Digests

Slaughter and May has agreed to a “best friends” relationship with Madrid-based firm Uria & Menendez, adding to its existing agreements with German firm Hengeler Mueller Weitzel Wirtz, Mannheimer Swartling of Sweden and Nauta Dutilh and Stibbe Simont Monahan Duhot of The Netherlands.

Latham & Watkins' new partner Michael Immordino, who quit Rogers & Wells in London, is taking top Italian clients with him. They include Autogrill, Olivetti, Radiotelevisione Italiana, various banks and European technology clients in financing transactions. Immordino joined the firm on 1 October (The Lawyer, 20 August).

Maclay Murray & Spens has established a new employment pensions and benefits unit which will be headed by partner Maureen Burnside. The restructuring affects its London and Scottish offices.

Studio Legale Sutti, the Italian firm, has won a landmark decision which found Unisys, the IT software supplier, liable for a millennium bug-type failure. The decision is thought to be the first such ruling in Europe. Italian clothes manufacturer, Industrie Zignago S. Margherita, sued Unisys for breach of contract for failing to remedy a systems failure caused by the millennium bug.

Loyens & Volkhaas, the Dutch firm, has voted on its merger with the Rotterdam tax practice of Loeff Claeys Verbeke. The vote, which took place on Saturday, was expected to accept the move which has already been agreed by Loeff Claeys partners.

The Employment Lawyers Association is accusing the Government of creating uncertainty with its draft regulations on the European Works Council Directive. The association's vice-president Fraser Younson, partner at McDermott Will & Emery, says the proposals are insufficiently thought through and “fail to put any flesh on the bones” of the European directive.

The Government's Electronic Communications Bill has been slammed by lawyers for failing to inspire consumer confidence in e-commerce. Taylor Joynson Garrett IT partner Kiran Sandford says: “While electronic signatures will be legally admissible in court, their status in everyday and other legal use is still questionable.”

Titmuss Sainer Dechert has won two awards for its advertising in the first competition to judge law firm marketing products. It won both the brochure and the website category, with Manches winning best recruitment ad and healthcare firm Hempsons winning the trade press category. The competition was organised by marketing company Reputation.

Dewey Ballantine's London and Prague offices, and South African firm Werksmans' Attorneys advised South African Breweries on its agreement to buy Czech Republic brewers Pilsner Urquell and Radegast from Nomura International. SAB will pay US$321m (£199m) for controlling stakes now and the balance of US$308m (£191m) by 30 June 2001.

The Bar Council has awarded freelance journalist Linda Tsang – former features editor at The Lawyer and ex-Baker & McKenzie solicitor – and Mark Whitaker of BBC Radio 4 joint winners of the Legal Journalist of the Year award at this year's Annual Bar Conference.