Latest Posts

City law firm founded before the French Revolution in merger

City law firm Druces, which last year celebrated its 250th anniversary, is to merge with West End firm Ronaldsons.

Following the merger Druces will climb to 15th on the list of law firms in the UK with the most AIM clients, according to Adviser Rankings.

Read more: Exclusive: City law firm Rosenblatt mulling a London IPO

The firm will add capital markets partners Stephen Ronaldson and Dominic Traynor to its team alongside litigation partner Neil Hayter, property consultant Roger France-Hayhurst, an associate and several support staff.

Druces’ senior partner Roy Campbell said: “In 2017 we celebrated our 250th anniversary and now we are looking at the next 250 years.”

Campbell said that the firm had some client relationships that stretched back 150 years, but despite this legacy he emphasised the forward looking nature of the business.

“The firm was set up in 1767, which is earlier than the US declaration of independence and the French revolution, but we don’t dwell on the past we have to keep moving forward,” he said.

Read more: Will the number of listed law firms double over the next 12 months?

Campbell said that the firm was going from “strength to strength” and was “on track to announce a fourth year of double digit financial growth”.

Senior partner at Ronaldsons, Stephen Ronaldson, said that the deal “will complement our existing strengths and enable clients to benefit from Druces broader competencies and skill sets.”

The merger will go live on 3 April.

Go to Source

Without stringent law, threats to Mark Zuckerberg are hollow: Experts

The best way of keeping a check on the manipulation of elections through campaigns on Facebook is by introducing a strong data protection policy, said experts. After the Cambridge Analytica row, all eyes are on the use of such tools during the upcoming general election in India. Union Law and Information Technology (IT) Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday warned Facebook and other social networks of tough action, if they attempted to influence the Indian elections. However, experts said these threats are hollow because the current law protecting user data lacks teeth. “Without a strong data protection law, we wouldn’t quite be able to take any action as what has happened is not a breach. While Section 43A of the IT Act talks about lack of consent from the users, it does not spell out any consequence for violating the same,” said Pranesh Prakash, policy director at think tank The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS). “Essentially, it’s a toothless tiger.” Having a data protection law might not directly stop firms from buying data from third-party developers and then deploying it for targeted users, but it is a great pre-emptive measure to stop unnecessary data collection. If users are asked to give consent for their data, it would vastly reduce the risk. “The government’s statement would be well supported, if it would be bringing a law, listening to key voices of experts and civil society.

Even though the Justice Srikrishna Committee is currently examining and is expected to come out with a draft law, the timeline, transparency and willingness to safeguard user rights need to be better demonstrated,” said Apar Gupta, an independent lawyer. Other experts have voiced their concerns over allowing tech giants to take sensitive user data out of the country. Once the data is out of India’s jurisdiction, there is no way to ensure these companies are following the laws mandated by the government. “Facebook is not an Indian company. We do not know how far it is complying with India’s IT Act. We should not be compromising on security and allow tech firms to play in the market without complying with the laws,” says Pavan Duggal, cyber law expert and Supreme Court advocate. While both the Congress and the BJP have accused each other of working with Cambridge Analytica and denied their own affiliation with the company, the UK-based firm was already functioning in India through its partner Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI). The OBI website, which has now been taken down, had listed the BJP, the Congress and Janata Dal (United) as its clients.

Go to Source

Tech firms got greater leniency globally, says expert

The present episode needs to be a deep wakeup call for the Indian nation.

Bengaluru: Content and technology firms — be it Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Apple or Whatsapp — have been dealt with greater amount of leniency by regulators and governments globally, said experts in the wake of the Facebook fiasco.

These firms have gone overboard and started taking undue advantage of customers’ excitement for internet-driven technologies and connectivity, said Dr  Sridhar, an authority on data regulatory issues, also a faculty at IIIT-Bangalore.

“In most cases, no anti-trust laws are evoked against these companies even for grave customer right violations.  The dominance of these companies are viewed only as emergence of leadership by governments and regulators. Because of their global presence, they become non-jurisdictional in every geography.  Hope the Facebook fiasco will open up the eyes of regulators and trigger more stringent regulations,” said Dr Sridhar.

