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Archive for the ‘Prominent Cases’ Category

Parking Fine Could go to Supreme Court

April 25, 2015 by Kelly No Comments »

Recently, the matter of parking penalties in private car parks has been subject to no shortage of controversy amid claims that these are excessive and not legally justified. Now one parking ticket under dispute may be heading to the Supreme Court, in a case which could establish whether these kinds of fine are indeed enforceable under common law or not.

The parking ticket in question has a value of £85, and was handed to chip shop owner Barry Beavis by car park operator ParkingEye. Beavis received the fine when he parked in a private car park with a two hour limit and left his car in place for nearly three hours.

The controversies surrounding these parking tickets and the matter of whether they are justified, valid and enforceable have largely revolved around the value of said tickets. These penalties tend to be very much greater than the legitimate costs of parking in the car park, and therefore much greater than any commercial loss suffered by car park operators. Often, they exceed any actual losses incurred by the motorist overstaying by many orders of magnitude – leading some to criticise them as extremely heavy-handed and others to question whether they can be legally upheld as proportionate to the offence and its impact on the car park operator.

However, Court of Appeal Judges looking at the case of ParkingEye v Beavis decided this week that the penalty issued by the operator was neither “extravagant nor unconscionable.” The judges believed that ParkingEye had not only commercial justifications on its side in handing down the £85 fine to Beavis, but also social justifications. The latter includes the boost that free parking can bring to local economies – something the judges felt must be protected with effective deterrents to prevent motorists from overstaying in such car parks and therefore keeping others from being able to use them.

Beavis was unhappy with this decision. Harcus Sinclair, the London legal firm representing him, has applied for the case to be taken to the Supreme Court for a final and absolute decision.

The executive director of consumer group Which?, Richard Lloyd, responded to the most recent ruling by saying that this decision could potentially “water down the law” on the issue of penalty charges issued by private firms. For example, Lloyd expressed concern that this decision might encourage companies such as mobile phone operators to start introducing hefty penalties for ending a contract early.

Which? has actively intervened in the case of ParkingEye v Beavis and, according to Lloyd, “given the possible ramifications of this case for all consumers, we will be looking to intervene again in the Supreme Court hearing.”

 

US “Pick up Artist” Denied Entry to UK

November 20, 2014 by Kelly No Comments »

Following a large-scale campaign and a petition amassing over 150,000 signatures, the government has decided to bar controversial US “pick up artist” Julien Blanc from entering the UK in order to hold seminars. In his seminars, Blanc teaches men how to seduce and bed women using tactics which many people have lambasted as abusive.

One Liberal Democrat MP who opposed the idea of allowing Blanc and his company Real Social Dynamics to hold seminars in the UK described some of the statements made by Blanc as “sexist and utterly abhorrent.” Lynne Featherstone,  Minister of State for the Home Office and MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, went on to say that “if [blanc] was allowed to perform in the UK I have no doubt that cases of sexual harassment and intimidation would increase.”

Blanc’s controversial teachings encourage men to play on women’s insecurities in order to persuade them into sex. Blanc has also drawn particular attention for one seminar where, talking about “picking up” women in Tokyo he said that white men could “do what they want” and said he was “romping through the street just grabbing girls, just like, head… on the dick.” This was accompanied by a video of him literally grabbing women on the street and pushing their heads towards his groin. There is now a campaign in Japan to keep him from returning, much like that recently seen in the UK.

Perhaps most shockingly of all, Blanc has even advocated intimidation and physical choking as a “seduction” tactic. He has gone so far as to share multiple photographs of himself choking women as part of his “pick up” efforts. This has inspired Twitter users to highlight such photographs, originally shared by Blanc himself, with the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundtheWorld.

In a similar vein, he linked to a chart from his Twitter account that depicted signs of domestic abuse. The chart (pictured right), which was not created by Blanc and was intended to help people identify abusive relationships, included acts of sexual and physical violence along with coercive and threatening behaviour and methods of emotional manipulation, including threats using children. Blanc said that the chart “may as well be a checklist” followed by the hashtag #HowToMakeHerStay.

It is within the Home Secretary’s powers to exclude an individual from the country if allowing them to enter the country would not be “conducive to the public good.” It was on these grounds that the decision was made to deny Blanc a visa to enter the UK and hold his seminars here. This followed similar decisions from other countries such as Australia, as the seminars were intended to form part of an international tour.

On US television station CNN Blanc said “I just want to apologize, you know, to anybody I’ve offended in any way.”

 

House Arrest for Russian Billionaire

September 23, 2014 by admin No Comments »

One of Russia’s top billionaires, Vladimir Yevtushenkov was placed under house arrest on Tuesday this week while an investigation into money laundering charges against him is completed. Yevtushenkov is the head of Sistema holding company, which owns the Bashneft oil company in Bashkiria and is Russia’s 15th richest man with an estimate personal fortune of $9 billion.

Russia’s top investigative agency, The Federal Investigative Committee said that it had launched its probe into the 65 year old billionaire because it had “sufficient grounds to believe that AFK Sistema board chairman Vladimir Yevtushenkov is involved in the legalisation of property acquired by criminal means.” Legalisation of property is a phrase used to describe money laundering.

There are however a number of Russian commentators and business men who have drawn attention to the parallels between this case and that of the politically motivated moves against the former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who ended up spending a whole decade in jail while his firm, Yukos, was dismantled by the Russian state.

The main beneficiary of the Yukos affair was Rosneft, the oil giant with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and they have been eager to acquire Bashneft assets since early this year. With the Investigative Committee reporting directly to the President, the similarities between the two cases have been striking, and the authorities are keen to play down any appearance of history repeating itself.

Nevertheless, news of Yevtushenkov’s arrest spread rapidly through Moscow’s political and business circles, prompting uncertainty at a time when confidence in the Russian economy is wavering.

The head of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Alexander Shokhin, was quick to highlight the parallels with the Yukos affair when he talked to the Interfax news agency, going so far as to label it “Yukos 2”.

Yukos used to be Russia’s biggest oil company but was broken up after being forced into bankruptcy in 2003, when Khodorkovsky was arrested. Vladimir Putin had warned the growing class of oligarchs to stay out of politics, and the asset stripping of Yukos was seen at the time as a solid strike against them. The most profitable parts of Yukos were snapped up at a reduced price by Rosneft, which was a minor player in the oil industry at the time, and by other state companies in opaque auctions.

Khodorkovsky was released from prison last year, and now lives in Switzerland in what has been described as a self-imposed exile, while Rosneft is directly controlled by Igor Sechin, a top lieutenant of President Putin, who is widely believed to have orchestrated Yukos’ dismantling and Khodorkovsky’s downfall.

 

Appeal granted in paralysed RAF man’s compensation claim

December 2, 2013 by admin No Comments »

Robert Uren, 24, sought and won in the region of £6 million in compensation after a long legal battle, appeal and High Court Ruling in his favour in February this year.  The case is now, however, said to be under appeal and his compensation under threat.

The former RAF technician became wheel-chair bound after being paralysed from the waist down, and he also suffers severe spasms.  He sustained these injuries after fracturing three vertebrae in his neck while taking part in an ‘It’s a Knock-out’ style game at an organized event. The game involved jumping into a pool containing 18 inches of water to retrieve plastic fruit. There were rival teams competing and around half of the other competitors were diving into the water in the same manner as Mr. Uren.

Mr Uren took legal action against the Ministry of Defence, for holding the event and Corporate Leisure (UK) Ltd, for providing the inflatable equipment. The compensation claim stems from Mr. Uren believing that the Ministry of Defence and event organisers were to blame for encouraging him, and others, to take part in a dangerous event, one which proved catastrophic for him. Mr Justice Foskett ruled in favour of Mr Uren, stating that the MOD and event organisers were liable for the injuries sustained by Mr Uren as the risk assessment was fatally flawed. He also commented that steps could have been taken to remove the risk of serious injury such as issuing safety instructions.

By ruling in favour of Mr Uren, the door was opened for his compensation claim of £6 million, which it is argued he needs in order to have the lifelong support and assistance that is required for his injuries. Orginally, Mr Uren received a lump sum of over £200,000 from the Compensation Scheme provided by the Armed Forces, and he also received a military pension and an annual payment from the compensation scheme.  This has, however, been described as inadequate as it is not enough to fund suitable accommodation, transportation, equipment and therapies that he now needs after his injuries were sustained.

 

Defence of ‘Marital Coercion’ under Question after Pryce Trial

April 2, 2013 by admin No Comments »

On Sunday 31st March 2013, the justice secretary Chris Grayling stated the government are considering whether to abolish the defence of ‘martial coercion’, which was unsuccessfully used by Vicky Pryce in her trial regarding speeding points she adopted on behalf of her husband.

The defence of marital coercion is only available for a wife and dates back to 1925 however there have been recommendations to abolish it since 1977 considering it illogical to have a defence only open to married women. This archaic defence is now deemed to be in conflict with gender equality. Marital coercion dates back to a time women did not have equal rights and were dependent upon their spouse. Vicky Pryce was a well-educated woman who was a notable economist and as such hiding behind her status as a wife in order to avoid criminal liability for her actions is an out of date concept, conflicting with the key principle of presumption of innocence within article6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. It has been argued that there is no justification left for a law which states married women are more likely to be coerced than men or unmarried women.

The government are currently considering reforms to gay marriage laws, and it is deemed this defence would also be at conflict with this due to it only being available to a woman. It is believed the defence will be removed when gay marriage legislation comes into place.

There are many who have argued this defence is not appropriate for modern circumstances as we are now in a society where women are financially independent of their husbands and therefore are less susceptible to coercion. It is also out of touch in terms of same-sex couples. Despite the advice of the Law Commission to abolish the defence of marital coercion, it is believed by some that action will not be taken unless there is political gain involved.