The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 20th November 2017

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 20th November 2017

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

Family Law

Reported by Anna Flaherty

Court of Appeal to hear transgender woman’s appeal over access to her Jewish children

A transgender woman who – pre-transition – chose to leave her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in order to embrace her life as a woman, has taken on a legal battle to be allowed access to her five children who have remained within the community. She has had no contact with them in 18 months.

She is appealing the county court decision that the children risked greater psychological harm by being shunned by their Jewish community should they be in contact with her. The Court of Appeal heard her case on Wednesday and are expected to give their judgment in the near future.

In the county court, the children’s other parent gave evidence saying that direct contact with their transgender parent would mean that the children would be shunned from family events and community festivities. The judge decided that the transgender woman should only be able to send letters and cards to the children due to the incompatibility of each parent’s lifestyles. The judge sympathised, saying that “it is painful to find these vulnerable groups in conflict”. However, the rights of the children had to be upheld and the judge deemed his decision to be one with the least harmful consequences.

Read more here.

Finance Law

Reported by Sylvester Tan 

Bitcoin futures will take into account wild price swings

Bitcoin futures will enable traders to bet on the future price of the cryptocurrency (a digital currency). The chief executive of the CME Group, which soon plans to debut bitcoin futures, has said that traders will face tougher risk standards.

This symbolises the first step by traditional institutions to amend some of the issues brought about by cryptocurrency, such as money-laundering and cyber theft. However, some say that the launch of bitcoin futures exposes new risks to financial bodies, such as clearing houses, which are intermediaries between buyers and sellers of financial instruments and which guarantee future markets.

No bitcoin futures trading will be allowed if they are priced 20 per cent above or below the previous day’s settlement. CME will also require bitcoin futures traders to pay good-faith collateral (i.e. security) should they lose. These will both be requirements for trading when the launch takes place in the second week of December.

The chairman of Interactive Brokers, Thomas Peterffy, said: “Margining such a product in a reasonable manner is impossible […] A large cryptocurrency price move that destabilises members that clear cryptocurrencies will destabilise the clearing organisation itself”. This refers to the volatility of the product and the negative affect it could have on the market.

John Lothian, a former futures trader and broker who publishes a markets newsletter, essentially said that by implementing these safeguards, CME was legitimising bitcoin futures and giving it greater credibility despite its volatile veneer. He also said: “Whether they will be hurt by this [introducing the aforementioned requirements of traders] or whether they profit by this is yet to be seen.”

Read more here.

Constitutional Law

Reported by Andrew MacDonald

Robert Mugabe resigns

Robert Mugabe, leader of Zimbabwe for 37 years, has finally resigned.

Following a coup d’état last week, the 93-year old leader was put under house arrest by the army.

General Constantine Chiwenga initially claimed that the army had intervened to arrest ‘criminals’ around Mr Mugabe and to end the economic suffering of Zimbabweans.

It has been rumoured that Chiwenga had carried out the operation with the former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man Chiwenga is trying to install as Mr Mugabe’s successor as president. It has now transpired that this was an effort to avert Mr Mugabe from handing over power to his wife Grace Mugabe.

The Tuesday deadline for Mr Mugabe to hand in his resignation has passed and now his party, ZANU-PF, are initiating impeachment proceedings. The motion accuses Mr Mugabe of charges including allowing his wife Grace to ‘usurp constitutional power’ and that he is now ‘a source of instability.’

Grace Mugabe has been rumoured to be deeply unpopular within the military. This contrasts with Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mr Mnangagwa, like Mr Mugabe, is a veteran of the guerrilla war against white-minority rule in the 1970s.

Despite the public’s welcoming of General Chiwenga’s intervention, he is also under sanctions from the European Union and the United States. These are in response to his role in crackdowns on opposition members during Mugabe’s rule, as well as his involvement in the violent seizure of land from white farmers.

Mr Mugabe’s ‘Fast-Track Land Reform Program’ which started in 2000 was an effort to redistribute white-owned farms to war veterans and to the wider public. The initiative has crippled Zimbabwe’s agricultural export industry and as a result, has ruined the economy since it started.

Thousands of Zimbabweans took the streets on the weekend to celebrate the army’s actions. They have eagerly awaiting the news that Mr Mugabe has resigned.

Read more in The Independent and the BBC.

Criminal Law

Reported by Jutha Cheewat

Two Unaoil executives charged with bribery

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged Ziad Akel and Basil Al Jarah with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq.

The charges followed from an investigation of alleged bribery in a Monaco based oil and gas company, Unaoil.

The SFO announced it had started the investigation in March last year based on leaked internal emails and documents. The SFO was also given special funding by the Treasury.

The SFO is also investigating into the third man, Saman Ahsani the acting commercial director, but he has not yet been charged with any offence.

Al Jarah was charged with two offences contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977 and the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 while Akel faces one charge of the same offence.

The Unaoil said they did not wish to comment on the incident as they had previously denied being involved in bribery. They also called the allegations “Malicious and damaging”.

Both executives are due to appear in Westminster magistrates’ court in London 7th December.

Read more here.


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