Facebook’s sharing of user data with Cambridge Analytica has attracted widespread attention, to the extent that the US Federal Trade Commission would be probing to determine whether user data had in fact been shared by Facebook with Cambridge Analytica.

Prashant Phillip — partner & practice head (technology) Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan Attorneys said, “The United States is very mature in terms of having data protection and privacy regime. It remains to be seen as to what impact this is likely to have on Facebook in the long run. However, owing to this incident, the reputation of Facebook has definitely taken a beating, with many users having started to delete their Facebook accounts.”

Supreme Court lawyer and well known cyber expert Pavan Duggal said, it is important that the governments, regulators, customers and technology and content companies take this as a wake up call as such scenarios can be repeated anywhere including India.

“India is a large internet economy. We have to come up with more stringent data privacy regulations before something big happens to us. Loss of physical assets can be easily restored while the damage involved in loss of personal data can never be repaired,” cautioned Mr Duggal.

He said that the recent episode has shown that no data is secure and that data repositories who offers free services are likely to keep on misusing personal data of individuals for their vested commercial interests. It is time that India needs to recognize the threats to its citizens’ data from such data repositories.  It is time to strengthen the Indian Cyberlaw to make it having more teeth in the context of such misuse of data by intermediaries.

Further, the Indian approach on intermediary liability needs to be revised. The Government of India needs to make sure that intermediaries who are either having office in India or not but who are targeting Indian nation, must be complying with the Indian Cyberlaw, otherwise they could face legal consequences. The present episode needs to be a deep wakeup call for the Indian nation.

Mr Duggal said, “Indian Elections could potentially be targeted by third party data repositories. It is imperative that all steps must be taken to protect the sovereignty, security and integrity of India against unauthorized data misuses and breaches which could have a huge impact upon diminishing peoples’ confidence apart from misusing their personal details.”

The Supreme Court in India has established the right to privacy as a fundamental right. Although India presently does not have a specific law covering data protection or privacy, there are other regulations which do in fact provide some coverage in cases where user data is used or shared without their consent. For example, section 72A of the Information Technology Act specifically provides such a protection to user’s data. As per section 72A, securing access and providing ‘any material containing personal information about another person’ without consent of that person, or in breach of contract of a service is punishable with imprisonment or fine, or both. The section is however qualified by the fact that the intent behind securing such information should be to cause wrongful loss or wrongful gain. It remains to be seen whether sharing user information without their consent, which violates their fundamental right, would automatically result in a wrongful gain/loss to qualify such acts as an offence under the IT Act.

Go to Source

Yoursay: With new law, DOJ will be deemed spreading fake news 2018-03-23 08:00:00

YOURSAY | ‘Fake news’ is now just a big smokescreen to cover up the mother of all scandals…

Gov’t: Anything unverified on 1MDB is fake news

Slumdog: Such brilliance. It has taken a genius like Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari to come up with a definition of fake news as “news confirmed as false by authorities with expertise in the matter”.

It would be remiss of me if I did not add that this must be the world’s first definition of fake news. It is something that Malaysians can be proud of – a contribution to the fight against the spread of fake news around the world. Other countries will be scrambling to adopt this definition.

It is people like Jailani and the rest of Umno who are the very people who peddle a litany of lies, denials, fabrications, cover-ups and fake news about 1MDB.

From now on any negative news, information or even damaging verifiable evidence about 1MDB from international sources will be deemed fake.

Anonymous #44199885: Why do you hide the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB from the public?

How do we trust institutions that continuously fail to give any plausible explanation as to the evidence uncovered by law enforcement agencies in Singapore, Switzerland and the US?

If there is no wrongdoing in 1MDB, why do we have to pay International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) US$6.5 billion?

If there is no wrongdoing in 1MDB, why have they not submitted their audited accounts and why have internationally recognised audit firms refuse to act or have resigned or stated their audit is not safe to be relied on?

