Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
- Employment Law
Reported by Radhika Morally
180,000 Workers to Benefit from Increase in the UK Living Wage
Many workers are to see an increase in their wages as the UK living wage rises by 2.8% to above the inflation rate. In contrast to the obligatory National Living Wage, which is currently set at £7.83 per hour for those aged 25 and over, the increased UK living wage will equate to £9 per hour, and £10.55 in London.
The pay rate is a voluntary measure devised by the Real Living Wage Foundation (LWF) and adopted by over 4,700 employers. This includes: Google, Aviva, IKEA and Burberry. The wage extends not just to staff employed directly, but to sub-contractors as well, and is described by Tess Lanning, director of LWF, as a way for workers to ‘live a life of dignity.’
The LWF assess what workers need to meet the basic cost of living in Britain in order to establish an appropriate rate, and therefore the increase has been suggested to reflect changing economic conditions and increased living costs. Although the effects of the sharp rise in inflation following the referendum in 2016 are gradually decreasing in severity, the consumer price index measure of inflation still remains 2% above the target set by the government for the Bank of England.
UK Living Wage Companies have until May next year to implement the new rate, although it is encouraged that this is done as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the companies who are a part of the UK Living Wage scheme have been described by one news outlet as the ‘exception rather than the norm’, and more than one fifth of jobs pay less than the UK living wage according to a study by KPMG.
Reported by Paige Waters
Canada Debates Laws on Euthanasia after Woman Forced to End Life Early
Euthanasia has always been a strongly debated and controversial topic for discussion and it has never been more relevant than it is now.
Audrey Parker was subjected to ending her own life early after federal laws in Canada required her to be lucid at the time of her death. This was due to the fear that the combined effects of cancer and medication could potentially rob her of the necessary clarity.
Parker was in excruciating pain as cancer spread around her body, from her breast intro her bones and brain. This led to Parker making the decision to end her own life. She had spent weeks organising what she referred to as “her beautiful death”.
Parker was not the first to use Canada’s medically assisted death laws, however she is significant in becoming one of the country’s most prominent advocates for changes in the law.
A close friend of Parker stated: “the world lost a person that had such spirit, who kind of always knew she was going to do something really, really important and in the end, she did.”
The legislation for assisted death was passed in 2016 which allowed anyone who was over the age of 18 with a “grievous and irremediable medical condition”. They were obliged to undergo consultations and be examined by two clinicians in order to gain approval for the process.
Read more here.
- Housing Law
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
Recent judgment: Council Housing Suitability Test Reviewed
The central London County Court gave its judgment earlier this year on the application of suitability test for temporary accommodation in Anon v LB Lewisham.
The issue was whether the review officer exercised his duty under section 202 of the Housing Act 1996 wrongly. This section describes a right to request a review of (a) any decision of a local housing authority as to his eligibility for assistance.
The appellant argued that by categorising the Lewisham Council House as a temporary accommodation, the reviewer had created a category that does not exist in statute. Therefore, lowering the standard of the suitability test under the Housing duty in section 193.
The Council insisted that ‘due the duration of time’ the accommodation was provided, it was clear that the accommodation was not intended to ‘be the absolute fulfilment of the duty’. Hence, it is a temporary accommodation.
Having said that, the County court decided that under section 193, the category of such accommodation does not exist. Thus, the argument failed.
Nevertheless, the circuit judge noted that the ‘duration of time’ can be relevant as evident in Codona v Mid-Bedfordshire District Council (2005) HLR 1. But that is subject to the reasonableness test.
According to Nearly Legal, this was one of the cases where the judge took a careful approach and tried to make the reasoning clearer and more comprehensible for all parties involved. In addition, the practicality of the situation was also taken into account as the outcome was given clearly at the start.
Find out more here at Nearly Legal.
- Criminal Law
Reported by Anna-Mei Harvey
The shocking Grenfell Tower bonfire video
Six men have been arrested after handing themselves in following the release of footage showing the burning of a model of Grenfell tower over the course of the weekend. One voice was captured on the video repeating the initial advice of emergency service saying “stay in your flats”.
One issue that has subsequently come to light since their arrests is the legality of their actions. The group have been arrested on suspicion of the public order offence of causing another harassment, alarm or distress, (Public Order Act 1986, Section 4A.) The Statute however does provide a defence for this under section 4A(3) which states that he may have a defence if the accused was “inside of a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used…would be seen by a person outside of that…dwelling”.
The defence is clearly designed to protect one’s right to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 10 of the ECHR and this will surely be an issued raised by the men’s defence teams should the CPS decide to move forward with the criminal prosecution.
In legal terms, this issue is a prime example of the competing rights between different groups of people i.e. the men involved in the making and filming of the video and the victims, families and wider communities affected by the Grenfell disaster.