The new key laws introduced in the UAE to support businesses

Dubai is in the final countdown for the preparation of the long-awaited Expo 2020, which is set to open a year from now, in October. This is a key event set to take place in Dubai and will be a major focal point of the agenda of most corporations doing business in the emirate or looking to do business in it.

The emirate remains a main attraction for foreign investments especially the ones looking to benefit from its location, business, and legal environment and world-class infrastructure, to access the region. This was further validated by the UAE’s ranking in the ease of doing business, where it was positioned 11th, according to the World Bank annual ratings in 2019. This accomplishment is a reflection of the government’s ongoing work to promote a business environment that is diverse and sustainable.

A number of efforts have been made to diversify away from dependence on oil, creating a very strong services sector – one that fosters a competitive business environment. A major aspect of such an environment is a supportive and effective legal framework for businesses, on par with international standards, hence the recent changes and additions in UAE’s regulatory and corporate sector.

Among major changes that are expected to push the growth and progress of the local economy in Dubai are the implementation of UAE Federal Law No 19 of 2018 on foreign direct investment (the “FDI Law”) and the subsequent positive list of activities issued by the UAE Cabinet.

The FDI Law now allows up to 100% foreign ownership in more than 122 economic activities across 13 sectors including, transport and storage, agriculture, space, manufacturing industry, renewable energy, hospitality and food services, among others. These sectors will offer new economic opportunities for international investors to explore in the UAE, particularly for projects involving e-commerce logistics, research laboratories, advancement in biotechnology, logistics and supply chain, production of solar panels, hybrid powerplants and green technology.

The refreshed list of privileges for companies established under the new FDI Law are extensive and includes treatment as local companies, as well as the removal of restrictions on repatriation of profits and any proceeds from liquidation or sale of a business. Employees of FDI companies can now transfer their salaries, indemnities and entitlements outside the UAE. In addition, FDI companies are guaranteed the confidentiality of technical, economic, financial information, including investment initiatives. There are now no restrictions on the sale of a business, admission of new shareholders or change of legal form and structure.

In addition to the FDI Law, the UAE published two major laws in 2016 that will have a direct impact on the creation of a comprehensive legal and regulatory regime for the operations of corporations. These include the UAE Federal Law No. 9 of 2016 on bankruptcy (the “Bankruptcy Law”) and UAE Federal Law No. 20 of 2016 on the pledge of movable assets as a guarantee for debts (the “Law on Pledge of Movable Assets”).

The Bankruptcy Law deals mainly with the various structures for bankruptcy and liquidation of assets for distressed corporations, including restructuring and composition procedures. Meanwhile, the Law on Pledge of Movable Assets allows the pledge of certain movable assets (such as bank accounts, stocks, trade documents, equipment etc…) by corporations and the establishment of a special register to handle the registration of such pledges in favor of third parties. This law, in particular, is of extreme importance as it gives a lot of flexibility to corporations and allows them to secure proper funds while guaranteeing the financing parties’ rights.

Further and in November 2019, the UAE Cabinet passed a new Federal law No 19 of 2019 on Insolvency of Natural Persons that applies to debtors that are not subject to the Bankruptcy Law. This new law applies to individuals who are in default of payment or facing difficulties in meeting their financial obligations. it is expected that the Insolvency Law will increase transparency in the dealings between financial institutions and individuals and address situations of defaults in a way that will enable all parties to safeguard their rights.

All of the above laws combined have created an overall framework to regulate the environment under which companies in the UAE are operating and have considerably elevated the maturity and complexity of commercial transactions, as well as prospects of new and innovative investments. This will also complement the efforts that are being pursued on other fronts, such as the development of world-class regulations for the protection of intellectual property rights, fighting cybercrime, promoting fintech initiatives and reinforcing the partnership between free zones and local authorities.

There is no doubt that the creation of such a strong legal framework for commercial companies will positively impact the growth of foreign investments in Dubai, helping create an optimal environment that enables the growth of the local economy and supports the diversification of its main contributing sectors.

Ashurst advises Sydney Metro on the Waterloo Metro Quarter

International law firm Ashurst has advised Sydney Metro on their contracts with the John Holland and Mirvac joint venture on the new Waterloo Metro Quarter integrated station development.

The development will revitalise the area and better connect the community, and is made up of five building envelopes above and adjacent to the new Waterloo metro station.

Ashurst advised Sydney Metro on both the station and precinct development contracts.

