Legal Aid

Legal aid ‘heroes’ honoured at special ceremony

Hundreds of legal aid lawyers gathered at a special ceremony in London last night to celebrate the unsung ‘heroes’ within their community.

The prestigious event, now in its 17th year, was founded by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group.

The evening began with special awards being presented to three people who the LAPG committee believe have made an exceptional contribution to legal aid and access to justice: Anselm Eldergill, a district judge in the Court of Protection, and barrister Rachel Francis and solicitor Oliver Carter, former co-chairs of the Young Legal Aid Lawyers group.

Eldergill told the ceremony that the justice budget had been cut by 40% since 2010, ‘not just decimated but decimated four times’.

He said: ‘It’s a depressing picture but would be even more depressing if it was not for your amazing efforts. I intend to return to practice next year and do my bit to rebuild the justice system that’s open to all citizens regardless of their means and social class.’

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Joanne Cecil with compère Anna Jones and presenter Helena Kennedy QC

Source: Robert Aberman

Garden Court Chambers’ Joanne Cecil, who won the legal aid barrister award, helped with crowdfunding efforts to provide every MP with a copy of legal blogger Secret Barrister’s book, Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken. Asked by host and Sky News presenter Anna Jones about whether the attitude in parliament has changed, Cecil said: ‘We have lots of nice words from the government but not a great deal of action yet – that’s really where the proof is.’

The social welfare law award went to solicitor William Ford of London firm Osbornes Law. Ford represented a vulnerable refugee and challenged a Hillingdon council housing policy, describing the three-year battle as one requiring endurance.

Solicitor Sally Thompson, who runs north London immigration practice Luqmani Thompson & Partners, praised her colleagues who she said ‘make me look good’ and talked about how proud she was of her team.

Duncan Lewis solicitor Raja Rajeswaran Uruthiravinayagan, who won the public law award, said he was surprised that he was shortlisted and joked: ‘I thought I got shortlisted because of my really long name.’ Ututhiravinayagan had to leave Sri Lanka due to the civil war when he was 13 and said that was the reason he specialised in human rights law.

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Paul Bowen QC

Source: Richard Gray

This year’s ‘outstanding achievement’ award went to Paul Bowen QC, a human rights barrister at Brick Court Chambers, who acted in the right to die and assisted suicide cases brought by Debbie Purdy and Tony Nicklinson.

Bowen began his speech by applauding the audience, who he described as legal aid ‘heroes’. He concluded his speech with four tips for young legal aid lawyers: ‘Question everything; fear no one; prepare, prepare, prepare; shut up and sit down when you’re ahead.’

The full list of winners

Legal aid newcomer: Una Morris, Garden Court Chambers

Children’s rights: Edward Taylor, Osbornes Law

Legal aid barrister: Joanne Cecil, Garden Court Chambers

Family (including mediation): Philip Wilkins, Hudgell & Partners

Social welfare law: William Ford, Osbornes Law

Legal aid practice management: Sally Thompson, Luqmani Thompson & Partners

Legal aid firm/Not-for-profit agency: Child Poverty Action Group

Access to justice through IT: FormShare, GT Stewart

Criminal defence: Lydia Dagostino, Kellys Solicitors

Public Law: Raja Rajeswaran Uruthiravinayagan, Duncan Lewis

Outstanding achievement: Paul Bowen QC

LAPG special awards: Anselm Eldergill, district judge; Rachel Francis, One Pump Court and former co-chair of Young Legal Aid Lawyers; Oliver Carter, Irwin Mitchell and former co-chair of Young Legal Aid Lawyers

By 11 July 2019

Business Insolvency – New EU Rules

The EU is giving reputable bankrupt entrepreneurs a second chance, and making it easier for viable enterprises in financial difficulties to access preventive restructuring frameworks at an early stage to prevent insolvency.

The Council formally adopted today the directive on preventive restructuring frameworks, second chance and measures to increase the efficiency of restructuring, insolvency and discharge procedures. This decision marks the end of the legislative procedure.

The overall objective of the directive is to reduce the most significant barriers to the free flow of capital stemming from differences in member states’ restructuring and insolvency frameworks, and to enhance the rescue culture in the EU based on the principle of second chance. The new rules also aim to reduce the amount of non-performing loans (NPLs) on banks’ balance sheets and to prevent the accumulation of such NPLs in the future. In doing so, the proposal aims to strike an appropriate balance between the interests of the debtors and the creditors.

