Make sure that you have not missed a key development in your area of the law by reading our In brief review of the latest Practical Law Public Sector email.
- The High Court has:
- ordered a defendant to pay some of a successful claimant’s costs on an indemnity basis because of the manner in which the defendant’s expert witness had prepared and given his evidence (Siegel v Pummell);
- considered whether the master below had been right to require the National Crime Agency to provide standard disclosure, rather than more limited disclosure as in SOCA v Namli (National Crime Agency v Atkinson);
- held that a claimant was not required to specify its reasons for requesting access to certain documents, where it had a contractual right to such access (Alfa Finance Holding AD v Quarzwerke GmbH);
- dismissed a damages claim against a law firm for losses allegedly suffered by a third party as the result of an alleged breach of a collateral contract, or implied retainer, or tortious duty of care (Metropolitan Venues Ltd v Watson Burton LLP);
- given general guidance on costs budgeting in a case and costs management conference in a libel action (Yeo v Times Newspapers Ltd);
- considered an application to revise the claimant’s agreed costs budget after additional costs had been incurred (Excelerate Technology Ltd v Cumberbatch and others); and
- refused permission to apply for judicial review of a Charity Commission inquiry and production order under the Charities Act 2011, because effective remedies were available under that Act (Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Britain v Charity Commission).
- BIS has launched a consultation setting out proposals to tackle the issue of late payment amongst SMEs. Proposed measures include defining the power of representative bodies to deal with late payment terms and practices.
Education and children’s services:
- The High Court has:
- dismissed an application for judicial review challenging a council’s decision to withdraw flexible transport arrangements for a pupil with special educational needs to enable her to attend medical appointments and after-school clubs (P v East Sussex County Council); and
- considered the requirements for a Local Offer under section 30 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and whether a social worker assessment is required for every potential child in need (R (L and P) v Warwickshire County Council).
- The Local Government Ombudsman has published two reports which highlight problems with school admission appeals in England.
- The DfE has published guidance on child performance and activities licensing legislation in England.
- The Court of Appeal has:
- clarified when it may be appropriate for final care orders to be made at the case management hearing. The case describes circumstances when it can be appropriate and considers the balance between being robust and being unfair (Re S-W (children)); and
- considered whether the DNA profile of a putative father taken during criminal investigations could be disclosed to the local authority and used for paternity testing (X and The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Z (children) and another).
- The High Court has issued guidance following a fact finding hearing into allegations of sexual abuse about whether veracity assessments in relation to children’s evidence should be permitted (Wigan Council v M and others).
Employment and pensions:
- The High Court has held that an employer was not entitled to unilaterally change the terms of its staff handbook, which the court found had been incorporated (in part) into its employees’ contracts of employment (Sparks and another v Department for Transport).
- The Advocate General has given his opinion on the meaning of “establishment” for the purposes of determining when collective redundancy requirements apply (USDAW and another v WW Realisation 1 Ltd (in liquidation) and others, Lyttle and others v Bluebird UK Bidco 2 Ltd and Cañas v Nexea Gestión Documental SA Fondo de Garantía Salarial).
- The Pensions Regulator is consulting on a draft policy which sets out its approach to compliance and enforcement for public service schemes.
- The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2015 have been made, and came into force on 5 February 2015.
- The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal against the High Court’s decision to dismiss a claim for judicial review of a development consent order to build a large energy from waste plant (R (FCC Environment (UK) Ltd) v The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change).
- The DCLG has published changes to planning practice guidance on assessing when noise constitutes a statutory nuisance and on noise mitigation measures for residential developments.
- The DECC has published:
- The Court of Appeal has held that the UK was entitled to restrict Zambrano carers’ entitlement to non-contributory welfare benefits (Sanneh and others v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions).
- The Upper Tribunal has considered the extent of the exclusions from the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010 set out in the Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations 2010 (Mr X v The Governing Body of a School).
