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Brentwood Borough Council

FOI 5663

Legal fees spending

Request

1. The council policy or constitution regarding what legal action council funds can be used to pursue. I would expect this to cover details such as who the claimants can be, any limits on funding, whose agreement is needed before action can commence and so on. Please also tell me when the policy was put in place.

2. How much has the council spent on legal fees in each of the financial years 2012/13 (to the end of January 2013), 2011/12 and 2010/11?

3. Of these totals, how much has the council spent on legal fees in cases involving alleged libel, slander or other defamation against the council or individual members of staff or officers of the council?

4. How many of these cases were there in each year?

5. Who was allegedly defamed, and how much was spent in each case?

If you require any clarification, please contact me using the details below. Some parts of this request may be easier to answer than others, and should this prove to be the case I would ask that you release available data as soon as possible rather than hold up the entire request.

If you decide this request breaches the cost threshold set out in the Act, please answer each question in order up to the stage where the threshold is passed.

Response

I am responding to your request for information submitted to the Council on 18th February 2013.

You have indicated that this request is made under the Freedom of Information Act and I confirm that the Council does hold at least some of the information you have requested.

For ease of reference in this reply I repeat each of your numbered questions and I have included after each the reply.

1. The council policy or constitution regarding what legal action council funds can be used to pursue. I would expect this to cover details such as who the claimants can be, any limits on funding, whose agreement is needed before action can commence and so on. Please also tell me when the policy was put in place.

The Council constitution provides that legal action can be taken by a variety of departments specifically for debts but in Housing for Possession action, Planning Enforcement and our Finance team for Council Tax and non-domestic rates recovery. There is no financial threshold as such but legal proceedings have to be signed either by the managing Director or the Head of Legal & Governance.

2. How much has the council spent on legal fees in each of the financial years 2012/13 (to the end of January 2013), 2011/12 and 2010/11?

The legal spend on legal fees was as follows for the years requested:

2010 / 11 £12,788.00
2011 / 12 £8,005.00
2012 / 13 £7,091.00

3. Of these totals, how much has the council spent on legal fees in cases involving alleged libel, slander or other defamation against the council or individual members of staff or officers of the council?

None

4. How many of these cases were there in each year?

None

5. Who was allegedly defamed, and how much was spent in each case?

None