Month: September 2020

Oil refinery, sugar, supermarkets and TV entertainment

first_img Oiling the wheels: Magic circle firm ­Linklaters advised 31 ­commercial banks, along with export credit agencies, Islamic finance providers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia on providing $8.5bn (£5.62bn) of financing for an oil refinery building ­project to be completed by Saudi Aramco Total Refinery and Petrochemical Company, which was advised by magic circle firm Allen & Overy. That’s entertainment: The London office of US firm Mayer Brown advised Entertainment One, producer and distributor of the Twilight films and Peppa Pig cartoon series, on its admission to the main market of the London Stock Exchange, due to take place today. Sweet as a nut: US firm Shearman & Sterling advised cane sugar refiner American Sugar on its £211m purchase of the European business of Tate & Lyle, which was advised by Linklaters. Comedy collection: City firm Olswang advised Elisabeth Murdoch’s TV production company Shine on acquiring comedy TV producer Brown Eyed Boy, which claims to have discovered comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (pictured), from media investment company Motive Television, advised by southcoast firm Moore Blatch, and founder Gary Reich, advised by London firm Michael Simkins. Supermarket sweep: National firm Eversheds, City firm Lovells and Channel Islands firm Ogier advised supermarket chain Waitrose on acquiring five supermarkets from Channel Islands retailer Sandpiper. Sandpiper was advised by magic circle firm Clifford Chance and ­Channel Islands firm Carey Olsen.last_img read more

The struggle over the European Law Institute

first_img For more Euro blogs go to http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/blogs/euro. Prepare yourself for a battle of similarly sounding initials. This is a story of how ELIA has been struggling with EUI, and how they have then decided to make common cause to be able to carve out the spoils of the battle between themselves, and so decide who else should have a share. The object of this energetic activity is the forthcoming European Law Institute, which was announced as a worthy cause in the recent Stockholm Programme Action Plan outlining future EU activity in the field of justice, and further championed by justice commissioner Viviane Reding. She wanted an institute launched to ensure legal consistency in Europe, and to guarantee better legal cooperation. She saw it as a joint venture between all those with an interest in the law – judges, legal practitioners and law professors (that is the order she used, and it should be noted). In UK terms, the institute can be seen as close to a Law Commission. Favourable references are also often made to the American Law Institute as a possible precedent. The question is what this institute is going to do and who is going to set it up. Ms Reding expressly said that form should follow function. In other words, the activities of the institute should be decided first, and then its membership and structure should follow. But that is not how human nature works. Groups have been jostling to set up this body, and inevitably they seem to want it to reflect their own interests. Jonathan Goldsmith is the secretary general of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), which represents over 700,000 European lawyers through its member bars and law societiescenter_img ELIA stands for the Association for a European Law Institute, and of its board and secretaries of 12 people, 11 are from universities. EUI stands for the European University Institute based in Florence, which describes itself as (and is) ‘a world-class postgraduate and postdoctoral research institute for economics, history, law, political and social Sciences’. These two groups, either exclusively or almost exclusively academic-led, each want to set up the new European Law Institute. However, they have now joined forces and drawn up a memorandum, The Hamburg Memorandum no less, which gives their views on how matters should proceed. Inevitably, membership is decided before activities, rather than the other way around: membership at point 6; organisational structure, including how many from each founding body should be included, at point 8; funding at point 9; and then the memorandum states: ‘The discussion then turns on possible tasks of the ELI.’ I don’t think that this is what commissioner Reding meant when she said that form should follow function. I am not just having a bit of fun here, because the serious question arises about the role and interests of the poor bloody infantry, in other words the ordinary practitioner. The Hamburg Memorandum gives the game away when it says: ‘Membership should not be restricted to academics .’ In other words, they are seen as the primary group. It goes on to say ‘but should include the various branches of the legal profession’. Well, that’s generous. Not surprisingly, the CCBE takes a slightly different view. We have no policies on the detail of structure or activities at this stage, but believe the following: ‘To foster the development of a European judicial area, the CCBE supports the creation of a European Law Institute that would be focused on the practice of EU law and on its development, would liaise with relevant stakeholders and would consist of judges, lawyers and academics.’ Here, function is clear – the practise of EU law and its development – and membership obviously follows. There are important issues at stake, since a future European Law Institute will have great influence over the development of EU law. Early decisions are already indicated in the Hamburg Memorandum: the institute should not apply for tenders for outside funding; membership should be restricted to individuals, and so organisations should not be allowed to join; there will be no teaching or legal education function. These may be right or wrong – personally, I think the institute would benefit from organisational, and not only individual, membership – but the main point is that they are being taken on a preliminary basis and might become actual. Maybe I should have made it clear at the outset that, although ELIA has formally accepted the joint Hamburg Memorandum, the EUI is still considering its official position on it. It may yet take a different line. What is clear, though, is that now is the time for those who are interested in such issues to make their views known. I am waiting for further groups of initials to declare themselves.last_img read more

