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No action against lawyers, law firms for GST non-compliance, rules Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre not to take any coercive steps against lawyers and law firms for not registering or complying with the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Act, Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) Act or the Delhi Goods and Services Tax (DGST) Act, till a clarification is issued by the appropriate governments.

The bench comprising Justice Muralidhar and Justice Pratibha M Singh also asked the Centre to clarify whether services of lawyers and law firms come under the GST, after concluding that there exists no clarity on whether all legal services would be governed by the reverse charge mechanism. The orders were passed on a petition by J K Mittal, owner of a Delhi-based law firm, seeking the quashing of notifications issued by the Centre and Delhi governments according to which GST is to be paid by advocates and law firms on all services offered by them, apart from representing clients in courts and tribunals.

The high court passed the directions after concluding there was prima facie merit that lawyers and law firms were faced with a genuine doubt regarding the legal requirement for registration under the new tax regime. The bench also said that if all legal services were to be governed under the reverse charge mechanism, there would be no purpose in getting registered under the CGST, IGST and DGST Act. In such a case, those seeking voluntary registration could anyway avail the facility under Section 25 of the CGST Act and the corresponding provisions of the other two laws.

The petitioner has claimed that for representational services, the client (receiver of the service) will have to pay GST as per the relevant notifications and also alleges that the Centre and Delhi governments have failed to follow the GST Council recommendation that lawyers and law firms should be exempt from registration requirements. The petition also says that the government notifications are not in consonance with the CGST, IGST and DGST Acts and Article 279A of the Constitution and will have a negative impact on the legal sector. It also questions the need to re-register a legal professional who has already been registered under the Finance Act of 2011 and asks for these lawyers to be exempted from such requirements.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on July 18.

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Pound boosts earnings at big London law firms

Focusing outside of Europe and cutting costs are a way for London-based firms to continue increasing profit per equity partner

LONDON

A year after the UK voted to leave the European Union, London’s biggest law firms are benefiting from the weaker pound as they hunt for growth overseas.

While lawyers are finding it hard to raise hourly rates, they’re getting a boost from the 15 per cent decline in the UK currency after the Brexit referendum in June 2016. Allen & Overy said almost three-quarters of its revenue came from issues involving two or more countries, while a 23 per cent increase in Asian sales made the region Clifford Chance’s fastest-growing area.

The British market is facing uncertainty because of the Brexit vote, and legal firms have faced a slowdown in some practice areas as clients put off spending until negotiations reveal clearer outcomes. Tony Williams at legal consultant Jomati said non-U. K. work and cost cutting is helping keep profits improving in “broadly flat” markets in the West.

“We live in uncertain times but that is exactly when the best lawyers show their worth,” Williams said. “While Brexit has caused uncertainty the fall of sterling will produce plenty of opportunities.”

The pound helped boost profit at Allen & Overy, which benefited from a one-time foreign exchange gain of 48.2 million pounds ($62.4 million), and revenue rose to 1.52 billion pounds. At Linklaters, foreign exchange effects pushed the firm to 1.44 billion pounds, an increase of 9.8 per cent with the currency moves. The figure was 1.7 per cent once exchange rate effects are removed.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer said revenue rose to 1.33 billion pounds, and Clifford Chance posted the highest sales of the four, with 1.54 billion pounds for the year.

The U.K.’s largest law firms set out an internationalist agenda from the 1990s as their client base shifted from traditional UK blue-chip companies to foreign investment banks and emerging markets. Allen & Overy currently have 44 offices in 31 countries while Clifford Chance has 33 in 23 different countries.

Brexit Questions

Firms are using overseas work to hedge some of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

“Our international network is in 31 countries and gives us a certain resilience to business cycles in different markets,” said Andrew Ballheimer, global managing partner at Allen & Overy, said.

Law firms got used to double-digit revenue and profit growth in the 1980s and 1990s, Williams said, rates that aren’t sustainable in the current “much more mature, much more competitive market.” Allen & Overy say its hourly rates have “not materially increased” so profit is growing through cost controls.

