The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

June 2010 Archives

European Court Offers Glimmer Of Hope On Gay Marriage

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In a blow to , the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the .

Austrians Horst Schalk and Johann Kopf argued that the failure to recognise their marriage violated their human rights under article 12 (right to marry), article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), and article 8 (right to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

While the Court acknowledged that the right to marry was not limited to "marriage between two persons of the opposite sex", it also held that the question whether or not to allow same-sex marriage should be left to the national laws of the Convention states. Since the national law of Austria does not currently recognise marriage between gay couples, Schalk and Kopf's Convention rights were not impacted.

Perhaps surprisingly, however, Clive Baldwin of writes in the  that this represents a "hopeful message on same-sex marriage".

How so?

UK work permits: new visa rules effective 19 July 2010

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As , the government unveiled a new set of rules for people applying for UK work permits on Monday.

Effective 19 July 2010, the number of highly skilled migrants applying under of the will be capped "at current levels" and the number of points needed by non-EU workers who come to do highly skilled jobs will rise from 95 to 100. Moreover, the number of certificates of sponsorship that licensed employers can issue to those who wish to come to fill skilled job vacancies under will fall by 1,300.

Skilled workers who come to the UK via intra-company transfers, however - who comprise 45% of the total number of non-EU migrant workers that come to the UK - will be exempt from the new cap. Other exemptions will include ministers of religion and elite sports people.

Thinking about a remortgage? Look no further...

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Everything you need to know about remortgaging property

What is a 'remortgage'?

Unlike a second mortgage, where a new lender will take a charge that ranks behind (or in some cases on a par with) your existing mortgage, a remortgage is where you replace your current mortgage loan in its entirety with a new mortgage loan.

Why might I want to remortgage?

There are a number of reasons why you might want to remortgage. Perhaps your existing mortgage has a high interest rate and another lender is offering a better deal. Maybe you want a mortgage with a longer or shorter term (e.g., to coincide with the date your retirement begins). Or perhaps you just need to raise some extra cash.

Practical steps

Could the FA sack Fabio Capello over Stuart Pearce bullying?

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Nicknamed 'Psycho' during his playing career, Stuart Pearce has certainly mellowed as he has gotten older. It's hard to imagine the tough-tackling left-back of yesteryear withdrawing as meekly as he did after Fabio Capello gave him the elbow in South Africa last week .

Still, Capello's the boss (at least ) and having served for eight years under  at Nottingham Forest -- who famously whacked Roy Keane, of all people, in the chops -- perhaps Psycho has just become de-sensitised to it all.

But with the FA now in crisis, debating whether or not Fabio really is the man to turn England's fortunes around, could they point to Capello's treatment of Pearce as a way to end his employment contract early and save themselves a wad full of cash in the process?

Well, before I attempt to answer that, let's take another look at the video from the Slovenia game, which is currently doing the rounds on Youtube:

Christine Timbrell, born in 1941 as Christopher Timbrell, has won her  claim against the Department for Work and Pensions after it refused to pay her the at 60 -- the age at which women born before 5 April 1950 should receive it.

Christine had a in 2000, aged 59. After she turned 60, she asked HM Revenue & Customs to begin paying her state pension. HMRC refused, however, on the ground that since she had not divorced her wife Joy, her gender reassignment was not legally recognised.

Christine protested, particularly since Joy supported her decision to change gender and they continue to live together happily as a married couple -- indeed, they have two children together. But HMRC insisted their hands were tied due to the , which stipulates that the new sex of a married transsexual is only recognised upon or of a pre-op marriage.

Doctrinaire Tories Push Ahead With Arbitrary Immigration Cap

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Shortly after the election, the coalition announced it intended to implement an entering the UK. Agreement on a cap represented a major coup for David Cameron as the policy was one of the most publicised pledges in the Conservative party manifesto.

Until now it has been unclear what the immigration cap would be or how the Conservatives intend to arrive at a figure without it seeming arbitrary. At the end of last week, however, the reported that Home Secretary Teresa May is expected to announce a maximum of 24,100 can enter the UK before April 2011.

