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Consumer-citizens, Funding and legal aid, Health, Housing, Human rights/equalities, Immigration and asylum, Mediation and ADR, Prisons/detention centres, UK Parliament, What's new

What’s new in administrative justice, October 2015

whatsnewParliament

The Immigration Bill is due to have its second reading in the Commons on 13 October. Among other things, the Bill would extend changes to appeal rights introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, in order to enable the Home Secretary to remove from the UK migrants who are appealing against a refusal of a human rights claim before the appeal has been determined, if she certifies that the person’s temporary removal would not cause serious irreversible harm or breach the UK’s human rights obligations.

The Trade Union Bill has had its second reading in the House of Commons. The Bill introduces a 50 per cent turnout requirement for industrial action, and for industrial action in important public services, a 40 per cent positive vote by those entitled to vote. It would also extend the notice period required prior to industrial action and introduce new legal requirements relating to the supervision of picketing.

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill is in Committee stage in the House of Commons. The Bill allows for the introduction of extensive changes to welfare benefits, tax credits and social housing. Measures include lowering the benefit cap and varying it between London and the rest of the country; a four year benefit freeze; limiting support through child tax credits and universal credit; and reducing social housing rent levels.

The European Union Referendum Bill had its first reading in the House of Lords, with second reading scheduled for 13 October. The Bill makes provision for the holding of a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has held an evidence session on the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Report, Dying without dignity. The Report, published in May, highlighted a number of inadequacies in end of life care. The Committee’s inquiry is looking at what action is being taken to address the issues raised in the report.

The Women and Equalities Committee has published the first tranche of written evidence received in relation to its inquiry into transgender equality, and has begun hearing oral evidence.

Cases

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has awarded an Indian woman recruited to work in the UK nearly £184,000 in compensation in one of the UK’s first caste discrimination cases under the Equality Act 2010.

The Court of Appeal has rejected a claim that the differential application of pension rights to a civil partner as compared to a spouse of the opposite sex was discriminatory. The claim failed because it related to a period before civil partnerships were recognised in law.

Human rights

The Scottish Parliament has published a briefing on the European Convention on Human Rights and its application in the UK. The Report outlines the proposals by the UK Government to reform human rights laws in the UK and examines the possible implications of any reform.

The President of the European Court of Human Rights has launched a network for the exchange of information between the Court and national superior courts. The initiative is designed to highlight case law on the ECHR and emphasise a shared responsibility for its implementation.

Legal aid

The latest legal aid statistics have been published by the Ministry of Justice.

Labour have launched a review of legal aid post the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. The review, headed by former shadow Attorney General Lord Bach, will look at the wider consequences of government reforms and put forward policy proposals for reforming legal aid.

Asylum and immigration                                                                                                                   

The Home Office has offered a formal apology and will pay compensation to a pregnant asylum seeker who was unlawfully arrested and detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre.

An Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has determined that Britain is entitled to offer a less favourable benefits regime to migrants.

Prisons

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has published its annual report for 2014-2015.

The Prime Minister has announced a £25m deal to build a prison in Jamaica so that more than 600 Jamaican prisoners who are in UK prisons can be repatriated. Currently, poor prison conditions in Jamaica could lead to a successful challenge under the Human Rights Act if prisoners were repatriated.

Consumer rights and ADR

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force on 1 October 2015. It includes new rights to refunds, repairs and replacement of goods and other protections.

Requirements for businesses to signpost consumers to an approved ADR scheme also came into force on 1 October under the EU ADR Directive.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has published guidance for businesses. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute maintains a list of approved redress schemes.

Privacy and data protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued its largest ever nuisance calls fine, of £200,000, to a green energy company for making over six million marketing calls.

The Scottish Information Commissioner has published an Annual Report for 2014-2015.

Health

New research commissioned by the Low Commission and Advice Services Alliance has demonstrated the adverse health impact of social welfare problems and the beneficial health impact of receiving good welfare advice. The report makes recommendations to relevant health and advice bodies.

The Welsh Government has proposed new limits on mental health detention times.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Mental Health Welfare Commission for Scotland have published a Report on how mental health and social care services are working towards a common vision to meet the human rights of service users and carers.

Housing

The Civil Justice Council has asked Judge Siobhan McGrath to look at the best ways for resolving housing disputes. This follows previous recommendations by the Law Commission that a wider range of issues could be dealt with by tribunal rather than court.

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