NJVG - Development Agreement

John H Hutchinson made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

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The request was successful.

John H Hutchinson

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

With regards to the recent half-a-million Pounds Sterling settlement to NJVG, what part and what wording of the development agreement with NJVG was sufficient to persuade the Council's Legal Officer of its necessity, please?

Yours faithfully,

John H Hutchinson

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

I shall be grateful to receive your delayed response, please?

Yours faithfully,

John H Hutchinson

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Hutchinson

 

Thank you for your FOI request of 31 August 2021.

 

Your request is in effect seeking the disclosure of the legal advice given
to Councillors regarding the matter of the NJVG Development Agreement.  I
confirm that a confidential report of the Director of Law and Governance
was considered at a meeting of  Wirral's full Council meeting of 11 August
2021.  This contained legal advice which is information in respect of
which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal
proceedings.

 

Due to the nature and content of this report, it is the view of the
Council  that the document contains legal advice to members and as such is
considered to be legally privileged. Under s42 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, matters covered by Legal Professional Privilege are
exempt from disclosure and the Councill relies on the exemption provided
in s42(1) to refuse your request for disclosure of this report.

 

In making the decision to engage this exemption the principles set out in
the cases of Crawford v Information Commissioner  and Lincolnshire County
Council (EA/2011/0145)  and

Bellamy v Information Commissioner and  the Secretary of State for Trade
and Industry (EA/2005/0023)  have  been  applied. The Information
Commissioner Decision  reference FS50803813
[1]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
 has been taken into account which confirmed "that there is a significant
public interest in not undermining the  ability of a public authority to
freely seek and receive frank legal advice  in future. [The Information
Commissioner] considers that freely seeking and obtaining frank legal 
advice is crucial to a public authority’s ability to make informed and
legally supported decisions."

 

The Council's position is that under the Freedom of Information Act
2000 there is no need to demonstrate prejudice or adverse effect that
could arise from disclosure of the information.  Clearly the  public
interest test is relevant. There is a strong presumption in favour of
maintaining the concept of legal professional privilege and the rationale
of ensuring frankness in the exchange of views which serves the wider
administration of justice. Applying this to the current case,  the matter
is recent and there is very likely to be harm in terms of administration
of justice if confidential legal advice is subject of  disclosure very
shortly after the settlement of a legal dispute.  There is a merit in
maintaining that confidentiality so that in future counsel and solicitors
are not constrained in terms of the way that they express their advice and
instructing solicitors are not inhibited in seeking advice, by risk of the
advice being published potentially very shortly after settlement. 

 

Whilst clearly there is a level of public interest given the settlement
figure involved, this is not considered to outweigh the strong presumption
in favour of maintaining the presumption in favour of  the concept of
legal professional privilege. Your request for disclosure of the
information is therefore refused.

 

You have the right under Section 17 of the Act to ask for an internal
review in respect of this decision. This should be sent to
[2][Wirral Borough Council request email]. If you were dissatisfied with the
result of your internal review, you then have the right to complain to the
Information Commissioner who can be contacted at
[3]https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Lynette Paterson

Principal Information Management Officer

Wirral Council

PO Box 290
Brighton Street
Wallasey
CH27 9FQ

 

Email: [4][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

Visit our website: [5]www.wirral.gov.uk

 

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
2. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]
3. https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/
4. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]
5. http://www.wirral.gov.uk/

John H Hutchinson

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

Thank you!

Yours sincerely,

John H Hutchinson

NJT Lauro left an annotation ()

Same answer for mine and John Brace's enquiries.

John H Hutchinson left an annotation ()

Yes, legal advice is privilieged.