Is Your Boss Giving You a Hard Time? You Have Legal Rights at Work, But What Are They?

Is there enough awareness amongst employers of their obligations under the law? Too often employers, especially small ones are still unaware of their duties under employment law. Even more ignorant, often, are the employees, who are also not aware of their rights. This is usually found in the case of bullying and harassment, where employees were not aware of the grievance procedures that are available to them to seek assistance.

Is there a comprehensive website you can go to find out your employment rights? It was when I was volunteering myself in a community law centre, that I came across some excellent resources from the Central London Law Centre. Since then, I have made sure I kept a note of the links to these publications. I still find these to be helpful handouts, that provide clear explanations in easy to understand, plain English.

The Central London Law Centre publications for employees explain how to deal with a grievance at work, or steps to take if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed. Their resources are also an invaluable reference guide to advisers working in employment law.

Three resources you will want to consult are:

(1) Identifying Employment Cases;

(2) Discrimination in Employment; and

(3) A Claimant’s Companion to the Employment Tribunal written by Tamara Lewis.

The employment unit has over 20 years experience in discrimination law cases. In addition to providing advice to the general public, the employment team also run training courses to other Law Centres, Trade Unions, Citizens Advice Bureau’s and other advice agencies. These training courses cover a range of issues including “race, sex, disability, religion and age discrimination, sexual harassment, unfair dismissal, redundancy, unilateral variation of contract, TUPE, drafting of tribunal claims, preparing cases for Employment Tribunals, representation at Employment Tribunals”.

10 Signs It’s Time for You to Travel

1. The thought of getting up and going to work makes you feel sick… literally!

We’ve all been there. The “calling in sick” phone calls to your manager that you despise, just so that you can take the day off to binge watch your favourite television series on Netflix. But the truth is, when your purposely dodging your work shift, or counting down the minutes until you finish work, there’s a serious problem that you need to finally confront. Switching up your routine or even going somewhere for a long-weekend can revitalize you and uplift your spirits.

2. You spend way too much time living in the past and forget about the present.

Your life is governed by the “What If’s, Should have’s and Could have’s”. Doubt and fear seem to creep its way into your mind and you spend the rest of your days worrying about past choices and experiences. It’s time to wake up! You can’t change what you did or how that relationship ended. Focus on the present, and kick doubt and fear in the ass!

3. Your patterns are predictable… You’re stuck in Groundhog Day!

7am, your alarm rings, out of the house by 8. Stop by your local drive-through coffee shop for your morning caffeine fix. Commence your 9-5 cubicle cookie-cutting job and throughout the day engage in “dexter” small-talk and banter. You drive home, sit on your favourite couch and crush the next season of Game of Thrones. You do it all over again the next day, and the next and so on. If someone wanted to stalk you, frankly speaking it would be too easy. Break free from the rut and explore what this world has to offer. You’d be surprised what you’ll find.

4. Nothing exists beyond your city!

Why travel when you can get the best Szechuan in China Town or have the most delicious Cannoli’s in Little Italy? True, some of the best ethnic foods can be found right under your nose, however to think that “there is no world beyond New York City” or any mega city is absurd. Travelling to a country and experiencing an entirely new environment and culture can really kickstart your senses. So here’s to it… indulge!

5. Small town girl, You’ve been living in your small town world.

I get it… going from knowing your neighbours and the cashier at your local grocery store to getting lost in Thailand’s full moon festival and knowing absolutely no one can be pretty daunting. The truth is, you have to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable to experience life in a different way. Getting used to feeling like a “visible minority” or experiencing language barriers can make you understand and empathize with the other side of the dialectic. It’ll open up your eyes to a world beyond your small town.

6. The English Epidemic

It’s always interesting to see tourists getting frustrated when they travel to a foreign land and expect natives of that particular place to speak English. Cultural insensitivity is probably one of the worst qualities to display on your vacation. If your mind craves a challenge, choose a country that speaks a language that is unknown to you and learn some of their salutations and conversational expressions. You’ll make quite the impression and even gain a lifelong friendship with a local.