If there is no wrongdoing in 1MDB, why did Red Granite sign a US$60 million settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ)?

If there is no wrongdoing in 1MDB, why did the PM change the attorney-general (AG) and sack his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, as well as senior minister Shafie Apdal?

If there is no wrongdoing in 1MDB, why did the AG not assist the Swiss authorities under the mutual legal assistance treaty?

If there is no wrongdoing in 1MDB, why didn’t the AG fulfil MACC’s request for mutual legal assistance to work with law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions?

The fact is that there is probably no plausible answer and the alleged theft of the public’s money has indeed taken place as claimed by the DOJ and FBI. If it were otherwise, you could very well have given reasonable explanations and provided documentary proof to the public.

The fact is that you are unable to do so and now you want to control the public space by requiring Malaysians to only accept as the gospel truth what certain so-called experts have to say about any piece of news.

The people are not idiots. We are mostly learned and well-informed and able to judge fake news from real news. We do not need any nanny telling us what we should read or think or believe.

The attempt to create a fake news law is nothing but to shackle the public so as to hide wrongdoing, abuse of power and corruption. This is unacceptable.

Quigonbond: The bottom line – there is no doubt that the fake news legislation will be used to silence any discussion on 1MDB.

Who will be these experts? Only Malaysian enforcement officers whose office are already compromised?

Will DOJ not be considered experts? Will DOJ filings in US court need to be verified by our so-called Malaysian experts before it is rendered as “not fake”?

What about prosecution in Singapore? Will that also become fake news? What about news about other scandals or questioning of a governmental action or policy?

This suppression of discussion on issues takes us back to even before British colonial times and will be nothing short of tyrannical.

The law will be unconstitutional, but the danger is that it will be supported by sycophantic Federal Court judges, just like they have supported the National Security Council (NSC) Act.

The coming election is like no other. Malaysia is fighting for its very existence as a democracy.

Vijay47: From the moment that creature known the world over as 1MDB first reared its Medusian head, it has been a source of great confusion, though to some it was a source of fabulous wealth.

Relief seems to be in sight now that Jailani has explained that “the general definition of fake news is news confirmed as false by authorities with expertise in the matter”.

I eagerly await to see what the specific definition would be. Is fake news a status arising across the board or is it restricted to only 1MDB news? Would we soon see a single font of fake news expertise or are such skills to be also available from a multitude of sources?

Coming back to 1MDB and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), perhaps Jailani could also clarify who the pertinent experts are, whether they are the original members or substitutes like the AG and other individuals.

And the report itself, is it the one signed by all or the version supposedly contrived by the chairperson? The greatest problem as also intrigued Pilate would be in identifying “What is the truth?”

It appears that this really does not matter. Since the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB is wrapped under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), truth must remain an unknown benchmark and thus the unfortunate maker of a statement can only learn that it is false news if so determined by “authorities with expertise”.

The truth? The truth is out there, Scully.

Gerard Lourdesamy: So “fake news” is now just a big smokescreen to cover up the mother of all scandals, 1MDB – the biggest kleptocracy investigation in the history of the DOJ.

Does this mean that DOJ filings and statements are now fake news? What about statements from the regulatory and prosecuting agencies in foreign countries that are investigating 1MDB, Jho Low and his associates?

Since this government is hell-bent on depriving the rakyat of their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech, expression and the press, the rakyat should treat all statements, explanations, programmes and policies of this government as “fake news” and their leaders as “fake” as well.

The above is a selection of comments posted by Malaysiakini subscribers. Only paying subscribers can post comments. Over the past one year, Malaysiakinians have posted over 100,000 comments. Join the Malaysiakini community and help set the news agenda. Subscribe now.

These comments are compiled to reflect the views of Malaysiakini subscribers on matters of public interest. Malaysiakini does not intend to represent these views as fact.

