The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 13th February 2017

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 13th February 2017

Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week.

International Law

North Korea says ballistic missile test was a success

North Korea has stated that it has successfully test fired a ballistic missile on Sunday in a launch supervised by leader Kim Jong-un. The test which occurred on Sunday seemed to coincide with Donald Trump’s summit with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister.

These actions have been widely condemned by the international community, with criticisms arising from states such as China who opposed the North Korean missile tests. Russia expressed its concerns, calling on all parties to prevent any escalation in tensions. Furthermore, the US, Japan and South Korea have urged a meeting to be held of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the incident. NATO also condemned the incident and urged that North Korea should “”not to raise tensions further and to re-engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue with the international community”.

There have been a number of United Nations resolutions which forbid North Korea from carrying out any sort of ballistic-missile tests. This is to prevent North Korea becoming a fully nuclear – armed power. The foreign ministry of South Korea stated that “North Korea’s repeated provocations show the Kim Jong-un regime’s nature of irrationality, maniacally obsessed in its nuclear and missile development”.

These events clearly related to the United Nations charter, specifically on Article 2(4) of the charter, which submits that states should not use force against each other. The only exceptions to this are in the case of self defence. Although it is not clear where a test missile will fall into. Furthermore, this also relates to the question of enforcement in international law. North Korea’s clear disregard of UN resolutions demonstrate the lack of enforcement mechanisms available within the UN system, which oblige states to follow the resolutions set out.

It will be interesting now to see how foreign relations develop after this incident and what steps are taken to bring further dialogue within the international community.

Read more on BBC News, CNN News or The Guardian.

Commercial Law

Co-op Bank puts itself up for sale

The Co-op bank has today put itself up for sale and is inviting offers to interested parties to  buy all of the shares within the bank. The bank has four million customers. The bank TSB has said that if the price was right they would consider buying the bank. The bank is considered to be worth around £750 million.

This follows the near-collapse of the bank in 2013 which involved the bank being bailed out by US hedge funds (a fund which puts together capital from investors and invests that capital into a variety of assets and investments). The bank has not been able to strengthen its finances since due to low interest rates, which essentially means the bank gets less income from loans which it gives to its customers.

If the bank cannot find a buyer, it could still have other suitable means of being helped out of its predicament. For example, it could ask shareholders for more money (shareholder capital) or issue new shares (share capital) in order to raise more money.

This case shows how much interest rates can affect the success of a bank. Low interest rates means that banks receive less profit from issuing loans to its customers, whereas high interest rates mean it will gain a lot more from issuing loans.

Read more in The Guardian.


Online dating love letter scams

A new UK Campaign, Date Safe, launched on Sunday 12th February 2017 to try and increase awareness of online dating fraud, a growing problem faced by online communities. Date Safe states that criminals are using love letter templates using certain key phrases. The templates are based on previous love letters, and they entice daters to part with their cash.

In these scams, the criminals pose as potential matches and contact service users of the dating platforms. After a period of contact, they will then ask for money using a multitude of excuses. Police reports indicate that a victim files a report about these types of scams once every three hours. Of those who stated their gender, 61% if the victims were female and 66% of the suspects were male. The average amount lost in a scam is an estimated £10,000.

The new campaign advises caution when speaking to those online. They recommend not moving the conversation off of the platform until you are sure of their identity. They also insist that you should never send money to someone know only on life, regardless of the circumstances or the reasons used.

Criminals can purchase scam packs, which contains the templates and numerous false identities. Numerous people fall victim to these scams and it has become high volume. Professor Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity expert at Surrey University has told the BBC that “So many people fall for these scams that the price of the packs has dropped as it has become a high-volume sale,”. According to these types of crime have risen by nearly 50% since 2015.

Read more BBC News, ITV News or The International Business Times.

Family Law

Family breakdowns are costing taxpayers £48 billion

Since 2014, it has been a legal requirement for couples to mediate before taking divorce proceedings further. The reasoning for this is that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is deemed to be more cost effective, collaborative and will mean less distress for both parents and children. As the Government cannot make this requirement, and still force such an expense on people, the first mediation is free to these couples. This means that it is costing the taxpayer. However, this is one of the many costs of family breakdowns. Despite the expense of mediation, it is till significantly cheaper than when a dispute reaches court. The ‘Cost of Family Failure Index’ has suggested the cost is approximately £48 billion, with the rising cost possibly being caused by little public understanding of divorce proceedings. For the lawyers in these cases, Judges will have expected them to attempt some form of ADR, otherwise they will be penalised.

Read more on Lexis Nexis’ Family Law blog or Solicitor’s Journal.


Supreme Court improves prospects for cohabitating partners

In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court decided that Denise Brewster will be entitled to the survivor’s pension. This aspect of law is ever-developing, as for years unmarried couples have missed out on entitlements. In the case of pension entitlements, this often affects women, as men generally die at an earlier age. Brewster’s husband failed to nominate her for the scheme, a requirement that was only forced on cohabitating couples. Brewster brought a judicial review against the court’s previous decision, claiming that the procedure was unlawfully discriminating, and has succeeded in her application.

Read more on Lexis Nexis’ Family Law blog or Family Law Week.

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