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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 16th January 2017

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 16th January 2017

Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week.

Criminal Law

Rapper sentenced for 23 years after he kidnapped, raped and tortured a girl for three days

Rapper Courtney Hutchinson, better known as DVS, was sentenced by Snaresbrook Crown Court for raping and torturing a 20-year-old girl whilst he kept his prisoner for three days. Hutchinson is to face 23 years’ imprisonment and to be placed on the sex offenders register for life. After three days of being kidnapped by Hutchinson, the victim managed to escape and was found in the street naked by a member of the public. Once she was found, she was immediately admitted to the Royal London Hospital where she is still being treated for her injuries. The attack, which took place in February 2016, left the victim with a face so swollen she was ‘unrecognisable’, a fractured eye socket, broken nose, internal bleeding, dislocated shoulder and stab wound to the hand. Hutchinson, who went by the stage name DVS, is best known for his songs ‘Hometown’ and ‘Passion’. He also played the role of a gangster in the film ‘Intent’ where his character brands a man with a hot iron – one of the ways he tortured his victim in this attack. The filmmakers of Intent said ‘we would like to release this statement expressing that in no way do we condone the actions and behaviour of the individual or any persons involved.’ Hutchinson pleaded guilty to GBH with intent, rape and false imprisonment despite tweeting ‘whoever’s dumb enough to think I could rape a 17-year girl then so be it. But I could never be that guy. So, carry on trying slander my name.’ Police committed that the attack highlighted Hutchinson’s ‘“total disregard for the victim as a human being”. Furthermore, Judge John Lafferty commented that Hutchinson “posed a serious threat to members of the public”.

Read more in The Independent or The Guardian.

Human Rights Law

Libyan dissident can sue Jack Straw

The supreme court has ruled that the former foreign secretary Jack Straw , MI6 and the government must defend claims which state that they were involved in the 2004 kidnapping of a Libyan dissident and his wife. These claims include that the rendition of the victim Abdel Hakim Belhaj breached rights within the Magna Carta. A unanimous judgement of seven supreme court justices has ruled that these claims must be brought in front of an English court.

Mr Belhaj , a leading opponent of the former Libyan leader Coloner Muammar Gadaffi claims he was abducted with his pregnant wife when attempting to fly to London to claim asylum in the UK.  He then spent six years in jail where he was tortured by his Libyan jailers and questioned by British intelligence officers.

Mr Straw in a statement said “”I repeat what I said in the House of Commons in December 2013, that as Foreign Secretary I acted at all times in a manner which was fully consistent with my legal duties, and with national and international law.”

The government’s defence was that the claimant could not sue on the basis of the principle of the state immunity , act of state doctrine which prevents British courts examining the actions of other nations carried out in their own jurisdiction. However, the supreme court stated that the allegations were so serious it must be heard in front of the British courts.

Lord Mance specifically stated that the use of torture ““has long been regarded as abhorrent by English law”. He also stated that individuals must be protected from physical mistreatment while in custody.

This decision marks a clear breakthrough in international law and demonstrates the importance of the independence of the judiciary in assisting the upholding of the rule of law.

Read more in The Guardian, Sky News and the BBC.

Technology

Social Media Company Snapchat to establish London Headquarters

Snap, the company which owns, operates and maintains the social media mobile application Snapchat, has established its non-US headquarters in London. London has been selected as the headquarters because of the strength of the UK’s creative and advertising industry. The general manager of the company has stated that she believes in the UK’s creative industries.

Snap’s advertising clients are based in the UK, as are 10 million daily users of the application. Analysts have noted that London is known for its strong advertising and media services, which makes London an attractive location. Advertising revenue is expected to grow for the company. eMarkerter, a market research company, is forecasting that ad revenue will grow from estimates of $367 million last year to rates close to $1 billion this year.

The revenue made from UK sales will be accounted for in the UK. The revenue the company makes from US clients will also be accounted for in the UK since the company does not have a US sales force. Other countries where Snap does not have a local presence will also be accounted for in the UK.

Snap will pay taxes on UK profits, as well as some international profits through their new London base. This is unusual in the technology sector. Technology firms often prefer countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands or Luxembourg due to lower rates of corporation tax. However, the BBC News report indicated that the European Commission has been investigating a number of these taxation issues, Apple’s tax position in Ireland being an example of this.

The new British company is called Snap Group Limited, which is in line with its American parents rebranding from Snapchat to Snap Incorporated. The change in name is designed to reflect the company’s desire to focus on being a camera company.

Read more in The Financial Times, The Guardian and the BBC.

Family Law

Digital divorce

The introduction of online divorce will save time for solicitors as it could bring an end to fault-based grounds for divorce. It will also save time and paperwork for the clients. Although the service will not yet be available to the public, it is currently being tested in order to find out if any additional features will be required, and then a pilot site will be launched. This development shows the modernisation of Family law, which may in turn influence the way Probate is dealt with. However, some disapprove of divorce becoming an online service, as it undermines the significance of the marriage vow. Is it moral to be able to break a marriage vow at the click of a button, and should time and money be prioritised over it?

Read more in The Times.

Ruling which gave unmarried mothers the entitlement to a widowed parent’s allowance after a partner’s death is overturned

In a High Court case that was deemed to be “groundbreaking”, Siobhan McLaughlin challenged the rule that parents must have been married in order to receive the widowed parent’s allowance. However, on appeal, the result has been overturned and McLaughlin will not have access to the allowance. Had the appeal been upheld, it could have led to an extra 21 million pound cost to the government each year. However, now that the ruling has been overturned, McLaughlin must now struggle to provide for her four children without any support. This will apply to any unmarried single parent who has been widowed. The final ruling decided that it was justified to treat co-habiting parents differently from married couples, with the government having rejected the cost of the extended benefit.

Read more in The Guardian or the BBC.

Couple lose fight to adopt granddaughter they didn’t know existed until she was a year old

In the family court in Newcastle, there was recently a battle between the grandparents and the foster parents of a child. The child, now aged 2 years old, had been placed with her foster parents as her birth parents were unable to care for her. Meanwhile, her grandparents had been unaware of her existence until she was aged 1. Whist the High Court ruled that the grandparents should have custody, following an appeal, the court ruled that the child should remain with her foster parents. The reasoning given was that if the child was removed from the foster parent’s home, she would face trauma. This case suggests that another blood relative will not be able to end an adoption, even though they were previously unaware.

Read more in the BBC.

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