Legislation / Legal

HMRC: A tax avoidance scheme set up to allow wealthy people to pay little or no tax on their income has been successfully challenged by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in court.  The court ruling has protected £156m in tax from a scheme, which the tribunal said ‘if it had been successful, its effect would have been to make the payment of income tax voluntary’.
Press release & links
 
LGANew planning laws aimed at accelerating the rollout of broadband across Britain could also give free rein for 50 ft high mobile phone masts to be built anywhere developers choose to put them

Councils have major concerns that Government proposals to relax planning restrictions on the siting of telecoms infrastructure could open the floodgates to phone masts, as well as broadband street cabinets & overhead cabling, being built in the countryside and near to people's homes.
 
Clause 8 in the Government's Growth and Infrastructure Bill removes the need for developers to seek planning approval for new telecoms infrastructure.  
Press release ~ Growth and Infrastructure Bill
 
LC: In a report published last week the Law Commission is recommending reforms that will bring the Electronic Communications Code up to date with modern technology while continuing to balance the rights of landowners and the public demand for modern communications services.

The Code was enacted in 1984 to regulate landline telephone provision.  Since then it has been adapted to help deliver broadband, mobile internet, cable TV, mobile phones & landlines to the whole of the UK.  It governs the legal relationship between network providers & landowners.
Press release & links
 
OFT: The OFT has announced that Tesco'sappeal in relation to the OFT's 2011 Dairy Retail Price Initiatives decision has been brought to an end by Order of the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) as agreed between the parties. Tesco will pay a penalty of £6.5m.  The CAT upheld the OFT's findings that Tesco broke competition law three times by co-ordinating increases in the prices consumers paid for cheese in 2002.
Press release & links
 
HO: A number of so-called 'legal highs' including Black Mamba and Mexxy became illegal Class B drugs last week.
Press release & links
 
DfT: The Road User Levy Act became law last week paving the way for a fairer deal for UK hauliers.  Most EU states already charge lorries for using their roads which means that British vehicles have to pay to drive in Europe, while foreign lorries can drive in the UK without paying for the wear & tear they cause on the roads.
 
The new charge will be introduced in April 2014  and will be a time-based charge of up to £1,000p.a. or £10 a day and will apply to lorries weighing more than 12 tonnes, using UK roads.
Press release & links
 
HO: The Scrap Metal Dealers Act, which will come into effect later in 2013, will require metal dealers to satisfy their local authority that they are a legitimate trader.  It will give local authorities & the police the power to revoke licenses where they suspect illegal activity, helping clamp down on the estimated 1,000 metal thefts per week which cost the UK around £220m a year.
 
Magistrates will also be able to issue unlimited fines to any metal trader they find dealing in cash, operating without a licence or breaching the licence conditions.
Press release & links
 
OFT: The OFT has recently published guidance which sets out how & when it can use its new power to suspend consumer credit licences. Under the Financial Services Act 2012, the OFT can only use the new power where there is an urgent need to protect consumers from harm – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.
 
ScotGovPlans to improve the efficiency of Scotland’s courts and create new summary sheriffs to deal with lower-level civil & criminal cases are among measures announced last week to further modernise the justice system.   The measures - in the Scottish Government’s Courts Reform consultation - follow recommendations set out by Lord Gill in his Scottish Civil Courts Review - See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
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