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Labour would change law on High Street bank closures

A future Labour government would bring in a law preventing banks closing High Street branches, the party has said.

Labour said it was part of the party’s plans to rejuvenate the High Street and protect local communities.

The Consumers’ Association reports that 1,046 local bank branches closed in the UK between December 2015 and January 2017, Labour said.

The Conservatives claimed Labour’s plans would see corporation tax at 28% and lead to £500bn of extra debt.

Labour said it would replace the government’s Access to Banking Protocol with legislation to prevent closures.

The party said the big four banks made more than £11bn profit from their High Street banks in 2015, and “can afford to provide this vital customer service instead of prioritising cost-saving measures that damage communities and small businesses”.

Labour points to research that suggests lending to small businesses drops by 63% in areas with recent branch closures, and the loss of a local bank branch significantly diminishes the abilities of deprived communities and households to access even basic financial services.

‘Essential public service’

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “High Street bank closures have become an epidemic in the last few years, blighting our town centres, hurting particularly elderly and more vulnerable customers, and local small businesses whilst making healthy profits for themselves.

“It’s time our banks recognise instead that they are a utility providing an essential public service.

“Only Labour will put in place the legal obligations needed to bring banks into line and stand up for our High Streets, communities and small businesses.”

In response, Conservative vice-chairman Stuart Andrew said: “Labour’s plan for our High Streets would see corporation tax going back up to 28% and £500bn of extra debt – all under a Labour leader who said that we should not be afraid of debt or borrowing.

“Our support for High Streets has seen town centre vacancy rates come back down since Labour were in government.

“Our support for small businesses has seen start-up loans to help people launch new businesses, which has already helped 40,000 smaller firms across the country.”

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2 firms seek to prevent drugs' use in Arkansas executions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two pharmaceutical companies asked a federal judge Thursday to prevent Arkansas from using their drugs to execute seven inmates by the end of the month, saying they object to their products being used for capital punishment.

Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. were granted permission to file a friend of the court brief in a lawsuit by the inmates aimed at halting the unprecedented execution schedule, set to begin Monday with the lethal injection of two condemned killers. Fresenius Kabi said it appeared that it had manufactured the potassium chloride the state plans to use, while West-Ward had previously been identified by The Associated Press as the likely manufacturer of the state’s supply of midazolam.

“The use of the medicines in lethal injections runs counter to the manufacturers’ mission to save and enhance patients’ lives, and carries with it not only a public-health risk, but also reputational, fiscal and legal risks,” the companies said in a filing with the court.

Arkansas prison officials announced last month they had obtained a new supply of potassium chloride, clearing the way for the executions to begin. The executions are scheduled to occur before Arkansas’ supply of midazolam, a sedative used in flawed executions in other states, expires at the end of April.

A 2015 state law keeps the source of Arkansas’ three lethal injection drugs secret. The Department of Correction, Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office and the attorney general’s office declined to comment on Thursday’s filing by the companies.

“We have made repeated as of yet unsuccessful representations in writing and in person to the governor’s office, office of the attorney general and the Department of Corrections to confirm if they are in possession of our product which they intend to use in lethal injections, and if so to return it to us,” Brooke Clarke, a spokeswoman for Hikma, West-Ward’s parent company, said in a statement. Fresenius said it has made similar overtures to Hutchinson and state officials, but hasn’t received any response.

Both companies said they’ve put strict controls on their supplies to ensure the drugs aren’t used in capital punishment. Fresenius said its information indicated no sales of its potassium chloride directly or through its authorized distributors to the state’s prison system.

“So we can only conclude Arkansas may have acquired this product from an unauthorized seller,” Matt Kuhn, a spokesman for the company, said in a statement. “Pharmaceuticals obtained in this manner are at risk of adulteration or chemical change due to improper handling such as failure to maintain proper temperature levels during storage and transport.”

