UK: Local Authorities, Politics And Bias

Last Updated: 3 October 2006
Article by Nicholas Dobson

Should be pretty simple really, spotting bias. I mean if there's a council meeting on a controversial issue and a councillor goes in with a party group mandate to vote in a particular way then that's clearly bias isn't it? Well, no. . .

For, as those who work within them will undoubtedly have noticed, local authorities are complex beasts. And whilst councils are public bodies subject to a wide range of public law duties, they are equally democratic organisations whose members are elected, predominantly through the political party process. And the courts do recognise and respect this, albeit within proper and reasonable bounds.

Politics and Decisions

Take Waltham Forest. Back in 1987 the Council had passed a resolution in favour of a rate increase of 62% for domestic and 56.6% for non-domestic properties. The majority Labour Group had previously decided (but not unanimously) to support that resolution. However, the members of the Labour Group who had voted against supporting the resolution in the Group meeting in fact voted for the resolution in the Council meeting. Sir John Donaldson M.R. indicated that no-one could complain if the councillors had re-examined the issues and changed their minds between the group and council meetings. However, the applicants submitted that there was no change of mind. And:

'The reason why the councillors voted for the resolution was that they were subject to party discipline and to the political 'whip' system. The councillors voted as they did, not because they considered that the resolution should be passed, but because, in the light of the majority group's private vote, their discretion had been fettered and they had no option but to vote as they did.'

Whilst Sir John Donaldson accepted that if this had been made out on the facts he would have had no hesitation in holding that the councillors had been 'in breach of their duty to make up their own minds on the issue of what was an appropriate rate and would have been minded to quash the resolution' he did not consider that this had been made out on the facts. And whilst the Council's Labour Group had adopted the nationally approved 'Standing Orders for Labour Groups on local authorities' which, in the absence of a decided free vote, required members to refrain from speaking or voting in opposition to the decisions of the Labour Group in matters that were not 'quasi-judicial', Sir John Donaldson did not:

'. . . find these rules in any way objectionable. What would be objectionable would be a provision that a member had forthwith to resign his membership of the council if, in the absence of a conscience situation, he intended to vote contrary to group policy. This would fetter his discretion and make him a mere delegate of the majority of the group. But this is not the position. Standing orders make provision for the withdrawal of the policy whip if a member acts in breach of the standing orders, but there is nothing to prevent his continuing to be an independent member of the council and to vote as he sees fit. . .'

Stocker L.J. agreed and said that:

'I can see no reason why a councillor should not vote in favour of a resolution contrary to his own intellectual assessment of its merits, taken in isolation, in order to secure unanimity of vote, provided he retains an unfettered discretion in the council chamber. There is nothing, in my view, morally or legally culpable in voting in support of a majority which has considered, and rejected, his arguments providing he considers all the available options and considers that the maintenance of such unanimity is of greater value to the ratepayers than insistence on his own view. This is not invalidated by the fact that certain sanctions which could be imposed on a failure to accept the party whip might follow as a consequence.'

Earlier, in 1983,Woolf J in R v Amber Valley DC, ex p Jackson [1984] 3 All E.R. 501, considered the effect of political group policy on a district council planning decision and asked whether this would have the effect of disqualifying the Labour majority from considering the planning application:

'It would be a surprising result if it did since, in the case of a development of this sort, I would have thought that it was almost inevitable, now that party politics play so large a part in local government, that the majority group on a council would decide on the party line in respect of the proposal. If this was to be regarded as disqualifying the district council from dealing with the planning application, then if that disqualification is to be avoided the members of the planning committee at any rate will have to adopt standards of conduct which I suspect will be almost impossible to achieve in practice. . . The rules of fairness or natural justice cannot be regarded as being rigid. They must alter in accordance with the context.'

And more recently, on 24 February 2000, the Court of Appeal in R v Local Commissioner for Local Government for North and North East England, ex parte Liverpool City Council [2000] LGR 571 had to consider the issue in the context of an appeal against a refusal by Hooper J on a judicial review by the Council to quash a report of the Local Ombudsman who had found maladministration in (amongst other things) seven councillors voting in favour of proposals by Liverpool Football Club to erect a stand extension overshadowing neighbouring houses without declaring their interest as season ticket holders or regular attenders in breach of the disclosure rules in the National Code of Local Government Conduct. Henry L.J. said that:

'The line is clear - a local authority councillor is entitled to give weight to the views of party colleagues, but should not abdicate responsibility by voting blindly in support of party policy or party whip (see R. v Waltham Forest LDC [1988] QB 419)'.

