Agenda and draft minutes

Orbis Public Law Joint Committee
Thursday, 25 January 2018 10.00 am

Venue: County Hall, St Anne's Crescent, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1UE

Contact: Emma O'Donnell 

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 162 KB


Declarations of interest

    All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter

    (i)            Any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or

    (ii)           Other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting


    ·         Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest

    ·         As well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner)

    ·         Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be reasonably regarded as prejudicial.



    There were none.



    To review and approve the revised business plan for Orbis Public Law.

    Additional documents:



    The Committee considered a report on the updated Orbis Public Law Business Plan, introduced through a presentation by Philip Baker.



    Philip Baker, Assistant Chief Executive (ESCC)

    Rachel Crossley, Assistant Director, Chief of Staff (SCC)

    Abraham Ghebre-Ghiorghis, Executive Lead Officer, Strategy Governance and Law (BHCC)

    Tony Kershaw, Director of Law and Assurance (WSCC)

    Andrea Kilby, Business Development Manager, Orbis Public Law

    Emma Nash, Project Manager, Orbis Public Law


    Key points raised during the discussion:


    1. The presentation set out the progress made since the October Joint Committee meeting, and set the baseline to measure future performance.


    2. Philip Baker highlighted the “Leap of Faith” from Collaboration to Convergence for Orbis Public Law (OPL), and set out the factors underpinning convergence such as: a single Interim Head of Orbis Public Law; a joint operating budget; integrated case management systems; and a resource pool by legal discipline (rather than geographical area).


    3. Officers confirmed the work being undertaken in aligning processes, such as time recording and accounting records, to allow meaningful comparisons across the partnership and establishment of a joint budget. Officers confirmed the development of an OPL Framework Agreement for both non-social care and social care cases.


    4. In-house advocacy is monitored and more cost-effective, and measured against an agreed notional target for comparison against external advocate costs to support in demonstrating in-house value.


    5. Members were informed that client departments favour the in-house advocates, given the ability of the advocate to become familiar with the case over time. Officers also highlighted that cases where in-house advocates attended Case Management Hearings, early in the process, usually resulted in fewer hearings overall. Officers acknowledged that recruitment and retention is an issue, and set out the efforts made to grow the authorities’ own staff, including supporting the qualification for higher courts rights of audience.


    6. Officers explained the Digital Courts project. The OPL case management system can be used to produce court bundles, which are currently printed and circulated to participants. OPL are piloting new software with the Guilford Family Courts to use electronic versions of these bundles, using laptops, tablets and a large screen in court instead of paper bundles. The first electronic hearing will be in February 2018, and it is hoped to roll the pilot out to Brighton later in the year.


    7. Officers highlighted the considerable savings to be made, in paper, printing, postage and petrol. Members considered this work should be more widely publicised, and referred to the EY Market Insight briefing at the Orbis Joint Committee.


    8. Officers set out the work sharing element of the integration, whereby officers in each authority can work on the files of the others to provide the resilience needed.


    9. Philip Baker set out the Performance Baseline that had been established in terms of a shadow budget, the volume and types of work, the cost per chargeable hour, staff make up, work sharing and the child care advocacy project.


    10. Each authority had its own pattern of spending on external legal  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4/18