Legislation / Legal

Ofwat: New regulations that have come into force will strengthen the protection for consumers who suffer sewer flooding.  Under the Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) water and sewerage companies must make automatic payments to customers when their performance falls below a certain standard. The new GSS regulations will extend the rights of customers by:
* Setting a minimum payment of £150 each time their building is flooded by sewage
* Including a new standard for customers materially affected by external sewer flooding of their land & property by sewage and
* Setting external sewer flooding payments at 50% of the annual sewerage charge for each incident (minimum payment of £75)
Under GSS, companies are exempt from making payments when flooding is due to exceptional weather conditions or blockages and other problems with the customer's drain.  Ofwat will be consulting in April on guidance to help customers and companies understand when the weather exemptions are likely to apply.
Press release ~ Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) ~ Ofwat: Flooding from sewers ~ Sewer flooding: Consumer Council for Water
MoJ: New processes to put the welfare of children at the heart of care proceedings have come into effect. The Public Law Outline replaces the existing Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases by introducing simpler & more streamlined court procedures and promoting the earlier identification of key issues in the process including;
* Setting court timetables focused on the needs to the child
* Ensuring local authorities are better & more fully prepared before making applications to the courts
* Cutting the current six stages of the court process to four
Press release ~ Public Law Outline
MoJ: The government has announced the setting up of more than 30 new Specialist Domestic Violence Court (SDVCs) systems across England & Wales, bringing the total number in the national programme to 98.
A multi-agency approach is central to the success of these innovative courts; police, prosecutors court staff, the probation service and specialist support services work together to identify, track & risk assess domestic violence cases, support victims and share information so that more offenders are brought to justice.
Press release ~ National Plan for Domestic Violence ~ National Domestic Violence Delivery Plan ~ Specialist Domestic Violence Review ~ The CPS : Domestic Violence ~ Specialist Domestic Violence Court Programme Resource Manual ~ Sexual Assault Referral Centres ~ Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 ~ International Women's Day ~ Domestic violence - Ministry of Justice ~ Domestic Violence Mini-site
DCMS: A draft Heritage Protection Bill to ‘unify heritage protection regimes, allow greater public involvement in decisions and place heritage at the heart of the planning system’, has been published by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.
Press release ~ DCMS - Heritage Protection Bill ~ English Heritage ~ White Paper: Heritage Protection for the 21st Century ~ Heritage Coasts
Defra: New Environmental Permitting Regulations came into force on 6 April 2008 in England & Wales, intended to reduce red tape whilst protecting the environment and human health. Part of a joint Defra, Environment Agency and Welsh Assembly Government initiative, the regulations streamline & integrate Waste Management Licensing (WML) and Pollution Prevention Control (PPC) into one single regulatory system, replacing over 40 separate sets of regulations.
Additional benefits and cost-savings are expected to be delivered through the second phase of the Environmental Permitting Programme (EPP2): Defra, the Environment Agency and WAG are currently looking to expand the new single system by including further permitting regimes.
Press release ~ Defra - Environmental Permitting Programme ~ Environment Agency - New permitting regulations