Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Gateshead Metropolitan Borough 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 Gateshead Borough 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

informationrights, Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council

05 January 2011

Dear Mr Cardin

Subject: Freedom of Information - Legal and Corporate Services -
Litigation

I refer to the request, which you have made under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 for records held by this department/office.

Acknowledgement

Your request dated 03 January 2011 was received by this department on 04
January 2011.

A final decision on your request would normally be sent to you within 20
working days of receipt of your request. This means that you can expect
to receive your decision by 01 February 2011.

There are some limited situations under the Freedom of Information Act,
which could mean that the period for a final decision may be longer than
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Yours sincerely

Information Rights

[Gateshead Borough Council request email]
i Gateshead Council Website: www.gateshead.gov.uk

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show quoted sections

Tanya Rossington, Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Sir

You requested the following information:-

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

In accordance with the Act we have decided to grant access to the
information requested.

2006 18
2007 9
2008 6
2009 12
2010 644

None have anything in about not making FOI/DP requests.

Yours faithfully

Information Rights

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Dear Tanya Rossington,

Thanks very much for your response. I appreciate the time you have
devoted to this.

However, please can you exclude compromise agreements drawn up in
the following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or

I hope that this task will not prove too arduous, now that you have
reached manageable totals, albeit ones which look a little 'on the
large side'. My purpose is one of research, and I am hoping to be
accurate with the figures - in both yours and the public interest,

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Tanya Rossington, Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Sir

Excluding the circumstances listed below the figures are :-

2006 18
2007 9
2008 6
2009 12
2010 0

Yours faithfully
Information Rights

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Gateshead Borough Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 23 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