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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 28 July, 2014

 

Report of the Leader

 

Insurance Indemnity for Returning Officer and Election Staff

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To confirm the long-established principle that claims made against a Returning Officer and/or his/her staff in relation to the performance of their electoral and referenda duties will be subject to appropriate insurance cover unless already provided for under separate insurance arrangements.

Recommendations

It is recommended:

 

THAT

1.         Cabinet endorses the inclusion of appropriate liability cover for the Returning Officer for the Vale of Glamorgan area and/or his/her staff in relation to the performance of their electoral and referenda duties as part of the Council's insurance arrangements.

2.         Cabinet endorses that any claim (including any claims excess) in connection with the conducting of any elections or referenda by the Returning Officer for the Vale of Glamorgan area and/or his/her election staff be met from the Council's Insurance Fund unless already provided for under separate insurance arrangements.

3.         That the above recommendations are referred to Council for approval.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1-3.To indemnify the Returning Officer and relevant staff in relation to liability insurance claims arising in the course of their election and referenda duties.

Background

2.         A Returning Officer is normally appointed for each unitary authority areas in Wales and is personally responsible for the conduct of local and parliamentary elections, such as the Welsh Government elections. Staff may be appointed by the Returning Officer to help them run the election. Whilst undertaking election duties, the Returning Officer, although usually a senior employee of the Council, is not accountable to the local authority but is independent and answerable only to the courts.

3.         Electoral Commission guidance comments on the importance of the Returning Officer (as well as other staff such as the Electoral Registration Officer) having adequate and appropriate insurance. It has been long-established practice for many years for the actions of the Returning Officer and election staff to be covered by the insurance policies held by the respective local authority. In this respect it is also advisable to clarify the amount of any excess that could be charged in relation to an insurance claim and if there was an excess how this would be met if the claim was successful.

Relevant Issues and Options

 

4.         The Returning Officer is appointed to this position by virtue of the office he/she holds within the Council. As a result, it is proposed that any liabilities incurred by the Returning Officer or his/her staff in relation to the performance of their electoral or referenda duties be funded from the Council's Insurance Fund unless already provided for under separate insurance arrangements. This will accord to how other liability claims are dealt with and will normally be limited to the Council's liability insurance claim policy excess. Under the current policy there is no excess to be paid in respect of election/referenda duties and the full value of the claim would, therefore, be met by the insurers. However, this situation could change when the policy is renewed.

5.         In this regard, the Council's liability insurers already indemnify the Vale of Glamorgan Council, including any Returning Officer or Electoral Registration Officer for claims above any policy excess in connection with the conducting of local and parliamentary elections and referenda against:

·               Legal expenses reasonably incurred in connection with the defence of any   proceedings brought against the Vale of Glamorgan Council, including any Returning Officer or Electoral, Registration Officer  (or Acting Returning Officers or Acting Electoral Registration Officers) or their staff.

·               The cost of holding another election/ referendum in the event that the original election/referendum being declared invalid.

 

6.         Exceptions to the above would usually relate to circumstances such as where an indemnity is already available elsewhere e.g. Crown Indemnity for the Police Commissioner Elections. Referenda would include any potential ballot on proposals for setting up a Business Improvement District (BID)           

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

7.         Claims made against a Returning Officer and/or his/her staff in relation to the performance of their duties connected with local and parliamentary elections and referenda are covered under the Council's liability policy.  There is currently no excess payable by the Council under the policy in respect of such claims.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

8.         None as a direct result of this report.  

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

9.         The provision of insurance indemnity to the Returning Officer and his/her staff is consistent with both statutory obligations imposed on the Returning Officer and the provisions of the Councils Constitution. Failure to provide the appropriate indemnity may impact on the future administration of elections or referenda within the Vale of Glamorgan Council area.

Crime and Disorder Implications

10.      None as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

11.      None as a direct result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

12.      Contributes to the corporate priority of Community Leadership.

Policy Framework and Budget

13.      This is a matter for Council decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

14.      Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

15.      Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Alan Jenkins

Head of Finance

01446 709254

 

Officers Consulted

Principal Lawyer

 

Responsible Officer:

Alan Jenkins

Head of Finance

 

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