FOI and data protection:
- The Upper Tribunal has allowed an appeal against an First tier Tribunal decision, ruling that it should have made use of the steps direction power set out in section 50(4) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Home Office v Information Commissioner and Cobain (Final Decision)).
- The FTT(IR) has required a council to disclose all categories of redacted information concerning changes to an approved development plan under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (Royal Borough of Greenwich v Information Commissioner).
- The Investigatory Powers Tribunal has held that the government had contravened the ECHR by receiving intercepted information before making public its arrangements for ensuring compliance with the statutory framework and Articles 8 and 10 of the ECHR (The National Council of Civil Liberties and others v The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and others).
- The Home Office has published a consultation on two new draft codes of practice dealing with equipment interference and the interception of communications governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Health and social care:
- The Department of Health has published:
- a consultation on draft regulations implementing the cap on care costs contained in the Care Act 2014 and seeking views on the need for a new appeals system concerning local authorities’ decisions in relation to a person’s care and support;
- a consultation on draft regulations amending the NHS Bodies and Local Authorities Partnership Regulations 2000 to include NHS England’s primary medical care functions within the scope of the partnership arrangements permitted under section 75 of the National Health Service Act 2006; and
- guidance on the transfer of 0-5 children’s public health commissioning to local authorities, specifically on commissioning the national Healthy Child Programme and the mandation of universal healthy child programme assessments/reviews.
- The National Assembly for Wales has published the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill. The Bill is intended to improve the arrangements for renting a home in Wales by replacing the numerous different forms of existing occupation agreements with two main types of occupation contracts.
- The DCLG has announced changes to provisions of the Deregulation Bill 2015 dealing with residential tenant protection.
- The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court decision that the rights of a former spouse of a Crown licensee under the ECHR had not been infringed when she had been asked to vacate their former matrimonial home following the breakdown of the marriage (Nicholas v Secretary of State for Defence).
- The Upper Tribunal has upheld an appeal by a local authority against a decision of the First-tier Tribunal that it had unlawfully reduced a claimant’s housing benefit to reflect under-occupancy (MR v North Tyneside Council and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions).
- The FTT(GRC) has dismissed an appeal against a decision of a local authority to list a pub as an asset of community value which argued that the community nomination was not valid (St Gabriel Properties Ltd v London Borough of Lewisham and another).
- The DfT has announced the government’s decision on the implementation of remedies on bus registration that were recommended by the Competition Commission in its final report on the local bus services market investigation.
Property and planning:
- The Non-Domestic Rating (Small Business Rate Relief) (England) (Amendment) Order 2015, which makes provision for a continued temporary increase in the level of small business rate relief, has been laid before Parliament and will come into force on 2 March 2015.
- The High Court has:
- held that the administrative and monitoring costs incurred by a local planning authority in ensuring that planning obligations were observed were not capable of being a planning obligation in their own right (Oxfordshire County Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and others).
- dismissed a landowner’s judicial review challenge to a local planning authority’s decision to designate a former greyhound racing track and speedway stadium as a conservation area under section 69 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (R (GRA Acquisition Ltd) v Oxford City Council).
- The Upper Tribunal has held that a landlord was not entitled to apportion communal lighting charges by reference to the rateable value of the estate compared to the rateable value of other properties owned by the landlord and covered by a global maintenance contract (Norwich City Council v Redford and another).
- The DCLG has published details of its intended reforms to the rules that restrict Londoners from renting out their homes on a short-term basis.
- The DECC has published responses to its two consultations on proposed regulations to encourage alterations to private rented sector properties (both commercial and domestic) so that they achieve a minimum energy efficiency standard.
- The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 have been published and will come into force on 26 February 2015. The regulations will replace the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, and implement Directive 2014/24 on public procurement. They also implement certain measures aimed at ensuring that small businesses have better access to public sector contracts.
- The Scottish government has issued a consultation on changes to the public procurement rules in Scotland to implement the new EU Directives.