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2020 Global Awards are now LIVE

We have presented these prestigious Leaders in Law – 2020 Global Awards to our selected winners in recognition of both their excellent service & expertise in their field.

We have undertaken detailed research using our independent team to enable us to create a shortlist of up to 5 potential winners in each category. The shortlisted parties have been carefully scrutinized. We focus on service range, service type, geographical location, geographical location, how the business operates and the expertise each expert or firm can offer to companies that either trade or may want to trade in their chosen jurisdiction.

An independent awards panel in each country then reviews the shortlisted experts/firms and then chooses the eventual winner in each category.

To view the Leaders in Law 2020 Global Awards and Winners, please view the “Leaders in Law 2020 Global Awards” publication on the AWARDS page.

White & Case Advises on Private Placement for Solar Projects in Chile

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised Atlas Renewable Energy, as sponsor in connection with its US$253 million issuance of notes in the form of a private placement under Section 4(a)(2) and Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933. The innovative transaction is the largest solar PV green private placement in Latin America to date. DNB Markets acted as sole lead placement agent.

The proceeds of the notes are expected to be used to (i) develop and construct a 244 Mega Watt Peak (MWp) solar project and (ii) refinance an existing 70 MWp solar project, both of which are located in Chile. Both projects will sell power under bilateral power purchase agreements with private offtakers in Chile, a growing trend across a number of jurisdictions in Latin America. The financing structure includes a number of unique features (including cross-collateralization of assets and revenues) that seek to optimize the value of the collateral and provide flexibility to the sponsor during construction of the larger of the two projects.

The White & Case team that advised on the transaction was led by partner Thomas Pate in New York and associates Gretel Martinez and Chris Bergan in Miami. Partner Bibiana Jaimes and  counsel Martin Olsson also played key roles in the transaction.

Insight into: Ajay Sahni & Associates

Ajay Sahni & Associates (ASA) is a boutique corporate law practice focused on intellectual property, innovation and technology. The firm was founded in 1983 with the objective of rendering creative, robust and effective strategic legal advice and representational services.

ASA is committed to delivering out-of-the-box, avant garde solutions to complex problems faced by its clients. The team strives to work with its clients as partners, helping them manage risk and navigate challenging legal and business landscapes.

ASA has a very strong disputes and enforcement practice with over 100 reported judgments in leading law journals and reports to its credit. The firm handles large IP portfolios for many Fortune 500 clients (both Indian and international) on the prosecution side. It has various awards and listings to its credit, such as the International Client Choice Award (Trademark), World Trademark Review (Leading firm and individual in enforcement & litigation as well as prosecution & strategy categories), Thomson Reuters Asian Legal Business IP Rankings (Tier 1 firm for Trademark and Copyright, Tier 2 firm for Patent) and Thomson Reuters Asian Legal Business India Rising Stars 2019, among others. Its members serve on various committees and expert groups in international associations, as well as government bodies.

ASA works with a sophisticated artificial intelligence and automation based in-house trademark portfolio management system to manage compliances, monitor threats and alerts for clients. It is also the first law firm in India to offer blockchain-based IP protection services.

ASA is led by its founder Ajay Sahni, who has been practising IP law since 1983 at the Supreme Court, high courts, district courts and tribunal levels across India. He has argued numerous landmark cases, many of which have been reported in leading law reports and journals. His dispute resolution experience covers a wide spectrum of industries, including pharmaceutical, retail, infrastructure, real estate, automotive, finance, fast-moving consumer goods, power, telecommunications, education, chemical and industrial products.

A strong founder

Mr Sahni’s experience is evident in the number of key positions he holds or has held:

  • former vice president at Intellectual Property Attorneys Association, New Delhi;
  • former vice president at Asian Patent Attorneys Association (India Chapter);
  • invited by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat (upper house of the Parliament of India) and examined as an expert witness by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce in relation to the Trademarks (Amendment) Bill 2007;
  • member on the Advisory Board of The Patents and Trademarks Cases, a leading monthly journal of IP case law in India;
  • regular speaker on IP laws at the Institute of Company Secretaries, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Haryana Police Academy and the Export Promotion Council of India; and
  • formerly appointed as a senior panel counsel in the High Court of Delhi for conducting central government cases.

