Speak Up For Libraries Conference
10th November 2012
Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) are law firm based in
Birmingham, which has an international
reputation for its work, exclusively focussed on
claimant judicial review and human rights law
JR Library challenge cases:
◦ Gloucestershire & Somerset councils (challenges to
planned library closures of static and mobile libraries).
◦ Surrey council (challenge to library closures.
◦ Doncaster council and Mayor (Challenge to use of
allocated funds for libraries)
1850 first Public Libraries Act - power to town
councils to levy a small & establish public libraries in
all municipal towns.
Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (“PLMA
1964”) - most recent legislation governing the
provision of public libraries. Imposed duties on both
local library authorities and Secretary of State for a
comprehensive and effective library service.
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS”)
overall responsibility for national library policy.
◦ Maria Miller - Secretary of State for Culture, Media and
◦ Ed Vaizey - Minister responsible for Libraries.
Local authorities are responsible for the library
service in their areas.
What do we mean by ‘the law’?
◦ Rules governing everyone
◦ Legislation
 Statutory Duties
 Statutory Powers
How is the law enforced?
◦ Judicial Review Basics
Public Body?
Grounds: Unfairly, Irrationally, Unreasonably
Standing & Capacity
Pre-Action Protocol
◦ Public Libraries & Museums Act (PLMA) 1964
 Library Authority’s duties:
 s.7(1) – to provide a “comprehensive and efficient library
 s.7(2) – must keep adequate stocks and encourage people
to make use of libraries
 Secretary of States’ duties:
 s.1(1) – Duty to “oversee and promote” library services
 s.10(1) – Power to take action where library authority fails
Legislation (cont.)
◦ Equalities Act 2010
 s.149 - Public Sector Equality Duties (PSED)
 Apply to all public bodies
 “Due regard” to :
 eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation
 advance equality of opportunity
 foster good relations
 Protected characteristics: age, disability, race, sex,
religion/belief, sexual orientation, gender, marriage,
Duty to consult
No specific duty to consult
But, if consultation started it must:
◦ Consult in good time
◦ Enough information to those responding to
◦ Enough time for responses
◦ Genuine consideration of responses
Why are these statutory duties important?
Impose legal duties on councils
Provide powers to SS to monitor councils
Set a standard of service
Means by which we can legally hold and SS and
councils to account
Green -v- Gloucestershire County Council & Rowe & Hird -vSomerset Council [2011] EWHC 2687 (Admin)
◦ GCC proposed to withdraw funding from 10 of 38 static libraries
& withdraw entirely mobile library service
◦ SCC proposed cuts to 11 (of 34) static libraries & 4 (of 6) mobile
library services.
◦ High Court planned library closures were unlawful due to the
Councils’ breach of their statutory equality duties.
◦ Court quashed all the relevant library closure decisions by both
◦ Judge strongly condemned the Councils’ decisions to close the
libraries - “not merely unlawful but amounted to bad government”
◦ Judge awarded Claimants all of their costs which enabled the
return of monies provided by local residents to support the cases.
◦ The Councils were refused permission to appeal.
Williams & Dorrington -v- Surrey County Council [2012] EWHC 867
◦ Council planned for 10 libraries to be run by volunteers, in an aim to keep
its 52 libraries open
◦ The Claimants argued that the Council:
 Did not give due regard to the PSED implications before making a decision.
 Did not give due regard to the equality impacts of the decision
 Did not address the specific factual matters and concerns arising from the
 Thus there was an absence of a rigorous and open minded consideration and
a failure to discharge the statutory duty to give due regard pursuant to s149.
◦ High Court – Held:
 The Council decision to remove all paid staff was unlawful.
 The Council had failed in its duty to have due regard to PSED (s.149 EqA
◦ Justice Wilkie – “it is not necessary for a local authority to consider such
issues to the nth degree of detail or ad infinitum, but a summary of what,
it was now anticipated, the training needs would be and how they might
be met was, in my judgment, an irreducible minimum to enable the
cabinet to give this issue due regard at that stage.”
Buck –v- Doncaster County Council
◦ Different type of challenge
◦ Claimant used local library Scawthorpe.
◦ The Council's executive (directly-elected Mayor & Cabinet) wish to replace
employed staff in local library services with volunteers or self-service
facilities to save public money. Although the full Council wanted to retain
the level of library services and had allocated a budget for this.
◦ Claimant challenged the decision of Council executive not spend the
money allocated by the full Council in the budget to preserve and restore
the local library services.
◦ HELD: Application dismissed.
◦ Executive decision had been made properly.
◦ Judge: “it would be a remarkable invasion of the executive function of the
Mayor if, as part of the budgetary process, the full Cabinet could interfere
and reverse such an executive decision by amending the budget to give,
not only an allocation of funds for the library service, but a direction that
the funds must be spent and spent precisely in accordance with the
direction that they have made.”
Legal Aid
◦ Eligible without full means assessment if in receipt
of IS, ESA, JSA (IB) or PC
◦ Full means assessment otherwise
Community Contributions
◦ Groups supporting challenges
◦ Contributions may be sought
◦ Arise where there is reasonably ascertainable group
of people other than the claimant(s) who can be
reasonably expected to contribute to the cost of
Court action should be a last resort
Campaigning & Lobbying
◦ The Wirral Inquiry and The Charteris Report
The Arts Council
8 Hylton Street, Birmingham, B18 6HN.
Tel: 0121 5155069
Fax: 0121 5155129
Email: [email protected]

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