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.
Cost-cutting: public bodies looking to cut costs to reduce the budget deficit should take note of the National Audit Office’s guidance on structured cost reduction.
Employment: employment lawyers should be aware of the following recent decisions made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal:
- Thaine v London School of Economics UKEAT/0144/10. The EAT held that where an employee’s psychiatric injury was caused by a number of factors including discrimination for which an employer is responsible then it should reduce compensation to reflect the extent that the employer contributed to the employee’s ill-health.
- Chang-Tave v Haydon School and another UKEAT/0153/10. The EAT held that the Employment Tribunal was wrong to refuse a claimant’s request for the postponement of a hearing where a doctor had advised him not to attend.
- Bullimore v Pothecary Witham Weld Solicitors and another UKEAT/0189/10. The EAT held that an employer who is found to have victimised an employee by providing a poor reference to a prospective new employer is liable to pay compensation to the employee for their future loss of earnings, despite the fact that the actions of the prospective new employer in withdrawing an offer of employment also amounted to unlawful victimisation.
Paternity leave: regulations have been laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly introducing the entitlement to additional paternity leave and pay for parents of children due on or after 3 April 2011.
Pensions: pensions lawyers should note two recent decisions by the Pensions Ombudsman this week:
- Sanderson (77074/1): the Pensions Ombudsman ruled that an employer who only considered a single medical report when assessing entitlement for ill-health early retirement had fettered its discretion in being so selective in the evidence.
- Mr A (77971/3): the Pensions Ombudsman ruled that, when reviewing an ill-health pension payment awarded on the basis of a member’s total incapacity, trustees and employers should consider whether the member still satisfies the eligibility test under the scheme rules that applied when the pension was awarded. This decision is a reminder to pension scheme administrators that eligibility criteria for ill-health pensions should be strictly applied and that even where a member may have partially recovered they will still satisfy the scheme eligibility criteria.
Protective costs orders: civil litigation lawyers should be aware that the Court of Appeal has considered how the principles of Corner House on making protective costs orders interact with the Environmental impact Assessment Directive (85/337/EEC) (EIA Directive). The Court of Appeal in R (Garner) v Elmbridge Borough Council and others held that the Corner House principles should be modified where the EIA Directive applies to ensure compliance with the Directive and that it was inconsistent with the aim of the EIA Directive to apply a subjective test as to whether proceedings were prohibitively expensive.
Carbon Reduction Commitment: environmental lawyers should be aware that the Environment Agency has made a change to its guidance on charging relating to the process for payment of annual subsistence charges for third party account holders.
NHS bodies: those advising NHS bodies should be aware that the central government obligation to publish expenditure over £25,000 has now been extended to include NHS Trusts, Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Heath Authorities.
GP-consortia: those advising local authorities and PCTs on commissioning health and social care services should note that the Department of Health has published a letter giving further detail on its plans for GP-led commissioning.
Human rights and possession proceedings: housing lawyers involved in possession proceedings should take note of the European Court of Human Rights’ decision in Kay v United Kingdom. The ECtHR ruled that the applicant’s Article 8 rights had been breached because he had not been able to challenge the local authority’s decision to seek a possession order on the grounds of disproportionality because of personal circumstances. However, the ECtHR made the point that, even if the applicants had been given the opportunity to challenge the local authority’s decision in the courts, they might still have lost their homes.
Consultations: this week there have been consultations published on: