High Court on Remote Meetings

Today the High Court handed down its judgement in Hertfordshire County Council & Others v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government & Others [2021] EWHC 1093 (Admin).  It concerned whether Schedule 12 Local Government Act 1972 would permit the continuation of remote meetings by local authorities when the Local Authorities & Police & Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority & Police & Crime Panel Meetings) (England & Wales) Regulations 2000 (SI 2020/392) cease to have effect.  The Court dismissed the Council’s claim and concluded (at para.89):

…the Secretary of State was correct in November 2016 and July 2019 to say that primary legislation would be required to allow local authority “meetings” under the 1972 Act to take place remotely. In our view, once the Flexibility Regulations cease to apply, such meetings must take place at a single, specified geographical location; attending a meeting at such a location means physically going to it; and being “present” at a such a meeting involves physical presence at that location.

[*Update: On 29th April 2021 the Minister of State for Regional Growth & Local Government, Luke Hall MP, issued a ‘Local Authority Meetings – High Court Judgement‘ letter.  It affirms, in light of the above judgement, “…after 6th May…councils will need to return to face-to-face meetings and…should continue to prepare accordingly…“.]



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