AllAboutLaw Blog: image-based sexual abuse laws, the new Bar qualification, and more

Welcome to the fifth edition of AllAboutLaw’s weekly blog! This week, we’ll give you a brief overview of changes to legislation surrounding image-based sexual abuse, which includes practices such as revenge porn and ‘deepfake’ pornography. We’ll also be taking a look at changes to the Bar qualification rules and the recent pensions case.

  • Last updated Jul 24, 2019 9:23:24 PM
  • Anna Vall Naves

Laws covering image-based sexual abuse go under review

The justice and culture ministries have asked the Law Commission to examine legislation covering the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. The review, which is due to report back in 2021, will review whether legislation effectively protects victims and has kept up with technological change, considering the meaning of the terms “private” and “sexual” in the context of sharing intimate images. 

The trends of cyber-flashing—or sending unsolicited sexual images to a person’s phone—and ‘deepfake’ pornography—which consists of grafting an image of a victim’s face onto pornographic material—will be the main focus of the review. Neither is currently covered by specific laws.

The review will also look into granting automatic anonymity to victims of revenge pornography, which was made a criminal offence in 2015. 

Culture secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Too many young people are falling victim to coordinated abuse online or the trauma of having their private sexual images shared [...] This review will ensure that the current law is fit for purpose as we deliver our commitment to make the UK the safest place to be online.”

This Monday, a report was released by legal experts from across the UK, claiming that victims of image-based sexual abuse are being harmed by inadequate laws and police inaction. Authors claim the review commissioned by the justice and culture ministries is not enough on its own.

Co-author and Durham University professor Clare McGlynn said: “While it’s welcome the government has recognised the need for comprehensive law reform, for women and men being victimised right now, this is justice delayed [...] Delays in government action on image-based sexual abuse is gambling with people’s lives.” 

The academic report found a “strong relationship between image-based sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and coercive control”.


“Being a lawyer is not merely a vocation. It is a public trust, and each of us has an obligation to give back to our communities” — Janet Reno, first female attorney general of the United States


Firm news

The UK’s top 100 law firms report a strong performance in the year to April 30, despite a slump in the final quarter.

Baker McKenzie has announced the promotion of 81 new partners in 2019, 40% of whom are women.

Penningtons Manches has announced its decision to merge with specialist firm Thomas Cooper, becoming Penningtons Manches Cooper.

Slater and Gordon has signed an exclusive fee-sharing deal with US app developer LegalShield.


New Bar qualification rules launched

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has launched new qualification rules to make training for the Bar “more accessible, affordable and flexible”. According to the BSB, there will soon be four routes to qualify as a barrister. Although the current pathway will remain an option, under the new rules it will also be possible to qualify through an apprenticeship route or combining the academic and vocational components of qualification. The qualification will be implemented in stages until September 2021, and transitional arrangements will be in place until 2022.


Public-sector workers win case for £4bn pension increase

The UK government faces possible costs of £4bn a year after losing a landmark age discrimination case. In a case brought by the Fire Brigades Union and a group of judges led by Victoria McCloud, the Court of Appeal ruled last December that the government’s 2015 changes to pensions discriminate against younger workers. While older workers are allowed to stay under the more generous existing arrangements, younger workers have to change to the new scheme. The Supreme Court denied the government leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision last Thursday. 


Recommended reading

1. This week’s Law in Action podcast examines the new Bar qualification rules and discusses their implications.

2. A compilation of search queries beginning with the phrase “is it legal to” shows the legal questions Americans, Canadians and Brits ask Google most. 

3. An opinion piece in The New York Times investigates the dangers of copywriting the law, looking at a recent case in the state of Georgia. 

4. Another opinion piece on Salon argues that the International Criminal Court (ICC) ”provides no legal counterbalance to the arrogance of an empire's power”.

5. Finally, last week saw Alabama’s request to reconsider the blocked abortion ban rejected by the Supreme Court, as reported by Politico. 

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