Lexis 200 wide

Raise £5 for charity in 15 minutes.

Complete this short survey and LexisNexis will donate £5 to the International Rescue Committee. We want to find out more about the daily challenges you face when drafting and reviewing legal documents.

The weblink to the survey is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HMSP8QF

LGA hails revised Government approach to passing on EU fines PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 16 July 2012 12:10

The Local Government Association has hailed changes to the Government’s policy on passing on EU fines to local authorities.

The Department for Communities and Local Government last week published the final form of its policy statement to accompany Part 2 of the Localism Act 2011, insisting that it set out “a fair, proportionate and reasonable approach”.

Part 2 introduced a discretionary power for ministers to require a public authority to pay some, or all, of a financial sanction from the Court of Justice for the European Union where the public authority has caused or contributed to that sanction.

The policy statement sets out key principles relevant to all public authorities:

  • Working in partnership: the Government, as a matter of good practice, will "seek to engage with affected parties when negotiating and transposing EU laws”.
  • Transparency and no surprises: authorities will be given the time and opportunity to put things right before being asked to pay. Ministers will consult any public authority “in good time” before seeking to designate it by Order, normally giving at least one month notice prior to laying the Designation Order in Parliament. Only actions, or inactions, by an authority which occur following designation will be taken into account when passing on a financial sanction.
  • A fair, reasonable and proportionate process: there will be an independent advisory panel which will make recommendations to the minister. “Authorities would not be held responsible for breaches of EU law that were not within their power to avoid, and would only be fined if they have demonstrably caused or contributed to the infraction in relation to which the financial sanction was imposed.” Authorities will have opportunities to make representations.
  • Ability to pay: once the apportionment of responsibility for payment of the financial sanction has been decided, authorities will have a further opportunity to make representations, this time on their ability to pay. Where a minister decides that an authority could not pay its full share of the costs, they can decide that a lower amount would be appropriate or that the payment could be made over a longer period. The Government would cover any shortfall and not seek to re-apportion it to other authorities. “The provisions in the Act are not about the recovery of every last pound of any financial sanction imposed on the UK Government but are about consistency in financial and legal responsibility.”

The DCLG argued that public authorities had been given more powers and freedoms, and would be subject to less oversight by central government.

“Public authorities must, therefore, accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions or omissions,” it said.

The Department added: “The UK has never to date been fined for an infraction, and we hope that it never will.”

Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the LGA, said: “It is positive that many of the concerns council leaders raised with the Government over EU fines have been taken on board.

“Any attempts to pass on an EU fine to councils will now have to withstand scrutiny from both Parliament and an independent fines advisory panel. This is something which town halls pressed for and is a positive step.”

The LGA chairman said fears had existed that councils would be suffer financially as a result of failure of duty by contracted-out firms. However, Sir Merrick said assurances had been provided that if councils acted reasonably this would be considered a factor by the fines advisory panel.

“It is vital that the public purse isn’t hit by the actions of external organisations and this statement commits the Government to ensuring that doesn’t arise,” Sir Merrick said.

“The LGA has been clear that EU fines are to be avoided at all costs – and councils are committed to working with the Government and other partners to ensure that such situations don’t occur.”

Information on the policy statement, including the final version, can be found here

Philip Hoult


CPD courses from just £17.50 (+VAT)




Try before you buy - your first course is free!

Click here to see the full list of courses on Local Government Law.tv

Unlimited access to all content for just £199 + VAT. Click here for more details.




