Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to North East Derbyshire 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 North East Derbyshire 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

Smith, Naomi, North East Derbyshire District Council

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your request for information received today. Your request
has been allocated reference number FOI 634 and a response is due by 3
February 2011.

Yours faithfully,

Naomi Smith
Freedom of Information Officer

show quoted sections

Smith, Naomi, North East Derbyshire District Council

Dear Sir,

Further to my email of 6 January, I am now able to confirm that the
Council does hold the information that you have requested.

Compromise agreements resulting from disputes/grievances, internal and
external investigations and whistleblowing incidents are as follows:-

2008 = 2

2010 = 4

As to the second part of your request, the response is Nil.

If you disagree with our decision or are otherwise unhappy with how this
response has been dealt with you may invoke the Council's Complaints
Procedure which ensures that a complaint is logged and given a unique
reference number. Details of the scheme can be found on the Council's
website ([1]

Should you remain dissatisfied with the outcome, you have the right under
Section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act to appeal against the
decision by contacting the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF, [2][email address]

Yours faithfully,

Naomi Smith

Freedom of Information Officer

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

North East Derbyshire District Council were one of the quicker respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 17 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.