Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Newark and Sherwood District 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 Newark & Sherwood District Council,

Please supply Annual totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total
of current employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff) 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 (including teaching staff) 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 sign and 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 provide the figures in the following format e.g. 2006 - 2; 2007 - 4; 2008 - 0; 2010 - 6; etc.

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

Newark and Sherwood District Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Request Reference: RFI-2011-005

Your request for information regarding compromise agreements was received by us on 5th January 2011.

Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we will respond to your request promptly, but in any case within 20 working days following the date that we received it. This means that you will receive a response from the Council on or before 2nd February 2011.

For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of some or all of the information you have requested. There will be an assessment of the information available and if any of the exemption categories apply the information may not be released. In the case of a qualified exemption the Public Interest Test will be considered. You will be informed if any of the information held is subject to any exemption and if so reason the exemption has been applied and of your rights of appeal.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to release the information to you. You will be informed if this is the case.

Any information provided will be in Adobe Acrobat pdf format, if you require an alternative format please let me know as soon as possible.

Should you require the information to be provided other than by email a fee may be payable, you will be informed if this is the case. In this event the fee must be paid before the information is processed and released. The 20 working day time limit for responses is suspended until receipt of the payment.

If you have any queries or concerns about your request please do not hesitate to contact me, quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

Steve Bramall
Information Governance Officer
Policy and Performance
Newark and Sherwood District Council
Kelham Hall
NG23 5QX
Tel: 01636 655216

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Newark and Sherwood District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please find attached hereto the Councils response to your request for information regarding compromise agreements made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


Steve Bramall

Information Governance Officer
Newark & Sherwood District Council
Telephone: 01636 655216
Email: [email address]

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Newark & Sherwood District Council were one of the quickest respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 15 days to respond positively and in full.

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

...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.