Latest News

July 28, 2014

London borough approves abolition of its regional planning committees

The London Borough of Redbridge agreed earlier this month to abolish regional planning committees. Read more
July 24, 2014

Community council rapped for failure to help non-Welsh speakers follow meetings

A community council in Wales has been criticised for failing to provide ways for English speakers to follow its proceedings and for unreasonably preventing a resident from attending its meetings. Read more
July 24, 2014

Leadership of borough council in North West pursue unitary status

Chorley Borough Council’s leadership wants to break away from Lancashire and become a unitary. Read more
July 23, 2014

Government intervention in Doncaster to end early after good progress made

Government intervention at Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council is to end almost a year early in recognition of progress made in tackling its problems. Read more
July 21, 2014

Audit Commission hits out at burden of proposed audit regulations for parishes

The Government’s proposed new auditing arrangements will “place a much greater burden on parish councils and their clerks than the Government intends”, the Audit Commission has warned. Read more
July 21, 2014

Law Commission urges full reform project on data sharing and public bodies

The Law Commission has this month recommended that a full law reform project should be carried out “in order to create a principled and clear legal structure for data sharing, which will meet the needs of society”. Read more



Data protection iStock 000011177922XSmall 146X219
July 24, 2014

Data protection, compulsory audit and the NHS

Mandatory ICO data protection audits are likely to be introduced for the NHS by the end of the year. Claire Bentley, Emma Godding and Jane Bennett look at the background and the key issues. Read more
council chamber1
July 10, 2014

Council meetings – lights, cameras, action!

New regulations come into force at the end of this month, leaving local authorities with less than 28 days in which to prepare for their meetings being filmed, tweeted or blogged. Olwen Dutton explains the changes. Read more
June 26, 2014

Speaking up

The High Court ruled earlier this year in a case where a non-planning councillor spoke at a planning committee meeting. Mary Tate examines the ruling. Read more
June 12, 2014

Data protection and child protection

Christopher Knight examines a strike-out application made by a number of local authorities over claims that they held inaccurate and damaging information about the claimant. Read more
May 27, 2014

Code of conduct v freedom of expression

The High Court recently cut the disqualification period imposed on a Welsh councillor. Nicholas Dobson considers the lessons to be learned from the case for local authorities in England as well as Wales. Read more
May 22, 2014

Legal professional privilege and the EIRs

Robin Hopkins anaylses a recent Upper Tribunal ruling on the interplay between legal professional privilege and the Environmental Information Regulations. Read more
May 22, 2014

Co-operating for mutual benefit

Ben Sheppard looks at how the Government is making it easier to set up and run co-operative and community benefit societies, as part of its drive to encourage the contribution of mutuals to the UK economy. Read more



Knowledge Bank

May 18, 2012

Managing in a Political Environment

Author: Nicholas Dobson, Freeth Cartwright This paper outlines the changing role of the local government lawyer in the context of the legal, political and constitutional framework of local government. This paper looks at the legal powers that underpin the role of local authorities, including the…
April 19, 2012

General Power of Confidence – ‘A New Hope’?

Author: Nicholas Dobson, Freeth Cartwright The general power of competence has been designed to give councils the confidence to act, using the power as their primary tool, without needing to refer back to central government. The question is: will the new power deliver?
March 27, 2012

Predetermination and Bias - Can Careless Talk Still Cost Decisions?

Author: Nicholas Dobson, Freeth Cartwright Ministers entered government much exercised about the law surrounding predetermination. In the opinion of some, this was a conspiracy by local government lawyers to undermine the democratic process. And they were going to have none of it! The 2010…
March 15, 2012

Recent developments in freedom of information

Author: Anya Proops, 11KBW The body of jurisprudence relating to freedom of information has continued to develop apace over the last year. The exponential growth in appeals being heard by both the first-tier and upper tribunals has meant that practitioners are having to work ever harder to keep…

Older news and features

June 26, 2014

Speaking up

Click here for full section archive


Featured Jobs

CLICK HERE to search all current vacancies

Featured Courses & Events

50% off LGLtv subscriptions

Sign up for Courses and Events Updates

* indicates required

Services v2

Yellow pages iStock 000009762383XSmall cropTo access details of individual advertisers, please click on the relevant banner below.

To search all entries in the Local Government Lawyer Services Directory, please click here



 Shout_to_the_top_looking_left_iStock_000006002590XSmall_98x74 Latest Blog Posts





Snap Judgement

Will the SRA's decision to remove the 16 hour minimum training requirement...