Focusing outside of Europe and cutting costs are a way for London-based firms to continue increasing profit per equity partner. Freshfields’s PEP increased 5 per cent to 1.55 million pounds, while Linklaters’ figure rose 7.8 per cent to 1.57 million pounds. Clifford Chance saw its PEP rise to 1.38 million pounds, and Allen & Overy said its profit per equity partner increased by 26 per cent to 1.51 million pounds.

Opportunities

The firms’ advisory businesses have picked up as clients prepare for multiple Brexit scenarios. Gideon Moore, managing partner of Linklaters, said its regulatory group is “busy, not just giving advice around Brexit, but the whole world is becoming more regulated.” Andrew Ballheimer said Allen & Overy clients are “increasingly looking for guidance on how best to prepare for Brexit.”

After some initial hiccups, merger and acquisitions activity still looks positive. Allen and Overy reported a nine-year high for western Europe in the first half of the year. Business was “pretty much back to normal in September after two dud months” following June 2016’s referendum, according to Williams.

However, Williams said that having two months with little activity still makes it difficult to catch up on annual targets, however well a firm does in the rest of the year. He said that business from abroad was lured by lower exchange rates, which meant that “quality British assets could be purchased for 15 per cent less than a few months before”.

Law firms may suffer if Brexit draws some international clients away from London, but UK businesses are waiting for negotiations to yield more details on how businesses will interact with the EU before deciding on spending.

Britain is “second guessing as to the implications it will have for businesses in and around the UK and Europe,” Linklaters’s Gideon Moore said.

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Do law firms come under GST: Delhi HC seeks clarification from Centre

The Delhi High Court has asked the Central Government to clarify whether legal firms and lawyers come under Goods and Services Tax (GST) or not.

In a statement directed towards the Central Government, the High Court has directed that no forcible actions be taken against any lawyer or law firm for non-compliance with any legal requirement under the CGST Act, the IGST Act or the DGST Act till a clarification is issued by the Centre and the Delhi Government.

The Delhi High Court said, “As of date there is no clarity on whether all legal services (not restricted to representational services) provided by legal practitioners and firms would be governed by the reverse charge mechanism.”

The High Court further said that if all legal services are to be governed by the reverse charge mechanism, then there would be no purpose in requiring legal practitioners and law firms to compulsorily get registered under the CGST, IGST and DGST Acts.

It also said, “Those seeking voluntary registration would anyway avail of the facility under Section 25 (3) of the CGST Act (and the corresponding provision of the other two statutes).”

It added that there is prima facie merit in the contention of Mittal that the legal practitioners are under a genuine doubt whether they require to register themselves.

“In the circumstances, the Court directs that no coercive action be taken against any lawyer or law firms for non-compliance with any legal requirement under the CGST Act, the IGST Act or the DGST Act till a clarification is issued by the Central Government and the GNCTD, till orders in that regard by this Court also clarifies that any lawyer or law firm that has been registered under the CGST Act, or the IGST Act or the DGST Act from 1″ July, 2017 onwards will not be denied the benefit of such clarification as and when it is issued,” said the Delhi HC.

The High Court has listed the hearing on the same for July 18.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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TODD STARNES: ABC: Christians defending liberty are ‘hate group’ – Southern Poverty Law Center brands some peaceful groups as ‘hate groups’

Alliance Defending Freedom is demanding a retraction and apology from ABC News after reporters smeared one of the nation’s most respected religious liberty law firms as a ‘hate group.’

Click here for a free subscription to Todd’s newsletter: a must-read for Conservatives!

ABC News reporters Pete Madden and Erin Galloway wrote a scathing report on a speech Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered behind closed doors at the Summit on Religious Liberty at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, California.

“Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks,” read the explosive headline.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said,” read the lead paragraph of the Madden-Galloway hit piece.

To continue reading at ToddStarnes.com click here. 

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary. His latest book is “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.” Follow him on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.

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Pashman Stein Walder Hayden Media Law Attorneys Obtain Landmark Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Police Transparency

HACKENSACK, N.J., July 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Supreme Court of New Jersey has issued a landmark ruling in an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) case argued by the Media Law division at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden (PSWH) involving public records relating to a police-involved shooting. In a decision written by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, the Court unanimously ruled that use of force reports, the names of officers involved in the shooting, and dash camera footage of the incident should be released.

“This was a big win for the public’s right to know,” said PSWH’s Sam Samaro, lead counsel on the case. “It was our view that the public’s interest in disclosure of vital information trumps the State’s need for secrecy. Furthermore, nondisclosure of dash cam videos and police records relating to police-involved shootings undermines confidence in law enforcement. It was gratifying to see that the Court agreed.”

The case, titled “North Jersey Media Group Inc. vs. Township of Lyndhurst,” began when reporters of The Record sought to obtain police use of force reports and other records relating to a police chase and fatal shooting of Kashad Ashford in 2014. The OPRA request was denied and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office took a firm stance that records related to police-involved shootings and the names of officers who shoot suspects are confidential.  While the trial court ruled that the records and information must be released, the Appellate Division reversed the decision and, in doing so, shut down access to nearly all police records.

Eventually, bolstered by the Appellate Division’s ruling in this case, the Attorney General’s Office began denying access to use of force reports and the names of officers who were involved in even very minor uses of force. The Supreme Court’s decision will reverse that policy, as it ruled that use of force reports and the names of officers who use force should generally be accessible in most cases. 

“For three years the public has not been able to monitor which police officers have been using force against citizens,” said CJ Griffin of PSWH, who also worked on this case. This restores transparency,” she added.

About Pashman Stein Walder Hayden

Pashman Stein Walder Hayden is a full service business law firm offering a wide range of corporate and personal legal services. Headquartered in Hackensack, New Jersey, the firm serves a diverse client base including regional Fortune 500 companies, emerging growth entities and individuals, as well as out-of-state corporate counsel, law firms and individuals with interests in the New York metropolitan region. For more information, go to www.pashmanstein.com.

Contact: Karen Geisel	
Princeton Strategic Communications
518-421-3435


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Appellate Division Confirms Reorg Research Journalists Have Benefit of Shield Law in Unanimous Ruling

NEW YORK, Jul 14, 2017 (BUSINESS WIRE) —
Reorg Research, the leading provider of real-time news, commentary, and
analysis on the distressed debt and leveraged finance markets, welcomed
a unanimous 5-0 decision from the First Department Appellate Division of
the New York Supreme Court finding that Reorg Research’s editorial team
is protected by New York’s Shield Law from being compelled to disclose
the identities of its confidential sources.

Kent Collier, Founder and CEO of Reorg Research, said, “We are extremely
pleased by the court’s decision. In this evolving media landscape, it
sends a powerful message that journalistic freedom is important and
worth protecting. I could not be prouder of our entire team here at
Reorg, and I look forward to continuing to provide our subscribers with
the very best news and analysis in the industry.”

The ruling was in response to a pre-action petition filed by Murray
Energy seeking to force Reorg to divulge the identities of confidential
sources who contributed to stories on Murray’s financial results and an
agreement between the company and one of its labor unions. While Murray
had argued that Reorg’s limited subscriber base, restrictions on further
dissemination of its stories and relatively high fees precluded it from
being protected by the Shield Law, the court found that such features
are “not uncommon” in today’s media landscape. The court added that the
result of ruling in Murray’s favor “is not broader coverage but no
coverage at all.”

Not only did the court find that Reorg was protected by the Shield Law,
but it also noted that the holding “is consistent with New York’s ‘long
tradition…of providing the utmost protection of freedom of the press’”
and “[t]o condition coverage on a fact-intensive inquiry analyzing a
publication’s number of subscribers, subscription fees, and the extent
to which it allows further dissemination of information is unworkable
and would create substantial prospective uncertainty, leading to a
potential ‘chilling’ effect.”

The full ruling can be found here.

