Your commercial news round-up: student lawsuit, Balenciaga, four-day work week, Qatar, royal aide resignation

updated on 01 December 2022

Reading time: three minutes

Students could win £5,000 each in compensation from universities across the UK over their handling of covid-19 and strikes. Balenciaga’s spring campaign featured child pornography papers, and more than 100 companies in the UK have implemented a four-day work week. But that’s not all, Qatar is considering pulling its investment in London after Transport for London (TFL) banned the country’s adverts from its transport network. Plus, a royal resignation over racist remarks. There’s a lot of newsworthy information from the past week, and we’re here to put the top stories on your radar with this week’s commercial news round-up.  

  • Students across the UK have launched a multi-million-pound legal action suit against UK universities over covid-19 and strike disruption. Nearly 20,000 students have already joined Student Group Claim, supported by leading legal solicitors, to seek compensation from their universities through a no win, no fee class action claim. Letters before claim have already been sent to 18 universities including University College London, Kings College London, London School of Economics, and the Universities of Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Warwick, and Cardiff. If successful, UK students are estimated to win £5,000, with international students set to gain much more.  
  • From one law suit to the next, luxury fashion house Balenciaga is suing the production company behind its spring 2023 ad campaign after paperwork about a Supreme Court ruling on child pornography featured in one of its campaign images. The brand is seeking $25 million in damages from production company North Six, Inc, and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins. Balenciaga said in the summons it believes the defendants' "inexplicable acts and omissions were malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless". This is the second controversy Balenciaga is facing this week, after a separate campaign pictured children holding teddy bears dressed in bondage, which the brand has since labelled as “a wrong choice”.  
  • In happier news, more than 100 companies across the UK have permanently adopted a four-day work week following the covid-19 pandemic. Employees who are members of these organisations (which include a bank and a marketing company) work reduced hours but are certified by the 4 Day Week campaign group not to be paid any less despite working fewer hours. Employers have described the five-day work week as outdated and claimed to have made the switch to attract prospective workers, and boost productivity and employee wellbeing. Adam Ross, CEO of marketing company Awin, made the switch stating it was "one of the most transformative initiatives we've seen in the history of the company". 
  • From booming business to the potential loss of investment, Qatar is reportedly reviewing its investment in London after TFL banned the country’s adverts from its transport network. TFL made the decision to remove Qatar’s adverts from buses, taxis and trains over concerns relating to Qatar’s human rights record; particularly its laws against homosexuality and treatment of migrant workers. In response Qatar said it’s “reviewing their current and future investments” in London. A member of the Qatari review board added that the TFL ban “has been interpreted as a message from the mayor’s office that Qatari business is not welcome in London”. The Gulf state is currently one of London’s largest investors, with the Qatar Investment Authority owning the Shard, Knightsbridge Harrods store, and being a partial owner of both Canary Wharf and Heathrow.  
  • A royal aide has resigned after it was reported she had allegedly interrogated a guest at Buckingham Palace over where she was ‘really from’. Lady Susan Hussey, who served as Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years, has been accused of making “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments” to Ngozi Fulani, the director of East London charity Sistah Space, as reported in The Telegraph. Fulani, who’s British-born, wrote on Twitter that within minutes of arriving at the palace Lady Hussey (who she referred to on social media as ‘Lady SH’) moved her hair to view her name badge, before continuously pestering her about where she was from. Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, was standing beside Fulani at the time and described the exchange as “grim” and like an “interrogation”. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson has said that “all members of the household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times”. 

Check the News every Thursday for this weekly commercial news round-up. 

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