A recent study by Prudential discovered that 1 in 3 couples over 40 don't know or understand the details of their partner's retirement savings. Perhaps more shocking, 1 in 5 said that they have never even talked to their partner about financial planning for retirement.
August 2010 Archives
Yet another England footballer has won an injunction banning the press from reporting on his private life. He becomes the third England player to win an injunction in the past two weeks alone.
Per the terms of the injunctions, none of the footballers can be named, but the internet rumour-mill has already kicked into overdrive -- several people have already posted anonymously to message boards to identify the names of the players concerned.
According to the Dispatches programme that aired on Channel 4 yesterday night, 15,000 foreign domestic workers leave their families to come to the UK each year -- many coerced physically and/or subjected to extreme economic and mental duress. After they arrive, thousands fall prey to additional psychological, physical, and sexual abuse from employers, and live essentially as slaves.
The Guardian reports a legal battle is brewing at London's historic Borough Market in Southwark. Apparently three fruit and vegetable wholesalers have commenced court action against the trustees of the charity that runs the market.
The merchants claim the trustees are trying to force them out to make room for higher-end "delicatessen" retailers. The trustees have reportedly increased rent by 200% and service charges by as much as 500% in some cases.
In a landmark decision, the High Court has ordered a company that exposed a former worker to asbestos, who later died of mesothelioma, to pay damages to the hospice that cared for him.
James Willson died of mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos when working for engineering firm Foster Wheeler in the early 1950s at Deptford power station. The court ruled that he was "continuously exposed to the danger of inhaling asbestos dust while working at the power station" and "neither warned by his employer of the dangers of this exposure nor was he provided with respiratory protection".
A midwife who left her ward to fly to a remote Scottish island in the Outer Hebrides to escort a mum-to-be to hospital "had no choice", according to a top NHS nurse.
Kathy McLean, a former chairwoman of the professional conduct committee of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and now an NHS 24 clinical service manager, said Anne Duffy made the right decision in flying by air ambulance to the island of Benbecula, since if the mother had not been airlifted there was a possibility she and her baby would have died.
Asil Nadir returned to the UK on Wednesday, 17 years after fleeing the country on a private jet to evade prosecution on 66 fraud-related charges.
Nadir stands accused of secretly transferring around £200m from Polly Peck, a FTSE 100 listed company, to entities in northern Cyprus in the two years before the firm went out of business in 1990.
Legal experts say the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) faces a "prosecutorial nightmare" convicting the 69-year-old of fraud, however, and believe his highly-paid lawyers stand a good chance of convincing the court to dismiss the case on the ground that too much time has lapsed.
Simon Airey, corporate fraud partner at law firm DLA Piper, said: "With the passage of time, evidence is likely to have been lost or confused. Memories will have faded, witnesses may have died, people who worked on the case might have moved on. The practical difficulty of reconstructing the case to the appropriate standard to convince the jury could be immensely problematical.
In the June 2010 Budget, initially dubbed the 'Emergency Budget' by Chancellor George Osborne, and subsequently re-branded the 'Progressive Budget' by his coalition partner Nick Clegg, the government announced welfare cuts totalling £11 billion and significant cuts in housing benefit, Disability Living Allowance and tax credits.
A new study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) analyses the "distributional effect" of the tax and benefit changes in the Budget. The study concludes that the overall effect of the Budget is "clearly regressive", while the tax and benefit changes announced by the previous Government for the same period (i.e., between June 2010 and April 2014) were progressive.
IFS finds that low-income households of working age lose the most from the Budget reforms because of the cuts to welfare spending. Those who lose the least are households of working age without children in the upper half of the income distribution. This is because they do not lose out from cuts in welfare spending and are the biggest beneficiaries from the increase in the income tax personal allowance.
The Office for National Statistics published annual figures for UK immigration yesterday.
The statistics reveal net UK immigration for "long-term migrants" (i.e., people migrating to/from the UK for a period of at least 12 months) reached 196,000 in the year to December 2009, which compares to 163,000 in the year to December 2008 -- an increase of just over 20%.
They also show that 567,000 long-term migrants came to the UK in 2009, which represents an annual fall of around 4%.
