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- The High Court has:
- upheld a decision to strike out a claim for damages against the Secretary of State for Justice in respect of an alleged failure to provide a fair hearing under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Begraj and another v Secretary of State for Justice);
- considered an application to continue a prohibition order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (External Requests and Orders) Order 2005. It also considered an application for disclosure of letters of request and for variation of the prohibition order to allow payment of legal costs (National Crime Agency v Abacha);
- ordered a claim be struck out and, in the alternative, summary judgment against a claimant, on the first day of trial (Devon and Cornwall Autistic Community Trust v The Cornwall Council); and
- allowed an appeal against an order dismissing an application under CPR 39.3(3) to set aside a judgment entered due to the defendants’ failure to attend at trial (James and another v Chircop).
- The Law Society has sent a letter before claim under the pre-action protocol for judicial review, regarding the government’s proposals to introduce substantial court fee increases.
Education and children’s services:
- The Court of Appeal has:
- provided clarification on what may be a “change in circumstances” in regard to an application for leave to apply to revoke a placement order (Re G (A Child)); and
- considered whether a supervision order should have been made when the first instance judge had rejected expert, social work and children’s guardian’s evidence (Re Z-O’C (children)).
- The Family Court has:
- reiterated the basic principle in care proceedings that a local authority must prove with evidence that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm. The court also emphasised that threshold statements should be direct and explain the risk to the child (Re A (a child)); and
- ordered a council to pay the adopters’ costs after protracted adoption proceedings due to the council’s unreasonable stance regarding the adoption support plan (Re K (A Child) (Adoption)).
Employment and pensions:
- The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal against an employment tribunal decision, upheld by the EAT, that an employee was fairly dismissed for gross misconduct (Shrestha v Genesis Housing Association Ltd).
- The EAT has:
- held that a part-time teacher suffered a repudiatory breach of contract when her school imposed a change to her working hours that required her to spread her hours over five days, rather than three (Hart v St Mary’s School (Colchester) Ltd);
- upheld an employment tribunal’s decision that an employer discriminated against disabled employees by operating a bonus scheme, which did not pay out to employees who had received a warning for high levels of sickness absence (Land Registry v Houghton and others); and
- upheld a Registrar’s decision that an appeal was presented out of time, despite the fact that the employment tribunal had sent the written reasons to the wrong address (Carroll v Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime).
- The Infrastructure Act 2015 received Royal Assent on 12 February 2015, and contains important environmental provisions relating to shale gas, control of invasive non-native species, allowable solutions for zero carbon homes, the community electricity right to buy for renewable energy projects, and the Renewable Heat Incentive.
- HMRC has published the draft Landfill Tax (Amendment) Regulations 2015, draft Landfill Tax (Qualifying Fines) Order 2015 and draft guidance for consultation.
- The Welsh Government has published a consultation on implementation of the land-use planning requirements of the Seveso III Directive in Wales. The consultation includes a draft of the Planning (Hazardous Substances) (Wales) Regulations 2015.
FOI and data protection:
- The Upper Tribunal has ruled that private water companies are public authorities for the purposes of the Environmental Information Regulations (Fish Legal v Information Commissioner and others).
- The Data Protection Act 1998 (Commencement No 4) Order 2015 has been made and will bring section 56 of the Data Protection Act 1998 into force from 10 March 2015.
Health and social care:
- On 11 February 2015, four sets of affirmative regulations were made under the Care Act 2014.
- The High Court has held that a council was not under a common law duty to consult on rejected alternatives to the council’s proposed budget cuts to adult social care services (R (T) v Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council).
- The House of Commons Library has published a Standard Note on care homes and domiciliary social care funding under the Care Act 2014.
- The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 have been made and will come into force on 1 April 2015.
Property and planning:
- The Town and Country Planning (Hearings and Inquiries Procedure) (England) (Amendment and Revocation) Rules 2015 have been made, amending various sets of procedural rules so that they apply to planning appeals relating to advertisements in England from 6 April 2015.
- The Non-Domestic Rating (Small Business Relief) (Wales) Order 2015 will come into force on 9 March 2015 and take effect from 1 April 2015.
- The Court of Appeal has held that a property that had been undergoing internal refurbishment was not exempt from business rates (Newbigin (Valuation Officer) v S J & J Monk (a firm)).
- The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has considered the requirements for a binding agreement for surrender and whether a tenant’s right to CPO compensation had been preserved following a surrender by operation of law (Obichukwu v London Borough of Enfield).
- The DCLG has published a consultation on speeding up the process of negotiating and completing section 106 agreements and on the requirement to provide affordable housing contributions for student accommodation.
- The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 came into force on 26 February 2015 and we have published new materials to reflect the changes that the new regulations have made to the public procurement regime. We have also updated a number of our existing materials to reflect the changes.
Regulation and enforcement:
- The Court of Appeal has considered in winding-up proceedings whether or not a failure to disclose information to a consumer amounts to a misleading omission under regulation 6 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills v PLT Anti-Marketing Ltd).
Practical Law In brief