The Isle of Wight Council has successfully defended its legal case to protect taxpayers’ money and school funding in a landmark judgement.
In 2013, the governing body of Christ the King College entered into a 15-year hire contract with BOSHire for its modular sixth form building that cost more than £650,000 a year to service — or more than than £10 million in total.
In 2016, the council issued a financial notice of concern to the school, deciding it could not allow it to build up additional debt.
Subsequently, the school was unable to meet the financial terms of the contract resulting in the contractor issuing legal proceedings against the school and the council.
The judge in the case, Mr Justice Foxton, ruled the school had entered into the contract in such a way that it was ultra vires — meaning it had no legal authority to enter into the contract — and, as a consequence, the contract had no legal effect.
Concluding the judgement on the case, Mr Justice Foxton called on the school and the contractor, Boshire, ‘to seek to reach agreement on the terms of an order reflecting the findings in this judgement, and on any consequential issues’.
There are likely to now be ongoing discussions between the school and the contractor.
Councillor Paul Brading, Cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, has welcomed the news.
He said: “This is a good outcome for the council and our local taxpayers and fully vindicates our decision to contest the claim.
“I hope that an agreement can be reached swiftly between the school and the provider of the sixth form buildings, so that focus can be placed where it should be, on the education of our young people.
“I look forward to working with the school to ensure they can continue to offer quality provision to its pupils and sixth form students, within the realms of its own budget.”