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15 September 2016

Marriage is a big part of life. Unfortunately, so is divorce.

With many UK couples separating (an estimated 42 per cent, in fact), prenuptial agreements – where a couple agrees prior to the wedding how their assets will be divided in the event of a divorce – seem like the smart choice, if not a little bit of an awkward subject to bring up with a prospective spouse.

14 September 2016

State aid is defined as an advantage in any form whatsoever conferred on a selective basis to undertakings by national public authorities. Therefore, subsidies granted to individuals or general measures open to all enterprises are not covered by this prohibition and do not constitute State aid (examples include general taxation measures or employment legislation). (The European Commission)

Many of a business's most important decisions are influenced by law as it relates to state aid. So, with that in mind, we take this opportunity to ask what, if any, will be the impact of Brexit on state aid law?

Not many people are aware that state aid rules impact across pretty much the full spectrum of corporate, commercial and business activities in Europe, but with the UK's decision to undertake Brexit, state aid law has inevitably fallen into sharp relief.

Of course, with Article 50 yet to be invoked and the UK's post-Brexit arrangements still to be negotiated, there is no clear indication yet what the future of state aid law in the UK will look like.

However, most experts predict with reasonable confidence that the UK will be able to negotiate a free trade agreement ensuring it is able to trade with the EU as part of a single market despite no longer being a member of the EU.

The UK would not be alone in this situation. Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein are all non-EU members who manage to integrate successfully with the rest of Europe as members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Furthermore, if the UK also joins the European Economic Area (of those countries listed only Switzerland is not an EEA member) it will ensure effective state aid law that is almost indistinguishable from that which applies to EU member states.

However, in the event that the UK finds itself facing an intransigent EU unwilling to negotiate a successful free trade agreement it will have to fall back on the rules laid down by the World Trade Organization.

State aid is a notoriously grey area. Commercial lawyers could spend more time than is useful arguing over which measures constitute unfair advantage – for example, regarding some grants and subsidies – and that which contributes usefully to a stronger EU economy, so-called "compatible aid".

It will be a difficult balancing act to achieve. For example, a European Commission report found that state aid increases manufacturing employment by around 7% in regions where it is granted, but being able to convince the EU that Brexit Britain's state aids are compatible may be more difficult than when we were part of Europe.

If the UK negotiates a post-Brexit free trade agreement with the rest of the EU, the state aid framework will depend heavily on the details of the free trade agreement:

Although nothing can be certain at this time it seems that the impact of Brexit on state aid law will be minimal – although companies and commercial lawyers may have to make some changes to their commercial law considerations.


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05 September 2016

In November 1965 England abolished capital punishment for murder. As a sweeping generalisation, this was done, in part, to remove the risk of hanging the wrong person. More than 51 years later - can the same logic be applied to the new approach of hiring private law firms to tackle cybercrime?

Internet fraud remains a hot topic. In the past year alone, statistics suggest a 5.8m incidence of cybercrime and fraud estimates have reached £193bn per year. Authorities are increasingly under pressure not to just solve the existing crimes, but also to prevent new ones. However, with resources being cut across all police forces, making the task at hand even greater, a new approach has been adopted in a bid to speed things up.

05 September 2016

Reports say that the rock star started dating his third wife, Orianne Cevey, again after moving to America to look after their children whilst she recovered from surgery on a slipped disc. 

Complications in Ms Cevey’s surgery left her partially paralysed, so looking after their children – Matthew, 14, and Nicholas, 11 – would have been a struggle without help from their father. 

Both the Daily Mail and the Express reported that the couple now hope to get married again.

Contrary to what many people may think, it is by no means unheard of for separated couples going through a divorce to reconcile either during the process or even once the divorce is complete. Some people worry that there is no going back after making the decision to initiate divorce, but it’s still possible for couples to rebuild their marriage even long after a divorce if they want to.

Phil Collins and Orianne Cevey did, in fact, complete the divorce process, which according to reports involved a £25 million financial settlement. 

It is also possible to rescind or ‘cancel’ divorce proceedings at any time before the decree absolute – the final decree of divorce - is pronounced. The exact process for cancelling a divorce depends upon which stage in the divorce process the proceedings have reached. It is only once the final decree is pronounced that the proceedings cannot be cancelled if there is a change of heart. 

If you want to rescind your divorce, I would advise you have the proceedings formally withdrawn or dismissed, rather than letting them lay dormant on the court file. This can usually be achieved with a straightforward ‘application by consent’.

Some people say they feel embarrassed about backtracking or changing their mind, or as though they have wasted the solicitor’s or court’s time, but this should never be a concern – for all the scary reputations about divorce lawyers, we actually love nothing better than a happy ending!


Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with a family law adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.


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02 September 2016

In his 2004 book "The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less" American psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that elimination of choice is key to reducing anxiety in consumers.

He writes, "Autonomy and freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don't seem to be benefiting from it psychologically."

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