AVELLUM successfully represents the client in GAFTA appeal

The GAFTA Board of Appeal satisfied in full the Client’s claim of approximately $150,000 (USD) seeking compensation for damages specified in a washout agreement that were caused by the failure to comply with the contract.

A washout agreement is a settlement agreement by which a party seeks to terminate the contract, without declaring a default, with compensation paid by the party who refuses to fulfil the contract. Typically, the compensation is the difference between the contractual price of the goods and the market price of the goods on the day of such a refusal.

The question of whether the parties concluded a washout agreement arises more and more often in trade disputes and has become the “cornerstone” of the case.

Iryna Moroz, partner of AVELLUM, commented as follows: “Our biggest challenge was that the parties discussed the agreement verbally through brokers. In addition, there were no formal labour or contractual relations between the representative of the counterparty and the company represented by him. These circumstances served as a ground for the counterparty to challenge the conclusion of the contract.

However, English law is flexible as to the form of a contract, which can be concluded either verbally or in writing using all possible means of communication. The authority of the company’s representatives is presumed in English law. That is why the existence of formal labour relations or other corporate restrictions in no way affects the possibility of concluding a contract.”

The AVELLUM team successfully proved that the parties had actually agreed the washout agreement verbally through the broker. Furthermore, arbitrators confirmed the general position of English law that any person who represents a company may enter into a contract, regardless of his or her position in the company and the existence of formal labour relations.

The AVELLUM team was led by partner Iryna Moroz with support of senior associate Dmytro Koval.

ADVISORY EXCELLENCE

Law Offices of Howard G. Smith Announces Securities Class Action

Law Offices of Howard G. Smith announces that a class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of investors who purchased Avon Products, Inc. (“Avon” or the “Company”) (NYSE: AVP) securities between August 2, 2016 and August 2, 2017, inclusive (the “Class Period”). Avon investors have until April 15, 2019 to file a lead plaintiff motion.

Investors suffering losses on their Avon investments are encouraged to contact the Law Offices of Howard G. Smith to discuss their legal rights in this class action at 888-638-4847 or by email to [email protected].

On August 3, 2017, Avon issued a press release announcing its second quarter 2017 financial results and held a conference call to discuss the results. The Company reported a net loss of $0.12 per share and a 3% decline in active representatives. Avon also reported that Brazil revenue was “down 2% in constant dollars, primarily driven by a decrease in Active Representatives.” On the call, Avon’s Chief Financial Officer acknowledged that, despite Avon’s earlier representations, the remedial actions in Brazil (i.e., stricter credit terms applied to recruiting new representatives) were negatively impacting active representatives and revenue in Brazil. On this news, shares of Avon fell $0.36, or 10.71%, to close at $3.00 per share on August 3, 2017, thereby injuring investors.

The Complaint filed in this class action alleges that Defendants made materially false and misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) Avon was engaged in an undisclosed scheme whereby it significantly loosened its credit terms in order to recruit new representatives in Brazil, its largest market; (2) its specific credit terms in Brazil; (3) Avon failed to increase its allowance for doubtful accounts to account for the changes to its credit terms in Brazil; and (4) as a result of these concealments, Avon stock was trading at artificially inflated prices throughout the class period.

If you purchased shares of Avon, have information or would like to learn more about these claims, or have any questions concerning this announcement or your rights or interests with respect to these matters, please contact Howard G. Smith, Esquire, of Law Offices of Howard G. Smith, 3070 Bristol Pike, Suite 112, Bensalem, Pennsylvania 19020 by telephone at (215) 638-4847, toll-free at (888) 638-4847, or by email to [email protected], or visit our website at http://www.howardsmithlaw.com/

This press release may be considered Attorney Advertising in some jurisdictions under the applicable law and ethical rules.

Elder Law

Hazen Law Group to Host Estate Planning Discussion at Walden Way

Hazen Law Group will host a free informational session and discussion at Walden Way 55+ Community in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania on April 3, 2019.

Marielle F. Hazen, Esq., will lead an information-packed session on Elder Law & Estate Planning for senior citizens, their loved ones, and anyone who wants to learn about proper estate planning, asset protection and elder law.

Marielle Hazen is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA). She is also the founder of Hazen Law Group, a firm dedicated to the practice of elder law, estate planning and administration, nursing home planning and special needs law.

The session will take place at the Walden Way Community Center from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3. For more information about Walden Way, contact Jean Young at 717-928-4432.

Marielle Hazen is a founding member and past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Elder Law Attorneys (PAELA) and a past president of the Special Needs Alliance.

Hazen Law Group provides expert guidance in elder law, special needs law and estate planning in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities. For more about the firm or to schedule a consultation, call Hazen Law Group at 717-540-4332.