Doctrinaire elements within the Conservative party have urged May to push on ahead with implementing a permanent immigration cap despite concerns in the cabinet and that the policy could harm the economy by shutting out skilled workers.

Julian Brazier MP, a member of the Commons all-party group on immigration, said that Britain had "an immensely overstretched infrastructure" which could only be relieved by a cap. Speaking to Radio 4, Brazier said:

New Era In Fight Against Tax Avoidance?

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Alongside the this week, the government also announced it intends to do more to combat tax avoidance. One proposal under consideration is a General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR).

The idea behind the rule is to forestall efforts to subvert the intention (if not the letter) of UK tax law. As things stand, many tax lawyers and accountants are paid big money to do precisely this -- and consequently they've come up with complex, sometimes ingenious, schemes to secure tax advantages for their clients.

A general anti-avoidance rule would not make these schemes illegal as such -- they'd simply be ignored -- while the assets or the income derived from the schemes would become taxable.

A former criminal prosecutor who helped ensure "Britain's worst drink driver", , received a of "nine lifetimes plus 109 years", has abandoned her claim for and after she was fired for - yes, you've guessed it - .

Anne Hart, 39, crashed into a parked car in Dundee in July last year with such force that it actually flipped onto its side. Apparently she collided with the vehicle while "trying to light a cigarette". She fractured her sternum and right arm as a result of the incident, which occurred just months after she was cleared of being '' of a vehicle... despite the almost three times over the .

Lesbian Teacher Wins £15,000 Constructive Dismissal Claim

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A lesbian teacher at has won £15,000 in damages after she alleged the headmaster after she rebuked his advances. Jill Young, 37, claimed she had .

Ms Young -- a special needs teacher in a with another female employee at the school -- subsequently claimed . have agreed to pay her  without admitting liability.

Colin Hendry Declared Bankrupt

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Former Blackburn Rovers defender Colin Hendry - a totemic figure in Scottish football during the 1990s, and nicknamed "Braveheart" by his fellow professionals -- has been declared bankrupt by Blackpool County Court.

Hendry, 44, of Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, received a demand for payment from his creditors on 12 March. In response, he applied for an  -- which would have enabled him to come to a binding agreement to repay the debt over a period of 5-6 years -- but this was rejected by 55% of his creditors.

Emergency Budget 2010: Key Tax Provisions (Part 1)

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The coalition blitzkrieg on government spending has begun. While a Conservative slash and burn in the 'emergency' budget was expected, the scale of the cuts is unprecedented. There were also a few surprises on tax. Let's take a look at the main changes:

Emergency Budget 2010: Key Tax Provisions (Part 2)

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[Continued from ]

Inheritance tax (IHT)

The IHT threshold (the level at which you'll need to pay tax) remains frozen at £325,000 until 2014. So while the Liberals compromised on VAT, the Conservatives compromised on IHT, as they .

Capital gains tax (CGT)

The Liberals wanted an increase in the main CGT rate from 18% to 40%. What they got was a mere 10% increase to 28%. The standard rate will remain at 18%. Moreover, the entrepreneurs' lifetime relief rate will remain at 10% and will be extended from the first £2 million to the first £5 million of gains made over a lifetime.

Corporation tax

The main rate of corporation tax (payable on profits of £1,500,001 or more) will fall from 28% to 27% in 2011-12, with further reductions to 26% in 2012-13, 25% in 2013-14 and 24% in 2014-15. Thus, taxes for UK big business will soon be the -- for how long, however, remains to be seen.

A non-profit organisation committed to securing justice for refugees and other migrants in the UK says the new government has forced it into administration. has 336 staff and 13 offices in England. It claims the government owes it £2m for work it was contracted to do.

The reports that as a result of changes to legal aid, immigration law firms are only paid when a case ends. Many immigration cases can last for years, however, and Refugee and Migrant Justice says it has no means to pay its overheads while it waits for legal aid payments to come through.

