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Geoffrey PHOTO

New Attorney General appointed

The Prime Minister appoints Geoffrey Cox QC MP as Attorney General.

Commenting on his appointment as Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC MP has said:

“It is an honour to be appointed Attorney General for England and Wales. I look forward to building on the successes of my predecessor and I want to thank Jeremy Wright for his distinguished four years in the role.”

“The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is a unique and historic government department. I am proud to be joining the AGO, which has the highest staff engagement score in central Government. I look forward to working with the Solicitor General to play my part in making law and politics work together at the heart of the UK constitution.”

The Prime Minister appointed Geoffrey Cox QC MP as Attorney General on 9 July.

As the Government’s chief legal advisor, Geoffrey Cox will advise the Government and attend Cabinet. The new Attorney General will also oversee the work of the Law Officers Departments which include the independent prosecuting authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service and Serious Fraud Office, and the Government Legal Department and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.

Geoffrey Cox will cease all private practice as a barrister, as previous Law Officers have done on appointment.

The Attorney General and Solicitor General also carry out a number of functions in the public interest, such as considering unduly lenient sentences, and take action when there has been a contempt of court. These functions are carried out independently of their role as Government ministers.

Notes Geoffrey Cox QC MP was appointed Attorney General for England and Wales on 9 July 2018. He replaces Jeremy Wright QC MP who is now Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, remains in post.

Geoffrey Cox’s Biography:

Geoffrey Cox has been MP for Torridge and West Devon since May 2005. He lives in West Devon, near Tavistock, with his wife, Jeanie and his family. They have a daughter and two sons, Charlotte, James and Jonathan who attended the local school. Geoffrey was born and brought up in the West Country.

Geoffrey Cox QC was called to the Bar in 1982 and made Silk in 2003. He co-founded Thomas More Chambers in 1992.

Geoffrey Cox has appeared in many high profile cases receiving national and international publicity from trial to appeal before the Court of Appeal, the Privy Council and the Supreme Court. His advocacy has been described by a professional court journalist in a recent book as “extremely persuasive”.

Geoffrey is a member of the Criminal Bar Association.

Moore PHOTO

94% of SMEs say the Government is ignoring their concerns about Brexit

Just 6 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses say that the Government is listening to their concerns about Brexit.

Of 653 businesses polled by accountancy firm Moore Stephens, 612 said they felt their views on Brexit were being ignored.

Moore Stephens said that this highlights just how much work the Government must do to convince the SME community that the deal to exit the European Union protects the interests of UK businesses.

More than half of owner-managed businesses also said that their single biggest concern for 2018 was how Brexit negotiations will affect them – far ahead of other issues such as skills shortages (41 per cent), cyber attacks (29 per cent) and increased regulation (28 per cent).

When asked about their specific Brexit-related worries, 38 per cent of businesses said that the introduction of trade tariffs was their biggest concern, 30 per cent fear a loss of EU labour, while 23 per cent are concerned about loss of European customers. Only 33 per cent said that they had no concerns around Brexit.

“Whilst banks and other big businesses have the influence to lobby the Government for their own special Brexit clauses, there are concerns that small businesses will be forgotten about,” said Mark Lamb, a partner at Moore Stephens.

“Business owners are hugely concerned about what Brexit might mean for them. The Government must take their needs seriously when negotiating the exit deal.

“Brexit could potentially impact on an enormous number of issues affecting owner-managed businesses in the UK, from import and export costs, to access to labour, and grants and subsidies. Businesses have been given very little clarity so far on what effect Brexit might have on any of these issues.

“Businesses thrive on certainty – it allows them to invest, scale up, take on more orders and expand their workforces. If the Government does not give them clear indications of what they can expect once the UK has left the European Union, it will be very difficult for many of them to invest in their growth.”

Motley PHOTO

Kimberly Motley: The first and only foreign lawyer to practise in Afghanistan

The people she works with range from imprisoned Afghan women to foreign reporters and kidnap and rape victims.

Who’s this legal eagle?

Kimberly Motley, a US attorney. She’s the first and only foreign lawyer to practise in Afghanistan.

How long has she been working in that part of the world?

Ms Motley arrived in 2008 and, eight years later, the former US beauty queen remains the only foreigner with a license to practise in Afghanistan’s courts.

What’s her client base like?

The people she works with range from imprisoned Afghan women in Kabul’s Badam Bagh prison to foreign reporters and kidnap and rape victims.

Has she ever found herself on the wrong side of the law?

The upper echelons of the state aren’t her biggest fans, seemingly. Ms Motley, 38, says she has been “heavily pressured by the Government” to stop working on certain cases.

Why not just go back home?

Ms Motley is committed to defending human rights in the country. She describes herself as “a legal archaeologist,” and immerses herself in Islamic texts to identify passages that might help her clients, particularly women. A line stating “a woman is never to be inherited,” can be interpreted as “a woman must never be forced to marry,” she says.

Arbitration

Government wins award against Reliance Industries in arbitration case

NEW DELHI: The government has won the award in an arbitration case against Reliance Industries,which had disputed the quantum of penalty to be paid for not finishing the promised ‘work programme’ in four oil blocks, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The promised ‘work programme’ is a commitment to undertake surveys and exploratory drilling. This commitment, along with the percentage of profit that a company offers to share with the state, are key factors in deciding which bidder wins an auctioned exploration block.

The award ends another dispute between RIL and the government, which have been engaged in several legal battles. Reliance Industries declined to comment on this matter.

The arbitration award means RIL will lose tens of millions of dollars in penalty. About six years back, RIL invoked arbitration as it disagreed with the quantum of fine the government had imposed on the company for not meeting the work programme targets. RIL, however, paid the penalty as demanded but was hoping a favourable arbitration award would help it get some money back, sources said. The original penalty considered by the government was in the region of $90 million but the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), the upstream regulator, recommended that it should be reduced to $26 million in 2006. How much RIL ultimately paid as penalty couldn’t be ascertained but sources said it was much higher than $26 million.

The case relates to four blocks namely KG-OSN-97/3, KG-OSN-97/4, MB-OSN-97/3 located off the eastern coast, and GK-OSN-97/1in the western part of the country.

RIL had won these blocks in an auction under the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) more than a decade back. Under the policy, failure to meet the committed ‘work programme’ allows the government to penalise winners by recovering an amount equal to the unfinished work programme from them. The award in this arbitration follows recent withdrawal of natural gas price related arbitration by RIL a few months back. Last year, the company withdrew another arbitration challenging the government order to relinquish about 80% of the KG-D6 block.

The arbitration related to government demand of higher revenue from the Panna Mukta Tapti fields resulted in an award last year in favour of the state. But this has been challenged by RIL and partner Shell in a UK court.

Two arbitration cases are still underway. One relates to how much cost RIL can recover from its existing fields in the KG-D6 block and the other concerns the penalty on RIL for producing gas from the adjacent fields of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp in the KG Basi