2022 was a year of extremes, with focus on our longest-reigning Monarch alongside our shortest-serving Prime Minister (and a lettuce).
It was a great summer for collective spectatorship, as we got to watch England win the Women's Euros and the Wagatha Christie trial unfold. There were shocking celebrity moments when Elon Musk grabbed the world's attention by buying Twitter, and the Oscars certainly packed a punch. Despite many happy moments, we can't overlook the year's worst stories, including, but unfortunately not limited to: Russia's invasion of Ukraine, spiralling energy prices, and supply-chain disruptions.
2023 looks set to be another year of highs and lows. Below, the RPC trainees give their predictions on the upcoming FIFA World Cup when the Women's tournament is jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, the development of lab-grown meat, and the arrival of the Metaverse. We also speculate that house prices will continue to fall which will be welcome news for wannabe-first time buyers (although there is, of course, a risk that any increased spending power will be immediately offset by the end of Netflix password sharing). The trainees also cover the gloomier topics of the looming recession, rising interest rates and the on-going cost-of-living crisis.
Read on to find out what the trainees think 2023 has in store.
2022 was not the big bounce-back year for business and the economy that was expected following the end of UK Covid restrictions.
As businesses try to cope with ever-increasing operating costs, due to the energy crisis and supply chain issues, there is likely to be a requirement for more government intervention. However, from April 2023, government help is set to be curtained. The trainees believe more help will be required unless the economic forecast improves. Taxpayers will also be hit from April as the personal allowance freeze continues. As a result, some trainees can see the reduction in consumer spending continuing or worsening after this point.
The trainees predict that interest rate rises are likely to have peaked in the aftermath of the September mini-budget, and we are likely to see a gradual return to pre-September rates as the UK comes out of a recession towards the second half of 2023. Only time will tell how long this will actually take. The rise in interest rates has also caused some landlords to start selling up. This has increased the supply of available properties in the market and the trainees believe that property prices are therefore likely to fall throughout 2023, something we already saw starting to happen in the latter months of 2022. So at least there looks to be some good news on the horizon for those looking to buy their first property!
When one thing works in the entertainment world, it tends to cause a domino effect (anyone know whether there are any more Disney films that haven't had a live action remake?). If the upcoming HBO series, The Last of Us, based on a popular (and pretty terrifying) video game about a zombie invested post-apocalyptic world, as well as the Super Mario Movie being released in the spring, are big hits, we predict an influx of announcements of video games being adapted for film and TV.
Studios and streaming services will also be keen to ensure they are putting out the best projects. With the cost-of-living crisis affecting disposable income, we expect that consumers will be taking a hard look at which streaming services they can cut back on during 2023. We think streaming services will see a decrease in their users, and other platforms will follow Netflix in further limiting the number of devices that can be used per account to prevent large numbers of distant family or acquaintances sharing the same password.
On the other hand, we predict that consumers may attend the cinema more in 2023 than in 2022. With increasingly more big films being released straight onto streaming services, those films that do follow the more traditional path of being released in the cinema have made a lot of money in the box office in recent months and we predict this trend will continue. Those films that have had a very short spell in the cinema before being put on streaming sites (like The Glass Onion) have seen a lot of success with high numbers viewing at the cinema. With households cutting back on the number of streaming services they subscribe to, there will be more room in the budget to have a treat visit to the local cinema every now and again, something which many will have missed during the pandemic.
Legal in England and Wales
The extension of the fixed costs regime is bound to be a hot topic in the legal sector in 2023, seeing the regime applying to most civil cases worth up to £100,000. With the MOJ's promise of the regime being extended in October 2023, we are likely to see a big shake up in the business model of claimant solicitor firms across the country. However, given the multiple delays to date, it remains to be seen whether fixed costs will roll over to our 2024 predictions!
The court's continual backlog will no doubt be an issue to tackle next year. History has demonstrated that more litigation occurs during difficult economic times, so it is likely we will see the courts become even more overwhelmed as 2023 progresses and we can expect delays to increase further. The court will need to embrace innovation if it is to overcome the long delays that are becoming the norm for court users.