CML predicts quality scheme will become ‘prerequisite’ for conveyancers

first_imgThe Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) is expected to become a ‘pre-requisite’ for membership of lenders’ panels once it becomes established, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said today. More than 700 firms have applied to join the quality assurance scheme since it launched in January. It is intended to create a trusted conveyancing community that will deter fraud, recognise high-quality services for home-buyers and lenders, and deliver a robust assessment and monitoring procedure. The CML said it supports a CQS that represents a credible means of driving up standards among conveyancers, and improving lender and consumer confidence. Once the scheme achieves the Law Society’s goal of providing a ‘confidence boost’ for the lender market, CML said it expects the CQS to become a ‘prerequisite’ for membership of lenders’ conveyancing panels. CML director general Michael Coogan said the lenders’ body had worked closely with the Law Society as it developed the scheme, to ensure conveyancing standards are improved for consumers and lenders alike. He said: ‘We are encouraged by the initial interest from solicitor firms that have already applied to the scheme. We urge conveyancing firms to join the scheme, and to do so quickly so that their business is not adversely affected.’ Coogan said: ‘Any conveyancing firm that wants to continue to act on behalf of lenders should expect the CQS to become an important new criterion for panel management, and expect to be asked by their clients whether their firm has been accredited.’ Law Society president Linda Lee said: ‘In our ongoing talks on the wider issue of membership of mortgage lender panels with the CML and major lenders, it is clear that there is support for the CQS. The scheme provides a beacon of quality for home buyers.’ The Society is to start a consumer advertising and PR campaign to promote CQS at the end of April, to inform home-buyers about the scheme and how it benefits them. Firms looking to achieve CQS accreditation are required to comply with a number of enhanced standards covering the competence and probity of staff, the financial standing of the firm and supervision, safeguards and processes. As a key part of the scheme, the Law Society undertakes extensive identity and other checks on all relevant members of staff employed by member firms. As well as the self-monitoring and quality assurance required of member firms, the Law Society monitors accredited firms to ensure standards are maintained, carrying out random monitoring and assessment visits.last_img read more

