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.
Adult social services:
- The Local Government Ombudsman has upheld a complaint by the parents of a disabled young person (Y) against Bromley Council, concerning the council’s failure to ensure that Y’s transition from children’s services to adult care and support was conducted in a timely manner, and its decision to reduce Y’s respite support package upon his transition to adult care and support (Investigation into a complaint against the London Borough of Bromley (16 000 780)).
- The House of Commons Exiting the European Union Committee has published the government’s response to its first report of the parliamentary session 2016-2017 on the process for exiting the European Union and the government’s negotiating objectives.
- The Institute for Government has published a report on Legislating Brexit: The Great Repeal Bill and the wider legislative challenge. The report analyses the prospective roles of the government and Parliament, and the risks facing each, in the legislative process arising from Britain’s exit from the European Union.
- The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has published its report, Brexit: justice for families, individuals and businesses?, which considers the effect of Brexit on EU civil co-operation, including on Regulations that address matters of family justice.
- The Lord Chief Justice has delivered a speech to the City of London Solicitors’ Company, in which he outlined initiatives for the continued success of the judiciary.
- The Cabinet Office has published two sets of guidance, on the disposal of surplus government land, and on making commercial terms of government land disposals more transparent.
- The Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2017 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2017. They primarily amend the provisions in Family Procedure Rules 10 and 11 about serving protective orders, to make clear that an applicant should not personally hand the application or order to the respondent.
The Court of Appeal has considered an appeal against an order requiring the defendants to pay 75% of the claimants’ costs of the claim, despite the overall outcome at trial being less advantageous to the claimants than the defendants’ (withdrawn) settlement offer, made under the pre-6 April 2015 version of CPR 36. The court also considered the relevance of the defendants having delayed in responding to the claimants’ attempts to arrange a mediation, leading the claimants to abandon the idea (Thakkar and another v Patel and another).
- The High Court has refused permission to discontinue charity proceedings despite the Charity Commission having refused to authorise the proceedings to continue. The proceedings concerned the validity of a contested election of members of the management committee of a charitable unincorporated association (Singh v Charity Commission and others).
- The UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations has made a statement seeking a unified UN approach to tackling slavery at the Security Council Open Debate on Modern Slavery.
- The Home Secretary has announced a £6 million investment to tackle modern slavery.
- The Local Government Ombudsman has published a report emphasising the need for councils to make decisions about school transport in a fair, lawful and transparent manner. The report offers advice and guidance to parents and councils on the school transport decision-making process.
- The Department for Education has published a consultation on its proposed revisions to the statutory guidance on the exclusion of pupils. The changes are aimed at providing greater clarity to head teachers, independent review panels and governing bodies on their responsibilities when considering exclusion decisions.
Employment and pensions:
- The Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 have been made. They come into force on 1 April 2017 and set out the information that relevant public employers will have to provide with regard to union officials and facility time.
- The ECJ has held that:
- a Belgian company’s dress code banning the wearing of a Muslim headscarf while on duty did not amount to direct discrimination but was capable of amounting to indirect discrimination under the Equal Treatment Framework Directive (Achbita and another v G4S Secure Solutions NV); and
- an employee’s dismissal for wearing an Islamic headscarf at work, in breach of a direct instruction following a customer’s objection to her wearing the headscarf, was directly discriminatory on grounds of religion or belief (Bougnaoui and another v Micropole SA).
- The EAT has held that an employment tribunal’s approach to assessing compensation, following its finding that an employee had been constructively dismissed, was ambiguous (Zebrowski v Concentric Birmingham Ltd).
- The government is consulting on draft regulations prohibiting NHS employers from discriminating against applicants who appear to have made protected disclosures.
- The Environment Agency has published a new and updated collection of groundwater protection guidance.
- HM Revenue & Customs has published a consultation on extending the scope of landfill tax to material disposed of at illegal waste sites.
FOI and data protection:
- The FTT(IR) has held that a council could rely on the exemptions in sections 41 (information provided in confidence) and 43 (prejudice to commercial interests) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in respect of information relating to the financial operation of a local tourist attraction which was funded by the public and private sector (Brighton and Hove City Council v Information Commissioner and another).
- The ICO has:
- partly upheld the Charity Commission’s decision to withhold internal communication and correspondence with a registered charity, in reliance on the exemptions in sections 31(1)(g) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (prejudice to a public authority’s exercise of its functions for specified purposes), where this detailed its investigatory approach and would lead to a “chilling effect” on investigations of other charities (ICO Decision notice: FS50623442);
- fined a barrister £1,000 under section 55A of the Data Protection Act 1998 for failing to keep clients’ sensitive personal information secure;
- published the results of its Local Government Information Governance Survey, together with recommendations to councils on their information governance practices and preparation for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018; and
- announced that it has fined a council £60,000 under section 55A of the Data Protection Act 1998 for failing to keep sensitive personal information secure.
- The Surveillance Camera Commissioner has published a response to the consultation on the Draft National Surveillance Camera Strategy for England and Wales.
- The Rent Repayment Orders and Financial Penalties (Amounts Recovered) (England) Regulations 2017 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2017. The regulations apply to local housing authorities in England only, and make provision for the use of funds recovered under rent repayment orders.
- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the progress of the Homelessness Reduction Bill 2016 -17 in the Commons and Lords.
- The National Assembly for Wales has issued a consultation on the general principles of the Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill, which purports to abolish the right to buy and rights to acquire in Wales.
Local government law:
- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the structure of local government in England, and the process for changing local government boundaries and structure.
- The Charity Commission has updated its guidance Charity finances: trustee essentials (CC25).
Property and planning:
- The Town and Country Planning (Compensation) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2017. They add a new class of development to the list of permitted development rights for which compensation on withdrawal of the right is limited.
- The Compulsory Purchase of Land (Vesting Declarations) (Wales) Regulations 2017 have been made and come into force on 6 April 2017.
- The Compulsory Purchase of Land (Prescribed Forms) (National Assembly for Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2017.
- The County Court has examined the nature of a guardianship agreement, put in place by a company offering services to owners of vacant property. The court held that the arrangement created an assured shorthold tenancy of two rooms, despite being intended to operate as a licence (Camelot Property Management Ltd and another v Roynon).
Public procurement and state aid:
- The European Commission has published notices in the Official Journal announcing that it has received a request from Eneco BV and NV Nuon Energy under Article 35 of Directive 2014/25 on procurement by utility companies. This request concerns the retail of electricity and gas in the Netherlands.
- The first meeting of a new EU network of procurement review bodies took place on 6 March 2017.
- The government has published Common Minimum Standards for Construction, replacing the previous standards for public sector procurement, which were published in 2012.
- The ECJ has handed down its judgments on appeals by Dutch housing corporations against a December 2009 decision of the European Commission in relation to two state aid schemes (Stichting Woonpunt, Woningstichting Haag Wonen and Stichting Woonbedrijf SWS.Hhvl v Commission).
- The European Commission has announced that concessions for 14 regional airports in Greece were awarded on market terms and, therefore, did not involve any state aid.
- An opinion of the Committee of the Regions on state aid and services of general economic interest has been published in the Official Journal.
Regulation and enforcement:
- The Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments and Revocation) Regulations 2017 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2017.
- The Prisons and Courts Bill 2017 has been published and will amend section 16A to 16F of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980 regarding the Single Justice Procedure and adds new sections 16G to 16M to allow for the changes relating to online conviction and standard statutory penalties, which is a new means for dealing with certain specified summary-only non-custodial offences.