Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
- Food Safety Regulations
Reported by Sarah Mullane
Government to review food labelling law
Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a review of the laws on food labelling, following the death of fifteen-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016.
The teenager, who suffered from a sesame allergy, collapsed on a British Airways flight from London to Nice in July 2016, after purchasing an un-labelled baguette from Pret a Manger. Despite her father administering two EpiPen’s during her collapse, she was declared dead at hospital later the same day.
Her family have since called for a change in the law to ensure that all pre-packaged food makes clear what allergens are in the ingredients. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has backed their plea, stating the Government is currently “urgently” reviewing the food safety and labelling laws in the UK and saying that it would be a “fitting tribute” to call any changes to the legislation “Natasha’s law”.
Under current regulations, any fresh food made on company premises does not require individual labelling with allergen information, meaning that consumers are left to bear the risk with the food that they buy. Though the regulations were initially aimed at small businesses, they also apply to larger companies, meaning more consumers are at risk. It was as a result of these regulations that Pret a Manger were able to package their baguette without listing sesame as an ingredient, ultimately resulting in Natasha’s death.
Natasha’s father, Nadim, has since described the food labelling laws as a form of “Russian Roulette” and as a “time bomb just waiting to go off”.
Though the matter is being reviewed, no time frame has currently been given for any changes in the law.
- Legal Diversity
Reported by Paige Waters
A quarter of the Supreme Court now consists of women
It is the opening day of the legal year, and the Supreme Court have made a break through. Two new judges have been sworn into the Court, one of them a woman: Lady Arden. This means that a quarter of the Supreme court justices are now women – three out of the twelve judges.
These two new judges are Lady Arden and Lord Kitchin. They took their oaths of office for the highest court in the UK on Monday.
When welcoming the two new judges, Lady Hale stated she had known Lady Arden from their student days, where Lady Arden grew up in Liverpool but continued to study and read law at Cambridge University. Lord Kitchin, on the other hand, is an expert in intellectual property law and studied natural sciences at Cambridge; where he was part of the winning team in the 1975 Boat Race.
For more information on this story, click here.
- Human Rights
Reported by Zara Smith
Child Spies – does this tactic contravene the UN convention?
The UN Convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC) clearly defines who is a child and the various rights they are guaranteed. Human rights lawyers believe judicial review is required to challenge the use of child spies. Child spies have, in the past, been allowed by politicians and human rights groups. The security minister, Ben Wallace, stated that children could provide “unique access to information” in cases involving gangs, terrorism or child sexual exploitation.
Just for Kids Law is a charity for children that aims to protect and support children in difficult legal issues. They are aiming for reform on the legislation surrounding child spies; the aim of the action is for a change in the guidance for the vulnerable children involved in this practice. The charity requires £15,000 in total to get the case up for judicial review. A mere £6,000, however, would be enough to take their legal action to the next stage.
The use of child spies has been allowed since 2000. A legal framework was established to protect the children – this is known as juvenile covert human intelligence sources (CHIS). In July this year, legislation was passed which changed the law surrounding the use of child spies. It made the decision for who would be an appropriate adult, for those under sixteen, a broader one.
The chief executive of Just for Kids Law, Enver Solomon, expressed an understanding of the new threats imposed lately on the Home Office. Solomon also expressed how children will not understand that associating with these serious criminals may not be in their best interest.
Just For Kids Law’s aim is to protect and help those children in legal difficulty and ensure the Home Office is acting truly in their best interests. Solomon said: “The Home Office must change the guidance to ensure that children are only used in the most exceptional circumstances and with proper safeguards in place for all under-18s.”
For more information, see here.
- Equal Rights Law
Reported by Anna-Mei Harvey
PM announces lift on ban of heterosexual couples from entering civil partnerships
Following of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that it was discriminatory to prevent heterosexual couples from entering a civil partnership, the government has now announced that every couple, irrespective of sexual orientation, will be able to opt for a civil partnership over a marriage.
The government has been under pressure to make announce reforms since Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan won their case – the result of which was a unanimous decision that to refuse heterosexual couples to enter in to a civil partnership was indeed a breach of their human rights.
The Equality minister Penny Mordaunt has commented on the PM’s announcement calling it “an important step forward for equality.” Those in favour of the motion do however rejects calls for a consultation on the matter, claiming that this will only serve to delay the process. The earlier decision of the Supreme Court has been used to ratify this position.
One attractive benefit of this option over marriage would be an end to so called ‘common law marriage’ – the myth that those who have been cohabiting for extended periods of time somehow assume similar rights to those of a married couple. There are ample examples in case law that disproves this theory. Indeed, it has been the wish of the courts to dispel this myth for some time.
Civil partnership may well be the happy medium that balances the rights and responsibilities of a married couple, with the precarious position that those cohabiting may find themselves in, should the relationship dissolve.