The key elements of the new rules include:

  • Early warning and access to information to help debtors detect circumstances that could give rise to a likelihood of insolvency and signal to them the need to act quickly.
  • Preventive restructuring frameworks: debtors will have access to a preventive restructuring framework that enables them to restructure, with a view to preventing insolvency and ensuring their viability, thereby protecting jobs and business activity. Those frameworks may be available also at the request of creditors and employees’ representatives.
  • Facilitating negotiations on preventive restructuring plans with the appointment, in certain cases, of a practitioner in the field of restructuring to help in drafting the plan.
  • Restructuring plans: the new rules foresee a number of elements that must be part of a plan, including a description of the economic situation, the affected parties and their classes, the terms of the plans, etc.
  • Stay of individual enforcement actions: debtors may benefit from a stay of individual enforcement actions to support the negotiations of a restructuring plan in a preventive restructuring framework. The initial duration of a stay of individual enforcement actions shall be limited to a maximum period of no more than four months.
  • Discharge of debt: over-indebted entrepreneurs will have access to at least one procedure that can lead to a full discharge of their debt after a maximum period of 3 years, under the conditions set out in the directive.

Next steps

This formal vote marks the end of the legislative process. The directive will now be formally signed and then published in the official journal. Member states will have two years (from the publication in the OJ) to implement the new provisions. However, in duly justified cases, they can ask the Commission for an additional year for implementation.

Background

The proposal was presented by the Commission on 22 November 2016. The new rules complement the 2015 Insolvency Regulation which focuses on resolving the conflicts of jurisdiction and laws in cross-border insolvency proceedings, and ensures the recognition of insolvency-related judgments across the EU.

The European Parliament formally voted on the directive on 28 March 2019.

Clyde & Co Revenue Tops £600M

Clyde & Co’s revenue has jumped 11% to exceed £600m for the first time.

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Setting up a Company in the EU to become easier

EU company law is being updated to reflect the digital age. The Council today adopted a directive that facilitates and promotes the use of online tools in the contacts between companies and public authorities throughout their lifecycle.

The directive will provide improved online procedures, creating a modern and safe way for businesses to dismantle the obstacles involving setting up companies, registering their branches or filing documents, especially in cross border operations.

Ana Birchall, Minister of Justice, Vice Prime Minister for the implementation of Romania’s strategic partnerships, interim

The new rules ensure that:

  • companies are able to register limited liability companies, set up new branches and file documents in the business register fully online;
  • national model templates and information on national requirements are made available online and in a language broadly understood by the majority of cross-border users;
  • rules on fees for online formalities are transparent and applied in a non-discriminatory manner;
  • fees charged for the online registration of companies do not exceed the overall costs incurred by the member state concerned;
  • the ‘once-only’ principle applies, meaning that a company will only need to submit the same information to public authorities once;
  • documents submitted by companies are stored and exchanged by national registers in machine-readable and searchable formats;
  • more information about companies is made available to all interested parties free of charge in the business registers.

At the same time, the directive sets out the necessary safeguards against fraud and abuse in online procedures, including control of the identity and legal capacity of persons setting up the company and the possibility of requiring physical presence before a competent authority. It maintains the involvement of notaries or lawyers in company law procedures as long as these procedures can be completed fully online. It also foresees exchange of information between member states on disqualified directors in order to prevent fraudulent behaviour.

The directive does not harmonise substantive requirements for setting up companies or doing business across the EU.

Simmons & Simmons Opens Office in Shenzhen, China

Simmons & Simmons has opened an office in southeastern Chinese city Shenzhen.

The new office is Simmons’ third in the country, alongside its operations in Beijing and Shanghai.

The new office will focus on telecommunications, media and technology (TMT)—areas in which the firm already advises Shenzhen clients.

TMT partner Jingyuan Shi is moving from the firm’s Beijing office to lead the outpost. She will be the office’s sole partner but will work closely with the firm’s international TMT teams led by London-based partner Alexander Brown.

“Shenzhen is rapidly growing as a force in the technology industry and plays a pivotal role as a global innovation powerhouse,” Shi said in a statement.

Paul Li, who is the head of Asia for the firm, noted that China is currently the world’s second most important TMT market after the U.S. “This move enables us to build on our existing presence in the country,” he said. ”We are committed to continuing investment in this market, working under The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).”

Shenzhen officially became a city in 1979 and in 1980 was established as China’s first special economic zone, which has made it more attractive to foreign and domestic firms. The city, sometimes called China’s new Silicon Valley, is now home to some of the best-known Chinese technology companies, including Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., ZTE Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. Shenzhen is officially one of the world’s fastest-growing cities.

Other global law firms, especially those with a strong intellectual practice, have opened offices in Shenzhen. Chicago-based IP shop Brinks Gilson & Lione was the first, opening its Shenzhen office at the very end of 2017. Fish & Richardson and the hybrid virtual law firm Rimon Law each launched an office there earlier this year.