Go to Source

Maglev collusion said to have begun after JR Tokai rejected Japanese firms’ proposal to ditch competitive bidding

Major general contractors may have begun colluding on bids for the Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) maglev high-speed train project after the railway operator rejected their proposal for contracts to be awarded without competitive bidding, it was learned Wednesday.

The Fair Trade Commission plans to file criminal complaints Friday against Taisei Corp., Kajima Corp., Obayashi Corp. and Shimizu Corp., and related officials from the four general contractors including former Taisei executive Takashi Okawa, 67, and Kajima official Ichiro Osawa, 60, for their suspected violation of the antimonopoly law, informed sources said.

Acting on the FTC move, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office is expected to indict the firms and individuals the same day, the sources said.

JR Tokai launched bid procedures after the government approved in October 2014 its project to construct the maglev line between Shinagawa Station in Tokyo and Nagoya Station in Aichi Prefecture.

By the end of last year, JR Tokai had struck 24 contracts for the maglev project, with 23 of them concluded through competitive bidding.

According to the sources, JR Tokai required high levels of safety for the construction of new station facilities underneath Shinagawa and Nagoya stations, both of which are used in the company’s existing shinkansen services.

JR Tokai also asked specific general contractors to conduct prior research on appropriate construction methods, and had them shoulder substantial related costs.

Officials at the general contracting firms asked JR Tokai to grant them contracts without bidding to ensure that they would secure work orders for projects where they had conducted the research, the sources said.

After JR Tokai rejected that request in favor of competitive bidding, the officials started conspiring to adjust bids, according to the sources.

Earlier this month the prosecutor’s special investigation squad arrested Okawa and Osawa for allegedly breaching antitrust law by colluding with Obayashi and Shimizu officials around 2014-2015 by predetermining successful bidders from the four companies for construction work at the two stations.

The two have denied the allegations. Former superiors to Obayashi and Shimizu admitted their involvement in the malpractice, the sources said.

JR Tokai aims to open the Tokyo-Nagoya maglev line in 2027.

Go to Source

Rejected claims: Essar firms have lion’s share

Essar Steel, Essar firms, Essar Power Hazira, ArcelorMittal,  VTB Bank, Vedanta, tata steel The largest claim rejection was that of Essar Power amounting to Rs 893 crore of the Rs 912 crore it had claimed. (Reuters)

More than 40% of operational creditor claims rejected by the resolution professional (RP) of Essar Steel belong to companies related to Essar Steel, according to a document listing claims as on February 28. Of the Rs 3,154-crore rejected claims, Rs 1,351 crore are by Essar firms, the document shows.  The largest claim rejection was that of Essar Power amounting to Rs 893 crore of the Rs 912 crore it had claimed. According to a footnote detailing the reasons behind the rejection, Satish Kumar Gupta, the RP, said the claim has been verified, and amounts admitted are based upon verification of proof of claim and records available with Essar Steel.

“The resolution professional is currently in the process of communicating the amount admitted and or rejected along with reasons for rejection of amounts, if any, to the respective operational creditors on the email id provided in the claim form,” the RP said.  The other rejected claims include those of Essar firms EPC Constructions (Rs 456 crore), Essar Power Hazira (Rs 2 crore), Essar Academy (Rs 6.9 lakh) and Essar Infrastructure Hazira (Rs 1.1 lakh).

FE had reported earlier that the list of claimants of Essar Steel includes what appear to be 21 group companies, which are together looking to recover Rs 6,012 crore from the steelmaker. These claims account for approximately a fourth of the total claims filed by all operational creditors of Essar Steel, estimated at Rs 22,914 crore.
Meanwhile, Essar Steel, which had received resolution bids from ArcelorMittal and the VTB Bank-led Numetal, will see a second round of bidding as both the bids have been disqualified by the committee of creditors (CoC).

Consultancy firm Grant Thornton and law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas were the two advisers to the RP on this matter. The bids were disqualified in the context of the amendment to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), which categorically states that promoters of defaulting companies cannot bid unless they repay all the outstanding loans before submitting their resolution plan.  The other resolution applicants which had earlier submitted EOIs include Tata Steel, Vedanta and Sumitomo Corporation.

