GT London Law Blog

GT London Law Blog

Legal Advisers for a Changing World

Brexit Update: Impact of New UK Prime Minister

Posted in Brexit, GT Alert

The UK’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, will take office on 24 July 2019, just over three months before the UK is due to leave the EU, on 31 October 2019.

When the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, few predicted that Brexit would not yet be achieved over three years later. But repeated failure to gain UK parliamentary approval of the draft withdrawal agreement terms negotiated by then-Prime Minister Theresa May in late 2018 resulted in the original 29 March 2019 Brexit date being postponed to the current 31 October 2019 deadline. This failure also led to Theresa May announcing her intention to stand down as leader of the governing Conservative Party and as prime minister.

To read the full GT Alert, click here.

For more on Brexit, click here.

Greenberg Traurig Tops The Lawyer’s US Top 50 Diversity List

Posted in Awards, Diversity

Magazine: “the only firm in the US Top 50 to record a female partnership proportion in the UK of more than 40%”

LONDON – 9 July 2019 – Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP has been recognized as the top U.S. firm in the U.K. for diversity by The Lawyer magazine. According to the publication’s U.S. Top 50, Greenberg Traurig “is the only firm in the U.S. Top 50 to record a female partnership proportion in the U.K. of more than 40 percent.” Fourteen of the 34 shareholders in its London office are women.

According to The Lawyer, across U.S. firms in the U.K. the number of female partners has risen 8.4% since 2017. In the last year, through promotion and recruitment, Greenberg Traurig has increased its female partners from 37.9% to 41.17%.

Earlier this year, Greenberg Traurig, LLP announced the elevation to shareholder of 32 attorneys from 17 offices, practicing in 13 areas of law. The 2019 shareholder class was comprised of 44% women and 28% minorities, meaning that women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ attorneys made up 50% of its attorneys elevated to shareholder.

“Greenberg Traurig is proud of its bold approach to diversity and inclusion – one that is part of our origin story as well as our legacy going forward,” said Fiona Adams, the Managing Shareholder of the London office and the Co-Chair of the firm’s Global Corporate Practice.

Other recent diversity rankings for Greenberg Traurig include the following from The American Lawyer/National Law Journal 2019 Diversity, Women’s & LGBT Scorecards: No. 1, Number of African American Partners and Attorneys Overall and Number of Hispanic American/Latino Partners and Attorneys Overall; No. 5, Number of LGBT Partners; No. 6, Number of Minority Attorneys; No. 6, Number of Female Partners; and No. 7, Number of Asian American Partners Overall.

About Greenberg Traurig’s Diversity Initiative: From its inception, Greenberg Traurig has been committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Greenberg Traurig is a uniquely empowering and diverse firm built on a foundation of fairness, equality, and authenticity. The firm’s efforts have been recognized by local, national, and global publications and organizations including, Chambers and Partners.

About Greenberg Traurig, LLP: Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GT) has more than 2100 attorneys in 41 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, diversity, and innovation, and is consistently among the largest firms in the U.S. on the Law360 400 and among the Top 20 on the Am Law Global 100. Web: Twitter: @GT_Law.

M&A Deal Flushes Out Bribery Scheme Leaving Seller Director with a Multi-Million Pound Hangover and Jail Time

Posted in GT Alert, Serious Fraud Office, White collar

On 30 May 2019 the SFO issued a press release announcing that Carol Ann Hodson, the former director and owner of a company named ALCA Fasteners Ltd (ALCA), pleaded guilty to paying bribes amounting to £300,000 in order to secure contracts worth £12m. The bribes were paid to purchasing manager1 of a German company over the course of five years and, according to a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) press release, the bribes were paid monthly in cash instalments and on one occasion, Ms Hodson sent jewelry in a brown envelope to the purchasing manager.

Ms Hodson pleaded guilty at her first appearance at Walsall Magistrates’ Court.  Pleading at this stage (at the first opportunity) meant that she would have received a one-third discount, off of her sentence.

1 The purchasing manager, Terje Moe, pleaded guilty on 6th July 2018 in Norway to two charges relating to the receipt of bribes.

To read the full GT Alert, click here.

Roll Up, Roll Up: ‘Cannabis Inc.’ Is Open for Business, but UK Investors Must Wait Their Turn

Posted in cannabis, criminal law, Proceeds of Crime Act, White collar

With the U.S. cannabis market reported to be worth around $10 billion, sales in Canada expected to reach $6.5 billion by 2020, and the UK having recently decriminalised the use of the drug for medicinal purposes, UK-based investors are eyeing the potential for profit from this new business area.

Click here to read the full GT Advisory, where we consider what UK criminal laws will apply in this new, complex, and evolving area.

Money Grows on Trees for Local Council Pursuing Home Improvement Enthusiasts and Local Football Club Fundraiser

Posted in criminal law, GT Alert, Proceeds of Crime Act, White collar

It is widely thought that proceedings under the Proceeds of ‘Crime’ Act, such as confiscation, are intended to obtain the money someone makes from committing a crime. So, the thinking goes, if a person is convicted of fraud having made £100,000 from the crime, then those funds can be confiscated by the courts.

