Indemnity forms are the legal agreements by which an organisation providing a facility to the BBC clarifies liability if something goes wrong - either during recording and its associated activity, or as a result of the broadcast. They may be stand-alone documents or an indemnity clause within a broader Access Agreement. An inappropriately worded indemnity could result in the BBC being held liable for actions outside its control or responsibility. Editorial Policy and/or Programme Legal Advice and/or the Insurance Services Department may be consulted before agreeing an indemnity clause.
Police Forces in England and Wales
The Association of Chief Police Officers has a standard Indemnity Form that it recommends for use by all Police Forces in England and Wales when they are accompanied by media organisations. The wording of this form has been agreed with the BBC. It is acceptable to sign such a form provided that the wording is identical to the agreed version available on the Editorial Guidelines website. (see notes below on checking the wording).
In addition, the BBC has agreed the wording of a separate and distinct indemnity/access form with Kent Police. Again, it is acceptable for programme makers and journalists to sign a form offered by Kent Police, provided it is identical to the agreed version available on the Editorial Guidelines website.
Notes on ACPO agreed form:
When ensuring an indemnity form matches the ACPO agreed version, particular attention should be given to the wording of clause 3 and the declaration at the end of the Note to Media Representatives.
Although this standard form is recommended by ACPO as good practice and has also been adopted by the Metropolitan Police, other individual forces are not obliged to use it and may still prefer to issue their own documents. With the exception of the Kent force, alternative forms are unlikely to have been agreed with the BBC and you will need to be sure that they are acceptable before signing (see guidance for "Other Organisations" below). If a force presents you with an indemnity form or filming agreement that has particular difficulties, you may offer the standard ACPO form as a substitute.
The BBC has not agreed a standard wording for Indemnity Forms or clauses with any other organisation. However, it is reasonable to agree indemnity clauses on a case-by-case basis provided they do not over-state the BBC's liability.
Programme makers need to ensure that the BBC is accepting liability only for problems its employees and agents have caused directly - either through their actions or through negligence. The BBC should not be left potentially liable for claims when it has had no direct involvement in whatever has gone wrong.
It is not acceptable for the BBC to agree to be liable for the actions or negligence of either the organisation providing the facility, or any other person with no relationship to the BBC. Similarly, the BBC should ensure that the organisation providing the facility does not try to exempt itself from liability for negligence.
Clauses seeking to regulate or restrict the BBC's responsibilities in relation to privacy or other Human Rights issues should not be agreed unless they either strike an appropriate balance between the rights of privacy (or other human rights) and the BBC's right to freedom of expression, or they otherwise maintain the BBC's ability to make its own judgements as to what may be included in the programme.
Each time a BBC programme signs an Indemnity Form with an undesirable clause, it risks being seen as setting a precedent, making it harder to argue against such clauses in the future. So, Programme Legal Advice and Editorial Policy should be consulted, prior to signing, if any doubt exists about the wording of an indemnity form or clause.