The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 19th March 2018

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 19th March 2018

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

Property/Family Law

Reported by Anna Flaherty

Cohabitation and its affect on property rights. 

With figures for the number of marriages per year falling, and the number of cohabiting couples rising, greater awareness is needed for the latter group of people when it comes to their legal rights in the event of a dispute. The cohabiting couple is now the second most common family type, and the fastest growing, in the UK. With this in mind, it is worrying that two thirds of these couples believe that they have the same property rights as married couples. Putting family issues aside, such as child arrangements, disputes over living arrangements will become more frequent and more prevalent for cohabitants as it generally leads to the discovery that one couple has property rights and the other does not. In contrast, marriage and civil partnership gives rise to certain rights and protections for the spouse who has no legal title over the property.

For the individual left at a loss, with seemingly no right to remain in the property, it is important that cohabitants are informed about beneficial interests in land. For those without the prior knowledge, or for those who cannot afford a solicitor, this avenue may not be obvious or accessible to them. For those who find themselves in the losing position, evidence of a significant financial contribution (e.g. mortgage repayments) to the house would likely establish a joint intention that both parties were to have an interest in the property, constituting a beneficial interest under a constructive trust. However, it is at the court’s discretion to decide whether the means of contribution suffice to create an interest, it is not guaranteed.

Hence greater publicity is needed to create public awareness about the availability of cohabitation agreements and living together agreements. The only difference between the two types of agreements is that cohabitation agreements are made before you begin to cohabit, and living together agreements can be made if you are already cohabiting. Both documents establish what each individual must contribute to household expenditure, clarifying each other’s financial responsibilities and what should happen in the event of separation. These agreements can set out exactly what interest each party has in the property, providing a solution to the individual who does not have legal ownership the property. The document must be drafted by a legal professional, and independent legal advice should be taken.

For more information, see The Evening Standard and Lexology.

Competition Law

Reported by Spencer Yap

Competition trial gaining significant attention.

The competition trial, regarding AT&T’s USD109bn takeover of Time Warner, is gaining a significant amount of attention from companies with special interests. Interested companies range from conventional entertainment providers such as Disney, Comcast, 21st Century Fox, Verizon, Charter Communications, CBS and Viacom to the newer streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

This interest comes simply because, if the telecommunications company wins the current case surrounding a vertical merger of distribution and content, it would set the precedent for a large number of vertical acquisition deals which are currently prevented by the Justice Department.

As reported by The Economist, “Comcast may make a hostile bid for Fox’s assets, setting off a bidding war with Disney, which has already agreed a $66bn deal with Fox. (Comcast already wants to buy Sky, a European satellite provider that is part of the Disney-Fox transaction.) Other pay-TV and mobile firms, like Charter and Verizon, will feel emboldened to go after content companies such as CBS or Lionsgate. All are watching the case with ‘bated breath’, says Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson, a research firm.”

Typically, actions blocking mergers and acquisitions occurs in horizontal mergers operating in the same market. However, the Justice Department blocked the current merger as it believes with the 25 million customers and the national reach of DirecTV, that comes with acquisition of Time Warner, would provide AT&T with too much leverage over its competition. It would allow AT&T to charge higher fees from other cable operators for Time Warner’s popular channels, or to simply provide exclusive services to its own operations in efforts to attract more customers.

However, AT&T argues that withholding services would only harm its own financial well-being. Independent analyst, Ben Thompson of Stratechery ‘suggest that AT&T would have to lure more than 15% of its competitors’ customers for such a strategy to be profitable’. Simultaneously, evidence put forth by the government shows that only 12% of consumers would switch services, therefore validating AT&T’s argument.

Read more here.

Criminal Law

Reported by Paige Waters

Nanny murdered over false accusations. 

Sophie Lionnet – a French nanny – was accused of of black magic and stealing a diamond necklance by the couple – Sabrina Kouider and Ouissem Medouni – who she was a nanny for.

Following this, Lionnet was murdered and burned. The court heard that before she lost her life, she was starved, mistreated and assaulted by the couple when they kept her prisoner in their home.

The couple have denied murdering Lionnet.

Mr  Horwell, the prosecuting barrister stated: “at the centre of this trial is the fact that these inventions or beliefs, whatever they may have been, concerning Mark Walton, formed a central part of the reason why the defendants murdered Sophie.”

Lionnet was found to have fractures to her sternum, ribs and jawbone. However, the exact cause of the death could not be established as the couple attempted to burn he body.

The trial is still on-going.

Read more here.

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