In addition, Mr Sahni has written extensively on the subject of IP law, including as:

  • a revising author of Lal’s Commentary on the Indian Copyright Act, 1957; and
  • a co-author of seven volumes of the book titled Cases and Materials on Trademarks and Allied Laws.

Firm’s key service offerings

Litigation, enforcement and dispute resolution

  • Handling civil, criminal and regulatory cases on infringement of patent, trademark, copyright, design, trade secrets, unfair competition; commercial mediation and arbitration
  • IP dawn raids, enforcement cases and domain name disputes
  • Dispute strategy, risk assessment, drafting of submissions, preparation of documentation, evidence, witnesses

Prosecution, compliance and audit

  • IP prosecution
  • Entry assistance: clearance searches, landscape studies, freedom-to-operate searches
  • IP audits and health checks
  • IP compliance management services
  • Cutting-edge tools based on automation and AI for 360-degree IP monitoring, threat assessment and compliance management services

Transactional

  • Acquisition and commercialisation of IP assets
  • IP valuation
  • Technology transactions and licensing
  • Safeguarding IP assets in mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures Advisory and public policy

Advisory and public policy

  • Anti-counterfeit investigations, forensics and enforcement strategy
  • Customs border protection assistance and strategy
  • Branding, advertising, marketing, packaging and labelling strategies
  • Drug and pharma regulatory filings, representation and support
  • Data protection and privacy
  • Public policy advisory, advocacy and strategic litigation support

Microsoft Names Winning Firms in Legal Innovation Challenge

Microsoft’s legal department has awarded two teams of law firms a slot in its innovation accelerator after a monthslong competition among outside providers that was geared toward investing in technology and solving the tech giant’s business challenges.

For three years, Microsoft’s legal department, led by the corporate, legal and external affairs team, and now the newly formed Modern Legal Team, have challenged several of its outside providers to think differently about the provision of legal services, efficiency, technology, and just generally work to help Microsoft do more with less. This year, the focus was on digital transformation and the use of technology, and 13 firms (nine teams) competed for a chance for their idea to move into the accelerator program through which Microsoft would help bring the concept to fruition.

Microsoft’s picks for the winning projects, along with the entire Legal Business Design Challenge, crystallize the ways in which clients are looking for outside providers to marshal varied skill sets, use technology, collaborate with other providers and do more than just pure legal work.

As Rebecca Benavides, director of legal business for CELA, said before announcing the winners June 17, Microsoft is now doing mission critical work in light of COVID-19, plus the run of business work. So it’s more important than ever for the legal department and its outside providers to be investing in and using technology in an effort to operate more efficiently.

Benavides also said Microsoft wants firms to steer those initiatives. “Sometimes we don’t know what we want,” she said, but law firms can leverage their experience across clients to provide the solution Microsoft couldn’t envision. The use of tech is also increasingly factored into Microsoft’s RFPs.

“These client-facing solutions/pitches have an added benefit of making the teams doing the work more effective, more efficient and more productive in the delivery of legal services,” Benavides added Friday via email. “As we all continue to work from home with our professional and personal lives blending together and competing for our attention, the ability to prioritize efforts, automate workflows and make room for more strategic efforts will be critical.”

The providers competing this year were Arent Fox; Covington & Burling; Fish & Richardson; Integreon; K&L Gates; Merchant & Gould; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Sidley Austin; and a combo team of unlikely allies, Davis Wright Tremaine, Greenberg Traurig and Perkins Coie. They were all initially set to pitch their ideas at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters in early March, but the event was canceled at the last minute due to the coronavirus outbreak in the area.

