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IRS assigns some old debts to private collection firms, but agency will still handle most tax debts

In an effort to help consumers understand this process better, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota offers insight, based on IRS materials, on what taxpayers, particularly those with outstanding debts, should know.

“This is something a bit new,” said Susan Adams Loyd, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. “For a long time, we’ve told consumers the IRS wouldn’t call them. Though that’s changed somewhat, some of the information we regularly give out remains the same — such as calls threatening debtors with arrest not being legitimate. That will still hold true.”

The new program, authorized by a federal law enacted by Congress in 2015, enables these four designated contractors to collect, on the government’s behalf, unpaid tax debts. According to the IRS, these are unpaid tax obligations not currently being worked by IRS collection employees. These debts are often ones that were assessed by the tax agency several years ago. This program begins this week and will expand later in the spring and summer.

Like the IRS, BBB has concerns this change might lead to scammers using the new program to try to defraud people. However, there are many ways to determine whether contact you receive in regard to claimed tax debts are legitimate.

According to the IRS, people with overdue taxes will always receive multiple contacts — letters and phone calls — from the IRS first, not private debt collectors. The IRS will always notify a taxpayer before transferring their accounts to a private collection agency.

In addition, the IRS says the process will work like this:

The private debt collection company will send a letter to the taxpayer, and the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer. Consumers who are still living at the address where the letters are sent will be clear on the process. However, if the taxpayer has moved and hasn’t notified the IRS, they may get calls from the private debt collection company their account has been assigned to, if the collection agency is able to locate them through other means. Taxpayers can use Form 8822 to update the IRS with their new address;

Private debt collectors will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. These employees must follow the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and like IRS employees, must be courteous and respect taxpayers’ rights.

Consumers with outstanding tax debts will pay money directly to the IRS, not the private debt collection company. They will be given options shown on this page: Private debt collectors will not ask and cannot accept credit card information over the phone.

Taxpayers can ask for their account to be transferred from the private debt collection back to the IRS, if they prefer.

The IRS adds that private collection firms will only be calling about tax debts individuals have had — and been aware of — for years, debts which they have been contacted about previously by the IRS. Taxpayers can verify they have an unpaid tax debt from a previous year by visiting

BBB reminds all consumers, particularly those who have outstanding tax debts, that the IRS will explain this new process clearly and will make every attempt to work with them as far as setting up payment plans. They will also give taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

For more information on this change, including the names of the debt collection firms the IRS has contracted with, see:



The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

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Priorities committee firms up budget allocations for ministries, divisions


In order to propose allocations of all ministries/divisions and departments for the upcoming budget, the Priorities Committee is scheduled to hold five days meetings starting from Tuesday and on the first day, budgets for 17 ministries including President and Prime Minister secretariats as well as Intelligence Bureau (IB) were firmed up.

Finance Division proposed allocation of Rs850 billion for federal development outlay including Rs700 billion for Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for ministries/division and attached departments and Rs150 billion for special areas programmes including for reconstruction of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and other programmes for the coming budget 2017-18.

The budget making process for financial year 2017-18 kick started formally Tuesday as the Priorities Committee, scheduled to meet this week from April 11 to 15, 2017, at Q Block (Finance Ministry) will propose ceilings of both development and current allocations for the upcoming budget which is expected to be unveiled during last week of May this year around starting of upcoming Ramazan.

Against indicative budget ceiling of Rs700 billion by Finance Division for PSDP in 2017-18, the Planning Ministry has now written official communication to Finance Ministry for apprising that it would be insufficient to meet all major initiatives including China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other infrastructure requirements. So far, the Planning Ministry got no reply from Finance Division.

In first session, the Priorities Committee considered budgetary allocation for Cabinet Division including IB, Provincial Coordination Division, Federal Education & Professional Training Division, National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination, Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA).

In the second session on Tuesday, the Priorities Committee considered budgetary allocation for President Secretariat, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Aviation Division, Prime Minister Office (PMO), Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission, Earthquake Reconstruction & Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA), NAVTTC, Prime Minister Office (Internal) Foreign Affairs Division and National Security Division.

Today (Wednesday), the Committee will consider budgetary allocation for Board of Investment, Religious Affairs & National Harmony Division, Water & Power Division, National Food Security & Research Division, Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan Division and Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources.

In second session on Wednesday, the Priorities Committee will take up proposed allocation for Establishment Division, Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC), Information & Broadcasting Division, Revenue Division/FBR, Statistics Division, National History & Literary Heritage Division, Auditor General of Pakistan and Controller General of Accounts.

On April 13, 2017 on Thursday, the Committee will consider approval of proposed allocation of Commerce Division, Textile Division, Communication Division including National Highway Authority (NHA), Ports & Shipping Division, Privatisation Division, Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Division, Interior Division, Housing & Works Division, Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat, Capital Administration & Development Division, Narcotics Control Division and Finance Division.

