This week’s top 15 legal briefings – 30 March 2014

Until the early seventies, the west’s perception of Gulf Arabs was one of mysterious exoticism – funny robed chaps, with which at least one diminutive First World War British Army officer was obsessed. But with the oil shock of 1973, Gulf Arabs shot to the top of the west’s list of global betes noires. Embodied by Sheikh Yamani, Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister, a culture that had hitherto only marginally featured in popular western minds, was now holding the modern world to ransom. When Americans could no longer find petrol for their 19ft-long Cadillac de Villes, there was bound to be trouble. Few will recall, but so traumatised were the Americans by endless queues and fighting at petrol garages that then-president Richard Nixon produced ‘Project Independence’, a plan by which the US would achieve energy self-sufficiency by 1980. That plan went the way of Nixon himself. Now, some 40 years later, the west has spotted a dead cert to free itself from the shackles of Gulf oil dependency – shale gas. The Americans love it; Britain’s Conservative Party loves it; but will Middle England love it? Lawyers from Eversheds assess potential legal battles ahead. Click here for more information.

Jonathan Ames

As if parenting weren’t difficult enough – those who for whatever reason require a surrogate mother to deal with the actual business end of the birthing process have had to contend with conflicting European Court advocate-general opinions regarding eligibility for maternity leave. In the end, the court itself ruled that unless a woman performs the actual pushing, shouting and screaming, as far as its concerned she can whistle for time off after the off-spring has sprung. But our commentators from law firm Hogan Lovells say parents in surrogacy arrangements in the UK will soon be eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay. Click here for more information.

It is well known that the interwebbythingy is to blame for just about every ill and evil curse afflicting the modern world. Now the Law Commission of England and Wales reckons it is poisoning the minds of juries and threatening widespread contempt across the land’s criminal courts. Juries in this jurisdiction – unlike in the US – are generally not sequestered, and are left to return to their loved ones after clocking off from a hard day of dozing through the droning submissions of the Crown’s counsel. In the past, the kindly judge would remind them not to read newspaper reports or watch television broadcasts about the case. But these days, jurors like to play Miss Marple, trawling over websites to pick up whatever tit-bits they can about the accused they’ll be seeing in the dock the following morning. Our own barrister commentators from Three Raymond Buildings take a lively look at the Law Commissions thoughts on stamping out that practice. Click here for more information.

Top five briefings by law firm 
Eversheds: UK on-shore shale gas and land rights: can a so-called ‘legal block’ stop the UK shale play in its tracks?Download
Karanovic & Nikolic : Croatia supports a revamp of consumer protection legislationDownload
Mills & Reeve: Property dispute: boundaries — where to draw the lineDownload
Mourant Ozannes: Costs of trustees and beneficiaries: Trilogy v YT Charitable Foundation (International) LtdDownload
Three Raymond Buildings: Contempt of court in the age of the internet — by James Lewis QC and Guy LadenburgDownload
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Top five briefings by practice area
Banking & finance: Ukraine: a brief primer on sanctions, expropriations and state break-upsDownload
Company/commercial: Passport GRC Third-Party Risk Management moduleDownload
Employment: Surrogacy: European Court decides that only the mother giving birth can take maternity leaveDownload
Litigation/dispute resolution: Update: joint ownership of property — a round-up of the major decisions in the wake of Jones v KernottDownload
Real estate: Budget 2014: implications for the real-estate sectorDownload
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Top five briefings by region
Asia & Australasia: Workplace bullying: past behaviour relevant in Fair Work Commission’s new jurisdiction — updateDownload
Middle East & Africa: Fraud in the workplaceDownloadOffshore: Guide to insolvent liquidations in BermudaDownload
UK and Europe: ‘Deoffshorisation’ of Russian economy: draft law on controlled foreign company legislation and other measuresDownload
US & the Americas : Healthcare reform update: employers must begin reporting details of health coverage to IRSDownload
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