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.
New Acts of Parliament:
- The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2014-2015 has received Royal Assent and is now the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Parts 1, 2 and 4 of the Act contain new offences and reforms of interest to public sector lawyers.
- The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill 2014-15 has received Royal Assent, to become the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
- The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill has received Royal Assent and is now known as the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015.
- The Infrastructure Act 2015 has received Royal Assent, and contains provisions relevant to both environmental and property practitioners.
- The High Court has considered an application to enforce an undertaking by HM Revenue and Customs to pay damages to a company, in a case where HMRC successfully applied for a provisional liquidation order over a company in winding up proceedings where the petition debt was later found not to be due (Abbey Forwarding Ltd (in liquidation) v HM Revenue and Customs).
- The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal against a High Court decision refusing to grant an anonymity order in respect of Part 8 proceedings for approval of the settlement of a child’s claim (JX MX (by her mother and litigation friend AX MX) v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust).
- The High Court has:
- held that it would be inappropriate to adjourn the trial of a clinical negligence claim on the basis that the defendant would be prejudiced by its inability to cross-examine one of the claimant’s expert witnesses who was unable to attend due to illness (Robshaw v United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust); and
- considered whether a defendant had properly applied the burden of proof in misconduct proceedings (Pope v General Dental Council).
- The Commercial Court has dismissed a claimant’s applications under CPR 31.22(1)(a) and (b) and CPR 32.12 for permission to use certain in separate proceedings in Guernsey documents disclosed, and extracts from witness statements served in English proceedings (Rawlinson and Hunter Trustees SA (Trustee of the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust) v Serious Fraud Office).
- The Civil Justice Council Online Dispute Resolution Advisory Group has recommended that a new state-run online dispute resolution system should be set up to increase access to justice and streamline the court process.
- The Civil Procedure Rule Committee has provided an update on the planned timing of changes to court fees expected to be introduced in Spring 2015.
- The High Court has held that the wording in a signature block and other wording in draft contracts did not constitute a prescribed mode of acceptance (A Ltd v B Ltd).
Employment and pensions:
- The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2015 has been laid before Parliament and will increase compensation limits for certain tribunal awards and other statutory payments from 6 April 2015.
- The Court of Appeal has held that:
- foreign staff employed at embassies in the UK could bring claims in the employment tribunal for race discrimination and holiday pay, despite the fact that provisions of the State Immunity Act 1978 barred them from doing so (Benkharbouche and another v Embassy of the Republic of Sudan); and
- a single employee was an “organised grouping of employees” which had as its principal purpose the carrying out of activities on behalf of a client, for the purposes of the TUPE service provision change test (Rynda (UK) Ltd v Rhijnsburger).
- The EAT has:
- overruled a tribunal decision that an employer was entitled to rely on a general right to vary clause to reduce employees’ entitlements without their consent (Norman and others v National Audit Office); and
- held that a requirement to sign up to new contractual terms and conditions was a PCP that disadvantaged older workers, including the claimants (Braithwaite and others v HCL Insurance BPO Services Ltd).
- The Pensions Act 2014 (Commencement No 4) Order 2015 and the State Pension Regulations 2015 have both been made.
- The DWP has published a response to its November 2014 consultation paper on plans to continue and extend exemptions from statutory disclosure-of-information requirements for the new public-sector schemes coming into being on 1 April 2015.
- The Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme and Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2015 were made on 4 February 2015. They introduce mandatory sustainability requirements for Renewable Heat Incentive installations using biomass, biogas or biomethane, in both the domestic and non-domestic schemes, from 5 October 2015.
- The Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2015 were made on 11 February 2015 and came into force on 12 February 2015. The Regulations introduce a revised tariff for biomethane and make a number of other relatively minor amendments to the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
- The Environment Agency has announced that it has decided on the methodology for calculating the compliance fee that producer compliance schemes must pay if they fail to meet their collection targets under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regime.
- The DCLG has published a consultation on improving the Display Energy Certificates regime for public buildings.
FOI and data protection:
- The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Communications Data) (Amendment) Order 2015 has been made and came into force on 12 February 2015.
- The FTT(IR) has overturned a decision of the Information Commissioner, and ordered an NHS Trust to disclose the medical records of a deceased individual, finding that the exemption in section 41(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 was not engaged (Armstrong v Information Commissioner and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust).
- The Department of Health has published a new report on progress made across the health system following the inquiry into failures of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, along with plans to protect whistleblowers who speak up about poor care.
- Four sets of regulations have been made under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.
- The Court of Appeal has dismissed an application for judicial review of a decision on the meaning of ordinary residence under section 24 of the National Assistance Act 1948 (R (Kent County Council) v Secretary of State for Health and others).
Property and planning:
- The High Court has dismissed a claimant’s judicial review challenge that a local planning authority’s decision to decline to determine a retrospective planning application under section 70C of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 was unlawful (Wingrove v Stratford-On-Avon District Council).
- The Highways Agency has published Your property and compulsory purchase, which provides guidance on the process of compulsory purchase of land for highway improvements.
- The Welsh Government is consulting on a land transaction tax to replace SDLT in Wales from April 2018. Comments are invited by 6 May 2015.
- The High Court has:
- ruled that a council acted unlawfully in varying an agreement with a developer without holding a new procurement exercise under the Public Contracts Regulation 2006 (R (Gottlieb) v Winchester City Council); and
- lifted the automatic suspension of award of contract for an integrated IT system (Advanced Business Software and Solutions Ltd v The Pirbright Institute).
- The Crown Commercial Service has published a Procurement Policy Note on the reforms contained in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which are intended to make public procurement more accessible to SMEs.
- The Cabinet Office has published a review of the first two years of the operation of the Public Services (Social Value Act) 2012.
Regulation and enforcement:
- The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (Code of Practice for Powers of Entry and Description of Relevant Persons) Order 2015 was made on 11 February 2015, and will bring into force a powers of entry code of practice from 6 April 2015.