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NEWS STORIES

Environmental lawyers fire warning to councils on legal risk of air pollution “inaction”
ClientEarth warns 38 local authorities in England and Wales of legal risk of inaction on air pollution; sends briefing outlining local authorities' responsibilities

Lawyers in Local Government calls for ‘New Burdens’ funding to help councils with costs of Brexit
All local authorities require ‘New Burdens’ funding to cope with additional costs directly flowing from Brexit, Lawyers in Local Government says; in position statement submitted to MHCLG advisory panel, LLG also suggests that specific local authorities should receive second tier of funding for what LLG called "aggravating factors; statement also warns that consultation periods and Public Sector Equality Duty required time to effect lawful changes in service provision and avoid legal challenge

Council withdraws decision to close special schools after legal challenge
Wiltshire agrees to withdraw its decision to approve closure of three special schools and related notice regarding opening of new special school, following legal action from group of families

Council wins Court of Appeal battle over decision to move homeless applicant
Someone who does not appeal against local authority review decision that it has discharged its duty towards them as being homeless cannot later challenge that decision in subsequent application, Court of Appeal rules

Family Court judge writes version of judgment for party with learning disabilities
Judge hands down public law childcare judgment both in conventional form and in version intended to be grasped by someone with learning disabilities

Landlord given suspended sentence and ordered to pay £300k+ after hiding families in windowless rooms
Landlord who hid families in windowless rooms after claiming to council that he had complied with enforcement notice fined £25,000 and ordered to pay further £266,177 under Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
 
Department withdraws ‘myth-busting’ guide to council duties to vulnerable children
Department for Education withdraws guide to council duties to vulnerable children and young people after charity applied for judicial review, it is reported

Investigator clears officers and members of fraudulent activity at council-owned property business
There was no evidence of any fraudulent activity on part of officers or members of county council in relation to activities of property company owned by local authority, Director of Law from neighbouring authority concludes; but there were improvements to be made to governance arrangements and reporting mechanisms for accounts

Greenwich Council chooses Bevan Brittan to advise on housing delivery plan
Royal borough appoints law firm Bevan Brittan as its preferred external legal partner to help deliver its aim of building more new council homes
MUST-READ: Social work spies? (Yes, you over there I’m talking to you…)
Lucy Reed examines the lawfulness of social workers using Facebook and other sources in child protection cases.
BOOK NOW: Eviction of travellers - Sheriffs Office - Online live webinar - 1st May - 12:30 - 13:30.
CALLING ALL CHILD CARE LAWYERS:
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Standards watchdog to hold inquiry on AI and standards in public sector
Committee on Standards in Public Life launches review into artificial intelligence and its impact on standards across public sector

Ombudsman criticises county council for 15-month delay to EHC plan
Surrey County Council took 15 months too long to issue disabled boy’s education, health and care (EHC) plan, and unfairly limited his father’s ability to seek updates, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation finds

First Minister of Wales breached legitimate expectation in way Carl Sargeant inquiry set up
Former First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, acted unlawfully when setting up independent inquiry into death of former Welsh Assembly member Carl Sargeant, Divisional Court rules

Court hears test case on ability of parents to make decisions for children over 18 with learning disabilities
Court of Protection this week hears test case brought by parents of three young people with learning disabilities over position under current law which prevents them being able to make best interests decisions on behalf of their children as they are now over 18

Browne Jacobson advises council on £6.6m hotel and leisure development
Law firm advises Newark and Sherwood District Council on its plans for new 66-bedroomed Travelodge in Newark
SECURE A TRAINING CONTRACT: LGSS Law, the law firm owned by Cambridgeshire, Central Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire Councils, and nplaw, the shared legal service based at Norfolk County Council, are hiring.
DON'T MISS: High Court enforcement for local authorities - Excel Civil Enforcement - 24 April - live webinar.
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Member of staff at Leicestershire Police pleads guilty to computer misuse
Intelligence administrator at police force pleads guilty to one count of computer misuse

Campaigners seek legal advice on use of DfE funding for ‘satellite’ selective school
Comprehensive Future campaign group says it is seeking legal advice on whether there is potential to challenge funding of ‘satellite’ selective school using Department for Education (DfE) budget