The charity had 13,000 migrants and refugees, plus their children, on its books. This includes 900 sex slaves trafficked against their will by organised crime syndicates.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has described the collapse of Refugee and Migrant Justice as an "unfortunate situation", but said there are many immigration firms around capable of picking up the charity's caseload.

He also denied that delayed legal aid payments had caused the collapse. "It's not a question of late payments," he said. "Refugee and Migrant Justice was paid what was due, but they did not make the efficiency saving that other providers did.

Cuts Are An "Ideological Choice", Not An Economic Necessity

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Tax experts and Colin Hines published a report with Green Party MP Caroline Lucas yesterday, which argues that today's - part of the Liberal-Conservative agenda for small government.

Instead of just slashing spending, the authors of the report suggest a number of other ways to cut the budget deficit. The proposals fall into two categories:

  • Actions to tackle tax evasion and non-payment of tax
  • Measures to tackle tax avoidance and raise additional revenues

So let's take a each set of proposals in more detail...

1. Tackling tax evasion and non-payment of tax

The report includes five proposals to tackle tax evasion and non-payment of tax:

Mobile Phones, Radiation, & The Law

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The city of San Francisco in California has voted in favour of an . All mobile phone retailers within San Francisco will need to display the "specific absorption rate" (SAR) - a measurement of how much electromagnetic radiation is absorbed by body tissue whilst using a mobile phone - or else pay a $300 fine.

The  isn't happy. It says the law will merely scare consumers away from buying phones. "Rather than inform, the ordinance will potentially mislead consumers with point-of-sale requirements suggesting that some phones are 'safer' than others, based on radio frequency emissions," said John Walls, vice president of public affairs for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA). "In fact, all phones sold legally in the US must comply with the Federal Communication Commission's safety standards for emissions."

But San Francisco legislator Sophie Maxwell said the law is merely intended to help consumers make "informed choices". The reports that a similar right-to-know measure at state level failed recently following heavy lobbying by CTIA.

Law on the emission of radiation from mobile phones

In the US and Australia, mobile phone manufacturers must ensure their phones are at or below a SAR level of 1.6 watts per kilogram in 1 gramme of body tissue. The European Union SAR limit is currently far less stringent: 2 watts per kilogram in 10 grammes of body tissue.

Public Sector Workers Claim Victory Over Redundancy Payments

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The has claimed victory in its fight against government plans to unilaterally alter the terms of the civil service compensation scheme, which governs for public sector workers.

On Friday, a High Court judge quashed an amendment to the scheme supposedly effective on 1 April 2010. The judgement also requires the government to enter negotiations with the union if it wants to change the scheme in the future.

Judicial review

The Public and Commercial Services Union's challenge, by way of a , was heard over two days in April and the judge ruled on 10 May that the previous government had acted unlawfully. Both sides were then given a few weeks to reach an agreement on the terms of an order to quash the amendment, but failed to do so, and the case went back to court for a final hearing on 9 June.

The union maintains the changes to the compensation scheme would make it easier and cheaper to cut "tens of thousands of civil service jobs and privatise more of our public services".

Last month, David Cameron and Nick Clegg promised to conduct a comprehensive review of UK family law. You may remember I took a look at the  and wrote that essentially all they'd agreed to do was continue the back in January 2010, which was looking at , encourage the use of , and increase grandparents' rights.

Well, this week, Clegg stepped back up to the plate to deliver a speech at Barnardo's children home setting out how the government can help give children a "better start in life". Again, he provided very little in the way of detailed policy. The main thrust of the speech was that strong families are a good thing - hard to argue with him on that - but government interference, or "micro-management" of family life, is a bad thing.

Apart from an announcement about the establishment of a 'Ministerial Task Force' chaired by David Cameron "to identify policies to help children and families", provided no new insight into the coalition's plans for family law - it merely  - but it did prompt the Daily Telegraph to run a story under the headline '' on Thursday. Take a look at the article, however, and it fails to identify what the 'increased rights' are...

So what legal rights do grandparents currently have in relation to custody of their grandchildren?

