Frequently asked questions
This section provides answers to some of the most frequent questions the Legal Services Office receives.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the College's legal status?
The College is an independent corporation whose legal status derives from a Royal Charter granted under Letters Patent in 1907. Its objects, powers and framework of governance are set out in its Charter and Statutes, which were governed by Her Majesty The Queen in 1998. On 4 April 2007 a Supplemental Charter and Statutes were granted by Her Majesty. This Supplemental Charter, which came into force on the date of the College's Centenary, 8 July 2007, established the College as a university with the name and style of "The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine".
The College is an exempt charity (not a registered charity) by virtue of the Exempt Charities Order 1962, and the Second Schedule to the Charities Act 1993. This means that the College enjoys all the privileges of charitable status (including exemption from income and corporation tax on its activities to the extent that they are in support of its primary purposes) without the obligation to register with, or submit accounts and annual returns to, the Charity Commission.
In accordance with the Charities Act 2006, the Charity Commission appointed the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) as the principal regulator for all English higher education institutions. Consequently, HEFCE is responsible for ensuring the College complies with charity law.
Further details of the College's legal status and governance (including links to the College's Charter and Statutes) can be found at the College Governance page: College Governance.
Who can sign legal documents on behalf of the College?
The answer to this question will depend on the type of contract being signed and the value of such contract. In order to determine who has authority to sign a document on behalf of the College, please see Appendix 1 to the Financial Regulations, Levels of Authority: Financial Regulations
I have been asked to have the signing of a document notarised. What does this mean?
Sometimes the counterparty to an agreement will require that a Notary Public attest the signature and execution of a document. This often occurs where the counterparty we are dealing with is from another country.
In order to have such document notarised, we would need to engage the services of a Notary Public.
If you require the services of a Notary Public, please contact the Legal Services Office. We will be able to provide you with a list of Notaries that have been used by the College in the past.
What is a Deed?
A deed is a document in writing which is usually executed in a special way, often under seal. The most common reason for using a deed is where one party is not providing consideration or where the parties wish the agreement to be enforceable for a longer period than the usual 6 years. Deeds are also required in respect of some property transactions.
The College executes deeds by affixing its Common Seal in the presence of two authorised College Officers. The Seal is held by the College Secretary. Please note that although the College is required to sign deeds under seal, the counterparty may not necessarily be required to do so.
For a list of Officers of the College authorised to witness the affixing of the Common Seal, please see Ordinance D3, Officers of the University: Charters, Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations.
Do I need to get my document sealed?
The common seal of the College is only to be used on documents where the seal is required by law. The law requires that all deeds entered into by the College will need to be sealed. All other agreements may be signed by the person/s authorised in accordance with the Financial Regulations.
The College executes deeds by affixing its Common Seal in the presence of two authorised College Officers. The Seal is held by the College Secretary. If you have a document that needs to be sealed, please contact Justine Soulieux, Governance Lawyer in the Central Secretariat. You will need to arrange for at least one Officer of the College to sign the document prior to sealing.
For a list of Officers of the College authorised to witness the affixing of the Common Seal, please see Ordinance D3, Officers of the University: Ordinances