Double Dutch

March 30th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

Case C- 344/18, ISS FACILITY SERVICES, in which the ECJ gave Judgment on 26 March 2020, concerned public buildings in Ghent, a public contract for cleaning services, and the transfer of that contract to multiple transferred. What happened to the rights and obligations arising from the contracts of employment with the transferor? Did they transfer only to the transferee for whom the worker will perform his or her principal tasks? “ No”, says the ECJ. Or will they transfer to each of the transferred, in proportion to the tasks performed by that worker?

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Modification of Public Contracts

March 30th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

The key questions raised by Joined Cases C-496/18 and C-497/18, HUNGOED, are (1) whether EU law permits reviews of modifications of public contracts to be initiated ex officio by public authorities, and (2) if so, whether such reviews can be initiated after the expiry of time limits in force at the time of the modifications. Advocate-General Bobek answers the 1st question : “ Yes “. EU law neither requires nor prevents ex officio reviews of (a) public contracts or (b) modifications of such contracts: paras 2, 68, 75 and 127. The Advocate-General answers the 2nd question : “ No “. The EU Principle of Legal Certainty bars national public authorities from initiating such reviews once the applicable time limit has already expired : paras 2, 77, 83-87, 94 and 127.

 

Covid-19 and Procurement

March 19th, 2020 by Peter Oldham QC in Decision making and Contracts

The Cabinet Office has published a note entitled “Procurement Policy Note – Responding to COVID-19”, PPN 01/10.  It says

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Urgent Contracts

March 19th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

A Procurement Policy Note has been published on 18 March 2020 on responding to COVID -19, and in particular, but not only, using the urgency derogation in PCR Reg 32(2)(c) and other procurement Regs : “designed to deal with this sort of situation”; “not something that was foreseeable”. The Note emphasises that in order to use this exemption the contracting authority must be able to demonstrate genuine reasons for extreme urgency and satisfy other conditions, and keep a written record of the justification and achieve value for money.

 

Some thoughts on Local Authorities and Coronavirus

March 18th, 2020 by Peter Oldham QC in Decision making and Contracts, Human Rights and Public Sector Equality Duty, Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation, Local Authority Powers, Social Care

This note sets out some information and personal views about local authority decision making in the light of the current crisis.

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Internal Communications

March 12th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

Regulation 12(4)(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations provides that a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that the request involves the disclosure of “internal communications”.  Regulation 12(5)(f) provides that a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that its disclosure would “adversely affect the interests of the person who provided that information” in specified circumstances.  “Would adversely affect” should be interpreted in the sense that the “adverse effect” has to be identified, and the disclosure “would” have that adverse effect, not “could” or “might”.  If the conditions of 12(4)(e) and/or (5)(f) are met, then the information must be disclosed only to the extent that, in all the circumstances, the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosure.  These conditions have been considered by the FTT in Middlesborough Council v ICO, EA/2019/0108.

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Principle in ex parte James

March 6th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

The celebrated decision of the House of Lords in R v Tower Hamlets LBC, ex parte Chetnik Developments Limited (1988) AC 858 is justifiably well known for its robust affirmation of the principle that there is no such thing in public law as an unlimited or unrestricted discretion. Linked to this was the endorsement, at pages 874H-877Q, of the principle in Ex parte James (1874) L.R.9 Ch. App. 609 that a public body must act in a “straightforward”, “high-minded”, and “high-principled” way.

The principle in Ex parte James has now been considered by the Court of Appeal in Lehman Brothers Austria Ltd (In Liquidation) v Macnamara (2020) EWCA Civ 321. The threshold test for the invocation of the principle, on an objective basis, is “fairness”, procedural and substantive, rather than unconscionability, on the particular facts of a case; and the principle applies to reliance upon legal rights, including contractual rights: paragraphs 38, 64-69 inclusive, 87-90 inclusive, and 105/106.

 

Abandonment of Contract

March 5th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

Ryhurst Ltd v Whittington Health Trust (2020) EWHC 448 (TCC) is a procurement case in which the Claimant challenged a decision by the Trust to abandon a procurement exercise for a 10 year strategic estates partnership contract, in circumstances where the Trust had previously made a decision to award this contract to the Claimant.  The challenge failed.

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Executive Functions

March 3rd, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

The decision of Swift J in Williams v Caerphilly Council, noted in this Bulletin on 29 June 2019, has been upheld by the Court of Appeal: (2020) EWCA (Civ 296).  Cabinet had the power to adopt a Sports and Recreation Strategy. This was not a decision that had to be taken by Full Council. The default position applied. A distinction is to be drawn between approval of a plan and its implementation. The adoption of the 10 year Strategy was not concerned with the Council’s annual budget or its capital expenditure plan. Future closure and other decisions would be distinct matters that would need to be considered on their own merits.  There was nothing in the Strategy to say that the closure of any existing facility would inevitably happen, let alone that it would happen in the then current financial year.

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Legitimate Expectation

February 28th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Decision making and Contracts

In order for there to be a substantive or procedural legitimate expectation based on a practice, what is required is that there must be a practice which is impliedly tantamount to a practice.

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