Chile environmental court rules against SQM mining corporation

On Thursday Chile’s Environmental Court ruled in favor of indigenous complaints that had been brought against SQM. SQM is the world’s second-largest miner of lithium. They had planned for expansion but the expansion plans caused questions about Chile’s northern desert’s ability to handle the level of production.

The court put emphasis on how frail the environment in the northern dessert was right now as well as the lack of scientific study that SQM has done to prove that their mining would not affect the area’s water supply. They cite the ruling as a precaution that could change if they found evidence that the environment could be saved.

This is a big win for the indigenous people of the region whose water supply is threatened by the evergrowing expansion of lithium mining.

UK lawmakers vote in favor of EU withdrawal agreement

UK lawmakers voted in favor of the second reading of the EU Withdrawal Agreement on Friday, leading the nation one step closer to leave the EU by January 31.

Parliament voted 358 to 234, a majority of 124, in favor of the Brexit bill. While lawmakers have agreed to the bill in principle, it will now be debated further by both chambers of Parliament in January.

Since its last reading in October, changes to the bill have been seen as controversial. If passed, the new bill would outlaw any extension to the UK’s transition period, which ends on December 31, 2020. Labour Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer warned parliament that refusing any extension beyond 2020 is “reckless and ridiculous” as it puts the UK at risk of “a bare bones deal or no deal at all.”

Since passed, lawmakers will now have another three days to discuss it further, beginning on January 7. The final vote will take place on January 9, and, if approved, the bill will be passed to the UK’s upper house to make a final decision on whether the bill becomes law.

Factbox: Trump impeachment trial – What happens next?

The U.S. House of Representatives will take up impeachment charges against President Donald Trump next week after the House Judiciary Committee on Friday recommended two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, to the full chamber.

Here is what happened on Friday and likely will happen in coming days:

Friday, Dec. 13

The House Judiciary Committee passed two articles of impeachment after a bitter session and a vote on party lines.

Tuesday, Dec 17

The House Rules Committee will determine issues such as length of debate and when to vote on impeachment.

Likely Wednesday, Dec 18

House is expected to impeach Trump, the third impeachment in U.S. history. A debate and vote on party lines is expected. Some Democrats likely will defect, but not enough to endanger passage of the articles. Trump would remain in office, however, pending a trial in the Senate.

If the impeachment is approved, the House would select lawmakers known as managers to present the case against Trump at a Senate trial. House Democrats say most of the managers are likely to come from the Judiciary Committee, and possibly from the Intelligence Committee that led the investigation. The high-profile job is expected to be highly sought.

Early January

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he meets with Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Trump would face a trial in the Senate to determine whether he should be convicted and ousted from office. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell expects to take it up as soon as the lawmakers reconvene in January. The Senate is controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, who have largely defended the president. A two-thirds majority of those present and voting in the 100-member chamber would be needed to convict Trump.

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over the trial, House managers would present their case against Trump and the president’s legal team would respond, with the senators acting as jurors. A trial could involve testimony from witnesses and a grueling schedule in which proceedings occur six days a week for as many as six weeks.

McConnell has said the Senate could go with a shorter option by voting on the articles of impeachment after opening arguments, skipping the witnesses. But McConnell is still conferring with the White House on this.

A&O and ENSafrica lead on South African Airways rescue

South African Airways was placed under a state-led rescue plan on Thursday as part of a massive restructuring following a costly week-long strike last month.

Thousands of South African Airways (SAA) staff walked out on November 15 after the cash-strapped airline failed to meet a string of demands, including higher wages and job in-sourcing.

The strike was called off the following week after SAA management and unions eventually clinched a deal.

But the walkout dealt a severe blow to the debt-ridden airline, which has failed to make a profit since 2011 and survives on government bailouts.

“The Board of SAA has adopted a resolution to place the company into business rescue,” said a statement by South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, adding that the decision was also supported by the government.

“It must be clear that this is not a bailout,” said Gordhan. “This is the provision of financial assistance in order to facilitate a radical restructure of the airline.”

