Welcome to the Lawyer Portal Monthly News for June 2021. This month, Derek Chauvin has been charged with 22 years for the murder of George Floyd, an NHS nurse wins landmark victory in employment court for working mothers, legal experts worldwide have drafted a definition of “ecocide”, prominent name in the theatre and music industry Andrew Lloyd Webber takes legal action over government delays in bringing back live events post-Covid and Germany lawmakers have approved changes to allow descendants of Nazi victims to be able to obtain citizenship.
The former police officer, Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of the murder of George Floyd in 2020, has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. The judge in the case cited that the sentence handed down was based on his “abuse of position of trust” and the “particular cruelty shown” to victim George Floyd. Derek Chauvin has also been banned from owning firearms for the rest of his life and ordered to register as a predatory offender.
Mr Floyd’s family have welcomed the sentence as an indicator that police brutality is beginning to be taken seriously but warned that this should only be the beginning of a long road of change ahead. The BBC has reported that despite offering condolences to the family, Mr Chauvin did not apologise.
Gemma Dobson, who was left unemployed after being fired by an NHS trust in Cumbria after she was unable to work flexibly due to child-care commitments, has won an appeal stating that employment tribunals must take childcare disparity into account. Ms. Dobson was originally unsuccessful at tribunal arguing unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination but has won at further appeal. In his written statement, the President of the employment appeal tribunal, Mr Justice Choudhury, argued that disparity between men and women in caring for their children must be accounted for where relevant at an employment tribunal.
The case will now be reconsidered by the employment tribunal. The NHS Trust has declined to comment at this stage but has clarified that the panel at appeal did not confirm or deny whether Ms Dobson’s dismissal was unfair or discriminatory.
Read about the latest legal hot topics in our overview
Legal Hot Topics
A draft law has been drawn up defining “ecocide” for the first time which will enable the International Criminal Court to prosecute grave offences against the environment. “Ecocide” is defined in the law as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.” If this is adopted by the International Criminal Court, it would become the fifth offence that this particular court prosecutes – alongside war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and crimes of aggression. Potential examples of this crime include oil spills, major deforestation, and the killing of protected species.
A group of names in the creative industries including theatre great Andrew Lloyd Webber are taking action to force the government to publish the results of its live event pilot scheme to get the ball rolling on a return to live events as we move out of Covid-19 restrictions.
The Events and Research Programme (ERP) is allowing test events to go forward including the FA Cup Final, the Download Festival and the Brit Awards. The results were expected towards the end of June but were delayed without any clear explanation. The BBC reports that the delay could lead to about 5,000 live music events being cancelled as well as theatre productions. These cancellations undoubtedly lead to a huge loss of income.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that they understood the frustration, but were helping creative industries through it. Despite this, it has been questioned why the Euro Finals and Wimbledon can go ahead with close to full capacity audiences within the pilot scheme, but other shows have to be cancelled. Alongside this, the same group of people are calling for a government insurance fund to protect live events in the summer from the risk of cancellation.
Under new German laws, it will be easier for descendants of those who fled Nazi persecution to obtain citizenship. Current German law allows those stripped of their citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds to have their status as citizens restored as well as allowing their descendants to obtain citizenship. However, there were problems within the legislation that prevented many people applying for and benefitting from such a law. Now there will be a more solid legal framework for appealing applications which may be rejected for citizenship.
The new law also prevents citizenship from being afforded to those convicted of racist, anti-Semitic, or xenophobic acts. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer stated that this change is about “apologizing in profound shame” to those whose ancestors lost so much, as well as clarifying the legal position.
Words by: Alicia Gibson
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