Legal costs

Ben Jones made this Freedom of Information request to Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was successful.

Dear Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust,

I understand that you are currently appealing the proposed civil monetary penalty imposed by the ICO.
I note you have instructed your lawyers and therefore I'd like to request the name of any external lawyers you have engaged in this matter. I would also like to request any costs that have so far been incurred and any recorded information about how much has been budgeted for legal costs.

Yours faithfully,

Ben Jones

James Allison,

Dear Mr Jones,

Thank you for your request for information. We anticipate that we will be able to provide you with a response within 20 working days.

Kind Regards,
James

James Allison
Information Governance Facilitator
Information Management & Technology (IM&T)
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
6th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP
Email: [email address] | Web: www.clch.nhs.uk | Tel: 020 7798 1323
   

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Dear James

Could you give an indication as to when I may expect a response to my FOI request.

Many thanks

Ben

James Allison,

Dear Mr Jones,

Thank you for your email - I am aware that today is the 20th working day following receipt of your email. I had planned to email you this afternoon, either with a response or to tell you that we needed some additional time to handle your request. As things currently stand, at 2pm, it is unlikely that I am going to be able to provide you with a full response today so as such there will be a delay in responding.

I am currently unable to say exactly how long the delay will be, but please be assured that this is receiving our attention.

Kind Regards,
James

James Allison
Information Governance Facilitator
Information Management & Technology (IM&T)
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
6th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP
Email: [email address] | Web: www.clch.nhs.uk | Tel: 020 7798 1323
   

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Dear James,

Thanks for the quick reply.

Incidentally, Whatdotheyknow had calculated that the request was due on 09 November which is why I chased it today. I think technically they have calculated the days correctly (you received the request on Saturday 13th, irrespective or whether or not that was a working day) - although I'm not too concerned with the 20 days either way.

I'll leave it with you for now - hopefully it won't be too long but if I've not received a full response by the end of the week, perhaps at that stage you could at least provide any parts of the response you are able to do so.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Jones

James Allison,

Thank you Mr Jones. Whilst I would prefer to provide you with a complete response, I will release what I have by the end of the week if I do not have anything more. I hope I will have everything before then, in any case.

It's interesting to know that Whatdotheyknow calculate their timer from the date of receipt, even if that happens to be a non-working day!

Thank you for your patience, I will endeavour to get back to you shortly.

Regards,
James

James Allison
Information Governance Facilitator
Information Management & Technology (IM&T)
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
6th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP
Email: [email address] | Web: www.clch.nhs.uk | Tel: 020 7798 1323
   

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Thanks James

Yes I can see it might usually preferable to send a response in one go, but where its late then its probably reasonable to disclose those parts you can. If it helps the part I think/hope you might be able to disclose relatively easily would be simply the name of the legal advisors - all other aspects can wait until you are ready to disclose. However, if even that aspect is a problem then don't worry too much, I don't want to divert your attention from the main bulk of the request.

Re the timeframe - I'm not 100% but I think the whatdotheyknow method is correct. As I say its not really important to me and certainly not something I would complain about but perhaps a good thing to be aware of from your point of view.

Regards

Ben

James Allison,

I am currently out of the office, returning on Wednesday 14 November.

 

If your request is urgent, please contact Rachel Adams on 020 7798 1324 or
Sheri Ekladios on 020 7963 3511.

 

If you request concerns medical record requests, please call Marie
Connolly on 020 7798 0864

 

Thank you,

James Allison
Information Governance Facilitator
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust

 

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James Allison,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Jones,

Please find the attached response to your recent request for information.

Your feedback is important to us. Please respond to this email and let us know if:

1) You are happy with the time taken to respond to your request - Yes/ No
2) Our response to your request has been properly explained - Yes/ No
3) We have given you adequate advice about what you can do next - Yes/ No

Thank you also for appreciating that the working day calculation provided by the whatdotheyknow.com website is incorrect. Under section 10(6) of The Act, “working day” is defined as any day other than a Saturday, a Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 in any part of the United Kingdom. I will write to the administrators, who I know are always looking at ways to improve the functionality of the site

Kind Regards, and thanks you for your patience,
James

James Allison
Information Governance Facilitator
Information Management & Technology (IM&T)
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
6th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP
Email: [email address] | Web: www.clch.nhs.uk | Tel: 020 7798 1323
   

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Dear James,

Thank you for providing the name of the legal advisors but I would like to request a review of the fact that you are not providing the costs.

The first comment I would make is that you have commented that disclosure “would be detrimental to their business interests and the relation between the Trust and them”.

For the exemption you have quoted to be valid, you would need to establish that a prejudice to commercial interest either would, or would be likely to occur. I accept the impact on your relationship with them can form part of the Public Interest considerations, but it is not initially valid in relation to the exemption. I will therefore initially address your position that disclosure “would be detrimental to their business interests”.

I challenge that a prejudice would, or would be likely to occur to the commercial interests of FFW. In saying this, I am mindful that the legal advice FFW provided in relation to BSUH (http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/12...) has already been disclosed.

Those legal firms who could benefit from the pricing details of services that FFW provide would already have had the opportunity to review the costs in that matter. In anycase, I have not requested a detailed breakdown of their pricing structure, such as an hourly rate, simply the total cost. I do not accept revealing what FFW have charged you in this case would be likely to prejudice their commercial interests because there is no indication of how much work they are carrying out on your behalf – I don’t think a single figure reveals a pricing structure.

