This week’s top 15 legal briefings – 12th January 2014

Jonathan Ames

Salaried partnership is one of the opaque mysteries of the legal profession. Falling in a grey area between having a slice of a firm’s equity and being the tea boy, the title means different things to different firms and almost nothing to clients. Now Britain’s taxman has twigged to the anomaly, realising that – if nothing else – salaried partnership status at LLPs has been a clever tax avoidance wheeze. But the loophole is closing, with our commentators at the London office of Debevoise & Plimpton pointing out that Revenue & Customs has noticed that ‘many LLPs have members engaged on terms more closely resembling those of employees, who work for the business, than of traditional partners, who carry on the business’. All of which will have some pretty profound implications on the national insurance front at large LLP law firms. Click here for more information.

Post-Christmas retail figures are tumbling in and it’s not been a happy story for some household names. The one clear message is that retailers without an online presence – and an actual cyber shopping facility – might as well think about rolling down the shutters. Adding to their woes is another layer of regulation covering consumer contracts, set to come into effect from June. Commentators at law firm Taylor Wessing explain that the regulations will mean the cooling-off period following online sales will increase from seven days to a fortnight. There are also changes covering mandatory information for consumers prior to purchase and new stipulations that refunds must be coughed up within 14 days, rather than 30. Click here for more information.

We warned that judgment in the substantive matters in Excalibur v Gulf Keystone was just the beginning of the fun and that the post-ruling costs tussle was when the fur would really fly. Commentators at law firm Memery Crystal set the scene for what promises to be a battle royal around third-party funding, a system that is itself already highly controversial. They point out that proceedings will be launched against the litigation funders, and in one case against the individual behind the Cayman Islands vehicle that provided the funding. Our commentators don’t mince words: ‘It is an increasingly common feature of commercial litigation in London that speculative, opportunist and weak claims of massive size are brought by impecunious claimants, backed by litigation funders and after-the-event insurance, with the intention of bullying a defendant into settlement to avoid years of litigation and millions of pounds of costs.’ They assess whether Excalibur will turn the tide. Click here for more information.

Top five briefings by law firm 

DLA Piper: Australia: Federal Court confirms National Native Title Tribunal’s approach to future act determinationsDownload
Mills & Reeve: Employment review of year 2013–14Download
Shoosmiths: The right to be accompanied — another surprising decisionDownload
Taylor Wessing:
New rules on selling to consumers must be applied from 13 June 2014
Walker Morris: Groceries Code Adjudicator’s guidance on investigations and enforcement functionsDownload
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Top five briefings by practice area 

Banking & finance: Financial services and regulatory: winter updateDownload
Company/commercial: Proposed changes to the taxation of UK partnershipsDownload
Employment: Nabarro video guide — the grievance processDownload
Intellectual property: New EU directive proposal tries to harmonise trade secret protectionDownload
Litigation/dispute resolution: Litigation funders beware — Excalibur v Gulf KeystoneDownload
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Top five briefings by region 

Asia & Australasia: Plans unveiled for the new Singapore International Commercial CourtDownload
Middle East: Arbitration Quarterly: Issue No 4 — December 2013Download
Offshore: Offshore Case Digest: Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands — Issue No. 5Download
UK and Europe: New EU Customs RegulationDownload
US & the Americas : ‘New Year’s resolutions’ for New York non-profits: the New York Non-Profit Revitalization Act of 2013Download
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