On April 14, 2017 on coming Friday, the Priority Committee will finalise proposed allocation for Planning, Development & Reform Division, Science & Technology Division, Industries & Production Division, Economic Affairs Division, Information Technology & Telecommunication Division, Climate Change Division, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Defence Division and Defence Production Division.

On last and fifth consecutive day of coming Saturday (April 15, 2017) the Priority Committee will consider proposed allocation for Federal Tax Ombudsman, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), State & Frontier Region Division, Parliamentary Affairs Division, Federal Shariat Court, Council of Islamic Ideology (CCI), Senate Secretariat, Registrar Islamabad High Court, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), National Assembly Secretariat, Chief Executive Officer Federal Ombudsman Secretariat against Harassment of Woman at Workplace, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Law & Justice Division, Human Rights Division, Fata and National School of Public Policy (NSPP). 


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Media firms, Hollywood screenwriters in talks to avert strike

Los Angeles: The world’s largest media companies returned to the negotiating table Monday with Hollywood screenwriters, seeking to avert a strike that could cost the entertainment industry billions of dollars and take popular TV shows off the air indefinitely.

Hollywood is bracing for the worst-case scenario after the Writers Guild of America warned advertisers and investors of the financial fallout and said members will most likely walk out 2 May if the new round of talks fail. Major TV programmers, such as Comcast Corp.’s NBC and CBS Corp.’s flagship network, are scanning their slates of upcoming shows to determine which ones can air without guild writers.

Negotiators on both sides are counting on cooler heads to prevail as they seek to avoid a repeat of the 100-day work stoppage in 2007-08 that cost the entertainment industry more than $2 billion, according to Milken Institute estimates. Yet the entertainment business, specifically TV, has undergone myriad changes that are creating new sticking points since the last strike almost a decade ago, and the writers say they haven’t benefited.

“The digital revolution is catching up with TV, but the economic models haven’t,” said Darrell Miller, a managing partner and head of the entertainment practice at law firm Fox Rothschild LLP. “They are fighting because the new media groups are reluctant to transition faster than they have to.”

By new media, Miller means a budding cadre of TV giants, led by Netflix Inc. and Inc., that have pushed Hollywood into the era of peak TV. The TV industry produced a record 455 scripted shows last year, more than double the number of programs that were made in 2009, according to FX, a cable outlet owned by 21st Century Fox Inc. In just five years, Netflix has become one of the biggest financiers of original programming in the world, and Amazon isn’t far behind.

Yet this golden age hasn’t been so lucrative for the writers who made it happen. Writers say they are earning less per show because the business model for many of the newer programs differs from what came before them.

As recently as 2010, broadcast networks accounted for more than half of all scripted shows on TV, according to FX. The business model for broadcast television is generally kinder to writers, with most shows airing more than 20 episodes a season.

Less-experienced writers get paid a minimum salary per episode, while those with more experience negotiate for higher rates and a share of revenue from international sales. Those residuals are particularly lucrative and can provide years of income after a show goes off the air in the US.

Cable channels

Most cable channels, premium cable channels and streaming services order fewer episodes per season, yet still require writers to work on them exclusively and often pay less for the same period of work. The number of series with fewer than 14 episodes grew by 40 between the 2013-2014 TV season and the 2015-2016 seasons, the guild said on its website. Meanwhile, the number of series with 14 or more episodes shrank by 1.

Netflix and Amazon, meanwhile, obtain global rights to many of their shows, which they supply to viewers in almost 200 countries around the world. While writers collect residuals for show streamed online, the guild says payments haven’t kept up with the growth of those services.

Writers are also getting squeezed because movie studios are releasing fewer films each year, cutting into another source of revenue.

“In a time of unprecedented demand, TV writers are, illogically, earning less,” the guild said. The organization declined to comment beyond the materials on its website.

Netflix isn’t a party to the current talks, and negotiates with the guild separately.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, which represents media companies like Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co. in the negotiations, has proposed a few solutions to compensate writers, including exempting them from exclusive commitments to a given show, according to people familiar with the plans who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations. That would let writers line up a few jobs in the same year and earn more cash.

Multiple demands

The producers say the guild is making too many demands and must prioritize its members’ requests. Prior to the negotiations, the guild had indicated the future of its health-care insurance was the gravest concern.

The plan, called the Rolls Royce of plans by many in the industry, is on shaky financial ground. The producers’ alliance, which represents production companies and studios and is known as the AMPTP, has offered to provide more money if the guild agrees to some cost-saving concessions, according to the people. The guild said the proposed cuts go too deep.

