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

June 2014 Archives

A group of more than 90 people, including celebrities, politicians, lawyers and medical experts have written a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a review of the laws on drugs, reports the BBC.

The letter, drafted by drug charity Release, calls on the Government to consider a change in the law so that the possession of any drug is no longer a crime, freeing authorities to focus on the supply chain.

The payday loan company Wonga has been ordered to pay £2.6m in compensation after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found they had used fake law firms to chase customers in debt, reports the BBC.

The payday loan market has soared in the wake of the credit crunch, with companies such as Wonga thriving on demand for quick access to small quantities of cash to tide borrowers over until payday.

In fact Wonga is the largest company in the sector in the UK, making about 4m loans to its customers in 2012.

Liverpool FC considers extraordinary legal action

Liverpool Football Club are taking legal advice after star striker Luis Suarez was banned from all football activity for four months by the world football governing body FIFA for biting an opponent during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, reports The Independent.

The Uruguay forward shocked the footballing world this week after being caught on camera sinking his teeth into the shoulder of opponent Georgio Chiellini in his side's last group game against Italy. 

Government believes 48,000 have obtained visas by fraud

The Government estimates that as many as 48,000 people may have fraudulently obtained the language certificates necessary to obtain a visa, despite being unable to speak English to an appropriate standard, reports the BBC.

It was widely known that the English language requirements for a UK visa were being bypassed by some students who arrived on UK higher education courses with a poor grasp of English.

However, now the true scale of the problem has been disclosed to Parliament by Immigration Minister James Brokenshire. 

Dutch firm markets the world's first e-cannabis cigarette

A Dutch business has become the world's first to market an electric cannabis cigarette, following in the footsteps of the success of e-cigarettes, reports the Metro.

E-cigarettes have taken the market by storm, offering those wishing to quit smoking conventional cigarettes an alternative to traditional chewing gums and patches with a vaporiser powered by battery.

The devices have proved popular with consumers who can use the devices indoors, enjoy having something to hold in the hand, and can even charge the devices from in-car chargers or from a USB port on a laptop. 

The phone-hacking trial reached a dramatic conclusion yesterday as a jury found former News of the World Editor Rebekah Brooks innocent of all charges, but convicted her former lover and former Tory Head of Communications Andy Coulson, guilty of conspiring to hack phones, reports the BBC.

The phone-hacking scandal burst into the public consciousness after it emerged that journalists at the former Sunday newspaper the News of the World had been hacking the voicemails of victims of crimes and the families of war veterans. 

Government plans new laws against discrimination in schools

The UK Government has announced plans to introduce new laws designed to combat discrimination in schools, and will also legislate to ensure schools challenge religious prejudice and homophobia, reports the BBC.

A consultation document produced by the Department for Education will sound out plans to challenge schools to do more to take on discriminatory views held by students, staff and parents.

The announcement comes in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal involving some schools in Birmingham, which have suffered from allegations that hardline Muslim extremists were attempting to import radical ideology into British schools.

Journalists shocked by Egypt sentence

Two UK journalists have expressed their shock after being sentenced by an Egyptian court to ten years in prison for a charge of 'falsifying the news', reports the BBC.

The two journalists were convicted in absentia of 'falsifying news' along with three colleagues working at the Al-Jazeera news network.

Sue Turton and Dominic Kane responded to the sentence by saying there had been a miscarriage of justice. Both have avoided jail as they are not in Egypt at present and were tried in absentia. 

Gay marriage: Canon Jeremy Pemberton loses clergy rights

A gay clergyman who became the first in the UK to be married under new same-sex marriage legislation has had permissions to carry out various roles curtailed by the Church of England, reports the BBC.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 allowed same-sex marriages to be conducted in the UK for the first time, with ceremonies beginning in earnest earlier in 2014.

The law prohibits the Churches of England and Wales from performing any such services, and provides the Churches with protection from legal challenges for discrimination under equality law. 

American customer sues British Airways over flight error

An American customer of British Airways is suing the airline in an American court hoping to recover damages after being taken to Grenada in the Caribbean instead of Granada in Spain by mistake, reports The Independent.