However, he also sounded a note of caution:

'In some planning applications, particularly those with resource implications, party policy will be a material consideration, but certain planning applications (and I would have thought this was one) would be outside party policies, and it is hard to see how then ‘heavy and perhaps decisive pressure’ at the pre-meeting caucus would be a ‘material consideration’ to be taken into account when exercising the Section 70 powers to determine planning applications under the Town & County Planning Act, 1990.'

So whilst the line might not perhaps be as clear as Henry J indicated, it is nevertheless there. Councillors are entitled to give weight to the views of their political colleagues but must make sure their discretion remains open. In other words, whilst councillors might be entitled to have a predisposition in respect of the decision in question, they mustn't allow this to become a predetermination (see Ouseley J in Bovis Homes v New Forest PLC [2002] EWHC 483).

Some Key Decisions on Bias

The test for bias

As is now widely known, following Porter v Magill; Weeks v Magill [2002] LGR (per Lord Hope):

'The question is whether the fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased.'

Consequently, the current test for bias (in local authority decision making as elsewhere) is whether:

  • a fair minded observer
  • who is suitably informed; and
  • who having considered the facts
  • would conclude (i.e. not might conclude)
  • that there was a real possibility of bias (i.e. less than a real probability of bias).

Georgiou

At least until August 2006, the recent leading case on local authority bias (and particularly in relation to planning decisions) was Georgiou v Enfield London Borough Council [2004] EWHC 779 (Admin). This was decided by Richards J on 7 April 2004. The case concerned a challenge to decisions of the Council through its planning committee on 17 June 2003 (amongst other things) to grant planning consent for the erection of a mental nursing home (subject to the conclusion of a section 106 agreement). The claimant was chairman of a local business association which objected to the applications.

The Council had under its constitution set up a Conservation Advisory Group (CAG) to consider and advise on a range of conservation issues. These included considering and advising the Council's planning committee on proposals for development referred to the CAG which (as the Court noted) 'could affect the character or appearance of conservation areas, ancient monuments, listed buildings or their settings' as well as advising that committee 'on the preservation or enhancement of the character or appearance of heritage features, areas and their environs'. Three of the members of the planning committee which made the decisions in question were at a previous meeting of the CAG. Those members had voted in support of the applications in question.

The Claimant contended that participation in the decisions by members of the planning committee who were also members of the CAG gave rise to an appearance of bias sufficient to vitiate the decisions of the planning committee.

In the circumstances, Richards J did have 'concerns about what happened in this case and the objective impression that it conveyed'. Although the remit of the CAG was to consider only the conservation implications of the applications, its conclusion was expressed in simple terms of support for the applications without any qualification. And at the meeting of the planning committee there was nothing said about the limited function of the CAG or about the need for those with dual membership to put on one side the support expressed in the CAG and to examine all the relevant planning issues before reaching the planning decisions. In the circumstances the Court took the view (albeit 'not without a degree of hesitation') that:

'. . .a fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias, in the sense of the decisions being approached with closed minds and without impartial consideration of all the planning issues, as a result of the support expressed by the CAG being carried over into support for the applications in the context of the planning committee's decisions'.

As noted above, in Porter v Magill Lord Hope had said that, from the standpoint of the fair-minded and informed observer, assertions from the party in question that he or she was unbiased are unlikely to be helpful. Consequently in the instant case, whilst members had indicated in their witness statements that they had approached the planning decision with open minds, Richards J did not think that 'any significant weight' was to be attached to these.

Island Farm

But on 25 August 2006, Collins J took a different view about the reliability of assertions by decision-making members that they had open minds at the material time. He also brought some of the stream of 'realpolitik' cases mentioned above into the equation. The case in question was R (Island Farm Development Ltd) v Bridgend County Borough Council [2006] EWHC 2189 (Admin) which concerned a decision by the Council to refuse to sell to a developer land the Council had previously been in negotiations to sell. This was following a change in political control where local opposition to the proposed development had featured prominently in the local elections.