Meanwhile, 371,000 migrants left the UK in 2009 -- a drop of around 15% on 2008 numbers.
A transsexual care worker in Lincolnshire has launched claims for unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination and loss of earnings after she was sacked for showing up at work wearing a skirt.
Rachel Millington, formerly Andrew Millington, claims Cleethorpes-based Housing And Support Solutions Limited terminated her contract just three days after she announced her decision to change gender.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced it intends to change tack in the fight against tax evasion. The Financial Times reports the agency has become embroiled in a "legal logjam" in recent years, with "billions of pounds tied up in court battles over avoidance".
Signalling the commencement of a "less combative approach", the permanent secretary for tax at HMRC, Dave Hartnett, told the paper: "HMRC is packed full of very intelligent people, but we are sometimes too black-and-white about the law." HMRC officials had on occasion been too "tough" in disputes over tax assessments, he added.
A former Royal Mail postman sacked after the police raided his home and discovered cocaine and cannabis has won £3,500 compensation for unfair dismissal.
Scott Curdie, 26, of Killermont Place, Kilwinning, Ayrshire, was charged with possessing Class A and Class B drugs with intent to supply in June 2009, and Royal Mail initially suspended him after he missed work over the incident.
As London Underground prepares to lay off 5% of its workforce over coming months, the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) are expected to announce a series of 24-hour strikes by Tube workers.
According to BBC News, the first is pencilled for 7 September.
Union leaders have threatened one 24-hour strike per week until London Underground withdraws its plans to axe 800 jobs and close ticket offices at 250 Tube stations across the capital.
Eighties pop icon George Michael appeared in magistrates court yesterday and admitted crashing his car into a branch of Snappy Snaps in London while under the influence of cannabis.
The former Wham! star, whose real name is Georgios Panayiotou, also admitted possessing cannabis at the time of the accident, which occurred in Hampstead, north London, in the early hours of 4th July.
The police found Michael slumped at the wheel of his Range Rover, with the engine still running. He had smashed a window and damaged wood panelling at the shop. When the police tried to rouse him, he attempted to put the car back into gear.
Police say Michael appeared "spaced out". They also noted he was "sweating profusely" and had "dilated pupils". A blood sample taken later confirmed the presence of cannabis in his body.
Zuirch Insurance incurred the wrath of the Financial Services Authority this week as it was ordered to pay a £2m fine for losing the person information of 46,000 customers, including identity details, bank and credit card information and details about insured assets and security arrangements.
The fine is the largest ever imposed by the FSA on an individual firm.
Zurich lost the data in 2008 after its UK division outsourced some of its work to South Africa. The data was stored on an unencrypted back-up tape during a routine transfer to a data storage centre.
A 68-year-old council worker in Shropshire has won £19,000 compensation after resigning in protest at being accused of stealing.
Peter Hurlstone, a chartered surveyor, worked as a clerk for Shifnal Town Council for over 20 years. He says he felt forced to resign after Councillor Adam Teecey said he had "unlawfully" appropriated oak panelling from the town's dilapidated former magistrates' court.
Councillor Teecy made the accusation in a letter distributed to other councillors.
Mr Hurlstone alleged that civic leaders discussed the contents of the letter in a closed-door meeting, but made no other effort to investigate the claims or reprimand Councillor Teecy.
The Law Society has added its weight to the campaign against the introduction of an annual immigration cap.
It claims the cap will 'strangle' City law firms by restricting their ability to conduct overseas work; preventing them from attracting overseas lawyers and moving employees to London from their international offices; and damage the UK legal sector's reputation.
New figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) show that of the 100,853 people stopped by police and breath tested for drink driving in June 2010, 5,652 (5.6%) tested positive, or refused or failed a breath test. That compares to 5.8% during the same month last year. However, the incidence of drink driving by people under 25 is up on last year -- from 5.9% in June 2009 to 6.4% in June 2010.
"It's the boy wizard as you've never seen him before. He has the trademark round spectacles and the regulation magic wand. But his tongue is extended in a lascivious manner and his thoughts are purely carnal. For good measure, he is in the guise of a pink, pimpled prophylactic." - Xan Brooks.
Yes, it appears nothing is sacred these days. Even poor old Harry Potter...
