Compliance and legal

Councils will need to consider managing any ongoing and potential legal proceedings that have arisen pre- and post-amalgamation in relation to the role and responsibilities of the relevant council and not the amalgamation process itself. Councils will move into the transition process with a suite of varying assets and liabilities. Some of these liabilities will include potential litigation that may result in claims for damages.

It is likely that councils already keep a register of legal proceedings and that they update council regularly of all ongoing and potential claims. Reporting against financial legal budgets will also be occurring. If not already in place, councils should begin to maintain such a register so that the collective information is efficiently and effectively transferred. Legal proceedings can include, but are not limited to, all civil claims such as contractual litigation, insurance claims for damages, inquiries, enforcement proceedings and debt collection as well as legal proceedings over development consents and other claims related to property.

In certain instances legal advice may be needed to assist council in taking appropriate action across a wide range of council’s responsibilities. The likelihood of seeking such on-going advice may also need to be taken into account when assessing council’s use of internal and external legal services and the integration of such services going forward.

Additional information and materials can be found on the Resources page.

Stage 1 - Review

  • Establish a compliance/legal working group within the project management framework. Critical paths and/or timelines to be established.
  • Begin development of a register of all current legal proceedings.

Stage 2 - Plan

  • Continue to maintain records, ensuring all legal files are up to date with all pleadings on record.
  • Consolidate a register of all ongoing and potential legal proceedings relating to each council. Include current and forecasted costs and potential impact of proceedings (financial and other).
  • Include the register in the due diligence report being prepared by leaders of the amalgamation.
  • Determine structure of Business Papers and Minutes.
  • Commence development of new Policies, delegations and other key governance processes.

Stage 3 - Mobilise

  • Ensure the merging partners have a consolidated register of all current legal proceedings.
  • Update legal register and include a finalised due diligence report being signed off by the leaders of the amalgamation.
  • Prior to transfer of legal matters to the new entity, check that the further action is required and that the matter is relevant to the new entity.
  • Align legal documents including Business Papers and Minutes, various licences, property registers etc.
  • In partnership with the workplace reform working group:
    • Map roles, responsibilities and desired functions for the new entity.
    • Review budgets across the entities and establish budgets.
    • Determine functions and services to be delivered internally / out-sourced.

Stage 4 - Implement

  • Implement the new work strategy to manage the on-going legal matters.
  • Undertake a risk assessment to avoid further actions, where applicable.