Published on July 3, 2017 by Laura

Welcome to another Lawyer Portal weekly news summary. This week’s post will cover the legal news stories from 26th June – 2nd July. This week, Donald Trump’s now infamous travel ban came into force in its revised form, there has been outrage as Kensington and Chelsea council cancelled a public meeting about the Grenfell tower tragedy, and DLA Piper has fallen victim to a cyber attack.

Donald Trump’s travel ban came into partial effect on Thursday. People travelling to the US will have to establish a “bona fide relationship” to an individual in the US. On Monday, after months of numerous legal battles, the US Supreme Court permitted parts of the travel ban to come into effect.

The 90-day ban applies to visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, while a 120-day ban applies to refugees. The relationship must be to close family relatives which excludes, among others, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law, and fiancés. Alternatively, visitors can prove a relationship to a US business or educational entity provided there is formal and “documented” evidence in support of this.

However, there is still confusion as to exactly how the words “bona fide relationship” will be interpreted and applied, with experts warning that this ban will lead to “chaos” in US airports. An administration official noted that a refugee’s relationship with their resettlement agency “is not sufficient in and of itself to establish a bona fide relationship”. Many critics of the travel ban highlighted that this would mean the bona fide relationship qualification would be redundant for refugees since many only have contact with US non-government resettlement agencies before they arrive.

As well as partially lifting the block on the travel ban, the Supreme Court also agreed to hear arguments on the legality of Trump’s controversial order in the autumn. The judgement was labelled by the Trump administration as a “clear victory for our national security”. The lower court judgements which blocked the ban earlier this year referred to the US government’s inability to prove how current immigration posed any threat to national security. 

Downing Street has condemned Kensington and Chelsea council for cancelling a meeting about the Grenfell Tower tragedy due to concerns that it would prejudice the public enquiry. Current and former lawyers, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, have said that there was no foreseeable way in which Thursday’s public cabinet meeting could have prejudiced the public enquiry into the fire. Kensington and Chelsea council initially sought to hold a private meeting without any members of the press or the public, however several media organisations obtained a High Court order requiring the council to admit all journalists with press cards. 

Within the first few minutes of the meeting, council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown announced that the meeting was cancelled following legal advice received by the council. The announcement also mentioned fears for staff safety in the wake of several public protests which took place after the tragedy. Paget-Brown subsequently resigned on Friday following mounting pressure for him to step down.

The retired Court of Appeal judge, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, has been appointed as the judge who will lead the public inquiry into the Grenfell disaster. A resident action collective sent a letter to the Prime Minister demanding that survivors be consulted over the scope of the inquiry and the choice of chair.

A spokeswoman for No.10 has stated that the Prime Minister had expected Kensington and Chelsea to respect the court order and hold the public meeting on Thursday. The government has been urged to take control of Kensington and Chelsea council.

DLA Piper has been hit by a ransomware attack just days after it released a guide on cyber security for businesses. The attack affected computer and telephone systems and appears to be similar to the WannaCry attack which affected several countries and organisations earlier this year. DLA Piper’s offices in Europe, the Middle East and the US were affected. However, the city law firm is not alone; Russian oil producer Rosneft and Danish shipping company Maersk have also been affected. 

At the time of the WannaCry attack in May, law firms were highlighted as potential targets for hackers. Throughout the past week, DLA Piper has been working with the FBI and the National Crime Agency to recover its systems, and had taken precautionary measures to safeguard its clients. 

Ultimately, many law firms have been waking up to the very real threat of cyber attacks. The latest attack on DLA Piper’s systems highlights the fact that law firms are just as vulnerable to these attacks as any other company but since law firms store vast amounts of clients’ confidential information, the potential consequences of an attack could be disastrous. As a result it is now more important than ever for law firms to maintain the latest up-to-date cyber security systems.

Words: Mariya Rankin


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