Legal Updates

International Financial Services Centre to be set up

In March, the RBI will notify an international financial services centre (IFSC) under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA), to be set up in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The notification will make regulations relating to financial institutions (or their branches) set up in the IFSC. Such financial institutions (or their branches) set up in the IFSC will be treated as non-resident Indian entities located outside India, and will conduct business in such foreign currency and with such entities, whether resident or non-resident, as the regulatory authority may determine. Also, subject to certain provisions, nothing contained in any other regulations will apply to a unit located in IFSC. The respective regulatory authority will develop the regulatory framework for provisions of financial services in IFSC. The Government of India would permit the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) to allow insurers (life, non-life and health insurers) including foreign insurer or re-insurers to set up branches in IFSC. Similarly, RBI would permit the setting up of IFSC Banking Units (IBUs) by banks. The RBI has also formulated a draft scheme for the setting up of IBUs by banks. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will allow setting up of exchanges and allow other activities for fund raising, merchant banking, brokerage, fund management, private equity, etc. Activities like currency derivatives, NIFTY futures, depository receipts, etc. will take place on the exchanges like any other IFSC.

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Cook County Enacts Wage Theft Ordinance with Serious Consequences for Employers

Arnstein & Lehr Attorney Megan TothCook County recently became the largest county in the nation to pass a “wage theft” ordinance that will have significant consequences for employers that are located in, contract with, or do business in Cook County. Effective May 1, 2015, qualifying employers found in violation of any state or federal wage-payment laws within the past five years may face business license denial or revocation, be denied or lose existing contracts with Cook County, and face enormous property tax liability.

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Alzheimer’s Patient Lost Right-to-Die Despite Expressed Wishes

Today, BC Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal brought by the family of Margaret Anne Bentley, a patient at the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease. My colleague Amy Mortimore posted a blog when the family of Mrs. Bentley commended the lawsuit in August 2013, and Areet Kaila posted a blog when the BC Supreme Court released its decision in February 2014.

In 1991, Mrs. Bentley signed a “statement of wishes” in which she asked that she be allowed to die should she suffer from an extreme disability with no expectation of recovery and that she not be provided with nourishment or liquids. In another undated “statement of wishes” purportedly to have been signed by Mrs. Bentley as well, she asked that she be allowed to die and not be kept alive by artificial means such as life support systems, tube feeding, antibiotics , resuscitation or blood transfusions. She also indicated in this undated document that she would accept basic care and request aggressive palliative care, drugs, or any other measures to keep her from pain or distress.

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New Bond Act

The Act of 15 January 2015 on Bonds will enter into force with effect from 1 July 2015 (“The new Bond Act”). The hitherto Act of 29 June 1995 will lose its effect. The most important changes in relation to the existing regulations include:
→ extending the circle of entities that can issue bonds;
→ introducing a new type of bonds – i.e. perpetual bonds;
→ introducing the legal basis for establishing bondholders’ meetings. More…

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ASIC updates hardship class order

A new ASIC class order (15/130) has been made, extending an exemption which relieves a credit provider from complying with section 73 of the National Credit Code (NCC) in relation to a hardship variation, provided that the variation is a ‘simple arrangement’.

The exemption will remain in place until 1 March 2016. Further industry consultation about whether the exemption should be made permanent is expected.

The concept of a simple arrangement was introduced by ASIC class order 14/41. A simple arrangement means “…an agreement that defers or reduces the obligations of a debtor for a period of no more than 90 days.” More…

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Estate Planning for Parents of Young Children

This is a topic of much passion for me.  Estate planning is a necessary protection for all parents with minor children.  Yet, national surveys reveal that less than 40 percent of Americans with children under the age of 18 have their estate planning documents in place.  (LexisNexis 2011 EZLaw Survey).

As a parent with young children myself, I understand that it may seem impossible to find the time to meet with a lawyer and get estate planning documents in place.  Life is busy!  Estate planning often seems like something that can wait to another, less hectic time.  Or, some parents, especially those with young children and just beginning their careers, feel that they have not yet accumulated sufficient assets to warrant the need for such a plan.  And, if I’m being honest, although I personally find estate planning to be a topic of great interest, most people do not particularly enjoy the topic or find it unsettling.  Who wants to talk about planning for death?

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Sports Direct Facing Multi-Million Claim Over Zero Hour Contracts

Sports Direct are facing a claim from nearly 300 workers after it was revealed that their zero hour contract status made them exempt from the company’s bonus scheme.

The Sports Direct bonus scheme granted almost 2,000 full time employees £160 million worth of shares, but excluded the bonus offer to those working for the company on zero hour contracts.

Initially Worth £1 Million

The initial claim against Sports Direct, which was launched by 30 employees working on zero hour contracts, was thought to be worth £1 million, with the highest individual claim, of over £100,000, coming from an individual who had worked for the company for over five and a half years.

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Supreme Court strikes down provisions of Money Laundering Act as they apply to Lawyers

The Supreme Court of Canada decided last week in the case of Attorney General of Canada v. Federation of Law Societies of Canada 2015 SCC 7, that the government should not interfere with a lawyer’s commitment to his or her client’s cause.  In doing so, the court held that  commitment to the client’s cause, was fundamental to the solicitor-client relationship.  Lawyers across the country welcomed the decision as a victory for the public and in providing clarity to how the legal profession should deal with its clients.
The case involved an act cumbersomely entitled “Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act” (“Money Laundering Act”).  Parts of the Money Laundering Act and certain regulations under the Money Laundering Act sought to require lawyers and law firms to collect confidential information about their clients that could be subject to search and seizure by the government.  Alarmed by the prospect, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada sought to a declaration from the court that such legislation was unconstitutional.  Several lawyers’ associations including The Advocates’ Society, the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened in the case.
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New Bills introduced – food labelling, more AD reform and the beginning of the end for Customs as we know it

Yesterday (27 February 2015) was a big day in Federal Parliament for the Trade and Customs industry yesterday.  No, nothing to do with leadership challenges but all to do with action at the border regulating trade and trading regulators.

Food labelling

In response to the outcry following issues with frozen berries from China which now includes border “holds” on food from certain producers and new requirements to identify producers of that food, the Greens and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon had introduced a new Bill proposing to amend food labelling legislation to further require identification of the origin of imported food.  The presumption would be that consumers would then be in a better position to make an informed decision on whether to purchase goods depending on the origin of those goods.  However as the controversy has increased, the Ministers responsible for such issues in the Federal Government announced that they were undertaking their own review of the laws and would submit a proposal to Cabinet for new laws in March. More…

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CDM 2015 – Implications for developers

This article was first published in the 21 February 2015 issue of Estates Gazette.

Executive summary

The CDM regulations govern the management of health and safety during both the design and construction phases of a project. Currently the CDM coordinator assists the developer in its role as client under the regulations, to carry out its health and safety duties. On replacing CDM 2007 with CDM 2015, the CDM coordinator functions will be phased out. The revised regulations do not provide for a replacement: a new role, that of principal designer, will cover some but not all of these functions. Developers have more duties under the new regulations. More…

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