7. Stop reading about it, Go live it!

You pick up the National Geographic and read all about the amazing Safari adventures in Kenya, the vibrant eccentric colours of Marrakech and the exhilarating smell of lamb kebab that creeps through the narrow alleyways of Tehran. You take a moment, envision yourself in these pictures and then snap back to reality, allowing doubt and fear to snatch your dreams away. Stop reading about these wonderful places and feed your desires. Book that ticket and spend your nights dreaming about the adventures you’re about to embark on.

8. FoMo

The fear of missing out-hereafter referred to as FoMo, is no joke. FoMo is the desire to stay connected and partake in events that others are doing. It has also been referred to as having a fear of regret. This fear has a way of creeping its way into social gathering discussion topics of “who has the latest gadget” or “who has travelled to Monaco?” If you’re feeling particularly left out in the conversation, maybe it’s time to pack your suitcase and head over to a destination that will take over next weeks dinner gatherings discussion.

9. Single and ready to Mingle?

Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones said it best: “I’ve been in a relationship with myself for 49 years and that’s the one I need to work on.” There is no better way to learn more about yourself than to travel alone. Taking yourself on a lovely date, catching a matinée alone or doing some solo travel might feel a bit awkward at first, but getting to know the awesome person that you are should be cherished and celebrated. So here’s to celebrating you!

10. Big Decisions, Big Commitments

Whether you are entering University, starting your new career or settling down with the love of your life, it’s always a good idea to travel prior to these commitments. It will allow you to feel balanced, re-energized and ready to take on what’s to come.

The Legal Protection of International Investments in Eastern and Southern Africa – Lessons From Case

International direct investments can promote sustainable economic development

The legal protection of international foreign investments by states is one key instrument and a very important mechanism to ensure the sustainable economic development in African countries. It is one complex issue of Public International Law domain, especially when it comes to specific measures adopted by states at the level of the national legal frameworks.

The legal, business and economic environment for FDI in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and the protection of international foreign investments is regulated at various levels, by international agreements / treaties, regional agreements and national codes or legislation. The domestication of international agreements / treaties as well as regional agreements into national legal systems and their subsequent enforcement by individual states requires specific procedures of ratification and implementation.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) describes investment agreements as “the most important protection of international foreign investment.” They are creating more rights and powers for foreign investors – particularly the transnational corporations. In many African countries, the implementation of international and regional instruments is not as effective as one would expect. The causes of this hiatus are to be traced in various structural and institutional structures inherent to national legal systems in these countries.

The topic under investigation relates to the state of effective legal protection of international investments in Eastern and Southern African countries, mainly within two regional blocs; i.e. SADC and COMESA. This article is the summary of a study conducted within the region, with the objective to identify and analyze international law instruments applicable in the region, as well as the national situation in Mozambique as a specific study case on the domestication and enforcement of international agreements.

Africa is working hard to improve its general policy framework for FDI

The general policy framework of FDI on the African Continent has improved greatly in recent years, a trend that is continuing in many countries that were not in recent past or are not currently affected by wars. However, the environment for foreign investments protection in Africa is still inadequate to attract high quality and efficiency-seeking investments and the incentive framework continues to suffer from a number of deficiencies. Faced with increased international competition, foreign investors’ global strategies seek to maximize their competitiveness by locating facilities in multiple locations around the world. In this “increasingly globalized” world, attracting foreign investment depends more on the ability to provide a favorable investment protection regime and competitive factors of production.

The former requires a stable, efficient, and service-oriented environment that welcomes investors into most economic activities without discrimination. Modern legal and intellectual property rights, effective competition policies, a strong judiciary and minimum bureaucratic harassment are all important to attract foreign investors. The latter are the ultimate determinants of FDI. Competitive factors of production no longer mean just cheap raw labor and basic infrastructures. Today they require adaptable labor skills, sophisticated supplier networks and flexible institutions. Tax incentives can enhance a country’s attractiveness but if other factors are unfavorable, they will be insufficient to significantly increase inflows of FDI.

