PLC Public Sector reports:
Make sure that you have not missed a key development in your area of the law by reviewing our latest list of recommended actions.
This week’s actions are:
The Audit Commission Act: local authority, FOIA and procurement lawyers should note the decision in Veolia v Nottinghamshire County Council, which found the council was correct to decide that it was under an obligation to disclose the full contents of its contract with Veolia under section 15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998. Section 15 gives a wider right of access to contractor’s confidential information than both FOIA and the Environmental Information Regulations. While the right of access is time limited and disclosure is only available to individuals with an interest in ensuring that councils obtain value for money, those working in the private sector should ensure that their clients are aware of the possibility that this information could be disclosed.
Waste strategies: local authority lawyers should note the latest information note issued by DEFRA to local authorities that are required to produce joint municipal waste strategies under section 32 of the Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003.
Unfair dismissal: employment and litigation lawyers will be interested in the decision in Henderson v Connect (South Tyneside), which held that a contractor’s dismissal of a school bus driver on the direction of the local authority was fair, even though allegations of sexual abuse made against him had not been proven.
FOIA: FOIA and procurement lawyers should note the Information Tribunal decision finding that the Central Office of Information (COI) should disclose information relating to tenders made to the COI to provide reprographic services. The COI had previously been successful in persuading the Information Commissioner that the information was exempt under section 43(2) of FOIA.
Local land charges: property lawyers should note that from 1 January 2010, the fee for a personal search of the local land charges register will increase from £11.00 to £12.00.
LGO: local authority lawyers should review the latest reports published by the LGO and where necessary learn from the mistakes highlighted. This week saw criticisms of the way:
- SEN needs were assessed.
- A right to buy application was dealt with.
- The school admissions appeals code was applied.
- Concessionary travel schemes for the visually impaired were operated by several authorities.
School behaviour strategy: education lawyers should note the DCSF’s new behaviour strategy for secondary schools.
If you wish to submit your views on any of the actions we have recommended, or would like to highlight any other issues that you feel need action by public sector lawyers, please feel free to submit a comment below.