The guild showed up to the first-round negotiations with an enormous agenda, seeking pay increases for every category of writer. The demands caught the AMPTP off guard, and the producers have since complained that the guild has been unresponsive to its proposals.

“The WGA broke off negotiations at an early stage in the process in order to secure a strike vote rather than directing its efforts at reaching an agreement at the bargaining table,” the AMPTP said after the initial round of negotiations. “Keeping the industry working is in everyone’s best interests, and we are ready to return to negotiations when they are.”

With three weeks to go before the guild’s 2 May strike deadline, there’s still time to reach an accord. The unions plans strike-authorization votes next week in Los Angeles and New York. Bloomberg

First Published: Tue, Apr 11 2017. 10 39 PM IST

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UK supreme court denies tobacco firms permission for plain packaging appeal

Final legal decision in UK means that all cigarettes sold after 20 May must come in standardised packaging

Unbranded cigarette packaging

The blanket requirement for standardised packaging will come into force on 20 May.
Photograph: AFP photo/Ash (UK)

UK supreme court denies tobacco firms permission for plain packaging appeal

Final legal decision in UK means that all cigarettes sold after 20 May must come in standardised packaging

All cigarettes sold in the UK must have standardised packaging from next month after the supreme court refused permission to the tobacco industry to appeal against the new laws.

This is the final domestic legal decision, meaning that plain packaging of cigarettes will come into force on 20 May, the Department of Health said.

Rules requiring tobacco to be packaged in drab, dark brown packs with no graphic branding came into effect in May 2016, with branded packs subsequently being phased out.

Tobacco companies went to the supreme court after the court of appeal last November rejected their attempt to prevent the introduction of mandatory plain packaging of cigarettes in the UK.

British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Philip Morris International claimed that the law would infringe their human and intellectual property rights.

The new packs are the same shape, size and colour, with two thirds of the front and back surfaces covered by pictorial health warnings, and written warnings on the sides.

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, welcomed the supreme court’s decision, saying: “Standardised packaging will cut smoking rates and reduce suffering, disease and avoidable deaths.”

Smoking remains the biggest cause of premature mortality in the UK, killing more than 100,000 Britons annually, despite Public Health England figures showing a decline in the number of smokers to fewer than one in six adults.

Widespread use of e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and gum helped a record 500,000 smokers kick the habit in 2015, the agency said, bringing the number of ex-smokers in England to 14.6 million.

In 1974, more than half of men in Britain smoked, but that fell in England to just 19.1% by 2015. The rate for women declined from just over 40% in 1974 to only 14.9% in 2015.

The chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, said: “Smoking is the biggest preventable killer in this country and this legislation will save lives, so I am thrilled that the tobacco industry will not be allowed to appeal. After years of hard work, I look forward to seeing this policy now brought in, and smoking numbers fall even further.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the health charity Ash (Action on Smoking and Health UK), said the ruling finally ended attempts by “big tobacco” to overturn the UK legislation on standardised packaging.

“This is the latest in a long line of crushing legal defeats for the tobacco industry. Over the years the industry has squandered many millions of pounds of its own money in futile legal challenges, but worse still it has wasted public time and money, which could have been much better spent improving public health.”

In a sign that tobacco companies acknowledge that the tide of public opinion is turning against them, the boss of Marlboro maker Philip Morris has predicted a “phase-out period” for cigarettes.

André Calantzopoulos made the comments in November as the company launched a new product it claimed was less harmful than traditional smoking. The iQos heats tobacco but does not burn it, releases fewer toxins and is capable of replacing cigarettes in the long term, according to Philip Morris.

However, campaigners and analysts questioned whether e-cigarettes or other products such as the iQos would ever replace cigarettes.

Arnott said at the time: “Philip Morris claims to be moving towards a post-smoking future but, like other tobacco companies, it is still actively promoting smoking around the world, using methods that would be illegal in the UK.”

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Leading Independent Proxy Advisory Firms ISS And Glass Lewis Recommend Mast Therapeutics Stockholders Vote “FOR” The Proposed Merger And Related Proposals

Information contained on this page is provided by an independent third-party content provider. Frankly and this Site make no warranties or representations in connection therewith. If you are affiliated with this page and would like it removed please contact

SOURCE Mast Therapeutics, Inc.

SAN DIEGO, April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Mast Therapeutics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: MSTX) announced today that Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) and Glass, Lewis & Co., LLC (Glass Lewis) have both recommended that Mast stockholders vote “FOR” the proposed merger with Savara Inc. and the related proposals in the Company’s proxy statement/prospectus/information statement for the special meeting of its stockholders to be held on April 21, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

ISS and Glass Lewis are widely recognized as leading independent voting and corporate governance advisory firms.  Their analysis and recommendations are relied on by many major institutional investment firms, mutual funds and fiduciaries throughout North America.