This study argues that African countries in the eastern and southern region have made so far commendable efforts to reform their legal and institutional frameworks for the promotion of investments. However, there still need to take into consideration the requirements for attracting foreign investments. In some instance, as illustrated by the case of Mozambique, investment laws were modernized. But the Investment Protection Centre still need to have the authority required to decide on investments, and need to be empowered and given autonomy. An other issue relates to some outdated regulations which need to be harmonized with the new investment regimes. Legislation on land and ownership of production factors, labour laws, financial procedures, and other administrative barriers are the main key issues which need to be streamlined in order to satisfy international standards for attracting foreign investments

In their attempted efforts to attract FDI and determined to benefit from it to the fullest, the countries under review reformed their legal frameworks for a better protection of foreign investments. These changes are currently taking place in an environment characterized by the proliferation of investment rules at the bilateral, sub-regional, regional and multilateral levels. The resulting investment rules, numerous Preferential and Free Trade Agreements with investment components, Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and Multilateral Investment Agreements (MIA) are multi-layered and multi-faceted, with a myriad of obligations differing in geographical scope and coverage and ranging from the voluntary to the binding commitments. They constitute an intricate web of obligations that partly overlap and partly supplement one another. This study is of actual interest for research, as it attempts to review this proliferation of legal frameworks for the protection of international investments in the Southern and Eastern African regions. There is real need to understand the policies, mechanisms developed in this very sensitive area, and to analyze the issues that are raised in the implementation of such intricate frameworks.

The policy strategy currently pursued by many Southern African countries is explicitly intended to improve conditions for foreign direct investment (FDI). Over the past two decades many countries have implemented broad ranging economic reforms, including the liberalization of domestic markets and some privatization, which has had an effect on the flow and nature of foreign investment. However, In the past, Africa has, on average, been relatively unsuccessful in attracting FDI in spite of very large increases in global flows

However, the general policy framework of FDI on the African Continent has improved greatly in recent years, a trend that is continuing in many countries that are not destroyed by wars. However, the environment for foreign investments protection in Africa is still inadequate to attract high quality and efficiency-seeking investments and the incentive framework continues to suffer from a number of deficiencies. Faced with increased international competition, foreign investors’ global strategies seek to maximize their competitiveness by locating facilities in multiple locations around the world.

In this ‘increasingly globalized’ world, attracting foreign investment depends more on the ability to provide a favorable investment protection regime and competitive factors of production. The former requires a stable, efficient, and service-oriented environment that welcomes investors into most economic activities without discrimination. Modern legal and intellectual property rights, effective competition policies, a strong judiciary and minimum bureaucratic harassment are all important to attract foreign investors. The latter are the ultimate determinants of FDI. Competitive factors of production no longer mean just cheap raw labor and basic infrastructures.

Today they require adaptable labor skills, sophisticated supplier networks and flexible institutions. Tax incentives can enhance a country’s attractiveness but if other factors are unfavorable, they will be insufficient to significantly increase inflows of FDI.

Experiences in Eastern and Southern Africa for FDI protection are changing rapidly

Many countries of the Eastern and Southern African region, mainly through their respective Economic Integration Organizations, have adopted adequate legal environment to attract foreign investments. Legal guarantees and protections for foreign investments are generally contained in the national Constitutions and in specific Investments laws. In a broad legal framework, the Governments assure investors security of title and guarantees that investment in the country will not be expropriated. There are also statutory guarantees for contract enforcement, recourse to legal systems for redress and binding arbitration conclusions. These are all part of a well-established legal system whose independence and integrity continue to be guaranteed by the national Constitution.

The level of investment protection is generally measured on the basis of criteria related to: the standard of treatment of investment (MFN and National treatment principles), the performance requirements, expropriation and nationalization regime and dispute settlement laws.
The commitment to sound and consistent macroeconomic polices, constitutional guarantees against expropriation of investment and for protection of investment are clearly outlined in the Constitution and the national investment laws and regional strategic orientation documents. Since developed countries and international development agencies have emphasized the need for democratization as a determinant criteria for attributing funds to African countries, there are new trends and strategic approaches of attracting foreign funds, under the logic of good governance and transparency.

In general, legal protection of foreign investments covers the following key aspects:

(a) Discrimination in treatment of foreign investments.

(b) Expropriation requirements for foreign investments.