In the months that followed, the teams recalibrated and pitched their solutions remotely. On June 17, Microsoft, along with consultants at Bold Duck Studio, announced the winning teams in a two-hour virtual version of the forum.

The winners were: the trio of Greenberg Traurig, Perkins Coie and Davis Wright Tremaine, and the pitch by K&L Gates. Both teams focused on streamlining Microsoft’s sales and contracts processes, albeit in very different arenas.

Annette Becker, K&L Gates’ relationship partner to Microsoft, has worked with the company for 19 years and was able to quickly see some stumbling blocks in the way of achieving Microsoft’s stated goal of becoming carbon negative by 2030.

Becker and a group of other K&L Gates lawyers teamed up with Melissa Speidel, director of K&L Gates’ business transformation office, and her team to solve a contractual pain point—the time it took to close renewable purchase agreements. Under the current time-to-close, Microsoft would not meet its 2030 deadline. The artificial intelligence tool K&L Gates’ team of lawyers and business professionals will work on during the accelerator program will better harness information on who needs to be involved in contract execution, as well as better organize historical data that can follow contract life cycles even if the people involved in their execution have left the company.

Benavides described K&L Gates’ submission among those aimed at “working smarter,” and understanding that the scarcest resource a company has is human attention.

The second winning team of Perkins Coie, Greenberg Traurig and Davis Wright Tremaine was described as checking all the boxes. It demonstrated collaboration among providers, the heavy reliance on business professionals and a solution that solved a significant business problem.

The three firms started working together at Microsoft’s urging about a year ago when Judy Jennison, the client lead for Microsoft from Perkins Coie, and Bobby Rosenbloum, chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s entertainment and media practice, were both looking at ways to handle the company’s distributed sales agreements on an alternative fee basis. They decided to bring in experts from Davis Wright Tremaine and its legal solutions design arm, De Novo.

Rosenbloum said the trio could replace the number of smaller firms Microsoft was using, and still have plenty of work for each of them given their varying levels of expertise, their geographic footprints and the ability to step in for one another when conflicts arise. From that collaboration arose their pitch to use AI, clause libraries and other tools to streamline the sales’ teams contract timeline.

“It requires a change in mindset, working in a transparent way and a willingness to share information and learnings and guidance without feeling like we are losing some kind of competitive edge,” Rosenbloum said of the three firms working together.

The team is also relying heavily on project management experts, with Amy Monaghan, the senior practice innovations manager for Perkins Coie, and Gerald Glover III, the client experience manager for Davis Wright Tremaine, taking lead roles.

“Tech is a very important component, but in order to make this successful, our success hinges on all of our collaboration with each other and then with Microsoft,” Monaghan said. “So the human component can’t be overlooked.”

The goal is to have Microsoft’s team and outside counsel practice “at the top of their license,” she said. Dennis Garcia, assistant general counsel at Microsoft, and his team work most closely with the sales team the trio will be aiding. Monaghan said his team was often spending time on finding information rather than focusing on more strategic initiatives. The group’s pitch is to turn “sad knowledge” that is unstructured and not easily accessed, into “happy knowledge” that can be structured and get to the right people quickly.

Both teams will spend the next few months working with Bold Duck Studios and Microsoft to get their projects to completion by Nov. 1. The law firms are footing the bill for the investment in the technology.

Baker McKenzie Reshuffles Asia Practice

Baker McKenzie has appointed new leaders for seven of its Asia Pacific practice and industry groups. The new heads will join 12 other continuing practice and industry group leaders in the region on July 1.

The Tokyo office will see most changes in this round of leadership shuffle; four of the five incumbent practice and industry leaders in the office will step down leaving one Tokyo partner among the newly appointed leaders. Singapore-based Emmanuel Hadjidakis will replace Tokyo-based Gavin Raftery as Asia Pacific chair of banking and finance, while Kuala Lumpur-based Brian Chia will replace Tokyo-based Hideo Norikoshi as regional M&A chair.

