Wednesday, 13 April 2016

An indemnity...or not an indemnity?

As I have already mentioned, the Council's Executive Board have 'unanimously' decided to pursue me for £190,390 legal costs. At the same meeting, they decided to defer a decision on the £41,000 counterclaim costs - this is a messy business for County Hall, due to the unlawful indemnity, and would have come under a legal spotlight.

To add to the mess, the question has now arisen whether this was an 'indemnity' at all.

The indemnity, as we know, was declared unlawful by the Wales Audit Office and by virtually everyone else, including the Welsh Government, apart from Mr James and now, surprisingly, Plaid's Emlyn Dole, despite the offending 'libel costs clause' in the council's Constitution being suspended indefinitely in February 2014.

However, as several readers have pointed out, an indemnity is protection against future losses and should have only kicked-in if Mr James had lost his counterclaim. If had lost then the council would have coughed up public funds. If he won, which he did, then the costs were recoverable from the other side, in other words, me.

In fact the counterclaim costs were paid by the council as the case carried on and as the invoices rolled in, regardless of the outcome of Mr James' action. When the 'indemnity' was approved, the potential risk to the council on the counterclaim costs was estimated at £100,000, and it was "unclear" whether I would be able to pay if I lost.

So this wasn't any sort of 'protection against future losses', it was simply a blank cheque to launch a legal attack funded directly by the council.
With the 'indemnity' already flouting Welsh Government legislation, and the Derbyshire rule which prevents councils from suing for libel - the reality of the situation makes their position, legally and ethically, a damn sight worse. 

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