U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker is expected to rule Friday in the inmates’ request to halt the executions. The inmates are challenging the compressed execution timetable, as well as the use of midazolam.

Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005 because of drug shortages and legal challenges. If carried out, the executions would mark the most inmates put to death by a state in such a short period in modern history.

Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo


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Investigation Finds Spyware Companies Broke International Law

Following a four-month undercover investigation, Al Jazeera is reporting that spyware companies are willing to sell their online tracking technology to unknown users and countries known for human rights abuses. These sales violate international law.

Two Italian companies and one Chinese company reportedly boasted that they could get around the various regulations that prevent trafficking in spyware. The reporter was able to negotiate multi-million dollar deals with the firms despite the fact that he was posing as a buyer representing the South Sudanese and Iranian governments.

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Labour would change law on bank closures

A future Labour government would bring in a law preventing banks closing High Street branches, the party has said.

Labour said it was part of the party’s plans to rejuvenate the High Street and protect local communities.

The Consumers’ Association reports that 1,046 local bank branches closed in the UK between December 2015 and January 2017, Labour said.

The Conservatives claimed Labour’s plans would see corporation tax at 28% and lead to £500bn of extra debt.

Labour said it would replace the government’s Access to Banking Protocol with legislation to prevent closures.

The party said the big four banks made more than £11bn profit from their High Street banks in 2015, and “can afford to provide this vital customer service instead of prioritising cost-saving measures that damage communities and small businesses”.

Labour points to research that suggests lending to small businesses drops by 63% in areas with recent branch closures, and the loss of a local bank branch significantly diminishes the abilities of deprived communities and households to access even basic financial services.

‘Essential public service’

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “High Street bank closures have become an epidemic in the last few years, blighting our town centres, hurting particularly elderly and more vulnerable customers, and local small businesses whilst making healthy profits for themselves.

“It’s time our banks recognise instead that they are a utility providing an essential public service.

“Only Labour will put in place the legal obligations needed to bring banks into line and stand up for our High Streets, communities and small businesses.”

In response, Conservative vice-chairman Stuart Andrew said: “Labour’s plan for our High Streets would see corporation tax going back up to 28% and £500bn of extra debt – all under a Labour leader who said that we should not be afraid of debt or borrowing.

“Our support for High Streets has seen town centre vacancy rates come back down since Labour were in government.

“Our support for small businesses has seen start-up loans to help people launch new businesses, which has already helped 40,000 smaller firms across the country.”

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Florida Supreme Court rules against satellite firms in TV tax fight

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a law that set different tax rates for cable and satellite television services — overturning a lower-court ruling that could have had major financial ramifications for the state.

The 16-page unanimous decision rejected arguments by satellite companies DirecTV and Dish Network that the differing tax rates are discriminatory and violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That reversed a 2015 ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal that raised the prospect of the state having to pay refunds to the satellite companies.


RELATED: Complete Florida Legislature coverage

A key part of the case focused on arguments by the satellite companies that the different tax rates benefited cable companies that are “in-state interests” at the expense of “out-of-state” satellite operators. The satellite industry contended that violated what is known as the “dormant” Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

But the Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Peggy Quince, rejected such a distinction between the two types of television providers. Quince pointed, in part, to the fact that Florida’s largest cable providers are headquartered out of state, as are the satellite companies.

“The cable and satellite companies have employees and property both inside and outside of Florida to facilitate their operations and earn income,” Quince wrote. “They both employ Florida residents to sell, maintain, or repair their service to Florida customers. They also own and lease a significant amount of property in Florida.”

The opinion added, “Cable is not a local, in-state interest any more than satellite. While it may be true that cable employs more Florida residents and uses more local infrastructure to provide its services, the Supreme Court has never found a company to be an in-state interest because it had a greater presence in a state.”

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and Charles Canady joined the opinion. Justice Ricky Polston concurred with the opinion but did not fully sign onto it. Justice Alan Lawson, who joined the court at the end of December, did not take part in the case.

