Local Authority Matters – March 2021

9th March 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic still presents local authorities with many ongoing challenges. The agenda to survive, revive, and thrive seems to be firmly locked in survive mode in this third national lockdown. Local authorities are facing extra cost pressures, income losses, an increased need to provide support services and funding to citizens, businesses and suppliers, to support their survival.

Interestingly, apart from Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 01/21 which reminds contracting authorities of the options available to them when undertaking procurements in an emergency, we have seen no further COVID/lockdown related PPNs published since the first lockdown when the UK Government published two in quick succession. Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 04/20 was effective to the end of October 2020, updating and building off provisions contained in PPN 02/20. However, those PPNs have expired, and nothing else has come in to replace them.

Despite that, some of our clients are ‘falling in line’ with such guidance and behaviour as if it were the new normal. Across the local authority leisure industry we have seen extensions to deeds of variation and settlement to deal with compensation and reconciliation processes for periods of lost income. For this edition of Local Authority Matters, we look at the recent High Court decision: Westminster City Council v Sports and Leisure Management Limited examining how the Westminster contract differs from a typical Sport England template contract.

We also cover the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had in the context of whistleblowing. With an expected increase in whistleblowing allegations in 2021 we look at what steps employers should take and how they can support whistleblowers.

We also highlight the Government’s decision after an extensive review, to revoke public sector exit payments regulations on 12 February, just three months after coming into force. We also look at the impact of the Free Trade Agreement on commercial contracts.

Finally, we cover the Information Commissioner’s Office publishing new detailed guidance on Data Subject Access requests, and review a recent case where a High Court judge dismissed claims brought against the NHS Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group relating to public consultation.

You can keep up to date with our latest articles and blogs on legal issues arising during this pandemic by going to the dedicated COVID-19 insights section, which is updated on a daily basis.

I hope you will find all the articles below informative and helpful, and if you would like any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch with Penny Rinta-Suksi or your usual Blake Morgan contact.

Sport England template contract interpretation

The recent High Court decision in the case of Westminster City Council v Sports and Leisure Management Limited was focused on the principles of contractual interpretation. We look at how the Westminster contract differs from a typical Sport England template contract and the important points to takeaway.

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Why is whistleblowing likely to be a key issue in 2021?

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact in the context of whistleblowing with a record number of concerns raised about health and safety issues and furlough fraud. With an expected increase in whistleblowing concerns being raised, we look at why it is important for employers to understand this complex area of law and how they can support whistleblowers.

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Public Sector Exits Payments regulations to be revoked

The restriction of Public Sector Exit Payments regulations 2020 were made into law on 14 October 2020, took effect on 4 November 2020 and in a surprising development on 12 February 2021, the Government announced that the Regulations were to be revoked.

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The EU & UK Free Trade Agreement: impact on commercial contracts

How does the Brexit deal compare with what was predicted for commercial contracts? We look at the impact the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has on commercial contracts.

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ICO guidance on data subject access requests

On 21 October 2020, The Information Commissioner’s Office finally published “detailed guidance” (rather than the previous “Code of Practice”) on Data Subject Access Requests. It may have been missed by some, since the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the GDPR (now “UK GDPR”) had by then been in force for some 18 months. Nevertheless, it does contain some very useful pointers and will help employers dealing with subject access requests, which can sometimes be extremely onerous.

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Is formal public consultation required in hospital trust re-organistions?

We look at the recent judicial review case of Glatter v NHS Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group [2021] EWHC 12 (Admin) where it was argued that decisions made by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) were unlawful because of a lack of public consultation.

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