Cardiff Uni spends almost £8million on ‘gagging order’ settlement agreements

Experts say that these NDAs are silencing victims

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Cardiff Uni has spent almost £8 million on 'gagging order' settlement agreements, figures reveal, as use of the clauses is criticised for silencing victims.

The average amount paid out is £36,000, which Cardiff say is part of a standard pay-off for departing staff – in exchange for a "standard" non-disclosure clause.

Figures obtained by the BBC through Freedom of Information requests show that the university has spent £7,936,000 on staff non-disclosure agreement pay-offs in the last five years, with 220 staff signing the settlement agreements since 2013.

Although the university has asserted that these "were not entered into in relation to any complaint and disciplinary action", legal experts suggest that NDAs are in fact overused in order to protect employers, and question whether these gagging clauses would be necessary if the settlements were wholly voluntary.

The BBC has revealed the sheer extent of these non-disclosure settlements; UK universities have spent approximately £87m on the pay-offs since 2017, in a move that has been widely criticised as an attempt to "protect serial perpetrators of misconduct", and has left several former staff members vulnerable.

A spokesperson from the university told The Cardiff Tab that “Cardiff University enters into non-disclosure agreements for many purposes including protection of commercially sensitive materials.

"The significant number offered in recent years is largely attributable to voluntary severance arrangements which include as standard a non-disclosure agreement.”