Dear Mr Tillman,

I understand that the council has recently instructed external solicitors to provide a new Joint Working Agreement for the Swansea Bay City Deal to replace an earlier draft which could not be agreed upon by the partners.
Please could you provide:
A copy of the draft JWA which has now been rejected and the total paid by the council for commissioning this earlier draft and any subsequent amendments before it was rejected.
If this was a shared cost please provide a breakdown of cost per partner.

Thank you,

Jacqui Thompson

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Mrs Thompson

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 1st November, 2017 and is being dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We are therefore required to provide a response within 20 working days, which will be on or before 29th November, 2017.

If we require clarification we will also contact you as soon as we can – please note that the timescale for response specified above may be subject to change if this is the case.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries, remembering to quote the reference number above in any communications.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
(Rheolwr) Tîm Llywodraethu Gwybodaeth a Chwynion Adran Adfywio a Pholisi Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
(Manager) Information Governance & Complaints Team
Regeneration & Policy Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Mewnol/Internal: 4127
Allanol/External: 01267 224127

Dear Mr Tillman,

Just a reminder that I should have had a response to this request on or before the 29th November 2017.

Yours sincerely,

Jacqui Thompson

Dear Mr Tillman,

I would be grateful for a response to this request as it is now considerably overdue, as was my previous request.
I would appreciate an explanation for the continuing delay.

Yours sincerely,

Jacqui Thompson

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Ms Thompson,
I refer to your request for information, which was received on 1st
November, 2017 and has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.  Please accept my apologies for the delay in providing this
response.

The specific information you requested was as follows:

"1. A copy of the draft JWA [Joint Working Agreement for the Swansea Bay
City Deal] which has now been rejected and the total paid by the council
for commissioning this earlier draft and any subsequent amendments before
it was rejected.

2. If this was a shared cost please provide a breakdown of cost per
partner."

In response to the second part of your request, Carmarthenshire County
Council has not paid towards the cost of this work.

With regard to your request for a copy of the draft Joint Working
Agreement, whilst we do hold this information, after careful
consideration, I am of the view that it cannot be disclosed for reasons I
will set out below.

I am of the view that this draft agreement forms part of communications
between a legal professional and their client (the Council). 

In Bellamy v the Information Commissioner and the Secretary of State for
Trade and Industry (EA/2005/0023, 4th April, 2006), the Information
Tribunal provide the following, clear definition of legal professional
privilege:
“a set of rules or principles which are designed to protect the
confidentiality of legal or legally related communications and exchanges
between the client and his, her or its lawyers, as well as exchanges which
contain or refer to legal advice which might be imparted to the client,
and even exchanges between the clients and [third] parties if such
communications or exchanges come into being for the purposes of preparing
for litigation.”

The Bellamy decision also defined two types of privilege, namely
litigation and advice privilege.  I believe in this case that the draft
agreement is subject to advice privilege, which applies where no
litigation is in progress or being contemplated.  This would include
confidential communications between the legal professional and the client,
for the main purpose of seeking or giving legal advice.  A draft
agreement, by its very nature, will be a form of legal advice.

Under Section 42 of the Act, a public authority may refuse to provide
information where a claim to legal professional privilege could be
maintained.  In view of the above, I believe this exemption is therefore
engaged.

However, the Section 42 exemption is qualified and subject to a public
interest test.  In doing so, I must make a distinction between what is
genuinely in the public interest and what may merely be of interest to a
member of members of the public. 

I accept that there are public interest factors which favour disclosure in
this case, namely transparency and furthering public knowledge in relation
to a high profile project involving the expenditure of significant public
funds.

However, there is an inherent public interest in maintaining this
exemption, which will always be strong due to the importance of the
principle behind legal professional privilege, which is to protect the
privacy of communications between client and lawyer to ensure access to
full and frank legal advice, which in turn is fundamental to the
administration of justice.  I am not persuaded on this occasion that this
is outweighed by the factors favouring disclosure set out above. 
Accordingly, I believe the exemption should be maintained and the
information withheld from disclosure.
                                                                       
               
As I am refusing to provide the requested information, please therefore
consider this email to be a formal notice of refusal under Section 17 of
the Act.

Your right of appeal

If you are unhappy with the way in which your request has been handled,
you can request a review by writing to:

The Head of Administration & Law
Carmarthenshire County Council
County Hall
Carmarthen
SA31 1JP

Email: [1][email address]

If you remain unhappy with the handling of your request or complaint, you
have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: [2]www.ico.gov.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Adran Adfywio a Pholisi
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Regeneration & Leisure Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Mewnol/Internal: 4127
Allanol/External: 01267 224127

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Dear Mr Tillman,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Carmarthenshire Council's handling of my FOI request 'City Deal - Draft Agreement'.

I am writing to ask for an internal review of decision to refuse my freedom of information request because I believe the Council has misinterpreted the ICO's guidelines in a way which dramatically increases the scope of exemptions under Advice Privilege.

While I accept that correspondence between a legal adviser and a client, in this case a local authority, may in some circumstances be covered by Advice Privilege when it concerns specific legal problems; an agreement, draft or otherwise, between public bodies does not constitute legal advice.

The logic of your argument is to extend Advice Privilege to all documents which have involved professional legal advice, something which would cover a significant proportion of all the agreements, reports and other documentation produced by local authorities. Indeed, logically the exemption would extend to all agreements and legal texts such as the Council's Constitution even after they have been approved and adopted.

In the case of the draft agreement requested, it is clear that the document was circulated to other authorities covered by the City Deal, and some of those authorities made the document available to their councillors. It is therefore reasonable to assume that we are talking about a draft agreement in the normal, accepted sense of the term, and not a bundle of correspondence between legal advisers and their clients.

By applying a blanket exemption under Advice Privilege in this way, there is of course no way in which the public or other external interested parties could know whether or not legal advice has been sought, or the extent of any input by legal advisers.

That is clearly not in the spirit of FOIA or the ICO's guidelines.

On the matter of public interest, you will be aware that there has been media coverage of the delays and differing views expressed about the progress being made towards implementing the City Deal. Contrary to what you suggest, this is not a personal obsession.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours sincerely,

Jacqui Thompson

Robert Edgecombe, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Mrs Thompson,

Your email requesting an internal review in this matter has been passed to me to deal with.

As you know I would normally try to provide a substantive response to a review request within 20 working days of its receipt. However in this instance I am conscious that I am on leave from today until the 2nd January. In the circumstances would you be willing for the 20 working days to start running from my return to work?

Yours sincerely
Robert Edgecombe

show quoted sections

Dear Mr Edgecombe,

Yes that is acceptable.
Given the revised timescale, I expect to receive your response on or before the 29th January 2017.

Yours sincerely,

Jacqui Thompson

caebrwyn left an annotation ()

As above, the current status of this request is not 'delayed', I am awaiting the outcome of an internal review which should be issued by the end of January.

Robert Edgecombe, Carmarthenshire Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mrs Thompson,

 

Please find enclosed the Council’s response to your request for an
internal review in this case

 

Yours sincerely

Robert Edgecombe

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