Swiss paper Bote reports that Warner Brothers has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of Harry Popper condoms for copyright infringement.
"The image of my client is in danger," a Warner Brothers lawyer is quoted as saying. "This is clearly a reference to the film and fictional character of Harry Potter. Everyone who sees the condoms automatically thinks of Harry Potter."
UK police forces detected more than 6,800 cannabis farms and factories in the UK in 2009/10, says the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
The ACPO report 'UK National Problem Profile: Commercial Cultivation of Cannabis' also reveals that:
The Charity Commission has ruled a UK adoption agency's bar on helping gay couples is unlawful.
Leeds-based Catholic Care argued it was exempt from regulations on sexual orientation discrimination on religious grounds. It also claimed that Catholic donations would dry up if it helped facilitate gay adoption.
However, the Charity Commission found there could be no justification for barring gay and lesbian parents. Its Chief Executive Andrew Hind said: "In certain circumstances, it is not against the law for charities to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. However, because the prohibition on such discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, such discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances.
"We have concluded that in this case the reasons Catholic Care have set out do not justify their wish to discriminate."
Labour leadership candidate Ed Balls appeared on BBC Radio's PM programme yesterday calling for a change in EU rules on free movement to stop migrants from new member states undercutting British workers.
He said: "We should look at the free movement of labour directive to see whether or not it needs to be changed: either to allow transition arrangements to be longer or to prevent the practice where people can come and work in our country and then send benefits back to their own countries.
The Mirror reports a 76-year-old man in Suffolk has won over £13,000 in compensation for constructive dismissal after his boss said he'd rather "kill" him than pay him redundancy.
Tom Major worked for Jeff Hall, 46, owner of the construction firm 'Hall Contracts'. The firm had around 150 bricklayers on its books -- all agency workers -- and Mr Major was the only staff employee.
The government has announced it's planning new legislation to stem the proliferation of so-called 'legal highs' in the UK.
It has already banned a range of substances over the past year, including naphyrone, mephedrone, GBL and other synthetic cannabinoids. However, it wants to be able to respond more quickly when a dangerous drug comes to market.
The proposed legislation will allow it to impose temporary 12 month bans on new substances pending review of permanent bans by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
The Association of Chief Police Officers published research yesterday that paints a disturbing picture of prostitution in this country.
The study found that around 17,000 of the estimated 30,000 women involved in off-street prostitution in England and Wales were born overseas. Of these, 2,600 are confirmed victims of sex slavery / human trafficking and a further 9,200 are 'vulnerable migrants' working unwillingly in the sex trade, but who researchers could not be certain had been trafficked. Approximately one half of the 17,000 migrant prostitutes come from Eastern Europe and a third from Asia.
Typically, a woman smuggled into the UK will not know that she is going to be used as a prostitute, but will be forced to sell her body to pay off a "debt-bond" of around £30,000. Often she and/or her family back home will be threatened with violence and forced to work in a brothel seven days a week, sleeping with dozens of men, until she has "repaid" the loan.
As noted in yesterday's Guardian, FindLaw UK's Contact Law service saw a steep increase in the number of people seeking employment-related legal advice in July.
Wimbledon-based Contact Law, a find-a-solicitor service that refers legal enquiries to more than 5,000 solicitors around the UK, says it recorded a 15% increase in online and telephone requests for employment advice last month, compared with a 1% increase in June and a 3% increase in May.
Contact Law spokesman Dan Watkins says the increase in legal claims would put further strain on UK employers already struggling to cope with the recession. "The sharp rise in employment-related legal enquiries in July is a shot across the bows to all UK employers, in both the public and private sector," he said. "We all know about the economic and financial pressures facing Britain's companies, but the next chapter could be the legal issues facing them as more assertive employees look to take legal action."
As the Bank Holiday approaches and summertime draws to a close, easier.com reports that divorce lawyers expect to see a 15% increase in divorce applications in September.
Research by law firm Dennison Greer Solicitors shows that summer holidays often tend to exacerbate rather than heal relationship problems, and many couples break up almost as soon as they return home.
Another thought-provoking piece by Tanya de Grunwald on unpaid interns and the enforcement of minimum wage laws appeared in the Guardian yesterday.
