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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 10th April 2017

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 10th April 2017

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

Human Rights Law

G7 Meeting

The international community is on a search for a unified and collaborative approach to the Syrian conflict. Last week, the Syrian government was accused of targeting its own civilians with chemical weapons. Tensions were further enhanced when President Trump ordered missile fire at a Syrian base where these weapons were being made.

The G7 group of nations will meet and foreign ministers will focus on how to pressure and influence Russia to loosen its support from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

US Secretary of State criticised Russia by saying that the state had failed to prevent Syria from carrying out the attacks which left 89 people dead. Furthermore, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations said that there were no methods to stablilise Syria with Assad as its leader. She said “”In no way do we see peace in that area with Assad as the head of the Syrian government”.

Read more on the BBC.

Criminal Law

Defendant cleared over the death of a cyclist

Gail Purcell has been cleared of careless driving as the jury at the Old Bailey took 17 minutes to decide on the verdict. Michael Mason died after Gail Purcell failed to spot him and ran him over when he was riding along Regent Street. Following the incident, Mason did not regain consciousness and died days after the collision.

The Metropolitan police refused to refer it to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on whether to charge Purcell for careless driving, therefore the Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF)  brought it upon themselves to raise money to help fund the case. The organisation raised more than £80000 with the support from more than 2000 people.

Mason’s daughter, Anna Tatton-Brown, has commented on the outcome of the case stating she is disappointed but respects the jury’s decision. She also said “it seems that failing to be aware of what’s in front of you while you’re driving is an acceptable mistake, not careless, and that no explanation for that failure is necessary.”

A spokesman for CDF also commented on the verdict the jury gave, stating “while we accept the jury’s decision, CDF are disappointed and concerned about the message this conveys to the general public regarding driving standards. Careless driving is supposed to be driving which falls below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver.”

This four-day trial is believed to be the first case which has been funded through crowdfunding.

Read more in The Guardian.

Technology

Data Breach at Wonga

Nearly a quarter of a million users of Payday loan firm Wonga have been warned today that their personal data may have been stolen in data breach at the company. Wonga has said that it is ‘urgently investigating illegal and unauthorised access to the personal data of some of its customers’. It is reported that data stolen includes not only names and addresses, but also bank account details and sort codes. Experts have said that this may be one of the biggest data breaches in the UK involving financial information.

 

Where does a commercial law firm come into this?

Many law firms now have specialist cyber security legal departments to advise their clients on issues just like this. Cyber leaks and hacks can have huge legal impacts on a business, but can also really damage a company’s reputation. This is why businesses need sound legal advice on these issues – not only so they can try and prevent them happening in the first place, but also so they can try and fix the situation in the best way possible if it does happen.

 

So why does this matter to me?

Cyber-security is an ever increasing threat that is important to law firms in many ways. For example, it brings the firm clients who need specialist legal advice on how to prevent breaches and how to put them right. But also, firms themselves are increasignly worried about breaches happening to them. If you are interested in this area of law and what firms are doing to protect themselves, then this may be a great topic to discuss at interview to show how much research you’ve done into the firm, or even make for a great question at the end of an interview to find out more about what the firm is doing in this area.

Read more in The Guardian or the BBC.

Employment Law

Nurse loses her job for telling a patient to pray

A tribunal have been hearing the case of Nurse Sarah Kuteh, who was dismissed from her job at Darent Valley hospital in Dartford, Kent last year for gross misconduct after several patients claimed she talked more about religion than their procedures.

Eight patients described as ‘extremely vulnerable’ and preparing for surgery had submitted complaints about her behaviour. One cancer patient claimed she told him he would have a better chance of survival if he prayed.

Miss Kuteh claims that she was unfairly dismissed, and is seeking justice at the employment tribunal. She states that she was simply offering to pray with patients before surgery and had no intention of imposing her beliefs upon others.

Whilst her lawyer maintains that Sarah Kuteh was simply showing compassion as a nurse completing her duties, Sarah Collins, the General Manager for Medicine at Darent Valley Hospital has said that her “spirituality blurred the professional boundary between herself and the patients.”

The hospital stands by the view that Miss Kuteh’s dismissal was not due to her religion, but rather the fact that she “continued to engage in conversations about religion that were unwarranted by her patients”. This is despite the previous warnings she had been given regarding the issue.

However, considering the fact that Miss Kuteh chose to pursue unfair dismissal rather than discrimination, it could be suggested that she did not automatically assume that her dismissal was a direct result of discrimination.

The employment Tribunal judge, Martin Kurrein, has yet to reserve judgement. Therefore, it will be interesting to see the outcome of Miss Kuteh’s case in the upcoming weeks.

Read more in The Independent or The Telegraph.

Family Law

The Supreme Court has fined Jon Platt, a father who took his child out of school for an unauthorised term-time holiday, £120 which therefore upholds the ban. He took his child out of school for a week in April. The main legal issue in the case was the meaning of “fails to attend regularly” in s. 444(1) of the Education Act 1996. The court ruled that this means in accordance with attendance rules. Prior to 2013, when new regulations were brought in, parents were allowed to take their child from school for two weeks of holiday as long as they had a good general attendance. In this case, Platt’s daughter had an attendance of 92.3%. This case has social implications, as parents effectively don’t have the final say when it comes to the education of their own child. Despite Platt’s daughter having such a high attendance, he has nonetheless been found to have criminal liability. The cost of holidays has also been considered, as many families prefer to go away during term-time when the cost of going abroad is far cheaper. This may therefore mean that children from less well-off families may no longer have the opportunity to go abroad. Theresa May has supported the court’s decision, saying that it is for schools to decide the flexibility of the ban. A representative of the NUT has said that these fines are also quite affordable and so will not act as a deterrent.

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

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