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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 6th February 2017

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 6th February 2017

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

Criminal Law

Department for Transport to introduce tougher punishments for those caught shining laser pens at pilots

The Department for Transport have announced that tougher punishments are to be introduced for individuals caught shining laser pens at any transport operators; including pilots, motorists and train drivers.

The new laws coincide with requests from the Pilot Union for laser pens to be classified as an offensive weapon on aircrafts. According to the union, 1000s of its members reported passengers/individuals outside the aircraft attempting to shine the laser into the cockpit and dazzle the pilot as they take off/land at UK airports. Data collected by the Civil Aviation Authority in 2015 suggests on average 4 pilots per day are subject to laser pens being used to distract them during take-off/landing.

Currently, shining laser pens at a pilot is a criminal offence with fines of up to £2500 and in some cases imprisonment. However, for a case to be taken to court, police must prove that an aircraft was endangered because of the laser. Thus, convictions under the current law are rare as it is often difficult for police to prove an aircraft was endangered and catch offenders. For instance, attempts to catch an offender in Cardiff required a police helicopter to identify the location of the beam. Statistics identify that 44 individuals were found guilty of the offence in 2013 and 2014 despite 2844 reports to the Department for Transport.

The proposed law aims to make it easier for the police to arrest offenders and makes it an offence to shine a laser at any transport operator. The transport secretary, Chris Grayling comments that ‘’shining a laser pointer at pilots or drivers is incredibly dangerous and could have fatal consequences … This kind of dangerous behaviour risks lives and must be stopped.’’

Read more in The Guardian or ITV News.

Human Rights Law

Human Rights Watch and UN call out on Rohingya violence

Human Rights Watch has called for the Myanmar government to punish army and police commanders if they have let troops to sexually assault woman and girls of the Rohingyan Muslim minority.

HRW said it had attained evidence on 28 separate sexual assaults, including interviews with nine women who said they were raped or gang raped at gunpoint by security forces during the army’s so-called “clearance operations” in northern Rakhine.

Furthermore, the U.N.  has condemned Myanmar forces of gang rapes and slaughter of Muslims. U.N. investigators have said that in recent months the Myanmar forces are very likely to have committed crimes against humanity against Rohingya. They stated the horrendous acts which have been going on including gang rapes and killings of babies as young as 8 months old, before the eyes of their own mothers.

This condemnation comes from a “flash report” commissioned by UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’aad al Hussein which was released last Friday. The report consisted of scores of interviews taken and indicated that the violence carried out against the long persecuted Rohingya has escalated to a new level

During a press conference in Geneva, a UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson stated that the Rohingya minority have been victims of “Mass gang-rapes, killings – including of babies and young children, brutal beatings, disappearances and other serious human rights violations.

These findings and statements will put pressure on Myanmar’s governing party which is led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has already received criticism for the way the overall events have been handled.

Read more in The Telegraph or Reuters.

Commercial Law

Brexit affects businesses

Over half of Britain’s small to medium enterprises (SME’s) have said that they will increase the prices of their products to combat the effects that the low value of the pound is having on their businesses. This comes as a lower value of the pound makes it more expensive to import goods that British companies then use to manufacture their products. In turn, this means that the company will make less profit when selling their products. The British Chambers of Commerce have said that this is “squeezing” the margins of SME’s.

On the flip side then, over half of SME’s which rely on exporting their goods have said the depreciation of value of the pound has been good for their firms as it means overseas buyers are enthusiastic to take advantage of the cheap goods on offer.

In a commercial awareness sense it is very important to understand how the value of currency will affect a business, I.E. a lower value currency will make it more expensive to import goods. However, it will mean that British goods are cheaper for overseas buyers and will therefore encourage commerce in this sense. It is for the commercial lawyer to be able to advise companies on how to deal with such issues effectively to keep their profit margins as high as possible. For example, the corporate team in a firm may advise a client not to increase their prices in this situation so as to remain as competitive within the market as possible.

You can keep up with this story on the BBC or The Guardian.

Technology

Amazon building Cargo Hub in the US for $1.5 billion

Amazon has announced plans to build a cargo hub in Hebron, US, in order to support its increasing fleet of aeroplanes. This is expected to cost $1.5 billion, which equates to £1.19 billion. The development is expected to create over 2000 jobs when the site opens. It is not yet known when the hub will open.

In 2016, Amazon leased 40 cargo planes for its Prime services. 16 planes are currently operational in its fleet for customers, and this number is expected to increase. Amazon also brought a network of 4000 semi-trailers to increase its trucking capacity. It also has a fleet of Flex drivers. By establishing its own cargo hub, Amazon will be able to take more control over the delivery process, which currently relies on over 30 carriers. Some analysts have stated that the company is looking to eventually compete with some of these services, such as FedEx Corp and United Parcel Services Incorporated.

Mr Banker, Senior Vice-President of supply chain services at ARC Advisory Group, a consulting company, stated that “Amazon still loses money on deliveries, the IT service side of their business supports the retail operations. Owning the whole chain cuts out the middleman fees,”

Read more on the BBC or Reuters.

Real Estate

What is the current effect of Brexit on Real Estate?

A prospective consequence of Brexit will be that businesses may decide to relocate and end their UK operations. (See http://thestudentlawyer.com/2017/01/31/financial-firms-talks-amsterdam-relocation-london/ for more information on this aspect of Brexit.) As a result, there is a reluctance to invest in more property. For instance, it would be a waste of time and money for a firm to begin works on a brand new office in the city, or for a large retailer to open a new store when there is a risk of many redundancies.  The consequence of this reluctance to build has meant that there has been an urgent rush to sell shares in property companies.

Read more in The Times, The FT or from Allen & Overy.

 

Is a decline in residential construction down to the proliferation of Student Housing?

This issue has particularly been raised in Scotland, where investment in Student Housing has all but stopped residential construction. Apparently, many wealthy overseas students are a target for this construction, providing luxury student living, hence over £5 billion has been spent towards these developments in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Compared to residential, hotel or retail developments, many investors deem student accommodation to be capable of greater growth, bringing with it the decline of these other areas. Housebuilding of all types will be required, with Glasgow’s population increasing by 2,700 households each year.

Read more in The Times or Glasgow’s Evening Times.

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