Further information on the SONI Governance Call for Evidence

12 August 2019

The Utility Regulator published a Call for Evidence on SONI Governance on the 9 July 2019. In the interim we have received a number of enquiries in respect of the Call for Evidence. In particular, whether the deadline for responses can be extended and other issues including whether we will accept anonymous responses to the Call for Evidence.

In light of these enquires we wish to notify potential respondents of the following:

Extension to the date responses are due

In order to give all potential respondents sufficient time to fully consider the issues in the Call for Evidence we have decided to revise the deadline for receipt of responses to on or before 5pm on 1 October 2019.

Will we accept anonymous responses to the Call for Evidence?

We encourage respondents to the Call for Evidence to identify themselves. However, we will welcome all responses. We understand that some respondents may feel able to provide evidence and comments only if their responses can be submitted anonymously. We will therefore accept responses on this basis. Every response, whether it is provided by named individuals or anonymously, will be carefully considered by us and taken into account as part of the evidence base that informs what options we decide to take forward.

Could we provide guidance beyond what is stated in our External Whistleblowing Guide 2015, with specific reference to the Call for evidence, on what information would qualify an individual for protection under The Public Interest Disclosure (NI) Order 1998?

The 2015 Guide sets out how we will deal with ‘qualifying disclosures’. It provides examples of what such qualifying disclosures might be as they relate to companies we regulate, and covers all of our obligations under the Public Interest Disclosure (NI) Order 1998.

However, the question of whether information constitutes a qualifying disclosure is highly fact-sensitive, and it is not possible, in the abstract, for us to provide more guidance than is contained in the 2015 Guide. We are not in a position to form a view on whether it is likely that evidence that might be submitted in response to the Call for Evidence would be protected.

Individuals may wish to seek advice in relation to the detail of potential disclosures before they are made.  

What is the scope of matters that we will considered?

The matters that we are currently considering are those that are explicitly laid out in the Call for Evidence. We shall consider responses to the Call for Evidence on matters within its scope or any other matter relevant to the scope of the governance review.  Responses dealing with matters outside the scope of the governance review would fall outside the Call for Evidence. 

We will, of course, read and consider all information submitted to us. If it is not within the scope of the Call for Evidence it is unlikely to be progressed as part of the governance review. However, if it raises other issues of interest to us, it may be taken into account in other contexts.