South Africa is struggling to get state-owned companies back on track after nine years of corruption and mismanagement under former president Jacob Zuma.

– Costly strike –

Its national airline — which employs more than 5,000 workers and is Africa’s second largest airline after Ethiopian Airlines — had been losing 52 million rand ($3.5 million) a day during the strike.

SAA’s board said the business rescue, scheduled to start immediately, was decided after consultations with shareholders and the public enterprises department “to find a solution to our company’s well-documented financial challenges”.

“The considered and unanimous conclusion has been to place the company into business rescue in order to create a better return for the company’s creditors and shareholders,” said the SAA board of directors in a statement.

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.

A&O opens new Legal Services Centre in Johannesburg

Allen & Overy has announced that a new Legal Services Centre (LSC) will open in Johannesburg in the first half of 2020 as part of its expansion plans

Johannesburg city skyline

The LSC, launched in 2012, has quickly built a reputation for cost-effectively and efficiently resourcing transactions while guaranteeing the standard that clients expect from A&O. The team – comprising legal professionals, associate solicitors and science analysts – works alongside offices across the A&O network on a wide range of document-based matters, including due diligence, litigation reviews, drafting, negotiating and research tasks. The focus is on quality, supported by project management and legal technology. The LSC is part of Allen & Overy’s broader Advanced Delivery and Solutions (AD&S) offering, which includes Fuse, A&O Consulting, Peerpoint and A&O’s legal tech solutions.

Angela Clist, Head of LSC, said: “Johannesburg makes an ideal location for our new centre as it has a strong base of legal experts. Our Johannesburg office has been open for five years now, and we look forward to growing the LSC alongside the current team.

“All the work performed in the new centre will serve our clients directly as well as even more practice groups and offices across our global network. Having worked with over 450 partners across the firm and with a wide range of teams from banking regulation to US capital markets, the experience within the LSC is unrivalled.”

Andrew Trahair, Head of Advanced Delivery & Solutions, added: “This is an important step forward for our AD&S businesses. The LSC is an essential resource for A&O as we take on more larger and more complex projects for our clients. The team will support both our traditional practice groups and our AD&S businesses, for example the Markets Innovation Group and A&O Consulting.”

For further information, please contact Rajiv Pattni, Rajiv.Pattni@allenovery.com, on +44 (0)20 3088 1237.

William Phillips, Employment Discrimination Award Winner

https://www.newyorkcitydiscriminationlawyer.com/leaders-in-law-names-william-phillips-employment-discrimination.html

William Phillips, was selected as Employment Discrimination Lawyer of the Year by Leaders in Law Global Awards 2020. He is the managing partner of Phillips & Associates. The firm has represented clients in thousands of employment cases, including those involving sexual harassment, race discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and disability discrimination. Our New York City employment lawyers have worked hard to obtain the best possible results for employees in Manhattan and the other boroughs of NYC. We have obtained tremendous success in securing millions of dollars in settlements and damages awards.

Mr. Phillips previously has been recognized as one of the 10 Best Labor and Employment Attorneys in New York by the American Institute of Legal Counsel and as a Top 100 Labor & Employment Lawyer in New York by the American Society of Legal Advocates. He has been selected as a member of Lawyers of Distinction in Employment and Labor Law. He belongs to the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum, as do three other employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates.

Phillips & Associates has 18 workplace discrimination attorneys at our Manhattan office. Thus, we possess the resources to level the playing field for an employee who has been wronged. We are one of the largest workplace discrimination and sexual harassment law firms in the country, representing workers in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

New York City employees face a huge disadvantage in the workplace, and the disparity in power between employees and employers only intensifies when an employee experiences discrimination or sexual harassment. Our firm takes a personalized and compassionate approach to representing each of our clients.

Employees face substantial hurdles during litigation, so it is important to be represented by a seasoned employment lawyer like the attorneys at Phillips & Associates. More than 75% of employees lose before getting to trial, according to a federal judicial study of the summary judgment stage. Often, when a company in Manhattan or elsewhere is sued for discrimination, its attorneys file a motion for summary judgment or another dispositive motion. When an employer is successful on its summary judgment motion, the case is over before it even gets to a jury. Getting skilled legal counsel on your side at the very beginning of your case can help make sure that your claim survives these initial challenges.