Edward Gamson is an American citizen of Spanish-Jewish heritage, who has a passion for Islamic art.

Mr Gamson and his partner had saved for two years to afford first-class tickets to Granada, the capital of Moorish Spain located in modern-day Andalucia. 

The UK Government has confirmed that UK intelligence agencies are permitted by law to spy on people's use of websites such as Google search and Facebook without a specific warrant in a move that is likely to anger privacy campaigners, reports the BBC.

Charles Farr, the Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), told a court hearing that communications over the internet using servers based abroad were 'external communications' and were therefore capable of interception without a specific warrant.

The disclosure confirms that UK intelligence agencies are operating within what the UK Government believes is the law when or if they intercept communications on Facebook, or when they monitor individuals' use of Google search or web-based email.

US issues sanctions against Uganda over anti-gay laws

The United States has instigated a programme of sanctions against Uganda for failing to reverse recently created anti-homosexuality laws, saying that such laws are against human rights, reports the BBC.

The White House said that it would impose sanctions against the East African nation after it passed anti-homosexuality laws earlier this year that allow for a life sentence for 'aggravated homosexuality'.

The climate in Uganda has shifted dramatically against rights for gay, lesbian and bisexual people. National papers have published lists of openly gay people in a bid to stir up hatred among the population.

A report by Lord Bonomy into the way babies are cremated in Scotland has recommended that new laws be enacted to protect bereaved families, reports the BBC.

The commission, chaired by Lord Bonomy, was looking into cremation practices in Scotland after a number of incidents in which families were left completely unaware of what had happened to the remains of their deceased child.

The problem first emerged in Edinburgh, the BBC reports, but has since also been brought up as an issue in Aberdeen, Fife and Glasgow.

Popular skiing instructor Simon Butler found guilty in France

A popular British skiing instructor has been found guilty in France of teaching without a proper qualification, and has been ordered to pay a €30,000 fine or face 200 days in prison, reports the Daily Mail.

Simon Butler has been running skiing courses in the resort of Megève in France for 32 years, offering a service popular with British clients and others who enjoy his experienced service.

However, Mr Butler was shocked back in February after he was arrested on a chair lift in a resort by authorities claiming he was guilty of teaching without a proper qualification - something he says is a trumped up charge brought by 'racist' officials to keep a rival British instructor off their slopes.

Doctors have legal duty to consult over resuscitation

The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that doctors in Cambridge acted illegally when they imposed a Do Not Attempt Resuscitation order (DNAR) on a 63-year-old woman, in a ruling that will impose new legal requirements on doctors, reports The Independent.

The Court of Appeal was asked to rule on a legal challenge brought by the relatives of 63-year-old Janet Tracey, who died at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge in February 2011.

Mrs Tracey was suffering from advanced lung cancer, and was admitted after being involved in a serious car accident that left her with a broken neck.

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has revealed how a judicial review into the decision to bury Richard III's recently discovered remains in Leicester where they were found will cost the taxpayer £175,000.

The remains of King Richard III of England were discovered buried underneath a car park in Leicester in September 2012, after a lengthy search by a project entitled 'Looking for Richard' and coordinated by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services.

The remains were found in what is believed to be the site of the old Greyfriars Church, and showed that the King had died on the battlefield from mortal wounds to his skull probably inflicted by a sword and a halberd.

New law to come into force making forced marriage a crime

The UK Government has brought a new criminal law into force that will make it a criminal offence to force someone to marry against their will, reports the BBC.

Forced marriages remain a reality for thousands of people in the UK, many relating to young girls and women from South Asian countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

However, not all cases involved women, with 18% of victims of male gender.

Adidas angry as star players turn out in rival kit

Sportswear giant Adidas are said to be furious that England players have been allowed to wear Nike clothing in their free time at the World Cup, despite the fact that Adidas are a title sponsor, reports the Daily Mail.

The row centres on the England players wearing Nike garments during their leisure time.

Nike are the official kit sponsor of England, and as such England players are contractually obliged to wear Nike kit on the pitch and in training. Adidas know there is little they can do about this situation.

