Legal Services Board opens consultation on NDA misuse
The Legal Services Board (LSB), a governmental regulator for the legal profession, has launched a call for evidence to understand concerns that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) – legally enforceable agreements between parties used to ensure information remains confidential – are being used by employers to silence victims of workplace misconduct.
Matthew Hill, chief executive of the LSB, said the #MeToo movement has raised public awareness of the misuse of NDAs to silence victims of harassment and abuse. He said media coverage has also highlighted patterns of misuse in sectors including the arts, further education, policing and advertising.
The LSB therefore wants to understand how to ensure lawyers always adhere to professional ethics obligations when consulting on NDAs. The LSB is specifically looking at lawyers’ role in the use of NDAs but it is hoped the enquiry will provide some useful lessons for employers across all sectors.
The LSB does not have the power to ban NDAs completely, but Hill believes an important part of any regulatory solution in this area would be to provide “meaningful reporting routes for employees and legal professionals”.
Responses to the call for evidence, which is open until 14 July, will be used to help the LSB come up with potential regulatory solutions. Those who have been victims to NDA misuse, legal practitioners and regulators are all able to contribute.