Legal Considerations for Library Transfer
Local authorities are able to transfer their land and buildings to community based organisations at ‘less than best consideration’, i.e. below market value. In the case of Libraries there are a number of specific considerations. Of particular relevance are:
- The Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964
- The Literary and Scientific Institutions Act 1854
Anthony Collins Solicitors have provided some guidance to highlight the key issues available to download here.
With regards to a freehold disposal, Local Government can dispose of its assets at less than best consideration under the General Disposal Consent (England) 2003, where the asset to be disposed of has an ‘undervalue’ of less than £2million, (in practice, therefore, this means that the vast majority of assets proposed for transfer will meet this criterion). The legislation also requires that the transfer should help to secure the promotion or improvement of the economic, social or environmental well-being of an area.
The disposal or transfer of an asset held on charitable trust is subject to the charity law framework. Therefore, it is vital that local authorities identify those assets held on charitable trust at an early stage to ensure relevant statutory procedures are followed and charity law advice is taken.
There is also a requirement for a local authority to demonstrate that it has complied with the European Commission’s State Aid rules.
In addition to asset transfer and service procurement issues, there are also considerations in relation to the laws governing public lending rights and copyright which allow the loaning of works to the public.
The most relevent sources of legislation regarding these issues are:
- The Public Lending Right Act 1979
- The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964
- section 40A(2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988,
- regulation 35 of the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 1996
- paras 2-6 of Part A of Schedule 1 to the Copyright (Librarians and Archivists)(Copying of Copyright Material) Regulations 1989.
Whether or not the local authorities right to lend work to the public is conveyed to a community organisation delivering services will depend on the circumstances.