Singapore-based Nandakumar Ponniya will take over from Tokyo-based Yoshiaki Muto as regional dispute resolution chair, while Sydney-based Anne Petterd will succeed Tokyo-based Kana Itabashi as regional chair of the firm’s international commercial and trade practice.

The one remaining Tokyo-based regional head will be Yaeko Hodaka, chair of the Asia Pacific industrials, manufacturing and transportation industry group. Hodaka will now share her duties with Shanghai-based Cherrie Shi, who works under Baker McKenzie’s special alliance with local firm FenXun Partners in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

Shi will join Shanghai-based Brendan Kelly, regional chair of the firm’s tax practice, and Beijing-based Bee Chun Boo, regional chair of the energy, mining and infrastructure industry group, to make a total of three regional heads in China.

The Singapore office will see its importance boosted with the addition of two new heads to make a total of five, the three other partners continuing in their leadership roles being Stephanie Magnus, Kelvin Poa and Martin David, regional chairs of the financial institutions industry group, private equity, and projects respectively.

The number of practice and industry leaders in Hong Kong office will be unchanged at four, with three regional heads there continuing in their positions, namely Ivy Wong, Stephen Crosswell and LokeKhoon Tan, chairs of capital markets, antitrust and competition, and the consumer goods and retail industry group respectively. The only change there involves a shift in role for Isabella Liu, who will replace Bangkok-based Say Sujintaya as regional chair of the firm’s intellectual property and technology practice following a stint as regional chair of the healthcare and life science industry group.

The healthcare and life science group will be led by Sydney-based Elisabeth White, who along with Petterd will bring the number of regional heads in Australia up to five. The three continuing regional heads are Adrian Lawrence, Michael Michalandos and Bruce Webb, chairs of TMT, employment, and real estate respectively.

“I am delighted to welcome our new practice and industry group leaders to the leadership team. What is particularly exciting is that among the seven new Asia Pacific leaders, four are women,” said Baker McKenzie’s Asia Pacific chair Ai Ai Wong.

Wong was appointed to her current position in 2018 when Baker McKenzie reshuffled its overall leadership in Asia Pacific. There have been changes among those leaders since then. Last year, Hong Kong partner Milton Cheng, then managing partner for the firm’s Hong Kong and mainland China offices, became the firm’s first-ever Asia-based global chairman. The China offices are now run by Hong Kong-based partner Steven Sieker, who previously led the firm’s regional tax practice.

 

Andersen Global Enters Liberian and Gambian Markets

Andersen Global has signed two new collaboration deals in Africa, with an accounting firm and a law firm in Liberia and Gambia respectively.

This raises the organisation’s presence in Africa to 40 countries, and it is expecting to sign five more such deals by October.

Andersen CEO and global chairman Mark Vorsatz said: ”Our expansion in Africa remains a key priority for our organization.”

In Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast, Andersen has signed a collaboration agreement with accounting firm BICON Inc.

Founded in 2015, BICON is led by managing partner Zinnah Sackie and has a team of more than 30 professionals of which some are on loan to and currently serving in key government positions.

The Monrovia-based firm provides accounting services to clients in various industries, including merchandising, manufacturing, mining and agriculture.

Sackie said of the agreement: “The next logical step in our firm’s journey of continued growth is our collaboration with Andersen Global.”

In Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for its western coast side, Andersen has signed a collaboration deal with law firm Fajara Chambers.

The 25-year-old firm, led by managing partners Ann Rivington and Malick M’bai, has a staff of 11 professionals and competences in litigation, general business law, telecommunications, real estate, banking and tourism.

Malick said the collaboration with Andersen reflects the firm’s commitment to serving clients “not only in the West African sub-region but throughout the international business community.”

Earlier this month, Andersen Global added new tie-ups in Chad and Eswatini (Swaziland).

