Lawyer Monthly - April 2022

MONTHLY ROUND-UP P&O Ferries, which fired over 800 workers without notice, has admitted to breaking UK employment law. On 21 March, a court in Moscow rejected a bid by Meta Platforms, owner of Facebook, to have extremism charges against it dismissed in a case that could see the US social media giant forced out of the Russian market. TENSIONS BETWEEN META AND RUSSIANCOURT CONTINUE OVER “EXTREMISM” CASE According to Russian news agency TASS, Meta had requested more time to prepare for its legal position and called into question the court’s authority to ban its activities. Meta’s lawyer, Victoria Shagina, said that the company was not carrying out extremist activities and was against “Russophobia”. In a statement last week, Meta global affairs President Nick Clegg said, “We are now narrowing the focus to make it explicitly clear in the guidance that it is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general.” Russia, however, has already banned Facebook for restricting access to Russian media. Its Instagram platform was blocked following Meta’s announcement that Ukrainian social media users were permitted to post messages encouraging violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin after he launched an unprovoked attack on Ukraine on 24 February. President Putin, however, calls the war in Ukraine a “special military operation” and says the use of force in the country is “justified”. Prosecutors in Russia now want to label Meta an “extremist organisation”. LM BRITAIN’S P&O FERRIES ADMITS BREAKING EMPLOYMENT LAW Chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite was urged to quit his position at the British ferries operator after acknowledging there is “absolutely no doubt” that the company should have consulted with trade unions prior to its decision. P&O Ferries replaced its workforce with cheaper foreign agency workers in March and has since faced a wave of backlash. Explaining P&O’s decision not to consult with trade unions, Hebblethwaite told a joint session of the Commons’ transport and business select committees that the company “assessed that given the fundamental nature of change, no union could accept it and therefore we chose not to consult because a consultation process would have been a sham […] We didn’t want to put anybody through that […] We are compensating people in full and up-front for that decision.” When asked whether he was concerned that he had breached his legal obligations as the company’s chief executive, Hebblethwaite said: “I completely throw our hands up, my hands up, that we did choose not to consult.” Following the hearing, Labour MP Darren Jones, who serves as Chair of the House of Commons Business, said that Hebblethwaite should be “fined, struck off and prosecuted.” LM 7 APR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM

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