Supreme Court to consider illegality defence in tort claim against NHS trust
Supreme Court agreed to hear test case on illegality defence (ex turpi causa) in tort claim against NHS trust, it is reported; appeal will consider whether guidance in Patel v Mirza provides universal test for operation of illegality defence across all areas of law

Social housing provider names four firms to land and property conveyancing framework
Provider of 9,500 affordable homes across 15 local authority areas appoints four law firms to development land and property conveyancing services framework

See all of our most recent news stories
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Campaigners challenge decision by Secretary of State not to call-in Stansted expansion plans
Stop Stansted Expansion seeking to launch judicial review of Communities Secretary James Brokenshire’s decision not to call-in Uttlesford District Council’s approval of plans to expand Stansted Airport

Council urges football club owner to drop legal action if it wants to play in stadium in city
Coventry City Council tells owner of Coventry City Football Club that it should drop all litigation related to Ricoh Arena to enable club to play there next season

Cabinet Office launches inquiry into potential for bias in use of algorithms in local government
Government advisory body Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to probe potential for bias in use of algorithms in local government as well as crime and justice, financial services and recruitment

Environment Agency obtains £200k confiscation order against waste operator
Watchdog secures £200,000 confiscation order against waste operator over environmental offences at sites he operated with his brother in Swindon
MARKETPLACE: Kennedy Cater
Philip Kolvin QC reappointed as board member of Sports Grounds Safety Authority
Browne Jacobson advises council on £6.6m hotel and leisure development
Greenwich Council chooses Bevan Brittan to advise on housing delivery plan
Social housing provider names four firms to land and property conveyancing framework
Browne Jacobson promotes 12 lawyers to new senior associate role

EVENTS:

This week's analysis

No longer in suspense
Andrew Rhodes considers a judgment of the Court of Appeal in a case involving a local authority and a teacher which provides authoritative guidance on disciplinary suspensions.

The improvement vs repair distinction
A leasehold tenant who had exercised her right to buy, was recently found liable for a £25,000 replacement heating system. Jonathan Pennington Legh discusses the ruling.

Back to school - revisiting reverters
The heirs of a donor who gave land for a primary school more than 100 years ago recently won an appeal over whether a county council owed them money after disposing of the sites. Elizabeth Fevyer looks at the lessons to be learned.

Notifying fathers of the birth of their child
When is it necessary for a local authority to notify a father about the birth of his child? Eleanor Marsh analyses a significant ruling.

The 'Right to Rent' checks and human rights
The “Right to Rent” scheme has been declared incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights. Michelle Caney analyses the High Court’s reasoning.

Amended schemes, planning permission and consultation
The High Court has upheld the grant of planning permission for a scheme amended without consultation. Charles Streeten explains why.

Know the facts: Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act
Neil Brand sets out the key considerations for local authorities and landlords arising out of the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act.
READ THE LATEST EDITION OF INSIGHT: Monitoring Officer Report

This issue, which can be viewed here, includes:
  • The challenges to local authorities posed by the shortage of mid-level lawyers, and the strategies teams can adopt in response.
  • An interview with Suki Binjal, President of Lawyers in Local Government , on her varied career at public sector organisations across the country and how LLG has evolved.
  • How local government lawyers can make the most of management roles.
  • Hilary Irving on the reasons why the first ABS in the North of England, First North Law, was set up.
The first area under the spotlight in this issue is Child Protection. Julien Foster looks at the pitfalls in public law proceedings and how local authorities can avoid them, while Graham Cole calls for action as more and more child care lawyers suffer from stress, anxiety and burnout.

We also look at current issues around Place, including analysis by Cornerstone Barristers’ Matt Hutchings QC of the role of local authorities in housing supply, and Chris Plumley of Trowers & Hamlins on what can be done to unlock stalled development sites.

Click here to access Insight. Also available to download as a pdf.
Catch up on recent articles on Local Government Lawyer and Public Law Today:

Adult Social Services: CQC guidance on relationship needs and sexuality
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has issued guidance on relationships and sexuality in adult social care services. Holly Bridden highlights some key considerations.

Adult Social Services: The High Court’s inherent jurisdiction for the protection of vulnerable adults
A recent ruling highlights the wide and largely unfettered nature of the power to grant injunctive relief under the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction for the protection of vulnerable adults and the difficulty surrounding the issue of how the balance should be struck between protection of a person on grounds of vulnerability and respect for their autonomy, writes Bethan Harris for LexisPSL Local Government.

