Local Government Lawyer
Editor's blog: Open and shut case

It can be difficult to be critical of a proposal for greater transparency in council decision-making. After all, suggestions that the reforms might have unintended consequences could be seized upon as a sign that you are secretive and resistant to change.

However, it does seem as if the announcement of new regulations last week could have been better handled. 

Jobs latest: Merton and Richmond's shared legal service is now looking to recruit two Assistant Property Lawyers to its Business Improvement Team. And the closing date to apply for the position of Corporate Legal Adviser at the Local Government Association is imminent: 31 August (noon). Don't delay or you will miss out!

Calling all Directors of Law and Heads of Legal: we are conducting our annual Management Survey in association with Kennedy Cater. It would be great if you could complete the survey here - it should take no more than 15 minutes. 

We are also looking for procurement specialists employed in the public sector to complete a survey we are conducting in association with Bevan Brittan here.

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News headlines

ProjectsPickles hails regulations boosting openness in council decision-making New rights for 'citizen bloggers' plus enhanced rights for individual councillors and scrutiny members. But concerns emerge over speed of implementation and compliance with key reform

Borough takes legal action after permission given for 1,000-home developments Tewkesbury anger over decision taken while it was drawing up strategies with other local authorities

Council to pay £150k for damage to property caused by tree more than 30 metres away High Court judge said local authority should have taken action to prune poplars

Trading standards organisations fight back in row over RIPA use Warning of burden for courts and local authorities caused by requirement for Magistrates Court authorisation 

Pickles urges council leaders to clamp down on unauthorised encampments Communities Secretary issues new guidance to leaders on powers available to local authorities and police

Councils "should waive affordable housing requirements" to aid build-to-let developments Montague Report also calls for review of stalled sites

Authorities hail success of injunction against car cruising Police and authorities in South Nottinghamshire took action after receiving hundreds of complaints

LGO tells council to pay £20k to mother of autistic children after care failings Complainant had been caused "distress and justifiable outrage", says Ombudsman

Watchdog urges councils to make efficiences on care assessments Audit Commission claims that annual packages for 20,000 individuals could be delivered through savings

Big Brother Watch demands greater transparency on use of RIPA powers

Private equity investment to go ahead as Parabis wins ABS licence

DCMS consults on revised guidance covering Live Music Act reforms

See all of our most recent news stories

New articles on Local Government Lawyer

NoonIt's good to talk
The Cabinet Office has revamped its guidance on consultation. Nicola Williams and Owain Morgan assess the likely impact of the changes.

A coach and Aarhus through the planning system?
David Hart QC reviews two challenges before the Aarhus Compliance Committee on the operation of the planning system and third party rights.

Security status
The Administrative Court recently found that a police authority could not alter the fundamental public law nature of security clearance functions by considering them to be mere private law contractual matters. Nicholas Dobson reports.

Tripping up the claimant
A recent tripping dispute involving a council in the North West shows that cases do not necessarily need to be settled simply because there is no statutory defence, writes Nick Holgate.

Clear as day?
A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case considered whether terms for a pay increase were sufficiently clear as to be enforceable. Allison Cook reviews the ruling.

Abuse in care cases and the withdrawal of legal aid
More people are taking action over abuse in care ahead of the withdrawal of legal aid in 2013, writes Tony Hall.

Setting the discount rate
A Ministry of Justice consultation paper could lead to a change in the Discount Rate for personal injury damages and have a significant impact on public authorities which pay out compensation. Christopher Malla examines how it should be set.

Local Government Law.tv

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ITCHandling Persistent Complainants Persistent complainants can, if allowed, clog up an already over stretched system or service. This course will help to develop your understanding of this ever growing problem and look at ways to effectively handle persistent complainants.

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Blake LapthornBad Character Evidence in Criminal Prosecutions The admissibility of 'Bad Character' evidence can be vital to the success of a prosecution, but the rules and case law surrounding its definition and use in evidence are complex and contain many pitfalls for the unwary.

4-5 Gray's Inn SquareAge Assessments How will the courts determine whether an individual is legally a child or not? This course provides guidance on what evidence should and should not be taken into account when making a decision and outline the procedure by which challenges are brought.

St PhilipsPossession and Proportionality Since Pinnock in 2010, a number of cases have provided some additional clarity as to when an Article 8 defence to possession proceedings can be deployed. This course looks at whether we are any closer to a definitive answer.

HardwickeThe Localism Act 2011 and Housing: Homelessness With the ever-increasing push for better performance and productivity the need for teams to be effective and have the ability to work well together is vital.

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The latest blogs...

Housing may be added to infrastructure regime by Angus Walker
The press has been speculating, or has possibly been briefed, on the contents of the forthcoming Economic Regeneration Bill.  The main interest has focused on the green belt, but an article in the Daily Mail suggests that housing may be added to the categories of infrastructure project covered by the Planning Act regime.

Snap judgement: Is your authority likely to increase its use of ADR in the foreseeable future?
  • Yes, as much as possible - 6%
  • Yes, but only in limited cases - 25%
  • No, we're not familiar with the process - 25%
  • No, public bodies should conduct their business in public - 12%
  • No, the other side usually want their day in court - 32%
Click here to vote now

And some you may have missed....

Adult Social Services: What can local authorities do to tackle social care debt? Caroline Sanders and Jacky Edwards consider the issue of escalating debt in respect of unpaid care contributions and look at what local authorities can do about the problem.

