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- The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against summary judgment granted in a claim for damages based on the police response to a 999 call, holding, by a majority, that the police did not owe a duty of care to an individual on receiving her call (Michael and others v The Chief Constable of South Wales Police and another).
- The Court of Appeal has:
- considered whether the High Court has the power to shorten the time of service of an appeal notice, and whether it should order a retrospective time extension to serve the appeal notice (Evans v The Royal Wolverhampton Hospital Trust); and
- held that the supervening incapacity of a client does not cause a solicitor’s retainer to be terminated by frustration (Blankley v Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University Hospitals NHS Trust).
- The High Court has:
- allowed a claimant to submit late witness statements in circumstances where they had breached court orders, but refused to vacate the trial date (Devon and Cornwall Autistic Community Trust (t/a Spectrum) v Cornwall Council);
- dismissed an application for judicial review of a decision of the County Court not to set aside a default judgment against an applicant. The applicant alleged that she had never received the claim form, or any other documents (R (Davies) v Kingston Upon Thames County Court); and
- considered whether to order the disclosure of privileged documents on the basis that the iniquity exception applied in circumstances where the documents allegedly related to transactions at an undervalue (London Borough of Brent v Kane and others).
- The Family Court has made a non-party costs order against a company for failing to provide interpreters for a final hearing (In the matter of Capita Translation and Interpreting Ltd).
- The Law Society is seeking practitioners’ views on the recent announcement from the Ministry of Justice proposing to introduce some substantial court fee increases.
Education and social services:
- The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Detained Persons) Regulations 2015 will come into force on 1 April 2015. The government has also published its response to a consultation on the regulations and the SEN and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years.
- The DfE has removed its guidance on school exclusions in England from its website, with reports suggesting that this followed the threat of a judicial review action against the DfE.
- The Court of Appeal has:
- confirmed a High Court decision that an order made under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 cannot extend to reports of the proceedings once the subject of the order becomes 18 (JC and RT v The Central Criminal Court and others); and
- held that, when a local authority assesses a care home resident’s ability to pay for care home fees, a relative who occupies the care resident’s home must already be in occupation at the time the home owner goes into care if the value of that home is to be treated as disregarded capital (Walford v Worcestershire County Council).
- The Family Court has provided practitioners considering the quality of secure accommodation provision with associated healthcare with suggested good interagency practice that local authorities could adopt (XBC v X and others).
Employment and pensions:
- The Welfare Benefits Up-rating Order 2015 has been made, which provides for the up-rating of certain social security benefits and payments which are to be increased by 1% from April 2015.
- The draft National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 have been laid before Parliament and will come into force on 6 April 2015.
- The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-2015 has been re-published following committee stage in the House of Lords.
- The Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) (Governance) Regulations 2015 have been made and establish a national scheme advisory board and set out the requirements for each LGPS administering authority to establish a local pension board by 1 April 2015. The majority of the provisions will come into force on 20 February 2015.
- The DECC has announced that it has accepted a number of provisions on shale gas exploration and extraction (fracking) in the final House of Commons debate on the Infrastructure Bill 2014-15.
- The UK government has published draft legislation to implement the Smith Report, which sets out recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. The draft legislation includes clauses for the devolution of powers relating to energy market regulation, renewables incentives and supplier obligations for energy efficiency and fuel poverty, licensing of exploration and extraction of onshore oil and gas and the aggregates levy.
- Defra has launched a consultation on proposals to designate 23 new marine conservation zones in English inshore and offshore waters and to add further protection to ten existing marine conservation zones.
FOI and data protection:
- The ICO has published a draft corporate plan for 2015 to 2018 and has launched a consultation on it. The plan sets out the ICO’s proposed strategic outcomes and corporate objectives for the period, along with its values.
- The government has published the draft Local Authorities (Public Health Functions and Entry to Premises by Local Healthwatch Representatives) and Local Authority (Public Health, Health and Wellbeing Boards and Health Scrutiny) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, which provide for the transfer to local authorities of the duty to provide universal health visitor reviews for pregnant women and young children from 1 October 2015.
- The DCLG and the HCA have launched a consultation on proposals to streamline the resale of shared ownership properties to make it quicker and easier to sell them.
- The High Court has held that a consultation carried out by the General Dental Council on an increase to dentists’ 2015 annual retention fees was unlawful (British Dental Association v General Dental Council).
- The DCLG has:
- given the Royal Borough of Greenwich further notice of a proposed direction to comply with the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity under section 4A of the Local Government Act 1986; and
- published a consultation on the draft Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2015.
- The Gender Recognition Register (Marriage and Civil Partnership) Regulations 2015 have been made, which provide for the registration of marriages and civil partnerships in which one or both parties has obtained a full gender recognition certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2004. The Regulations will come into force on 6 February 2015.
- The Welsh Government has published a consultation on its White Paper, Reforming Local Government: Power to Local People.
Property and planning:
- The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 have been made and will come into force on 6 April 2015.
- The draft Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) Regulations 2015 have been published and will come into force on 1 April 2015.
- The Court of Appeal has:
- held that property owners owed each other a duty of care in circumstances where a dividing (and supporting) garden wall collapsed onto land that abutted the wall, which was owned by one of them (Coope and others v Ward and another);
- dismissed an appeal against a refusal to order a new tenancy under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, where the landlord had opposed the grant of the new lease on the basis that it intended to redevelop the demised premises under ground 30(1)(f) of the Act (Hough v Greathall Ltd); and
- considered whether paragraph 89 of the National Planning Policy Framework relates to material changes of use or just the construction of new buildings in the green belt (R (Timmins and another ) v Gelding Borough Council).
- The Community Pubs Minister has issued a written ministerial statement calling for pubs in England that have been listed as an asset of community value to be exempt from certain national permitted development rights.
- The DCLG has launched a consultation on building more homes on brownfield land.
Public procurement and state aid:
- The Cabinet Office has published the government’s response to the consultation on the transposition of the new EU public procurement directives and the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.
- The European Commission has announced that it has decided to approve, under the EU state aid rules, a UK reinsurance scheme that will ensure availability of domestic insurance at affordable prices for flood-related damage.
Regulation and enforcement:
- The DCLG and the VOA have published a consultation on scrutinising the VOA’s powers of entry for the purposes of making council tax valuations.
- The Consumer Protection Partnership has published a review of its work to date and its priority areas for scrutiny and action in 2015.