The article quotes a recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research and Internocracy:
"Employers often mistakenly believe there is a 'grey area' around internships in the national minimum wage legislation that allows them to take on unpaid interns as long as both sides understand it is a voluntary position -- this is simply not the case. The law is, in fact, very clear and the problem is a failure of enforcement."
Law firms and claims management companies reportedly spend around £40m a year on TV advertising for 'no win, no fee' legal services.
The advertising sector, already hard-hit by the recession, could soon lose this revenue, however, as a review commissioned by former PR man David Cameron is expected to recommend a ban on adverts that he claims have created a "compensation culture" in Britain.
The 'no win, no fee' industry is worth about £400m a year in the UK. Critics argue it has driven up the value of legal fees, settlements, and insurance premiums. But as Neil Rose notes in the Guardian "one man's compensation culture is another man's access to justice".
The government has announced a ban on wheel clamping, towing away, and all other forms of vehicle immobilisation on private land in England and Wales.
Once implemented, anyone who clamps (or otherwise immobilises) a vehicle or tows it away on private land without specific legal authority to do so will face criminal proceedings or civil sanctions.
Clamping on private land is estimated to be worth £1bn a year to parking enforcement companies. The practice has drawn widespread criticism, however, following claims of extortion from unsuspecting drivers.
Csaba Laszlo, former manager of Heart of Midlothian FC, will appear before an employment tribunal in Edinburgh next week in an attempt to win compensation for unfair dismissal and breach of contract.
The 46-year-old Hungarian lost his job in January in rather bizarre circumstances. Hearts were doing well in the league at the time and his dismissal came only six months after he scooped two Manager of the Year awards, having guided the club to third spot in the SPL during the 2008-9 season.
"We were doing well, seven games unbeaten in the league having played both Celtic and Rangers," Laszlo told the Times. "We were also in the League Cup semi-finals, which was great for the club because they hadn't been in a final since 1997.
In December 2008, Tara Fitzgerald, 48, contacted Dell tech support because she couldn't find some nude photos she'd taken of herself. Apparently she was concerned her 14-year-old daughter would go onto her computer and find them. So she decided to call Dell for help tracking them down.
She spoke to Riyaz Shaikh, an employee of Sitel India, one of the companies Dell has outsourced its customer service operations to, and gave him permission to access her computer remotely. Shaikh quickly located the nude photos attached to emails Fitzgerald had sent to her boyfriend.
But Fitzgerald then watched helplessly as Shaikh downloaded the pictures on to his own computer in Mumbai.
Unite union officials called off strike action at six UK airports last night -- including Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen -- after ACAS-brokered talks with BAA executives.,
Unite represents more than 6,000 security staff, engineers and firefighters at the airports. Last week, the workers voted in favour of industrial action in protest at a 1% pay offer.
The UK Border Agency has announced yet another review of the UK student visa scheme after the number of students coming to the UK from outside the EU more than trebled last year.
According to government statistics, 313,011 non-EU students and 31,385 of their dependants were issued visas in the period between April 2009 to March 2010. This represents an increase of 75,000 compared to the previous year when 235,295 students and 24,780 dependants were issued visas.
Less than a month after the launch of the new Office of Tax Simplification, we're seeing renewed speculation regarding the introduction of a General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) or General Anti-Avoidance Principle (GAAP).
Described as a 'super law' by some, the objective of GAAR / GAAP is to prevent highly paid tax lawyers and accountants coming up with complex schemes to subvert the intention, if not the letter, of UK tax law to secure tax advantages for their wealthy clients.
The High Court called time on one of the longest running child custody disputes ever seen in the English courts last week.
The dispute centred on the custody of a 12-year-old boy, whose identity has not been disclosed publicly.
The child's parents separated before he was born and the father issued his first court application for contact in June 1999. At first, he succeeded in establishing contact, but this broke down in 2006.
In January 2010, the court became so exasperated with the mother in the case -- seemingly because she failed to facilitate contact between the boy and his father -- that it decided to transfer custody away from her.
As a first step the child was placed in foster care with long-term custody intended to transfer to the father over time.