Children's Services: Schools, sports and injuries Local authorities should welcome a recent Court of Appeal ruling in a case where a pupil was injured during a golf lesson at school, says Ridwaan Omar

Community Safety: At your station The sale of alcohol at petrol station forecourts has been a vexed issue for years. Jeffrey Leib looks at the latest developments.

Employment: Single minded Jane Johnson looks at a Employment Appeal Tribunal case on organised groupings of employees and TUPE. 

Governance: Commercial prejudice and redaction An Upper Tribunal ruling serves as a reminder that organisations seeking to rely on the commercial prejudice exemption under FOIA must be as precise as possible, writes Robin Hopkins.

Healthcare: Balancing values The Court of Protection team at 39 Essex Street report on a high-profile case over whether it was in the best interests for a 32-year-old woman with anorexia to be fed against her wishes.

Housing: Attempts to prevent eviction Following a recent  judgment, Andrew LaneSimon Allinson, Dean Underwood and Laura Tweedy discuss the increasing use of public law and Article 8 arguments in attempts to prevent eviction in mandatory possession cases.

Licensing: Partnership is still the key Andy Woods looks at a couple of recent cases and reminds both the trade and responsible authorities that the partnership approach remains the key ingredient for promoting the licensing objectives under the Licensing Act 2003.

Litigation: EL Trigger - the fallout The Supreme Court ruling in the employer's liability 'trigger' litigation was a welcome one for local government but a number of issues remain outstanding, writes Henry Bermingham.

Planning: Buildings or structures - the Woolley Chickens case A High Court ruling over whether mobile poultry units were development under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 is a significant one, writes Martin Goodall.

Procurement: No turning back? Julie Prior looks at the lessons to be learned for contracting authorites from a recent High Court case on the timing for bringing a claim during a tender process.

Projects: Screen test The Court of Appeal has confirmed the correct test for screening decisions in relation to environmental impact assessments, writes Polly Reynolds.

Property: So you think you are covered? A recent High Court ruling on insurance cover is significant for local authorities whether they are the landlord or tenant of a property, writes Helen Westran

Regulatory: Selective approach The Court of Appeal has ruled that there should be "severe" sentences for Selective Licensing offences, but no confiscation under proceeds of crime legislation. Matthew Paul analyses the case.

Corporate Legal Adviser, Local Government Association

Jobs of the week

Essex Legal Services
£46,000 - £69,100. Essex County Council is looking for two high calibre lawyers to join its Corporate Law and Governance team.

Merton and Richmond Shared Legal Service
Lawyer Business Improvement (Property)
£38,070 - £40,716. Merton and Richmond shared legal services are looking to recruit two Assistant Property lawyers to the Business Improvement Team.

Planning Litigation Locum
An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Planning Litigation Locum to join a local authority in the West Midlands.

Litigation Lawyer
A public sector body in the North West requires a Litigation Lawyer for a 3-6 month term. 

Locum Property and Planning Lawyer
A large local authority in East Anglia is recruiting a Property and Planning Lawyer to work in its successful team. 

Commercial Planning Lawyer
Our client requires a qualified Solicitor, Barrister or FILEX to undertake a temporary job in East Anglia. Ideally you will have experience of s. 106 TCPA. 

Adult Social Services and Childcare Lawyer
A public sector organisation in Wales is looking for an Adult Social Services and Childcare Lawyer.

Prosecutions Lawyer
A local authority to the West of London requires a Prosecutions Lawyer for a fixed term of one year. 

Other featured jobs

Childcare Solicitor
An opportunity has arisen for a Childcare Solicitor to join a reputable local authority in the Staffordshire area. 

Education Lawyer
This large local authority in the Northern Home Counties is keen to recruit an Education Lawyer. 

Childcare Lawyer
A local authority based in London is looking for a Childcare Lawyer for a 12-month contract. 

Commercial Projects Locum
An excellent opportunity has arisen for a Commercial Projects Locum to join a local authority in the Midlands for four months, with a possible extension. 

Commercial Contracts Lawyer
A large local authority in the Southern Home Counties is looking for a Commercial Contracts Lawyer. 

Commercial Property Locum
A local authority based in the West Midlands is looking for a Commercial Property Locum for a three-month period, with the possibility of extension. 

Commercial Property Solicitor
A Legal 500 firm with an excellent reputation is keen to find a solicitor to join its team in Bedfordshire.

Childcare Legal Assistant
A local authority in the North West is recruiting a Legal Assistant to join its Childcare department. 

Personal Injury Locum
This niche personal injury firm is keen to find an experienced Solicitor to join them on an interim basis. 

Search all jobs 

Featured courses and events

International Family Law Conference 2012 - Family Law

Employment Law Update - Jordans

Local Authority Conference 2012 - 11KBW
London - 18 September
Leeds - 2 October

Housing Allocations and Homelessness - Jordans
London - 30 November
Leeds - 27 November
Birmingham - 29 November
Manchester - 28 November

Supporting Young People: Local Authorities and Part III of the Children Act 1989 - Field Court - 27 September

Education Admissions - LGG - 19 September

Evidence in Child Abuse Cases Conference 2012 - Family Law - 20 September

Land ownership issues between academies and local authorities - 4-5 Gray's Inn Square - 26 September

Planning Law Conference 2012 - 4-5 Gray's Inn Square - 1 October

Children Law and Practice Conference 2012 - Family Law - 4 October

Annual Mental Health Law Conference - RadcliffesLeBrasseur - 4 October

Advocacy Skills for Family Lawyers - Family Law - 12 October

Court of Protection Practice and Procedure 2012 - Jordans - 15 October

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