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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 22nd January 2018

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 22nd January 2018

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

Criminal Law

Reported by Sara Saquib

UK Government attempts to crack down on “dirty money”

In March of last year, the UK government set up a new watchdog whose role was to keep an eye on the practices of authorities that could potentially launder money. This was all part of an effort to crack down on the amount of “dirty money” in the UK, something which was becoming recognised as a growing problem.

The Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) was introduced to smooth the existing loopholes that are currently present across a variety of sectors, which means that criminals can often get away with money laundering.

OPBAS has only started operating at the beginning of this year, but has already been met with criticism from existing authorities.  The Law Society have stated that the plan given by the Financial Conduct Authority is not detailed enough. They have called for more information about exactly how OPBAS plans on ensuring more uniform guidance across the legal and financial sectors.

It is still too early to know whether this move will manage to make a difference and crack down on a criminal practice which is too prevalent in the UK. Either way it seems that something must be done, as the UK faces a large amount of criticism for the way in which it deals with financial crime.

If this attempt is successful it could pave the way for better financial practices throughout the country, with less money laundering cases being brought to our attention.

For more information, see the Financial Times, the Law Society, and Government Website.

Employment Law

Reported by Radhika Morally

HMRC and employment tsar may question Ryanair about pay

Reports last year that cabin crew needed to work without pay and take long periods of unpaid leave, whilst funding training and uniforms themselves, raised significant concerns about Ryanair’s salaries and employment practices. Upon Ryanair’s refusal to answer more questions on the matter, committees have since been formed with the purpose of seeking further information.

Although Ryanair’s HR director submitted that cabin crew received a salary within the pay bracket of £21,150 to £35,250 per annum, MP’s have claimed that the response failed to answer many of their questions and the figures given did not correspond with a contract they have been made privy to.

With these concerns in mind, Frank Field (chair of the work and pensions committee) and Rachel Reeves, chair of the business select committee, have contacted the HMRC along with the director of labour market enforcement requesting an investigation into both Ryanair and the agencies that provide its cabin crew. In the letter, they have expressed their apprehensions about the ‘confusing and opaque’ way that cabin crew were being paid, reasoning that there is the potential for this to be concealing ‘low pay and poor conditions’.

Still, a spokeswoman for the airline has said that since they are fully compliant with UK employment law and have revealed that the earnings of both their pilots and cabin crew are more than double the national minimum wage, ‘we have no further comment in response to this committee’s inaccurate press releases’.

Reeves has highlighted that she considers the matter one the HMRC should investigated with some urgency, in order to ensure that the UK, as the company’s largest provider of workers to the company, offers its workers ‘fair pay and reasonable working conditions’.

Read more in The Guardian.

Corporate Law

Reported by Spencer Yap

Provisional findings of Fox-Sky deal 

Since late 2017, Fox has been actively trying to buy over the remaining 61% of Sky broadcasting which it does not own. However, the deal might not be approved by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Without the takeover, the Murdoch Family Trust already has close to a third market share of news outlets in the UK (including non-televised outlets such as radio, newspapers and their online presence). The CMA provision findings found that if the deal goes through, the Murdochs would have ‘too much power’ in the media sector. Subsequently, by allowing excessive power in the media, it would affect media plurality, permitting the family to alter public opinion and the political agenda.

However, the provisional findings may prove moot. Outside of the Fox – Sky deal, Disney is currently pushing for a take-over of the Fox name. Though that deal itself is tangled up with its regulatory problems in the US, the takeover of Fox may be sufficient to satisfy the CMA and allow for the Fox – Sky deal to go through. Currently, the CMA wants Fox to allow the news broadcasting arm of Sky to remain independent, thereby not adversely affecting the media plurality within UK. Seeing how Disney’s main focus has been entertainment and not news, the Disney – Fox takeover may see Disney forcing Fox to abide with the CMA. That being said, the head of Disney seems committed to Sky News at the moment and wanting to keep Sky News.

Read more at the Government Website and the BBC.

Family Law

Reported by Anna Flaherty

Divorce costing couples £14,561 on average 

Legal and lifestyle costs during divorce or separation have been increasing year by year. Whilst in 2014 couples could expect to pay somewhere in the region of £12,432, there has been a 17% increase in the last two years. Aviva estimates that couples must now expect to pay approximately £14,561. Though the rate of inflation may be considered, this is nevertheless a stark increase in cost. Not only this, but the time within which these matters are settled has also increased, with couples now generally taking 14.5 months to come to a settlement.

These aforementioned issues are only the short-term issues. Following separation (with 46% of couples having both partners find new accommodation) 51% of all separated individuals find themselves having to rent rather than buy property. The large cost of settling the separation is a significant contributing factor, as many find they simply can’t afford the price of property.

With the cost of divorce, and the rising price of housing, Aviva’s statistics show that couples are choosing to remain living together despite their separation. This is particularly prevalent in London, with 28% of separated couples continuing to live under the same roof.

Read more here.

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