Lead partner Olivia Lau commented: “Ashurst is delighted to have advised Sydney Metro on the Waterloo Metro Quarter, a project that will revitalise Waterloo and connect local communities. We are very proud to be involved in such a transformational project.”

Olivia was assisted by partner Alex Guy, counsel Melinda Harris, Ben Kipic and Sarah Southall, senior associates Susannah Lace and Andrew Higgins, and lawyers Codie Gippel, Marya Atmeh, Rhiannon Evans, Lachlan Mack, Cameron Griffiths, Joshua Lee, Chloe Kwon and Joyce Teng.

Lawyers from the firm’s tax, dispute resolution, environment and planning, and corporate teams also advised.

Dentons Boekel migrates name and brand to Dentons

The partners of Dentons Boekel have decided to transition the name to Dentons, with effect from January 1, 2020. Dutch law firm Boekel combined with Dentons in 2017.

“Dentons Boekel has had a rich legacy of serving clients for more than 60 years in the Dutch market. We are delighted to have benefited from the brand and goodwill and are excited about Dentons’ next chapter in the Netherlands,” said Elliott Portnoy, Global Chief Executive Officer of Dentons.

“Connecting our new talent to colleagues and clients around the world is a key element of our global strategy,” said Joe Andrew, Global Chair of Dentons. “As the partners of Dentons Boekel have decided to transition from Dentons Boekel to Dentons, we are remarkably pleased with the success of the combination in the Netherlands, which is just one example of the uptick we are experiencing across so many of our markets around the world.”

Since joining Dentons in May 2017, the Amsterdam office has doubled in revenue growth. It has grown from 16 to 29 partners, adding new teams, and/or significantly enhancing capabilities in Banking and Finance, Corporate and M&A, Energy, Private Equity, Intellectual Property and Technology, Tax and Real Estate.

Wendela Raas, Managing Partner in Amsterdam said: “We are delighted by the way this combination has played out, which is one of the reasons we decided to transition the name to Dentons at this time. We are fully committed to Dentons’ vision to always be the law firm of the future and look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues around the world under the Dentons brand.”

“The last two years have been transformative for our Amsterdam office,” said Marien Glerum, Benelux Managing Officer at Dentons. “Not only have we attracted top talent and strengthened our service offering, but we have also gained numerous new client relationships. At the same time, our existing clients have benefitted from the unmatched global coverage of the world’s largest law firm.”

Dentons has more than 100 lawyers in the Netherlands, and employs more than 10,000 lawyers in 181 locations and 73 countries around the world.

Latham & Watkins launches new LiveWell Center in Los Angeles

Latham & Watkins LLP today opened the LiveWell Center, the firm’s new on-site health center in its Los Angeles office, managed by Johns Hopkins Medicine. The new center expands the firm’s market-leading well-being platform — LiveWell Latham — which, for over a decade, has provided innovative physical and mental well-being programs designed to meet the unique needs of its personnel.

“I’m thrilled to see the center launch in Los Angeles and proud to be the first law firm in the country with an on-site health center managed by the prestigious Johns Hopkins,” said Larry Seymour, Office Managing Partner in Los Angeles. “This is an important and exciting milestone and is further testament to our strong commitment to support the well-being of our employees.”

The LiveWell Center provides a variety of medical and preventive services such as acute care for minor illnesses and injuries, screenings, flu shots, travel immunisations, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, and blood work. The new center will also provide counseling and well-being coaching, chronic disease prevention and management, and physical therapy.

“While many on-site clinics focus primarily on acute care, we intentionally expanded our services to include preventive care, chronic disease management, mental health counseling, and physical therapy,” said Annette Sciallo, Director of Global Benefits & Well-Being at Latham & Watkins. “It’s about removing barriers to care and making it easy for our lawyers and staff to focus on their health proactively.”

These expanded services complement the ongoing programs of LiveWell Latham, the firm’s global health and well-being program, including concerted efforts across the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia around mental health, resilience, diabetes prevention, ergonomics, and other areas.

Latham’s Chief Operating Officer LeeAnn Black added: “The LiveWell Center is the latest innovation in our decade-long journey to foster and support a culture of well-being across the firm. The health and well-being of our people remains a top priority for Latham, and we are committed to investing in best-in-class resources that help them thrive.”

LiveWell Center services are available to all lawyers and staff in the firm’s downtown Los Angeles offices, as well as those visiting on firm business — with nearly all services being free of charge.