In its report, ISS stated, among other things, that1: “Support FOR the merger proposal is warranted given the positive market reaction to the deal, the strategic rationale, and the opportunity for shareholders to participate in any upside in the combined company’s operations.”

Additionally, Glass Lewis concluded that the transaction is structured in a manner that is fair and reasonable to existing Mast stockholders and that Mast stockholders may reasonably approve the proposed merger.

Commenting on the proxy advisors’ reports, Brian M. Culley, Chief Executive Officer of Mast, stated: “The ISS and Glass Lewis recommendations are consistent with our view that the merger with Savara provides Mast stockholders with an attractive opportunity to obtain value appreciation from a diversified pipeline with important forthcoming milestones.”

The merger has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies and Mast urges its stockholders to vote “FOR” the merger and the other proposals set forth in the proxy statement/prospectus/ information statement dated March 15, 2017, a copy of which has been provided to Mast stockholders of record as of March 13, 2017.  Not voting is the same as voting “AGAINST” the transaction.  

Mast stockholders should note that the merger proposal (Proposal 1), the reverse stock split proposal (Proposal 2) and the name change proposal (Proposal 3) must all be approved for the merger to be completed.  If any of those proposals is not approved, the merger will not go forward.  In addition, Proposals 2 and 3 must be approved by a majority of Mast’s outstanding common stock as of the record date, so every vote in favor of these proposals is extremely important no matter how many or how few shares you own. Ownership of Mast shares is widely dispersed, and it is therefore important to have as many of the Mast stockholders as possible vote regardless of the number of shares owned.



Failure to vote or an abstention from voting will have the same effect as a vote “AGAINST” the merger and related proposals.  All stockholders are asked to vote “FOR” all proposals as soon as possible.

If you are a Mast stockholder and you have questions or require assistance in submitting your proxy or voting your shares, please contact Mast’s proxy solicitor:

Toll Free:  1-877-870-8565
Collect:  1-206-870-8565

About Mast Therapeutics
Mast Therapeutics, Inc. is a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company headquartered in San Diego, California. Mast’s lead product candidate, AIR001, is a sodium nitrite solution for intermittent inhalation via nebulization in Phase 2 clinical development for the treatment of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).  More information can be found on Mast’s web site at  Mast Therapeutics™ and the corporate logo are trademarks of Mast Therapeutics, Inc.

About Savara
Savara Inc. is a clinical-stage specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of serious or life-threatening rare respiratory diseases. Savara’s pipeline comprises AeroVanc, a Phase 3 ready inhaled vancomycin, and Molgradex, a Phase 2/3 stage inhaled granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, or GM-CSF. Savara’s strategy involves expanding its pipeline of best-in-class products through indication expansion, strategic development partnerships and product acquisitions, with the goal of becoming a leading company in its field. Savara’s management team has significant experience in orphan drug development and pulmonary medicine, in identifying unmet needs, creating and acquiring new product candidates, and effectively advancing them to approvals and commercialization. More information can be found at

Additional Information about the Proposed Merger and Where to Find It
In connection with the proposed merger, Mast Therapeutics has filed relevant materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, including a registration statement on Form S-4 that contains a proxy statement, prospectus and information statement. The registration statement was declared effective by the SEC on March 15, 2017. The proxy statement/prospectus/information statement and other relevant materials, and any other documents filed by Mast with the SEC, may be obtained free of charge at the SEC web site at In addition, investors and security holders may obtain free copies of the documents filed with the SEC by Mast by directing a written request to: Mast Therapeutics, Inc. 3611 Valley Centre Drive, Suite 500, San Diego, California 92130, Attn: Investor Relations. Investors and security holders of Mast and Savara are urged to read the proxy statement/prospectus/information statement and other relevant materials before making any voting or investment decision with respect to the proposed merger.

This communication shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities, nor shall there be any sale of securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. No offering of securities in connection with the proposed merger shall be made except by means of a prospectus meeting the requirements of Section 10 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

Participants in the Solicitation
Mast and its directors and executive officers and Savara and its directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of Mast and Savara in connection with the proposed transaction. Information regarding the special interests of these directors and executive officers in the proposed merger is included in the proxy statement/prospectus/information statement referred to above. Additional information regarding the directors and executive officers of Mast is also included in Mast’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2016, which was filed with the SEC on March 6, 2017. These documents are available free of charge at the SEC web site ( and from Investor Relations at Mast at the address described above.

Forward Looking Statements
Mast and Savara caution you that statements in this press release that are not a description of historical fact are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words referencing future events or circumstances such as “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” and “will,” among others. Such statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the structure, timing and completion of the proposed merger; expectations regarding listing and trading of Mast’s common stock on the NYSE MKT and of the combined organization’s common stock on the Nasdaq Capital Market; the capitalization, resources, ownership structure of the combined organization; the nature, strategy and focus of the combined organization; the safety, efficacy and projected development timeline and commercial potential of any product candidates; the executive officer and board structure of the combined organization; and the expectations regarding voting by Mast stockholders. Mast and/or Savara may not actually achieve the proposed merger, or any plans or product development goals in a timely manner, if at all, or otherwise carry out the intentions or meet the expectations or projections disclosed in the forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Because such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon Mast’s and Savara’s current expectations and involve assumptions that may never materialize or may prove to be incorrect. Actual results and the timing of events could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements as a result of various risks and uncertainties, which include, without limitation, risks and uncertainties associated with stockholder approval of and the ability to consummate the proposed merger through the process being conducted by Mast and Savara, the ability to project future cash utilization and reserves needed for contingent future liabilities and business operations, the availability of sufficient resources for combined company operations and to conduct or continue planned clinical development programs, the timing and ability of Mast or Savara to raise additional equity capital to fund continued operations; the ability to successfully develop any of Mast’s and/or Savara’s product candidates, and the risks associated with the process of developing, obtaining regulatory approval for and commercializing drug candidates that are safe and effective for use as human therapeutics. Risks and uncertainties facing Mast, Savara and the combined organization and risks related to the proposed merger are described more fully in the proxy statement/prospectus/information statement referred to above. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they were made. Neither Mast nor Savara undertakes any obligation to update such statements to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the date on which they were made, except as may be required by law.

1 Permission to use quotation neither sought nor obtained.

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

©2016 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.

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Law firms in Wales that are recruiting and expanding

The vibrant legal services sector in Wales is continuing to expand and recruit.

And here are a number of firms winning new clients and expanding their legal expertise.

Capital Law

Capital Law’s commercial and property team

Capital Law, which recently celebrated its tenth birthday, is continuing to grow its team.

In the past few months some 16 new appointments have been welcomed into the firm in departments including property, banking and finance, employment, corporate and disputes.

Established in 2006 in Cardiff, and now with an office in London, Capital provides integrated legal and consultancy services to sectors including education, energy, retail, social housing and the public sector.

Managing partner of Capital Law Elin Pinnell

Managing partner, Elin Pinnell, said: “Many of our lawyers have grown up with us, while others have joined us from City firms and nationwide legal practices.

“This contributes to the culture here and I believe this is something that has afforded us not only incredible growth over the past ten years, but also a privileged position as one of Wales’ premier law firms.”

Capital’s property team has taken on six new recruits in recent months to bolster the firm’s construction, energy and public sector offering.

Principal to the newly strengthened team is Jon Ely, who joins Capital as partner from Lewis Silkin.

Further recent additions to the property team include: Rhiannon Holtham an associate recruited from from Clarkslegal, Stuart Pearson, associate, from Foot Antsey; Emma Hill, associate, from Quality Solicitors and Kirsty Ellis, associate, from Rosenblatt.

The firm commercial disputes team has also grown exponentially – swelling its ranks by 40% to take on three new solicitors and boost the number of Partners in the department from four to five.

Key to the team’s new recruits is Nick Pester, who joins the department as partner and head of Insurance.

He joins the firm from Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, to establish a new specialist Insurance practice at Capital. Also new to the team are solicitors Ian Spencer and Lucy Emmanuel, who have joined Lyons Davidson and Eversheds respectively.

Acuity Legal

Commercial law firm Acuity Legal has opened a new office in Swansea.

The firm, which also has offices in Cardiff and London, has taken a lease on part of the Exchange Building near Morgans Hotel.

Acuity Legal employs over 70 members of staff, with the opening set to create at least 10 new jobs. This number is expected to double within the year.

The Swansea office will be headed up by Hugh Hitchcock, partner and dispute resolution specialist, who recently joined Acuity Legal after 21 years at DJM Solicitors.

Legal jobs in Wales

The team will also include members of Acuity Legal’s corporate and commercial, construction and real estate teams. This will offer Swansea and west Wales based clients a full commercial legal service.

Mr Hitchcock said: “This is an important expansion for Acuity Legal that will allow us to bring sector-leading expertise to business clients in the Swansea region.

“Swansea is a great city with a fast-growing economy and huge potential, and we are excited to be a part of its future.

“With a £1.3bn City Deal in the pipeline which is expected to boost the local economy by an estimated £3.3bn, the expert services we offer are going to be in high demand.”

Here’s all the info on the Swansea Bay City deal

The expansion follows a particularly strong year for Acuity Legal with growth across all areas of expertise as its client base expands both in Wales and throughout the United Kingdom.

