Update: For the period 22 May to 1 September 2009

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LEGISLATION

PRIMARY LEGISLATION

The Damages (Asbestos-Related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009 and the Damages (Asbestos-Related Conditions) Bill

The  Damages   (Asbestos-Related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009 received Royal Assent on 17 April 2009 and came into force (Scotland only) on 13 June 2009. The Act was passed to reverse the effect in Scotland of the House of Lords' decision in Johnston v NEI International Combustion Limited [2007] UKHL 39, which held that it is not possible to bring personal injury claims for pleural plaques.

Similar legislation for England and Wales, the Damages (Asbestos-Related Conditions) Bill, is currently being debated in Parliament. The Bill has completed the Committee stage, with no amendments being made, and was due to reach the Report stage on 16 October 2009. In addition, the Ministry of Justice is consulting on whether changes need to be made to the law in England and Wales to deal with the aftermath of the House of Lords' decision in the Johnston
case.

These developments will be of interest to: insurers and industry; those who own or manage UK-wide properly portfolios; developers; the construction industry; environmental consultants; and lawyers conducting due diligence in commercial transactions.

Changes to landfill tax and land remediation relief

The Finance Act 2009 (FA 2009) makes changes to a number of environmental taxes and received Royal Assent on 21 July 2009. The key amendments are to: the standard rate of landfill tax; relief for the remediation of contaminated land and derelict land (LRR); the climate change levy and climate change agreements; and the landfill tax. In addition, the Government has published a number of statutory instruments which provide further details on changes to the LRR and the landfill tax regime. Some of the more important statutory instruments are listed below.

PUBLIC BILLS

There were no relevant Public Bills before Parliament as at 1 September 2009.

GOVERNMENT BILLS

Marine and Coastal Access Bill

Introduced by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, this Bill has now reached the Committee stage in the House of Commons and will be reprinted to incoiporate the changes made during this stage. It is waiting for its Report stage on the floor of the House. The draft Marine and Coastal Access Bill was published for public consultation on 3 April 2008. It will impact, in particular, offshore renewables, oil, gas and carbon capture and storage projects, as well as nature conservation interests. It includes provisions to: create a new Marine Management Organisation; streamline the existing marine licensing system; put in place a power to create a joined-up maiine planning policy; and reform fisheries management. In addition, it provides a framework for establishing a network of marine conservation zones. The consultation has now closed.

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