The ruling was in favor of the Florida Department of Revenue and the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association. (Disclosure: The News Service of Florida and the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association have a partnership for the Capital Dateline Online news show.)

The case deals with the state’s communications services tax, which was enacted in 2001. Under state law, cable services are taxed at 4.92 percent, while satellite services are taxed at 9.07 percent, according to the Supreme Court ruling.

In a brief filed at the Supreme Court, the satellite companies described the difference in tax rates as “a 21st Century version of classic economic protectionism.”’

But Thursday’s majority opinion said justices did not find that the law was “enacted with a discriminatory purpose.”


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The Latest: Firms object to drug use in Arkansas executions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – The Latest on Arkansas’ plans to execute seven inmates by the end of the month (all times local):

6 p.m.

Two pharmaceutical companies are asking a federal judge to prevent Arkansas from using its drugs in the planned execution of seven death row inmates later this month.

Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. were granted permission Thursday to file a friend of the court brief in a lawsuit filed by the inmates aimed at halting the executions.

Fresenius Kabi said it appears the potassium chloride Arkansas plans to use in its three-drug protocol was manufactured by the company and may have been acquired improperly. The state announced last month it had obtained a new supply of the drug, but state law keeps the source of it secret. West-Ward had previously been identified by The Associated Press as the state’s likely manufacturer of midazolam, which expires at the end of the month.

___

2:50 p.m.

An Arkansas judge says she won’t stay the execution of one of the first inmates facing lethal injection under the state’s plan to put seven men to death by the end of the month.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis rejected the request Thursday to halt the execution of Bruce Ward, saying she doesn’t have the authority to issue a stay. Ward and another inmate, Don Davis, are scheduled to be executed Monday night.

Ward’s attorneys have argued the convicted murderer is a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution.

Their lawsuit is among a flurry of legal challenges aimed at halting the upcoming executions. Arkansas scheduled the executions to occur before the state’s supply of a lethal injection drug expires at the end of April.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Firms object to drug use in Arkansas executions

The Latest on Arkansas’ plans to execute seven inmates by the end of the month (all times local):

6 p.m.

Two pharmaceutical companies are asking a federal judge to prevent Arkansas from using its drugs in the planned execution of seven death row inmates later this month.

Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. were granted permission Thursday to file a friend of the court brief in a lawsuit filed by the inmates aimed at halting the executions.

Fresenius Kabi said it appears the potassium chloride Arkansas plans to use in its three-drug protocol was manufactured by the company and may have been acquired improperly. The state announced last month it had obtained a new supply of the drug, but state law keeps the source of it secret. West-Ward had previously been identified by The Associated Press as the state’s likely manufacturer of midazolam, which expires at the end of the month.

___

2:50 p.m.

An Arkansas judge says she won’t stay the execution of one of the first inmates facing lethal injection under the state’s plan to put seven men to death by the end of the month.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis rejected the request Thursday to halt the execution of Bruce Ward, saying she doesn’t have the authority to issue a stay. Ward and another inmate, Don Davis, are scheduled to be executed Monday night.

Ward’s attorneys have argued the convicted murderer is a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution.

Their lawsuit is among a flurry of legal challenges aimed at halting the upcoming executions. Arkansas scheduled the executions to occur before the state’s supply of a lethal injection drug expires at the end of April.

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In a sea of fashion pirates, designers turn to the law to stay afloat

Establishing and sustaining a business in the Pakistani fashion industry is a lot like survival of the fittest.

Your brand’s image, consistency in delivering top-quality products and ultimate sartorial cred will help it thrive in the market. But how lucrative can the business be when originality is running low?

The world of knock-off fashion

Razzaq is one of the many retailers who profits from the piracy of lawn prints and remains unfazed by the ethically questionable nature of his business.