Latham & Watkins Hires Paris Restructuring Partner From Willkie

Latham & Watkins has hired a restructuring partner away from Willkie Farr & Gallagher in Paris, the latest in a series of high-level moves by firms based in the French capital to bolster their teams in anticipation of increased work in the area.

Alexandra Bigot joins as a partner in the restructuring and special situations practice, Latham & Watkins said in a statement. Prior to practicing at Willkie as a partner for 16 years, she spent four years at Lazard Frères as an investment director, managing the firm’s portfolio of distressed companies.

“We are delighted to welcome a partner of Alexandra’s experience and market standing to the firm,” Olivia Rauch-Ravisé, managing partner of Latham & Watkins in Paris, said in a statement. “Alexandra has a terrific track record advising on complex domestic and cross-border restructuring transactions, and she will play a key role in the continued expansion of this strategically important growth practice in Paris.”

Bigot is the latest partner to join Latham’s restructuring and special situations practice this year, following the arrival of Jessica Walker in London and Suzzanne Uhland in New York, the firm  said in a statement.

Law firms in Paris have been on a restructuring hiring spree this year in anticipation of new business related to the COVID-19 crisis. In April alone, Paul Hastings hired an eight-lawyer team from the French boutique firm Bremond to create a restructuring department in Paris, and Baker McKenzie added a restructuring partner, also from Bremond.

Piercing of Corporate Veil

he right of an entrepreneur to allocate funds for the incorporation and operation of a legal entity pursuing commercial activity is founded and, when exercised, produces legal effects; the legal entity which is formed, is independent from the founder and its actions count for it.

The above is not applicable when the legal personality of a company is (ab)used to cover the activity of its founder. In such case, the controlling person is considered to be jointly liable for the obligations of the legal entity.

Insufficient funding, the coincidence of corporate and personal property are indications of abuse of the legal entity by the controlling person.
Piraeus One Membered Court of Appeal Judgment no 462/2018, Judge: M. Papadogrigorakou, Attorneys at law: P. Mountzouronis, G. Darra, Maritime Law Review vol. 46, p. 241.

NOTE: In the case under consideration, one of two individuals alleged to abuse the corporate veil to cover their own activity was found as having no relationship with the company. Test for the other individual to abuse was the coincidence of her property with the corporate assets.

The legal column was written by Manolis Eglezos, Attorney at law, Manolis Eglezos & Associates Law Firm, Attorneys at Law and Consultants

KPMG Law in Denmark Adds Tax Partner from DLA Piper

KPMG Law Advokatfirma has hired a partner partner from DLA Piper, adding to the Danish firm’s roster of tax experts in its Copenhagen office.

Thailand Postpones Effective Date of Data Privacy Law

Background

The Thai Cabinet, on May 19, 2020, approved a Royal Decree on Organizations and Businesses which shall be exempted from compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2562 (2019) (“Royal Decree“) to delay the enforcement date of the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2562 (2019) (“PDPA“). The Royal Decree has been published in the Royal Gazette on May 21, 2020 and will be effective from May 27,2020 to May 31, 2021. It provides exemptions to data controllers listed under the Royal Decree to certain chapters and section under the PDPA which include:

–          Chapter 2 (data controllers’ obligations relating to the use, collection, and disclosure of personal data, privacy notices, consent requirements, exemptions and cross-border of data privacy);

–          Chapter 3 (data subject rights, data protection officer and record of processing);

–          Chapter 5 (complaints and administrative punishments);

–          Chapter 6 (civil penalties and punitive damages);

–          Chapter 7 (criminal liabilities and administrative punishments); and

–          Section 95 (transitional matter).

