The world watched in amazement as the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfolded in Hollywood. For good reason too, as this was the beginning of the storm that proved to spare no industry. First it shook Hollywood, then the hospitality industry, then the charity sector, Parliament, and now it has reached BigLaw: another one that has exceeded its period of immunity.
Mr Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, recently announced that he would not be seeking a second term in office as the UN’s human rights chief. In a heart-rending indictment of the world’s commitment to the protection of human rights, he articulated that: “To do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication… lessening the independence and integrity of my voice — which is your voice.”
Promoting international cooperation for human rights, playing the leading role on human rights issues and giving practical effect to the will of the international community to protect human rights are axiomatic to the fundamental tenets of the office Mr al-Hussein represents. Yet, despite being the first Arab Muslim to be elected by the UN General Assembly to the OHCHR, heralded as a global symbol for the protection of human rights, he is right to feel he has come up short. Continue reading
Over the past few years, it is undeniable that western politics has experienced several unpredicted events and general upheaval. Few pollsters predicted the election of President Trump or Brexit. Across Europe, other countries such as France and Spain have grappled with equally divisive elections and secession. But this article will not address these landmark events. It will rather attempt to illuminate the accompanying effects that these momentous decisions will have had on the trust that we the people hold in legal institutions, such as the judiciary and parliament, with examples chiefly from the UK and the USA. These two nations are useful to discuss, given the increased bipolarisation of the political alliances their voters hold and the ongoing populistic “culture wars” that recent votes seem to have exacerbated, thus causing the uproars against legal institutions that we have observed. Continue reading
On the 12th December 2017 Theresa May wrote an opinion piece in the Guardian which began ‘[t]ackling climate change and mitigating its effect for the world’s poorest are among the most critical challenges that we face’. I have found that the more reverberant texts on this theme include the sober reminder that we face an unprecedented environmental crisis already responsible for high levels of human suffering. If air pollution, solid waste deposition and soil erosion continue at the current rate, we, as a species won’t last long. Separated only artificially, humans are to the Earth what waves are to the ocean. Once these concepts are appreciated, a need to overlook the inherent irony and pursue any opportunity to make reparations becomes apparent. In this light, the prospect of an Environmental Court, capable of building a coherent body of jurisprudence and specialist expertise, being set up after Brexit, should be discussed. This level of reform seems proportionate if the Government of the day is to be held to account; something especially important considering that a post-referendum YouGov poll found that 4 of 5 adults back maintaining or strengthening levels of environmental protection when the UK leaves the EU. Continue reading
Whether you believe bitcoin to be pure genius or a calamity, it has captured the minds of professionals and laymen alike. A cryptocurrency founded in 2009, bitcoin offers an online, decentralised, peer to peer payment system worldwide. Founded on a backdrop of optimism, bitcoin sought to revolutionise monetary exchanges. The decentralised system allows for anyone to access the currency with an internet connection. Statistics show that 2.2 billion users of the internet have difficultly accessing stable traditional exchange systems, (e.g. banks) due to factors such as hyperinflation, a lack of economic resources and corruption. Bitcoin provides an easy to use platform to quickly transfer money to others. However, the situation is all but black and white; while top CEO Elon Musk says “bitcoin is probably a good thing”, billionaire investors such as Warren Buffet “wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not around in 10 or 20 years”. While bitcoin economics alone is fascinating, bitcoin also crosses into the legal sphere. Bitcoin is illegal in Morocco, Bolivia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Furthermore, concerns over increases in black-market transactions have been raised. In order to understand the legal issues, it is fundamental to understand the socio-economic factors that have contoured the laws and regulations we see today. Continue reading
The expanding ‘gig economy’ is radically changing the job market in the UK and presenting new challenges to policy makers in seeking to guarantee both a wide availability of work, as well as providing job quality and security for employees. Uber, alongside other large firms such as Deliveroo, operate through an app whereby drivers work flexibly and are paid per ‘gig’ (job). Uber has made clear through their strict legal strategy that they recognise their employees as ‘self-employed’ service providers in an agency arrangement. However, firms that operate under this business model are increasingly under serious threat from legal challenges; for example, claims against Uber have successfully highlighted the poor treatment of their ‘workers’ who are denied fundamental employment rights. Continue reading
This was the statement that was met by cheers, applause and approval from a sea of people propping up ‘VOTE CONSERVATIVE’ signs. It was delivered unfalteringly of course, an important part of responding to a series of terrorist attacks that had claimed lives and shaken a nation. Theresa May’s words however went one step beyond reassurance. She did not create a narrative explaining why British-born citizens were pandering to extremist views. She did not explain why the Westminster Bridge, Manchester, London Bridge, Borough Market and Finsbury Park attackers fell through the cracks of her Prevent duty. In other words, she did not look back and evaluate her current policy. She did not attempt to see beyond ‘ideology’ as the undercurrent of these attacks. Instead, she told us that laws were dispensable. Continue reading