High Court ruling says county council can terminate 10-year contract after just two years
Cornwall County Council has won the right to terminate an outsourcing agreement with BT to run a number of its services, including IT and HR.
The county came out on top of a High Court judgment today, which ruled on BT Cornwall’s attempt to seek an injunction to prevent an early termination of the deal.
The 10-year Cornwall Strategic Partnership contract was signed in 2013, taking in the county council, the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Peninsula Community Health CIC. But the council quickly became disillusioned, claiming that BT Cornwall, the body delivering the services, fell short of key performance indicators and had created only a tenth of the 351 jobs that had been promised.
It notified the company in June of its intention to end the contract, following which there was an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate an amicable termination. In August, BT Cornwall filed an application with the High Court to stop Cornwall terminating the deal.
Short of standard
But in announcing the decision today, Justice Knowles said: “BT Cornwall faced problems of its own making and did not provide to the defendants the service it had promised to the standard it had promised. The council worked with BT Cornwall to try to resolve things but ultimately decided the position was not good enough.”
Cornwall issued a statement welcoming the decision, highlighting the judge’s words and saying it confirms the argument that BT Cornwall had been in material breach of the contract.
“The council is satisfied that this is the correct decision and would like to reassure local residents who currently receive telehealth and telecare services from BT Cornwall as part of this contract that these will continue without interruption,” it said.
“As a result of this decision, the council intends to give notice of the contract before Christmas but there will be no immediate change in the arrangements as notice will not take effect until January. The process of transferring staff and services from BT Cornwall to the council and our public sector partners will begin in January and will be completed as quickly and smoothly as possible.”
A spokesperson for Peninsula Community Health told UKAuthority it had not activated the contract.
A BT spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the High Court has ruled in favour of Cornwall Council. We are reviewing the judgement carefully and considering its implications.
“We will be meeting with the council at the earliest opportunity to discuss the full impact of the court’s decision on BT Cornwall. In the meantime, BT Cornwall will continue to provide high quality services for the residents of Cornwall that are meeting all key performance targets and bringing operational savings.”
Photo: iStockphoto/Mark Goddard