Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
- Family Law
Reported by Anna Flaherty
Domestic Violence Update
The Office for National Statistics has used data from previous surveys to identify the characteristics of women who are at the most risk of partner abuse. The following was found:
- That young women (aged 16-24) were more likely to have experienced partner abuse recently than older women.
- That women with a long-term illness or disability were more than twice as likely to have experienced some form of partner abuse than women who did not.
- That bisexual women were nearly twice as likely to have experienced partner abuse than heterosexual women.
- That women who identified with Mixed/Multiple ethnicities were more likely to have experienced partner abuse than any other ethnic group.
- That women living in households with an income of less than £10,000 were more than four times as likely to have experienced partner abuse than women living in households with an income of £50,000 or more.
- That women living in social housing were nearly three times as likely to have experienced partner abuse than women who were owner occupiers.
Race, Class and Gender can be identified as evident factors contributing to the disadvantageous position that women can be left in, a position which renders them more likely to be abused. These statistics illustrate individuals’ vulnerabilities prior to intervention of the legal system, and yet the system is currently under scrutiny for systemic gender discrimination.
Women’s Aid has called for the government to commence an inquiry into the way in which the courts treat women; in particular, this refers to legal officials victim-blaming, refusing to believe victims, allowing abusers to cross-examine victims, and allowing the use of the victim’s sexual history as evidence.
Also in partnership with Women’s Aid, the The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has helped to get many housing organisations to make a commitment to support people who live and work in housing who are experiencing domestic abuse.
With Women’s Aid aiming to tackle domestic abuse prior to and during the legal process, perhaps some of the aforementioned issues will become a thing of the past.
- Human Rights Law
Reported by Dan Petch
US torture and interrogation bases: Romania co-operates
The European Court of Human Rights has found this week that the Romanian and Polish Governments co-operated in the illegal operation of US torture and interrogation bases.
The court also held that the two successful claims were able to be reported to the media, as it held no risk to national security.
Al Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, both suspected by the US for acts of terrorism, were arrested in 2002 and taken to US bases in Romania and Poland, where they were tortured.
Al Nashiri has been awarded round 100,000 Euros whilst Abu Zubaydah has been awarded around 130,000 Euros.
The reason as to why the various governments where the torture was facilitated were held liable, rather than the US Government, was due to the fact they are held accountable to the European Court of Human Rights, whilst the US is not. Romania and Poland allowed a variety of human rights to be violated on their soil.
In its judgment, the court stated that ‘the securing of proper accountability of those responsible for enabling the CIA to run Detention Site Black on Romanian territory is conducive to maintaining confidence in the adherence by the Romanian State’s institutions to the rule of law’.
The judgment was deliberated over 2 years in secret since the case was heard in 2016.
Read more here.
- EU Law
Reported by Sarah Mullane
Landmark decision for same-sex spouses’ residency rights
In a landmark decision hailed as a “victory for human dignity,” the European Court of Justice has ruled that same-sex couples must be afforded the same residency rights as heterosexual spouses in all EU countries, regardless of whether or not the country recognises same-sex marriage.
This case was brought by Romanian national Adrian Coman and his husband, Clai Hamilton. Having decided to live permanently in Romania, Hamilton applied for residency with his husband on the grounds that he was the spouse of an EU citizen. Despite the legality of their marriage in other EU countries, Hamilton was denied rights of residency, as Romania does not recognise same-sex marriage. The couple were able to challenge this decision, arguing that it discriminated against them on the grounds of sexual orientation. Deciding in their favour, the ECJ ruled that member states should grant all couples the residency rights that families currently enjoy. However, it was stressed that this decision does not force member states to recognise same-sex marriage; only prohibiting them from discriminating on these grounds.
Speaking after the judgment, Mr Coman said that “we can now look in the eyes of any public official in Romania and across the EU with certainty that our relationship is equally valuable and equally relevant”, before going on to thank the EU Court and the various institutions who have supported him and his husband throughout their fight.
- Legal Industry
Reported by Anna-Mei Harvey
Berrymans Lace Mawer invests extensively in technology
Over the last 3 years BLM has restructured to allow for investment in technologies. The cuts and investment have been made to aid their drive for greater efficiency. They have introduced a pilot scheme for technology for client and matter inception. The software will speed up the process of running conflict and crime prevention checks amongst other preliminary reviews.
Abby Ewen, director of IT at the firm, has commented on the investments adding that it is part of a continuous process. BLM’s aim is to go paperless, something that can only be achieved by utilising technology.
2017 saw a report released by The Law Society that discusses how technology is reshaping the legal sector. That report recognises that streamlining technology drives efficiency in terms of the day to day duties of legal professionals. BLM’s Ewen agrees with the content of the report. She has said this week that “it used to be the case that you could get away with not engaging with technology”. This is no longer the case.
By allowing computers and technology to take over monotonous and time-consuming roles, firms like BLM can expect to see greater productivity. The result? Being able to take on a greater workload. Consider the benefits technology will have regarding their Global Insurance Law network. Clients demand the ability to handle multi-jurisdictional cases, and technology will aid this purpose.
Essentially BLM is showing its drive and desire to be competitive in its sector. Investment was needed to compete in the currently adapting market. BLM has recognised and acted on this.