Adult Social Services: Mental capacity for social media and the internet: another Court of Protection case
Rosalind English analyses the second Court of Protection ruling in a week to cover the use of the internet.

Careers: A chance to make a difference
Hesitant about taking on management responsibilities? V. Charles Ward explains how it gave a real boost to his career, and gives some pointers for those taking their first steps.

Children: Settlement conferences and public law children cases
Ann Chavasse comments on the findings of research by the Association of Lawyers for Children into the fairness and efficacy of settlement conferences in public law cases.

Children: How far is too far? And when is a finding not a finding?
William Horwood analyses a high-profile case where a Family Court judge was deemed to have put excessive pressure on a mother at an interim care order hearing.

Children: Is it in the best interests of a child to give evidence in a foreign trial?
Katherine Duncan explains on LexisPSL Public Sector how the court, in Re X, carried out a balancing exercise in determining whether a child, who was ward of the court, should be permitted to travel out of the jurisdiction to give evidence at a foreign criminal trial.

Children: Public law children cases: latest judgments
Sarah Blackmore and Jacqueline Thomas analyse the latest judgments in public law children proceedings.
 
Community Safety: Gang injunctions, human rights and standards of proof
The Court of Appeal recently rejected a legal challenge brought on human rights grounds over a gang injunction obtained by Birmingham City Council. Jonathan Manning and Ayesha Omar explain why.

Dispute Resolution: No breach of duty in assault of employee
Nicola Hyam and David Williams report on the outcome of a claim against a council where an employee was assaulted by a service user.

Dispute Resolution: Accountants and regulation of legal services
The Divisional Court has dismissed the Institute of Chartered Accountants’ judicial review of the Lord Chancellor’s refusal of their application to become an approved regulator of legal services in addition to probate. Charles Streeten sets out why.

Dispute Resolution: The scope of litigation privilege and ‘purely commercial discussions’
‘Purely commercial discussions’ within an organisation regarding settlement of a dispute prior to litigation are not protected by litigation privilege, the Court of Appeal has clarified. Nicola Hollick considers the implications.

Dispute Resolution: Not so taxing after all
The Court of Appeal has held that additional hours provided by a university by way of reasonable adjustments for disabled students should be included in consideration of exemption from Council Tax. Catherine Meenan analyses the judgment.

Education: Statutory decision-making processes and apparent bias
The High Court has given an important decision on the apparent bias principle in relation to statutory decision-making processes, writes Iain Steele.

Education: SEN update
There have been a number of important decisions regarding children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) likely to be of interest to schools and colleges. Erin Smart provides a helpful summary.

Employment: Unconscious bias: a hidden risk?
Paul McFarlane looks at how employment tribunals have considered the issue of unconscious bias, and examines the steps employers can take to minimise the risk of a claim of discrimination.

Employment: Pensions update - benefits statements vs employment status
An Ombudsman’s decision resulted in unexpected cost for a council which issued an incorrect benefits statement. Philip Woolham reports.

Governance: Administrative law principles – consistently consistent
A recent Supreme Court case involving the Competition and Markets Authority raises some important considerations for local government lawyers around council decision-making, writes Dr David Sykes.

Governance: Predictive analysis – an introduction and considerations
Paul Feild examines the legal and other issues raised by the use by local authorities of predictive analysis, 'Big Data' and machine learning.

Governance: Improving ethical standards
Robin Green, Estelle Dehon and Dr Alex Williams analyse five key recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life's recent report on local government ethical standards in England.

Governance: Three ways through the labyrinth of functions and responsibilities
Louis Sebastian considers how local authorities can best review their approach to functions and responsibilities under the Local Government Act 2000.

Health: NHS Trusts and apologies
The Care Quality Commission has fined a NHS Trust for failing to apologise. Jake Richards considers the lessons from the case.

Health: The NHS Long Term Plan - Procurement and Competition
The NHS Long Term Plan raises some interesting issues for anyone involved in procurement and bidding in the health sector, writes Mary Mundy. (on Public Law Today)

Housing: Possession on the domestic violence ground - without proving domestic violence
Dr Sam Fowles reports on a recent case where a social landlord sought to gain possession of a property on the domestic violence ground.

