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Local Authority round-up 06/05/22

Our Local Authority round up provides brief summaries of topical information on a weekly basis, to keep you aware of the changes and updates relevant to you.

Regulatory

Subsidy Control Act 2022

On 28 April 2022, the Subsidy Control Bill received Royal Assent and became the Subsidy Control Act 2022. The Subsidy Control Bill was presented to Parliament on 30 June 2021 to create a legal framework for a UK subsidy control regime that meets the UK’s international commitments, particularly the detailed commitments in the subsidies chapter of the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement. Under the Subsidy Control Act Public authorities will be responsible for self-assessing that subsidies they intend to grant comply with the statutory subsidy control principles and requirements (in line with guidance to be given by the Secretary of State). Certain types of subsidy will be prohibited, or only permitted subject to specified conditions. There are exemptions for other types of subsidy. A Subsidy Advice Unit (SAU) will be set up within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), with the functions of monitoring and oversight, and providing pre-award and post-award advice. The Secretary of State will, in secondary legislation, designate some types of subsidy as “subsidies of interest” or “subsidies of particular interest”. Public authorities can ask the SAU to provide advice on subsidies of interest (voluntary referral) and must ask the SAU to provide advice on subsidies of particular interest (mandatory referral). There are transparency requirements relating to the award of subsidies/ making a subsidy scheme. The Competition Appeal Tribunal will hear appeals by interested parties (or the Secretary of State) against subsidy decisions, using judicial review principles. The new regime is expected to come into force in Autumn 2022. Ahead of the new regime coming into force, the government will be publishing guidance to support public authorities getting ready for the new rules.

For more information please click here.

Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 9) Regulations 2022

The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 9) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/477) (2022 Regulations) entered into force on 29 April 2022. The 2022 Regulations are made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to amend the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/855) (2019 Regulations). New regulation 54A of the 2019 Regulations (inserted by regulation 5 of the 2022 Regulations) introduces requirements that social media services, including video sharing platforms, must take reasonable steps to prevent content being accessible on the service which is generated from a designated person. Internet access services, including fixed and wireless broadband providers, must take reasonable steps to prevent users of the service in the UK from accessing websites provided by a designated person. This will likely take the form of URL blocking. Application stores, including those on smartphones, must take steps to prevent users of the application store in the UK from downloading or otherwise accessing an application provided by a designated person. Regulation 5 of the 2019 Regulations (amended by regulation 4 of the 2022 Regulations) confers powers on the Secretary of State to designate persons for the purposes of the new regulation 54A to whom these online restrictions apply. New regulation 77A of the 2019 Regulations (inserted by regulation 7 of the 2022 Regulations) confers on OFCOM the power to request a person to provide information for the purpose of monitoring compliance with, or detecting evasion of, new regulation 54A. Additionally, failing to comply with the new sanctions is a criminal offence under new regulation 77B of the 2019 Regulations (inserted by regulation 7 of the 2022 Regulations).

For more information please click here.

Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022

The new Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 (ECA 2022) is part of the government’s arsenal against economic crime, and aims to increase transparency in property transactions. Among other measures relating to sanctions and unexplained wealth orders, it introduces new filing requirements for overseas entities which hold UK property. Any legal entity, such as a company, partnership or LLP, which is governed by the law of a non-UK territory must register with Companies House if it has acquired property since 1 January 1999 in England and Wales, since 8 December 2014 in Scotland, or since some future date to be determined in Northern Ireland. Applicable property is freehold and leasehold of more than seven years, and in order to deal with property in future, overseas entities will need an ID which is issued upon registration. Companies House will maintain a Register of Overseas Entities containing details of the entities and any beneficial owners falling into one or more of five categories, including for example parties holding more than 25% of the shares or voting rights in the entity. A transition period allows some breathing space, with overseas entities already owning UK property having six months from the commencement date under the Act to register, however delay is not advisable due to the bar on property transactions for registrable entities during this time. Non-compliance is a criminal offence, and could result in fines or a prison sentence. The ECA 2022 has been fast tracked due to the current conflict in Ukraine, and the government are committed to full implementation as a matter of priority.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

Remaining import controls on EU goods delayed

The UK government has announced that it will not introduce the remaining import controls on EU goods this year. The move has been made in order to help people as the cost of living continues to rise due to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and the recent rise in global energy costs which are impacting supply chains and causing costs to rise. The government has said that the remaining import controls will be introduced at the end of 2023 and they will publish further details on its implantation in the Autumn this year. Minister for Brexit Opportunities, Jacob Rees-Mogg said “Today’s decision will allow British businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic, navigate global supply chain issues and ensure that new costs are not passed on to consumers. It’s vital that we have the right import controls regime in place, so we’ll now be working with industry to review these remaining controls so that they best suit the UK’s own interests.”

For more information please click here.

