Legislation / Legal

MoJ: The government hopes that it can increase the UK’s reputation as ‘one of the least corrupt countries in the world’ with new laws that will enable courts to tackle bribery at home & abroad more effectively. The Bribery Bill, introduced into Parliament last week, is intended to ensure the UK is ‘at the forefront of the battle against bribery and pave the way for fairer practice by encouraging businesses to adopt anti-bribery safeguards’.
The proposed Bill will make it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe, either at home or abroad.  The measures cover bribery of a foreign public official.  The Bribery Bill will replace offences in common law and the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889-1916.
Press release ~ Bribery Bill ~ Government response to the joint committee review of the Draft Bribery Bill ~ BIS: Combating international corruption ~ Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit ~ Law Commission's report: Reforming Bribery ~ ECGD - Anti-Bribery and Corruption ~ BIS leaflet ~ UK Anti-Corruption Forum ~ Transparency International ~ Online broadcast on the OFT investigation into the construction industry ~ CIOB’s research into corruption within the UK’s construction industry (scroll down)
Defra: Changes to the law to protect scout groups, faith groups, amateur sports clubs and other community groups from unaffordable rises in bills for surface water drainage have been set out by the Government.  The details have been published as part of the Flood and Water Management Bill
Secretary of State Hilary Benn announced in September that the Government would legislate to enable water companies to operate a concessionary charge scheme for surface water drainage charges, tackling the problems that have been seen community organisation’s bills going up by hundreds or thousands of pounds. 
Water companies will be enabled by law to operate a concessionary scheme for certain community organisations or groups – it would be up to the water company to decide which groups should receive the concessionary charge although the Government will provide guidance to water companies which will be subject to consultation.  Over 45,000 people have signed a No10 e-petition calling on the issue to be resolved.
The independent Walker Review of charging for household water & sewerage services is currently looking at issues around water affordability for household customers.  The Review’s interim report was published on 29 June and the final report is expected later this year.
Press release ~ Flood and Water Management Bill ~ Walker Review of charging for household water and sewerage services ~ Water UK
ScotGov: Education will be ‘at the centre of consultations on changes to schools, with an educational benefit statement & report from HMIE required in every case’. The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Bill, passed by Parliament last week creates a robust & transparent framework for consultation on school closures, and other major changes, that means educational issues must be taken into account.
The process will be more open with pupils, staff, parents, parent councils and all school users having to be consulted.  There will be a mandatory 6 week term time consultation period.  The Bill also requires full & detailed proposals to be provided at the start of a consultation and provides opportunities to challenge incomplete or inaccurate information.
For rural schools, councils will have to give full consideration to all viable alternatives, the impact on the community and the impact on travel arrangements, before consultation. An additional safeguard for school closures means Ministers will be able to ‘call in’ decisions where they feel there have been serious flaws in the process.
Press release ~ Schools Consultation (Scotland) Bill ~ Scottish Rural Schools Network (SRSN)
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has recently published the full decision it made following its investigation into anti-competitive collusion by 103 construction firms. This publication follows the announcement of the decision in September 2009 and its imposition of financial penalties on the firms as a result of findings of illegal bid-rigging activities in 199 tenders from 2000 to 2006.
Press release ~ Full decision
Defra: Under new regulations, people who enjoy a (responsible) tipple of Scotch Whisky will be able to do so with the confidence they are purchasing the genuine article. The UK Scotch Whisky Regulations that came into force last week will protect consumers from counterfeit products & insufficient labelling by providing legal protection to the £3bn industry. Transitional arrangements mean that operators will have time to adjust to the new labelling and bottling requirements.
Press release ~ Alcohol and spirit drinks: Scotch Whisky Regulations
MoJ: Making it easier & less expensive to claim compensation from insolvent defendants is the aim of a new Bill put before Parliament recently. The Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Bill proposes that claimants should be able to sue the insolvent defendant’s insurer directly, without having to sue the wrongdoer first. This changes the current legislation, passed in 1930, that requires claimants to establish the wrongdoer’s liability, before bringing a separate claim against their insurer.
This is only the second Bill to be introduced straight to the House of Lords, as part of a trial procedure designed to simplify the passage through Parliament of Bills arising out of Law Commission proposals (the first was the Perpetuities and Accumulations Act 2009 which received Royal Assent earlier this month).  It is proposed that the Bill would apply across all of the UK.
Press release ~ Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Bill
DH: The Bill that is intended to help individuals with the highest care needs remain independent for longer has been introduced in Parliament. The Personal Care at Home Bill will help around 400,000 people with the highest care needs.  It guarantees free personal care for 280,000 people – including those with serious dementia or Parkinson's disease – and, will also help around 130,000 people who need home care for the first time to regain their independence – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
QCDA: The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill has passed successfully through Parliament and has received Royal Assent. This legislation enshrines in law the establishment of QCDA to carry out its new role as a modern & collaborative development agency, as well as creating Ofqual as an independent regulatory organisation.  They are now entering the final stage in their progress towards formally becoming QCDA, which is expected to be complete by 1 April 2010.
Press release ~ Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill ~ QCDA
ScotGov: Scotland has a 'once in a generation chance' to tackle the country's alcohol problems, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said last week as the Alcohol Bill was published. She said radical measures rooted in evidence were needed to help reduce the £2.25bn cost of alcohol misuse to Scotland's public services & economy.
Press release ~ Alcohol Etc (Scotland) Bill ~ ScotGov - Alcohol ~  Sheffield University report on minimum pricing
Reduced financial uncertainty for customers and significant financial savings for Councils.