If you would like to find out more, please visit http://www.hazenlawgroup.com/

ET PHOTO

Maravela|Asociații extends its team

Maravela|Asociații started 2019 with a consolidated consultancy team, following recent recruitment and internal promotion of several existing team members.

Thus, in alphabetical order, Raluca Ciocârlan, Roxana Neacșu and Flavia Ștefura joined the firm’s consultancy team.

Raluca Ciocârlan, senior associate, assists top local and international clients in commercial, corporate and M&A matters. Raluca holds a Masters degree (LL.M) in European Law awarded by Paris I Pantheon–Sorbonne University and was, for 4 years, part of Leroy and Asociații team and before, part of Bulboacă and Asociații. She is a member of the Bucharest Bar since 2003.

Roxana Neacșu, senior associate, had an ascending professional background, for 11 years within the Bucharest office of Gruia Dufaut law firm. Raluca assists numerous major clients, active in various sectors of the economy, in corporate and employment matters. She holds a Masters degree (LL.M) in European Law from Paris I Pantheon–Sorbonne University and is a member of the Bucharest Bar since 2007.

Flavia Ștefura, associate, assists clients in intellectual property, data protection and competition matters, being equally involved in employment and corporate matters. Previously a part of NNDKP and Peli Filip teams, Flavia holds a Law degree from Paris I Pantheon–Sorbonne University and is a member of the Bucharest Bar since 2012.

“Although increased work load is, without a doubt, one of the main factors for extending our team, we are always looking for talented individuals. We are proud to have by our sides talented attorneys that wanted to contribute to the development of the firm.” Alina Popescu, Founding Partner of Maravela|Asociații

“We are happy to see that lawyers with a remarkable professional route give us their trust and confidence with regard to the evolution they will have in our firm. This means that the mandates handled and the name we have built, the manner in which we have developed and the working model that we provide speak from themselves.” Gelu Maravela, Founding Partner of Maravela|Asociații

If you would like to find out more information about Maravela|Asociații, please visit https://www.maravela.ro/

AE PHOTO

KPMG legal services division reports record revenue growth

KPMG’s legal services division revenue rose by more than 30 percent in 2018 in a record-setting performance, according to the firm that expects growth to continue in a burgeoning market that’s stoking concerns among traditional law firms about potential competition.

Such fast-paced expansion into the legal sector is in line with the three other Big Four accounting firms—Deloitte, EY, and PwC. Each has made major inroads into global legal services recently in jurisdictions outside the US where these firms are allowed to practice law.

KPMG said in a press release that its legal practice added 20 partners last year, expanding to more than 2,300 legal professionals worldwide.

The Big Four differ from most traditional law firms in that they offer many other services to clients aside from just legal advice, often leveraging their capabilities in tax, audit, technology and consulting.

The 30 percent growth includes revenue stemming from various legal services offerings, including mergers and acquisitions, tax law, global entity management, compliance matters, and legal tech solutions, Jurg Birri, KPMG’s global head of legal services, told Bloomberg Law in a written statement.

When asked how legal services growth at KPMG compared with that of other Big Four players, Birri said, “We are focused on providing forward-thinking and technology-led approaches and solutions for clients, in addition to more traditional legal services offerings. I can’t speak for the other firms, but at KPMG Global Legal Services, we have seen tremendous growth in terms of revenues and headcount, and expect that to continue.”

Birri added in a press release that he expects future activity for KPMG’s legal arm to come in part from “high-growth markets like China.”

KPMG said last month that it had expanded its law offerings to Hong Kong through its new affiliated legal practice, SF Lawyers. KPMG hopes to grow that office to 20 attorneys in its first year. At the same time, the firm expects to open an associated office in Shanghai later in 2019.

KPMG attributes part of its legal sector progress to the launch of its new Legal Operations and Transformation Services units that aim to assist legal departments in streamlining their operations.

That service is available across KPMG’s global network of lawyers and offers departments help with advancing their legal technology and finding proper sourcing for their work.

KPMG’s announcement comes as its professional services peers have made similar entrees into legal markets in Asia, South America, and the Middle East. Last September, for example, EY touted its extended legal services reach to more than 2,200 legal practitioners in more than 80 countries.

The Big Four are restricted by regulations and state bar rules from opening law offices in the US that serve domestic clients. Yet some have managed to gain a foothold, which has served to stoke concerns among US law firms about the possibility they may someday face tough competition from companies with significant size, international scope, advanced technology, and revenue advantages.

For example, PwC opened ILC Legal in Washington on 2017. That firm’s five lawyers—referred to on the firm’s website as partners and “special legal consultants”—only advise clients on international matters, and do not offer clients US legal consultation.