Recent successes have included advising on the redevelopment of Central Square in Cardiff and new investment for Bluestone. Acuity Legal is ranked as a top tier firm in the 2016 UK Legal 500 and Chambers legal guides.

Steve Berry, chairman of Acuity Legal, said: ” Hugh and his team are a perfect fit with our approach to business and we are excited by the opportunity to open an office and invest in the future of Swansea and the surrounding area.

“We are committed to our existing and growing client base, and we look forward to welcoming new clients as we continue to grow with the city.”


Gareth Thompson, Nerys Thomas and CJCH Solicitors senior partner Stephen Clarke

South Wales law firm, CJCH Solicitors, has further extended its range of services with the appointment of new heads of department in both commercial and dispute resolution, as well as opening two further offices.

Gareth Thompson joins CJCH from HCB in Solihull as head of the commercial department, while Nerys Thomas, a Cardiff litigato,r is leading the firm’s dispute resolution team. Collectively, they will steer the newly formed CJCH mediation service.

The firm’s growth also involves the opening of new offices in Bristol and London, with the Bristol office in Prince Street, and the London office in Mayfair.

Senior partner Stephen Clarke said: “Gareth and Nerys both have fantastic reputations as highly accomplished lawyers and with the team they have assembled, will really enhance the services we offer to clients

He added: “We’re excited to be opening new offices in Bristol and London, in addition to our headquarters in Cardiff and South Wales offices in Bridgend and Barry.”

CJCH, a Wales top-20 law firm with headquarters in Cardiff, has grown to more than 100 members of staff.

Watkins and Gunn

South Wales-based solicitors, Watkins and Gunn have announced a new partner on the back of continued growth.

The firm, with offices in Newport, Cardiff and Pontypool, have promoted associate, Janine Edwards, to partner

She joins fellow partners Clive Thomas, Jonathan Wellington, Sophie Hughes, Michael Imperato and Lisa Guscott.

Ms Edwards, a specialist property lawyer, joined the firm in 2014, bringing a wealth of experience to the firm.

Her role includes managing a variety of residential property transactions, as well as dealing with all aspects of commercial property such as acquisition and disposal of development land, business leases, development deals, and commercial lending.

During her first 18 months at Watkins and Gunn Solicitors, Ms Edwards has transformed the service that the property team provide to clients – resulted in a 39% increase in completions.

Mr Thomas, managing partner at Watkins and Gunn said, “We are delighted to welcome Janine into the partnership. It is richly deserved, as in a relatively short time, that she has proved herself to be an invaluable asset and shown an incredible amount of commitment both to the business and to her clients.

“Her leadership has been motivational and she sets a wonderful example to her team and the staff as a whole.”

Ms Edwards said, “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been invited to become a partner at Watkins and Gunn.

“The partners at Watkins and Gunn are forward thinking and have developed the business into one of the leading modern law firms, whilst retaining its traditional values. I am looking forward to being a part of the firm’s ongoing development and success.”

Berry Smith

Berry Smith

Cardiff law firm Berry have announced a number of promotions, new qualifications and a new starter.

Gavin Hoccom, who has been promoted to associate,joined Berry Smith in 2015 having returned to Cardiff to practice commercial litigation at a local firm.

Jane Rees is now an associate and has practised law for 20 years advising commercial and individual clients on a range of issues including commercial disputes, insolvency and property law.

Jane Emery has also been promoted to associate. She joined Berry Smith in 2010 as part of the private client team as a residential property solicitor, specialising in equity release and re-mortgage transactions for a leading lender client.

Derek Holbrook has joined as finance manager.

And Catrin Mackie has qualified as a solicitor and works in the commercial property team. She has gained experience in a range of commercial property matters and regularly represents both sellers and purchasers.

Alison Hoy, chief executive at Berry Smith, said: “we are delighted with these changes as they recognise the high quality service being provided to our clients and that the strategy of continuing improving our team is progressing well.”

Darwin Gray

The Darwin Gray team marking 15 years in business

This month Cardiff law Darwin Gray celebrates its 15th birthday.

And since its launch in 2002, its turnover has grown tenfold.

Its first office was located at St Andrew’s Crescent, with two partners and two part-time secretaries. It now has a team of 30,

And Darwin Gray, based at Helmont House, boasts experience way beyond its original focus on employment and property Law.

It now has eight partners, some of whom joined from larger firms.

Partner and head of employment and HR, Fflur Jones, was the first newly qualified lawyer recruited.

She recalls: “It was obviously a much smaller enterprise back when I joined, but some things haven’t changed. We have retained a strong collegiate atmosphere while steadily growing our client base and services.

“This year is already proving a significant one for us. We recently launched the Wales HR Awards, with Acorn Recruitment & Training, through the Wales HR Network.

