We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully

The request was partially successful.

Dear Local Government Ombudsmen,

After randomly selecting a category of Decision Notices on the LGO website (Planning), 4 out of the first 5 reports included the sentence;

"We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully"

I would like to know how much public money was paid to law firm, Bevan Brittan, for the following:

https://www.scribd.com/document/35981957...

How much public money has been paid for the same purposes in total for the past 5 years?

Yours faithfully,

Calum Clark

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

1 Attachment

This is to acknowledge receipt of your email. If you are making a request for information, you should get an acknowledgement from us within the next 2-3 days with a reference number and a date by which we will respond to your request. Please note, however, that this address is only for use in relation to requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act and subject access requests made under the Data Protection Act. If your email is in relation to a new complaint please follow this link to a complaint form<http://www.lgo.org.uk/forms/ShowForm.asp...> or call 0300 061 0614 to speak to one of our Advisers, as the FOI Officer cannot deal with your complaint.

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NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Calum Clark

This is to acknowledge receipt of your request below. We will aim to respond within 20 working days, that is, by 1 November. If we are unable to meet that deadline I will contact you again to explain why.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Information & Records Manager | DL: 0330 403 4734 |
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman's office |
www.lgo.org.uk |

Calum Clark left an annotation ()

Thank you for acknowledging my request. I look forward to receiving the information.

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Clark

I attach a letter in response to your request below.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Information & Records Manager | DL: 0330 403 4734 |
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman's office |
www.lgo.org.uk |

Calum Clark left an annotation ()

We currently use the services of Bevan Brittan under a fixed fee arrangement and consequently costs for individual bits of work are not identified. I cannot, therefore, tell you the amount spent on their response to the pre-action protocol letter to sent a link to. Nor can I tell you the amount of public money sent on responding to pre-action protocol letters more generally in the past five years. The information is not held.

I can tell you how much we have spent on all services provided by Bevan Brittan in the last five years, which is as follows:

2017/18 ___£106,690 (six months to the end Sept 2017)
2016/17 ___£176,259
2015/16 ___£123,038
2014/15 ___£70,620 (including litigation costs)
2013/14 ___£28,071
2012/13 ___£19,274

The fixed fee arrangement began in August 2015. Until then we had two legal posts within the organisation, so did not use external law firms so much but, of course, had the salaries of these post holders to pay.

Dear Foi Officer,

Thank you for providing the details of the fixed fee arrangement for use of the services of Bevan Brittan.

Can you please clarify the basis of the fixed fee arrangement because over 10 times the amount indicated by the forecast figure for 2017/18 (£213,380) compared with the 2012/13 (£19,274) cost does not suggest the services are paid for on a fixed fee basis.

The spend on all services provided by Bevan Brittan in the last five years:

2017/18 ___£106,690 (six months to the end Sept 2017)
2016/17 ___£176,259
2015/16 ___£123,038
2014/15 ___£70,620 (including litigation costs)
2013/14 ___£28,071
2012/13 ___£19,274

Yours sincerely,

Calum Clark

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

1 Attachment

This is to acknowledge receipt of your email. If you are making a request for information, you should get an acknowledgement from us within the next 2-3 days with a reference number and a date by which we will respond to your request. Please note, however, that this address is only for use in relation to requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act and subject access requests made under the Data Protection Act. If your email is in relation to a new complaint please follow this link to a complaint form<http://www.lgo.org.uk/forms/ShowForm.asp...> or call 0300 061 0614 to speak to one of our Advisers, as the FOI Officer cannot deal with your complaint.

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NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mr Clark

The monthly fixed fee retainer covers certain things, including legal advice on casework.

We incur legal costs outside of this for other litigation, which we look to recover should we successfully defend an action. Where someone obtains leave for a substantive judicial review hearing, this can cost anything up to £50k to defend, and even if our costs are awarded - we may be dealing with litigants in person who are unable to make payments. We cannot forecast figures for judicial review actions.

We also incur costs for corporate legal advice on things such as pensions etc.

I hope that clarifies the matter.

Hilary Pook
Information & Records Manager | DL: 0330 403 4734 |
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman's office |
www.lgo.org.uk |

Dear Foi Officer,

Thank you for the additional clarification.

I hadn't realised that a litigant in person having had costs awarded against him by the court in judicial review proceedings could choose whether or not he paid them.

Yours sincerely,

Calum Clark

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

1 Attachment

This is to acknowledge receipt of your email. If you are making a request for information, you should get an acknowledgement from us within the next 2-3 days with a reference number and a date by which we will respond to your request. Please note, however, that this address is only for use in relation to requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act and subject access requests made under the Data Protection Act. If your email is in relation to a new complaint please follow this link to a complaint form<http://www.lgo.org.uk/forms/ShowForm.asp...> or call 0300 061 0614 to speak to one of our Advisers, as the FOI Officer cannot deal with your complaint.

[another test with borders]

NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

Foi Officer, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Dear Mr Clark

I don't think it is a question of choosing - more of ability to pay.

Hilary Pook
Information & Records Manager | DL: 0330 403 4734 |
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman's office |
www.lgo.org.uk |

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