In the light of the objective nature of questions of apparent bias, Richards J in Georgiou had not attached any 'significant weight' to members' witness statements where they stated that they had approached the planning decision in question with open minds. However, Collins J doubted this approach and accepted the evidence before him that 'each member was prepared to and did consider the relevant arguments and each was prepared to change his or her mind if the material persuaded him or her to do so.' Consequently, Collins J was not '. . .prepared to accept that there was apparent bias or predetermination which vitiated the decision.'

In Porter v Magill [2002] 1 All ER 465, Lord Hope had said that whilst the auditor's reasons for rejecting allegations of bias were relevant, nevertheless:

'. . .an examination of them shows that they consisted largely of assertions that he was unbiased. Looking at the matter from the standpoint of the fair-minded and informed observer, protestations of that kind are unlikely to be helpful.'

Consequently, Lord Hope had given no weight to the auditor's reasons. However, Collins J distinguished Porter v Magill in the context of local authority decision-making, remarking that Porter 'was a very different situation' involving 'what amounted to a quasi-judicial decision by the Auditor'. He therefore found it easy in such a case to see why the appearance of bias tests should apply to full extent.

In the absence of an appeal, which is apparently unlikely, Island Farm leaves the law of bias in relation to local authority decisions somewhat in disarray. In future, will the evidenced assertions of members that they took the decision in question open-mindedly and without bias generally be accepted by the courts? Or will the courts follow the narrower view of Richards J in Georgiou, following the above observations of Lord Hope in Porter v Magill? You pays your money. . .

Nevertheless, despite the conceptual comments of Collins J in Island Farm, there is a clear distinction between that and Georgiou. For Georgiou concerned a planning decision, which is much further into public law territory than a decision whether or not to dispose of local authority land. So, it's very much a 'horses for courses' analysis that will be needed on each occasion. But members will bear in mind that perception can very often be reality. And if they have an anxiety about the decision in question sufficient to prompt a consultation of the legal team, then that perception may well have wings.

Georgiou v. Island Farm? Some Pointers

Given the different approaches in Georgiou and Island Farm a few pointers might be in order:

  • Perception is a variable animal and can often be as good as reality. It will therefore be important to check whether in the light of the particular facts and circumstances there might fairly be said to be a real possibility of bias or the appearance of bias.
  • Bias considerations will clearly be different for different types of decision. Island Farm concerned a decision not to sell Council land (i.e. a decision substantially in the private law arena) and the court decision was therefore in relation to those facts and circumstances. On the other hand, as indicated, planning decisions reach further into public law territory in that they are statutory public functions affecting public interests. The decision in Island Farm which properly noted caselaw on political predisposition was therefore different in nature and quality from Georgiou.
  • However, whilst Island Farm highlights the issue of judicial deference to the political role of councillors, it would be unwise to forsake the Georgiou principles generally in favour of the Island Farm approach. For Georgiou will always be safer.
  • As to assertions of decision propriety by the elected members who made the challenged decision, Collins J sought to draw a distinction between the function of the auditor in Porter v Magill (from which this stream of argument originated) and that of the decision not to sell in Island Farm. It was no doubt a robust decision of Collins J to depart from the dicta of Lord Hope concerning assertions and protestations on the part of those accused of bias in Porter & Magill (see above). Time will tell whether that distinction was sustainable. However, given the fact that a finding of bias will vitiate a decision, it is usually better to be safe than sorry.
  • So whilst as the law currently stands, Jesuitical distinctions might be attempted concerning the weight to be afforded to member evidence in different types of decision where bias or apparent bias may be in issue, careful driving through this hazardous territory is certainly recommended. And the Georgiou approach is considered advisable where there is any doubt at all.

Welsh Assembly - Careless Talk Can Cost Decisions

The decision of Lindsay J in the Administrative Court on 21 December 2005 in Elizabeth Condron v (1) National Assembly for Wales (2) Miller [2005] EWHC 3007 illustrates how careless talk can cost decisions.

For Mr Carwyn Jones, the Chairman of the National Assembly's Planning Decision Committee (PDC) and Planning Minister, had remarked in a brief conversation with a resident, Jennie Jones, who had been demonstrating against a development which was to be considered next day by the PDC that he was 'going to go with the Inspector's Report'.

In the circumstances, Lindsay J concluded that 'there was an unacceptable possible pre-determination in the Planning Decision Committee' that authorised the grant of planning permission in question. A fair-minded observer hearing the words attributed as above by Jennie Jones to Carwyn Jones, on learning (amongst other things) that the Minister was to be the Chair of the PDC dealing with the application next day would in the Court's view conclude that there was a real possibility that the member of the PDC was biased and that: 'the member would be approaching the question of permission with a closed mind and hence also without impartial consideration of all relevant planning issues'.

As to the legal consequence, following Georgiou, Lindsay J noted that it will usually be inappropriate on a finding of pre-determination not to quash the decision in question. In the circumstances, whilst he recognised that 'this is a very large consequence for a very small remark' Lindsay J did indeed set the Assembly's decision aside.

So the Condron case illustrates the care that is needed in relation to planning and other decisions in the public law area.

Freemasonry and Bias

Newman J in the High Court on 5 April 2006 (see R (Port Regis School Ltd) v North Dorset District Council [2006] EWHC 742 (Admin)) gave some useful guidance on the how Freemasonry might fit into the scheme of bias considerations.

The case concerned an allegation of apparent bias in respect of a decision taken by the full North Dorset District Council. This was to accept the recommendation of its Development Control Committee to approve an application for planning consent by the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Society. The apparent bias was in the light of the fact that two members who attended and voted at the full Council meeting were Freemasons. The application was for planning permission to use agricultural land as a showground and to erect a pavilion. The supporting business plan stated that the Agricultural Society had held talks with the masonic lodge in Gillingham about providing a dedicated room in the pavilion for the lodge's use in relation to which the lodge would provide a capital injection of some £350,000 as well as contributing to the running costs.

The officer's recommendation to Development Control Committee was that there could be no justification for the Development in accordance with normal planning policies and that it should consequently be refused. However, the Committee resolved that it was minded to approve the application and, since the application amounted to a departure from the Local Plan, referred it to the full Council for approval. The officer recommendation to full Council was that the application should be refused because justification had not been established and there would be unacceptable harm to the countryside. In the circumstances the recommendation was 'firmly to refuse planning permission'. The Council nevertheless approved the application.

In the event Newman J came to the conclusion that a fair minded observer, informed of the facts in connection with Freemasonry as placed before the court and having regard to the circumstances of the instant case would not conclude that there was a real possibility of apparent bias affecting the relevant decision of the full Council. He considered that a fair minded appraisal had to be made of (amongst others) the following:

  1. The Masonic principles of mutual defence and mutual support did not suggest unquestioning support under any circumstances. For instances, a mason 'must not engage in offences contrary to the laws of God and the ordinances of the realm'.
  2. The information and guidance given to Masons includes advice on the need for declarations of interest to be made including, where appropriate, membership of Freemasonry.
  3. The councillors in question were required by law and by their Freemasonry to adhere to the legal obligations imposed on them by the Local Government Act.
  4. Freemasonry does not require a Freemason in local government to be partial to any other Freemason . Freemasonry underpins the requirements of impartiality and fairness set by the law.
  5. Lord Bingham in Locabail (UK) Ltd v Bayfield Properties Ltd [2000] 1 All ER 65 considered that ordinarily, Masonic associations would not require a judge to recuse himself. Also, Lord Irvine, former Lord Chancellor, did not accept that the oaths of mutual assistance were incompatible with the judicial oath.

Newman J consequently concluded in the circumstances of the particular case that the Freemasonry of the members in question did not give rise to apparent bias in the decision of the full Council to grant the planning consent it did.

Conclusion

Being a local politician has many different facets. These include: acting as a community representative; being a member of a substantial multi-functional and statutory corporate body; possibly being an Executive member or overview and scrutiny committee member and being represented on various outside public and other bodies, partnerships and council-related companies. The decisions in which the councillor will participate are equally extremely varied in nature and quality. Some will be highly political and policy driven and some will be quasi-judicial. There will clearly also be a spectrum of decision types in between. But whilst as indicated, the law recognises and respects the role of politics in local government, equally, public law decisions have to be properly made. And if bias or apparent bias happens to be established, then the courts will find the decision to be invalid.

So council members will need to place ever more reliance on their lawyers to guide them through the maze on a minefield that occupies the territory of politics and bias.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions