GT London Law Blog

GT London Law Blog

Legal Advisers for a Changing World

ECJ Confirms UK Can Withdraw Brexit Notice Unilaterally

Posted in Brexit, International Law, International Trade

The EU Court of Justice ruled today, 10 December, that the U.K. can unilaterally withdraw its “Brexit” notification to the EU. The ruling follows the advice of the advocate general to the EU Court last week, that the U.K. should be able to revoke the notification without the consent of the other 27 EU member states (see GT Alert, Brexit – Can the U.K. Stop Brexit Without EU Consent?).

Further, the U.K. parliament’s House of Commons vote on the draft EU withdrawal agreement, scheduled for 11 December, was today postponed by Theresa May to allow time to secure additional reassurance from the other 27 EU member states in relation to the Irish backstop, which she recognizes is the main obstacle to securing parliamentary approval of the draft agreement, but at the same time a necessary part of any withdrawal agreement.

To read the full GT Alert, click here.

Brexit – Can the UK Stop Brexit Without EU Consent?

Posted in Brexit, International Law

Advice given to the EU Court of Justice on Tuesday, 4 December recommends that the Court’s judges rule that the U.K. can withdraw its March 2017 notice of intention to leave the EU without the consent of the other 27 EU member states. The advice also recommends that this unilateral right to withdraw the notice should be subject to certain conditions.

The advice is the latest, but not the final, step in a landmark case brought by campaigners before the Scottish Court of Session. Since the case concerns the interpretation of EU law – Article 50 of the EU Treaty, which sets out how a member state may leave the EU – the Scottish Court asked the EU Court for a preliminary ruling. This ruling will be made by the EU Court at a future date that has not yet been publicised, although the Court has expedited its process.

Continuing Reading.

Prove It or Lose It! Part III: A Step Too Far? Account Freezing Orders & Account Forfeiture Orders

Posted in criminal law, White collar

Part III of our series on asset recovery powers available to UK law enforcement authorities focuses on new powers under the Criminal Finances Act 2017 to obtain orders to freeze bank accounts and apply for forfeiture orders, permanently depriving the account holder of the funds contained in the account.

These draconian new powers have received little publicity and contain fewer safeguards than unexplained wealth orders and the civil recovery process under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), discussed in Parts I and II of this series. The powers are controversial and, unlike other asset recovery powers available to UK enforcement authorities, applications are made in the magistrates’ court rather than the High Court.

To read the full GT Alert, click here.

Brexit – Where Now?

Posted in Brexit, Government, International Law, International Trade

At their summit on 25 November, the leaders of the EU27 states approved the draft agreement providing for the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU. The EU and U.K. also issued a joint statement outlining the framework for the post-Brexit EU/U.K. relationship.

These developments, although much-awaited, give little legal certainty in the short term.

Draft Withdrawal Agreement – Brief Summary

The draft agreement addresses a large number of Brexit issues in its 585 pages. If ratified, it will establish four key principles.

  • The “Divorce Bill”: The U.K. will be committed to make a €39 billion payment to the EU on exit. This is made up of the U.K.’s contribution to the EU’s annual budgets up to the end of the transition period, and the U.K.’s outstanding commitments and share of liabilities towards the EU.
  • Right to reside: The U.K. and EU will be committed to protecting the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. and U.K. citizens living in the EU, to enable those citizens to continue working and studying where they presently live and to have their family members join them.
  • Irish border: Both parties will also be committed to avoiding a “hard” (manned) border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. and so will exit the EU, and the Republic of Ireland, which will remain an EU member state. An invisible (unmanned) border is an important principle of the Ireland/U.K. Good Friday peace agreement of 1998, which brought peace to the island of Ireland. The draft provides a “backstop” intended to ensure that, whatever the nature of the future relationship between the EU and U.K., this principle is respected, and the peace arrangements are not disrupted.
  • Transition period: Although the U.K. will leave the EU on 29 March 2019, there will be a transition period of 21 months until 31 December 2020. This is intended to allow time for the future EU/U.K. relationship to be agreed and for government and business to prepare for the new arrangements. During this period, which can be extended once (there is no cap on the duration of the extension), EU law will continue to apply in the U.K.

To read the full GT Alert, click here.

Prove It or Lose It! Part II: Civil Recovery Orders

Posted in White collar

In the first of our two-part series, we looked at Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs). To summarize, UWOs require the recipient to explain how they obtained their wealth/assets, which authorities have reasonable grounds to suspect could not have been with the recipient’s known sources of income. The UWO is the beginning of a journey that can result in assets being taken away from their owners by the state through commencement of civil legal proceedings under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).

UK politicians and law enforcement agents have trumpeted these non-conviction-based asset-recovery powers for their ability to recover and rid the UK of laundered assets. However, many obstacles remain in pursuit of this goal. In this GT Alert, we review these civil-recovery powers under POCA against the backdrop of UWOs.

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Prove It or Lose It! – Part I: Unexplained Wealth Orders

Posted in White collar

Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) have recently been in the news. They extend the powers available to UK law enforcement authorities under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA). A UWO enables investigators to ask people who are holding assets, which based on their legitimate income they would not be able to afford, to prove that such assets were obtained from legitimate sources. If the person can’t prove the assets are from a legitimate source, then the authorities can take steps to recover those assets.

Introduced by the Criminal Finances Act 2017, UWOs became available to the UK’s enforcement authorities on 31 January 2018, but it wasn’t until July 2018 that their use was reported in the mainstream press. The press interest followed the unsuccessful appeal against a UWO obtained earlier this year by the National Crime Agency against Mrs. Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of Jahangir Hajiyev, a former chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan who in 2016 was jailed 15 years for offences including abuse of office and large-scale fraud against the bank.

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Statute of Limitations on Bribery—UK and US Perspectives

Posted in Antitrust Trade & Regulation, White collar

Barry Vitou and A. John Pappalardo co-authored an article Lexis®PSL Corporate Crime titled “Statute of Limitations on Bribery—UK and US Perspectives.”

This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Corporate Crime on 22 August 2018.

To read this article, click here.

Greenberg Traurig Advises On Hotel Deal Valued At Approximately £858 Million

Posted in Corporate, M&A, Real Estate

LONDON – 6 August 2018 – A multidisciplinary London-based team at global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP advised InterContinental Hotels Group plc on its arrangements with French real estate investor Covivio (formerly Foncière des Régions) to rebrand and operate 12 high-quality open hotels and one pipeline hotel in the UK following the acquisition of the hotels by Covivio from Starwood Capital Group. The deal was closed on 25 July with the overall transaction being valued at approximately £858 million.

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Director Disqualification: CMA Signals Increased Enforcement

Posted in Antitrust Trade & Regulation, Competition Law

The Consultation

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has on 26 July 2018 opened a consultation on revised guidance (Revised Guidance) on competition disqualification orders (CDOs) against directors of undertakings suspected to have been in breach of competition laws.

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Tips for Dealing with a ‘Dawn Raid’ or Search in the UK

Posted in White collar

Recent statistics show investigators taking a harder line and conducting increasing numbers of searches with the Serious Fraud Office more than tripling the number of searches it conducted in connection with ongoing investigations in the 12 months ended 31, March 2018.

Searches by law enforcement investigators, including dawn raids, are inherently intrusive and are often used by law enforcement as a tool in its investigation of suspected crime.

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