Well, technically, grandparents don't have any rights. If they want to have contact with their grandchildren and one or both parents refuses to grant it, they will need to apply to the court for help.

Footballer Adrian Mutu Must Pay Former Club Chelsea £14.3m

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A court in Switzerland has ordered former Chelsea footballer Adrian Mutu to pay the club £14.3m in damages plus interest.

Chelsea sacked the player in October 2004 after he tested positive for cocaine. They then sued Mutu for lost earnings from merchandising and transfer fees.

Bad blood

Some commentators believe Chelsea's decision to terminate Mutu's contract was made for the wrong reasons.

The club paid Italian club Parma £15.8m for his signature in August 2003. He began well, scoring four goals in three games, but his form began to trail off as he struggled to settle in London. Things got worse after the arrival of Jose Mourinho as manager in June 2004 and he made only two substitute appearances for the self-declared 'Special One'.

Before Chelsea sacked Mutu, he claims after a training ground bust-up.

When the club paymasters decided to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards the player for failing the drug test then, it is unlikely Mourinho did much to change their mind.

Suspicious minds

Apparently  before the FA performed a random drugs test on him in September 2004. Indeed, they carried out a on Mutu in July 2004 which returned negative.

UK VAT Rate Increases; Child / Food Exemptions To Go Too

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With the emergency Budget less than a week away, another business bigwig has predicted an increase in the UK VAT rate. Tesco finance director Laurie McIlwee fears the government may even abolish , which apply to such things as food, children's clothes, goods/services for the disabled, newspapers, and magazines.

"I fear the plan is VAT on food," he told the . He also urged the chancellor to keep UK VAT rates steady for the time being: "The economy is recovering, but it is pretty fragile, and so a VAT increase in the future would be more appropriate than one that is immediate."

"VAT is going to be part of the austerity package but it is a question of when you do it. The best thing would be to wait a bit," he added.

How high is UK public sector debt?

In April 2010, stood at £893bn. But, according to the BBC, the bailing out British banks - and a significant amount more on social security and welfare payments as a result of the recession that followed the financial crisis.

As An EU Citizen, Can I Live Anywhere In Europe?

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If you're an EU citizen, you have the right to live, work and study in any of the 27 EU member states plus the 4 nations in the European Free Trade Association. As this article shows, however, there are a number of conditions attached to your right to reside elsewhere in Europe.

Conditions depend on your status

It is important to recognise that the conditions placed on your right to live in another European country will depend on your status.

For example, if you are a student, unemployed, or want to retire in an EU country in which you have never worked, you must have sufficient financial resources and health insurance to ensure you do not become a social security burden.

These conditions do not apply, however, if you retire in a country where you worked previously.

Note also that if you are unemployed, you have the right to live in another EU country for a 'reasonable period' of time - generally 3-6 months - in order to look for a job.

No matter how long you have to look for a job, however, you cannot be asked to leave the country if you can prove that you are still seriously looking for a job and that you have a real chance of finding one.

As An EU Citizen, Can I Live Anywhere In Europe? (Part 2)

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[Continued from ]

Right to refuse residence on public order and health grounds

If your actions constitute a serious threat to public order, security, or health, your right to reside in another country may be restricted. If an EU country takes any decision in relation to your residence on these grounds, you must be told the reasons for the decision. You must also be given sufficient time to prepare a defence and submit an appeal.

Five year uninterrupted residence

After five years of uninterrupted residence, EU citizens and their family members acquire a permanent right of residence, which can no longer be subject to any conditions.

Right to vote and stand for elections

Every EU citizen has the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections in the country where he or she has a right of residence, under the same conditions as nationals of that country.

Right to an education

As EU citizens, you and your children are entitled to study in any EU country under the same conditions as nationals of that country.

Child students

Health and Safety Law: Cameron Decries 'Compensation Culture'

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David Cameron has appointed former Secretary of State for Employment and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry David Young as an adviser on health and safety law and practice, with specific instructions to report on "the rise of compensation culture".

