Campaign group calls on lawyers to join push for NDA law reform

Perkins: Government dragging its feet

A campaign group has urged the legal profession to support legislative reform to stop the abuse of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

While welcoming last week’s Legal Services Board report summarising the evidence it has received on NDA misuse, Can’t Buy My Silence (CBMS) said “victims need action, not more reviews”.

Co-founder Zelda Perkins said: “This is yet another official report that details the devastating impacts abusive NDAs have on people’s lives and the gap in lawyers’ knowledge on how to negotiate these agreements appropriately.

“The evidence clearly confirms our data and we welcome that the LSB undertook this research and has made these findings public.

“There can no longer be any question of the issues at stake and we continue to urge both the legal sector and the government to make decisive reforms. To add to this, the most recent exposé of the Post Office using NDAs so harmfully surely makes action to ban abusive NDAs the only way forward.”

Ms Perkins is the woman who first broke a Harvey Weinstein NDA, and she co-founded CBMS with Dr Julie Macfarlane.

CMBS is calling on the government to expand the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023 – which outlaws NDAs in cases of harassment, sexism, bullying and discrimination – to the entire economic workforce.

She observed that next month marked five years since then Prime Minister Theresa May spoke out against “the unethical misuse of NDAs” and vowed to change the law around them.

“Since May uttered those words, Britain has had three prime ministers, eight justice secretaries, and countless reviews by legal bodies into abusive NDAs have been carried out.

“All have concluded the same thing: abusive NDAs have a destructive effect on the health and wellbeing of those made to sign them and stop victims of miscarriages of justice from coming forward.

“As recently as last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared that NDAs should not be used in this way and yet the government continues to drag its feet on protecting victims of harm from abusive NDAs.”

Ms Perkins argued that, in face of the “overwhelming” evidence, the legal sector, including the Law Society, Bar Council and Solicitors Regulation Authority, needed to join the call for changes to the law.

“Whilst the government is stalling over protecting victims from abusive NDAs, the legal community has an opportunity to get its own house in order and push for legislative reform,” she said.

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