About Reorg Research

Reorg Research is an industry-leading provider of real-time news,
analysis and commentary on issues affecting the distressed debt,
event-driven and leveraged finance markets. The company’s mission is to
provide independent, insightful and timely market intelligence and
analysis to subscribers–which include leading asset managers, hedge
funds, investment banks, law firms and financial advisors–so they can
make better business and investment decisions. Reorg Research consists
of a dedicated team of journalists and legal, financial and policy
analysts that leverage the firm’s proprietary technology to provide a
comprehensive view of the situations that are important to its
subscribers.

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170714005523/en/

SOURCE: Reorg Research

Prosek Partners
Josh Clarkson, 212-279-3115 x259
jclarkson@prosek.com

Copyright Business Wire 2017

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SHAREHOLDER ALERT: Pomerantz Law Firm Investigates Claims On Behalf of Investors of FleetCor Technologies, Inc. – FLT

NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2017 / Pomerantz LLP is investigating claims on behalf of investors of FleetCor Technologies, Inc. (“FleetCor” or the “Company”) (NYSE: FLT). Such investors are advised to contact Robert S. Willoughby at rswilloughby@pomlaw.com or 888-476-6529, ext. 9980.

The investigation concerns whether FleetCor and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices.

[Click here to join a class action]

On December 19, 2016, Chevron Corporation (“Chevron”), FleetCor’s largest U.S. partner, announced that it had terminated its relationship with the Company and signed a long-term contract with FleetCor’s primary competitor. On this news, FleetCor’s share price fell $5.08, or 3.43%, to close at $142.96 on December 19, 2016.

On March 1, 2017, the investigative news and legal analysis company Capitol Forum published an article, based on interviews with numerous former FleetCor employees and FleetCor customers, describing how FleetCor’s business model relies on overcharging customers and padding fee income through improperly assessing late fees. On this news, the Company’s share price fell $5.25, or 3.09%, to close at $164.75 on March 1, 2017.

On April 4, 2017, Citron Research (“Citron”) published a report similarly accusing FleetCor of being a “predatory company by design, whose cores strategy is to methodically rip off its customers, using business practices and fees that are designed to deceive.” On this news, FleetCor’s share price fell $8.55, or 5.69%, to close at $141.60 on April 4, 2017.

On April 27, 2017, Citron published a follow-up report describing FleetCor’s development of a scheme to categorize its partners based on the level of improper fees the Company could charge without the customers complaining. On this news, FleetCor’s share price fell $5.73, or 3.79%, to close at $145.65 on April 27, 2017. On May 1, 2017, Chevron sued FleetCor for breach of contract. Following the filing of Chevron’s complaint, FleetCor’s share price fell $10.18, or 6.87%, to close at $138.00 on May 2, 2017.

On May 3, 2017, Citron reported on the Chevron lawsuit, stating that the lawsuit indicates that Chevron’s termination of the FleetCor contract was due to the Company’s mistreatment of its customers. On this news, FleetCor’s share price fell $6.74, or 4.88%, to close at $131.26.

The Pomerantz Firm, with offices in New York, Chicago, Florida, and Los Angeles, is acknowledged as one of the premier firms in the areas of corporate, securities, and antitrust class litigation. Founded by the late Abraham L. Pomerantz, known as the dean of the class action bar, the Pomerantz Firm pioneered the field of securities class actions. Today, more than 80 years later, the Pomerantz Firm continues in the tradition he established, fighting for the rights of the victims of securities fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and corporate misconduct. The Firm has recovered numerous multimillion-dollar damages awards on behalf of class members. See www.pomerantzlaw.com.

SOURCE: Pomerantz LLP

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Australia to Compel Tech Firms to Crack Suspects’ Encrypted Messages

The Australian government said it plans to force technology companies to crack encrypted messages sent by people suspected of terrorism and other organized crime.

The proposed legislation would force internet firms and device makers to release communications to law-enforcement agencies that have secured a warrant or court order, lawmakers said Friday. The law would also extend to federal police the ability given to the Australian…

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