On 11 December 2019, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, hailed “Europe’s man on the moon moment”. She was referring to the European Green Deal. The deal is an unprecedented plan, spearheaded by von der Leyen and her Vice-President Frans Timmermans, to transform the EU’s 27 Member States into a region defined by its sustainable development and low carbon economy. It charts a course for the EU bloc to be carbon neutral by 2050. But for this to happen, a lot will have to change.
The UK is in the process of finding out what Brexit really means. The result of the 2016 EU referendum is being decided by talks between 100 EU negotiators and their 100 British counterparts. What will these negotiators make of Brexit? Where will there be compromises? Who will get the best deal?
Cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to act as a medium of exchange. It can be used to secure financial transactions, verify asset transfers, and control the creation of additional units. The popularity of cryptocurrencies have sparked several debates on whether they can be considered “real property” in the eyes of the law. This debate is important to consider because if a dispute arose regarding crypto assets, ruling authorities would find it difficult to resolve the matter without any legal certainty or classification of cryptocurrency.
Many have hailed data as the new oil. In half a century the internet has rapidly invaded the lives of its 4.33bn users which has created a new widespread commodity: data. According to the World Economic Forum, the planet produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of it every day. As the capacity of data analytics software has advanced, so has the profitability of collecting large quantities of data. For example, personal data (information not limited to: your health records, banking providers and products, location, beliefs and personal preferences) is worth a lot to advertisers who can use it to specifically target a desired audience. Deriving value from data has helped to create powerful world tech leaders. Some of the most valuable companies in the world (by market value) are tech companies like Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon and Facebook, collectively referred to as GAFAM companies. These companies’ business models are, at least in part, driven by the monetisation of data, which they collect and sell to various buyers.
Law firms are under increasing pressure to introduce more innovative fee arrangements for their clients rather than using the traditional “billable hour” (BH) model. The BH operates by simply multiplying the number of hours worked on a client’s case by the solicitor’s hourly rate. Solicitors log their work time in 6-minute increments via time tracking software, and are expected to bill between 5-7.5 hours a day.
Whilst “Dieselgate” is old news to many, the Volkswagen (VW) scandal has recently resurfaced in the media as six German executives have been charged with “deliberately misleading” authorities and customers. Almost half a million German consumers are still awaiting compensation from the fraudulent car manufacturer for installing cheat devices to pass emission tests. The scandal rocked the world in 2015, outraging environmentally conscious consumers for the abject disregard of the environment and emissions regulations. This global case has transformed collective redress in Europe and exposed not only Volkswagen but also other car manufacturers such as Audi and Porsche.
In light of author Stephen King’s decision to quit Facebook, as the company continues to permit political advertising, LittleLaw looks into political advertising online, what social media giants (like Twitter and Facebook) are doing about it, and whether government intervention, including regulation, is needed.
Since early June there have been protests in Hong Kong in response to a proposed bill which would allow extradition to China for crimes such as murder and rape. Extradition is the act of sending an individual back to the country or state in which a crime was committed. This is especially controversial due to the “special status” of Hong Kong which is a result of the “One Country, Two Systems” framework; a framework which gives Hong Kong an element of autonomy from China. Whilst the bill has now been formally withdrawn, it is unlikely to quell the anger of the protesters.
The legal services industry is undergoing significant disruption in a variety of areas. As pressure builds on firms to cut fees on low-value work, mergers between mid-market firms have shaken up the traditional City hierarchy. The boom in legal technology has irreversibly altered the legal landscape and it continues to demand unprecedented volumes of investment. Clients increasingly expect firms to automate lower-level work and focus their fee-earners on higher-value services. All of these developments necessitate significant up-front capital. Some firms, in their experiments with different business models, are choosing to go public.