Oxfordshire Director of Legal

Local government contracts and the ultra vires doctrine

In the light of the recent school facility management case invoving the Isle of Wight Council, Rob Hann takes a look at the weapons now available to local government to avoid the ‘horrors’ of ultra vires. Read more
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  NEWS

Jun 26, 2020

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman resumes taking new complaints online

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has announced that, after pausing all casework during the COVID-19 crisis, it will be resuming all existing casework and taking on new complaints through its website from next week (29 June).
Jun 26, 2020

Report highlights governance failings at borough council

South Ribble Borough Council has suffered major failings in its governance with auditors having given ‘no assurance’ over two spending areas and criticised legal service procurement.
Jun 24, 2020

Spending watchdog issues guide on financial reporting and management during COVID-19

The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned against any weakening of controls over spending public money as a result of pressures from dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, and has called for attention to possible new opportunities for fraud and error.
Jun 23, 2020

NALC renews calls for power to suspend councillors for up to six months

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has called on the Government to take “urgent action” to introduce a power for local authorities to suspend councillors for up to six months.
Jun 19, 2020

LLG and ADSO warn on lawfulness of 'hybrid' meetings

So-called ‘hybrid’ meetings - where some councillors are present in a committee room and others participate remotely - are unlawful “under the current situation as it stands at the moment”, Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) have concluded.
Jun 16, 2020

Local Government Association consults on Model Member Code of Conduct

The Local Government Association (LGA) has launched a consultation on a draft Model Member Code of Conduct that could be a template for councils to adopt in whole and/or with local amendments.
Jun 12, 2020

Community councillor in Wales fails to secure injunction to stop Ombudsman investigating complaints against him

A High Court judge has rejected an application by a community councillor for an injunction against the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) to stop its investigation of complaints made against him.
Jun 12, 2020

CIPFA proposes temporary amendments to s.114 guidelines in wake of COVID-19

At the earliest possible stage a chief financial officer (CFO) should make informal confidential contact with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to advise of financial concerns and a possible forthcoming s.114 requirement, CIPFA has proposed in amended guidance.
Jun 11, 2020

Court of Appeal dismisses legal challenge over voter ID

A former member of Braintree District Council has lost a Court of Appeal case over the Government’s decision that it and other councils had to pilot voter identification in the 2019 local elections.
Jun 01, 2020

Shadow authorities in Northamptonshire set to appoint interim monitoring officers

The shadow authorities for the two proposed councils in Northamptonshire will this week consider appointing interim monitoring officers at their first meetings.

  FEATURES AND ANALYSIS

June 26, 2020

The right to lobby councillors: Holborn Studios 2

A High Court judge recently considered the right of local councillors to receive correspondence from the public and to consider it when making decisions. Richard Harwood QC analyses the outcome.
June 15, 2020

The LLG Grapevine 15th June

Deborah Evans, Dennis Hall and Helen McGrath of LLG discuss legal considerations pertaining to the removal of statutes, the draft Model Code of Conduct, the 4th Health Amendment Regulations, procurement - fraud and corruption, PFI assets and contracts, challenges for women lawyers, virtual court hearings and housing possessions.
June 09, 2020

The LLG Grapevine 8th June

Deborah Evans (CEO), Dennis Hall (Bulletin Editor) and Helen McGrath (Head of Public Affairs) from LLG discuss the Seven Principles of Public Life, new school regulations, judicial review, remote meeting case studies, child vaccination disputes, the Commons Briefing on the role of the governments law officers, local lockdown powers and Brexit - remember that?!
June 05, 2020

Elections and the Coronavirus Act 2020

Allison Cook, Public Sector Partner at VWV, talks to specialist in elections law, Mark Heath about the changes to elections introduced under the Coronavirus Act 2020.
May 29, 2020

Scottish City deals: governance, transparency and accountability

Rory Alexander calls for improvements to be made to the governance structures for Scottish city deals.
May 18, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Brief: virtual meeting software

Tanya Corsie explores the various options for virtual meetings, covering online live streaming of meetings, the do's and don'ts of recording meetings, the need for moderators in large meetings, the role of good governance and policies, and what to do if your Councillors just don't have the technology.
May 12, 2020

The monitoring officer during COVID-19

Allison Cook and Mark Heath consider the role of the Monitoring Officer in the coronavirus pandemic.
May 05, 2020

Running remote parish council meetings

Many parish councils will be grappling with remote meeting technology for the first time in their response to lockdown and emergency decision making. Hosted by Deborah Evans, John Austin and Jane Moore consider how parish councils can best conduct virtual meetings and decision making during the COVID-19 crisis.

