Court battle date set for £300m BT Cornwall termination dispute

Row over council decision to end contract goes pasty point of no return

A legal showdown between BT and county of Cornwall, over the local council's plans to prematurely exit its £300m outsourcing contract with the telco giant, is to be heard in the High Court in December.

The adversaries are to fight out their dispute over the termination of the BT Cornwall contract this year, due to BT disagreeing with the council's reasons for its termination.

The 10-year outsourcing arrangement included the running of the council's IT, human resources, document management and other services for the council.

BT filed an injunction last month preventing the termination of the agreement after Cornwall sought to formally can the project in July, alleging BT had failed to meet its KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

Andrew Wallis, Cornwall councillor, alleged the contract – which began in 2013 under much contention – failed to deliver "in just about every area".

"These failings have also been discussed at various committees with damning reports being presented. After over two years, the contract was simply not working; and therefore, Cornwall Council has decided to exit the contract," he said in a blog post.

Despite the controversy surrounding mega outsourcing deals, the route is becoming increasingly popular in the public sector in an attempt to cut costs.

Yesterday, Lancashire market town Burnley announced a 10-year, £34m outsourcing deal with Liberata. Last month the Metropolitan Police Service said hundreds of back office IT jobs are to be made redundant under a ten-year, £216m outsourcing deal with Steria.

BT said of its dispute: “BT has commenced legal action to ensure fair and proper handling of the issues which have arisen about BT Cornwall and, whilst this is taking place, it would be inappropriate for us to comment.”

The telco giant has said all its service targets are now being achieved.

The trial will take place on 1 December 2015, to determine if the council has the right to terminate the agreement or not. ®

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