Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week.
- Human Rights Law
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
The independent Equality and Human Rights Commission to launch Grenfell inquiry
The British’s human rights commission will launch an inquiry that will focus on whether the government and the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea failed in their duties to protect life and provide safe housing. This comes following the inquiry, ordered by Theresa May and chaired by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, which has been criticised for excluding social housing policies from its investigation.
David Isaac, the commission’s chair, said that the ECHR had decided to launch its own inquiry amid concerns that the state had failed to protect its citizens.
While acknowledging that the move may be controversial he stated:
“We are the UK’s national human rights body and we have a statutory duty to promote equality and human rights.”
“We think the human rights dimension to Grenfell Tower is absolutely fundamental and is currently overlooked. Grenfell for most people in this country, particularly in the way the government has reacted, is a pretty defining moment in terms of how inequality is perceived.”
This inquiry will involve a panel of legal experts who will be giving significant consideration to the Human Rights Act and International law.
Isaac emphasised the fact that “human rights are for everybody,” and said that “this is political and I know there is a view among some politicians, but also among society more generally, that human rights only protect extremists and terrorists but that isn’t the case at all. I always talk about Hillsborough as a really good example of where the Human Rights Act and the human rights lens has been used effectively to ensure justice prevailed.”
Read more here.
- Finance Law
Reported by Radhika Morally
UK inflation rate at the highest point in nearly six years
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that inflation rose to 3.1% in November, although the most recent data shows that the average weekly wages are growing at 2.2%. This reading is much above the Bank of England’s inflation target of 2%, and even above the expectations of economists who predicted it would remain static at 3%.
The fact that inflation has exceeded expectations requires Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, to write a letter to the chancellor. Philip Hammond, explaining why Threadneedle Street has failed to keep inflation below the government’s desired threshold.
The breakdown of the results by the ONS showed that this rise was led by a hike in computer game costs and air travel, but the general acceleration in inflation levels has been attributed to the collapse in the pound following the Brexit vote. Food and prices for recreational goods have risen, and motorists have faced higher fuel costs.
Therefore, the general cost of living continues to intensify, and economists have concluded that Christmas will be a more expensive affair for many households. Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, has expressed concern for the continued increase in inflation whilst wages fall behind. Lucy O’Carroll, chief economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments, has conveyed similar sentiments, noting that ‘too much inflation could threaten the Bank’s credibility and therefore its grip on the economy.’
However, the Bank of England is not expected to raise the base rate from 0.5% anytime soon, a view that Paul Hollingsworth of Capital Economics agrees with on the basis that ‘CPI (Consumer Price Index) inflation has now peaked’. However, it is clear that consumers will continue to feel the effects.
- Family Law
Reported by Anna Flaherty
Single people can now be legal parents for surrogate-born children
Since the introduction of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (HFEA), single parents have been caught in a “legal limbo” concerning their attainment of legal parentage. However, proposed changes will mean that current and prospective single parents will be able to gain the status of legal parent once a surrogacy arrangement has been made. Prior to this, single parents would have to apply for a parental order following the birth of the child, compared to heterosexual married couples who can apply at any point. This proposal, if put into effect, would mean that rather than an adoption certificate being made, a new birth certificate will be drawn up for the “intended parents”.
Changes were instigated by a court decision that rejected the government’s rationale that single people would have to go though a more rigorous adoption procedure in order to decide if they could “cope with the demands of bringing up a child”, therefore supposedly justifying the fact that they couldn’t apply for a parental order at an earlier stage. The court rules that this notion was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Government report said that, “the UK Government recognises the value of this in the 21st century where family structures, attitudes and life-styles are much more diverse”, showing how UK law is actively attempting to accommodate families who do not fit under the category of the “nuclear family”.
Read more here.