The last date for submitting the expression of interest was October 23, 2017. Since then, Tata Steel has already been recognised as the highest eligible bidder for the loss-making Bhushan Steel, another of the 12 large assets that were first referred to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).  In August last year, the NCLT had appointed Gupta as the interim resolution professional (IRP) for Essar Steel. The company is among the 12 companies which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had asked banks to refer to the bankruptcy court. Essar Steel, which has a steel-making capacity of 9.7 MTPA, owes more than `45,000 crore to lenders.

Go to Source

‘Internet firms pose a big challenge to anti-trust bodies’

Competition agencies around the world should “collaborate” to tackle competition issues thrown up by digital and internet businesses, Michal Halperin, who heads Israel’s Anti Trust Authority, has said.

“This is an issue that disturbs everyone (Countries). We may need to think out of the box. This may require us to abandon the very classical and traditional analysis of competition to handle the big internet platforms,” Halperin told BusinessLine here in an interview.

Such digital businesses, which work on a different business model, tend to almost challenge Competition authorities, she noted.

There is a need for some form of a task force among the global competition authorities to look into the digital and data markets.

“Every authority is looking to deal with it in different ways. Instead of learning from each other as to how to better deal this situation, we need to work together,” she said.

Halperin, who is here to attend the 17th Annual ICN conference, said there has to be collaboration on both the aspects of “learning what the problems are” and also “in thinking on how to tackle these problems”.

“These are two different stages. But I think cooperation between Competition agencies around the world will benefit everyone,” she said.

Israel’s Antitrust Authority plans to this year devote considerable resources and time to study the digital businesses and their industries, Halperin added.

Halperin’s remarks on need for “collaboration” are significant as it came a day after India’s Competition Commission Chief Devender Kumar Sikri said that technological changes like big data, internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain pose competition challenges.

“While we reap benefits from them, we must also be ready to face challenges,” Sikri had said.

Israel’s reforms

Meanwhile, Halperin said that Israel was in the process of legislating reforms to its Competition law. “Our priority this year is to get this completed.”

Besides raising the merger filing threshold, plans are afoot to modify the definition of ‘dominance’ and ‘monopoly’.

“Today, we define monopoly as one having market share of over 50 per cent. We want to introduce the concept of market power in the definition of ‘monopoly’. So there be both market share and market power as factors that would determine a monopoly,” said Halperin.

Go to Source

US firms face tough legal battles in China IP theft

Microsoft co-founder  Bill Gates meets Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing last year. Li has pledged China will "strictly protect

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates meets Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing last year. Li has pledged China will “strictly protect” intellectual property rights, but the US technology firm has won only paltry compensation from Chinese courts

It took a crucial piece of evidence for Microsoft to win one of its numerous anti-piracy lawsuits in China: A computer seller telling an investigator that he could install a Windows 7 knock-off for free.

But the US software giant’s victory was marred by the paltry compensation ordered by the court, illustrating both progress and challenges for foreign firms defending their intellectual property in China.

Premier Li Keqiang pledged this week that China will “strictly protect” intellectual property rights, and special IP courts have been created to hear such cases.

But US President Donald Trump has already made up his mind, and was preparing to unveil on Thursday tariffs on a wide-range of Chinese imports for what the White House called “state-led” efforts to steal US technologies.

Alibaba’s Taobao e-commerce website remains on a list of “notorious markets” put out by the United States Trade Representative. As does the Silk Market in the heart of Beijing, where fake Ralph Lauren polo shirts fly off the shelves.

Washington has also long accused Beijing of forcing US companies to turn over proprietary commercial information and intellectual property as a condition of operating in China.

‘Mirror copy’

A survey of US businesses by the American Chamber of Commerce shows IP infringement continues to be a top challenge for some in China, citing inadequate laws and the difficulty of prosecuting cases as the most vexing IP issues.

