See also Neil Gerrard memo to Labour Members May 12, 1987.
See index

via Members' Secretary

Ext. 4340

29th May, 1987


You have already received the report for the special meeting ofGeneral Purposes Sub-Committee held yesterday. Enclosed with thismemorandum is a second report which was circulated at the meeting. Youwill see from this second report that the legal process has now beenstarted by the Ratepayers1 Action Group. What is likely to happen now isthat once the papers which have been lodged with the Crown Office have beenchecked by that Office to ensure that they are technically correct, theapplication for leave will be issued and Writs will be served on theCouncil and almost certainly on individual Members as well. That willprobably happen during the next few days. When the Writ is served, you willalso be sent all the documents which have been lodged with the CrownOffice, including the Affidavits and the evidence which has been submittedby the Ratepayers' Action Group. Perhaps I should warn you that this willbe a very large amount of paper, most of which you will have seen beforesince a lot of it is committee reports, copies of minutes and one bundle issimply copies of reports from the local paper.

Once the papers have been issued next week, the first stage of theproceedings is likely to happen within a week or two from that date. Thatfirst stage will not be in open court but will be a hearing before a Judgein Chambers, who will decide whether the full judicial review should beheard. If the Ratepayers' Action Group do get leave from the Judge for thefull judicial review, they are likely to ask for it to be expedited, whichwould almost certainly be in the Council's interest as well to removeuncertainty. The full hearing would then take place in the High Court.The exact timing is not clear at this stage, but will depend partly on theCourt's timetable and also partly on the details of the case.

The solicitors believe that it is quite probable that the Ratepayers'Action Group will get over the first hurdle and will get leave to go forthe full judicial review. This is based firstly on the fact that the HighCourt in general has acted in this way before. The case which is thenearest precedent to the once we are involved in, which took place withGreenwich a year or two ago, did go to the full judicial review, but theratepayers' case in Greenwich was thrown out at the judicial review stage.In other words, the fact that they may get leave to go for judicial reviewwill not indicate the Court's view on the strength of their case.

You will see from the report to General Purposes that if Writs areserved on all the Labour Members individually, we will need to arrange our own representation. I am getting in touch with a solicitor who hasacted for other Labour Councillors in similar types of case before. Ithink it would be most sensible for the same solicitor to act for all theLabour Members and will work on this assumption. Depending on the adviceof the solicitor, it may be possible for us to keep the costs low by usingthe same Barrister as the Council. Once I have contacted the solicitor andhave a clear idea of the likely costs, I will inform all Members.

Please get in touch with me if you want any more information aboutwhat is happening.



(Margaret Rollason)



28th May 1987

Second Report on Legal Proceedings Concerning the Making of the General Rate 1987/88.

1. Introduction

The Borough Solicitor received correspondence from solicitors actingfor the Waltham Forest Ratepayers' Action Group at 3.30 p.m. this afternoon.The papers have yet to be studied in depth, but this report is to provideMembers with an up^o-date appraisal of the situation.

2. Legal Position to-day

2.1 The Solicitors were at pains to point out that they were not servingthe legal documents upon the Local Authority, but merely allowing usa sight of the papers which had been lodged with the Crown Office,prior to issue of their application for leave to move for judicialreview. There are no proceedings in existence yet, but the processhas now begun.

2.2 The documents include a Notice of Motion and 12 affidavits insupport. These are explained in greater detail below.

3. Notice of Motion

3.1 This is a legal document which sets out what the applicants areasking for and why.

3.2 The Applicants are:-

(i) Martin John Baxter - Company Director and Chairman of Waltham Forest Ratepayers Action Group (WFRAG)
(ii) Barbara Martin - A Secretary and Secretary of WFRAG
(iii) Maureen Williams - A Secretary and Treasurer of WFRAG
(iv) John Hughes - A Solicitor and Public Affairs Officer of WFRAG

All four are described as electors in the area of Waltham Forest.

3.3 The Respondents are named as the London Borough of Waltham Forest andall thirty-one of the Labour Members (who are individually listed)

3.4 The Notice of Motion lists the action in respect of which relief issought as being:-
(1) Resolution 69 of the 10th March 1987 fixing the rate.
(2) Resolution 72 resolving not to meet for the purposeof making a substitute rate.
(3) The Council decisions to finance certain capital and/orrevenue expenditure by schemes whereby the cost of suchexpenditure will be met in future years, including and in particular, deferred purchase and parallel loanschemes.

4. Relief Sought

4.1 Relief sought is for Orders of Certiorari (Orders quashing thedecisions and resolutions above) and the remittance of these itemsback to the Council with a direction that the matters be reconsideredand decisions reached in accordance with the findings of the Court.

4.2 Additionally, Declarations are sought, from the High Court, that:-

(1) The Council is under a duty to make a budget whererevenue raised is in-line with planned expenditure.

(2) The Council failed to consult with representatives ofCommercial and Industrial Ratepayers.

(3) The individual Councillors named acted in breach ofthe fiduciary duty owed by them to the ratepayers and/orin bad faith and/or unreasonably.

5. Supporting Evidence

5.1 The first four affidavits are by the applicants. The remaining eightare from a variety of local business men, giving details of theeffect of the rate increase on their businesses.

6. Current Position

6.1 As stated above, the Solicitors are merely giving copies of paperslodged, rather than effecting formal services of legal documentssince these have not yet been issued.

6.2 In doing this their stated purpose is to allow Members to considerwhether or not they would consent to the relief sought. Effectively,"this would mean setting aside the rate.

6.3 They have also asked whether or not the Borough Solicitor wouldaccept service on behalf of the thirty-one proposed co-respondents.It is the Borough Solicitor's view that this poses a conflict ofinterests between the position of the Council and that of individualCouncillors. Accordingly, whilst it would not appear necessary forany action to be taken at this stage, (until such time as legalservice is effected) it would be necessary for the individualCouncillors named to seek their own representation. It would,however, appear appropriate for the Labour Members to all instructthe same Solicitor.

7. Conclusions:

Members instructions are sought as to whether the application is tobe resisted and if so, the Borough Solicitor should be authorised totake necessary action and to incur expenditure in respect of legalcosts. Resources Strategy to be informed accordingly.

This Committee will, of course, be kept informed of events as they occur.Members will appreciate that this may require that meetings be called atshort notice.