Government set to negotiate UK-Swiss trade deal

Following a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Swiss President Ignazio Cassis last week, the UK government has confirmed that it is attempting to agree a new enhanced trade deal with Switzerland in order to boost two-way trade between the countries. The Government has also launched an eight-week consultation on new UK-Swiss FTA to seek views of UK businesses and public and shape negotiating objectives. International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said “A new enhanced trade agreement with Switzerland is a huge opportunity to liberalise trade with our 10th largest trading partner and unlock new opportunities for our world-leading services sector. As two services superpowers, we have a huge opportunity to negotiate a modern, ambitious, unprecedented deal that will boost both our economies and show the world what is possible between two like-minded and innovative nations who are firmly within Europe but outside of the EU.”

For more information please click here.

Government gives update on reviews of retained EU law and Retained EU Law Bill

On 27 January 2022, the Chair of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee wrote a letter to the Prime Minister inquiring about the government’s reviews into the status and substance of retained EU law. The government had announced these reviews on 16 September 2021. On 28 April 2022, the Committee published the government’s letter to the Chair dated 21 April 2022, which confirmed that the work of the retained EU law reviews is now nearly complete. This work has established an authoritative baseline of all the retained EU law held by departments across Whitehall and has informed the issues that the government’s Retained EU Law Bill (also known as the Brexit Freedoms Bill) will seek to address. It confirmed that the government intends to publish the full list of retained EU law still on the UK statute book before the Bill is introduced and that following the conclusion of the retained EU law substance review, government officials are engaged in a retained EU law status review, which seeks to consider the type of retained EU law that is on the UK’s statute book, the status it holds, and how it affects and interacts with other legislation. This review will also inform the content of the Bill and will be completed prior to the introduction of the Bill.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Oxford’s licensing scheme for private landlords approved

All private rented homes in Oxford will need a licence from this September as paart of a new council scheme aimed at improving standards in the city’s rental sector. Oxford City Council’s new selective licensing scheme will mean that private landlords will have to show that they are meeting safety and management standards, are a ‘fit and proper person’, and are meeting council waste storage and disposal requirements. The new scheme was approved by Eddie Hughes MP, the minister for rough sleeping and housing, who urged the council to keep him informed of its progress. In his letter he said “I would ask the council to keep me informed of progress in these areas annually by undertaking a review of the effectiveness of licensing in tackling the issues. This information will provide greater understanding on the practical application of selective licensing schemes and inform the development of future policy.”

For more information please click here.

Judge dismisses legal challenge to grant of planning permission for development at race circuit

A Planning Court judge has dismissed a judicial review challenge over a council’s decision to grant planning permission for development at a motor sports race circuit in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The race circuit, which has been in place for more than 50 years and is operated by the interested party, is located approximately one kilometre north-east of Wootton Village. The claimant in the case was a resident who sought judicial review of the decision by the defendant council dated 29 May 2020. She and other local residents are adversely affected by noise from the race circuit. The claimant submitted that Dover erred in law in reaching its decision on the grounds of an error of law in regarding the existing level of noise, which was a statutory nuisance and/or causing noise at a Significant Observed Adverse Effect Level, as a fallback position against which to judge the IP’s application for planning permission to develop the race circuit and that there was also an error of law in its approach to the effect of the proposed development on the Kent Downs AONB. They also said they failed to give adequate reasons for the decision, failed to have regard to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and/or a breach of Article 8, contrary to the Human Rights Act 1998. Permission was initially refused on the papers, but subsequently granted by Timothy Corner QC, sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court, at an oral renewal hearing on 19 November 2020. Mrs Justice Lang dismissed all grounds of challenge.

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

CPD Programme – Dealing with misconduct – investigations and disciplinary matters

The fifth webinar in our CPD Programme focuses on dealing with misconduct. Join us on Tuesday 10th May at 10am. In this webinar we will cover how to conduct a thorough investigation, how to manage potential conduct issues before formal action is necessary and how to deal with disciplinary issues robustly and with the aim of reducing risk.

For more information or to book your place please click here.

Housing Management Law School Spring/Summer term 2022

We are delighted to invite you to the latest Spring/Summer term of our Housing Management Law School, held online via Zoom on 19th May at 10am. As usual during this session, we will feature a roundup of recent case reports, regulatory and legislative changes in the housing law world. Our revision topic this term is abandonment and tenancy fraud, both being issues in which we have seen a marked increase in recent months. In this session we will look at how to deal with tenant absence, unauthorised sub-lettings and how to recover possession of property. The hot (but cold) topic for the Spring session is the Dampness, Condensation and Disrepair update. The Law School is free to attend and exists to deliver training to Registered Providers of Social Housing across the country, educating and updating their housing management staff with the essential legal knowledge that they need.

For more information or to book your place please click here.

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this update, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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