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- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s role and the proposals for its reform.
- The Childcare Bill 2015-16 has been enacted to become the Childcare Act 2016. The substantive provisions of the Act will come into force on a date to be appointed by regulations.
- The High Court has:
- exercised its inherent jurisdiction to make a Nepalese child, who was adopted by a British couple in Nepal, a ward of court (QS v RS); and
- held that a local authority acted irrationally in deciding that a radicalised young person was not a child in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and therefore would not provide accommodation (A v London Borough of Enfield).
- The Family Court has ordered a council to pay damages and costs for their three year delay in applying for the revocation of a placement order (Re B (A Child)).
- The Court of Appeal has considered the procedure under CPR 81.31 for releasing a contemnor before the expiry of the term of his sentence, including where the court considers making such an order of its own initiative under CPR 3.4 (Swindon Borough Council v Webb (T/A Protective Coatings)).
- Briggs LJ has delivered a keynote address at the Commercial Litigation Association annual conference, outlining some of the key proposals in his Civil Courts Structure Review interim report, and seeking feedback from delegates.
- The Bar Council and the City of London Law Society have both issued responses to Lord Justice Briggs’ civil courts structure review interim report.
- The Civil Proceedings, Family Proceedings and Upper Tribunal Fees (Amendment) Order 2016 has been made and came into force on 21 March 2016. The Order brings into effect a number of civil court fee increases.
- The Education and Adoption Bill 2015-16 has been enacted to become the Education and Adoption Act 2016. The provisions of the Act (apart from sections 17, 18 and 20, which came into force on the day the Act was passed) will come into force on a date to be appointed by regulations.
- The government has published its education White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, setting out its vision for schools in England and its plans for the next five years.
- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the rules relating to the setting of school hours and term times.
- The Education Committee has launched an inquiry into the performance, accountability and governance of Multi-Academy Trusts.
Employment and pensions:
- The EAT has:
- upheld a tribunal’s decision that an employee’s dismissal was not direct disability discrimination as the decision-maker did not know that he was disabled (Gallop v Newport City Council);
- held that childcare vouchers provided under a salary sacrifice scheme are part of the employee’s “remuneration” under regulation 9 of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999, and therefore do not have to be provided during maternity leave (Peninsula Business Services Ltd v Donaldson); and
- upheld a tribunal’s decision that whistleblower protection under the ERA 1996 does not protect a junior doctor from detriment by Health Education England, the body responsible for education, training and workforce planning for all NHS staff in England (Day v Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and another).
- The Social Security (Contributions) (Limits and Thresholds Amendments and National Insurance Funds Payments) Regulations 2016, which set the earnings limits and thresholds for class 1 NICs for 2016-17, have been made and will take effect from 6 April 2016.
- The Pensions Ombudsman has issued an update to members affected by the determination in the complaint by Mr W Milne against the Government Actuary’s Department. The update concerns the issue of interest paid on the additional payments, with some individuals complaining that despite the additional payment, they remain out of pocket.
- The Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations 2016 have been made and will come into force on the same date as section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998, which is not yet in force.
- The Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 have been laid before Parliament. The regulations amend the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 and most of the changes will come into force on 6 April 2016.
- As part of the 2016 Budget, the government has published its response to its 2015 consultation on Business Energy Efficiency taxes, including the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme and the climate change levy.
- ClientEarth, an environmental law organisation, has announced that it has lodged papers at the High Court seeking a further judicial review of UK air quality plans.
- The Welsh Government has announced that it is using its devolved powers to replace the existing UK-wide landfill tax with a landfill disposals tax for Wales from April 2018.
FOI and data protection:
- The Northern Ireland High Court has given leave to serve proceedings for defamation, breach of data protection legislation and harassment out of the jurisdiction against a website based in the USA (Galloway v Frazer and others).
- The FTT(IR) has ruled that information held by a council relating to a trading standards investigation was subject to the exemption from disclosure due to it being prohibited by another enactment, under section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Cairns v Information Commissioner).
- The Information Commissioner’s Office has published guidance for organisations on preparing for the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing note on succession rights and social housing. The briefing paper provides an overview of the statutory rights of occupiers of social housing in England to succeed to a tenancy on the death of the previous sole or joint tenant.
- The DCLG has issued a general consent, the General Social Housing Rents Permitted Review Day Consent 2016.
Local government law:
- The High Court has held that the claims of two boys against a coucnil for negligence in failing to protect them from harassment from neighbours on the estate where they lived was wrongly struck out (CN and another v Poole Borough Council).
- The DCLG has published guidance for local authorities on the disposal of assets.
Property and planning:
- The Party Wall etc Act 1996 (Electronic Communications) Order 2016 has been made and will come into force on 6 April 2016.
- The Building Regulations &c (Amendment) Regulations 2016 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2016, except one minor provision relating to the identity of a company authorised under the self-certification scheme.
- The Court of Appeal has decided that, on the facts, a licensor was the occupier of a property and was liable for nuisance at the property. The court considered relevant case law about when a landlord can be liable for nuisance at its land, but decided that those circumstances did not apply (Cocking and another v Eacott and another).
- The High Court has:
- considered the meaning, in a planning condition, of “without express planning consent from the local planning authority first being obtained” (Dunnett Investments Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and another); and
- decided not to quash planning permission for wind turbines given by a local planning authority, despite the fact that the authority had failed to give reasons within a reasonable time under the duty to provide reasons for both positive and negative environmental impact assessment screening decisions (R (Jedwell) v Denbighshire County Council and another).
- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on neighbourhood planning.
- The Welsh Government has published guidance on undertaking site and context analysis in the planning process.
- The Cabinet Office has published the Concessions Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016. The two sets of regulations will come into force on 18 April 2016. A policy note relating to the two new sets of regulations has also been published.
- The Public Procurement (Amendments, Repeals and Revocations) Regulations 2016 have been published and will come into force on 18 April 2016.
- The Scottish Ministers have published new guidance under the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.
Regulation and enforcement:
- The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment (Amendment) Bill 2015-16 has had its first reading in the House of Lords. The Bill increases the penalties available for littering, creates a new offence of dog fouling and requires local authorities to provide disposal units for litter.
- The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Surcharge) (Amendment) Order 2016 has been made and will come into force on 8 April 2016. The order increases the amount of the victim surcharge payable under section 161A(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
- The Environment Agency has announced that it has successfully prosecuted a waste operator for illegally operating a waste disposal facility and failure to comply with enforcement notices for discontinuance.
- The Legal Aid Agency has announced the rollout of in-court presentation technology at Crown Court sites across England and Wales.
- The Senior Presiding Judge has given a speech to the National Criminal Justice Performance Conference, explaining the significant benefits to the criminal justice system brought about by the implementation of Better Case Management.