GT London Law Blog

GT London Law Blog

Legal Advisers for a Changing World

Acceleration of the Removal of Diesel (and Bi-Mode) Trains From UK Operation?

Posted in Environment, Government

The removal of diesel trains from operation in the UK could be accelerated as part of the UK government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions.

In a speech in February 2018, the UK’s then-Minister of State for rail, Jo Johnson (brother of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson), stated that he “would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040”. However, less than two years later in October 2019 (and during a week when attention was focussed on whether Prime Minister Johnson would reach agreement with the European Union on Brexit), Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps told the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee that “when I look at my comments on cars where, at the moment, the policy is 2040 to end the sale of petrol and diesel [cars], I recently said that I am going to investigate 2035. I am of course very interested in the earlier extinction of diesel trains”.

Click here for the full GT Alert.

OFSI Finds Its Teeth While OFAC Continues to Enforce Against Non-U.S. Corporates

Posted in criminal law, GT Alert, International Trade, White collar

The UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), the body tasked by the UK Treasury to administer and enforce financial sanctions in the UK, has issued its biggest monetary penalty to date, against the UK arm of an international telecommunications company for breaching sanctions imposed on a Syrian entity. The £146,341 monetary penalty was issued against Telia Carrier UK Limited, which is said to have ‘indirectly facilitated international telephone calls to SyriaTel’, an entity subject to EU sanctions under the Syria (European Union Financial Sanctions) Regulations 2012.

This is only the third fine imposed by OFSI since the office was established in April 2016. The previous two fines, imposed earlier this year against Raphaels Bank (£5,000) and Travelex (£10,000), respectively, pale in significance. None of the three fines begins to compare to the enforcement activity of the well-established and longer functioning U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which has imposed a total of £1.2 billion in fines in 2019 alone.

Click here for the full GT Alert, OFSI Finds Its Teeth While OFAC Continues to Enforce Against Non-U.S. Corporates.

LIBOR Transition Newsletter – Issue 1

Posted in Corporate, FCA, Financial Conduct Authority, Government, LIBOR, Regulatory

Welcome to Greenberg Traurig’s LIBOR Transition Newsletter, where we provide updates, analysis, and occasional commentary on the latest developments relating to the highly anticipated phasing-out of LIBOR at the end of 2021 – barely two years from now. Questions addressed in this issue: Why is LIBOR being phased out? What will be the immediate effect? Where are we now? Are market participants ready for LIBOR replacement? What should market participants be doing now? Documentation and Other Recent Developments.

Click here for the full LIBOR Transition Newsletter.

The Revised Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration and Their Impact on UK Environmental Standards

Posted in Brexit, Environmental, GT Alert, International Law

An important difference between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement and former Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is that provisions relating to environmental protections have been removed and are now to be found in the amended Political Declaration. While the Withdrawal Agreement, once ratified, would be a legally binding treaty between the UK and the EU, the Political Declaration would be non-binding, at least under international law. Therefore, under Mr Johnson’s proposal, the provisions relating to environmental standards would not be binding on the UK. There are also substantive differences in the environmental provisions.

Click here to read the full GT Alert.

Brexit: Unlawful Prorogation Means Continued UK Parliament Scrutiny of Brexit Plans

Posted in Brexit, EU Withdrawal Agreement, GT Alert, No-deal Brexit

In a historic decision issued 24 September 2019, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, acted unlawfully when he advised the Queen to prorogue, or suspend, the UK Parliament for five weeks, until 14 October 2019. The effect of the very clear and unanimous decision of the 11 Supreme Court judges is that Parliament was not in fact suspended and can immediately resume its work.

This in turn means that Parliament has more time to scrutinise the government’s Brexit plans, as opposed to having to wait until 14 October to do so, and that it can continue to reject a no-deal Brexit by insisting on an extension to the Brexit timetable if Mr Johnson does not agree to new withdrawal terms with the EU at a council meeting on October 17-18.

Click here to read the full GT Alert, “Brexit: Unlawful Prorogation Means Continued UK Parliament Scrutiny of Brexit Plans.”

Brexit: Political Impasse After UK Parliament Votes to Block October 31 No-Deal Departure From EU

Posted in Brexit, Government, GT Alert, International Trade, No-deal Brexit

Our last GT Alert on Brexit quoted the saying, “a week is a long time in politics”. New Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson has found that a mere 72 hours is an eternity as he seeks to break the political impasse on the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union – so far, unsuccessfully.

Although the 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU was carried with a low majority – 52% to 48% – and was ‘advisory’ in UK law, successive UK Governments have held that the vote must be treated as a commitment. In January 2017 the UK Supreme Court, responding to a claim brought by an individual (the ‘Miller Case’), ruled that Government could not withdraw the UK from the EU by exercising its executive powers but must seek the consent of Parliament by proposing legislation. This is the origin of the impasse Mr Johnson now faces.