According to the new trends in investment regimes, constitutional provisions and investment codes adopted a general legal framework for investment policy in the countries under review. These trends can be summarized in the following important guarantees:

(i)Liberal, free market economic environment together with appropriate political and social policy and pro gram framework;

(ii) Adherence to the principles of democratic governance, constitutional guarantee of rights to freedom and liberty, welfare, property ownership and protection. In this regard, the countries are constitutionally obliged to encourage, promote and protect beneficial investment as the enabler of socioeconomic change and progress.

(iii) Full integration into the wider global economy through regional organizations membership of and adherence to charters and principles of and a host of bilateral trade agreements among others. These testify to these countries resolve at participation and integration in the global economy.

(iv) Articulation of policies and strategies to make trade and investment development a gateway to regional and the larger African continental market.

(v) Conducive legal and institutional framework with more open laws that support and encourage free circulation of goods and persons, including modern labor laws.

The principles above highlighted are however more often on the papers than really implemented in practice. The framework of regional cooperation is becoming a more compelling channel for the improving of national laws and policies.

During the lat two decades, the overwhelming experience in many Eastern and Southern African countries is of poor investment environment. African countries in general, have not offered foreign investors the kind of investment climate that they find attractive. For a number of years, some African governments were very suspicious of foreign investors. In very recent years, many African countries have reformed their policies toward foreign investors. Some have also acted to reduce the administrative barriers that have so commonly remained long after policies were reformed. Yet, the reforms have not led to the increased inflows of foreign investment that were anticipated and needed.

Part of the explanation derives from the fact that investors often are ill informed about the changes that have occurred in countries whose investment climates were once inhospitable. Another part of the explanation lies in the tendency of many investors to think of Africa, or at least parts of Africa, as facing similar problems, even those problems that may in fact be quite localized. Thus, war, civil disturbances, collapsed regimes, as well as continuing bureaucratic barriers and remaining inhospitable policies toward investors affect the reputation of neighboring countries, as well as the country experiencing the problems

Experience in African countries has demonstrated that creating an enabling environment for investment requires finding solutions to constraints, which include, among others:

-unstable macro-economic framework or conditions; inadequate infrastructure; inappropriate banking and financial systems and regulatory and supervision legal and institutional frameworks;

-inadequate resource mobilization and allocation mechanisms; lack of or limited information; socio-economic problems;

-unstable political and social environment; cumbersome legislation and procedures, rules and regulations etc.;

-lack of specialized or some legislation and procedures;

-skilled human resources;

-market size, debt burden and balance of payments problems; ineffective and inefficient institutional framework, set-up or delivery; etc.

An enabling environment for foreign investment should include:

-stable macro-economic environment , good and reliable infrastructure , law and order; secure property rights; enforceable contracts; a functional financial system; market determined prices – including the exchange rate and interest rates; etc.

The legal and institutional frameworks are not sufficient to guarantee a flow of foreign investments in the Eastern and Southern African region. Other key factors are equally important


In its final conclusion, the study finds that over two decades, countries in the Eastern and Southern African region have made considerable efforts to create adequate legal and regulatory frameworks for the protection of foreign direct investments. However there remain serious impediments which still affect negatively the flow of foreign investments. Inconsistent policies and inadequate host country operational measures HCOMs, together with outdated labour laws are some of the challenges which call for more reforms.

It further reaches the conclusion that there is need for awareness within the governments in the region on key issues related to the promotion and protection of investments. It can be formulated as follows: foreign investors want to gain market access, have their investments protected and be free to operate in a manner of their choosing. Host countries want to develop services and infrastructure, meet local needs, produce exportable goods and improve locally available technology.

The interest of foreign investors and host governments can be harmonized if the investment meets both sets of agendas. This can be done if investors decide on the viability of specific projects and the host governments decide on the priority sectors and conditions of FDI consistent with their economic and development objectives.

As in the case of Mauritius, this should be a credible development programme backed by credible policy framework conducive to long-term economic and social stability. With such policies, the countries are more likely to have the capacity over time to service the repatriation of profits, provide a skilled and healthy labour force, and develop suitable infrastructure.

Part of this credible programme should cover the need for convergent bilateral and multilateral investment and trading arrangements in the COMESA and SADC regions to avoid trade and investment deflection and diversion. This should also go along way towards removing administrative and fiscal barriers to the promotion of investments. There is also need to adopt appropriate legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks to ensure efficient and smooth implementation of the Work Programme.