Earlier this month, Simmons also expanded its presence in France with the hire of two lawyers for its Paris office.

Milbank, Latham, Skadden Advise on $8.6B Casino Mega-Merger

Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment Corp. are betting big that a merger between the two gaming giants will lead to a heater for shareholders. The new combined entity will retain the “Caesars” name and operate 60 gaming facilities across 16 U.S. states.

In a deal announced Monday morning, Eldorado will take control of all of Caesars’ outstanding shares at $12.75 per share, with a total purchase price of $8.58 billion in cash and stock and a total consideration of $17.3 billion, including debt. Eldorado shareholders will maintain 51% of the company’s outstanding shares, while Caesar’s investors will hold the remaining 49%.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and Latham & Watkins are representing Eldorado on the deal. Milbank has represented both companies in the past, including handling an $18 billion debt restructuring for a Caesars subsidiary and advising Eldorado on a 2018 deal with William Hill PLC to act as the company’s exclusive sports betting operator.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is advising Caesars in the Eldorado acquisition. The firm has a long history with Caesars, including when the gaming company sold four casino properties for $2.2 billion in 2014, as well as on its sale to Harrah’s for $9.4 billion in 2004.

Caesars, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2017, operates 34 properties in nine states and has $8.79 billion in long-term debt as of March 31. Eldorado, on the other hand, has a market value of about $4 billion and long-term debt of $3.06 billion as of the end of the first quarter. It operates 26 properties in 12 U.S. states.

Caesars has been a financial boon for several major law firms over the years. Its 2015 Chapter 11, from which the company emerged in 2017, helped generate fees of over $70 million for Kirkland & Ellis, $29 million for Proskauer Rose and $25 million for Jones Day.

Tom Reeg, CEO of Eldorado, said in a statement that “Eldorado’s combination with Caesars will create the largest owner and operator of U.S. gaming assets and is a strategically, financially and operationally compelling opportunity that brings immediate and long-term value to stakeholders of both companies.”

The deal team for Milbank was led by corporate M&A partner Deborah Conrad, tax partners Russell Kestenbaum and Max Goodman and executive compensation and employee benefits partner Mike Shah.

Latham fielded a team led by San Diego-based Sony Ben-Moshe. Moshe is a co-chair of the firm’s gaming and hospitality practice.

The Skadden team was led by M&A partners Andrew Garelick, Brian McCarthy and Richard Grossman, banking partner K. Kristine Dunn, capital markets partner Michelle Gasaway antitrust/competition partner Kenneth Schwartz, tax partner Kenneth Betts, labor and employment law partner Karen Corman, executive compensation and benefits partner Joseph Yaffe, intellectual property and technology partner Bruce Goldner, litigation partner Edward Micheletti and real estate partner Meryl Chae.

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ALB marks 15th edition of Japan Law Awards in style

The 15th ALB Japan Law Awards, held at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo on June 13, was a resounding success, with the who’s-who of the Japanese legal industry, including in-house counsel, private practice lawyers and corporate executives, gracing the event.

The event saw Nishimura & Asahi, walk away with the biggest award of the night – the Japan Law Firm of the Year. The firm won in six categories, as did fellow Japanese Big Four firms Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu and Mori Hamada & Matsumoto.

Nishimura also claimed the titles of Young Lawyer of the Year (for Yuki Oi), Japan Deal Firm of the Year, and Restructuring and Insolvency Law Firm of the Year. Meanwhile, Nagashima Ohno won Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year (for Oki Mori), Healthcare and Life Sciences Law Firm of the Year, Real Estate Law Firm of the Year and Regulatory and Compliance Law Firm of the Year. Mori Hamada & Matsumoto’s haul included Banking and Financial Services Law Firm of the Year, Japan Intellectual Property Law Firm of the Year and Tax and Trusts Law Firm of the Year.

Among international firms, Herbert Smith Freehills claimed two titles, including the International Arbitration Law Firm of the Year. Davis Polk & Wardwell won International Deal Firm of the Year, and was also recognised for its role in three award-winning deals, while Morrison & Foerster was declared the International Intellectual Property Law Firm of the Year.

In the individual categories, Clifford Chance’s Reiko Sakimura won the BMW Award Woman Lawyer of the Year. Hiroo Atsumi of Atsumi & Sakai walked away with Managing Partner of the Year award while the Dealmaker of the Year title was claimed by Akifusa Takada of Baker & McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise).

And in the in-house categories, the T&D Associates Award Innovative In-House Team of the Year award went to Softbank Group while the Baker McKenzie Award Japan In-House Team of the Year award was won by IBM Japan. IBM also won the title of In-House Lawyer of the Year for Anthony Luna.