Microsoft argued its case in a civil court, but the country set up special courts in 2014 to handle IP cases in Beijing, Shangha

Microsoft argued its case in a civil court, but the country set up special courts in 2014 to handle IP cases in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou

In Microsoft’s case in the southern province of Guangdong, the company’s lawyers focused on a large computer maker bundling its hardware with a pirated version of Microsoft’s operating system in sales on Taobao.

Using the name “Bob Jovi”, its investigator purchased a computer from MSI’s flagship online store in 2015, asking customer service if the machine came with an operating system.

According to the court documents, the customer service representative wrote back that he could help install Windows 7: “It’s a mirror copy of Microsoft’s official operating system, just like the real thing, no fee.”

After receiving the computer with pirated software, the investigator made two more purchases over the following months to show the bundling was “commonplace” and “sustained”, Microsoft argued.

While the court ruled in Microsoft’s favour, it set damages at $32,000 after finding the total cost of the infringement undeterminable as Microsoft only demonstrated three instances of piracy. Nor did it award Microsoft all of its legal fees.

In December, after a two-year process, Microsoft lost its appeal for a larger settlement, leaving the software giant paying out more than it was awarded, the court documents show.

“Most important is that the defendant will stop infringing and purchase genuine software,” said a lawyer who has represented Microsoft in IP cases, who asked his name not be used. Microsoft declined to comment.

The lawyer said it was not cost efficient to sue all infringers but the cases deterred others.

In Microsoft's case in the southern province of Guangdong, the company's lawyers focused on a large computer maker bundling its

In Microsoft’s case in the southern province of Guangdong, the company’s lawyers focused on a large computer maker bundling its hardware with a pirated version of Microsoft’s operating system in sales on Taobao

‘Whack a mole’

Microsoft argued its case in a civil court, but China set up special courts in 2014 to handle IP cases in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. A dozen other lower-level IP tribunals were opened.

From 2013 to 2017 the number of IP-related court cases doubled, breaking the 200,000 mark last year, said Tai Kaiyuan, a justice of the Supreme People’s Court, noting China now has sufficient IP-related legislation.

“We’ve worked hard to implement them and build the justice system,” Tai said, according to state media.

Scott Palmer, an IP lawyer who represents US and European companies at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton in Beijing, said China has made “incredible” progress.

“There are still problems. There is still infringement, sure, but anyone who watches China and speaks honestly about what they see has to admit it has come a long way,” Palmer told AFP.

The main area of infringement in China has moved to online platforms like Taobao, where brands face a frustrating game of “whack a mole” to get a range of knock-off products taken down, he said.

Laura Wen-yu Young, a lawyer at the IP law firm Wang & Wang, said the IP courts are a “huge improvement” from the past when judges had no relevant training.

A trademark case can now take just over a year on average to be decided, compared to having to wait up to four years in the past, she said, though there are still “a lot of improvements needed”.

Explore further:
Court rules against Microsoft in China font case

Go to Source

US Spending Bill Contains CLOUD Act, a Win For Tech and Law Enforcement

The 2,232 page spending bill released Wednesday by House and Senate leaders includes the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data [CLOUD] Act, which provides a legal framework for law enforcement to request data from overseas servers. The CLOUD Act currently sits high atop the wish list of tech firms, law enforcement and even foreign nations. Axios reports: The Supreme Court is currently mulling a case determining whether the Department of Justice had the right to force Microsoft to produce client emails stored on a server in Ireland without permission from Ireland’s government. Microsoft fears the DOJ will force it to violate the laws of Ireland. The DOJ hopes to avoid the often years long process of abiding by treaties dealing with evidence. But both have publicly urged lawmakers to render the pending decision moot by passing the CLOUD act, a way to streamline the treaty process for requesting digital data.

The CLOUD Act provides a framework for reciprocal treaties for nations to request data from computers located within each other’s borders. It also provides a mechanism for a Microsoft to take a law enforcement demand to court if it would force them to violate another country’s rules. But when neither apply, law enforcement will be able to demand files in accordance with U.S. law.

Go to Source