Chancellor says law to cap mortgages won't happen soon

The Chancellor George Osborne told those gathered at the Mansion House speeches last night that whilst the surging housing market was a concern, a law to cap the size of mortgage loans was not the first 'tool in the box', reports the BBC.

Mr Osborne and the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, were addressing attendees at the Mansion House speeches, held at the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London.

The speeches come in a year when economic growth has begun to out-perform many predictions, with figures released this week showing yet another fall in unemployment numbers.

An Australian restaurant has won a court battle for a libel claim against a newspaper's scathing review, reports The Telegraph.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper is at the heart of the dispute brought by the Sydney waterside restaurant, Coco Roco.

Coco Roco was reviewed by the Herald's critic Matthew Evans back in 2003. Mr Evans was disappointed with the food he had eaten, describing it in his column as 'outstandingly dull', and recommending that readers of his column 'stay home'.

The Government seems to have given the nod to 'driverless' vehicle technology after it emerged the Highway Code is to be rewritten to accommodate the use of driverless vehicles, reports The Telegraph.

The market for driverless vehicles is still yet to be established, but the reality of cars that can drive themselves took a huge step closer last month when Google revealed the latest version of its driverless car technology.

Google claims that their new driverless vehicle will have no steering wheel, pedals or gearstick, and will instead present passengers with a start button, a screen showing the route, and a button allowing them to request that the car pulls over.

British wife of Saudi King wins battle over legacy

The 'secret' British wife of a deceased Saudi King has won a legal battle over whether she can pursue his son for her share of his fortune, and has threatened to reveal the secrets of life living in his harem, reports the Daily Mail.

The story of Janan Harb is quite remarkable. She claims to have been married to the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia back in 1968.

Harb claims that the deceased King promised to support her financially for the rest of her life, and promised her a sum of £11m back in 2003, along with part-ownership of two apartments in London.

Britons launch legal case over Thalidomide medication

Eight Britons have launched a legal action against the manufacturers and distributors of the drug Thalidomide, after claims the drug caused them serious disability, reports the BBC.

Thalidomide was offered as a drug to mothers suffering from morning sickness in the 1950s and 1960s. It subsequently transpired that the drug was severely teratogenic, causing significant physical disabilities in the children of the mothers who were given the medication.

Babies born to mothers who had taken Thalidomide were born with limb defects, damaged eyes and ears and poorly developed internal organs.

Accountancy and audit practice Deloitte is set to become the last of the 'big four' audit firms to branch out into the provision of legal services, reports The Lawyer.

Deloitte has announced that it will engage a new chief of its Deloitte Legal division in a bid to draw up an action plan to launch legal services into the UK market in the near future.

The Lawyer reports that Piet Hein Meeter, the Amsterdam-based global managing director of Deloitte Legal appointed on 1 June 2014 has announced that growing his network into the UK market was a priority.

Child protection: Government promises new 'Cinderella' law

The Government has announced a new law to protect children from emotional abuse to help protect vulnerable children, which will form part of a Serious Crime Bill, reports the BBC.

The announcement formed part of last week's Queens' Speech at the State Opening of Parliament for the 2014/15 parliamentary session, the last session before the general election next May.

The Government has announced it will implement a new law dubbed the 'Cinderella law', designed to protect vulnerable children from serious emotional abuse.

Sponsors seek action from FIFA over Qatar bribery claim

Sponsors of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) have called on the World Cup organisers to fully investigate claims of bribery made in the Sunday Times against Qatar 2022, reports Reuters.

Adidas, Sony and Visa, sponsors of the FIFA World Cup, have called on the organisation to fully investigate claims of bribery made in the Sunday Times against the winning bid for the 2022 World Cup from Qatar.

The desert state beat competition from the USA, Japan, Australia and South Korea to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup, much to the huge surprise of all nations and other bidding teams.

Same-sex couples living in foreign countries will for the first time be able to marry, after British Consulates confirmed that they would permit ceremonies to take place on their property, reports the Telegraph.

Same-sex couples living in oppressive countries such as Russia and Azerbaijan will be permitted to tie the knot abroad after British Consulates confirmed that they would allow same-sex marriage ceremonies to take place on their premises.

