This week’s top 15 legal briefings – 01 June 2014

In his boxing heyday, Giacobbe ‘Jake’ LaMotta was a man of few words – and it’s an odds-on bet that ‘laches’ wasn’t one of them. The ‘Bronx Bull’ – who famously fluctuated between the middle and light heavyweight categories – was portrayed by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s 1980 film as a chap who let his fists rather than his brain do the talking. But more than 30 years after the picture picked up two Oscars, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which distributes prints and DVD boxed sets of the film, found itself in a fight of its own against Paula Petrella, the daughter of Frank Petrella. Frank worked with Jake on a 1963 first-cut screenplay and book of the latter’s life. Paula claims copyright infringement against MGM, and the case – which turned on the legal point of laches, or unreasonable delay – ended up in the US Supreme Court, which, as every fight fan and lawyer knows, is the legal profession equivalent of a big bout at Madison Square Garden. Our ringside correspondents from US law firm Pillsbury provide breathless, blow-by-blow commentary. Click here for more information.

Anyone who has passed ‘go’ in Monopoly – or experienced the joy of an opponent landing on a property-strewn Park Lane – knows the thrill of trousering fake cash. ‘Monopoly money’ has worked its way into the vernacular, but no-one actually tries to pay for half a dozen sausages with it down the butcher’s. Well, not until Bitcoins popped up, of course. This is the Monopoly money of the cyber age, except that punters are actually using it to buy stuff. Which means that governments are gradually taking a view on the virtual currency. Our correspondent from law firm Dentons analyses the approach of various jurisdictions to Bitcoins – the Chinese treat them as a special virtual commodity, not a currency, so banks and payment institutions are prohibited from dealing in them. Brazil, on the other hand, legislated last year to move towards possible normalisation of electronic currencies. Back in Blighty, the government says Bitcoins are like any other form of payment for tax purposes, with VAT due in the normal way from suppliers of any goods or services sold in exchange for the currency. Click here for more information.

Wait ’til Nigel Farage gets wind of this… The European Court of Justice (aka the High Priests of Evil, in UKIP-land-speak) recently handed down judgment in a case that could force employers to face huge liabilities around holiday pay. As law firm DLA Piper explains, the cause of this potential Farage aneurysm is a conflict between UK and European law as to how holiday pay should be calculated and in particular whether elements of remuneration such as overtime and commission must be included. To cut to the chase, the Euro-judges – which obviously look like the alien characters from the transit lounge in Star Wars – ruled that that commission must be included to prevent workers paid on that basis being deterred from trotting off every so often for a break in Bognor or Ibiza. According to the DLA analysts, that could be bad news for British employers. You heard it here first, Nige. Click here for more information.

Jonathan Ames
Jonathan Ames

Top five briefings by law firm 
DLA Piper: Holiday pay must include commission, ECJ rulesDownload
Winckworth Sherwood: Lifetime gifts of capital – the taxation consequencesDownload
Pillsbury: Intent to lose? Be wary of pitfalls involving intent-to-use trademark applicationsDownload
Memery Crystal: Key Commercial Property Update – May 2014: two noteworthy judgments in commercial landlord and tenant lawDownload
Schoenherr: Hungary: will the security interest vanish when the underlying secured obligations are transferred?Download
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Top five briefings by practice area 
Banking & finance: Regulation of bitcoin around the worldDownload
Employment: Disabled employee who lied about ability to work was fired for causeDownload
Company/commercial: Abandon ship – can a company have no appointed directors?Download
Litigation/dispute resolution: Tax-related disputesDownload
Real estate: House prices increase by eight per centDownload
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Top five briefings by region 
Asia-Pacific: Could agency heads be the next Target?Download
Cayman Islands: the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Law 2014
Middle East & Africa: Explore – No. 2, May 2014: a magazine for the mining sectorDownload
Europe: Belgian Constitutional Court decides to annul provisions on administrative loopDownload
US & the Americas : ‘Raging Bull’ heiress knocks out MGM’s laches defenceDownload
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