This week’s top 15 legal briefings – 17 August 2014

That lawyers are verbose is not exactly earth-shattering news. The default position is to write long sentences without troubling the punctuation keys unduly – or indeed, often at all. But that tendency has just jumped up and bitten one set of legal advisers in a recent High Court action. In Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander Ltd (in administration) v UBS AG [2014] EWHC 2450 (Comm) – involving a foreign exchange transaction claim – Mr Justice Andrew Smith refused to accept a witness statement in support of the claim before lambasting both the legal team that prepared it and the witness for having produced something more akin to War and Peace than a court document. According to commentators from law firm Dentons, the judge held that not only was the witness statement too long, it also “contained so much argument that it presented [the defendant] with an unfair dilemma about what should be challenged in cross-examination”. The Dentons analysis suggests the judicial ticking off is a salutary reminder to litigation solicitors that brevity is to be valued. And the odd comma wouldn’t go amiss, as well. Click herefor more information.

Jonathan Ames

Whistle-blowing has increasingly moved from the football pitch to the boardroom as issues of corporate governance take centre stage. the US government doles out multi-million dollar bounties in a bid to encourage the practice. Whether those pay-outs hop the pond to the UK is still open to speculation; however, moves are definitely afoot to provide greater protection to Britons that pucker up and blow the whistle on perceived malfeasance. Lawyers at Eversheds look at a recent report from the House of Commons’s public accounts committee in which MPs sharply criticised the mistreatment of UK whistle-blowers and what they described as government unwillingness to initiate tough legislation. According to Eversheds, the PAC MPs said that “many employees have to show ‘remarkable bravery’ in order for cases to come to light”. Nonetheless, say the commentators, employees often are confused over how to report wrong doing, and, even worse, they are often victimised when they do so. Click herefor more information.

The US football side in that nation’s capital is wrestling with a conundrum that is primarily a social and public relations issue, but one that has crept in the legal sphere. Despite being founded (originally in Boston) just after the start of the Great Depression in 1932, the side has gone on to significant success – being a three-time Super Bowl winner. The problem is its name – the Washington Redskins. While an effectively 19th-century term would not have caused so much as a flicker of concern in the first half of 20th century, 21st century attitudes have changed. Many now view the name as offensive to indigenous North Americans and team officials have been under pressure to come up with an alternative. As our commentators from US law firm Pillsbury point out, team bosses are now also feeling the wrath of the US Patent and Trademark Office. It has recently cancelled various team trademarks on the grounds that use of the word Redskins is disparaging to a segment of US society. A slight footnote irony is that some historians suggest that the name was originally chosen as a tribute to one of the club’s early coaches, who was thought to be a native American. Others suggest, however, that his ethnic identity was never clear and indeed the coach may actually have masqueraded as a native American. Click here for more information.

Top five briefings by law firm 
Dentons: Why witness statements are not always the place for literary flourishDownload
DWF: Holiday pay: after the EAT hearing has progress been made?Download
Schillings: Playing fair: counter striking a dirty tricks campaignDownload
Stephenson Harwood: The long slow death of dual employment contractsDownload
Gateley: A storm in a teabag: the ASA, PG Tips and TetleyDownload
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Top five briefings by practice area 
Banking & finance: Internet-loving Nigerians slow to adopt web bankingDownload
Company: Evaluation of the Commercial Agents DirectiveDownload
Employment: UK PAC report recommends changes to whistleblowing policiesDownload
Information technology: New FCA recommendations for firms outsourcing IT servicesDownload
Litigation: Challenging an expert’s final determination — Court of Appeal affirms approachDownload
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Top five briefings by region 
Asia-Pacific: Dramatic fall in mineral exports reported in Indonesia as a result of regulations on exportDownload
Middle East & Africa: Top employment issues in the Middle East in 2014 and beyondDownload
Offshore: BVI arbitration — frequently asked questionsDownload
UK & Europe: To certify or not to certify — again? A resounding reversal from the Court of AppealDownload
US & The Americas: Redskins ruling is consistent with TTAB precedentDownload
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