LLG (Lawyers in Local Government), the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) and David Kitson of Bevan Brittan have issued a 12-page guidance document for local authorities on remote meetings in light of recent High Court judgments.
LLG said: “Many questions have been raised following the High Court judgment in relation to the application for a declaration that current legislation permits remote meetings, which was brought by Hertfordshire County Council, LLG and ADSO.
"In particular, members have been concerned about the scope of the judgment, and what steps can be taken now that the Flexibility Regulations have come to an end whilst adhering to the restrictions and guidance currently in place due to the pandemic, and moving forward, if the roadmap becomes interrupted.”
The document – Guidance on Remote Meetings: What next for Local Authorities? – can be viewed here. LLG, ADSO and Bevan Brittan stressed that the guidance is "general in nature and must not be regarded as legal advice. Readers should take their own legal advice on the issues arising and any options being considered, taking into account risk and local circumstances."
On 28 April the Divisional Court ruled that meetings held by local authorities in England under the Local Government Act 1972 had to take place in person from 7 May when emergency regulations introduced in the early stages of the first lockdown expired.
The Court (Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Mr Justice Chamberlain) also ruled shortly after that a requirement that a meeting under the 1972 Act is to be "open to the public" or "held in public" means that members of public must be admitted in person to the place where the meeting is being held.