In the blistering heat of Karachi he slides open the shutters of his shop tucked away in one corner of the Aashiana Market at 4pm. His shop is stocked with folds of thick and fine quality fabric. With tasteful tailoring these fabrics will resemble any A-list designer lawn.

Ashiana has a plethora of lawn available, most replica’s of high-end brands

Razzaq has a wide range of prints with extravagant embellishments to match. From tunics with fine thread-work to crisp cottons with sequin bead-work, he has it all.

“The best-selling outfits so far are the ones that come from big known-designers like Faraz Manan, Élan, Sana Safinaz and Maria B,” he says as he reaches for a couple of designs to spread on the table for display.

Razzaq is not the only one who keeps the wheels of piracy turning in Pakistan. The ease of copyright infringement keeps low-price retailers like him well in business. Razzaq attracts buyers for various reasons ranging from easy accessibility to affordability that targets consumers who want the latest but without the hefty price tag.

“The knock-offs simply dilute the market,” says Safinaz Muneer, creative head at Sana Safinaz.

How piracy takes place

The latest Sana Safinaz collection is probably at risk of piracy, despite all the measure taken

Safinaz explains that retailers get access to the designer lawn immediately after its launch and that allows them to replicate the designs on an inferior quality fabric. The knock-off lawn features similar patterns and softer construction. These replicas combine lawn shirts, cotton shalwars and an array of chiffon and silk dupattas with such finesse that one finds it hard to differentiate the original from the copy.

The practice of lawn-imitators jumping onto a collection immediately upon its release does have its repercussions.

Taking legal action

Designers that are blatantly copied by others are now making sure their designs are copyrighted prior to their release. Most of them have a copyright registration with law firms like Ali & Associates that seek for action regarding copyright infringement.

“We have done almost 10-12 raids a year. This is simply because we can’t let these knock-offs go. We have to keep the pressure up and let them know we’re not okay with it,” says Safinaz

According to advocate Hanya Haroon, legal action is taken according to criminal and civil law. Here, either the police are sent on a raid to illegal retailers and manufacturers or the matter is taken to court where non-disclosed settlement between designers and imitators is signed.

What makes the detection of piracy harder is that there are plenty of cases where the printers that lawn brands work with themselves are leaking information. The blueprints of designs are sold under the table to piracy manufacturers during the production of the originals.

Sana Safinaz issued a notice against copyright infringement

However, because the designers are actively making an attempt to copyright their designs, they take it upon themselves to alert the firm about the violation and have a raid action carried out against printers, embroideries and retailers, consistently.

Once the designer informs their law firm, Ali & Associates in Sana Safinaz’s case, the legal team contacts the local police team and accompanies them at raids against the imitators.

“I don’t see piracy as a threat though, only because it doesn’t affect us much. Clients who want quality product will buy our lawn in any case. Our sales don’t really decrease,” says Faraz Manan

“We have done almost 10-12 raids a year. This is simply because we can’t let these knock-offs go. We have to keep the pressure up and let them know we’re not okay with it,” says Safinaz.

The action against imitators is usually taken under three main provisions: Section 74 of the Copyright Ordinance, on the powers of the police to raid and search premises; Section 60 of the Ordinance speaks of civil remedies for infringement of copyright; and the latest Cyber Crime Bill 2015.

“Time is of the essence in these cases because raid teams usually need to catch piracy in the act. The replica production usually takes place during early hours of morning or night,” Hanya explains.

Once caught, there is no going back for these imitators. They are penalised and can no longer sell pirated lawn.

Other routes to fight piracy

Seeking assistance from the law is one way of fighting the fashion pirate. But barring a legal route, designers do try to make their products unique enough so imitators won’t be able to successfully copy their designs.

“One way to make it difficult for the imitators to copy though, is by adding silk, sequins and chiffon to our lawn collection,” explains designer Faraz Manan, whose name is synonymous with trendy, modern designs.