  MORE NEWS

May 27, 2020

Treasury consults on lending terms for Public Works Loan Board as crackdown looms on commercial property investment by councils

The Treasury has this month launched a consultation on future lending terms for the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) and signalled its intention to crack down on 'debt-for-yield' commercial property investment by councils.
May 21, 2020

Police watchdog rules out criminal investigation into Boris Johnson over association with American businesswoman but GLA will continue standards probe

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has said it will not be conducting a criminal investigation into allegations that Prime Minister Boris Johnson used his position while Mayor of London to benefit and reward American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri.
May 14, 2020

Local Government Secretary issues guide on statutory intervention and inspection into local authorities

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has published a guide on statutory intervention and inspection into local authorities.
May 01, 2020

Ombudsman issues guide to good administrative practice during coronavirus

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published a short guide on good administrative practice during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that when normal services resume, it will “inevitably” investigate complaints about what happened during this crisis phase.
Apr 30, 2020

Suspended sentences for duo who made hoax bomb threat calls to Welsh council

Two people who made hoax bomb threat calls to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council have been handed suspended prison sentences.
Apr 21, 2020

Independent investigation finds additional payments to chief executive “not lawfully made”

Decisions in 2019 to make additional payments to the then chief executive at Surrey Heath Borough Council “were not lawfully made”, an independent investigation by law firm Browne Jacobson has found.
Apr 20, 2020

LLG and ADSO issue model procedure rules and protocol for management of remote meetings

The Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) and Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) have produced model procedure rules and protocol for the management of remote meetings.
Apr 06, 2020

LLG, ADSO and NALC issue guidance on new regulations on virtual meetings

Lawyers in Local Government (LLG), the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) and the National Association of Local Councils have produced guidance on the new regulations that give local authorities greater flexibility when it comes to holding meetings.
Apr 02, 2020

Government issues regulations giving local authorities flexibility on conduct of meetings, including remote attendance by members

The Government has issued the regulations that will give local authorities greater flexibility in the conduct of meetings, including allowing members to attend remotely, and for public and press access to those meetings.
Apr 01, 2020

CIPFA issues warning over poor organisational controls and increased risk for councils of fraud during pandemic

More than two thirds (69%) of local government professionals believe poor organisational controls leave local authorities vulnerable to fraudsters, research by CIPFA has found.
Mar 26, 2020

Coronavirus Act 2020 receives Royal Assent

The Coronavirus Act 2020, which contains a wide range of emergency measures as part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, has been given Royal Assent.
Mar 26, 2020

Ombudsman suspends complaints enquiries of councils and care providers

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has suspended all casework activity that demands information from, or action by, local authorities and care providers, in light of the current coronavirus outbreak.
Mar 23, 2020

Virtual local authority meetings

Amendments to the Coronavirus Bill will rule out uncertainty over whether local authority meetings can be held online, writes Charles Holland.
Mar 23, 2020

LGA issues briefing on Coronavirus Bill, calls for temporary relaxation of FOI and GDPR requirements

The Local Government Association has called for additional powers to be given to local government as it published a briefing on the measures contained in the Coronavirus Bill.
Mar 20, 2020

Government publishes Coronavirus Bill

The government has published the Coronavirus Bill with provisions covering areas such as the emergency registration of social workers, the suspension of most local authority social care obligations, the closure of educational institutions and the postponement of elections.
Mar 18, 2020

LLG and ADSO write to Secretary of State on impact of Covid-19 on governance

Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) have written to the Local Government Secretary on the impact of Covid-19 on governance issues.
Mar 17, 2020

Government consults on how to stop councils using Public Works Loan Board loans for commercial property investment

The government has launched a consultation this month on the development of a targeted intervention designed to stop ‘debt for yield’ activity where local authorities use low-cost loans from the Public Loans Works Board (PWLB) to buy investment property primarily for rental income.
Mar 17, 2020

Law Commissions call for single, consistent legislative framework for elections

Electoral legislation that originates from the Victorian era is “out-dated, confusing and no longer fit for purpose”, the Law Commissions of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission have said in a report calling for the adoption of a single, consistent legislative framework.
Mar 17, 2020

Government to consider allowing virtual committee meetings on temporary basis: Jenrick

The government is to consider bringing forward legislation to legislation to allow council committee meetings to be held virtually for a temporary period during the coronavirus outbreak, the Local Government Secretary has said.
Mar 13, 2020

Councils and Electoral Commission welcome government decision to put May 2020 elections back by one year

The government has decided to postpone the 7 May 2020 local and mayoral elections in England for one year.
Mar 13, 2020

LLG and ADSO issue statement on local authority decision-making and democratic process in light of coronavirus

Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) have issued a joint statement on local authority decision-making and the democratic process in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
Mar 13, 2020

Electoral Commission recommends delaying 7 May polls until autumn

The Electoral Commission has written to the government warning of “real risks to the successful delivery of the scheduled 7 May 2020 elections”, in light of the current and emerging situation around Covid-19 in the UK.
Mar 11, 2020

Budget 2020: reaction from the sector

Local Government Lawyer rounds up the reaction to Rishi Sunak’s first Budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Mar 11, 2020

Budget 2020 – key policy decisions

Local Government Lawyer sets out some of the key policy decisions in the 2020 Budget affecting local government, housing, health and education.
Mar 11, 2020

Lack of experienced auditors poses threat to sustainability of local audit market: report

A lack of experienced local authority auditors is the main threat to the future sustainability of the local audit market, a report commissioned by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) has warned.

