaluation process.
  • Advising a large Housing Association client on the harmonisation of terms and conditions of employment following a TUPE transfer including complex issues regarding provision of pension benefits. This resulted in successfully defending a multi party claim in relation to imposed changes to terms and conditions of employment.

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Property and construction

Our property and construction legal specialists are experienced in delivering a full range of property services to the public sector, including advice on major regeneration projects.

We deal with all aspects of property work including:

  • acquisitions;
  • disposals;
  • leases;
  • licences;
  • tenancies;
  • planning and infrastructure agreements;
  • collaboration and consortium agreements;
  • commercial land development;
  • energy and regeneration projects;
  • easements and wayleaves;
  • and boundary and construction issues.

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Health and safety

Unlike other forms of crime, proof of intent, knowledge or neglect is not a pre-requisite to prosecution. The HSE and other enforcement agencies such as the police, local authorities and the Environment Agency enforce the law with a presumption in favour of prosecution.

Our specialist team has extensive experience of these cases in sectors such as construction, waste management, transport, quarries, leisure and healthcare. The team has a UK wide practice which encompasses joint police and HSE investigations and prosecutions as well as inquests.

Our experience includes fatal health and safety prosecutions including corporate manslaughter. The introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 will make it easier to prosecute and convict organisations in both the private and public sectors for workplace fatalities.

We have presented training on corporate manslaughter throughout the UK to sectors including construction, insurance and healthcare and have advised both local and national government departments on the implication of this new legislation on projects such as transport management plans.

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Public law and governance

The Hugh James Corporate team regularly advises public bodies on the incorporation of and the ongoing constitutional and regulatory advice.

With the increasing popularity of partnering/collaborative working and the move towards public/private consortia, our experience in establishing and advising on joint venture agreements and collaborative agreements demonstrates that we provide sound legal and commercial advice.

We have acted on a number of high level joint ventures and consortia and are well aware of the legal, regulatory and public law requirements and issues that clients would need to consider when entering into such arrangements.

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The Hugh James ILM accredited training service is often asked by public sector organisations to provide standard and bespoke training courses on a variety of subjects.

Some specific examples include:

  • close links with UWIC Business School as a result of being invited to lecture students over the past two academic years on the Law and Human Resource Management module of the BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree. We have lectured on the Level 1 Core Module of Legal and Management principles on topics such as age discrimination, Employment Tribunal practice and procedure and the settlement of employment disputes. Our involvement has extended further to the Level 2 option module of Law, Equality and Diversity, where we have conducted tutorial sessions on discrimination and assisted students in preparing for a Mock Employment Tribunal hearing, as well as conducting Mock Tribunal proceedings; and
  • close connections with Cardiff University Law School including chairing the annual mock tribunal for students.

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Corporate finance

The Hugh James banking and finance lawyers are dedicated to advising and supporting clients in respect of their financial activities.

Whilst we receive many banking instructions from financial lenders a large part of our work is in acting for borrowers and, in particular, borrowers such as housing associations, educational and charitable establishments and other companies who are not in the mainstream, such as the Welsh Rugby Union Limited/Millennium Stadium plc.

The team also assist the Welsh Government’s Corporate Finance arm, Finance Wales. We also act for the providers of grant funding.

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Clients include Forestry Commission Wales, Cadw, and Finance Wales, and the firm is on panel for the SWWLA and NWLA frameworks, and for a number of other authorities in South Wales and England. In 2012 it advised on the mortgage indemnity scheme, and on the Welsh Government’s Transport and Strategic Regeneration Project.
The Legal 500 2013

Hugh James’ public sector strength is property oriented. It has considerable strength in social housing, advising across the whole range of issues, from management issues such as anti-social behaviour to funding facilities, and on major procurements. Its strength in construction, planning and employment has won it panel positions with the Welsh government, and the North and the South West Wales legal frameworks.
The Legal 500 2012

This firm acts for a huge swathe of public bodies including the Welsh Government, the Environment Agency and Finance Wales in all areas of public law.
Chambers UK 2013

Hugh James advises various public bodies such as VOSA, The Crown Estate, and Welsh local authorities. Recent highlights include procuring a multimillion-pound partnership project for Cardiff Council, and advising the Welsh Assembly Government on housing stock transfers. The cross-departmental team includes practice head Ioan Prydderch, litigator Gareth Williams, and property lawyers David Roberts and Peter Hurn. Childcare head Mark Powell QC is lauded for his ‘practical approach and superb advocacy’.
The Legal 500 2010

They are responsive, customer-focused and prompt.

Chambers UK 2016


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114 - 116 St. Mary Street
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Tel: 029 2022 4871
Fax: 029 2038 8222

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Fax: 020 3053 8562

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