“It’s one of many ways we’re marking our 15th year andand looking ahead to the next 15.”

Agri Advisor

Agri Advisor, a bilingual legal firm specialising in rural matters, has expanded with a new office near Cardiff.

The firm was established in 2011 by Dr Nerys Llewelyn Jones on her home farm in Carmarthenshire.

It expanded in 2013 with an office Welshpool, to provide a local service for Agri Advisor’s mid and north Wales clients.

And its latest office at Groesfaen, near Cardiff, will service clients in south Wales and from across the border.

Agri Advisor has four partners and over 20 staff, three of which will be permanently based in the new Groesfaen office

Ms Jones, managing partner, said, “The opening of a new office just outside our capital city is an important development for Agri Advisor.

“As well as allowing us to offer the best possible service to our customers in south Wales it also means we are on the doorstep of the Assembly and are able to engage policy makers on the issues of importance to our clients, such as the future of agricultural policy, post Brexit.”

Clarke Willmott

New recruits at law firm Clarke Willmott left to right Kireene David, Bethan Evans and Laurie Jefferies

Law firm Clarke Willmot has strengthened its Cardiff office, which recently celebrated its second anniversary, with the appointment of three new lawyers.

Bethan Evans has joined Clarke Willmott as a senior associate having worked previously for a major international firm for a number of years. She has bolstered the firm’s banking and finance team, specialising in all areas of lending.

Kireene David joins from a Swansea-based firm as a solicitor in the commercial property team, while Laurie Jefferies has also joined the Commercial Property team as a Paralegal.

Vicky Kells, partner at Clarke Willmott and head of the Cardiff office, said: “We are delighted to welcome Bethan, Kireene and Laurie to the Cardiff office.

“Our appointments demonstrate Clarke Willmott’s commitment to the Cardiff office, and will bring extensive experience to the team here.”

She added: “There’s a great deal of investment and development activity happening in Cardiff, and we are committed to making a positive contribution to this success through our work in the area.

“We are extremely pleased with our progress to date. The Cardiff office is developing and with many positives on the horizon we expect another strong performance in 2017 when we will build on the progress and strong relationships we have developed in south Wales.”

Clarke Willmott also has offices in Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.

Gordon Dadds

Gordon Dadds new recruit David Quinn ( front left) being welcomed by Robert Biles and the rest of the team

Law and professional services firm Gordon Dadds has announced the appointment of new property litigation associate David Quinn to supportits growing client demands in property disputes at its Cardiff office.

He joins Gordon Dadds from Thrings LLP’s property litigation department in Bristol.

Senior partner of Gordon Dadds Cardiff office, Nigel Morgan, said: “We are delighted to welcome David to our rapidly growing team here in Cardiff and to continue to support the growth and development of our Welsh business particularly in the property sector.

“Gordon Dadds has recently joined the UK’s ‘top 100 law firms’, and our recruitment drive in Cardiff is another step in our journey to becoming the law and professional services firm of choice for ambitious individuals and organisations.”

In addition the Cardiff office have also recently welcomed four new appointments in family law solicitor Leah Stamp, patent and trademark specialist Matthew Hiscox, employment lawyer Andrea Price and head of corporate support services Melanie Kincaid.

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Greenberg Traurig Wins the 2017 Chambers Europe Law Firm of…

The Warsaw office of international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP was awarded the prestigious Chambers Europe “Law Firm of the Year Award for Poland” at the Chambers Europe 2017 Awards Ceremony in London.

WARSAW (PRWEB) April 10, 2017

The Warsaw office of international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP received the prestigious Chambers Europe “Law Firm of the Year Award for Poland” at the Chambers Europe 2017 Awards Ceremony in London. This is the third time the Warsaw team was awarded this prestigious title in addition to the “Law Firm of the Year for Client Service Award” in 2016.

Lejb Fogelman, the Warsaw office’s Senior Partner, commented, “For over 25 years we have been at the forefront of the corporate, banking and finance world in Poland. This prestigious Chambers Award affirms our strength in the ability to identify legal trends and the related needs of its clients – we do not react to the status quo but anticipate the changes in the market and adjust our practices accordingly.”

Jarosław Grzesiak, Warsaw’s Managing Partner, remarked, “In the past 12 months, our Warsaw office has assisted leading international and domestic clients on most of the largest and most complex transactions and disputes handled in Poland and in the CEE. The significant expansion of our real estate and litigation teams and the recent enhancement of the labor and employment practice places us in a unique position among our peers in this very competitive and demanding market.”

According to Chambers and Partners, publisher of Chambers Europe and other guides to legal service providers globally, the Chambers Law Firm of the Year Awards honor the work of national and international law firms across Europe based on research for the upcoming edition of Chambers Europe. The awards recognize a law firm’s pre-eminence in key countries in the region and reflect notable achievements over the past 12 months including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth, and excellence in client service.