An employee should make sure to retain a law firm with the knowledge and experience to decide whether it makes sense to settle a case or to take it to trial. We apply a risk/reward analysis to each case that we handle, and we continue to apply this analysis throughout the litigation. Sometimes the situation changes as a lawsuit unfolds, based on information or testimony that emerges. Our firm is conscientious about advising our clients when it is wise to settle and when it is appropriate to take the risk of going to trial.

Our goal is to secure a favorable resolution that provides our clients with closure and a definitive outcome. This often means a settlement, but sometimes an employer does not offer fair settlement terms. When this happens, our experience and skill allow us to take your case all the way through trial, vigorously defending your rights before a judge or jury.

Retain an Experienced Employment Attorney in NYC

To discuss your case with an experienced employment discrimination attorney, contact the law firm of Phillips & Associates by calling (212) 248-7431 or completing our online form. We offer a free consultation because we understand that our clients often are facing financial difficulties. Also, we represent clients on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not collect attorneys’ fees unless we successfully secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf. We represent employees in Manhattan and throughout New York City, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. Our firm also handles employment litigation in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

handshake deal

Goodwin and Eversheds make bold Corporate Plays

Goodwin Procter and Eversheds Sutherland both made significant corporate hires in November, with the pair recruiting Kirkland & Ellis partner Carl Bradshaw and Simmons & Simmons former head of UK corporate Giles Dennison respectively.

For Goodwin, the hire of Bradshaw comes during an expansive period for the firm, particularly in private equity. He brings nine years of experience from Kirkland – four of which were as partner – and a practice that focuses on cross-border private equity deals; leveraged buyouts; carve-outs; public-to-privates; consortium deals; and co-investments.

Brexit and the implications for your Intellectual Property Rights

What will the Brexit mean for your intellectual property (IP) rights? Will Britain leave the European Union (EU) without a deal? Or will the Prime Minister manage to get the British Parliament to vote in favour of a Plan B-deal? The Brexit will have consequences for trademark rights, design rights, copyright and patent rights that involve the UK and the EU. Start prepping to protect your IP before Brexit!

The Brexit does not just impact organizations doing business in or with the UK from a commercial trade perspective (e.g. customs and import). You should also think about the ‘crown jewels’ of your organization (e.g. trademark rights, design rights, copyrights or patent rights) covering the European Union.

Brexit will impact every company having intellectual property, licenses and distribution agreements within the EU or UK scope.

Although the uncertainty about the Brexit remains, you should know that whatever happens, you should start preparations. For instance, what happens with the UK coverage of your EU trade mark and design registrations? Should you amend the territorial scope in your intellectual property contracts? A mere reference to the ‘EU’ may become difficult to interpret. This blog outlines the potential implications concerning your intellectual property rights following a Brexit.

Impact of Brexit on European Trade Marks and Designs

EU trade marks and designs are granted by the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Currently, companies and individuals owning a registered EU trade mark or design have their trade mark or design right protected across all EU member states including the UK.

After the Brexit, existing EU trade mark and design registrations will no longer include protection in the UK. However, even in case of a ‘no deal-scenario’, the UK government ensured that the rights in all existing registered EU trade marks and designs will continue to be protected and enforceable in the UK by providing an equivalent trade mark or design registered nationally in the UK.

If you have pending applications for trademark or design rights in the EU at the Brexit date, you may refile your application with the UK Intellectual Property Office under the same terms for a UK equivalent right. For a period of 9 months from exit, the UK government will recognize filing dates and claims to earlier priority and UK seniority recorded on the corresponding EU application.

Impact of Brexit on Copyrights

Various international treaties (such as, the Berner Convention and the WIPO Copyright Treaty) govern the protection of copyright. Under these rules, countries provide cross border copyright protection. These rules are luckily not dependent on the UK’s membership of the EU. As a consequence, copyright protection in the UK for EU protected works will largely remain unchanged.

