Iran sanctions, British Airways, JD Sports: your commercial news round-up

updated on 19 September 2019

The legal profession is all over the front pages this week, with all eyes on the Supreme Court as it considers whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully by suspending Parliament. Lord Keen QC, representing the government, is trying to argue that the matter is not for judges to decide on, while Lord Pannick QC, representing campaigners, is trying to convince judges that Parliament was prorogued unlawfully to “silence” MPs ahead of Brexit. Whatever the outcome of the hearing and whatever your view, the fact that the Supreme Court has taken the rare step of asking all 11 of its justices to preside over the hearing speaks to the importance of the case, and today promises to be one of extraordinary legal significance.

While we wait to learn more, take a look at this week’s round-up from the business world – essential reading as ever for those honing their commercial awareness.

  • US President Donald Trump has said he will increase economic sanctions against Iran in response to the US belief that the country was responsible for a drone attack on Saudi Arabian oil refineries, which knocked out half of the Gulf state’s production capacity and caused global oil prices to spike by 20%. The US has already imposed heavy sanctions against Iran, so it remains to be seen where further sanctions can be identified and what their effect will be, if any. Iran denies the claim, pointing to Yemeni Houthi fighters, who have publicly claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • British Airways pilots have called off strike action scheduled for 27 September, but their pay dispute with BA is still unresolved after failed negotiations in which pilots rejected the offer of an 11.5% pay increase over three years. Balpa, the pilots union, said it was time for a period of reflection before the dispute "escalates further and irreparable damage is done to the brand".
  • JD Sports’ takeover of Footasylum is facing further scrutiny from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over concerns that the merger could result in “a worse shopping experience” for customers. JD Sports is the biggest retailer in the sports fashion sector and there are fears that its market dominance could push up prices and reduce choice. The CMA has referred the business, owned by billionaire Mike Ashley, to a phase 2 investigation.
  • UK inflation has fallen to its lowest level in almost three years, which was good news for consumers over the summer months. But economists warn that the trend is a result of businesses’ concerns over Brexit and potential economic slowdown, as companies wait to see beyond the 31 October Brexit deadline before adjusting their prices.