This week’s top 15 legal briefings – 24 August 2014

Outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa is proving a catastrophe, not least for those in the West Point area of Monrovia. That slum section of the Liberian capital was quarantined a few days ago in a move reminiscent of medieval European plagues, and one that has triggered considerable resentment and unrest among the residents. Apart from the human disaster afflicting the local population, the disease is also playing havoc with the massive business of global merchant shipping. A partner at leading maritime law firm Ince & Co sets out the factors at play, including issues around port safety, stevedores and stowaways, delays and duty to crew members. That final point could be particularly important from a business perspective, as ship owners will be alive to the possibility of legal actions being brought against them from staff falling victim to the illness. As a result, shipping industry bodies have scrambled to set out guidelines on educating crews regarding risks, such as checking on-board safety regimes and reviewing shore leave policies in a bid to avoid crew changes in affected areas. Click here for more information.

Jonathan Ames
Jonathan Ames

We are indebted to our correspondent at London-based personal and clinical negligence law firm Neil Hudgell Solicitors for this interesting historical fact: the world’s first motoring death occurred on 31 August 1869 in Ireland when an unfortunate scientist named Mary Ward met an untimely end beneath the wheels of an experimental steam car, having fallen after the vehicle took a corner a bit too quickly. Then, 128 years later to the day, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a horrific car crash at the Pont de l’Alma in the French capital. Our writer also goes on to point out that Britain’s first road death occurred in 1896, with the coroner declaring ‘this must never happen again’. But road traffic accidents do keep happening, to the point where they form one of the biggest causes of death in the UK, especially among the young. August is National Road Victim Month and our correspondent takes the opportunity to analyse the state of existing safety legislation. Click here for more information.

It’s the sleepiest of sleepy dog days at the fag end of August, so here’s a silly season story to rank with the best. The question of copyright in a ‘selfie’ photograph snapped by a crested black macaque monkey is dominating legal debate. While the little fella from Indonesia is the clear star of this tale, other key players are Gloucestershire-based nature photographer David Slater and the ubiquitous online font of at times knowledge but frequently disinformation, Wikipedia. The intricacies of this dispute are complicated and varied, but the gist is that Slater reckons he owns the copyright because he owns the camera, while Wiki maintains that since the monkey actually pushed the button, the image is free of copyright restrictions because monkeys are not legal persons (although best not to raise that legal point when standing close to a macaque – they can be vicious little beggars). As our correspondent from law firm Shoosmiths points out, while the story sounds a silly season case of monkey business, it actually involves interesting points around what legally constitutes the elements of creating a photograph. The case also serves to highlight parts of copyright law that are in flux. And if nothing else, it’s worth searching the internet for the very entertaining shots. That monkey’s got talent. Click here for more information.

Top five briefings by law firm 
Winckworth Sherwood: The bottom line on handling staff issuesDownload
IBB Solicitors: Cyber security: SMEs more vulnerable than ever to cyber crimeDownload
Pillsbury: English contract law and oral contracts — your word may still be your bondDownload
Neil Hudgell Solicitors: Road traffic accidents remain cause for concernDownload
Kemp Little: Women on boards: can there be true equality without positive discrimination?Download
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Top five briefings by practice area 
Banking & finance: Access to finance for SMEs: alternative lending opportunitiesDownload
Employment: The ‘IT fall guy’: beware of making your manager a scapegoatDownload
Intellectual property: Copyright conundrums — monkeying about with a cameraDownload
Litigation: Dispute resolution clauses and reasonable endeavours obligationsDownload
Real estate: Property Update — August 2014: planning, energy, construction, noise nuisance and moreDownload
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Top five briefings by region 
Asia-Pacific: International arbitration in ChinaDownload
Middle East & Africa: Shipping issues arising out of the Ebola outbreak in West AfricaDownload
Offshore: International co-operation in cross-border insolvencies: smoothing the path for foreign liquidators in Hong KongDownload
UK & Europe: Amendments and supplements to the Bankruptcy LawDownload
US & The Americas: The US sanctions against Russia — in an evolving context, key points for businessDownload
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