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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 27th February 2017

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 27th February 2017

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

Human Rights Law

US considers withdrawing from the Human Rights Council

The U.S. is considering from withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the U.N. made up up 47 member states. It is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and also has the ability to call out violations of human rights and discuss thematic human rights issues.

The UN Human Rights Council was formed in 2006 to replace the Human Rights Commission, but President George Bush did not join it in protest of the influence of repressive states. President Barack Obama overturned that decision in 2009.

Website Human Rights Watch said a withdrawal by the US from the Human Rights Council would be “misguided and short-sighted”. Furthermore, Louis Charbonneu added that the US has played a “crucial role in pushing the council to establish commissions of inquiry that uncovered grave crimes in North Korea and Syria”.

The final decision on whether the US would remove itself from the council would be made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, as well as President Trump.

Read more in The Independent or Politico.

Commercial Law

Heir to Samsung indicted for bribery 

The heir of multinational technology company Samsung, Lee Jae-Yong, is to be formally indicted for bribery. The announcement from South Korea’s special prosecutors office also includes a further four Samsung officials, three of which have resigned following the news.

In a nutshell, it is claimed by prosecutors that Samsung gave donations worth £29million to non-profit organisations which were affiliated with the now impeached South Korean President, Park Geun-hye, in return for government favours. These favours were essentially to allow a restructuring of Samsung which would help Lee Jae-Hong take control of the company from his ill father Lee Kun-Hee, as the company would need support from the National Pension Fund for this to go ahead.

This strikes a major crackdown by national authorities on bribery and corruption practices in corporations across the world, issues which are becoming ever more important for commercial law firms to deal with. For example, see the bribery scandal in Rolls Royce which Slaughter and May advised on, or Herbert Smith Freehills’ role on the first Deferred Prosecution Agreement with StandardBank Plc. Bribery and corruption is one of the most controversial and current topics, so it would be great to keep up with a couple of stories and talk about them at interview!

Read more on Al Jazeera.

Technology

Nokia 3310 is set for mid-2017 re-release

The smartphone market is known for its constant innovation and advances in technology. However, on Sunday, it was announced that HMD Global, which licenced the Nokia brand in 2016, has resurrected the Nokia 3310 mobile phone, complete with Snake pre-installed. The Nokia 3310 was initially released 17 years ago and became hugely popular, selling over 126 million units.

The news of its release leaked in early 2017 and anticipation for the model has been high. The new phone has a 2.4-inch colour screen (larger than the original) and a two-megapixel camera. The phone is also thinner than its original counterpart, with a much longer battery life. It will be released in the second quarter of 2017 at an estimated price of €50.

The phone gained a reputation for seemingly being indestructible, with various social media posts depicting the phone as smashing the ground whenever someone drops it. The images show the phone damaging whatever the phone hits, with the device itself appearing unharmed. HMD has stated that the new model will be as durable as the original.

The announcement was arguably the biggest story of the Mobile World Congress, despite competitors demonstrating more recent innovations such as 4K screens on smartphones. Ben Wood of CCS Insight stated that this reveals more about the current mobile market. “It’s an absolutely damning indictment of the state of the smartphone market that the world is so excited and obsessed with a retro feature phone that shipped 17 years ago”.

Read more in The Independent, The Guardian or the BBC.

Family Law

Heterosexual couple refused a civil partnership

The couple’s case reached the Court of Appeal, which decided that it was a legal requirement that the couple be of the same sex in order to have a civil partnership. However, the judges did suggest that there may have been a potential breach of their human rights, but it was down to the government to decide the future of civil partnerships. The case was lost on that issue alone. The couple intend to appeal the decision and take their case to the Supreme Court. Whilst the option is not currently available in the UK, other couples in the same predicament have chosen to seek civil partnerships abroad, with success. Civil partnerships appeal to many heterosexual couples, as it offers a greater commitment but with greater equality. Many still associate marriage with the notion of a patriarchal society, when considering its history. For couples who do not want to get married, a civil partnership can also offer many legal protections for couple that would otherwise be unavailable, for instance tax-free inheritance of property. Meanwhile, campaigners have discussed how it is unfair that same-sex couples may marry or enter a civil partnership, whilst heterosexual couples only have the option to marry.

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

Supreme Court upholds government decision that Britons must earn £18,600 for their non-EU spouse to live with them

Despite unanimously supporting Theresa May’s rule on minimum income, the Supreme Court deemed it to be “particularly harsh”. They criticised the rule for its lack of consideration when considering the children involved in these relationships, and so the rule will be unlawful and defective until these considerations are implemented. When considering the aftermath of Brexit, will this rule apply to all foreign countries in the future?

Read more in The Guardian, The Independent or the BBC.

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