Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
- Legal Industry
Reported by Dan James
One Third of Solicitors are Victims of Violence or Threats
Research carried out by the Law Society of Scotland has highlighted the many risks that criminal defence solicitors take while carrying out their day job. The alarming findings were outlined in the organisation’s recent violence survey.
According to the survey, one third of solicitors have experienced violent conduct from a client. One in four expressed they had received violent communications while most respondents stated that such threatening conduct occurs in their office or at court.
Four in ten criminal defence specialists have been victims of violence; seven in ten have dealt with threatening behaviour.
Family lawyers have also expressed their experiences, with a quarter of which being attacked, and half being threatened.
Prosecutors have a similar experience has family lawyers with six out of ten having experienced threatening behaviour and a fifth having been attacked.
The survey suggests that female lawyers are less likely to report such an incident, compared to their male counter-parts.
Following reports of an attack in a north-west London police station, criminal defence practitioners told the Law Gazette that they face risks on a daily basis
The American Bar Association has also reported that family lawyers face disproportionate levels of violent conduct compared to lawyers working in other areas of law, showing that such unruly conduct is not an anomaly to the UK.
For more information, see Law Gazette.
Reported by Anna Flaherty
Study Suggests that 45% of Internet Users Suffer Some Form of Harm
A recent study made by Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has investigated into the type of harm that can be suffered online, and the severity of it. 2000 people were interviewed. The study found that 45% of internet users have suffered harm online in the UK – “harm” includes things such as bullying, harrassment, or harm done by cyber-thieves or malware etc. The most likely cause of harm was found be caused by social networking and emailing. Furthermore, 20% of those interviewed described their experience as “very harmful”.
Sharon White, the head of Ofcom, has since gone public with a proposal to regulate companies like Facebook and Google, the same way in which Ofcom already regulates telecoms companies. Though the decision to do so ultimately rests with the government, White’s proposal represents Ofcom’s position in relation to the future of internet regulation. White’s statement supports that of Jean-Claude Juncker (president of the European Commission), who said that companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter must remove extremist content within an hour if they are to avoid large fines. Labour’s shadow digital minister, Liam Byrne, also said that internet firms should “step up to their responsibilities” – these statements would all suggest that there is a general consensus that these companies need government regulation due to the failings in the protection of users.
- Family Law
Reported by Zara Smith
The Need to Reform Outdated Surrogacy Laws
Surrogacy law has not been revisited properly since the 1980’s, when they were first written. Views on surrogacy over the years have changed, meaning the law can be inadequate in some areas. The desperate need for reform has been voiced by High Court Judges, those families affected and many more surrogacy organisations.
The Law Commission has stated “We take the view that the law relating to surrogacy is outdated and unclear; it requires comprehensive reform. Reform will deliver significant benefits of clarity, modernity and the protection of those who enter into surrogacy arrangements and, most importantly, of the children born as a result of such arrangements.”
Surrogacy laws have been ruled to conflict with Human Rights law for single parents. It was May last year when the need for reform was established by the President of the Family Division. Social attitudes have changed over the years; some case law has helped to address these issues in the court room, but the statute is still an underlying issue in surrogacy law.
The Law Commission is set to take approximately 2-3 years to fully update and clarify surrogacy laws, starting Spring 2018. Proposals will be drafted up and put forward to the Government to assess; if they decide to implement these proposals, Parliament will do so.
For more information, click here.