Commercial Awareness: Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week.
- Family Law
Reported by Anna Flaherty
The future of divorce: Owens v Owens likely to go to the Supreme Court.
Owens v Owens  EWCA Civ 182 is a divorce case which appeared in the Court of Appeal a few months ago, and has been granted permission to appeal. The relationship deteriorated in 2012 when Mrs Owens had an affair. She filed for a divorce, claiming that the marriage had irretrievably broken down as her husband had “behaved in such a way that [she could not] […] reasonably be expected to live with him”. This come under s.1(2)(b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The UK is one of very few countries that does not have “no fault divorce”, and so it is still necessary for the person filing for divorce to be able to prove fault on the part of their spouse. As Mr Owens does not want the divorce, the case eventually reached the Court of Appeal, where the divorce was refused as Mrs Owen’s reasoning was not sufficient. The Court said that it could not interfere with the reasoning of the trial Judge, who had said that Mr Owen’s behaviour was not serious enough to justify a divorce.
Resolution, the specialist family lawyers’ association, has asked for permission to intervene as it campaigns for “no fault divorce”. With three family law experts sitting in the Supreme Court by the time the case is heard, this could become a landmark case and change the future of divorce proceedings.
- Immigration Law
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
Home office challenged by wrongfully imprisoned victims in the High Court.
Hundreds of tortured victims have challenged the government for their unlawful detention in an Immigration Detention Centre, including seven cases where victims survived serious abuse.
Judge Ouseley ruled that the policy introduced in 2016, called “Adult at Risk”, wrongfully gave the Home Office power to imprison many who were tortured overseas. This flagship policy lacked “rational or evidence base”.
The policy narrowed the definition of torture to “violence carried out by official state agent only”. Many who were tortured by terrorists or other non-government organisations could be held at the Detention Centre even if they found expert evidence, such as scars resulted from previous torture to their body.
The judge added that such policy would require a medical practitioner to “reach conclusions on political issues which they cannot rationally be asked to reach”.
The judgment comes after allegations brought by seven tortured victims, including victims of trafficking, kidnapping by Taliban, with two being tortured because of their sexuality.
One of them is an asylum seeker who fled from Nigeria, who was tortured due to his sexuality. His doctors confirmed that his mental state deteriorated as a result of being detained in the Centre.
The decisions from the High Court led to a series of negative court rulings in relation to immigration policies. The Home Office revealed that between September and December 2016, at least 226 cases where people were detained unlawfully. After the rulings, Human rights campaigners and involved lawyers have called for all victims involved to be released.
Read more in The Guardian
- Criminal Law
Reported by Nathan Gore
‘Flagship’ court plan for City of London
Plans are now underway to replace all of the City of London’s courts (apart from the Old Bailey) with one multipurpose ‘megacourt’, HM Courts and Tribunals Service and the City of London Corporation announced today. This ‘megacourt’ is to be set up as a multi-million pound, 18 court strong complex, which will specialise in fraud, economic and cyber-crime. It is to be located right by the Inns and the Rolls Building, right in the heart of legal London.
In their announcement, the City of London stated: “the court’s close proximity to some of the world’s leading technology, financial and professional services firms in the Square Mile will enable the judiciary to be at the forefront of tackling criminal activity and resolving disputes. It would also benefit from its position near the Rolls Building, the Royal Courts of Justice, Old Bailey and Inns of Court.”
The proposals would see this new court taking on the work of the City of London Magistrates’ Court and City of London County Court, currently located on Queen Victoria Street.
Conservative Party politician and Justice Minister Dominic Raab fully backs these plans. He believes the court reinforces “the City’s world-leading reputation as the number one place to do business and resolve disputes”, and is “a terrific advert for post-Brexit Britain”.
Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: “Playing host to some of the world’s leading regulators, financial services and tech firms, the City is a natural choice to house this modern judicial centre. This proposal will make sure London continues to set the highest legal standards domestically and internationally. Our rule of law is one of the many reasons why London is the number one financial centre in the world and this new court will add to our many existing strengths.”
Next up for this plan is a feasibility study, with the total costs involved expect to reach into the many millions.
Read more at The Guardian