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

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

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

Criminal Law

Victim defends Judge following “outrageous” remark during a rape trial

After a recent trial at Manchester Crown Court, the judge in the trial, known as Lindsey Kushner has been criticised following the comments made after a rape trial. Lindsey Kushner was the judge of the rape trial where Ricardo Rodrigues-Fortes-Gomes was found guilty in March of rape on two counts and has been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. However, following the trial, the judge made comments that women are making themselves more vulnerable to being raped when they have been drinking which caused an outrage from both campaigners and senior officials. This led to Lindsey Kushner being accused of putting the blame onto the victims. Therefore, implying rape victims are in fact liable for the crime.

Megan Clark, was the victim in this case, where the defendant raped her near the canal in Manchester, yet Miss Clark only reported the rape because it was caught on video where the defendant ignored Miss Clarks cries for help. She has decided not to remain anonymous and to defend the judge, Lindsey Kushner, by voicing her opinion following these accusations. Miss Clark took it upon herself to defend and support the judge by stating that she took the Judge’s comments in a “positive way” and that Lindsey Kushner was actually right in what she said. The comment was said to have just been taken completely out of context, as Judge Lindsey Kushner was intending to warn women to be careful when they have had a drink, not that it is the victims fault the crime happened.

Megan Clark decided to use her traumatic experience as an eye opener to other women as she told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that “people don’t talk about it and are afraid to admit things happened”. Miss Clark acknowledges “this is a really important subject” and must be recognised and spoke about, as she told the BBC that she blamed herself, but said that “I know it’s not her fault but it’s hard not to blame yourself in that situation.”

Judge, Lindsey Kushner spoke out following this remark and said “I don’t think it’s wrong for a judge to beg women to take actions to protect themselves.”

Read more in The Guardian, The Telegraph and the BBC.

Commercial Law

Tesco fined for overstating profits

Tesco has been fined £129 million by the Serious Fraud Office for overstating its profits in 2014. Paying the fine, which is part of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), will mean the company will avoid prosecution for the matter. This comes after Tesco released a statement to the Stock Exchange in 2014 stating that the company had overstated its profits by £250 million. Tesco also agreed to spend £85 million on compensating investors who bought shares in the company in August and September of 2014.

 

So what is a Deferred Prosecution Agreement?

A DPA is an agreement that is negotiated between companies and the Serious Fraud Office which in which the company agrees to certain conditions such as paying fines, in return for the Serious Fraud Office agreeing not to prosecute the company for the matter at hand. This is good for companies who do not want the expensive litigation process to tarnish their reputations.

 

Where does a commercial lawyer come into it?

It is for the role of a litigation lawyer to negotiate the DPA with the Serious Fraud Office to get the best possible deal for their client. For example, international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills acted on the UK’s first DPA with Standard Bank because of their failure to prevent bribery within the group.

 

Why is it so important?

Following the introduction of Section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010, it is important for companies to have sufficient procedures in place to prevent bribery and corruption. These are issues which can cost companies lots of money and can tarnish their reputations if they are found to be part of bribery. It is is important, therefore, for companies to have good commercial lawyers on hand to be able to deal with any issues relating to this with as little damage to the company as possible.

In interviews which involve commercial awareness scenarios, it is common fro firms to put in issues like this to see if candidates can recognise them and discuss their importance within a commercial setting – so make sure to pick up on them!

You can read more on this story in The Independent and the BBC.

Technology

Amazon to acquire Souq.com

Amazon is making its first move into the Middle East with its acquisition of Souq.com (“Souq”). Souq is the region’s largest online retailer and sells over 8.4 million products across 31 different categories.  It has over 45 million visitors per month, with localised operations throughout the Middle Eastern regions. The amount Amazon has agreed to pay for Souq not been disclosed although some reports are suggesting that Amazon is paying approximately £571 million. The price is believed to be less than those made by certain rival bidders.

Previously, Amazon had considered entering the Middle Eastern market under its own name. However, acquiring a business already in the market provides Amazon with an existing customer base, infrastructure and market expertise to deliver products and compete effectively. Amazon entered talks with Souq in November 2016, which increased the trading price of Amazon’s shares by 1.1%.

Russ Grandetti, senior vice-president of Amazon stated that the two companies share the same corporate values. Both are “driven by customers, invention and long-term thinking,”.

Ronaldo Mouchawar, the chief executive of Souq, has also stated that the two companies have the same corporate values. For Souq, the acquisition represents the next step of growing their presence across the region. They will have the benefit of Amazon’s technology and its global presence.

The deal is expected to complete later in 2017.

Read more on the BBC, The Financial Times and Investor’s Business Daily.

Family Law

Supreme Court overturns daughter’s win over estranged mother’s will

Melita Jackson, the mother who left £486,000 to charity, had left no provision to her daughter having had a strained relationship. Heather Ilott, her daughter, then made a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 in order to receive “reasonable financial provision”. The case has now spanned 13 years- the county court originally granted her £50,000, and after an appeal the court decided to grant her £143,000. However, the Supreme Court has agreed with the sum that was come to in the county court. The issue therefore arises as to whether Melita’s dying wish should have been granted, or whether these charities have forgotten their core values and are scrounging for any penny they can get.  Melita’s decision had not been rash or hasty, and she had even left a letter explaining her decision. Furthermore, she had told her daughter of the circumstances, and had also informed the executor’s of her will to resist any claim made by her daughter. Overall, the case suggested a great deal about the extent of family obligations, and it arguably upholds the concept of individualism and also human rights.

Read more in The Times or The Guardian.

Employment Law

Reversal of Budget plan to increase National Insurance for the self-employed

The plans that were announced in the recent budget to raise National Insurance rates for the self-employed have been revoked, in what is being described as one of the most significant Budget ‘U-turn’s in modern times.

Lord Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s Budget proposals would have increased Class 4 National Insurance Contributions (NIC), calculated based upon the level of one’s employment profits, from 9% to 10% in April 2018, and to 11% in 2019, consequently bringing the rate closer to the 12% currently paid by employees.

However, the announcement provoked a furious reaction from Conservative back-benchers, who were critical of his failure to adhere to the 2015 general election manifesto pledge not to put up National Insurance, Income Tax or VAT.

In response, Mr Hammond expressed in a letter to Conservative MP’s the importance of his promise to be ‘compliant not just with the letter, but also the spirit of the commitments that were made.’

In light of this statement, Mr Hammond has committed to NIC’s remaining stable in this parliament.

In order to address issues surrounding the difference in benefit entitlement between the employed and self-employed, however, Mr Hammond intends to work alongside the Government’s consideration of the forthcoming report by Matthew Taylor, CEO of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), which focuses on the possible consequences of working for employment rights.

Since the increase in the National Insurance rate was predicted to raise over £2 billion by 2022, the Lord Chancellor is planning to use the Autumn Budget to introduce further measures to compensate for this loss.

Still, it is evident that there are conflicting viewpoints on the issue. Chris Bryce, CEO of the self-employed company IPSE, stated that “working people will sleep easier tonight” as a result of this ‘U-turn’. In contrast, Steven Herring, the Institute of Directors’ head of taxation, has said that the National Insurance “saga can only be described as chaotic”.

Therefore, although it remains unclear exactly what repercussions will result, it is evident that this decision is a significant one.

Read more in The Telegraph or the BBC.

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