Arbitration service claims £240,000 cost saving for local authority

Hurndall: relationships restored

The London Borough of Havering has saved an estimated £240,000 of costs and significantly reduced the time required to resolve three recent disputes, according to arbitrators, the Centre for Justice.

Centre for Justice uses lawyer assessors to investigate and then adjudicate on the case if a settlement is not possible, and claims that the public sector is losing up to 10% of its revenues annually in handling complaints and disputes through the courts.

The three cases, which were all resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, within two months of the Centre for Justice being appointed, represent the wide spectrum of the borough’s legal issues and involved sums ranging from £20,000 to more than £4m.

One case involved the claim to a new tenancy by a local business with a counterclaim for arrears of rent and breach of covenant by the borough. The case was successfully concluded with the business now fully operational with a new tenancy from the borough.

The second case involved a dispute over a contract for the provision of social care services to council adult social care clients, with the supplier, council and clients all as parties. This case was settled amicably, the contract renewed and the clients remain in situ.

The third concerned an alleged error in the council’s registry offices, which was claimed to have resulted in the postponement of a marriage and the costs of postponement.

Alex Cumming of the London Borough of Havering’s legal department said: “The Centre for Justice was cost effective and met all our objectives. I would be very happy to recommend the process and we will be using it again.”

Anthony Hurndall, director of the Centre for Justice, said: “Our form of arbitration does not rely on an adversarial approach to arrive at a result. Our trained arbitrators deal directly with the parties and usually achieve an amicable settlement without the need for a formal award.

“It is evidence of the integrity of the service that, with each of the London Borough of Havering cases, relationships have been restored and the parties continue to do business together.”