Young is expected to publish his recommendations later this summer. He will begin his role as advisor by investigating "concerns over the application and perception of ", together with the supposed rise of the "compensation culture" over the last decade.

Announcing the review, Cameron said:

Ahead of next week's emergency Conservative-Liberal budget, a new grassroots coalition of socially-minded Liberal Democrats - the  - have written to Nick Clegg urging him to honour the party's manifesto pledge to raise capital gains tax (CGT) in line with income tax.

In an open letter to Deputy PM Clegg and Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander - newly drafted in to replace David Laws - the SLF write that it is "crucial" that the budget "spells out an agenda not only for straitened financial circumstances but for fairness as well".

While the letter concedes that taxation will "inevitably continue to be an area of tension", and that the party leadership had to "put to one side" a number of "core Liberal Democrat policies" to form the coalition, it expresses the hope that Clegg et al can agree that the "party must never compromise on the principle of making the tax system fairer".

Vicar Married 383 Couples In Sham Weddings

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The trial of an Anglican vicar who allegedly married up to 383 couples in began at Lewes Crown Court on Friday.

, 61, stands accused of knowingly breaching immigration laws, along with Vladymyr Buchak, a 33-year-old illegal immigrant from Ukraine, and Reverend Michael Adelasoye, a 50-year-old evangelical preacher come immigration lawyer.

The Crown Prosecution Service allege Rev. Brown, of , belonged to a criminal gang that organised "massive and systematic immigration fraud". Prosecutor David Walbank told Lewes crown court: "He conducted each of these wedding ceremonies ostensibly according to the rites of the Church of England but knowing full well these were sham marriages not entered into for the proper reasons but as part of an immigration fraud."

Divorce: How To Prove Unreasonable Behaviour

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There is only one ground for divorce in , : irretrievable breakdown of marriage. To prove it, a party must demonstrate one or more of the following 'facts':

(a) adultery;

(b) unreasonable behaviour;

(c) two years desertion;

(d) two years separation with consent; and/or

(e) five years separation without consent.

In , irretrievable breakdown of marriage is also a ground for divorce, but two years desertion is not available as a fact. (NB. Scotland also has a second ground for divorce: transsexual gender recognition).

Unreasonable behaviour most commonly cited

The most recent data from the Office for National Statistics shows the . The reason for this is because currently there is . Thus, if a couple want to separate based on irreconcilable differences, one party will need to plead unreasonable behaviour or adultery or else wait two years or more for a divorce. Understandably most people find allegations of unreasonable behaviour far less objectionable than adultery. It is also far easier to prove.

Proving unreasonable behaviour

London mayor announced a 25p increase in the paid by the Greater London Authority (GLA) this week, taking the hourly rate to £7.85.

The London Living Wage now stands at £2.05, or 35%, above the  hourly rate of £5.80. This represents an increase of 3.3% on last year's figure, and an overall increase of 17% per cent since the London Living Wage was introduced in 2005 - at £6.70 per hour - by former mayor Ken Livingstone.

The coalition government has scrapped plans to introduce a  in England. Announcing the decision, Tory Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

"With the vast majority of England's three million private tenants happy with the service they receive, I am satisfied that the current system strikes the right balance between the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords.

"So today I make a promise to good landlords across the country: the Government has no plans to create any burdensome red tape and bureaucracy, so you are able to continue providing a service to your tenants.

The consumer-watchdog  reports that at least 5.1 million people in the UK fail to read their employment contracts properly. Moreover, at least two million people do not have a written employment contract.

From 12th to 21st February 2010, Which? asked 4,075 members of the British public aged 16 or above about their employment contracts. 32% of them (excluding the self-employed) only skim read their contract (26%) or didn't read it at all (6%). Based on a adult population of 48.5 million, this equates to between 5.1 and 6.8 million people (using a 95% confidence interval). 12% of respondents (again, excluding the self-employed) don't have a written contract. This equates to between 2 and 2.9 million people. Moreover, only 3 in 10 employees received their contract before starting their job, and 9% didn't get a contract until they'd been in the post for six months or more.

