Wannabe solicitor launches ‘class action’ against King’s College re-brand

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By Jessy Howard on

Students fear dropping “college” from uni’s name will hit prestige of their degree — and they want compensation


An aspiring solicitor at King’s College London is aiming to bring a “class action” to block the university from dropping the “college” from its name.

Filippo Barrera — who is studying politics and is planning to undertake the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) next year — began steps to take King’s College to court on Tuesday after the Russell Group institution announced that it is to undergo an expensive re-brand to become simply “King’s London”.

Working with a handful of other students, some of whom are studying law, Barrera has already set up a Facebook page — ‘Class action against rebranding of KCL’ — to promote the campaign, which has rapidly pulled in almost 3,000 likes. The page states that the group is “already in contact with law firms”, although Legal Cheek understands that the firm names are not being made public at this stage.

Speaking exclusively to Legal Cheek yesterday, Barrera suggested that the £300,000 re-branding could lead to financial loss for King’s students as it is likely to lower the esteem in which King’s College is held by the general public. He commented:

“The reason I started [the class action] is that I think there are grounds for compensation if they follow through — no matter how democratic the decision is. Re-naming, re-branding or whatever they call it damages us economically.”

Other avenues are also being pursued to block the name change, with King’s theology student Emily Braddock having launched a petition on change.org to voice opposition. It has already garnered over 9,000 signatures — which is getting on for 50% of the King’s student population and is enough to trigger a public hearing at the King’s student union.

But Barrera is pessimistic about the petition’s prospects of success:

“Student representatives have failed to inform us and defend us, clearly either they are in bed with the rest of the council, or the council is just too stubborn to understand whatever the KCLSU (King’s College London Student Union) leadership has raised. So that calls for the formation of a class action lawsuit,” he said.

King’s decision to re-brand came about after 18 months of research, which apparently showed that the name “causes considerable confusion” as some prospective students can’t tell whether King’s College London is actually a university.

However, despite the considerable expense of the re-brand, King’s won’t be changing its name legally — which would require approval from the Privy Council — and so, confusingly, will technically still be King’s College London after the scheduled change to its non-legal name in February next year.