Judicial Review: an overviewSeptember 4, 2022
Clear the Lobby: What Laws are MPs voting on this week? W/C 5th August 2022September 5, 2022
Planting The Seeds: Planted Raise £62m In Series B
Planted, the Swiss start-up that offers an alternative protein source in the form of “clean” vegan meat, has secured a strong Series B funding round of £62m. Consumer-focused private equity firm L Catterton led the round.
The Zurich-based food-tech start-up was founded in 2019. With a clear agenda to “radically change the way people consume and perceive meat by triggering a switch from eating animal- to plant-based proteins”, Planted is at the vanguard of the vegan revolution.
According to Pitchbook, whilst the FoodTech sector saw a rise in exits in Q2 22’ — market volatility impacted fundraising for many start-ups. Planted, however, have bucked the trend with this mega round. The funding will allow Planted to explore further international expansion. TechCrunch reported that it “has the Benelux markets in its sights, using the Series B funds to build on its early focus on German-speaking markets”.
Whilst investors believe that society will switch to these alternative protein sources, Christoph Jenny (Co-founder and CEO) recognises the challenges facing mass adoption. He notes that “animal farming has been around for centuries and has been totally optimised”. Plant-based meat is novel and will take time to optimise the industry (to drive costs down).
Leading Swiss firm, Walder Wyss, advised the company on its fundraising.
The FoodTech market is highly competitive, with many companies offering similar products. Jenny and his co-founders believe that their message will bring the company success whilst positively impacting society.
Article written by Avishai Marcus
The Criminal Bar Association Strikes
Grounds for strike action
For most of the UK population, it would appear there is a strike en masse owing to employers’ reluctance and inability to increase wages against rising living costs, with inflation rates hitting 10.1% in July this year and predicted to rise to 18% next year, with an acceptable inflation rate usually falling between 2 and 2.5%. The expanding gap between wage increases and increasing living costs means that employees in many sectors, including the legal sector, face struggles to manage their households to prevent falling below the poverty line.
Of those in the English and Welsh legal sector, legal aid-funded criminal barristers appear the most affected by rising inflation rates, with Al Jazeera commenting that ‘according to the CBA, barristers’ incomes have fallen by about 30% since 2006 and many are in personal debt.’
The legal aid row concerns criminal solicitors and barristers alike, who have claimed that in the last ten years, the Advocates Graduated Fees Scheme (AGFS), through which barristers claim for legal representation of their clients, has had its funding decreased, leading to the CBA calling for a 25% uplift of legal aid fees to account for the continuing cuts initiated by LASPO 2012.
The government acknowledges there needs to be a wage increase, as evidenced by its commissioning of the Bellamy Review handed to the Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, in November 2021. The report assessed the criminal legal aid system to ensure it is adequately funded. However, the recommendations of the report, such as investigating sectors of unmet need for legal aid, immediate funding uplift for criminal legal aid firms and reform fee schemes primarily affecting the remuneration of criminal solicitors, have yet to be implemented almost a year later, which has understandably led to deep-seated frustration amongst criminal barristers.
Although, in June 2022, the government eventually agreed to a 15% increase in legal aid rates by way of secondary legislation, the increase comes into force on 30th September 2022 and solely applies to cases from that date onwards. Pre-Covid, the courts reduced sitting days by 20% as a means of reducing costs and no efforts were made to reverse said measure proceeding the height of the pandemic, which means that courts continued to hear cases at under capacity leading to an increased backlog of cases.
As such, the backlog of an unprecedented estimation of 60,000 cases preceding 30th September 2022 is continually precarious at best, with Simon Pence QC, in an opinion piece for The Guardian, stating that ‘there is a vast backlog of old cases in the system, so it will be months or years before this increase is felt by criminal barristers, and this will be set against a backdrop of increasing inflation and higher living costs.’
Chronology of planned strikes
An indefinite strike action, voted for by an overwhelming 80% of criminal defence barristers, is scheduled for 5th September 2022. This indefinite strike proceeds alternate walkouts staged by the CBA starting on 27th June into the next day, with the strikes increasing by a day each consecutive week and later culminating in a five-day action which commenced on 18th July and ended on 22nd July. The strikes were suspended for a week, recommencing on 1st August and lasting till 5th August. The indefinite strike will continue on alternate weeks until subjugation deemed appropriate is received from the government.
The legal and societal implications of the strikes
However noble and justifiable the intent behind the strikes and the hope that the effect of these strikes would impel the government to bow to the CBA’s demands, the ongoing strikes are potentially counterproductive to initial intent and the legal sector.
According to the vice chairperson of the CBA, Kirsty Brimelow QC, ‘the effect (of the strike) will be that the courts continue to sit empty with trials and cases not being heard’. Her candid observation is especially concerning as the courts have, at the first instance, struggled to accommodate the backlog of cases stemming from the effects of the pandemic.
Ordinarily, not effectively and efficiently dealing with criminal cases means access to justice is delayed and, perhaps for some, not realised given the Criminal Procedure Rules’ requirements. Further inflaming these circumstances would be the additional delays caused by the strikes, further adversely impacting those already at the most disadvantaged in this threap; those waiting for their day in court, be they complainants or defendants.
Furthermore, should the government not take heed of the warning rendered by these strikes, there is bound to be a mass exodus of criminal barristers and solicitors (in addition to the estimated 22% of young criminal barristers who have left the profession since 2016) as personal lives become unmanageable owing to the increasing deficit between increasing living costs and scant wage increases.
There appear to be minimal concessions, and it feels like an impasse between the opposing sides. Therefore, it would seem the impending reality is that the criminal justice system is heading for a catastrophic collapse, a devastating state of affairs that does not bear thinking about.