Here are this week’s headlines, brought to you by our Student Commercial Awareness Team:
- Skilled workers struggling to attain visas to UK
Reported by Anna Flaherty
In 2011, Theresa May (then Home Secretary) introduced a new visa scheme; these “Tier 2” visas were given an annual limit of 20,700. The visa scheme has affected industries such as IT, engineering, healthcare and teaching, amongst other professional services. The individuals concerned, such as the 1,600 IT workers and engineers denied visas between December and March, had already been offered jobs in the UK. However, they were left unable to pass the final hurdle and attain a visa as a result of government policy – these particular individuals were not granted their visas simply on the basis that the monthly limit had already been reached. The logic behind the government’s policy is that employers should attempt to recruit from the UK before looking overseas.
It was the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) that released these new figures. CaSE has branded the visa scheme as being “arbitrary”, as the cap has left thousands of working roles unfilled. These vacant roles have meant that productivity within these industries is negatively impacted, damaging the economy in turn. Dr Main, a spokesperson for CaSE, said that “in the immediate term, shortage and PhD level roles should be made exempt from the cap. This would be in line with the priority already afforded to these roles and would create the headroom for other vital roles.”
Norman Lamb, the Commons Science and Technology Committee chair, said that CaSE’s figures convey the message that “the UK is not interested in welcoming science talent at the moment”. If the UK is to change this message, then the visa scheme will need to be changed in order to reflect a society which values qualifications and experience of all individuals, rather than demanding such a nationalistic stance from employers.
- Update on the Sainsburys-ASDA merger: Closures expected but denied
Reported by Dan Petch
Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsburys says no store closures will come from the estimated £15billion merger with ASDA, but how realistic is this?
New research has suggested that there will have to be a recommended 73 store closures (not including convenience stores) in order for the merger to be given the go-ahead by regulators – The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The CMA’s aim is to prevent dominance and harm occurring to consumers stemming from large companies.
Maximise UK, a company whose expertise are in advising the best locations for stores, have said that at least 6% (73 stores) of the combined supermarkets’ locations may have to close.
Coupe has been careful not to make any explicit promises not to close stores and cut jobs, however as the administration of both supermarket’s move to one location as proposed, it is somewhat inevitable, especially in areas of administration.
Conservative MP Mark Menzies stated he believes that ASDA’s head office, where he worked for 11 years, “would not survive a few years after the merger”.
It is not yet clear how the CMA will lay out plans for the merger and what measures need to be taken in order to keep the food retail market fair between competitors and consumers due to there not being a merger this size since Morrisons took over Safeways.
Once the merger is complete, the conglomerate will operate over 60% of the market share.
Time will only tell what state the food retail market is going to be shaped into and what effect this will have on consumers.
- Have the gates closed on 'negotiating damages?'
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
After the Supreme Court decision in Morris-Garner and another v One Step (Support) Ltd, the strict criteria to claiming “negotiating damages” has been affirmed. “Negotiating damages” are ‘damages for breach of contract which can be assessed by reference to a hypothetical release fee (i.e. the sum that the claimant could hypothetically have received in return for releasing the defendant from the obligation breached)’.
The Supreme Court allowed the appeal as the lower courts erred in their interpretations of when “negotiating damages” should be available.
The Supreme Court clarified that it ‘should only be awarded for breach of contract only where it is appropriate to measure the claimant’s loss by reference to the economic value of the right that has been breached, that right being treated as an asset (Ashurst)’, and that the breach in Morris-Garner and another v One Step (Support) Ltd did not fall into this category, contradicting the lower courts’ judgments.
Having done so, the Supreme Court stated that only user specific and limited circumstances claims could be possible. Nevertheless, the court recognised that there may come a time when an economic value can arise from existing rights such as that of intellectual property or confidential information, but they still found it inappropriate for the criteria to otherwise be applied.
The fundamental principle of damages is that they are intended to put an innocent party in the same position as they were in before the breach occurred. Therefore, it is usually assessed in accordance with the actual loss suffered. But there are exceptions, one of which was established the Wrotham Park case.
Having said that, the effect of this recent judgment would perhaps make it harder to claim damages other than those that are based on contractual rights. However, the judges, including Lord Reed, recognised that it may be too restrictive to limit their use as evidence of loss in this way – this means “negotiating damages” may still have a future.
Read more here.
- EU takes British government to court for illegal and dangerous air pollution levels
Reported by Nathan Gore
The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the British government, along with five other countries, for repeatedly breaching EU air pollution rules, which are legally binding. They have taken action because UK ministers have apparently failed to convince EU officials that they have been doing enough to tackle dangerously high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide.
The UK is not alone, however, in being referred to the European Court of Justice; France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Romania are also facing action for their failures to tackle air pollution levels. The limits set out on air pollution under EU Directive 2008/50/EC had to be met in two stages, by 2005 and 2010. Now we are in 2018, and they are still being breached.
Announcing the legal action, EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella said: “The decision to refer member states to the Court of Justice of the EU has been taken on behalf of Europeans […] the member states referred to the court today have received sufficient ‘last chances’ over the last decade to improve the situation.
“It is my conviction that today’s decision will lead to improvements for citizens on a much quicker timescale.”
Greenpeace UK’s senior clean air campaigner, Rosie Rogers, said the “embarrassing” legal action should be followed by policy changes.
According to the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Air Pollution causes around 40,000 early deaths every year in the UK.
Read more here.