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Public Sector Update - May 2015

Construction

Not as might first appear: what constitutes a "Construction Contract" under the Construction Act?

The Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 as amended (the "Construction Act") imposes specific payment provisions and dispute resolution processes into construction contracts, including the option to adjudicate. In many cases it is clear whether a contract is a "construction contract" for the purposes of the Construction Act. However, in others, it is not so clear cut. In a recent case, two parties spent in the region of £400,000 in legal fees finding out.

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Data Protection

Nuisance or Necessity: The government removes harm for nuisance calls whilst setting up public emergency alert system

The government has released proposals to amend the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and introduce a text message alert system that can be optimised in times of emergency. If implemented, some privacy rules will be weakened.

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Employment

Changes to Local Authority Dismissal Procedures

The Local Authority (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 are due to come into force on 11 May 2015, and introduce significant changes regarding the dismissal of the statutory officers of local authorities.

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Personal Injury

Highway tripping claims - fighting the right cases in times of austerity

In the lead-up to the 2015 General Election, canvassers on the doorsteps of the UK found that voters were as keen to discuss potholes as any of the major issues contained in the manifestos of the political parties. The economic reality for most councils, however, is that there are no funds for any major capital expenditure programme and the condition of the nation's roads and pavements are mostly remedied with patching and temporary repairs.

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Planning

High Court guidance for local authorities unable to defend JR proceedings due to "financial reasons"

In the recent decision of R (on the application of Midcounties Co-operative Ltd) v Forest of Dean District Council and Trilogy the High Court provided direction to local authorities prevented from defending their decisions in judicial review proceedings because of financial constraints.

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Projects

Caselaw Update: Solent NHS Trust v Hampshire CC [2015] EWHC 457 (TCC)

In this recent case, Hampshire County Council ("HCC") sought to procure an enhanced provision for adult substance misuse recovery services, with emphasis placed on greater levels of integration. HCC's previous contract for these services included the provision of an inpatient drug and alcohol detoxification service and a specialist carers support service.

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Property Litigation

Akerman-Livingstone v Aster; when is Proportionality not Proportionality?

In August  2014, we reported on the Court of Appeal decision given in the Akerman-Livingstone v Aster Communities Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 1081 (Proportionality and the Equality Act 2010 s.15).

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