Legal Updates

Proposed New BCUC Rules for Electricity Supply Contracts

Today, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) released proposed new Rules for Electricity Energy Supply Contracts, which will affect all future electricity supply contracts (or electricity purchase agreements) to a public utility in British Columbia, unless otherwise exempted by law, regulation or order.

These new Rules will update the 1993 Rules on account of changes to the BC Utilities Commission Act and the Clean Energy Act.

The BCUC is seeking public comments on the new Rules, up to August 26, 2011.

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Corporate Breakout Session – Anti-Corruption Laws – UK Bribery Act

So far, we’ve re-capped Alishan Naqvee’s introduction to anti-corruption laws, and Stuart Gerson’s comments on the US’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Following Stuart’s presentation, the group heard from Charles Wander of Fladgate LLP, who spoke about the new UK Bribery Act.

Charles began by saying that he would give a brief overview of what’s coming on July 1, 2011 in the UK.  As he had mentioned during an earlier session, the firm has been doing some work on this with their clients, trying to understand what the issues might be.  As Stuart had said, this is going to be applied on a worldwide basis, so it will be applied to anyone with any kind of tenuous connection with the UK.  

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Ohio Statehouse Update: Week in Review – July 22, 2011 — Our top "4" subjects you should know

Week in Review

July 22, 2011 — Our top “4” subjects you should know

1. Small Business Advisory Council members announced

Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, House Speaker William Batchelder (R-Medina) and Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) announced their selections for the Small Business Advisory Council this week. The nine-member council established in Senate Bill 2 will advise the newly created Common Sense Initiative (CSI) Office of the adverse impact that proposed or existing agency rules and regulations have or could have on small businesses in Ohio. The council will meet at least quarterly.

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Corporate Breakout Session – Anti-Corruption Laws – the FCPA

Yesterday, I shared with you this post re-capping Alishan Naqvee’s introduction to the topic of anti-corruption at our 2011 Annual Meeting.  To follow up on that, we’ll review Stuart Gerson’s (Epstein Becker & Green) comments during the session regarding the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and its implications for those in the room.

Stuart provided the attendees with both an article he and a colleague authored on the FCPA, and an overview that their healthcare group had developed.  Stuart said that as Alishan had mentioned, both the FCPA and the new UK Anti-Bribery law are extraterritorial – but not only are they applied overseas throughout the world, but they are also applied against non-US citizens, as long as the commerce that they’re supporting is in the stream of interstate commerce within the US.

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Corporate Breakout Session – A Re-Cap

During our  2011 Annual Meeting in Lisbon, we had specialty group breakout sessions – and lucky for you, our corporate session was recorded! The group had a roundtable discussion dedicated to the topic of “Anti-Corruption Laws and Navigating Client Businesses in Foreign Territories,” which was moderated by Alishan Naqvee of LexCounsel Lawyers in India.

Alishan began with some slides to aid the discussion, saying that there is an organization in Japan called Control Risks, who conducted a survey of about 50 companies in Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.  All of them said that corruption is a major cost for international business, and at the same time, an increasing number of companies in the world, while they are not absolutely aware of the anti-corruption laws in their jurisdictions, most of their business is governed by them, even when doing business in other jurisdictions.

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Healthcare Alert: CMS proposes retraction of physician signature requirement for lab requisitions

CMS proposes retraction of physician signature requirement for lab requisitions

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on June 30, 2011, that would retract the CMS policy requiring that requisitions for clinical diagnostic laboratory tests be signed by a physician or non-physician practitioner (NPP). This signature requirement had been scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2011, but enforcement had been postponed. This requirement and the proposed change are discussed below.

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Department of Labor’s EBSA Provides Extension to Applicability Dates for Retirement Plan Fee Disclosures

On July 13, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration issued a final regulation under ERISA to extend and align the applicability dates for retirement plan fee disclosure rules (i.e., the service provider fee and conflicts of interest disclosures to plan fiduciaries as well as the participant-level fee disclosures).  The service provider disclosures may now be provided no later than April 1, 2012 (an extension from January 1, 2012 as indicated in prior guidance).  There may also be additional guidance before the end of this year as to what those disclosures must include but the Department of Labor has indicated that any changes to last year’s interim final regulations pertaining to these disclosures should not require additional compliance time or another extension.  In addition, the new guidance provides that the initial participant-level fee disclosures can be provided after the effective date of the service provider disclosures (no later than May 31, 2012 for a calendar year plan).  This provides an extra month to comply with these rules.  Further, the initial quarterly statements can now be provided by August 14, 2012 (an extension of three months from the last issued guidance).  These extensions will hopefully afford plan sponsors and administrators the requisite additional time for compliance with and coordination of responsibilities with respect to these two requirements. 

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Employers in California Can Tone Down Their Celebrations about the U.S. Supreme Court Decisions In Wal-Mart and Concepcion

By Michael Kun

Understandably, employers have celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.  At the very least, those cases would seem to suggest that the wage-hour class actions and collective actions that have besieged employers might be curtailed significantly, along with the costly settlements triggered by the in terrorem effect of such lawsuits.

California employers can stop celebrating, or at least tone down those celebrations.

Unlike other states, California law provides for a mechanism by which employees can file suit on behalf of other employees without bringing such claims as class actions – the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).  PAGA, often referred to as “The Bounty Hunter Law,” generally allows an employee to file suit against an employer on behalf of all “aggrieved employees” for alleged violations of the California Labor Code.  The potential recovery in a PAGA claim can be staggering – while the limitations period is only one year, each “aggrieved employee” can recover up to $100 for the first pay period in which a violation occurs, and up to $200 for each subsequent pay period in which a violation occurs.  PAGA also provides for the recovery of costs and attorney’s fees.

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Employers in California Can Tone Down Their Celebrations about the U.S. Supreme Court Decisions In Wal-Mart and Concepcion

By Michael Kun

Understandably, employers have celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. —,  — S.Ct. —, 180 L. Ed. 2d 374 (2011) and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. —, 131 S.Ct. 1740, 179 L.Ed.2d 742 (2011).  At the very least, those cases would seem to suggest that the wage-hour class actions and collective actions that have besieged employers might be curtailed significantly, along with the costly settlements triggered by the in terrorem effect of such lawsuits.

California employers can stop celebrating, or at least tone down those celebrations.

Unlike other states, California law provides for a mechanism by which employees can file suit on behalf of other employees without bringing such claims as class actions – the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).  PAGA, often referred to as “The Bounty Hunter Law,” generally allows an employee to file suit against an employer on behalf of all “aggrieved employees” for alleged violations of the California Labor Code.  The potential recovery in a PAGA claim can be staggering – while the limitations period is only one year, each “aggrieved employee” can recover up to $100 for the first pay period in which a violation occurs, and up to $200 for each subsequent pay period in which a violation occurs.  PAGA also provides for the recovery of costs and attorney’s fees.

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Ohio House Bill 286 follows Arizona’s lead as to employment of unauthorized aliens

On May 26, 2011, the United States Supreme Court upheld an Arizona statute regarding the employment of unauthorized aliens.  The Arizona law requires employers within the state to use the federal government’s E-Verify program to check the work authorization status of employees and imposes licensing sanctions against employers that “knowingly or intentionally” employ unauthorized aliens.  In upholding the Arizona law, the Court determined that states were free to act in this area under the terms of the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).

On June 29, 2011, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, House Bill 286 was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives.  The bill, which was sponsored by 14 lawmakers, seeks to amend Ohio law to include provisions similar to those included in the Arizona statute.

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