The author, is an International Consultant on Trade and Investment, Director of InterConsult Mozambique and is the Representative of Emerging Market Focus (Pty) in Mozambique. This insight paper is part of the Interconsult – EMF joint project aimed at advising investors and business people involved in international trade by providing them with accurate legal data on the institutional and legal framework of Mozambique and the Southern African region.

Scientific Reasons Behind Why You Should Visit Hindu Temples

The common notion is that a visit to the temple is just to pray for God’s blessings. But the truth is that, temples are the best places to relax and to calm your body and mind, too. That is a scientifically proven fact. Here is why:

The Location and Structure of the Temple

Temples are filled with positive energy because they are built in a particular way. For instance, the main idol is placed at the centre of the temple, known as Moolasthanam, where earth’s magnetic waves are found to be quite strong. And the structure of the temple is built around it. That is reason for the positive energy.

Removing Your Footwear before Entering Temple

Temples are epicentres of positive energy. The floor at the centre of the temple is a good conductor of these positive vibrations. And if you want to allow positive energy to pass through your feet to the body, you should not use footwear. Another reason is that shoes and chappals will have all the impurities as you use it everywhere. Hence they tend to spoil the pure environment of the temple.

Activating the five senses

All five senses in your body should be activated if you want to absorb the positive energy in the temple.

Ringing the Temple Bell

The hearing sense is activated by ringing the temple bell before entering the inner temple. If you have noticed, after ringing the bell the sound lasts for 7 seconds in echo mode. This timeframe is sufficient to turn on all the seven healing centres in our body. Our brain will also be free from all kinds of negative thoughts. The idol also absorbs the bell sound and it is vibrated within the Moolasthanam for some time.

Lighting Camphor In Front Of Idol

The sight sense is activated by lighting camphor. The inner core where the idol is placed is usually dark. When you pray you close your eyes and after that you open your eyes and see the camphor, which is lit to do the Aarthi. Your sight sense is activated when you see the light after the dark.

Placing Hands over the Camphor Flames

After offering the prayer the camphor is brought to you, and you usually put your hands over the camphor to make your hands warm and then you touch your eyes with your warm hands. This is to activate the touch sense.

Offering Flowers to God

Flowers are beautiful to look at. They are soft and have a lovely fragrance. Only certain flowers that have fragrance like jasmine, rose, and marigold are used in offerings. It is to keep your smell sense active that flowers, incense sticks and camphor are used in temples.

Drinking Theertham

A silver or copper vessel is used to pour Theertham, which usually has thulsi leaves. It is kept aside for eight hours in the copper vessel. This is to positively charge the water. To balance all the three doshas in your body (vata, pitta and kapha) water should be stored in a copper vessel, which is a scientifically proven fact according to Ayurveda. You activate the taste sense by drinking this Thulasi water.

Doing Pradakshina around the Moolasthanam

The Moolasthanam absorbs all the energy and your five senses are also activated when you ring the bell, light the camphor and offer flowers and fruits. You tend to absorb all these positive vibrations when you do the pradakshina.

Applying Tilak/Kumkum

A major nerve point in human body lies between the two eyebrows on the forehead. The Tilak is believed to prevent the loss of “energy”. You press your forehead while applying kumkum. This also facilitates the blood supply to the face muscles.

Offering Coconut and Banana to God

Unlike an apple, coconut and banana are considered as sacred fruits. Apple is treated as tainted because an apple tree grows from the seed of another eaten fruit. To grow a coconut tree and plantain you need to plant an entire coconut and a sapling, respectively.

Five Tips For Stress Free Travel

Let’s face the fact; the whole traveling event is quite stressful. We plan a holiday to get away from the pressures of home and work, but navigating through the airport to catch your flight becomes the most stressful part of the whole trip. You don’t want to become all stressed before you even leave the airport, so here are some helpful tips that will help you travel smoothly without any stress and enjoy your vacation.

Arrive Early

Long gone are those days when you can show an hour before your flight, but now the circumstances have changed a lot. Many times I have seen people waiting outside in the parking for a shuttle complaining that they might miss their flight if the van doesn’t come soon. That’s why my honest recommendation that arrives at least three hours before your flight at the airport.

Pack Light

The best way to reduce stress is by packing light. If you can pack light with only one carry-on bag, it will save you time at the check in counter. You can walk straight to the computer, check in your bag and be on your way to the security line in not time. Trust me, lugging a heavy back anywhere can be stressful. You will realise half of the things you don’t need on your vacation, and you won’t be happy with all that clutter you carried for no reason.

Check In Online

Check in 24 hours before your flight will save you a lot of time and will help you in avoiding all the hassle at the airport. Make use of your smartphone, check in online and either get a print out of your ticket, or you can save it on your phone. That way when you reach the airport, you don’t have to waste your time at the check in counter.

Be Prepared

Be ready to face strict security measures at the airport. I keep all the things that I need out onto the bin, so they are readily available. When I reach the conveyor belt, everything is out in a flash. All liquids should be packed in a bottle of 100ml or less and then kept in a small Ziploc bag. Don’t wear any metal jewellery or keep any loose change with you as it will beep when you pass the security check and create trouble.

Create A Care Package

When packing your luggage pack a small handbag or backpack in which you can carry the things that you will need during the flight. Ever since I started carrying a small bag with me, my trips have become more enjoyable. I usually pack things that I’ll be needing urgently like the following:

• Ear buds to prevent noise

• Lip balm and skin moisturiser

• Hand sanitizer

• Credit Card to make any in-flight purchases

• Travel toothpaste and toothbrush

• iPhone

• Sunglasses

• Some basic meds if I feel nauseate on the flight.

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Instant Messaging Legal Issues – Five Legal Concerns With Instant Messaging

1. Internet messaging legal issue: Defamation – If you publish defamatory statements via internet messages you may face legal issues for civil defamation, and in some countries criminal liability. Defamation is a tort, or legal wrong. It is a general term which is used globally, but in some countries can be divided into two categories, libel and slander. Australia has abolished the distinction between libel and slander. A defamatory statement is one which lowers a person’s reputation in the minds of right thinking members of society generally, or causes them to be shunned or avoided.

Libel refers to defamation by writing, images, broadcast or published works, and tends to be in a permanent form, although in England defamatory statements made in theatre are treated as a form of libel. Slander refers to defamation which occurs through speech, sounds, sign language, or gestures; generally communications of a more transient or ephemeral nature. It isn’t always a simple task to assess whether a communication falls into the category of libel or slander. However there is an important legal distinction between libel and slander where the distinction remains. Libel is legally actionable without the need to prove damages, whereas slander requires that the person who is slandered prove special damage to succeed in an action.

There are four exceptions to the above rule in relation to slander where a person can sue if they have been slandered without proving they have suffered damage. The first is where statements have been published accusing a person of committing a crime which can result in imprisonment. The second situation is where statements have been made that a person has a serious contagious disease. The other two categories include suggesting a person is unable to carry out their trade or business or making statements that they are sexually unchaste.

The victim in the above cases of slander only needs to prove a statement has been published. In Commonwealth countries publication of a defamatory statement takes place where the statement is first perceived by a third party. This means that over the internet you can expose yourself potentially to any jurisdiction’s laws of defamation and the person who has been defamed can try to sue you in their country’s courts. Whether they can actually do so depends on several factors.

When engaging in instant messaging it is easy to forget that you could face legal issues if you commit defamation. The victim only needs to show your internet message was published to a third party for you to encounter legal issues if the statement was defamatory or falls into one of the categories above. If the victim were by themselves at the time the statement was received, this would not give rise to legal issues, however if a third party was present when the instant message was transmitted, you could face potential liability for defamation.

Instant messages are similar to other electronic communications like email, posts to forums, bulletin boards, usenet groups and websites, although the latter are all sent via a host computer and stored in a tangible permanent medium until altered or deleted. If they are defamatory in nature, they would constitute libel. By contrast, a communication made by instant messaging (IM), internet relay chat (IRC) or video messaging would probably constitute slander as the user who has engaged in internet messaging is involved in instantaneous real time synchronous communication, analogous to a phone call. The only difference is that internet messaging technology can now entail the transmission of text, graphics, files, video and/or audio. Such communications being instantaneous and interactive resemble the legal character of telephone communications, although when fixed in a tangible medium as an attachment and exposed to a wider audience, they could also constitute libel.

