Mediation costs and processes

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman did not have the information requested.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I recently attended a mediation session that involved members of your staff. This was held at Doughty Street Chambers.

I note that your solicitors had sent letter demanding that I have an open mind and listen to whatever you proposed. I would like to know how much this letter cost the taxpayer. How much you spent to have that one short letter drafted and sent by Wragge and Co to my solicitors. It was sent on the 7th of November by your solicitors to myself.

I would also like to know how much you spent on the fees for the lawyer to attend the session, along with how much you paid for your two members of staff and any other expenses that they have claimed for.

I would like to know this because I consider all of the money you spent on that to have been wasted. During the 'mediation' you did not make any proposal to try and settle this matter. It seems that your staff have wasted taxpayer money to send a letter from solicitors asking me to listen to a proposal you didn't even make and further wasted taxpayer money by sending two members of staff to twiddle their thumbs in central London rather than work. How much did the Ombudsman make the taxpayer spend to send staff to do nothing? Do you consider it appropriate to do this? Why didn't you simply ask to cancel the mediation session if you weren't going to approach it in a serious and mature manner.

Does the Ombudsman consider it a good use of taxpayer money to send a letter to ask for someone to listen to the proposal you didn't make. I do not. I think that is wasteful and that you should be ashamed for doing it. If you had nothing to say, then you should have been honest and said we won't resolve this through mediation.

I would also like to know if it is your policy that the reviewer whose work is being challenged should continue to be involved in the mediation. This places them in a position where they are conflicted. In order to mediate they must be prepared to admit that they have made a mistake. Is it your policy to frustrate attempts at mediation by sending staff who are entrenched and intransigent?

Finally I would like to know why you sent a junior legal adviser and what the purpose of this was? What qualifications does a junior legal adviser need to have? Do you require them to be legally trained in any way shape or form?

Yours faithfully,

D Rapp

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Dear foiofficer,

I apologise the letter in question was sent to my solicitor and not to myself. I would like to know how much this letter has cost the taxpayer, in terms of how much the law firm charged the Ombudsman for that letter to be sent, this should obviously include a breakdown that includes what proportion of the total costs this letter represents.

I do think it rather wasteful and rude to send someone a letter demanding them to listen to your proposal for remedy and to then refuse to give any proposal. It's boorish, rude and arrogant behaviour by your staff and solicitors.

Yours sincerely,

D Rapp

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

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E. Colville left an annotation ()

Where was honesty of purpose and the obligation of good faith participation by PHSO?

Did junior PHSO representatives have authority to settle the dispute?

Will the mediator be required to report failures by PHSO to participate in good faith?

This certainly appears to have been an extraordinary waste of taxpayer money.

D Rapp left an annotation ()

There wasn't a mediator present and to be honest having one wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference.

The simple fact is that they sent my solicitors a letter which stated "Should your client not be prepared to discuss or consider other options the meeting would not be mediation in any sense of the word." and then made no proposals or gave me any alternative options to consider. They wanted a ballpark figure but didn't want to talk about what that figure should encompass compensation for.

If I had known that they weren't going to attend in good faith I would have sooner called the whole thing off and proceeded directly to court action. As it is we are now proceeding to court action and those juniors have to inform their superiors that they managed to achieve a rather large legal bill.

Dear foiofficer,

Again I apologise the letter was not sent from Wragge and Co, they are representing Ofqual. It was sent by your solicitors Browne Jacobsen. I am sorry for any confusion but keeping track of who's lawyer is who in this tawdry affair is quite the task.

I would also like to know when in the Judicial Review process you would seek the opinion of an independent counsel, a barrister, to provide representation. Do you go to an outside chambers or is this service provided for you through an in-house brief at your solicitors. Would you approach counsel for an opinion before drafting a defence or after the permission stage or in the event that the matter would proceed to court? How much has the Ombudsman spent on barrister, per judicial review, over the past year and of this what costs have been recovered?

Yours sincerely,

D Rapp

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
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[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

How can it be mediation without a mediator being present?

:::

What is Mediation?
Mediation is an effective way of resolving disputes without the need to go to court. It involves an independent third party - a mediator - who helps both sides come to an agreement.

Mediation is a flexible process that can be used to settle disputes in a whole range of situations such as:

consumer disputes
contract disputes
family disputes
neighbourhood disputes
The role of the mediator is to help parties reach a solution to their problem and to arrive at an outcome that both parties are happy to accept. Mediators avoid taking sides, making judgements or giving guidance. They are simply responsible for developing effective communications and building consensus between the parties. The focus of a mediation meeting is to reach a common sense settlement agreeable to both parties in a case.

Mediation is a voluntary process and will only take place if both parties agree. It is a confidential process where the terms of discussion are not disclosed to any party outside the mediation hearing.

If parties are unable to reach agreement, they can still go to court. Details about what went on at the mediation will not be disclosed or used at a court hearing.

http://www.civilmediation.org/about-medi...

::::

It's typical of the PHSO to try and act as judge and jury on its own performance, without giving a complainant a fair hearing.. Or,as it seems to be in this case, a fair try at mediation - with an independent mediator.

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Mr Rapp

 

Your information requests (our references: FDC 207429, FDC 207430 & FDN
207884)

 

Further to your emails dated 12, 13 and 14 November 2014, I am writing in
response to your information requests which you asked the following
questions.

 

1.   I note that your solicitors had sent letter demanding that I have an
open mind and listen to whatever you proposed. I would like to know how
much this letter cost the taxpayer. How much you spent to have that one
short letter drafted and sent by Wragge and Co (sic) to my solicitors. It
was sent on the 7th of November by your solicitors to myself.

Again I apologise the letter was not sent from Wragge and Co, they are
representing Ofqual. It was sent by your solicitors Browne Jacobsen.

I would also like to know how much you spent on the fees for the lawyer to
attend the session, along with how much you paid for your two members of
staff and any other expenses that they have claimed for.

2.   I would also like to know if it is your policy that the reviewer
whose work is being challenged should continue to be involved in the
mediation…Is it your policy to frustrate attempts at mediation by sending
staff who are entrenched and intransigent?

3.   Finally I would like to know why you sent a junior legal adviser and
what the purpose of this was? What qualifications does a junior legal
adviser need to have? Do you require them to be legally trained in any way
shape or form?

Questions 1-3 relate to your complaint case, I have therefore responded to
these questions using your private email address because we do not think
it is appropriate to discuss information relating to your case in a public
forum.

4.    I would also like to know when in the Judicial Review process you
would seek the opinion of an independent counsel, a barrister, to provide
representation. Do you go to an outside chambers or is this service
provided for you through an in-house brief at your solicitors. Would you
approach counsel for an opinion before drafting a defence or after the
permission stage or in the event that the matter would proceed to court?

 

We have no recorded information regarding this, because it depends on the
case. We will sometimes use Counsel (a barrister) from a set of Chambers
for representation but whether and when we do so will vary from case to
case.

 

5.    How much has the Ombudsman spent on barrister, per judicial review,
over the past year and of this what costs have been recovered?

 

In the last 12 months leading up to your information request, we have used
Counsel on two Judicial Reviews. The amounts charged for their services
are:

 

Case 1: £3000 including VAT

Case 2: £9600 including VAT

 

None of the costs have yet been recovered as the cases are still on-going.

 

I hope the information is helpful.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Sohifa Kadir

FOI/DP Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

 

 

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All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk