Local Government Lawyer Home Page

Sharpe Edge Webpage Banner

Welcome to Sharpe Edge, Sharpe Pritchard’s local government legal hub on Local Government Lawyer.

Sharpe Edge features news, views and analysis from our team of specialist local government lawyers working at the heart of the latest legal developments. Sharpe Edge platform is also the only place where local government lawyers can get e-access to two law books by our Head of Local Government Rob Hann: The Guide to Local Authority Charging and Trading Powers (‘LACAT’) and The Guide to Local Authority Companies and Partnerships (‘LACAP’).



Slide background

Consultation on the Electronic Communications Code – What’s Changing?

Icons HouseLillee Reid-Hunt outlines the legislative changes to the Electronic Communications Code.


This week the government published its response to the consultation on legislative changes to the Electronic Communications Code (the ‘2017 Code’), which was launched by the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport in the first quarter of 2021.

The 2017 Code was introduced to support and enhance the process for delivery of telecommunications infrastructure throughout the UK. As such, it is unsurprisingly ‘operator friendly’ compared to the old Code. The proposals detailed in the government response seek to clarify areas of difficulty that have been identified by stakeholders since the introduction of the 2017 Code, namely (1) obtaining and using Code agreements; (2) sharing and upgrading; and (3) expired agreements. Unfortunately for site providers, the ‘no-network’ valuation methodology is outside the scope of the consultation, and many of the proposals appear to extend the rights currently enjoyed by operators under the 2017 Code. However, while the purpose of the legislation is to assist with meeting the nationwide gigabit-capable coverage targets it will be interesting to see how the government’s proposals are incorporated into the legislation in a manner that also protects the private property rights of site providers.

At a glance, the key proposals include:

  1. Obtaining and using Code agreements
  • Alternative dispute resolution should be available (but not mandatory) to determine disputes that are not concerned with the legal interpretation of the Code. Operators will have a duty to consider ADR before applying to the courts in relation to new agreements, as well as renewals and termination.
  • Operators should have a complaints procedure in place. Ofcom will be charged with including in its Code of Practice matters concerning operators’ handling of complaints regarding their conduct under Code agreements and negotiations, and Ofcom should have enforcement powers if an operator has breached its complaints handling requirements.
  • There should be no fast-track court procedures for Code cases.
  • The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act 2021 addressed the issue with non-responsive landlords of multi-let buildings where a tenant has requested connection. A similar process should be included in the Code so that where an operator does not receive a response from a site provider then a process will be followed (including the issue of further notices) before the operator can apply to the Tribunal for Code rights, which can then be imposed for a maximum of 6 years. Powers should be given to the Secretary of State to make regulations in connection with the process and requirements.
  • The definition of ‘occupier’ should be changed so that if an operator is the ‘occupier’ as defined in the Code, then it should be able to obtain Code rights from whoever would be able to grant the rights if the operator was not in occupation i.e. the landowner or whoever has rights to control the use of the land otherwise.
  1. Rights to upgrade and share apparatus
  • Existing rights on upgrading and sharing to remain, and no prescriptive conditions to be added – only the existing ‘no adverse impact or no more than minimal adverse impact on appearance’ and ‘no additional burden on site provider’ to remain.
  • Upgrading is listed as specific a Code right under paragraph 3, but sharing is not. Paragraph 3 should include a ‘bare’ right to share. This means that any ancillary rights necessary to exercise the right to share (such as terms around access of the additional operator/s etc.) will need to be negotiated between the parties or imposed by the courts.
  • Automatic rights to share and upgrade, which apply to 2017 Code agreements, should apply to pre 2017 Code agreements and existing apparatus provided that there is no material impact on the site provider and subject to other conditions so that the right is more limited than its application to 2017 Code agreements.
  1. Expired agreements
    • Part 5 of the 2017 Code deals with renewal and termination of expired Code agreements, but it only applies to ‘subsisting agreements’. This excludes, for example, 1954 Act leases and instances where there is no evidence of continuing Code rights.  There should be amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 to ensure that the renewal and termination framework aligns more closely with Part 5 and enable the Upper Tribunal to hear disputes relating to agreements governed by the 1954 Act.  Where there is no evidence of continuing Code rights, then operators should be able to seek new Code agreements in the usual manner under Part 4 of the Code
    • All renewal disputes should be able to be referred directly to the First Tier or Upper Tribunal and the Secretary of State should amend the time limits around how long a court has to determine a dispute.
    • Whereas only site providers can currently apply to the court for an interim order determining the amount of rent an operator should pay whilst the parties negotiate a renewal agreement, this right should also be afforded to operators and the right to apply for interim orders should be extended beyond financial terms – it should be for modification of any terms to apply in the interim following expiry of an agreement.

This article is for general awareness only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this page was first published. If you would like further advice and assistance in relation to any issue raised in this article, please contact us by telephone or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Lillee Reid-Hunt is a Senior Associate at Sharpe Pritchard LLP.

For further insight and resources on local government legal issues from Sharpe Pritchard, please visit the SharpeEdge page by clicking on the banner below.

sharpe edge 600x100

This article is for general awareness only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this page was first published. If you would like further advice and assistance in relation to any issue raised in this article, please contact us by telephone or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LACAT BookFREE download!

A Guide to Local Authority Charging and Trading Powers

Written and edited by Sharpe Pritchard’s Head of Local Government, Rob Hann,

A Guide to Local Authority Charging and Trading Powers covers:

• Updated charging powers compendium          • Commercial trading options

• Teckal ‘public to public’                                    • Localism Act


LACAT BookAvailable to buy:

A Guide to Local Authority Companies and Partnerships

An invaluable, comprehensive toolkit for lawyers, law firms and others advising
on or participating in Local Authority Companies and Partnerships”

- Local Authority Chief Executive


  More Articles

Icons Hazard

Holiday entitlement and pay for atypical working arrangements: Harpur Trust v Brazel [2022] UKSC 21

Julie Bann and David Leach analyse a landmark Supreme Court ruling on holiday entitlement and pay for atypical working arrangements.
Icons House

UK Emission Trading Scheme to include waste incineration installations

Steve Gummer and Gonzalo Puertas take a look at the UK Emission Trading Scheme and new decisions on waste incineration.
Icons Document

Signet Trading Limited v First Property Group – First Award under the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act 2022 Scheme

Joe Walker and James Nelson outline and analyse the first award under the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act 2022 Scheme.
Icons Deal

Procurement reforms – implications for procurement challenges and remedies

Colin Ricciardello considers the implications for procurement challenges and remedies arising out of the Government's procurement reforms.
Icons House

Relationship between limitation act and scheme for construction contracts

David Owens and Natasha Barlow look at the implications of Hirst & Another v Dunbar & Others [2022] EWHC 41 (TCC)
Icons House

An Introduction to the Building Safety Act 2022

The Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) received Royal Assent in April 2022. Deborah Down outlines the main provisions.
Icons Date

Tackling Teckal – does the new Procurement Bill adequately deal with the Teckal exemption?

Peter Collins and Sophie Pilcher take a look at whether the new Procurement Bill adequately deals with the Teckal exemption
Icons Hazard

Local authorities on track to more freedom to cut ties with Russian and Belarusian suppliers

Juli Lau and Gonzalo Puertas discuss the increased freedom for Local Authorities to cut ties with Russian and Belarusian suppliers.
Icons Hazard

Nitrogen Credits Commentary

Emily Knowles, Bernadette Hillman and Steve Gummer discuss the impact of nitrate on planning permission and development in the UK.
Icons House

Thurrock Council & Another v Adams & Ors [2022] EWHC 1324 (QB)

William Rose, Partner at Sharpe Pritchard LLP, has successfully acted for Thurrock Council and Essex County Council in obtaining a ‘first of its kind’ injunction against individuals connected with the protest group Just Stop Oil.
Icons Date

The Adjudication Part 3: The Response and Further Submissions 9 June 2022

David Owens and James Goldthorpe look at the responding party's response and further submissions during adjudication.
Icons House

A renewable future: focusing energy solutions at a local level

Natasha Barlow and Steve Gummer discuss the 'Energy Trilemma' and how it is playing out at a local level.
Icons Date

Procurement Bill – Initial impressions from the first draft

Juli Lau and Sophie Mcfie-Hyland outline their initial impressions from the first draft of the Procurement Bill.
Icons Hazard

Let’s paint the town green! Government plans for green homes

Laura Campbell discusses the change urgently needed in towns and cities to make the landscape greener.
Icons House

The Queen’s Speech in Brief

The number of Bills which affect public sector clients is greater than usual – and the government have got straight off the starting blocks by publishing some of them already.
Icons Hazard

Refurbishment and Retrofitting: In with the old, out with the new!

Sharpe Pritchard analyse the challenge of decarbonising the construction sector.
Icons House

NET ZERO – What obligations are there on the UK to achieve it?

Radhika Devesher takes a look at the legal duty to achieve net-zero placed upon the UK.
Icons House

Championing green goals through public buying

Juli Lau considers how public purchasing power can be used to champion Net Zero goals, and how public procurement might be used as another driver for change.
Icons Hazard

Top Tips for Local Authority Lawyers advising on Data Protection Matters

Charlotte Smith and Hannah Peto set out some of their top tips to consider when advising on data protection matters.
Icons Court

The Cost of Freedom of Information – The Council’s Failure to Advise

Charlotte Smith and Nadia Ahmed summarise the case and judgement of Moss v Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames and another (NJ/2018/007).
Icons QA

Ask the team

These are frequently asked questions to our experts from colleagues in Local Government via the Sharpe Pritchard ask the team facility concerning local authority companies, partnerships, charging and trading.
Icons Court

A call to review public contracts with Russian suppliers

Juli Lau and Gonzalo Puertas discuss the first official document to consider public sector contracts with companies linked to the Russian and Belarusian state regimes, issued by the Cabinet Office.
Icons Date

A New NEC Option to tackle greenwashing in the construction industry

Allan Owen and Sophie Drysdale discuss 'greenwashing' in the construction industry and a new secondary option clause X29 for its NEC4 suite of contracts developed by NEC.
Icons House

The Pathway to the Future – The Road Map for Employment Tribunals

David Leach discusses and outlines the road map of the planned changes for modernising the Tribunals in 2022 and 2023 released by The Presidents of the Employment Tribunals.
Icons House

Farrar Out

Clare Mendelle and James Goldthorpe discuss how the insolvency of Farrar Construction leads to clarity from the Courts on dealing with an insolvent contractor under JCT.
Icons House

The UK government has this week introduced the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill

Peter Collins and Sophie Pilcher discuss the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill introduced by the UK Government this week.
Icons Hazard

A sweet truth for selectivity

Steve Gummer and Gonzalo Puertas discuss a case that concerns an application for judicial review seeking to challenge a decision to introduce a zero-duty autonomous tariff quota (“ATQ”) of 260,000 metric tonnes of raw cane sugar for refining.
Icons House

Adjudication 101: Introduction and Overview

Michael Comba traces the origins of adjudication and considers why the process was introduced, who it is aimed towards and how construction contracts must include certain provisions.
Icons Date

New Government Guidance on PFI Expiry

Rob Hann, Head of Local Government at Sharpe Pritchard, takes a look at new guidance on PFI expiry recently published by the IPA to help public bodies wrestle with the complexities of transition they will face as these contracts reach full term.
Icons Hazard

Three new Levels to ‘level up’ Local Government in England?

Rob Hann, Sharpe Pritchard’s Head of local government, takes a look at the new proposals under the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper to facilitate devolution to remaining regions of local government in England which are currently without a Mayoral Combined Authority.
Icons Hazard

Will employers still be able to use the practice of ‘fire and rehire’ in 2022?

Christian Grierson and Julie Bann discuss a recent case in which the High Court has granted an injunction preventing Tesco from using the controversial employment practice of ‘fire and rehire’.
Slide background