Track and trace system, vaccines, Taylor Rose, EasyJet, Ovo Energy, Aldi: your commercial news round-up

updated on 21 May 2020

As aspiring lawyers it’s important that you keep up to date with the news and trends from the legal and business world and understand what they mean for law firms and companies. Use this week’s commercial news round-up as a tool to get you started and take a look at LCN’s guide to commercial awareness for useful advice to help you develop your skills. 

  • A coronavirus track and trace system will be in place by the end of May, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The system, which was abandoned in March as covid-19 cases rocketed, aims to prevent a second wave and help to ease the UK lockdown. Johnson has promised that it will be in place on 1 June for the reopening of schools in England. His announcement followed the government’s deputy chief scientific adviser Professor Dame Angela McLean’s warning that the system must be up and running for the easing of social distancing measures to be safe.
  • The government has assigned another £85 million to development of the UK’s two coronavirus vaccines – the University of Oxford and Imperial College London will receive £65.5 million and £18.5 million, respectively. Meanwhile a global licensing deal had been struck with the Oxford University trial and AstraZeneca. If the trials produce an effective vaccine the deal will enable the pharmaceutical giant to provide 30 million vaccine doses in the UK and 70 million doses globally by September. AstraZeneca’s Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said: “Our company is working hard to establish parallel supply agreements with other nations and multilateral organisations to ensure fair and equitable access around the world.”
  • A saliva test for coronavirus is being developed after the co-founder of online fashion brand Boohoo and a Cambridge based firm struck a deal. While the test kit is still being developed and is awaiting approval by regulators, it has been designed to provide a result within 10 minutes and is expected to be available to buy in the UK in July.
  • Taylor Rose has bought McMillan Williams in a pre-pack administration deal, making the consumer firm a top 75 UK law firm. The acquisition came after Law Society President Simon Davis warned earlier in May that more than 70% of high street firms could close as the coronavirus crisis continues.
  • Law firms that cannot secure professional indemnity insurance as a result of “practical difficulties” that have emerged in the wake of the global pandemic can prolong the extended indemnity period by agreement and with regulatory approval, the Solicitors Regulation Authority announced. Law Society President Simon Davis said: “The SRA’s speedy and positive action creates space for firms to arrange extra time to resolve issues. A good example of close consultation working to the benefit of the profession and public.”
  • EasyJet has admitted that a “highly sophisticated cyber attack” affected around nine million customers, with email addresses and travel details being stolen. The credit card details of 2,208 customers were also accessed, including the three-digit security code on the back of the card. "There is no evidence that any personal information of any nature has been misused, however, on the recommendation of the ICO, we are communicating with the approximately nine million customers whose travel details were accessed to advise them of protective steps to minimise any risk of potential phishing”, the airline said.

The budget airline has also announced plans to resume a small number of flights on 15 June, starting with domestic routes in the UK and France. Increased safety measures will be implemented on board flights, including mandatory face masks and no food service onboard.

  • Following Ovo Energy’s merger with SSE Energy Services, it has revealed plans to cut 2,600 jobs – the coronavirus crisis has been blamed for part of the cuts. The UK’s second largest energy supplier closed a £500 million deal for SSE’s retail arm earlier in the year and announced that its integration plans for the business had been accelerated by the pandemic. Positions across both SSE and Ovo Energy will be affected by the job losses, with voluntary redundancies over 2020 set to make up most of the cuts, according to Ovo.
  • Aldi has announced a new partnership with Deliveroo to launch its first grocery delivery service. The budget supermarket plans to trial the service from a Nottingham store before it extends it to a further seven East Midlands stores in June. This venture comes after Aldi launched an online food parcel delivery service to support vulnerable or self-isolating customers during the pandemic.

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