Legislation / Legal

Newswire – ICO: An estate agent recently pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that his business processes personal data.  John Newbound, of Newbank Estate and Letting Agents, is the second estate agent that the ICO has prosecuted this month for an offence under section 17 of the Data Protection Act.  
Press release ~ Information Commissioner’s Office
 
Newswire – LGA: Car litter louts are blighting the countryside and costing council tax-payers £ms thanks to a legal loophole which lets offenders get off ‘scot free’, council leaders warn.  The Local Government Association is calling on the Government to toughen up legislation in the Localism Bill to allow councils to take action against the registered keeper of a vehicle from which rubbish is thrown, if the offender can’t be identified.   
 
The change would bring littering from a vehicle in line with speeding & fly-tipping, where the person who controls the use of a vehicle, usually the registered keeper, is held to be knowingly permitting the offence and is held responsible unless someone else is proven to be responsible.
Press release
 
WAG: A ban on the use of sunbeds by people under the age of 18 will come into force on 8 April 2011, the Health Minister, Edwina Hart has confirmed. The provisions of the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 – introduced as a Private Members Bill - will make it an offence for an operator of a sunbed business in England & Wales to allow, or offer, someone under the age of 18 to use or access sunbeds on their premises.
 
In addition, the Act enables the Welsh Assembly Government to introduce stricter controls on sunbed use, which will be enforced by local authorities. The Minister has also confirmed her intention that, from 31 October 2011, unsupervised sunbed use will also be banned in Wales. These further controls will be introduced by the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 (Wales) Regulations 2011 that are currently being debated in the National Assembly for Wales.
Press release ~ Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 ~ Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 (Wales) Regulations 2011
 
Newswire – JSC: A report published by the Justice Select Committee says that the legal aid system in England & Wales – one of the most expensive in the world – ‘needs reform, but that changes proposed by the Government present a severe challenge to those involved with the justice system’. The legal aid budget currently costs taxpayers over £2bn a year.  

The Government's proposed reforms are intended to reduce the cost of the system by £350m a year, largely by removing certain areas of law from the scope of legal aid.  The Committee argues that some of those scope changes will need further refinement & suggests other areas where the Government might be able to make savings.  Concerns remain, however, that there is the potential for vulnerable groups of people to be disproportionately hit by the changes.
Press release
 
OFT: The OFT has received a super-complaint from Which? relating to surcharges that are payable when customers use a debit or credit card. The OFT will shortly invite interested parties to provide any evidence which may be useful to its assessment.  For more information please see the super-complaint page.
Press release
 
WAG: The First Minister of Wales has taken the next step to devolving new law-making powers by proposing a motion to Assembly Members to approve a draft Commencement Order as one of the final actions of the current Assembly.  This draft Order follows on from the ‘yes’ vote in the referendum result.  The effect of the Order is that the new Assembly elected on 5 May 2011 will be able to use its greater powers to consider Welsh Bills without the need first to seek the necessary powers from the UK Parliament.
Press release
 
HO: Police forces will now have greater freedom & flexibility to drug test people on arrest. Until now, police forces have had to apply for authorisation from the Home Office to 'test on arrest' at specific police stations.  Once this authorisation was granted the station would test at least 95% of those arrested for certain 'trigger offences' such as burglary.  From last week Chief Constables will just need to inform the Home Office that they are using this power.  
Press release ~ Drug testing guidance
 
OFT: The OFT has referred the completed acquisition by Sector Treasury Services Ltd (Sector) of ICAP plc's treasury management consultancy services business (Butlers), to the Competition Commission for further investigation. The parties are the number 1 & 2 suppliers of treasury management consultancy services on a retainer basis to local authorities and has led to combined market shares in excess of 70%.
 
The OFT believes that the remaining suppliers of these services are unlikely to be able to constrain the merged entity and that barriers to entry in this market are high. It is therefore concerned that the merger may lead to local authorities paying higher prices or experiencing a reduction in quality, range or service. This view is consistent with the significant number of third party concerns received by the OFT.
Press release