Johns Hopkins Medicine manages the LiveWell Center in adherence with Johns Hopkins medical protocols. The experienced clinical team is led by an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner and includes two well-being counselors, two physical therapists, and a Registered Nurse.

The firm plans to open a second LiveWell Center with Johns Hopkins in New York when the office relocates to 1271 Avenue of the Americas in 2020.

About LiveWell Latham

LiveWell Latham, the firm’s global health and well-being program, launched in 2010 and promotes health, safety and overall well-being for Latham attorneys and staff across the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Our initiatives range from customised resilience and mindfulness programs to bespoke mental health trainings; diabetes prevention to executive health; cancer support to telemedicine; and ergonomics assessments by over 100 in-house trained ergonomics specialists. The firm also runs an annual “Spring Challenge,” entering its 12th year, in which approximately 100 team leaders across the firm lead their offices in a Fitbit-based physical activity competition. These efforts are led by a long-standing dedicated and experienced well-being team focused on the development and implementation of the firm’s innovative program.

Pinsent Masons bolsters its Trade Group in Düsseldorf

Pinsent Masons continues to expand its Competition, EU & Trade Group, with the appointment of competition law specialist, Prof. Dr. Hans Jürgen Meyer-Lindemann, as a partner in the Düsseldorf office.

Regarded as one of the leading competition practitioners in Germany, he joins from Dechert, where he was a senior partner. Hans Jürgen’s focus will be on clients within the Advanced Manufacturing & Technology (AMT) sector, including Life Sciences.

Hans Jürgen’s work includes handling high-profile merger control cases before the European Commission and national competition authorities; major cartel investigations in a variety of industries; and numerous litigation matters concerning both public and private enforcement before local and district courts, Germany’s Federal Supreme Court and the European courts.

Commenting on Hans Jürgen’s appointment, Alan Davis, Head of Competition, EU & Trade at Pinsent Masons said: “We are delighted to welcome Hans Jürgen to the Competition, EU & Trade Group. Hans Jürgen will work closely with the Head of our German Competition Team, Michael Reich in Munich. His outstanding reputation, track record and wealth of experience in German and EU competition law significantly strengthens our pan-European competition law practice advising on complex merger and anti-trust cases.”

Head of the Advanced Manufacturing & Technology (AMT) sector, Florian von Baum added: “Across the AMT sector, we are seeing more disputes with a competition law background and Hans Jürgen’s expertise means that we can support our clients as their needs develop and change. His skillset, knowledge and experience will enable us to deepen our ability to offer high quality competition law advice across the sector and I look forward to working with Hans Jürgen.”

His appointment follows the appointment of Robert Vidal, formerly head of Taylor Wessing’s UK competition team, in the Competition, EU & Trade Group in London and brings the number of partners in the Group across the UK and Germany to nine. The team is currently advising on EU, UK and German antitrust enforcement investigations in the pharmaceutical, financial services, construction and manufacturing sectors, as well as mergers and market investigations. The team is also advising on a variety of competition litigation matters, including follow-on and stand alone damages claims.

Norton Rose names Andrew Robinson as its new Global Chair

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright today announced that Andrew Robinson has become its Global Chair, effective January 1, 2020.

Andrew is also the firm’s South African Chair and, until recently, the head of its Cape Town office. He has practiced transport law for more than 30 years and has a diverse practice which encompasses both the commercial and litigation aspects of transport and logistics, including: shipping, rail, claims recovery, admiralty, marine insurance, charterparty, oil and gas, international trade, maritime casualty response, subrogated recoveries and marine environmental law. In that time, he has been involved in some of the largest and most complex shipping litigation matters on behalf of both local and foreign clients.

The Global Chair position is for a period of one year. Andrew takes over from Walied Soliman, whose term as Global Chair expired by rotation on December 31, 2019. Walied continues as Chair of Norton Rose Fulbright in Canada.

Peter Martyr, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Chief Executive, said: “The appointment of Andrew Robinson to the role of Global Chair for Norton Rose Fulbright demonstrates the importance of our African business to the development of the global firm.

In addition, Andrew is an internationally recognised leader in shipping and marine insurance, and this experience will be invaluable as we look to grow our transport practice this year.

I would like to thank Andrew’s predecessor, Walied Soliman, for his contribution to the firm during his year as Global Chair.”

Andrew Robinson, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Chair, said: “I am honoured to be appointed to the Global Chair role. The firm has ambitious and exciting plans for this year, and I look forward to playing an active role in the delivery of these.”