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.
- The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has published its new enforcement policy statement, which is intended to set out the high-level general principles that must be followed by Defra’s executive agencies.
- The High Court has:
- given guidance on the approach to, and conduct of, cases where a child in need or a looked-after child is subject to restrictions that amount to a deprivation of liberty (Re AB (A Child: deprivation of liberty)); and
- declined a request to transfer care proceedings to Lithuania under Article 15 of Council Regulation (EC) 2201/2003 and ruled that an assessment under Article 15 will be “influenced significantly” by whether the child is to be returned to live in the other member state (CK (Children) (Care proceedings, Habitual Residence, Article 15)).
- The Lord Chancellor is proposing that, with permission, appeals from decisions of circuit judges and recorders in the Family Court will be heard by a judge in the Family Division of the High Court, instead of the Court of Appeal (with some exceptions).
- The High Court has:
- considered the appropriate rate of interest to be awarded to the claimant under section 35A of the Senior Courts Act 1981, and made some interesting observations about some of the existing authorities on the appropriate rate of interest (Reinhard v Ondra);
- granted applications by the claimant and defendant at the Pre-Trial Review to amend their respective statements of case, seven weeks before trial (GBM Minerals Engineering Consultants Ltd v GB Minerals Holdings Ltd); and
- granted an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and applied the principles that arise in balancing the competing rights under Articles 8 and 10 of the ECHR to consider whether conduct was unreasonable, so as to amount to harassment (Ware v McAllister).
- The Divisional Court has allowed an appeal against a magistrates’ court’s refusal to recall a witness in the respondent’s trial to give live evidence on matters that had only arisen during the course of the trial, as the decision could potentially have lead to a substantial injustice (Newham LBC v Osmar).
- The Ministry of Justice has:
- The government has made two sets of regulations relating to the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Their combined effect is to require commercial organisations to prepare an annual slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year ending on or after 31 March 2016 in which their total turnover is above £36 million.
- The Home Office has published Transparency in supply chains: a practical guide, as required by section 54(9) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The guide covers who must publish, how to write and how to approve and publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement, setting out what steps organisations have taken to ensure modern slavery is not taking place in their business or supply chains.
- The Department for Education and National College for Teaching and Leadership have published an updated version of their guidance, Teacher misconduct: The prohibition of teachers.
Employment and Pensions
- Unison Cymru/Wales and other public sector unions are supporting a statement agreed by the Joint Council for Wales that opposes the Trade Union Bill 2015-16.
- HMCTS has developed a simpler and faster fee remission process in the employment tribunals, which is called “Help with Fees” and came into force on 28 October 2015.
FOI and data protection
- The First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) has held that the implementation phase following an ECJ ruling that a member state has breached a Directive formed part of the “course of justice”, so UK government correspondence during this phase relating to the ruling was exempt from disclosure under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (Latimer v Information Commissioner’s Office and another).
- The government has published a draft Wales Bill, which devolves power to appoint a member of Ofcom and reserves powers in relation to intellectual property, and a range of areas of relevance to the media, IT and telecoms sectors.
- The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 (Commencement No 4) Order 2015 was made on 21 October 2015 and brings fully into force from 23 November 2015 certain provisions of Part 1 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 relating to the regulation of private rented housing in Wales.
- The Court of Appeal has held that a local housing authority, when considering the affordability of previous private sector rented accommodation for the purposes of deciding whether a person is intentionally homeless for failing to pay the rent under section 191 of the Housing Act 1996, is entitled to take account of income from income support, child tax credits and child benefit, and is not obliged to disregard them (Samuels v Birmingham City Council).
- The Office for National Statistics has announced that private registered providers of social housing in England will be reclassified as Public Non-Financial Corporations in the national accounts.
- The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper that provides background and comment on the Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16.
Local government law
- The Home Office has published guidance for specified public authorities on their duty to notify the Secretary of State where they have reasonable grounds to believe that a person in England or Wales is a victim of slavery or human trafficking; plus form MS1: notification of a potential victim of modern slavery, to be used when making a notification.
- The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced that the government’s commissioners will no longer have the power to directly run the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and that greater responsibility for the governance of the local authority will fall on the mayor.
Property and planning
- The Land Registry has amended Land Registry Practice Guide 8: Execution of deeds (LRPG 8) in relation to the evidence it requires of the corporate status of foreign corporations.
- The government has published the terms of reference of the National Infrastructure Commission.
- The Department for Communities and Local Government has published its response to the consultation on making the compulsory purchase regime clearer, fairer and faster, plus updated guidance on compulsory purchase and the Crichel Down Rules.
- The Land Registry has announced that its staff and group mailbox email addresses will change on 30 January 2016.
- The Agriculture and Fisheries Council has formally adopted the proposed Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation 966/2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, which lays down the rules for establishing and implementing the EU’s general budget.
- The General Court has:
- annulled a decision by the European Commission to award a procurement contract for insurance cover. The General Court found that the Commission breached the principle of equality of treatment of tenderers by illegally awarding the contract to the successful bidder. The applicant, an unsuccessful bidder, was awarded compensation for the Commission’s procedural errors and the court ordered the parties to try and agree an amount (Vanbreda Risk & Benefits v European Commission); and
- dismissed an appeal against a decision of the European Parliament not to award the applicant a procurement contract relating to transport of members of European Parliament to Brussels (Direct Way and Directway Worldwide v European Parliament).
- The European Commission has published guidelines to help public officials across the EU identify and avoid the most frequent errors in public procurement of projects co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds.
- The government has published Procurement Policy Note: Procuring steel in major projects, following pressure to assist the UK steel industry. The note takes immediate effect and applies to any construction project with a capital value of £10 million or above, with a significant steel component.
Practical Law In brief