While this basic premise is correct, UK money laundering laws are far broader in their application and are increasingly being used by UK authorities in innovative ways. Real estate matters in particular are receiving attention from UK local authorities.

For example, one innovative local authority has appointed surveyors to determine the increase in property value following illegal tree pruning and felling. The result, in addition to relatively nominal fines, is that courts have imposed significant – and some would argue punitive – confiscation orders.

Case 1 – The Ole Oak Tree…

The first case involves a 42-foot oak tree covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) located in the back-garden of a Mr Samuel Wilson’s home in Canford Cliffs, Dorset.

A TPO is an order made by a local authority to protect trees and woodland. A person who contravenes a TPO is guilty of a criminal offence, and if found guilty, can expect to pay a fine of up to £20,000.

In 2016, Mr Wilson decided to cut a number of branches off the oak, which was casting a shadow over a Juliet balcony he had recently added to his £1 million home. After his neighbour contacted the local authority, Mr Wilson was prosecuted for cutting branches from the tree in violation of the TPO. He pleaded guilty to causing willful damage to a protected tree and was fined £1,200.

Following conviction, Poole Borough Council pursued Mr Wilson in confiscation proceedings. The council’s valuation experts said cutting the tree’s branches increased Mr Wilson’s home value by £21,000.

Three years after the original conviction, Mr Wilson was ordered to pay £15,000 in legal costs plus the £21,000 additional home value under UK money laundering confiscation provisions.

Activity     Pruning of one oak tree
Fine       £1,200
Costs   £15,000
Confiscation    £21,000
TOTAL COST £37,200 (plus one criminal conviction)

Click here to read the full GT Alert, which includes additional cases of confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

UK Financial Conduct Authority Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Underway With Threats of Civil and Criminal Enforcement

Posted in GT Alert, White collar

Speaking on 4 April 2019, the head of enforcement for the UK FCA, Mark Steward, warned those subject to the UK’s anti-money laundering regulations that ‘it is time that the FCA gave effect to the full intention of the Money-Laundering Regulations which provides for criminal prosecutions’. He added: ‘[The FCA is] now conducting ‘dual track’ AML investigations, i.e., investigations into suspected breaches of the Money-Laundering Regulations that might give rise to either criminal or civil proceedings’.

Mr Steward was referring to The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (Regulations) which came into force 26 June 2017, implementing the EU’s fourth directive on money laundering and replacing the previous, less prescriptive 2007 regulations.

To read the full GT Alert, click here.

Quick Update: Brexit Date Extended to 31 October 2019

Posted in Brexit, GT Alert

In the early hours of 11 April 2019, Brexit date was extended again, this time to 31 October 2019.

The original Brexit date was 29 March, two years from the date on which the UK gave the EU notice of its intention to leave the EU. Then on 22 March, the EU and UK agreed to extend the date to 12 April. The withdrawal terms agreed in draft between the EU and UK in November 2018 had been rejected by the UK Parliament on three successive occasions. The purpose of the extension was to give the UK time to develop alternative withdrawal plans for consideration by the EU before the new date.

To read the full GT Alert, click here.

For more on Brexit, click here.

29 March 2019: Brexit Day Update

Posted in Brexit

Today, 29 March 2019, was planned to be Brexit day: the UK would leave the EU at 23:00 GMT. That plan has had to be abandoned and Brexit day postponed to 12 April 2019. It may be pushed back even further.

How did the UK end up here?

The UK’s EU withdrawal terms, agreed in draft between the EU and UK in November 2018, were rejected by the UK Parliament – not once, but twice, in January and February. There would clearly not have been enough time to try for a third time before Brexit day, so last week UK Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated further timings with the EU. The EU agreed that if the draft withdrawal terms were approved by the UK Parliament when put to a vote for the third time, Brexit day would change to 22 May. If, on the other hand, the terms were rejected again, there would be an extension to 12 April, and UK would have to present an alternative plan to the EU for consideration before that date.

To read the full alert, click here.

For more on Brexit, click here.

Nike Fined €12.5 Million for Restricting Intra-EEA Sales

Posted in Antitrust Trade & Regulation

In a warning shot to businesses using intellectual property rights to restrict cross-border sales within the European Economic Area (EEA), on 25 March 2019 the European Commission fined Nike €12.5 million for banning traders of licenced football merchandise from selling to other EEA countries. The decision underscores the Commission’s commitment to eliminating commercial practices that threaten the integrity of the internal market to the detriment of consumers.

To read the full alert, click here.

To read more about antitrust issues, click here.

FCA Receives Thousands of Insider Dealing Tip-Offs From Financial Services Firms; Few Investigations Opened

Posted in insider dealing, White collar

Figures provided by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) show that in spite of the thousands of tip-offs on insider dealing it receives from banks and other financial services firms, it rarely opens an investigation.

In a response to a freedom of information (FOI) request made by Greenberg Traurig’s White Collar Defence and Special Investigations Practice, the FCA confirmed that as of 4 March 2019 it had opened 61 investigations into insider dealing since 1 April 2018.

To read the full GT Alert, click here.

For more on white collar defense & special investigations, click here.