Who can forget Kareena modeling Faraz Mannan while Karishma models an Indian brand’s replicas

“I don’t see piracy as a threat though, only because it doesn’t affect us much. Clients who want quality product will buy our lawn in any case. Our sales don’t really decrease,” adds Faraz.

In this way, designers are using their brand’s persona, consistency to deliver top-quality products to thrive. They are trying to remain unfazed by the competition and imitators by letting the consumers understand their brand philosophy which primarily surrounds around glamour, luxury and versatility.

“I have always said that Sana Safinaz is a value added brand. You can buy a lawn suit and transform it in 20 ways to wear it. You can separate the silk patti from the daman, or use the embellished neck on another plain suit,” explains Safinaz. “There’s a reason Sana Safinaz is the most sought after lawn till date.”

Designers are also understanding that there are many who cannot afford their high-end lawn. They are coming out with casual ready-to- wear lines for consumers who desire ‘quality workmanship and finesse’ while on a limited budget. Running a ready-to-wear line alongside luxury lawn, under the same brand label is done in attempts to appeal to a wider market of consumers.

Trying to tackle this piracy, designers remain hopeful to regain full control of their creative work. They can live without the fear of cheaper knock-off versions floating by if they have their creations at an affordable price range for customers.

“If we bring in variety of outfits ranging at all prices, there will come a time that these knock-off prints won’t be left with a market to sell,” assures Faraz.

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PRAVATI CAPITAL APPOINTS A NEW COMMERCIAL LAW ADVISOR

Scottsdale, AZ, United States – Pravati Capital has announced the appointment of ROBERT SCHULMAN as its Commercial Litigation Finance Advisor. Pravati Capital is a Litigation Finance Company that offers clients specialized skills, service and expertise. Pravati delivers on commitments to serve by offering Litigation Financing for high-stake commercial claims, personal injury and mass tort cases with established liability and a precedent for settlement and offers both recourse and non-recourse settlement loans to law firms and plaintiffs across the nation.

To help serve its clients better, Pravati Capital has appointed Robert Schulman as its new Commercial Litigation Finance Advisor. Robert Schulman brings over 50 years of complex commercial litigation experience to the company and serves directly on the management team at Pravati Capital.

Prior to joining Pravati Capital, he was a senior litigation partner in the Los Angeles offices of Fulbright & Jaworski, where he served as that Firm’s Chairman of its Accounting Profession Practice Committee and as a member of the Los Angeles offices’ Leadership Council. Previously, he was a litigation partner with other international law firms.

His accomplishments have been recognized by, among other things, his selection by the authoritative The Chambers Guide as one of California’s top 13 commercial litigators, for several years as a “Southern California Super Lawyer,” one of “The Best Lawyers in America,” one of “The Best in the United States” in commercial litigation, and as a recipient of the Martindale-Hubbell “AV-Preeminent” rating, the highest such designation.

Mr Schulman also has served several terms as an Adjunct Professor of Law at The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, has held public office, and has been pro bono General Counsel of several organizations.

His litigation practice focused on complex commercial cases, with a special emphasis on the representation of Big 4 and other accounting firms, international insurance brokerages, and various manufacturing firms in actions involving every kind of insurance issue, intellectual property, regulatory matter, the music industry, tax and standard of care claims, and a broad variety of other major cases.

About The Company

Pravati Capital is a trusted litigation finance partner to law firms, plaintiffs and investors. It’s its mission to provide innovative, efficient capital solutions for law firms, compassionate assistance to plaintiffs in need of legal and financial assistance. Pravati’s team is comprised of highly qualified professionals, each bringing expertise and oversight that can be put to work for you.

For more information visit https://pravaticapital.com/ or call: 1.844.772.8284

Media Contact

Company Name: PRAVATI CAPITAL

Contact Person: Anthony

Email: support@pravaticapital.com

Phone: 1.844.772.8284

Address:Pravati Capital – Corp Headquarters

City: Scottsdale

State: AZ

Country: United States

Website: https://pravaticapital.com/

Source: www.abnewswire.com

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In tussle with Law Commission, it is crucial for the Bar Council of India not to hold reform to ransom

The BCI—the top regulator of legal profession—has reportedly passed a resolution calling for the removal of the current Chairperson of the Law Commission, Dr (Justice) BS Chauhan.

