Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: Regulations governing the approval of a national Tenancy Deposit Scheme have been laid in the Scottish Parliament. The regulations are expected to become law in March 2011. The Scottish Government estimates that between 8,000 and 11,000 tenants annually have £3.6m of their deposits wrongly withheld.
Once operational, the tenancy deposit scheme will be free for landlords & letting agents to participate in. Tenants will no longer have to take legal action to seek recovery of a wrongly withheld deposit. It will provide access to a free & independent dispute resolution service, where agreement over the return of a deposit cannot be agreed by the tenant & landlord.
TfL: From 3 January 2012 around 75,000 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses & coaches and around 72,000 larger vans & minibuses will have to meet tighter Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standards. Those who cannot will have to pay a £100 daily charge or risk a £500 penalty. Owners of HGVs, buses and coaches would have to pay a £200 daily charge or risk a £1,000 penalty.
As part of the information campaign a new LEZ website has been launched - tfl.gov.uk/lezlondon - which includes a vehicle checker to enable owners to check whether their vehicle meets the emissions standards and provides advice on what steps they can take to do so, such as fitting an approved filter.
JCHR: The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published a Report on the Public Bodies Bill, focussing on 3 significant human rights issues arising in the Bill. The Bill was published following the Government’s review of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs). It proposes to create a number of delegated powers by which the Government can abolish, merge, modify the constitution, functions or budgetary arrangements of a body or authorise delegation of a body’s functions to a third person or body.
The Committee is concerned that there should be no adverse impact on the ability of the UK to safeguard individual rights & liberties protected by domestic law & the ECHR and to meet its international human rights obligations.
Press release ~ Joint Committee on Human Rights ~ Report: Public Bodies Bill ~ Bills before Parliament: Public Bodies Bill
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has announced a market study into the supply of energy to consumers who are not connected to the main gas grid. The study will look at whether the market is working for 'off-grid' energy consumers who use sources such as heating oil, LPG and, more recently, renewable energy sources like solar panels. The OFT expects to confirm the scope of the study in March and conclude it in Autumn 2011.
HO: A new offence to stop under 18s gaining unauthorised access to airguns was introduced by the Government last week. From 10 February 2011, owners will be liable for a fine of up to £1,000 if they do not take reasonable precautions to stop unauthorised access to their airgun by people under the age of 18. Safety leaflets informing new owners of the offence will be also be included with every air gun purchased.
ScotGov: Minister for Parliamentary Business, Bruce Crawford, last week announced the Scottish Government is committed to bringing forward a Bill clarifying & strengthening theFreedom of Information (Scotland) Act. He said that ScotGov intends to bring forward measures to strengthen & improve the Act through a Freedom of Information (Scotland) Amendment Bill in the next Parliamentary session.
ScotGov: MSPs have given their backing to the principles of the Reservoirs (Scotland) Bill following the Stage 1 debate in the Scottish Parliament last week. The proposals update the legislation governing Scotland's reservoirs by offering greater protection for the public along with a reduction in red-tape for owners.
The most significant change is the move away from a capacity-based system (currently only reservoirs greater than 25,000 cubic metres are regulated) to a risk-based approach. This will result in some previously unregulated but higher risk reservoirs being brought under the regime, and other large reservoirs which do not pose any risk becoming subject to a lower level of regulation;
ScotGov: As the second reading of the UK Government's Scotland Bill is undertaken in the House of Commons, Scottish Ministers have called for the Bill's 'significant failings' to be addressed. The Scottish Government has previously published analysis on the financial provisions in the Bill.
Press release ~ Analysis on the financial provisions in the Scotland Bill ~ Evidence presented by the Scottish Government to the Scotland Bill Committee
ScotGov: New legislation to tackle problems with 'party flats' let out for stag & hen parties moved a step closer last week. Regulations amending the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004 have been laid in the Scottish Parliament. The regulations are expected to become law by late March 2011. Local authorities will be able to issue Antisocial Behaviour notices to owners of party flats and bring a case to court with the prospect of a successful verdict.