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The government’s austerity agenda continues to impact on public law practices, resulting in complex instructions that demand a high level of creativity and innovation from local authorities and firms alike. Shared service agreements and regeneration projects remain prominent at a local level, while the High Speed 2 and Crossrail 2 infrastructure projects generate a substantial amount of work nationally; social housing has also increased in importance as the housing crisis becomes ever more critical. Local government bodies are also feeling the impact of devolution and budget cuts, while Brexit promises continued uncertainty for local and central governments.

On the education front, schools continue to struggle with funding cuts paired with an increase in governance and safeguarding issues resulting in a market as challenging as ever. Firms remain busy advising on academy conversions despite the government’s U-turn in a white paper revealed in 2016 and the scrapping of the Education Bill. Independent schools are increasingly venturing abroad with many establishing satellite schools on the back of their UK branding.

The healthcare sector has been dominated recently by NHS procurement with firms representing NHS bodies and service providers during the process and in subsequent tender challenges. There has been a substantial amount of restructuring and consolidation pertaining to GP and dental practices, which has in turn resulted in significant corporate instructions, financing transactions and investment work for firms in the space.

For firms specialising in civil liberties and human rights work, the main stream of activity revolves around actions against the police, investigations, inquiries and prison law work. Several firms have notable inquiries expertise, and are involved in work relating to the Hillsborough disaster and the Pitchford Inquiry, while others have solidified their expertise in historic child sex abuse cases and Court of Protection matters. Bhatt Murphy and Leigh Day are key names for international mandates, where work involves representing individuals in human rights abuse cases arising from the Syrian refugee crisis and acting in modern day slavery cases.

One of the top cases in 2017 in the administrative and public law space was the Article 50 case heard in the Supreme Court. The case concerned the challenge brought by three individuals pertaining to the triggering of Article 50 without a parliamentary vote, which also saw Baker McKenzie represent the Scottish government in challenging the decision to trigger article 50 without permission from the devolved governments. The upcoming public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy is expected to generate significant work for firms.

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Legal Developments in London for Overview

  • TRANSFER OF UNDERTAKINGS (PROTECTION OF EMPLOYMENT) AND AGE DISCRIMINATION

    I have been asked to cover the topic of Employment law within my half an hour speaking slot today. I have narrowed my subject down to Transfer of Undertakings and Discrimination, with the focus on providing an update on the recent spate of cases on service provision change and on the important developments in the law of age discrimination. Needless to say, in my presentation I shall not be able to cover the level of detail which is contained in my written paper, which I will leave you to read.
    - 11KBW

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