Data controllers who shall obtain the exemptions under the Royal Decree are as follows:

1)      Government authorities;

2)      Foreign public authorities and international organizations;

3)      Foundations, associations, religious organizations, and non-profit organizations;

4)      Agricultural businesses;

5)      Industrial businesses;

6)      Commercial businesses;

7)      Medical and public health businesses;

8)      Energy, steam, water and waste disposal businesses, including their related business;

9)      Construction businesses;

10)  Repair and maintenance businesses;

11)  Transportation, logistic, and warehouse business;

12)  Tourist businesses;

13)  Communication, telecommunication, computer, and digital businesses;

14)  Financial, banking and insurance business;

15)  Real estate businesses;

16)  Professional businesses;

17)  Management and support services business;

18)  Scientific and technological, academic social welfare and artistic businesses;

19)  Educational businesses;

20)  Entertainment and recreational businesses;

21)  Security business; and

22)  Household and community enterprise businesses whose activities cannot be clearly classified.

If there is any question as to whether particular organizations or businesses are fallen under the above list, the Personal Data Protection Committee (PDPC) shall consider and render its final decision at its sole discretion.

The main reason as specified in the Royal Decree is to provide more time for the business operators, which shall be regarded as data controllers by the PDPA, to prepare themselves to be fully compliant with the PDPA. The Royal Decree further specifies that business operators, including private and government sectors, are not ready to be in compliance with the PDPA. This was mainly due to requests from the private sector filed with the government indicating problems with the economy and within their organizations, such as the economic impact and other restrictions due to Covid-19 situation.

The extension is not to be interpreted that the Government of Thailand is relaxing its readiness to implement the PDPA. An essential action by the Thai government is that the PDPC committee has been appointed and will start the process of formulating regulations and an enforcement culture surrounding the PDPA.  The list of the PDPC members approved by the Cabinet as announced by the government’s spokesperson on 19 May 2020 are as follows (note that this list is not official until published in The Government Gazette):

1)      The Chairman: Mr. Thienchai Na Nakorn

Professor of faculty of law, Sukhothai Thammatirat Open University

Former Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC)

Former senior member of various committees (e.g. Committee of Official Information Commission, Committee of National Institute of Educational Testing Service (NIETS) and secretary-general of Political Development Council).

2)      Senior committee (personal data protection): Mr. Nawanan Theera-Ampornpunt

Technocrat on health informatics;

Deputy dean on practitioner level of faculty of medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital.

3)      Senior committee (consumer protection): Pol.Lt.Col Thienrath Vichiensan

Senior committee of Official Information Commission;

Former chief of inspector of Prime Minister Office;

Director of the Official Information Commission.

4)      Senior Committee (Information and communication technology): Mr. Pansak Siriruchatapong

Former Vice Minister of Ministry of Digital Economy and Society;

Former director of National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC)

5)      Senior committee (social science): Asst. Prof. Tossapon Tassanakunlapan

Professor and researcher of faculty of law, Chiang Mai University

6)      Senior committee (legal): Ms. Thitirat Thipsamritkul

Teacher of faculty of law, Thammasat University

7)      Senior committee (legal): Prof. Supalak Pinitpuvadol

Professor of faculty of law, Chulalongkorn University

8)      Senior committee (health): Prof. Prasit Watanapa

Dean of faculty of medicine, Siriraj Hospital

9)      Senior Committee (finance): Ms. Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol

Secretary-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission

10)  Senior Committee (Government Information Management): Mrs. Methinee Thepmanee

Former secretary-general, Office of the Civil Service Commission (OCSC);

Former permanent secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

In addition to the abovementioned members, please note that the PDPA requires that the PDPC must appoint permanent secretary of the MDES as the vice-president of the PDPC, together with 5 additional board members which include (i) the permanent secretary of the Prime Minister Office, (ii) the secretary-general of the juridical council, (iii) the secretary-general of the office of consumer protection board, (iv) the director-general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, and (v) the attorney-general. Please note that as of the writing of this article 27 May 2020, the official list of the PDPC members are not yet published in The Government Gazette.

The above is for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.