Housing: A duty to inspect?
The Court of Appeal recently considered a case concerning a landlord’s duty pursuant to s4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 and whether the duty extended to a duty to inspect. Jane Talbot analyses the ruling.

Housing: Allocation and religion
Christopher Baker and Rea Murray report on a landmark victory in the Divisional Court for an Orthodox Jewish, charitable housing association accused of unlawful discrimination in its housing allocation system.

Housing: Homelessness and the need to consider a “foreseeable future”
The Court of Appeal recently considered whether local authorities, when reaching homelessness decisions, must consider matters that can be determined with reasonable confidence as the “foreseeable future”. Aadhithya Anbahan reports.

Information Law: Making GDPR British
New regulations set out the UK’s post Brexit data protection landscape. Ibrahim Hasan sets out the key points.

Information Law: Revised s.45 Code of Practice under FOI
Ibrahim Hasan highlights the key points from the new version of the s.45 FOIA Code of Practice.

Licensing: Licensing powers to tackle air pollution
Matt Lewin analyses the licensing powers available to licensing authorities to reduce air pollution caused by their taxi fleet.

Licensing: Taxi and PHV licensing in England
New taxi licensing laws are expected to close the "cross-border" gap. Matt Lewin and Tara O’Leary look at the plans.

Licensing: Uber, bias and the fit and proper test
The High Court has rejected a challenge to Uber’s London licence that was based on alleged bias and whether the Chief Magistrate had decided whether the company was ‘fit and proper’. Philip Kolvin QC explains why.

Management: Striking out in a new direction: Setting up an ABS
What does it take to set up a legal services alternative business structure? Hilary Irving of North Yorkshire County Council outlines the risks and rewards. (on Public Law Today)

Planning: The National Planning Policy Guidance and mandatory requirements
A High Court judge has handed down an important judgment on the status of the Government's National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG). Charles Streeten sets out the key findings.

Planning: POCA and improper planning prosecutions
The Court of Appeal recently upheld the stopping of prosecutions against 11 defendants for breaches of a planning enforcement notice. Scott Stemp explains why.

Planning: Breaches of planning control, stop notices and compensation
A district council recently defeated an attempt in the Court of Appeal to claim compensation in respect of a stop notice served in support of a planning enforcement notice, which was subsequently quashed on appeal. Jonathan Mitchell explains the judgment.

Planning: "Problematic as it may be": working with non compliant – but non material – obligations
As the planning community waits for the Government to respond on the consultation on reforming developer contributions, the issue of the interrelationship between the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 obligation agreements remains problematic. Last year's Amstel Group decision brought some welcome clarification to this issue and Sue Chadwick and Clare Mirfin summarise the legal issues leading up to the decision - and its practical implications.

Procurement & Contracts: The MEAT tender and price
The Court of Justice of the European Union has reiterated that a MEAT tender is not necessarily the cheapest. Tim Care and Melanie Pears analyse its findings.

Procurement & Contracts: Playing the game
The NHS recently defeated a legal challenge to a £1bn drugs procurement that included elements of game theory. James Goudie QC analyses the High Court's ruling.

Projects: What's next for UK projects?
Steve Gummer, Nicola Sumner and Roseanne Serrelli look at the ramifications of the Chancellor’s decision to bring an end to PFI and PF2.

Property: Restrictive covenants and the demolition of a development
A recent decision in the Court of Appeal has highlighted the willingness of the Courts to uphold the enforceability of restrictive covenants, irrespective of the apparent social value of any development constructed in breach of them. Claire Waring analyses the case.

Property: Beauty or utility?
The appellate court of the Church of England recently ruled that a nursery erected in a churchyard and whose construction was funded by a London borough should be demolished. Tom Stafford and Lucile Taylor set out why.

Property: Tackling vacant and derelict land in Scotland
Marieclaire Reid examines proposals from the Scottish Land Commission that could help local authorities in Scotland take action over vacant and derelict land.

Regulatory: The definition of "commercial practice"
A recent Divisional Court ruling on unfair commercial practices will be of significant interest to trading standards teams across the country, writes Tony Watkin.

Transport & Highways: Proving the size of highway defects
A recent High Court ruling in a claim against a highways authority over a pothole demonstrates why measurements of length, width and depth are crucial, writes Dominique Smith.
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