The user who publishes a slanderous statement through internet messages (IM) may believe there are no legal issues which are different from ordinary email or other use of the internet. However it is likely that the user who publishes a communication via an IM will be creating potential legal issues for slander. It is possible to save a text conversation arising through internet messaging (IM) as messages are logged in a local message history and can be retrieved.

2. Internet Messaging legal issues: Invasion of Privacy – public disclosure of private facts

Even if you send an internet message (IM) that isn’t defamatory, you may still face legal issues in some jurisdictions for invasion of privacy or breach of confidence. The legal issues will depend on the laws of the jurisdiction, however if the person you are involved in internet messaging with has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a belief that they are only engaged in instant messaging IM with one person you may face potential legal issues. There is no defence of truth for invasion of privacy. There may be potential legal issues if a victim can establish that they you have engaged in unreasonable disclosure of private facts through your internet messaging (IM).

Instant Messaging (IM) chat transcripts fall within the legal definition of electronically stored information (ESI), and are therefore treated the same way as emails and other electronic records for discovery purposes. Instant messages (IM) are treated the same as e-mails under the discovery laws of most jurisdictions. A user may face legal issues if the records are subpoenaed by the person who alleges an invasion of privacy or other legal wrong, and requests that the third party present give testimony to the effect that they were present when the instant message (IM) was sent. Many people using text or instant messaging wrongly presume if their messages are sent via instant messaging or sent on a mobile phone they are deleted once they have been transmitted. However, most service providers retain a record of text messages and instant messages from one to three months after they are exchanged.

3. Internet Messaging Legal Issues – Cyberharrassment and Stalking

An online Instant Messaging IM user can become a victim of cyber harassment, stalking, or misuse of telecommunication networks which can constitute a criminal offence. Employers and individuals need to protect themselves from legal issues from instant messaging which is used inappropriately. The same is true of other electronic communications although instant messaging (IM) is possibly more susceptible to misuse involving cyber harassment, discrimination, online hate speech, bullying and stalking due to it’s immediate, informal and intrusive nature. A user needs to know how to protect themselves by reporting a user misusing instant messaging IM technology and knowing how to block them from sending further offensive messages. Just like email those using instant messaging can still try to reach the user by changing screen names. This medium of internet communication allows direct real time communications between employees and corporations without giving much thought to the legal issues which could arise when drafting acceptable use policies for email. These systems are regarded as even more casual in nature than emails which makes them a tool more susceptible to misuse for the purpose of sexual harassment, cyber-bullying and other offensive communications.

The legal issues surrounding use of IM were widely publicised when a former congressman Mark Foley was found to have sent explicitly sexual instant messages (IM) to house pages and persons under 18 from his congressional office personal computer. The scandal led to concern about legal issues and warnings about the legal consequences of inappropriate internet messages. Businesses have a legal responsibility under occupational health and safety workplace laws to provide a safe work environment free of harassment, discrimination and other illegal conduct. An organisation needs instant messaging (IM) management tools to deal with the legal issues posed by use of internet messaging IM in the corporate environment. A survey conducted in 2007 revealed that 30% of participants had been the recipients of inappropriate instant messaging communications.

4. Internet Messaging Legal Issues – Security Risks & Compliance Risks: Instant Messaging (IM) has been described by security consultants as a preferred method for hackers to conduct phishing attacks and circulate attachments with computer viruses. More than 1100 security attacks were registered by the Instant Message Security Centre over a three year period. Viruses, trojans and spyware can quickly propagate through an infected users’ internet messaging buddy list. Instant messaging (IM) can lead to wastage of corporate assets, time and resources when abused by employees engaged in social interactions on work time and also through a lack of awareness of the particular security vulnerabilities posed by internet messaging systems. As IM usually occurs using text, it is more vulnerable to eavesdropping, and as user passwords are stored in text, they are accessible to anyone with physical access to the user’s computer. It isn’t feasible to encrypt the password on many instant messaging software applications. Additionally, instant message software demands that the user open UDP ports to the world, which enhances security threats. The use of Instant messaging (IM) solutions in the workplace gives rise to legal issues in terms of compliance with data security, storage and retention laws. Business communications in most jurisdictions must be archived and able to be retrieved under regulations. Many organisations may not appreciate the legal issues and the requirement to preserve instant messages.