NY PHOTO

New York gets more worker-friendly

Last week, Suffolk County became the latest jurisdiction in New York State to pass a so-called salary history ban law.

The county joins New York City, Westchester, Albany and other municipalities in the state in prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their prior salary.

The intent of the salary history ban law, which takes effect in Suffolk on June 30, 2019, is to reduce pay inequality for women and minorities, and it is part of a larger trend on the state and local levels to increase workplace protections for employees.

“There have been several new laws passed in the state, and more so in New York City, over the last year or so that create added challenges for employers,” said Tony Dulgerian, a senior associate in the labor and employment practice group in the Jericho office of national law firm Nixon Peabody.

New laws come with compliance requirements and added costs, which “can be very challenging for small employers,” said Gregg Kligman, an associate in the employment law practice at Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein in Garden City.

New York State passed a new law in April requiring all employers who operate in the state to have a sexual harassment prevention policy in place by this past October and to conduct annual, interactive training of all employees. All workers in the state must be trained by Oct. 9, 2019, and by April 1, 2019 in New York City.

“The training has to be interactive, and that’s the key,” Dulgerian said. “In-person training is the best option, but for employers with a scattered workforce or tens of thousands of employees, it’s hard to do it in-person.”

Paid family leave took effect in New York State this year, and it will be stepped up in 2019. Employers were required at the start of this year to ensure that all eligible employees have paid family leave coverage, which is set up through an insurance policy and financed through employee payroll deductions.

In its inaugural year, eligible employees were entitled to eight weeks of leave at 50 percent of their average weekly wage or 50 percent of the state’s average wage, whichever was lower. In 2019, the coverage increases to 10 weeks at 55 percent of pay, with a cap of $746.41. The maximum employee contribution for the year is $107.61.

With paid family leave, employees can take leave for bonding with a new child, whether biological, adopted or foster; caring for a sick family member, which could be a child, parent, parent-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, spouse or domestic partner; or spending time with a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent on active military duty or who has been notified of an impending call or order of active duty.

Many employers continue to have questions about the interplay between paid family leave and benefits on the federal level.

“PFL interacts with the Family Medical Leave Act, short-term disability benefits, employee vacation and sick time, and if the company has its own paid parental leave policy, it interacts with that,” Dulgerian told LIBN earlier this year. “It’s like a gigantic Venn diagram. Everything has to work together, and it has been really challenging for clients.”

Both FMLA and PFL require that the employee’s job (or an equivalent one) be guaranteed upon his or her return, but there are important differences between the two. Unlike PFL, FMLA is unpaid. Also unlike PFL, FMLA allows for leave for the individual’s own health issue, but not to care for grandparents, grandchildren or domestic partners. And PFL covers all private-sector employers regardless of size while FMLA only applies to larger employers (there must be 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the office).

Many Long Island employers are not large enough to be impacted by FMLA and therefore have no experience dealing with protective leave. And employers with small teams may struggle disproportionately if they have to keep a job open for an extended period.

“Larger employers generally have the capacity to handle it,” Dulgerian said. “But employers have to figure it out. There’s no exception for undue burden under the PFL. Employers would be well-advised to prepare for it, such as having a temporary staffing firm at the ready. You don’t really know when you will receive a request for leave. A lot of people think it’s only for new parents, but it could be taken for many reasons, such as to care for a family member who is seriously ill or if a family member is about to go to the military.”

Dulgerian added that there is pending legislation to add bereavement as a reason for taking PFL.

The minimum wage will go up again this January, “and that has a whole bunch of issues associated with it,” Kligman said.

Large employers in New York City will have to pay workers at least $15 per hour, while their smaller counterparts will have to pay a $13.50 hourly minimum. Employers in Long Island and Westchester will have to cough up at least $12 per hour, up from $11 in 2018, and elsewhere in New York State, the minimum wage rises to $11.10 per hour.

While employees who make slightly above the minimum wage may expect an increase, as well, “that’s up to the employer’s discretion,” Kligman said.

The minimum salary for employees to be classified as exempt from overtime will also go up at the start of the year, Kligman said. In New York City, the minimum will be $1,125 per week for large employers and $1,012.50 for small employers, while the minimum on Long Island will rise from $825 to $900 per week. Employees whose earnings fall below that threshold must be eligible for overtime pay, regardless of their job description or responsibilities.

On the federal level, the complex web of laws governing the employer-employee relationship became more worker-friendly during the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency. When the administration changed, the pendulum began to swing back in the other direction – in favor of employers. For instance, several worker-friendly National Labor Relations Board decisions from the Obama years have been overturned.

But as a new president can’t change all the policies and laws right off the bat, “the pendulum swings slowly on the federal level,” Dulgerian said.