Employment contracts: your rights

What's best: joint tenancy or tenancy in common?

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There are advantages and disadvantages to both a . Which one is best for you will depend on your individual needs and circumstances.

Many married couples opt for joint tenancies because they don't perceive any advantage in defining separate shares - particularly if they want the property to pass automatically to the surviving spouse if one of them dies.

Tenancy in common may be more suitable for couples where one spouse has children from a prior relationship, unmarried couples, brothers and sisters, parents and children, or business partners - since in these cases one of the title-holders may not want the other owner(s) to inherit their share, at least not the entirety of it.

In-House Lawyer Claims Age Discrimination & Unfair Dismissal

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A former in-house lawyer at construction titan has alleged he was unfairly dismissed last year in retaliation for making claims of age discrimination and victimisation against the company.

Anthony Philpott worked at Bovis for 11 years. In his complaint to Watford Employment Tribunal, he states the company's process was 'manifestly unfair, flawed and predetermined'.

As part of his age discrimination claim, Philpott alleges he was 'starved of work' at the behest of Bovis legal chief, Alistair Cutts. His clam states Cutts made a 'continuing decision to steer and direct the mainstream areas of legal work' previously conducted by Philpott to 'younger members of the legal department'.

UK Tax Law 'Deeply Flawed'

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The President of the , Vincent Oratore, has called for wholesale change in the way Parliament writes UK tax law. Publishing a paper on the subject yesterday, Mr Oratore described the current set up as 'deeply flawed.'

'There is not enough expert scrutiny and there is insufficient parliamentary time to consider properly the effect that changes in UK tax law will have in practice,' he said.

How To Obtain British Citizenship Through Naturalisation

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The rules on naturalisation vary depending on whether or not you are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen.

Applying for naturalisation as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen

To apply for naturalisation as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen, you must:

1. be aged 18 or over when you apply;

2. be of 'sound mind';

3. show 'good character';

4. have lived in the UK for a minimum of three years continuously before you apply;

India Fights Back In Bid To Stop 'Misappropriation' Of Yoga

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"Yoga originated in India. People cannot claim to invent a new yoga when they have not." So says  at any rate.

Mr Gupta works at the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, a Delhi-based government organisation funded by the Indian ministries of health and science. He is managing a project to film thousands of yoga poses in an attempt to ward off further commercialisation of the ancient discipline.

The most famous (and financially successful) of the modern yoga entrepreneurs is , who copyrighted a series of 26 yoga poses in the U.S. in 1978 and went on to trademark 'Bikram Yoga'.  In 2005, Mr Choudry won a contentious lawsuit against a posse of American yoga teachers who challenged the legitimacy of his copyright and trademark. During the trial, Mr Choudry's attorney John Marcoux drew an analogy to music and said: "He's not claiming ownership of individual notes, but of a particular selection of notes and the arrangement of those notes."

Nanny Loses Case Against Heather Mills

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The tabloids waited intently for nigh on two months, but need wait no more. The employment tribunal in  has delivered its verdict.

As you may remember, Ms Trumble, 26, alleged and against Ms Mills, claiming she was forced to resign after returning to work from maternity leave in 2008. She claimed Ms Mills treated her in a "humiliating and demeaning" way by replacing her as nanny and asking her to perform cleaning duties, rather than look after Ms Mills's child Beatrice.

Law Firm Made Man Redundant To Spare Pregnant Co-Worker

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An employment tribunal has ruled that a law firm made a male employee redundant because it feared a sex discrimination claim if it dismissed his pregnant co-worker. As a result, it awarded the man £123,000 in damages for  and .

Explosive Tweet Verdict "Absurd", Heads To Appeal Court

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Paul Chambers, 26, was planning a trip to Ireland. His flight was scheduled to leave Robin Hood Airport in mid-January.

Now, cast your mind back a few months if you will. Remember the pandemonium caused by the snow just after new year. Well, things got so bad in the north of the country that they actually closed Robin Hood Airport on 6 January. 