Finally, despite previous trainee predictions that competition for NQ jobs would increase, 2022 saw quite the opposite. Indeed, firms have been fighting tooth and nail for fresh talent, with many raising their NQ salaries by unprecedented amounts to attract the best candidates. The changing economic outlook is unlikely to see this trend continue. However, we predict (from a completely neutral standpoint, of course) that there is likely to remain a need for bright, junior lawyers, particularly in litigation firms. In fact, litigation may well be one of the strongest sectors to weather the economic storm that 2023 looks set to bring as court cases are predicted to increase.
Over the next 12 months, Women’s sport is set to continue to grow, with the headline act being the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. After the Lioness’ brilliant UEFA Euro 2022 campaign earlier this year, the tournament is set to be a ‘roaring’ success amongst English sports fans in particular (pun very much intended).
On the commercial side of sport, we may witness the sale of two footballing giants in Liverpool and Manchester United (see comments from RPC’s Josh Charalambous in The Times and continued debate surrounding betting sponsorship in major sports. We may also see the potential fallout from increased pushback against ‘sportswashing’ (as has been seen already with TFL’s ban on Qatari ads on London’s public transport network).
Finally, climate change will be another ‘hot’ topic this year, as the sports world battles with the optics and logistics of hosting major sports events at a time when concern for our planet’s wellbeing seems at an all-time high. For instance, this year UK Sport became a signatory to the UN Sport for Climate Action, and the International Olympic Committee is considering, amongst other climate-related initiatives, introducing temperature-based criteria for potential host cities of the Winter Olympics.
2022 saw technology become a more stable presence in our lives than in the tumultuous, covid-affected preceding years. However, it was a tricky year for crypto, as the 'crypto-winter' saw the market experience a drastic slump. The situation was not helped by the very public collapse of the FTX, one of the world's largest crypto exchanges, and the arrest of its founder amidst rumours of dodgy dealings ("will Sam Bankman be Fried?" one trainee asked). The trainees think that regulation could be the name of the game in 2023 if crypto is to return to its former glory, as serious investors are likely to want reassurance that proper safeguards will be put in place.
Heightened regulation also looks set to impact social media, particularly by way of the UK's incoming Online Safety Bill, which will put stronger obligations on platforms to take proactive steps to reduce the visibility of harmful material, as well as the anticipated arrival of the Digital Markets Unit, a big tech regulator which aims to strengthen consumer protections in the tech marketplace.
The trainees are also intrigued by the ongoing development of the metaverse across a variety of platforms and think it likely that consumers and businesses will continue to experiment with its applicability in the coming year. Perhaps the 2023 trainee intake will be inducted through a virtual model of the office...
It seems like we have had enough political drama in the last twelve months to last a decade but that doesn’t stop us looking to what could be a crucial year in UK politics next year. One trainee was hoping for some stability and calm after even a lettuce outlasted one of our most recent leaders! However, some pondered whether we could be heading into another period of "interesting times" once the January blues start to kick in and reality starts calling.
Whoever leads us throughout 2023 (and the trainees are wary that whoever is leading at the beginning of 2023 may not be there at the end) will certainly have a full plate to deal with as the year starts with widespread industrial action and rising prices at the top of the agenda. One trainee even predicted that strikes could continue well into the spring and summer.
Finally, further change could be in order with local elections loaded for May. Voters will be returning to the ballot box and the trainees also think that there could be a swing in public opinion, based on recent by-election results, which could trigger a wider political movement. What direction that movement will be in remains to be seen.
It was a very icy December for the UK in 2022. However, freezing temperatures are not set to continue throughout the winter. "La Nina's" temporary cooling effect on global average temperature is scheduled to come to an end in 2023 and projected average global temperature rises will reach at least 1°C above what they were in pre-industrial times for the 10th year in a row. The trainees predict that climate concerns will remain top of business (and hopefully government) agendas to give a boosted drive for creative ways of offsetting the impacts of the growing climate emergency.
In addition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, other factors combined to heighten energy and food security concerns in 2022. The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation has confirmed that food production accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, 30% of global energy consumption, 72% of freshwater usage and 40% of land usage. Therefore, new agricultural solutions for food production will likely be a focal point for 2023 but the trainees remain sceptical about whether "clean solutions" will gain much traction.
With the recent approval of cellular (lab grown) meat production for the first time by the US Food and Drug Administration, the trainees debated whether they would happily switch their meal deal chicken wrap for a cellular chicken alternative. Unsurprisingly, many would still prefer "real meat". It will be interesting to see whether regulatory agendas align with technological solutions to create a wholesale change in food habits and production for 2023.