Ameen Jauhar

After weeks of confrontation, the face-off between the Bar Council of India (BCI) and the Law Commission has reached a boiling point. The BCI—the top regulator of legal profession—has reportedly passed a resolution calling for the removal of the current Chairperson of the Law Commission, Dr (Justice) BS Chauhan. The resolution addressed to all State Bar Councils urges advocates across India to call a strike on April 21 and ‘burn copies of the recommendations and bill of the Law Commission’. This report was submitted by the Commission to the ministry, proposing overhauling reforms to the regulation of legal profession in India. It suggests some unprecedented amendments to the Advocates Act, notably the inclusion of non-advocate members on state Bar Councils and the BCI, as well as the statute declaring strikes by lawyers unlawful.

The exercise of improving the legal profession has been attempted at several junctions, and on all those instances, efforts of significant reform have been scuttled by the BCI, using strikes as a weapon. The most recent incident was last year when the Madras HC amended its rules of practice, to allow the High Court to prevent advocates from appearing before it, in the event they were culpable of violating the amended rules of practice. On that occasion, the BCI, in an unprecedented show of its regulatory powers, suspended the licences of 126 advocates.

What has become evident from the incident in Chennai, as well as the ongoing confrontation, is the inability of the Bar to accept any reform to the status quo. The inadequacy of the legal profession is no secret—the Apex Court on numerous occasions has hauled up individual lawyers, as well as the BCI, for its failure to impose professional standards. Members of the legal fraternity, including advocates, have also called for stronger regulations in the past.
The SC recently took a strong note of the declining standards of professionalism amongst legal practitioners (Mahipal Singh versus Union of India). It tasked the Law Commission to review the existing regulatory framework for the legal profession, and make recommendations for its strengthening. Pursuant to this mandate, the Law Commission dutifully sought inputs of all concerned stakeholders over an elaborate process of months, including the State Bar Councils and various Bar Associations.

The 266th Law Commission report has proposed major amendments to the Advocates Act regarding the constitution and functions of Bar Councils, providing for the registration and regulation of law firms and foreign lawyers, defining the term ‘misconduct’ and providing clear penalties for professional misconduct, and increasing accountability by setting up grievance redressal mechanisms for litigants to complain against advocates. It is pertinent to point out that the proposed amendments will require certain fine-tuning and further redrafting, and must not be accepted with finality in their current form. For instance, there is needless repetition in the proposed amendments to Section 7 (functions of the BCI). Additionally, there are certain drafting errors in the existing Advocates Act which have not been rectified (like the erroneous wording of Section 36). However, the reconsideration and revision of these amendments is not the challenge; the paramount concern here is the obdurate posturing of the BCI and members of the Bar against any efforts at discussing some much-needed reform for improving the professional standards of the legal profession.

There is a patent problem with the BCI’s stand against the proposed recommendations—at no point has the BCI or any of the State Bar Councils presented a detailed reasoning for disagreement. Instead, ambiguous and rhetorical phrases like ‘independence of the Bar’ and ‘safeguarding the legal profession’ have been peddled as platitudes. This stubbornness, unfortunately, puts the Bar at a backfoot. Its resentment seems less driven by cogent reasoning and more by blind obstinacy against any change to the status quo. It is not civil disobedience, but a meaningless participation in unlawful actions when courts are available to challenge an arbitrary reforms and amendments.

It is crucial for the Bar to appreciate that instead of countering reformative exercise blindly, it may be productive to engage and collaborate with the policy-makers to come out with a comprehensive set of amendments. Defiance will not serve anyone, nor will actions that erode the rule of law.

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