Magazine article Public Finance

Section 151 Officers Could Sue as DIP Protections Are Scrapped

Magazine article Public Finance

Section 151 Officers Could Sue as DIP Protections Are Scrapped

Article excerpt

Councils could face breach of contract claims from Section 151 officers after last-minute government changes to the rules on dismissal from top posts, an employment lawyer has warned.

Sarah La mont, a partner at law firm Bevan Brittan, told Public Finance the Department for Communities and Local Government's decision to remove the Designated Independent Person provisions could increase costs and the time taken for dismissals.

The coalition government in March passed secondary legislation to remove protections that required local authorities to appoint a DIP, usually a QC, to review cases before senior officers holding statutory positions are dismissed. Jobs covered were the Section 151 officer post held by the chief finance officer; the head of paid service post usually held by the chief executive; and the monitoring officer role of the director of legal services.

From May 11, dismissals will have to be approved after a vote of the full council, although the decision will also be considered by independent persons appointed as part of the council's conduct and standards regime for members.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said the DIP provisions were costly and often meant council chiefs were offered 'inflated golden goodbyes' by town halls keen to avoid legal action. …

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