Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to South Hams 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 South Hams District Council,

Please supply Annual totals for the followig:

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 - 1; 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

South Hams District Council

Thank you for contacting South Hams District Council.

Your e-mail has been forwarded to the appropriate officer who will be in contact with you shortly.

The Customer Service Team

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Ann Dagger,

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act. I have
passed a copy of your request to the relevant Department within the
Council for their response and will reply to you on receipt of that
information. The Council has a period of twenty working days from receipt
of your request in which to reply to you.

Regards

Ann Dagger

Senior Legal Secretary

South Hams District Council

( 01803 861345

Ê 01803 861477

8 [1][email address]

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Becky Fowlds,

I confirm in accordance with Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information
Act that the Council holds the information you have requested.

The information you have requested is as follows:

South Hams District Council has only had two such agreements - one in
2008 and one in 2009. As the Council has no responsibility for education
these figures do not include teaching staff.

There is no information to supply to the second part of your request.

If you are dissatisfied with this decision you may complain to the
Council, either to me or through the Council's complaints procedure which
is available on our website [1]www.southhams.gov.uk; or you can contact
the office of the Information Commissioner at this postal address:

FOI / EIR (Complaints Resolution)

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 4AF

Regards

Becky Fowlds

Solicitor

South Hams District Council

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Dear Becky Fowlds,

Thanks for the time you have devoted to this request. I appreciate this.

With reference to the second part of my request. It is very important that I have a YES or NO answer to this. I know it's unlikely but has your council ever used the tactic of asking compromise signatories (employees or ex employees) to sign away their right to make future FOI / DPA requests,

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Becky Fowlds,

Dear Mr Cardin
I apologise that this point was missed but can confirm that the Council
has never sought an agreement where employees or ex employees would be
precluded from exercising their rights under the Data Protection or
Freedom of Information Act.

Regards

Becky Fowlds

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

South Hams District Council were one of the quicker respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 19 working days 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