The boy, however, having had no contact with the father for four years claimed to "hate" him. At a meeting arranged to break the ice between father and son, the boy sat "with his head in his lap and his hands over his ears". He refused to engage with his father.
A group of teachers recently laid off at a special needs school in Glasgow have decided to sue for wrongful dismissal.
CORA Foundation, a not-for-profit company owned by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland, decided to close Springboig St John's School, which provided residential and day care for boys with severe emotional and behavioural needs, in June.
Around 80 jobs, including 14 teaching posts, were lost as a result of the closure.
Teacher George Carroll worked at St John's for 30 years, but received just £8,300 in redundancy pay. Mr Carroll said: "You bring these kids up, you don't just teach them.
"After 30 years service I have been left with a wife and five children to provide for, with no job and less than £9,000.
"We teach under the auspices of the Catholic Church: our employers have a moral obligation to look after their staff and the pupils."
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has referred the acquisition of Streetcar Limited by the American company Zipcar to the Competition Commission.
The acquisition was completed in April 2010 and brought together Streetcar, the largest car share company in London, with Zipcar, the second largest, in a deal worth around $50m (£32m).
Another UK travel company, Birmingham-based Sun4U, went bust late last night. Its collapse leaves around 1,200 British holidaymakers stuck overseas, mostly in Spain.
The company published a statement on its website at 9pm last night advising passengers to contact the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) for information about refunds or arranging alternative holiday plans.
Sun4U is the second tour operator to go out of business this summer, following hot on the heels of Goldtrail Travel, which specialised in budget holidays to Greece and Turkey.
Around 50,000 holidaymakers were affected by the collapse of Goldtrail, including 16,000 or so stranded abroad who were left to find their own way home.
Duke Amachree worked as a homelessness officer until he was suspended in January 2009 for telling a terminally ill woman to "put her faith in God", "not to bother with doctors" and subjected her to a "30-minute barrage" about religion.
Six months later, following an internal investigation, Mr Amachree was dismissed for gross misconduct.
The employment tribunal ruled the dismissal was "fair" and there was no discrimination on the grounds of religion.
The Guardian reports that Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is struggling with debts "running into millions of pounds" and is considering filing for bankruptcy.
While the Sunday Telegraph says that the Queen, Elizabeth Windsor, is "deeply concerned" and even discussed the problem with David Cameron recently at one of their weekly "audiences".
According to the papers no senior member of the royal family has been declared bankrupt before, although I'm fairly sure Charles I came pretty close...
Proponents of small government have ramped up their campaign for a slash and burn of the Statute Books over the past week.
Yesterday, Further Education Minister John Hayes launched a consultation on the future of the right to request time at work to learn new skills.
This right came into effect in April 2010 for employees in large businesses (i.e., with over 250 staff) and was supposed to extend to workers in small and medium sized businesses ('SMEs') from April 2011.
In February, I wrote about whistleblower Louise Perrett who claimed that UK Border Agency staff in Cardiff routinely mistreat, trick and humiliate asylum seekers. She alleged UKBA staff:
BBC Panorama aired a programme about private will-writing companies on Monday night. Apparently these companies now write about 10% of all new wills in the UK, but they remain largely unregulated.
Panorama, which is now available online through the BBC iPlayer service, presented evidence of serious malpractice and fraud among some of the companies.
In one case, a firm lost a will even though it charged a fee to store it safely. In another, beneficiaries struggled to receive the money owed to them, and cheques from the firm they were dealing with bounced.
In other cases, companies advertised will-writing services for £75-£100, but the true cost of the "deals" ended up being 100 times more after "hidden" estate handling fees were taken into account.
25 senior pensions industry professionals have written to Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to complain about linking defined-benefit pensions to the Consumer Price Index, rather than the Retail Price Index.
The government announced the switch to CPI in July without consultation, arguing it would help employers cut their pensions bills, but Philip Read, chairman of the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme, has described it as a "potential nightmare" since most pension schemes have already written RPI into their rules.
Employers will also need to renegotiate pension changes with staff and unions, which Smith believes could be "explosive" and even result in legal complaints under the Human Rights Act.
As the government prepares to phase out the Default Retirement Age, new research shows employers forced around 100,000 mature workers aged 60 and over to retire last year. Campaign group Age UK says this represents a fourfold increase on the previous two years.
