Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to East Sussex County Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear East Sussex County Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees of the Council who have signed compromise agreements directly related to the resolving of dispute(s) / grievance(s) / internal and external investigation(s) / whistleblowing incident(s).

In addition to this, annual figures for the number of current employees / ex-employees who have agreed, following the matter being raised and made conditional as part of a compromise agreement drawn up by the body acting as the Council's legal team, to forgo their right to approach the council in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA Subject Access requests under the relevant Acts.

Please note that I do not seek or require any personal information such as names and addresses – only the total figures for each subject area.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information, East Sussex County Council

Thank you for your email.

I am on leave until Tuesday 4 January, and will reply as soon as possible
after my return.

Jane Bartlett
FOI Officer
East Sussex County Council

website: www.eastsussex.gov.uk/foi

01273 482913

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Freedom of Information, East Sussex County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

FOI Request ref 2011 / 001 / Cardin / Compromise Agreements

Thank you for your request for information about Compromise Agreements.
Your request was received on 4 January 2011 and I am dealing with it under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We always aim to respond as quickly as possible, and certainly no later
than 1 February 2011, which is the 20 working day deadline. The deadline
is counted from the first working day we receive it, not the date a letter
is written / posted or an email sent.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, I will
let you know the likely charges before proceeding.

Please quote the above reference number if you need to contact us about
this particular request.

Yours sincerely
Michelle Southgate
Freedom of Information Team
C6F, County Hall, St Anne's Crescent
Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1SW

Phone: 01273 481876 Fax: 01273 481208
E-mail: [email address]
Web: [1]www.eastsussex.gov.uk/foi

This message is intended for the use of the addressee only and may
contain confidential or privileged information. If you have received it in
error please notify the sender and destroy it. You may not use it or copy
it to anyone else.

E-mail is not a secure communications medium. Please be aware of this
when replying. All communications sent to or from the County Council
may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in accordance with
relevant legislation.

Although East Sussex County Council has taken steps to ensure that this
e-mail and any attachments are virus free, we can take no responsibility
if a virus is actually present and you are advised to ensure that the
appropriate checks are made.

You can visit our website at http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk

References

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1. file://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/foi

Freedom of Information, East Sussex County Council

31 January 2011

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By email to: [FOI #56631 email]

Dear Mr Cardin

FOI request ref 2011 / 001 / compromise agreements

As promised in our email of 13 January, I am writing to advise the outcome
of our search for the information you requested on 4 January.

You asked for information about compromise agreements. Your specific
questions, together with our response, are at the end of this email. The
information is provided subject to the copyright / re-use terms below.

I hope that this answers your enquiry. If you believe that the County
Council has not complied with the FOI Act in responding to your request,
you may ask for an internal review. If you wish to do so, please set out
the grounds of your appeal in writing to Philip Baker, Assistant Director,
Legal and Democratic Services, East Sussex County Council, County Hall, St
Anne's Crescent, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1UE, or by email to him at
[1][email address]. Please quote the FOI reference number
in any communication regarding this particular request.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you then
have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. Generally, the Information Commissioner cannot make a decision
unless you have exhausted the County Council's internal review procedure
as described in the previous paragraph. The Commissioner can be contacted
at: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. Tel: 0303 123 1113. [2]www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Jane Bartlett
Freedom of Information Officer
East Sussex County Council
C6F, County Hall
St Anne's Crescent
Lewes
East Sussex
BN7 1UE

Phone: 01273 482913 Fax: 01273 481208
email: [3][email address] web: [4]www.eastsussex.gov.uk/foi

FOI request ref 2011 / 001 / compromise agreements - request and response

Question 1:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of
current employees / ex-employees of the Council who have signed compromise
agreements directly related to the resolving of dispute(s) / grievance(s)
/ internal and external investigation(s)/ whistleblowing incident(s).

Answer:

This information is based on records that date from April 2007. The annual
figures for the total number of current / ex-employees of the Council who
have signed Compromise Agreements directly related to resolving disputes /
grievances / internal and external investigations and whistleblowing are
as follows:

2007/08 - 1

2008/09 - 7

2009/10 - 6

2010/11 - 7

Question 2:

In addition to this, annual figures for the number of current employees /
ex-employees who have agreed, following the matter being raised and made
conditional as part of a compromise agreement drawn up by the body acting
as the Council's legal team, to forgo their right to approach the council
in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA Subject Access
requests under the relevant Acts.

Answer:

None.

--- response ends ---

This message is intended for the use of the addressee only and may
contain confidential or privileged information. If you have received it in
error please notify the sender and destroy it. You may not use it or copy
it to anyone else.

E-mail is not a secure communications medium. Please be aware of this
when replying. All communications sent to or from the County Council
may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in accordance with
relevant legislation.

Although East Sussex County Council has taken steps to ensure that this
e-mail and any attachments are virus free, we can take no responsibility
if a virus is actually present and you are advised to ensure that the
appropriate checks are made.

You can visit our website at http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/
3. mailto:[email address]
4. file://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/foi

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

East Sussex County Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 21 working days (over the statutory period) to respond positively and in full.

Please link here to read about the further aspects of this request:

www.easyvirtualassistance.co.uk/page4.html

...including councils who have attempted to prevent individuals from exercising their statutory FOI / DP querying rights.

There is a growing trend for the use of compromise agreements, not just in the area of disputes or whistleblowing, but also in general redundancy or equal pay claims. Some councils have yet to answer this query - and to date, 65 working days have elapsed

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Here’s a piece of legal opinion from Senior Counsel Hugh Tomlinson QC, which appears to make more likely the prospect of public sector employers opting for Freedom of Information and Data Protection “gagging clauses” within compromise agreements; and thereby aiming to remove persons’ statutory rights to make data and information requests.

It has been an effective reputation management tactic, and a way of concealing the historical malpractice engaged in by employers when targetting whistleblowers or getting rid of people who’ve lodged grievances. The ruse has been deployed in the past by two councils; Cheshire West & Chester, and Brent.

The ICO are powerless to prevent it as the HT opinion implies that contract law takes precedence over a person’s statutory rights – which it appears can be surrendered. The ICO could only act if the recipient of any “ban” were to breach it and make an FoI or DP request of the relevant data controller – which is unlikely to occur because there’s always a “club over the head” of the signatory to the compromise agreement i.e. the threat of any monetary pay off being clawed back through the courts.

http://tinyurl.com/bu9vynx