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- The Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2015, which introduces significant increases to court fees, took effect on 9 March 2015.
- The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has published two information notes detailing the changes being made to the case management allocation and pre-trial review regime of Chancery Division cases.
Education and children’s services:
- The Education Workforce Council (Main Functions) (Wales) Regulations 2015 have been laid before the National Assembly for Wales and will come into force on 1 April 2015.
- The Court of Appeal has confirmed that both limbs of the test in Re W for determining whether permission should be given for a child to give oral evidence must be considered in every application (Re R (children)).
- The High Court has outlined the law about single parent adoption where the child was born through a surrogacy arrangement (Re B v C (Surrogacy: Adoption)).
- The Family Court has:
- allowed the appeal of a prohibited steps order preventing either of two parents from involving their children in political activities (A and B (Prohibited Steps Order at Dispute Resolution Appointment)); and
- stressed the importance of communication between parties and others if there is a potential appeal after a final hearing in care proceedings (Re S (A Child) (No 2)).
Employment and pensions:
- The EAT has declined to apply the 10% uplift on general damages in civil claims established by the Court of Appeal in Simmons v Castle, indicating that it should not apply to injury to feelings awards in the employment tribunals (Chawla v Hewlett Packard Ltd).
- The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-2015 has been amended by the government to introduce mandatory gender pay reporting.
- The Pensions Act 2004 (Code of Practice) (Governance and Administration of Public Service Pension Schemes) Appointed Day Order 2015 has been made, and will bring the Pensions Regulator’s code of practice 14 relating to public-service pension schemes into force on 1 April 2015.
- The Infrastructure Act 2015 (Commencement No 1) Regulations 2015 have been made and bring into force certain provisions of the Infrastructure Act 2015 in March and April 2015.
- The High Court has confirmed that small-scale or local impacts can amount to a significant impact for the purposes of determining during screening if a development requires an environmental impact assessment (R (Davies) v Carmarthenshire County Council and another).
- The DECC has published the government’s fuel poverty strategy for England, and its response to the consultation it carried out on the draft strategy in July 2014.
- The DCLG has published the government response to its consultation on its proposal to prevent local authorities making “backdoor” charges for residents’ use of household waste recycling centres in England.
- The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against a possession order, even though it held that judge in the County Court had misdirected himself in holding that the “seriously arguable” possession defence threshold under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights applied in the same manner to defences concerning possession in the case of disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 (Akerman-Livingstone v Aster Communities Limited).
- The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 (Commencement No 2) Order 2015 has been published, and brought a number of provisions of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 into force on 25 February 2015.
- The government has published its response to its consultation on social housing tenants’ right to move.
- The Local Government Transparency Code 2015 and a set of accompanying FAQs have been published. The new code will come into force on 1 April 2015 and until that date the Local Government Transparency Code 2014 will remain in force with the new code acting as best practice. Three related statutory instruments have also been published.
- The Community Right to Challenge (Business Improvement Districts) Regulations 2015 have been published and came into force on 6 March 2015.
- An authority has been served with a direction requiring it to comply with the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity, barring it from publishing or outsourcing or contracting for the publication of any weekly newsletter, newssheet or similar communication by a third party for payment.
Property and planning:
- The Infrastructure Act 2015 (Commencement No 1) Regulations 2015 brought into force certain provisions of the Infrastructure Act 2015 relating to strategic highway companies on 5 March 2015.
- The Infrastructure Planning (Interested Parties and Miscellaneous Prescribed Provisions) Regulations 2015 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2015.
- The Court of Appeal has held that in an appropriate case, when considering a planning application for planning permission to proceed with a development without complying with conditions attached to an existing permission, the decision maker may grant retrospective planning permission for development already carried out even when there is no reference to section 73A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in the application and no examination of the planning merits of the completed development (Lawson Builders Ltd and others v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and another).
- The High Court has considered:
- the time limit for bringing claims under section 118 of the Planning Act 2008, confirming that the six week window to bring a judicial review application starts running from the date of publication of the order, and not the day after publication (R (Blue Green London Plan) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs); and
- whether a building qualified for a reduction in the Community Infrastructure Levy under the “in lawful use” condition, holding that the building was actually required to be used for its lawful purpose. It was not sufficient that the building had a lawful use to which it could be put (R (Hourhope Ltd) v Shropshire Council).
- The DCLG has:
- published its response on the aspect of the technical consultation on planning relating to improving the use of planning conditions; and
- issued a technical consultation on the government’s proposal to amend Part 22 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to allow the drilling of boreholes for groundwater monitoring for petroleum exploration (including shale gas).
- The Crown Commercial Service has published a further guidance note on the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, covering the new light-touch rules regime for health, social, education and certain other service contracts.
Regulation and enforcement:
- The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Commencement No 11) Order 2015 brought section 85(1), (2) and (4) of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 into force on 12 March 2015.
- A number of statutory instruments were made in February 2015 concerning the referral of proposed marriages and civil partnerships to the Secretary of State, to investigate whether the proposed arrangement is a sham.
- Two new statutory instruments have been made, which implement improved search and seizure powers for waste crime vehicles: the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (Commencement No 6 and Saving) (England and Wales) Order 2015, and the Control of Waste (Dealing with Seized Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015.
- Defra and the Welsh Government have launched a consultation on proposals to enhance enforcement powers for facilities regulated under the Environmental Permitting regime, and a call for evidence on other measures to tackle waste crime and entrenched poor performance in the waste management industry.
- The draft Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General (Use of Approved Devices Amendment) Regulations 2015 have been published.
- The government has published its response to its consultation on the right of residents and businesses to challenge local authority parking policies.