The Default Retirement Age was introduced in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. It allows employers to force staff to retire at 65 even if they want to continue working, provided they follow the correct procedure.
Actress Mia Farrow testified at the trial of Charles Taylor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague yesterday.
Last week, you may remember that Naomi Campbell, 40, gave evidence that two men came to her bedroom following a dinner with Nelson Mandela in Cape Town, South Africa and gave her a pouch of uncut diamonds.
The following morning over breakfast with agent Carole White and actress Farrow, Campbell claimed that one of the two said that the men were sent at the behest of Taylor to which she replied "yes, I guess." She claimed that until then she had "no idea" who sent her the "dirty looking stones".
The Financial Times Deutschland carried a story yesterday quoting a senior European commissioner as saying direct EU taxes could be introduced in the near future.
EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said: "I'm hearing from a number of capitals, including important ones like Berlin, that they would like to lower their contributions [to the EU].
"Many countries want to be unburdened. In this way, the door has been opened ... to think about collecting revenues in a different way.
"There are various ways revenues could be collected directly and linked to European policy ... like a financial transaction tax, CO2 emission auctions and an aviation scheme.
The Law Society Gazette reports that solicitors have witnessed an 'explosion' in the number of unmarried couples seeking advice on relationship breakdown in recent months.
Vanessa Lloyd Platt, founder of London firm Lloyd Platt & Co, attributes the increase to the fragile economy. She said: 'Struggling relationships are ending sooner than they otherwise might, due to the economic climate, particularly where one partner owns the home in which they live.
'People need to release the capital from their homes in order to live, especially if they have been made redundant or face the prospect of losing their job,' she added.
The government has announced that "drugalyser" testing kits, designed to catch drivers high on drugs, will be introduced to police stations across the UK over the next 12 months.
The drugalysers will screen for a wide range of illicit substances, including cocaine and ecstasy, and could be in every station house by 2012.
Portsmouth Football Club have won a court battle against HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to avoid liquidation. HMRC had appealed to the High Court to block a proposed company voluntary agreement (CVA) agreed by the club's creditors in June to take Pompey out of administration.
HMRC claimed that the CVA was "unfair and seriously flawed". Apparently it gives preference to football creditors, including players, who can claim up to 100% of monies owed them, while other creditors, including HMRC, will receive much less.
Former "supermodel" Naomi Campbell gave evidence in the trial of former Liberian president and alleged war criminal Charles Taylor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague yesterday.
Prosecutors claim Taylor, 62, gave weapons to armed gangs in Sierra Leone in exchange for illegally mined diamonds -- known as 'blood diamonds' -- during the country's 1992-2002 civil war.
He stands accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and cannibalism.
250 former employees of IBM have commenced legal action for unfair dismissal and age discrimination after the company allegedly "forced" them to retire early or suffer a significant hit in their pensions.
In April, the company closed its final salary pension scheme and fundamentally altered the terms of its early retirement scheme.
A federal court judge in California has ruled the state's prohibition on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
In a 136-page ruling issued yesterday, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said the ban "fail[ed] to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license."
The Guardian reports the government of Ecuador and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a deal to establish a legally binding trust fund to protect 675 square miles of pristine rainforest in the Amazon.
YasunÌ national park, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, is located 250 kilometres from Ecuador's capital city Quito. Nearly 1 billion barrels of crude oil sits untapped beneath the surface of the park -- worth more than $7 billion at today's prices.
Thanks to the establishment of the trust, the oil and timber resources of the area will never be exploited.
As part of the initiative, governments, philanthropists and individuals around the world are being invited to make contributions to the trust fund in return for "non-exploitation guarantees".
The fund will be administered by the UNDP. Money raised by the initiative will be used to protect 4.8 million hectares of land in Ecuador's national parks. Resources will also be put aside to develop renewable energy and build schools and hospitals for indigenous groups across the Amazon.
Germany has reportedly committed $800m to the fund, and Spain, France and Switzerland are also considering making contributions.
Research shows women will shoulder three quarters of the pain inflicted by spending cuts in the June budget. This has prompted the Fawcett Society, the UK's leading women's rights group, to brand the cuts "unlawful".