Frustrated that his Ireland holiday plans might have to be cancelled, Paul tweeted his chums: "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"

As the explains, he was arrested by anti-terror police a week later, after an off-duty manager at Robin Hood airport, near Doncaster, found the message while doing an unrelated computer search.

The airport's operations were unaffected apparently, since they classified the post as 'not credible', but they were obliged to tell the police, who took action.

They arrested Paul, impounded his iPhone and two computers, and charged him with sending a public electronic message that was 'grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character' contrary to the Communications Act 2003.

A bullying rumpus engulfed Newcastle's Waygood Studios last month, with art gallery chief executive Helen Smith being blamed for not only bullying an employee but also falsely accusing another of bullying.

Former Waygood company administrator Liping Mak, 31, claims the stress of Ms Smith's bullying caused her to suffer a severe outbreak of eczema. She also alleges gallery officials failed to investigate her complaint about Ms Smith properly, leaving her no option but to resign from her job last December.

She has now launched a claim for unfair .

As news of Ms Mak's claim surfaced, an employment tribunal upheld an  claim against Waygood in a separate case brought by artist Topsy Qur'et, who alleged he was sacked after Ms Smith falsely accused him of bullying her.

Read more about Waygood's current woes in the .

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

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A is a document that you can sign appointing another person as your attorney, and authorising that person to make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity. It is an arrangement that can assist in the estate planning process, as it enables your attorney to make decisions about your affairs in the event that you become incapacitated.

Straight Couple Denied Civil Partnership Launch ECHR Appeal

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Last December, Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle applied for a at Islington Town Hall.  Islington council denied their application, however, because they're a mixed-sex couple.

The couple railed against marriage, describing it as an "apartheid" that segregates straight and gay people. Whilst they want the same legal rights as any husband and wife, they do not want to be seen to be "colluding with the segregation that exists in matrimonial law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil marriage."

Yesterday, Mr Freeman posted a message on seeking committed and like-minded straight couples to join him and Ms Doyle launch a test case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg "against the discrimination in UK matrimonial law".

In his message, Mr Freeman explains the case will represent both straight couples seeking civil partnership and gay couples seeking to get married.

Apparently he already has three gay couples and two straight couples "on board", and wants one more "reliable, media-friendly, committed London-based mixed-sex couple" who are "willing to apply and be turned down for a civil partnership" and then join the ECHR discrimination case.

June house price boon

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April data from the Land Registry House Price Index shows an annual house price increase of 8.5 per cent, which is the sixth month in a row in which the movement has been above nought per cent.

NDSThe average house price in England and Wales is now £165,596. The monthly change from March to April is a rise of 0.2 per cent.

All regions in England and Wales experienced increases in their average property values over the last 12 months. The region with the most significant annual price change was London with an increase of 14.8 per cent. The region with the smallest annual price rise was Yorkshire & The Humber with a movement of 0.7 per cent.

The North East experienced the greatest monthly rise with a movement of 3.1 per cent. Yorkshire & The Humber is the region with the most significant monthly price fall with a movement of -2.2 per cent.

Coalition Promises New 'Right To Data'

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The Prime Minister has outlined plans to make Government more transparent and allow people to hold ministers and public services to account.

In his , David Cameron said he would "rip off the cloak of secrecy" surrounding Government information and help to rebuild trust in politics by establishing a new "right to data".

As a first step, details of public spending over the past 12 months, information about hospital infections and some of the salaries of senior Whitehall officials will be published next week.

Legislative Outlook 2010-11 (Part 6 of 6)

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[Continued from ]

(9) Taxation

(a) National Insurance Contributions Bill

The purpose of the Bill is to increase rates of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) - from April 2011 by 1%, in line with the previous government's plans. The Bill will also, however, increase the NICs threshold. Consequently, employers and most employees will pay no more NICs than they are currently, and people earning under £20,000 will actually pay less.

(b) Emergency Budget: 22nd June 2010

An emergency Budget on 22 June will set out the coalition plans to eliminate the bulk of the UK structural deficit over the course of the Parliament.