Click here for the full GT Alert, “Brexit: Political Impasse After UK Parliament Votes to Block October 31 No-Deal Departure From EU.”

‘Above & Beyond’? Serious Fraud Office Issues Corporate Co-Operation Guidance – Part I

Posted in Corporate, criminal law, GT Alert, Serious Fraud Office, sfo, White collar

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has issued its long-awaited guidance on corporate co-operation. For the first time in one place, the SFO has set out what in its view are ‘indicators of good [co-operation] practice’ for companies under investigation. This is a helpful clarification.

In its own words the SFO defines co-operation as going ‘above and beyond’.

The list of indicators of good co-operation practice is extensive and not, as the SFO itself points out, exhaustive. That said, the SFO acknowledges that each case turns on its own facts, and some indicators on the list may not apply in some cases, perhaps hinting at a little flexibility depending on specific circumstances.

Companies dealing with the SFO and/or identifying suspected wrongdoing in their organisation must therefore carefully consider the guidance and determine whether and/or to what extent they can meet the SFO’s co-operation requirements.

Companies should also review existing policies and procedures dealing with internal investigations in light of the new SFO guidance.

Click here for the full GT Alert, ‘Above & Beyond’? Serious Fraud Office Issues Corporate Co-Operation Guidance – Part I, in which our London White Collar team outlines the key takeaways from the guidance.

Beware of Strangers Bearing Gifts: UK ‘Business Integrity Initiative’ Aims to Support the Anti-Corruption Efforts of SMEs

Posted in Bribery Act 2010, Corporate, criminal law, Government, GT Alert, International Trade, National Crime Agency, Serious Fraud Office, sfo, White collar

The UK government’s Anti-Corruption Newsletter for Summer 2019, supported by ‘Anti-Corruption Champion’ John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare, covers the latest developments in anti-corruption over the last quarter.

Two reported highlights illustrate the government’s steadfast approach to issuing new statutory guidance for both large corporates and small UK businesses. However, the latter category could receive subsidised anti-bribery advice through the ‘Business Integrity Initiative’ to ‘help’ improve compliance.

But is the Business Integrity Initiative really a proverbial olive branch?

Click here for the full GT Alert.

Brexit: Can the Remainers Stop a No-Deal Brexit?

Posted in Brexit, EU Withdrawal Agreement, GT Alert, No-deal Brexit

Brexit has driven fault lines through British politics as seen at no time since the 1680s. Fervent ‘leavers’ and fervent ‘remainers’ can be found in both of the main political parties, although most favour various compromise options in between.

This is reflected in the composition of the UK Parliament and has resulted in an impasse, with Parliament rejecting both the transitional ‘deal’ to leave the EU negotiated by former Prime Minister Theresa May at the end of 2018 and the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal – a ‘no deal’ Brexit. The election of Boris Johnson as the new UK prime minister and his appointment of a government leaning firmly towards leaving the EU, with or without a deal on October 31, 2019, throws up some distinctive legal challenges: If a new deal cannot be struck with the EU, is a no-deal Brexit inevitable, or can the remainer MPs stop it?

Click here for the full GT Alert, which explores Prime Minister Johnson’s options, the two legal routes open to remainer MPs, and more.

The Serco Deferred Prosecution Agreement: A Lesson in Pragmatism

Posted in criminal law, Deferred Prosecution Agreement, GT Alert, Serious Fraud Office, sfo, White collar

On 4 July 2019 at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Justice William Davis formally approved the fifth Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) entered into by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The SFO’s latest DPA is with Serco Geografix Limited (SGL), a now-dormant subsidiary of Serco Limited (SL), and marks the end of a six-year investigation which started in November 2013 when the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reported concerns about its contract with SL for the supply of electronic monitoring equipment, i.e., ankle tags, used to monitor individuals accused or convicted of criminal offences.

According to the judgment, while the investigation ‘revealed no evidence of any dishonest or fraudulent activity’ in respect of the original concerns, Serco Group PLC, the ultimate parent, in reviewing material thought to be relevant to those concerns, discovered emails which appeared to show there had been manipulation of accounting between SGL and SL designed to artificially reduce the profit margins reported to the MoJ, giving rise to a potential fraud on the public purse. It was this discovered conduct which ultimately led to the DPA.

The judgment raises some interesting points of law and practice. In this GT Alert, we consider the facts and analyse the features of this latest UK DPA, the first under new SFO Director Lisa Osofsky. We also discuss how a dormant company is able to pay significant financial penalties and costs and satisfy positive obligations to improve internal procedures (the answer is that, effectively, it doesn’t).

Click here to read the full GT Alert.