The European Court has upheld the long-standing principle that parties to a dispute should be able to choose their lawyers without having to go through a tender process (or use a framework).
In line with the Government’s aim to see all local authorities with adoption responsibilities participating in regional adoption agencies (RAAs) by 2020, the Department for Education has approved the setting up of 5 new adoption agencies involving a total of 17 councils.
With this ongoing shift in service delivery, we have set out below our top considerations for councils:
- The Vision: is it consistent across all the councils involved? Has there been engagement with key voluntary adoption agencies active locally and regionally? As with any collaboration, the cultural and strategic fit between councils and VAAs can make or break the venture.
- Are there any Children’s Trusts involved in managing children’s services for any of the councils? Their ongoing involvement once the RAA is up and running will need to be documented and fit with the legal form selected.
- Legal Form: this could be a hosted service model through a joint committee or the creation of a jointly owned entity. As part of this, early consideration should be given to how decision making will work and who will be responsible for what decisions (including where decisions will be delegated).
- Procurement: in both models compliance with the public procurement regime will be necessary. Adoption services fall within the Light Touch Regime, so do your arrangements comply with Regulation 12, Public Contracts Regulations 2015 – whether Teckal or Hamburg Waste co-operation?
- Voluntary adoption agency involvement: Cross-sector collaboration is an expectation. Is there a need to procure this if the agency will be providing services to the RAA?
- Staff: the RAA’s staffing requirements need to be identified at an early stage to ensure both proper consultation and buy-in from staff but also compliance with TUPE. Ongoing pension provision and responsibility for past and future pension liabilities will need to be factored in.
- Assets: what assets is the RAA going to need to function? This could be anything from office space, to server capacity and mobile phones. Identify what assets each council has for the service, what can be dispensed with and what can transfer (including the basis upon which it will transfer or be made available to the RAA – taking into account State-aid rules where they apply).
- Support Services: which council or councils is/are best placed to support the operation of the RAA? In the case of a hosted joint committee, this will most likely be the host council, but both models could include a mixture of councils providing different support. How will the councils account for this support?
- Regulatory compliance: consider what each council’s current relationship is with OFSTED and other regulators. Is there anything that the new RAA would need to factor into service delivery? The RAA will need to engage with OFSTED and ensure that it has all correct consents in place.
- State aid: unlikely to be an issue, but once legal form and structure of service delivery and support are known then advice should be obtained to ensure there is full State-aid compliance.
On 8 July, news broke of the staggering fine of more than £183m the ICO intended to levy against British Airways as a result of a hack that took place in 2018, compromising 500,000 customers' data.
The Government has been refused permission to appeal a decision ruling that transitional arrangements in public sector pension schemes are discriminatory.
The Lifeline Project was a well-regarded charity. Failure to carry out the targets within the contracts led the charity into insolvency and resulted in a personal, 7-year disqualification order.
Many local authorities have assessed that a trading subsidiary or trading structure could be beneficial as part of generating income or the service delivery matrix.
On 23 July, trainees from Anthony Collins Solicitors will host an ‘experience day’, which will involve various activities and presentations, with lawyers and non-lawyers from across the firm.
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) has launched a new scheme specifically for charities and not-for-profit organisations who want to advise EU citizens on UK settlement.
In the second part of our series on contract management pitfalls, we look at the risks and opportunities presented by payment mechanisms in construction contracts.
The Government has resurrected its plans to cap the termination payments for exiting employees in the public sector.
Under most construction contracts, the contractor takes on the ground conditions risk. However, a recent case has demonstrated that the risk can fall on the employer.
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