Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
- An Update on Brexit
Reported by Anna Flaherty
Nicola Sturgeon has met with chief EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, in order to express Scottish concerns in relation to the anticipated Brexit deal. She made it clear to Barnier that Scotland wish to remain within the customs union and single market after Brexit occurs. She stated that “the longer it takes for the UK to reach a sensible position, the greater the risk of a no deal outcome”. Mr Barnier himself has recently expressed frustration with the way in which to UK has carried itself, accusing Britain of playing “hide-and-seek” by being vague in relation to its needs and wants from the EU. Part of this ambiguity comes as a result of the Tory party being divided over their approach towards customs arrangements once Brexit occurs. The current goal is for a deal to have been made by the end of 2018, in order to ensure Britain’s exit from the EU by the end of March 2019.
George Soros, an anti-Brexit billionaire and supporter of Gina Miller (the woman who brought the judicial review case to the Supreme Court), has claimed that he believes that Brexit will likely take over five years to resolve. He has also stated that he considers the EU to be having an “existential crisis”, and that it needs to transform itself if it is to make itself appealable to countries like Britain.
Part of the EU’s response has been to tighten the laws concerning foreign temporary workers. This deals with the growing feeling in the UK that locals were losing jobs to foreign workers, who could be paid less by employers; this was one of the main arguments made by the Leave campaign. The result of the changes to the relevant law will mean that temporary workers will be entitled to the same level of pay as their local counterparts – in other words, there should be a win-win situation for all workers, rather than allowing employers to exploit workers.
- International sandwich chain Pret a Manger sold for £1.5bn
Reported by Anna-Mei Harvey
Pret a Manger (Pret), the British founded international sandwich chain, has been brought by German conglomerate JAB Holding Company. Clive Schlee, chief executive of Pret, said it was a “day of celebration” for the company. Bridgepoint, the current majority owners, will hand over their shares after more than a decade of ownership.
New majority owner JAB intends to invest in the company to support the chain’s continuing growth. Between 2015 – 2016 Pret saw an increase in revenue from £677.1 million to £776.2 million, an increase of 15% with further growth seen in 2017.
Not only does the sale spell good news for Pret in terms of business investment, but its 12,000 employees are also set to personally benefit. Each employee is expected to receive a £1,000 bonus upon the completion of the sale as a sign of gratitude for their ‘hard work and commitment’ to the growth and success of the brand.
Pret a Manger currently has 530 stores across the globe and has expanded across the continents. The USA, China and France are just a few countries playing host to the sandwich store chain. JAB has plans to expand its growing empire.
Bridgepoint, the current majority share holders, are set to make healthy returns on their £364million investment from 2008. It had considered listing Pret, however, ultimately a sale has proven more lucrative. JPMorgan advised Bridgepoint during the sale and announced that the deal values Pret at about ‘15 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.’
- Legal aid boycott suspended due to ‘breakthrough’ in talks
Reported by Dan Petch
The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) had earlier this month said that it would be stepping up action through implementation of a ‘no returns’ policy, where barristers would be refusing to take on cases. Close to one thousand chambers agreed to the proposed boycott.
However, this call for CBA members to turn down legal aid work has been suspended after the government has supposedly offered more funding for legal aid work.
A ‘breakthrough’ had occurred when a meeting took place between members of the CBA and the Lord Chancellor and Ministry of Justice officials.
The offer is said to include more funding for drug, fraud and child sex-abuse cases along with a 1% increase in advocates graduated fee scheme.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said they welcome the suspension of the boycott and any escalation of further action ‘would have seriously affected victims, witnesses and all court users’.
The CBA is planning on balloting its members on the offer in order to decide its next steps.
Angela Rafferty, chair of the CBA, said that ‘this has been very difficult to achieve, and has been an almost non-stop effort on our part’.
‘We are of the view that at last the government is recognising the importance of the criminal justice system should have in our society’.
Balloting results are yet to be released by the CBA.
Read more here.
- Supreme Court makes decision concerning variation of contract
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
According to Lord Sumption, “Modern litigation rarely raises truly fundamental issues in the law of contract. This appeal is exceptional. It raises two of them.”
Following the decision in the case of Rock Advertising Limited v MWB Business Exchange Centres Limited, a clause in a contract which requires modification to be in writing and signed by the parties, can invalidate a subsequent oral agreement to vary the contract.
The Court of Appeal had previously found that oral modification could still be valid and that parties had autonomy to dictate. The court had concluded that:
“…in principle the fact that the parties’ contract contains [a clause requiring variations to be in writing] does not prevent them from later making a new contract varying the contract by an oral agreement or by conduct.”
Nevertheless, Lord Sumption, in the Supreme Court, stated that parties’ autonomy only dictates up until when the contract is made. But Lord Briggs, in obiter, took a dissenting view – he suggested that parties should still have the power to moderate or alter an agreement as it would otherwise the contract would be “conceptually impossible” for the parties. He proposed that in such case the court should look at the genuine shared intention of the parties. However, Lord Briggs did agree with the overall decision.
In conclusion, this recent decision means that the court will give more weight to the existing terms of written agreements and the effect of the no oral modifications clauses will be less likely to succeed in court.