This week’s top 15 legal briefings – 13 April 2014

The 1980s/90s image of estate agents as spivvy wide-boys bedecked in red braces over check shirts that clashed violently with pinstripe suits was perhaps a bit harsh, as it depicted a character type that frequently engaged in sharp practices of the Only Fools and Horses variety. Or perhaps it wasn’t that unfair. Lawyers from regional law firm Shoosmiths point out that anti-money laundering regulation of residential and commercial estate agencies passed at the beginning of this month from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to HM Revenue & Customs. As a parting gift to the profession, the OFT whacked three agencies with fines, totalling nearly a quarter of a million pounds. Our commentators point out that the penalties ‘represent a significant increase from those previously imposed for these types of breaches’. The expert lawyers forecast that money laundering fines will only increase now they are to be doled out by the taxman. ‘Regulator thinking,’ say the lawyers, ‘is very much that only large deterrent fines will ensure that commercial organisations take their obligations seriously…’ Click here for more information.

Jonathan Ames
Jonathan Ames

Regulation more broadly is also in the spotlight this week, as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – half of the twin peaks system that also involves the Prudential Regulation Authority – celebrated is first birthday by releasing an inaugural annual business plan. Assessed by commentators at law firm Nabarro, the document is replete with high-minded aspirations for 2014-15: to protect consumers, enhance market integrity and promote competition. The top dogs at the FCA say they will achieve those objectives by continuing to be ‘judgment based, forward looking and pre-emptive’. Bonus points to anyone able to put meat on those platitudes. Our commentators give it a go, pointing out that in amongst the flannel the FCA has ‘thrown down the gauntlet’ to regulated businesses. Click here for more information.

This correspondent was in New York for hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and can faithfully report that it was bloody scary. A bid to attend a ‘storm party’ on the Upper West Side was quickly aborted, despite being no more than a five-block walk away. Metal posts hurling down Broadway as though launched by some gigantic, malevolent javelin thrower was all it took to call the event off. Sadly, the storm was far more devastating for other New Yorkers, and insurers have been doing what many feel they do best: failing to cough up. Lawyers at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman explain that property insurers have repeatedly denied coverage for business owners in lower Manhattan, arguing that electricity provider ConEd intentionally cut off power to its networks and that flooding damaged ConEd’s facilities. Now a recent court ruling might provide hard-pressed businesses with some relief, as it found in part that the insurer did not demonstrate that service interruption during ConEd’s post-restoration period was excluded by its policy. Click here for more information.

Top five briefings by law firm
Addleshaw Goddard: A question of faith — obligations of good faith in English lawDownload
Kings Chambers: What is deprivation of liberty? The Supreme Court speaksDownload
Wildgen: Revision of ESMA’s guidelines on ETF and UCITS issuesDownload
NCTM: Shipping and Transportation Bulletin: circumvention of anti-dumping duties; concession fees; and moreDownload
Taylor Wessing: OFT (RIP): public sector can increase competition through better procurementDownload
More law firms

Top five briefings by practice area
Banking & finance: FCA celebrates its first birthday with the publication of its annual business planDownload
Employment: The ins and outs of redundancy — EAT upholds tribunal decision on unfair selectionDownload
Intellectual property: Oops, boop-oop-a-doop — unauthorised merchandising found not to be mere embellishmentDownload
Litigation/dispute resolution: When does negligence caused by others break the chain of causation?Download
Real estate: Anti-money laundering enforcement: warning for residential and commercial estate agentsDownload
More practice areas

Top five briefings by region
Asia-Pacific: Do you need to be a registered (tax) financial adviser from 1 July 2014?Download
Offshore: Divorce proceedings — whose bonus is it anyway?Download
Europe: No surprises as CJEU upholds website blocking injunctionsDownload
US & the Americas: Superstorm Sandy and Con Edison’s power shutdown: lessons from Johnson GallagherDownload
UK: Scotland local developments — human rights question still unresolved…Download
More regions