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 Local Government email.
Queen’s Speech 2016:
- The Queen’s Speech has been made to both Houses of Parliament, setting out the government’s legislative priorities for the 2016-17 parliamentary session, containing a series of Bills of interest to public sector practitioners. The government has also published background briefing notes relating to the Queen’s Speech, providing a summary of the Bills to be introduced by the government and non-legislative briefs for the current parliamentary session.
- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper summarising the EU referendum process and possible implications of either result.
- HM Treasury has launched a consultation seeking views on the proposed transfer of powers from the Public Works Loan Board to the Treasury.
- The European Court of Human Rights has held by a majority that the indefinite suspension of a father’s contact with his daughter did not breach his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Buchleither v Germany).
- The High Court has:
- decided that a local authority was able to withhold confidential information given by a child from the other parties in care proceedings, in circumstances where the child expressly did not want the parents to know (Local Authority X v HI and others);
- ordered a council to pay £17,500 damages for failing to assess, give effect to a care plan, provide an opportunity for permanency and issue care proceedings in a timely manner. These breached the child’s rights under Articles 6 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Kent County Council v M and others); and
- declared lawful the deprivation of liberty of a ten year old child for one year, and allowed annual renewals on paper (Re D (deprivation of liberty declaration)).
- The President of the Family Division’s Office has published three forms of guidance for practitioners and the judiciary involved in children proceedings with an international element.
- The Court of Appeal has considered the appropriate orders that should be made in relation to costs, when the appellants’ and applicants’ claims for judicial review were settled after the Secretary of State withdrew the certification of their human rights claims (R (Tesfay and others)).
- The High Court has:
- considered an application to amend particulars of claim, or alternatively to adjourn the amendment application pending the outcome of a Supreme Court decision in an unrelated case (CXS and others v Chief Constable of Hampshire Police);
- held that a defendant to a negligent valuation claim, which was issued but then abandoned before service, was entitled to its costs of and incidental to the claim (Webb Resolutions Ltd v Countrywide Surveyors Ltd); and
- considered an application to adduce surveillance evidence shortly before trial (Hayden v Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust).
- The Ministry of Justice has published an online survey for practitioners to assess how much is understood about the process by which the relevant court hears the committal application.
- Speaking at the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers annual conference, the civil justice minister, Lord Faulks, confirmed that the government supports the introduction of fixed recoverable costs in all civil claims.
- The Court of Appeal has considered the circumstances in which a provision requiring both parties to sign a document in order to be legally binding can be waived (Reveille Independent LLC v Anotech International (UK) Ltd).
- The ECJ has held that a local or regional authority’s provision of school transport is not an economic activity where only a small proportion of the cost is paid by the users (Gemeente Borsele v Staatssecretaris van Financiën).
- The Scottish Court of Session has confirmed that a pupil’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder did not amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010, which would have meant that her exclusion and withdrawal from school was unlawful (JC v Gordonstoun Schools Ltd).
- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper providing an overview of the position relating to parents taking their children on holiday during school term time in England, following a recent High Court ruling.
Employment and pensions:
- The Immigration Bill 2015-16 has received Royal Assent to become the Immigration Act 2016. The Act will give effect to a number of government commitments that are intended to curb illegal working and prevent the exploitation of migrant workers, and contains provisions of interest to employment practitioners.
- The High Court has suggested in obiter comments that Employment Tribunals, when faced with weak claims, should expressly consider and make a finding on whether any particular claim is “totally without merit” for the purposes of a civil restraint order under the CPR (Nursing and Midwifery Council v Harrold).
- The EAT has held that a tribunal erred in its approach to identifying and considering the correct actual and hypothetical comparators in a claim of direct race discrimination (Croydon Health Services NHS Trust v George).
- The Energy Bill 2015-16 has received Royal Assent to become the Energy Act 2016.
- The DCLG is widening access to data from Energy Performance Certificates. Property owners and occupiers will be able to opt-out from the public disclosure.
FOI and data protection:
- The government has published the UK Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18. This is intended to continue the implementation of the government’s manifesto commitment to maximise openness and transparency in government operations and includes a commitment to publish a new code of practice under section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
- The Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16 has received Royal Assent to become the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the House of Lords amendments and Ping Pong stage of the Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16.
- The DCLG has published the Housing Revenue Account (Accounting Practice) Directions 2016.
Local government law:
- The High Court has dismissed a claim for damages for misfeasance in public office that was brought against a council and one of its employees (Perma-Soil UK Ltd v Williams and another).
- The FTT(GRC) has held that the lack of an onsite clubhouse at a golf club was fatal to its listing as an asset of community value under the Localism Act 2011 (Haddon Property Development Ltd v Cheshire East Council and another).
- The DCLG has published a consultation on changes to the Local Government Transparency Code 2015, in particular relating to the way that local authorities record details of their land and property assets and publish information about their procurement, their contracts and the delivery of some of their services.
Property and planning:
- The Immigration Bill 2015-16 has received Royal Assent to become the Immigration Act 2016. The Act introduces various reforms to reduce illegal migration. These include providing for the prosecution of rogue landlords and agents who repeatedly fail to carry out right to rent checks or fail to take steps to remove illegal migrants from properties.
- The Court of Appeal has:
- overturned the High Court’s decision and has upheld the lawfulness of the DCLG’s planning policy on affordable housing contributions (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government v West Berkshire District Council and another); and
- considered the acquisition by prescription of rights of common over land registered as common land before 31 July 1970 (Littlejohns and another v Devon County Council and another).
- The High Court has:
- held that a local authority correctly served an enforcement notice on the property owner at the address given in the proprietorship register on the Land Registry title for the property (London Borough of Newham v Miah and another); and
- considered whether a landlord had breached its covenant for quiet enjoyment and was in derogation from grant by the manner in which it carried out rebuilding works (Timothy Taylor Ltd v Mayfair House Corporation and another).
- The CON29DW (standard residential drainage and water search) is being revised to reflect changes to legislation that affect the water industry. Providers will be using the revised search by 4 July 2016 at the latest.
- The Land Registry have published a consultation on the proposed draft Local Land Charges Rules 2017.
- The Court of Appeal has handed down a judgment upholding a High Court judgment which found that a loan by a UK local authority to sports stadium does not constitute state aid because the local authority was predominantly motivated by commercial interests (R (Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Ltd & Ors) v Coventry City Council).
- The Court of Session has refused an application to bring to an end a prohibition on entering into a contract for sheriff officer services following the service of proceedings challenging the award of the contract (Scott & Co (Scotland) LLP v Aberdeenshire Council).
- The government has published the UK Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18.
- The Crown Commercial Service has published Procurement Policy Note 04/16 confirming the threshold for concession contracts.
- The Prime Minister has announced that the UK will require foreign companies already holding or wishing to buy UK property, or that wish to bid for central government contracts, to reveal who owns them.