As stated, Field Fisher Waterhouse is the same firm who represented BSUH in their ill fated appeal against the ICO. In that case, it was revealed that FFW received nearly one hundred and seventy thousand pounds for their advice. Even putting aside for a moment the enormity of the figure, I think the fact that the figure was disclosed already establishes that FFW must have an expectation of the fact that when they work on behalf of Public Authorities, their fees will be subject release to FOI. You suggest that suppliers (to public authorities) have an expectation that details of their charges won’t be released. I strongly challenge this point - it is well known that those who bid for public contracts may be subject to FOI. You may note that the following Decision Notice (http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/... that even those organisations who simply bid for public contracts had their bids disclosed. To suggest that all contractors to the public sector expect confidentiality is not true – and especially true of FFW given their specific recent history, as referenced above. I would concede that they may not have an expectation of a detailed breakdown of their charges released but repeat that I have not asked for an hourly breakdown of their charging structure.

With regards to your suggestion that other legal firms may not want to enter into contracts with the Trust if you disclose this information – this argument could presumably be applied to each and every contract that is carried is out on behalf of any public authority. For the reasons given above I do not accept that position and I must say I find it a little surprising you have advanced the argument given your own response earlier this year, where you released the name and amount that was paid in relation to the provision
of a telephone system. http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/11...

In anycase, page 9 of the ICO guidance on Section 43 http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/... specifically cautions that “public authorities should be wary of accepting arguments that the potential for commercial information to be released would reduce the number of companies willing to do business”.

To argue that there might be damage to the relationship between CHCH and FFW if you disclosed similar information to that has already been disclosed about them seems to be stretching credibility - but to further suggest that this could be detrimental to your appeal is very odd, as it somehow implies that they wouldn't represent you to the best of their ability if you were to comply with your statutory duty under the FOIA.

I would also like to add to the factors favouring disclosure. One must consider that FFW have already received an enormous of public money in relation to providing advice regarding a CMP. You may or may not be aware that they charged 168k and yet the end result of their efforts was the BSUH paying the fine. It is therefore of additional public interest in knowing the amount of public money that is going to be spent here. One might reasonably assume that given this matter is going to the Tribunal, the costs will actually exceed those paid to BSUH. I am extremely mindful that the fine was only 90k, which would have been 72k if you paid within a month, so if the costs incurred are anything more than that figure then unless the Tribunal also award your costs, then your decision to appeal would appear counterproductive and there is a significant interest in knowing if such a risk has been taken here with public money. In a nutshell, how much is being spent trying to save 72k?

For the reasons given I request you reconsider this issue, looking first at the likelihood of prejudice and re-considering your public interest considerations.

Finally – regarding the calculation of the 20 working days – I didn’t appreciate that the whatdotheyknow calculation is incorrect – you may recall I infact stated I thought it was correct! Whilst an authority has 20 working days to respond – the day in which the request is ‘received’ does not have to be a working day. They explain it (much better) themselves here
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offic...

Regards

Ben

James Allison,

Dear Mr Jones,

Thank you for your email. I acknowledge receipt of your request for a review of my response to you. I have passed your email, along with a copy of the response I issued, to the Head of Information Governance and Management who will endeavour to provide a response within 20 working days.

Kind Regards,
James

James Allison
Information Governance Facilitator
Information Management & Technology (IM&T)
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
6th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP
Email: [email address] | Web: www.clch.nhs.uk | Tel: 020 7798 1323
   

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James Allison,

Dear Mr Jones,

With regard to your request for a review of the FOI response I sent you (concerning legal costs), I am writing to inform you that there is a slight delay in the completion of the review which is being undertaken (by Sarah Wilkins, Acting Chief Information Officer).

I have been told that the review response should be with you by Monday 17 December. Please accept my apologies for the slight delay in the response to your review request and thank you for your patience.

Kind Regards,
James

James Allison
Information Governance Facilitator
Information Management & Technology (IM&T)
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
6th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP
Email: [email address] | Web: www.clch.nhs.uk | Tel: 020 7798 1323
   

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James Allison,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Jones,

Please find the attached response to the review of the original FOI response I sent you concerning legal costs. I am sending this on behalf of the reviewer, Sarah Wilkins, Interim Chief Information Officer.

Kind Regards,
James

James Allison
Information Governance Facilitator
Information Management & Technology (IM&T)
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
6th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP
Email: [email address] | Web: www.clch.nhs.uk | Tel: 020 7798 1323
   

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Dear James/Sarah

Thank you for the review and the provided information.
Could I just check an additional point?

The following blog http://dataprotector.blogspot.co.uk/2012...
reports that you were represented at the hearing by Timothy Pitt Payne QC - could I just double check that you have not omitted to include him from the figures quoted etc? It may well be that he is paid for by FFW, I just wanted to be sure I fully understood the costs here.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Jones

James Allison,

Dear Mr Jones,

The figure provided in the re-issued response is inclusive of the QC costs.

Regards,
James

James Allison
Information Governance Facilitator
Information Management & Technology (IM&T)
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
6th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP
Email: [email address] | Web: www.clch.nhs.uk | Tel: 020 7798 1323
   

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Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

For what it's worth, I believe WDTK has calculated the deadline correctly in this instance.

The deadline is the "twentieth working day following the date of receipt". The request was sent by email and therefore received by the authority shortly after it was sent. Since that was a non-working day, the first working day was the following Monday (15th October), the fifth working day was the Friday (19th October), and the twentieth working day was 3 weeks later on Friday 9th November.

Sometimes bank holidays in Scotland or Northern Ireland can confuse things, but there weren't any in this instance.