What about database rights and other EU specific IP legislation?

The EU copyright system is based on EU legislation so it only extends to EU member states. Although the protection rights under EU legislation will be preserved in UK law, cross-border IP protection mechanisms will be different. For example, in the event of a no deal-Brexit, there will be no obligation for EU member states to provide database rights to UK businesses. As a result, owners of UK database rights may find their rights unenforceable in the EU. So companies may need to consider other forms of protection for their databases.

Impact of Brexit on Patents and supplementary protection certificates

Only a few areas of UK patent law are derived from EU legislation. Probably the most important issue here is patented pharmaceutical products and chemical compounds. EU law provides for an additional period of protection after a patent has lapsed, the so-called ‘supplementary protection certificate’.

In addition, EU law provides for compulsory licenses to be granted for UK manufacture of a patented medicine for export to a country with a public health need. Also, EU law demonstrates that certain studies, trials and tests using a patented pharmaceutical product will not be regarded as an infringement of the patent.

Luckily, regardless of the Brexit, any relevant EU legislation (including its implementation in UK law) will remain. This means that the supplementary protection certificates, compulsory licenses and exempted studies and trials will be kept under UK law.

What about the Unitary Patent?

Under the European patent regime, a European patent application essentially forms a bundle of national applications. Each application needs to be validated per EU member state. The Unitary Patent will be one inseparable right covering 26 EU countries. The UK is one of those 26 countries. They ratified the Unitary Patent system only in April 2018 which indicates their desire to be part of this system in spite of Brexit.

However, the Unitary Patent protection cannot be separated from the general principle of the EU’s Internal Market. As a consequence, and especially in the event of a ‘no deal-Brexit’, it is questionable whether the Unitary Patent protection will remain applicable to the UK once it has left the EU. If not, it means that businesses seeking patent protection in the UK will still need to commit to the national UK patent system.

Exhaustion of IP rights after Brexit

Another topic for your business to consider, is the so-called exhaustion of intellectual property rights. ‘Exhaustion’ limits intellectual property rights. Once an IP protected product has been legitimately put on the market anywhere in the EU, the IP rights (e.g. prevent the resell or other commercial use) over such product can no longer be exercised because these rights are exhausted.

In a ‘no deal-scenario’, products rightfully placed on the UK market after Brexit, will not be considered exhausted in the EU. As a result, if your company exports products from the UK to the EU you may still require the IP owner’s consent.

To discuss potential effects of the Brexit on your IP rights, please do not hesitate to contact Lukas Witsenburg from Penrose. Email: l.witsenburg@penrose.law or telephone: +31 (0)20-240 0710.

New Zealand Parliament passes zero carbon bill

Lawmakers in New Zealand approved a bill on Thursday that aims to reduce the country’s non-biogenetic greenhouse emissions to zero by 2050. The Zero Carbon Bill provides a framework for limiting average global temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as set forth in the Paris Agreement.

The bill establishes a Climate Change Commission, which will advise the government and monitor and review the government’s progress towards meeting the goal. The 2050 targets set forth are: gross emissions of biogenic methane to be reduced to at least between 24 percent and 47 percent below 2017 levels and net emissions of all other greenhouse gases to be reduced to zero. The separate targets for biogenic methane, the greenhouse gases released by livestock such as cattle and sheep, will make it easier for New Zealand to hit their zero emissions goal. Greenhouse gases from agriculture make up 48 percent of the countries total emissions.

The Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw praised the bill:

Climate change is the defining long-term issue of our generation that successive Governments have failed to address. Today we take a significant step forward in our plan to reduce New Zealand’s emissions. … We’ve led the world before in nuclear disarmament and in votes, now we are leading again…This Bill belongs to New Zealand, and together we have ensured law that ensures we shift towards a low emissions country that keeps us all safe.

New Zealand joins more than sixty other countries that have committed to zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, the countries with the largest greenhouse emissions—China, India, and the US—are not on that list. On Monday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on twitter:

Today we begin the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model.

A number of US states have passed their own zero emissions goals including California, Washington and New Mexico.