This week’s top 15 legal briefings – 8 June 2014

Brace yourselves – here comes a story about accountants, although it is not as yawn-inducing as one might imagine. And it has an important solicitor angle. So if you’re still with us… The saga of Mehjoo v Harben Barker dates from 1999 when the claimant – Iranian-born, who claimed asylum in 1981 and was granted UK citizenship in 1996 – instructed the respondents to provide various accountancy services. In the process Harben Barker offered some tax planning advice, although that technically fell outside the parameters of the formal instructions. The row between the parties revolved around whether the accountants should have advised on the claimant’s liability for capital gains tax following the disposal of shares in a fashion business. The accountants hadn’t; the claimant was hit with a big bill and thought they should have done. As analysts from Ogier Legal explain, the court found for the accountancy practice, ruling that a strict adherence to the parameters of the original retainer was valid. It is a judgment, according to Ogier, that is equally important to solicitors, as the ruling illustrates the importance of terms of retainers setting out “any specialised services that the client requires”. Click here for more information.

Jonathan Ames
Jonathan Ames

With all the brouhaha around what is becoming a civil war in Ukraine, and the west’s attempts through a range of economic sanctions to force Russia to stop meddling, it is easy to forget about one of the longest running sanction regimes in the global village – those imposed on Iran. The US first clobbered the Iranians in the immediate aftermath of the 1979 revolution and then beefed up those sanctions in 1995. The UN got in on the act in 2006. Now some Canadian roughnecks will be all too painfully aware that their own government also imposed sanctions a little more than three years ago. As lawyers from Dentons explain, those laws have jumped up and bitten Alberta-based oilfield equipment company Lee Specialities to the tune of a C$90,000 (£49,000) plea-bargained penalty. That might not sound much in the global world of commerce, but as the lawyers point out, the company was a first-time offender, and ‘the shipment was inadvertent and the [offending items] represented a C$15 component of an otherwise-legitimate C$6,000 shipment’. Click here for more information.

Rounding out this week, we have a story of everyday country folk – although there’s not an Archer in sight. These farmers are down under, but their court battle pitting genetically-modified v organic crops will doubtless resonate back in Ambridge. The long-running dispute involved a GM canola farmer and his organic farmer neighbour, and was decided by the Western Australian Supreme Court last week in a landmark, but, say our commentators from Aussie law firm Minter Ellison, not entirely satisfactory, decision. Unfortunately for agri-industry, say the lawyers, ‘the outcome of the GM Canola Case is factual, with a number of subjective elements making it difficult to apply at an industry level. This area of law and development remains very much unsettled’. Click here for more information.

Top five briefings by law firm
Gateley: Abandon ship — can a company have no appointed directors?Download
Schillings: The legal tools for dealing with a cyber attackDownload
Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co: Another lookalike fight — why Aldi has won the first round Download
Winckworth Sherwood: Lifetime gifts of capital — the taxation consequencesDownload
Walker Morris: The James Dean Twitter account and trademark infringementDownload
More law firms

Top five briefings by practice area
Banking & finance: Financial Regulatory Developments (FReD) — MayDownload
Energy: Shale gas and local authorities: thoughts on frackingDownload
Employment: I resign… but not quite yet — constructive dismissalDownload
Intellectual property: Geographical indications and designations of origin: ECJ on the requisite of protectionDownload
Litigation: Mehjoo v Harben Barker: duty of an accountant confined to the terms and limits of its retainerDownload
More practice areas

Top five briefings by region 
Asia-Pacific: Is the answer still blowing in the wind after the GM canola case?Download
Middle East & Africa: Recent prosecution for contravention of Iran sanctionsDownload
Offshore: Should a trustee appeal a decision of the Royal Court in administrative proceedings? In the matter of the R and RA TrustsDownload
UK & Europe: ECJ decides holiday pay must be calculated to include sales-based commission paymentsDownload
US & The Americas: New York creates rocket-docket for commercial disputes — but accelerated adjudication comes with trade-offsDownloadMore regions