Bob Diamond, former chief executive of Barclays Bank, is one of the senior members who have been denied anonymity in the upcoming UK Libor banking scandal trial. The scandal, which involved collusion on interest and trading rates, is one of many to have rocked the industry in recent years. Diamond, along with fellow executive John Varley and head of investment banking Rich Ricci, attempted to keep their names out of the papers ahead of the trial. In total, 104 people appealed for anonymity, without success.
The legal challenge to disclose the names came from the Telegraph newspaper group, with associated media groups backing the challenge. In the light of recent rulings and speculation on press freedom this will be seen by many as a major success story. The judge also awarded the Telegraph, and others involved, their costs for challenging the ruling.
Guardian Care Homes seeks £38m
The case is brought after Guardian Care Homes, which was sold a product linked to the Libor rate, claimed £38m in damages after it challenged the Libor rate as being ‘unfair’. The sheer breadth of collusion between banks in setting a rate that influenced certain areas of trading in no small manner has been revealing in the extreme. Banks are already under scrutiny after the disastrous payment protection insurance (PPI) scandal, the biggest in history affecting the UK banking industry.
Barclays took a dim view of the decision, announcing: “This started as an alleged mis-selling case which the bank considers has no merit. The addition of a claim based on what happened with Libor does not change the bank’s view. The fact that someone’s documents were reviewed by the bank during its review of millions of documents does not mean that such person was involved in any wrongdoing.”
The Community Legal Services (CLS) grant, which currently funds the Advice Services Alliance, Law Centres Network and the Royal Courts of Justice CAB will soon come to an end. The consultation paper which proposed the abolition of the grant in July 2012, stated that the Legal Services Commission (LSC) were to seek further views on this proposal. The CLS grant which was created in 2000 under direction by the Lord Chancellor will cease from 1st April 2013 the LSC has announced. The grant has funded many projects and clients who do not satisfy the legal aid criteria. The LSC has said that the decision to stop the funds was taken ‘in light of the future impacts of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act on legal aid, financial pressures and the LSC’s current priorities’.
In April last year three currently funded organisations were granted an extension of one year after their three year grant funding arrangement came to an end. The CLS grant has provided a total sum of £4,336,723 since 2008. It is estimated that by ending funds to these organisations £655,317 could be saved each year. The main purpose for funding the Advice Services Alliance according to the consultation paper was to provide ‘a national policy voice for the not for profit advice sector and to provide support and guidance to not for profit organisations holding LSC contracts’. The aim of the grant was also to assist the Law Centres through legal aid reforms and to improve the quality of services delivered.
The Royal Courts of Justice CAB currently deals with 2,000 clients per year. Chief Executive Alison Lamb said ‘It’s ironic that we’re struggling to keep the service going when we know that the number of self-represented litigants will increase dramatically with the legal aid cuts in April.’ The LSC had provided the organisation with the grant in order to provide access to justice for self-represented parties. Alison Lamb had also said that the organisation is trying to secure funding from the Ministry of Justice who has recently provided the organisation with funding of £75,000 for self-represented parties. The LSC is now of the view that alternative methods of funding can be provided. Picture from The Guardian:
The controversial use of unmanned attack drones in war zones across the world has come under intense scrutiny, with the United Nations announcing it is to look closely at the use of the machines in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The investigation will be into both US and UK drones, which it is claimed have inflicted casualties on civilians in many attacks. The unmanned drones are remotely controlled, and many see them as the future of aerial warfare.
The UN has selected between 20 or 30 strikes to examine in detail, and will focus on possible civilian casualties with a view to the severity and ability to avoid such. This is a serious blow to the military which has long maintained that unmanned drones are accurate, and pointed to the fact they do not endanger the life of a pilot in carrying out necessary strategic raids.
Both the US and the IK military have called strikes with drones ‘justified’, and are keen to highlight how the technology can be used quickly and efficiently without endangering the lives of servicemen. However, it is with the alleged civilian casualties that the enquiry is concerned, and it is on this that the investigation will focus. The work will be carried out under the guidance of Ben Emmerson, QC, who had the following to say:
“One of the fundamental questions is whether aerial targeting using drones is an appropriate method of conflict … where the individuals are embedded in a local community. One of the questions we will be looking at is whether, given the local demography, aerial attacks carry too high a risk of a disproportionate number of civilian casualties. The explosion of drone technology [raises the question whether] the military dependence on UAVs carries an unacceptably high risk of civilian casualties.”
The current E.U. data protection laws have been in place for nearly 20 years. Some lawmakers feel that these laws may not offer the necessary protections to European citizens. They proposed revisions to the existing laws recently in a meeting in Dublin.
Most lawmakers have supported the privacy and well-being of citizens who use various forums and social networking sites. However, many politicians are concerned with some of the proposals in the new bill.
The proposal stipulates that citizens could erase some of the details that businesses collected on them from some websites. This could prevent these websites from some of the targeted marketing strategies that are directed towards them. The existing laws don’t address consumer data mining strategies, because the Commission passed them before the Internet became a mainstream medium of communication.
Some lawmakers said that the proposals are interesting and can benefit many people throughout the country. However, they will need to weight the interests of citizens against the needs of businesses.
Lawmakers recognize that they have to take the needs of both groups into consideration, which means that they will be hard-pressed to find an equitable solution anytime soon. Discussions are expected to continue through the end of the year. Some lawmakers expect that changes to the law could be passed by the beginning of 2014, but a few legal challenges may curtail their efforts to come to an agreement within the specified timeframe.
A number of privacy advocates said that changes to the law would benefit both consumers and businesses. Justice commissioner Viviane Reding said that many consumers are distrustful of businesses. Reding said that consumers will be more open to working with businesses if they understand how their personal data will be used and are allowed to have it retracted.
The bill has received support from Estonia, France, Ireland and Austria. Other countries have some concerns about the new legislation. They hope that they will all be able to come to an agreement over the next year.