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March 2015 Budget
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made his Budget Statement to the House of Commons. The statement included various policy announcements of interest to public sector lawyers, including the establishment of a central body that will own and manage the central government estate, and the launch of a consultation into the compulsory purchase regime intended to support brownfield development.
- The Care Planning and Fostering (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2015 have been made and will come into force on 1 April 2015. The regulations introduce the statutory concept of long-term fostering.
- The High Court has criticised a local authority for misleading the court about the transport and placement arrangements following recovery of a teenager who had absconded from care (London Borough of Brent v K).
- The Civil Procedure (Amendment No 2) Rules 2015, comprising the 79th update to the CPR, have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2015. They include amendments to the rules on the costs payable by a child or protected party, and changes in relation to judicial review applications.
- The High Court has allowed an appeal against a case management decision not to allow the cross-examination of expert witnesses at trial (Homebase v ATS Rangasamy).
- The High Court has handed down a judgment on the terms of the confidentiality order governing disclosure of the European Commission’s decision during proceedings brought by three UK health authorities (Secretary of State for Health and others v Servier Laboratories and others, judgment on the terms of the confidentiality order).
Employment and pensions:
- The National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2015. The regulations consolidate and replace the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 and subsequent amending regulations.
- Parliament has approved the revised Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and Acas has updated the accompanying non-statutory guidance.
- The EAT has:
- considered for the first time whether the references to “a client” and “the client” in regulation 3(1)(b) of TUPE (which defines a service provision change) cover “clients” in the plural or only a single legal entity (Ottimo Property Services Ltd v Duncan and another); and
- held that a tribunal had erred in holding that an employee who had made admissions during their employer’s disciplinary process had been unfairly dismissed (CRO Ports London Ltd v Wiltshire).
- The government has published responses to consultations on:
- the ban of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts;
- annual whistleblowing reporting requirements for prescribed persons. It has also produced draft regulations which set out its proposals in outline; and
- trade unions maintaining assured registers of members.
- The MoJ has published tribunal statistics for October to December 2014, which indicate that although the number of claims remains low, there has been a small increase in the number of claims in the last quarter.
- The Pensions Act 2004 (Code of Practice) (Governance and Administration of Public Service Pension Schemes) Appointed Day Order 2015 has been made and brings the Pensions Regulator’s code of practice 14 relating to public-service pension schemes into force on 1 April 2015.
- The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015 have been made and will come into force on 1 June 2015.
- The Devolution of Landfill Tax (Consequential, Transitional and Saving Provisions) Order 2015 has been made and will come into force on 31 March 2015. The Order makes a number of changes to the landfill tax regime to give effect to the devolution of landfill tax in Scotland from 1 April 2015.
FOI and data protection:
- The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (Commencement No 11) Order 2015 has been made and brought into force on 16 March 2015 section 105 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
- The Upper Tribunal has ruled that public authorities are permitted to rely before the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) on provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 that are not in the list of Part II exemptions from FOIA, even if they had not previously relied on these provisions when refusing an application (McInerney v Information Commissioner and Department for Education).
- The High Court has considered the motive behind a data subject access request, using its discretion under section 7(9) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (Ali Babitu Kololo and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis).
Health and social care:
- The Care Act 2014 (Consequential Amendments) (Secondary Legislation) Order 2015 and the Care and Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2015 were laid before Parliament on 11 March 2015.
- The Department of Health Charging for Residential Accommodation Guidance is to be replaced with new statutory guidance under the Care Act 2014 on 1 April 2015.
- The High Court has ruled that decisions by Welsh Local Health Boards setting the rate for the funded nursing care costs that they would cover were flawed, because they were based on an overly restrictive definition of “nursing care by a registered nurse” (R (Forge Care Homes Ltd and others) v Cardiff & Vale University Health Board and others).
- The CMA has published the full text of its decision to refer the anticipated merger between Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to a Phase 2 investigation.
- The DCLG has published advice to local authorities on the new regime for applications for the grant or transfer of a site licence under the Mobile Homes Act 2013.
- The DCLG has announced that the government will proceed with the draft legislative reform order on setting up new town and parish councils that it published in December 2014.
- HM Treasury has published a consultation paper on its business rates review, following concerns from business ratepayers that the system is in need of reform.
- The Home Office has published Prevent duty guidance for Scotland and England and Wales. Related draft regulations were also published.
- The DCLG has published a guide on changes to the smaller authorities’ local audit and accountability framework.
- The Local Government Association has published a guide to publicity during the pre-election purdah period.
Property and planning:
- The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2015 has been made and will come into force on 6 April 2015.
- The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2015. They are accompanied by an explanatory memorandum.
- The DCLG has published responses to consultations on:
- further changes to statutory consultee arrangements for the planning application process; and
- streamlining the consenting process for nationally significant infrastructure projects.
- The Secretary of State for Transport has appointed Highways England as the new strategic highways company to run motorways and major A roads from 1 April 2015.
- The Home Office has issued its response to its consultation on the reform of the Riot (Damages) Act 1886, and has published the draft Riot Compensation Bill.
- The ECJ has handed down its ruling on a preliminary reference from a Lithuanian court on the interpretation of Directive 89/665 and Directive 2004/18, in particular, the effect of bias on the award of a procurement contract and the right to bring a challenge out of time against that award (eVigilo Ltd v Priešgaisrinės apsaugos ir gelbėjimo departamentas prie Vidaus reikalų ministerijos).
- The General Court has dismissed an appeal against a decision of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia rejecting a tender submitted in response to the call for tenders for the supply of a rabies vaccine to the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Supply (IDT Biologika v European Commission).
Practical Law In brief