Agenda Item No. 13(d)
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
COUNCIL MEETING: 29 SEPTEMBER 2014
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 28 JULY 2014
C2423 INSURANCE INDEMNITY FOR RETURNING OFFICER AND ELECTION STAFF (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) –
On consideration of this item, the Managing Director left the meeting and took no part in the discussions.
Cabinet were apprised of 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 would be subject to appropriate insurance cover unless already provided for under separate insurance arrangements.
A Returning Officer was normally appointed for each unitary authority areas in Wales and was 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, was not accountable to the local authority but was independent and answerable only to the courts.
Electoral Commission guidance commented on the importance of the Returning Officer (as well as other staff such as the Electoral Registration Officer) having adequate and appropriate insurance. It had 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 was 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.
The Returning Officer was appointed to this position by virtue of the office he/she holds within the Council. As a result, it was 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 would accord to how other liability claims were dealt with and would normally be limited to the Council's liability insurance claim policy excess. Under the current policy there was 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 was renewed.
The Council's liability insurers already indemnified 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.
This was a matter for Council decision.
(1) T H A T 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 be endorsed.
(2) T H A T it be endorsed 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) T H A T resolutions (1) and (2) above be referred to Council for approval.
Reason for decisions
(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.