5. Internet Messaging Legal Issues: Leakage of embarrassing information, company intelligence or intellectual property – Security breaches can mean that trade secrets/confidential information and a company’s intellectual property is vulnerable to being sent over an insecure network and falling into the hands of a competitor. All kinds of embarrassing and sensitive information can be discovered through IM disclosures. Just like email communications and other electronic records, internet messaging can lead to the discovery of embarrassing corporate secrets and valuable business intelligence, however Employers have been slower to recognise the legal issues associated with instant messaging.

The advent of web 2.0 and social networking sites has created similar legal issues to those associated with IM facilities. It is important that individuals and businesses turn their minds to the unique legal issues and risks posed by this medium of communication in addition to the broader issues associated with the use of electronic data.

Getting Free Legal Advice in France

There are three main ways of getting free legal advice in France, only one of which involves seeking legal aid. French Legal Aid The main system of legal aid in France is called l’aide juridictionnelle. It is available to meet the direct costs of an avocat you may need to engage, as well as other related costs, such as assistance from a huissier de justice (bailiff) or expert witness. The aid is available to anyone who is legally resident in France, whether or not they are of French nationality. It is also available for most types of legal disputes, whether criminal or civil.

However, to gain access to the system there is a tough test of resources, and a sliding scale of support if your income is above the income threshold. This basic net income threshold figure for 2010 is EUR911 per month, a sum that is increased by EUR162 per month for each of two dependent persons living in the household, and EUR101 per month for each of any other dependent persons. The reference year for calculating your entitlement is the previous year of your claim, as indicated on your French tax notice. The figure used is your revenu fiscal de reference. Where your income exceeds the threshold figure, then you may still be entitled to partial legal aid on a reduced scale, as set out on the following table. The figures are for 2010. Where you are given partial assistance, then you will be obliged to settle all supplementary legal costs.

You can obtain an application form for assistance from a local court or avocat, or you can download from the website of the French Ministry of Justice. You would be well advised to get help in completion of the form, or it will be returned to you if found to be incorrect. Indeed, our advice would be to find an avocat you want to act for you, and obtain their assistance. If you win the case, and you are awarded damages, you may be requested to repay some or all of the legal aid awarded to you; by contrast if you lose the case, legal aid will not be available for any costs and damages payable by you to the other party. There are frequently publicly expressed complaints from the French legal profession concerning the hourly rates they receive for doing legal aid work, with the result that not all are willing to do so.

Assurance de protection juridique If you do not meet the income threshold to obtain legal aid, then you can to take out in insurance policy for legal assistance, called assurance de protection juridique. This cover is often included as an optional extra on your household or car insurance policy. It can be added for very little extra cost and we would recommend you take it out with one of these normal policies. The range of cover through an assurance de protection juridique does vary between different insurers and policies. Some policies may restrict cover to litigation concerning the possessions or persons covered through the policy – such as your car or your house – while other polices may offer more general cover. The policies will also have restrictions on the maximum legal costs they are prepared to cover, and some policies set a mimimum amount under dispute before the policy can be used.

You will also find that the cover will rarely be operative until you have held the insurance policy for a minimum period, at least six months, and often longer. The insurance company has no right to impose a particular legal advisor upon you; you are free to choose your own. It is possible to benefit from both l’aide juridictionnelle and assurance de protection juridique to the extent that the insurance policy does not cover all your needs. French Legal Advice Centres Throughout France there exists a network of legal advice centres, located in each of the main towns. These legal advice centres are called ‘Conseil départemental de l’accès au droit (CDAD)’.

They are public bodies, not charitable organisations. The operation of the centres does vary, with some offering free advice to anyone living in the department, and others restricting it to those on a modest income. In general, you should find that if income limits are set, they are quite generous. The centres rely for their operation on the services of avocats, notaires and other legal professionals, who may be available part of the week to offer advice. Generally, you need to ring up and make an appointment for a day when the relevant professional advisor is present.