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Consultations, Courts, Human rights/equalities, Immigration and asylum, Ombuds and reviewers, UK Parliament, What's new

What’s new in administrative justice, September 2017

Parliament

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on 7 September. The First Ministers of Wales and Scotland have announced that they will work together on amendments to the Bill in order to protect devolved powers and responsibilities following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing Bill will have its second reading in the House of Lords on 5 September. The Bill aims to update the consumer protection scheme for package holidays.

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill will continue its Committee stage in the House of Lords on 6 September. The Bill would create a single financial guidance body, merging three existing bodies; provide for funding of debt advice in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and, transfer claims management regulation from the MoJ to the Financial Conduct Authority.

The Economic Affairs Committee has announced an inquiry into the economics of higher education, further education and vocational training. The deadline for written submissions is 14 September.

Access to justice

The Supreme Court has held that fees imposed in employment tribunals are unlawful because of their effects on access to justice. The Court held that the making of the Fees Order by the Lord Chancellor was not a lawful exercise of his powers because the fees interfered unjustifiably with the right of access to justice at common law. The court also found that the charging of higher fees for certain types of claim more likely to be brought by women was indirectly discriminatory.

Lord Justice Jackson has published a supplemental report to his review of civil litigation costs, recommending the extension of Fixed Recoverable Costs to all fast track cases and to a new intermediate track for certain claims up to £100,000. The report makes further recommendations with respect to clinical negligence cases; business and property cases; and judicial review cases. It recommends measures to limit recoverable costs in judicial review claims, by extending the protective costs rules which currently apply to environmental cases under the Aarhus Convention. This is necessary, according to the report, because all judicial review cases are of constitutional importance, and “citizens must be able to challenge the executive without facing crushing costs liabilities if they lose”.

Brexit

The Government has published a series of position papers setting out its approach to various aspects of the UK’s future relationship with Europe. A paper on data protection proposes a future relationship which builds on the existing adequacy model and envisages a role for the Information Commissioner’s Office and EU regulators to “maintain effective regulatory cooperation”.

The paper on enforcement and dispute resolution suggests that UK courts would have a close cooperative relationship with the CJEU in the future, in which both past rulings and future rulings would be taken into account.

The EU Internal Market Sub-Committee has issued a call for evidence in relation to its inquiry into the implications of Brexit for competition. The inquiry will consider the implications of Brexit for the application and enforcement of competition law in the UK and whether UK authorities have the capacity and resources to cope with additional responsibilities and a greater caseload, among other matters. The deadline for written submissions is 15 September.

David Davis has written to the House of Lords EU Committee to summarise the second round of Brexit negotiations, which took place in July. The main focus of the July negotiations was on citizens’ rights, but issues including the financial settlement and Ireland / Northern Ireland were also covered.

The Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee has published a report on the European Arrest Warrant after Brexit. The report concludes that any operational gap between the EAW ceasing to apply and a suitable replacement coming into force would pose an unacceptable risk.

Immigration

Home Office immigration statistics for April to June 2017 have been published. The Home Office has also published a second report on data collected on travellers departing and arriving in the UK as part of the exit checks programme.

The ONS has published the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, summarising long-term migration statistics for the year ending March 2017.

The Home Office has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to examine the impact of EU and non-EU students on the labour market and economy. The MAC has also been asked to examine the role EU nationals paly in the UK economy and society.

Disability

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has concluded its review of the initial report of the UK on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee’s concluding observations noted concerns about the “insufficient incorporation and uneven implementation of the Convention across all policy areas and levels within all regions”, and the “lack of consistency across the State party in the understanding of, adapting to and applying the human rights model of disability”.

UKIM published an updated submission to the Committee, reflecting developments since the original submission in February 2017. The submission states that in UKIM’s view, the UK and devolved governments have not taken all the appropriate steps to progress implementation of the CRPD and have introduced measures that have had a negative effect on disabled people.

Investigatory Powers

Lord Justice Fulford has commenced his new role overseeing the police, law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ use of investigatory powers. The Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office will take over the inspection and oversight functions previously carried out by the Chief Surveillance, Interception of Communications, and Intelligence Services Commissioners. In due course it will also provide the so-called judicial ‘double-lock’, which will require warrants issued by the Secretary of State to also be approved by a judicial commissioner.

Ombuds

It has been reported that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is considering creating an internet ombudsman to deal with complaints about illegal online material, as well as imposing a levy on social media companies to help pay for the policing of online offences. DCMS is expected to publish a green paper in the autumn outlining the proposals.

New research has been published examining the phenomenon of ‘ombuds watchers’. These are groups of dissatisfied users of public service ombuds schemes who engage in legal protest against the current system of redress for citizen-state complaints.

Publications and consultations

Shelter has published a briefing examining the impact of the change from the Social Fund to local welfare assistance schemes. It analyses the support provided by existing local welfare schemes and assesses possible alternatives.

Action for Children has published research on children’s access to social care services. The report raises questions about the availability of early help for children whose needs are too great for universal services such as schools and doctors, but who are not eligible for support from social care services.

UKAJI has published a consultation on a proposed administrative justice research roadmap. The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2017.

 

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