Freedom of information and datasets

first_imgIn January, the government announced plans to amend the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoI) to ensure public authorities proactively release data in a way that allows businesses, non-profit organisations and others to reuse it for social and commercial purposes. OpenlyLocal, a local government data aggregation site, has said that, at present, most councils do not provide ‘fully’ open data that could be reused and distributed, while the cabinet minister Francis Maude accused councils last year of ‘deliberately making data unusable to anyone else’. On the other hand, some authorities have expressed concerns about FoI being ‘abused’ by the private sector. They have cited ­examples of FoI requests where they are effectively asked to do unpaid research or to supply information, which is then sold on to other public authorities. Clause 92 of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, currently going through parliament, contains proposals to require all public authorities to release datasets in a reusable electronic format. If passed, which seems likely, it will mean more FoI requests from commercial companies and data aggregators, and fewer reasons for public authorities to say no. Datasets to be released in reusable electronic form Clause 92 of the bill will amend section 11 of FoI (means by which communication is to be made). At present, section 11 allows a requester to choose the format of the information to be supplied to them. As long as this is reasonably practicable the public authority must give effect to his preference. A new section 11(1A) will mean that in future, where a request is made for information held by a public authority that is a dataset, or which forms part of a dataset, and the applicant requests that information be communicated in an electronic form, then the public authority must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide the information in an electronic form that is capable of reuse. This is in a machine-readable form using open standards which enables its reuse and manipulation. Thus, in future, authorities will be prevented from turning an Excel spreadsheet into a PDF document before releasing it in order to stop recipients conducting their own analysis or reformatting the data. New section 11(1A) uses the words ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. There is no absolute duty for datasets to be provided in a reusable format because it is recognised that, in some instances, there may be practical difficulties in relation to costs and IT to convert the format of the information. A dataset is a collection of information held in electronic form where all or most of the information meets the four criteria set out in the following paragraphs (of the new section 11(5) of FoI):Examples of the types of datasets which meet the definition will include postcodes and references used to identify properties, spend data, lists of assets and information about job roles in a public authority. Proactive publication What is a dataset? Reuse of copyright workscenter_img Ibrahim Hasan, solicitor and director of Act Now Training Once a dataset is disclosed following an FoI request, the Protection of Freedoms Bill amends FoI to place obligations on the public authority to make that dataset more widely available. Under new section 19(2A) of FoI, publication schemes must include a requirement for the public authority to publish any dataset it holds, which is requested by an applicant, and any updated version of the dataset. All datasets published in this way will have to, where reasonably practicable, be in an electronic form which is capable of reuse and any relevant copyright work within it will have to be made available for reuse in accordance with the terms of the specified licence (as above). New section 19(2A) requires ­authorities to publish any dataset as discussed above unless ‘the authority is satisfied that it is not appropriate for the dataset to be ­published’. The Campaign for Freedom of Information, in its submission to the Protection of Freedoms Bill Committee on clause 92 of the bill, has criticised this carveout as not within the spirit of the act and because it involves a subjective element which will be difficult for the information commissioner to oversee. It remains to be seen whether this provision is amended as per the campaign’s suggestion to a ‘reasonably practicable’ test.Clause 92(5)(a) of the bill amends section 45 of the FoI (issue of code of practice) to insert a new requirement for the code of practice to include provision relating to the disclosure by public authorities of datasets held by them. Paragraph (b) of the same clause sets out the different provisions relating to the reuse and disclosure of datasets that may, in particular, be included in the code. Paragraph (c) amends section 45(3) of the FoI so as to provide for the possibility of making more than one code of practice under section 45, each of which makes different provision for different public authorities. The new FoI obligations to be ­introduced by the Protection of Freedoms Bill will no doubt mean more work for public authorities at a time when money is scarce and staff levels are being reduced. There will be at least one new code of practice to implement as well as a new ­publication scheme to adopt. It will be interesting to see the terms of the ‘specified licence’ and to what extent, if at all, public authorities will be able to charge for allowing reuse of datasets. New section 11A(2) provides that, when communicating a dataset to an FoI applicant and all or part of the dataset contains a relevant copyright work, a public authority must make the copyright work available for reuse in accordance with the terms of the specified licence. The terms of such a licence will be specified in a new section 45 of the Code of Practice. It is not known at present whether such licences will allow ­public authorities to charge for ­allowing reuse. The definition of a ‘relevant copyright work’ includes a copyright work – as defined by the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1998 – as well as a database subject to a database right. This provision is designed to prevent public authorities from refusing to release datasets on the basis that they contain a copyright work and so are exempt under section 43 (commercial interests). New section 11A(1) provides for the four criteria which must be met for the new requirement to allow reuse of datasets (in section 11A(2)) to apply: (a) a person must have made a request for a dataset or part of it; (b) the dataset requested includes a ‘relevant copyright work’; (c) that the public authority is the only owner of the ‘relevant copyright work’ (in other words that it is not owned in whole or in part by a third party); and (d) that the public authority is communicating the relevant copyright work to the requester under the FoI – in other words, it is not being withheld under one of the exemptions. These provisions will require public authority information professionals and lawyers to brush up on their knowledge of copyright and database law. There are many cross-references to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1998 as well as the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997. It has to have been obtained or recorded for the purpose of providing a public authority with information in connection with the provision of a service by the authority or the carrying out of any other function of the authority; It is factual information which (a) is not the product of interpretation or analysis other than calculation, in other words that it is the ‘raw’ or ‘source’ data; and (b) is not an official statistic – the meaning given by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 (SRSA) (official statistics have been excluded from the definition of datasets because the production and publication of official statistics is provided for separately in the SRSA 2007); and It remains presented in a way that – except for the purpose of forming part of the collection – has not been organised, adapted or otherwise materially altered since it was obtained or recorded (datasets which have had ‘value’ added to them or which have been materially altered, for example in the form of analysis, representation or application of other expertise, would not fall within the definition).last_img read more

Society protests against treatment of Chinese lawyers

first_imgThe Law Society is to take part in a ‘mass intervention’ to protest at the maltreatment of human rights lawyers in China, after an Amnesty International report published last week revealed that the Beijing government has intensified its clampdown on their work. The report said the government is tightening its control over lawyers by carrying out state violence when other forms of pressure have failed to end a lawyer’s human rights activities. Lawyers are being threatened with ‘suspension, disbarment and even criminal punishment’ for taking up sensitive cases, the report claimed. It said some have been placed under surveillance, while others have become victims of forced disappearances. Just a few hundred of China’s 204,000 lawyers risk taking up human rights work because of this constant harassment, the report added. A Law Society spokesman said it was taking part in a ‘mass intervention’ through which a range of human rights groups will send letters of protest to the Chinese government, including Amnesty International. Join our LinkedIn Human Rights sub-grouplast_img read more

Houses of horror

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The power of the mediator

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The last of the tradesmen

first_imgGet your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe now for unlimited accesslast_img read more

Hansom

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Risky business

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGINlast_img read more