The Society believes the cuts "risk rolling back women's equality in the UK by a generation". They have now launched a bid for judicial review in the high court to determine whether or not the government carried out a proper "gender equality assessment".
Employers recruiting lap dancers, strippers, topless barmaids and "web-cam performers" will no longer be allowed to place adverts at jobcentres, the government has announced.
Since a high court legal challenge by Ann Summers in 2003, jobcentres the length and breadth of the land have accepted vacancies in the adult entertainment industry.
Before that case, the Department for Work and Pensions placed a ban on advertising jobs connected with "the sex or personal services industry".
A food production company in Northern Ireland is facing potentially hefty liability after it allegedly ignored complaints of sexual harassment.
Marzena Kopowska, 29, told an industrial tribunal in Belfast that a colleague repeatedly harassed her during the 15 months she worked at Mac's Quality Foods in Dunmurry.
Ms Kopowska claims that her supervisor Ziggy Kaczmarek, a Polish citizen who has since returned to his homeland, physically and verbally sexually harassed her on a number of occasions.
She alleges Mr Kaczmarek repeatedly approached her from behind and pressed himself against her, pinning her to the production belt where they were packing food.
The government has finally disclosed its plans for welfare reform. The plans include proposals to significantly reduce the number and type of tax credits and benefits available by:
- combining elements of the current income-related benefits, such as income support and housing benefit, with the tax credit system;
- integrating tax credits by bringing out-of-work and in-work support together in a single system;
- supplementing monthly household earnings through credit payments reflecting circumstances (including children, housing and disability).
BBC Sport presenter Claire Balding has lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about a review of her new show 'Britain by Bike' by Sunday Times TV critic AA Gill, in which Gill wrote:
"Some time ago, I made a cheap and frankly unnecessary joke about Clare Balding looking like a big lesbian. And afterwards somebody tugged my sleeve to point out that she is a big lesbian, and I felt foolish and guilty. So I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise. Sorry. Now back to the dyke on a bike, puffing up the nooks and crannies at the bottom end of the nation."
Furious, Balding lodged a complaint with Sunday Times editor John Witherow, but his response, copied below, "appalled" her:
Last week, the Court of Appeal delivered a ruling in a case between warring multi-millionaire spouses Lisa and Vivian Imerman.
After the couple split up in 2008, Lisa's brother, Robert Tchenguiz, feared that Vivian would conceal his assets, so he accessed a server in an office which they previously shared. He then copied (with the help of the other defendants) between 250,000 and 2.5m pages of his brother-in-law's documents and handed these over to his sister's lawyers.
Vivian said Robert invaded his right to privacy and argued that, since the documents were acquired unlawfully, Lisa shouldn't be able to use them in her bid to win ancillary relief.
Going into the case, Lisa's lawyers cited the so-called "Hildebrand rules", which permit a party to take and copy their spouse's documents so long as they do not use force or retain the originals. They argued refusal to apply the rules in this case would rob women of protection previously afforded to them. "Wives have until now been allowed to produce an ace from their sleeve: a document proving the husband had lied about his finances was admissible even if improperly obtained," they said.
[Continued from Flexible working: poisoned chalice? (Part 2)]
In the third of three entries on flexible working we take a look at the current legal process for requesting flexible working and challenging an employer's refusal.
[Continued from Flexible working: poisoned chalice? (Part 1)]
Sarah Coles of Moneywise warns that even if your employer grants your request to work flexibly, it doesn't mean the battle's over. "You might achieve the flexible working life you desire, but it could leave your career in tatters," she says.
Labour introduced the right to request flexible working in 2003 for parents of children under 6 and disabled children under 18. In 2007, they extended the right to cover carers of vulnerable and disabled adults, and last year to parents of all children under 17. The new coalition government wants to extend the right still further to cover all workers.
At its inception, flexible working was viewed by many as a new 'benefit' or 'perk' of employment. It ended up becoming so popular that most of us now know someone who has requested it at some stage during their career. Indeed, according to latest government figures, 14 million employees currently work flexibly.
But, seven years since the right was formally added to the statute book, is flexible working really all it's cracked up to be?