We reported in the last edition on R (Nash) v Barnet LBC [2013] EWHC 1067 (Admin), which was the High Court’s decision on the challenge to Barnet’s scheme for comprehensive outsourcing of its functions, described in the press as “EasyCouncil”. The High Court rejected the challenge on the basis of delay, though also went on to examine the substance of the grounds of challenge.

The Court of Appeal heard an appeal in August and dismissed the appeal: R (Nash) v Barnet LBC [2013] EWCA Civ 1004. The Court dealt with the matter only on the basis of the time point. Davis LJ for the Court held that the issue was not one of when the decision was finally or irrevocably made, but rather when a decision was taken in respect of which the statutory duty to consult first arose, because it was the alleged failure to consult which was the essence of the proceedings. That decision was taken a number of years earlier. It was wrong to look at the much later decision about the terms of particular contracts. Further, it was wrong to align the duty to consult with the date of resolving to enter into a particular contract. Davis LJ also rejected an argument based on the Burkett case. Having dismissed the appeal on the basis of the time point, the Court refused to consider the substantive grounds of challenge.