Chambers and Partners also awards leading individual lawyers across Europe. In 2013 Fogelman was recognized with the “Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession Award.” He was the second lawyer from Poland to achieve this distinction. In the same year, Greenberg Traurig was also awarded with the “Law Firm of the Year Award for Poland.”

Chambers Europe is published annually in April and covers 53 jurisdictions across Europe.

About Greenberg Traurig LLP

Greenberg Traurig, LLP is an international, multi-practice law firm with approximately 2000 attorneys serving clients from 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Greenberg Traurig Grzesiak sp.k. was named the 2016 Law Firm of the Year in Poland – Client Service Award by Chambers and Partners. The Warsaw office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP provides legal services to clients in Central Europe and beyond and consists of 90 lawyers. Team members are regularly recognized as leaders in numerous practice areas. Chambers Global, Chambers Europe, IFLR1000 and EMEA Legal 500 consistently rank them among the top tiers the areas of Corporate/M&A, Capital Markets, Real Estate, Private Equity, Tax, Banking and Finance, Project Finance, Energy, Dispute Resolution and TMT.

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Leading global law firm, Hogan Lovells will be the headline legal sponsor at AFC Live summit in Abuja

Leading global law firm, Hogan Lovells, will be the headline legal sponsor at AFC Live, the key industry infrastructure investment summit hosted by the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), that will take place in Abuja on the 15th and 16th May. A number of high level participants from both government and the private sector are expected to attend, including the Presidents of Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda.

With several decades spent working across the continent, covering almost 50 countries and a network of local law firms in all but two African countries, Hogan Lovells has developed an intimate knowledge of the continent’s business environments.

AFC Live has been created to provide a platform to develop solutions that will fast track African and international capital towards infrastructure. Investments in energy and in transport can offer better commercial and social returns than most investments. However, creating the right structure to make these projects commercially attractive requires skill as well as political will and a conducive regulatory environment – which Hogan Lovells has the knowledge and experience to help clients navigate.

Africa may be the world’s fastest growing continent, but access to basic infrastructure services remains a critical challenge across the continent, with studies showing that poor road, rail and port facilities add 30% to 40% to the cost of goods traded among African countries. An oft-quoted World Bank report suggest that Africa needs to spend $93bn annually until 2020 to bridge its infrastructure gap.

Andrew Skipper, Partner and Head of Hogan Lovells’ Africa Practice, and speaker at AFC Live comments: “We are thrilled to be the lead legal sponsor for this event because we believe in and want to support business on the continent. Infrastructure plays an incredibly important part in any country’s growth story and in Africa, it is vital”. On the challenge of project funding, Andrew continues: “African-focused DFIs, Export Credit Agencies or foreign grant funds cannot entirely fund the continent’s infrastructure needs. International investors and commercial lenders need to adjust their thinking on a range of issues in order to encourage an appropriate view on acceptable risk allocation and investor returns in these sometimes complex markets.”

By bringing financiers and investors together alongside project developers and fund managers, AFC Live aims to ensure that more capital, both African and international, can be deployed towards addressing the continent’s pressing infrastructure needs. Hogan Lovells are proud to be a longstanding partner to investors, sponsors, developers and governments on this journey.

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France's Macron says would step up security demands on tech firms

French presidential candidate and frontrunner Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he would step up efforts to get technology firms such as Google or Facebook to share encrypted content from messaging services with authorities.

Governments around the world are increasingly looking at how they can lean on major U.S. tech companies in their efforts to prevent militant attacks and beef up security, including by asking them to do more to stop hate speech and extremist activities online.

That has sparked a debate over users’ privacy, however.

Macron, a centrist and favored to win France’s two-part election if he makes it to a run-off on May 7, said he would require firms like Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter to rapidly remove any extremist propaganda from their sites.

Outlining his policies on security in France, which has been hit by several deadly Islamist attacks in the past two years, Macron added that he would strengthen measures requiring tech companies to give law enforcement access to encrypted material.

“If I get elected, France will as of this summer undertake a major initiative aimed at the big internet companies so that they accept a legal framework for requisitions of encrypted services in the context of counter-terrorism efforts,” Macron told a news conference.

He said he wanted to build on this effort alongside other European countries.

British officials demanded last month that tech firms do more to help police gain access to messaging services and track suspects’ communications, after an attack in Westminster, London, where the perpetrator had used encrypted communications.

Germany is planning a new law calling for social networks like Facebook and Twitter to remove hate speech quickly or face fines of up to 50 million euros ($54 million).

Google declined to comment. Facebook, Apple and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Sarah White and Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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