Hewitsons' public sector solicitors have extensive experience with a wide array of organisations, and have acted for dozens of local authorities (unitary, county, district and parish councils), as well as research councils, development agencies, government departments and other public sector bodies.
Some of our public sector clients have a national remit with budgets in excess of a billion pounds a year. However, our national lawyers are equally at home advising parish councils and others on important matters to them and their communities.
As collaborations and outsourcing become more common, interaction between the public and charity sectors is more crucial. We have a wide experience advising both charities and public authorities on joint ventures, outsourcing, service contracts and other collaborative arrangements. We are acutely aware of the restrictions and regulatory context for both sectors and our aim is always to achieve our clients’ objectives within the legal and regulatory limits which exist.
The work we undertake includes:
- Outsourcing of community centres
- Sports and leisure services
- Joint ventures in conservation projects
- Property, development and planning matters
- Disputes and court proceedings including judicial review
- Employment advice
- Local authority governance
- Connected charities of public authorities
- Project advice
We are also used to acting as additional capacity to public sector bodies’ in-house legal advisors. This is in relation to a wide range of regulatory matters, including state aid, which has come under greater scrutiny in recent years.
We have, for example, advised public authority clients on :
- property development projects, involving (among other things) disposals of land, and whether these confer a "selective advantage" on the developer and therefore any form of state aid
- with the preparation of grant applications to ensure compliance with EU regulations aimed at exempting certain forms of state aid, including the de minimis rules and sector specific frameworks
- various forms of public sector investment (e.g. equity and loan) and whether these give rise to state aid issues
We also advise public sector clients on many other regulatory issues, including data protection and freedom of information legislation. We also assist clients in the course of litigation before the Information Commissioner's Office and the First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights).
We also advise public and private sector bodies on all aspects of the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005, including the definition of 'public task' and related licensing procedures, as well as the filing of complaints with the Office of Public Sector Information.