Judicial challenge over care of disabled woman adds to Kingston Council's legal bills

Surrey Comet: Kingston Council's legal eagle James Strachan at the filter beds inquiry last week Kingston Council's legal eagle James Strachan at the filter beds inquiry last week

A judicial review over the care bill of a woman with learning difficulties was one of five cases that Kingston Council forked out more than £10,000 for in counsel fees.

The council paid out the sums between April 2011 and April 2013, a freedom of information request has found.

The number of plus £10,000 cases were revealed after a freedom of information request by the Surrey Comet, asking for total legal costs of cases Kingston Council had been involved in, was declined.

The council said its central system for recording and filing legal costs was not sophisticated enough to say the total cost incurred in council officer time, barrister fees, court fees, payments to expert witnesses and settlement costs.

Legal fees included:

- A long-running Court of Appeal legal challenge from Buckinghamshire County Council over the upkeep of a 36-year-old Ugandan woman with learning difficulties and epilepsy. Judge ruled for Kingston Council

- A child care proceeding heard in private also exceeded £10,000 in legal costs.

- Party to a £1m employment tribunal claim from former Connexions employees for redundancy pay.

- Another unidentified employment tribunal
 

- Legal advice on creating a new social enterprise stand alone company to run Kingston and Richmond's children's services and safeguarding teams

The council said between 2010 and 2012 there had been more than 2,000 matters referred to legal services.

Comments (2)

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6:35am Thu 5 Dec 13

concernedofkingston says...

"The council said its central system for recording and filing legal costs was not sophisticated enough to say the total cost incurred in council officer time, barrister fees, court fees, payments to expert witnesses and settlement costs".

This is rather worrying. I would have thought that the Chief Officer and member responsible for monitoring and controlling against the relevant budget would demand the regular analysis of this information. There must be lots of "lessons to be learned" from this data which could help to reduce costs and improve service delivery. Didn't the council talk about sharing the service with other boroughs recently - how do you make properly informed decisions without such data? How do you then assess whether any new arrangements have improved efficiency (or do you just trust to spin)?
"The council said its central system for recording and filing legal costs was not sophisticated enough to say the total cost incurred in council officer time, barrister fees, court fees, payments to expert witnesses and settlement costs". This is rather worrying. I would have thought that the Chief Officer and member responsible for monitoring and controlling against the relevant budget would demand the regular analysis of this information. There must be lots of "lessons to be learned" from this data which could help to reduce costs and improve service delivery. Didn't the council talk about sharing the service with other boroughs recently - how do you make properly informed decisions without such data? How do you then assess whether any new arrangements have improved efficiency (or do you just trust to spin)? concernedofkingston

3:49am Fri 6 Dec 13

Beverly RA says...

Nothing surprises me about this LIB DEM administration. When asked a pretty straightforward question by the Press on how our council tax is paid are unable to do so. Are they trying to hide something ? or are they telling the truth ? what do readers think?
Nothing surprises me about this LIB DEM administration. When asked a pretty straightforward question by the Press on how our council tax is paid are unable to do so. Are they trying to hide something ? or are they telling the truth ? what do readers think? Beverly RA

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