The news will delight British citizens in same-sex relationships living abroad who would otherwise have had to travel back to the UK to get married.

Legal issues delay report into dangerous hospital practices

A report into allegedly dangerous practices at Colchester General Hospital faces a delay in publication due to legal issues, reports the BBC.

The report was compiled by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the body charged with inspecting all of the care facilities in England, including hospitals, dentist practices, care homes and GPs.

The inspection report claims that practices at the hospital were potentially putting patients' lives at risk, after it emerged that some staff told inspectors they were bullied into changing and falsifying patient data.

Planning: Family win legal fight over vegetable plot

Bradford Council have finally conceded defeat in a legal dispute with a family over their use of land annexed to their house to grow organic vegetables to feed their family, reports the Daily Mail.

Amanda Waidun and her partner Paul Garnett bought a disused plot of land behind their home from Bradford Council in 2010, with permission from the council to use the land for a 'private garden'.

The couple bought the land for £10,000, and set about spending another £30,000 converting the disused patch of grass into an organic, sustainable vegetable plot to grow produce to feed their growing family. They also bought in chickens to lay organic eggs.

Computer giant Google has launched a new service that allows European users to request that personal information about themselves be removed from search results, reports the BBC.

The so-called 'right to be forgotten' was effectively created after a recent high-profile EU court case, in which European judges ruled that a Spanish man should be allowed to have information about a previous repossession of his home removed.

The man, Mario Costeja Gonzalez, had argued that the search results detailing the fact that he had sold his home to pay debts more than 16 years ago amounted to a breach of his right to privacy.

Terror pheasant finally tamed by female

An aggressive pheasant that has terrorised visitors and other animals at a farm in Cambridgeshire has avoided legal censure after falling in love with a female, reports the BBC.

The farmer owner at Wood Farm in Cambridgeshire said that a male pheasant had arrived on the scene in March this year, and immediately caused a stir after attacking first her dog, then her.

Anne-Marie Hamilton was at her wits' end to know what to do with the troublesome bird.

Queen's Speech set to recognise good deeds with new law

The Queen is set to announce new legal provisions in the Queen's Speech that will protect those who perform good deeds from liability claims, reports the BBC.

The new law is designed to prevent those who offer their services to their community for free from later being subjected to legal claims against them for liabilities they incur whilst performing civic duties.

The Queen's Speech, which marks the state opening of Parliament for the 2014-15 session, is used by the government of the day to announce its legislative agenda for the forthcoming year.

Parents who use the old Child support Agency (CSA) system to manage child maintenance payments are to receive letters from the Department for Work and Pensions. These letters will tell the parents concerned - over 50,000 from locations throughout the UK - that if they make use of the new Child Maintenance Service (C MS) system and fail to come to an amicable agreement, they will find themselves facing extra fees.

There is a £20 registration fee for parents wishing to make use of the new service. However, if they choose to do so and then fail to do so and then cannot reach a solution between themselves, they may face further costs. If the Government has to intervene and collect payments, the parent making the payments (usually the father) will risk an extra 20% being added, while the parent receiving the money could face a 4% fee.

A family who suffered the devastating loss of two children from the poisoning effect of carbon monoxide whilst on holiday in Corfu have been granted legal aid for the inquest into their children's deaths, reports the BBC.

Robert Shepherd who was six years old, and Christianne Shepherd, seven, were killed by carbon monoxide fumes emitted by a faulty boiler whilst on holiday in Corfu back in 2006.

The family were staying together at the Corcyra Beach Hotel in Gouvia in Corfu when the tragedy occurred. Both parents were left unconscious by the toxic fumes, but whilst the parents recovered both children passed away.

Campaigning parents win legal battle over nursery cuts

A group of parents from Wales have won a High Court battle in their fight against cuts of the provision of nursery services in their local area, reports the BBC.

The parents are from Rhondda Cynon Taf and were in the High Court in London seeking a judicial review of the decision by their local council to put an end to full-time nursery education for young children.

The council had planned to put an end to full-time nursery education for three year olds, and to replace it with an offer of part-time education at age three, then full time from age four.