  MORE FEATURES

May 05, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Brief: Behaviour and Etiquette for Remote Meetings

What is appropriate behaviour and etiquette in remote meetings and how can scrutiny and governance be maintained whilst working remotely? Deborah Evans, Ed Hammond, and Philip McCourt consider best practice for remote meetings.
May 01, 2020

Welsh remote meetings regulations - getting democracy moving in the lockdown?

The Welsh Local Authorities (Meetings) (Wales) Regulations 2020 differ from the England and Wales 2020 Regulations in a number of ways, including not requiring the public to be able to hear meetings. Annabel Graham Paul discusses their main features, interpretation, and thoughts for their application.
April 27, 2020

Remote meetings: natural justice and practical problems

Cornerstone Barristers discuss the new Regulations empowering local authorities to hold meetings remotely, looking at the natural justice implications of hosting virtual meetings and offer practical solutions to some of the problems local authorities are likely to encounter.
April 24, 2020

In the beginning…

Rob Hann, local government lawyer and author, finds time during the Covid 19 lockdown to share some of his early experiences as a trainee lawyer at Sheffield City Council at a time of major conflict between central/local government.
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April 23, 2020

Coronavirus – What’s the impact on the legal profession?

With Coronavirus dominating the news and the majority of Europe now entering different stages of lockdown due to the rise in uncertainties about the virus, LexisNexis has rounded up its latest articles discussing the pandemic.
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April 23, 2020

Why is advancing the rule of law so important?

Have you ever considered your human rights? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlines our various rights under the law, the most basic being: “We are all equal before the law."But, is this really the case?
April 20, 2020

Public and admin law update

The Browne Jacobson team rounds up the latest case law, information law developments and offers tips on vires and statutory drafting in this webinar.
April 16, 2020

Virtual Meetings are the new reality for local authorities

In this free-to-view on-demand webinar, Cornerstone Barristers discuss the implications of the new Regulations which empower local authorities to hold meetings remotely (including by telephone conference, video conference, or live webcast).
April 15, 2020

Virtual Meetings and Postponement of Elections Regulations: Guidance, Implications and Insight

This free on-demand webinar features a discussion between LLG’s Chief Executive, Deborah Evans and Mark Heath, Consultant at VWV and Returning Officer at Southampton City Council, who will examine the regulations on virtual meetings, the guidance recently produced by LLG and ADSO, and the implications of the regulations including in relation to standing orders, immediate effect and five days'…
April 06, 2020

Virtual local authority meetings

The government has brought in new regulations handing local authorities greater flexbility when it comes to holding meetings. Richard Harwood QC analyses the key elements of the measures.
April 03, 2020

Coronavirus and local authority meetings in England and Wales

Alastair Lewis gives an overview of the regulations for local authority meetings in England and Wales during the COVID-19 crisis.
March 26, 2020

Coronavirus, local authority meetings and development management

John Pugh-Smith provides a brief overview of the current known position, watch points and continuing uncertainties as at 26 March 2020 now that the Coronavirus Act 2020 is in force.
March 20, 2020

Consultation in a time of social distancing and self-isolation

Local authorities should consider the legal issues around consultation during the Covid-19 crisis, writes Jonathan Moffett QC.
March 20, 2020

Covid-19 and the economic emergency, unforeseen

How will local authorities be able to respond? Helen Randall and Henna Malik set out some of the options.
March 18, 2020

Public decision-taking during coronavirus restrictions

Richard Barlow looks at how public bodies might continue to maintain functioning democratic decision-taking at a time when large gatherings are discouraged and social isolation is recommended for public health.
March 13, 2020

Local authority duties and decision-making

The Court of Appeal has given important guidance on local authority duties and decision-making. James Goudie QC and Ronnie Dennis set out its key findings.
March 06, 2020

Access all areas: public sector websites

Eve Piffaretti looks at how to ensure public sector websites and mobile apps are accessible by residents.
January 31, 2020

Complying with duties under the Equality Act 2010

A recent Scottish case has emphasised that public authority duties under the Equality Act 2010 are not ‘a question of ticking boxes’, write Laura Thornton and Matthew Smith.
January 24, 2020

The Monitoring Officer - changing approaches for a new decade?

Agility and speed of movement are qualities that both Monitoring Officers and their organisation will need to cultivate, writes Miranda Carruthers-Watt.
January 03, 2020

The CSPL Review of Ethical Governance and Bullying

Paul Feild looks at what the Committee for Standards in Public Life has recommended in relation to bullying and sets out the actions councils can take to address the issue.