Brexit PHOTO

Firms warned transitional deal will mean TWO rounds of business chaos

BRITISH businesses are in fear that they will have to transition twice as the UK leaves the EU, an economist has claimed.

The Prime Minister has said the UK will leave the single market and customs union during the implementation period after March 29 2019.

The EU, however, remains firm that the UK will stay in the institutions until Britain has fully cut ties with the bloc.

Speaking on Bloomberg, Simon French, chief economist at Panmure Gordon warned that businesses in the UK could face having to transition twice during the Brexit process.

He said: “You say a lot has been discussed, I guess one of the surprises of this week is that Theresa May is going to discuss with her cabinet for the first time what they actually see in terms of the end state.

“That’s extraordinary that we are almost 18 months after the referendum and that discussion hasn’t been had at the top of UK politics.

“In terms of your economic question, I think the last few weeks have confirmed my view which is really that the UK will try and replicate as much as it can, the system with regulation with the European Union.

“It will effectively be a rule taker in that regard come the end state.

“The question this week is really on how much during that transition the UK will be able to benefit from a status quo and businesses don’t have to transition twice, and that is the real risk of businesses we are talking to.”

Business has called for certainty to help them prepare for when the UK leaves the European Union.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, the Prime Minister set out what the UK was seeking during the implantation period.

She said: “As I proposed in Florence, during this strictly time-limited implementation period which we will now begin to negotiate, we would not be in the single market or the customs union, as we will have left the European Union.

“But we would propose that our access to one another’s markets would continue as now, while we prepare and implement the new processes and new systems that will underpin our future partnership.

“During this period we intend to register new arrivals from the EU in preparation for our new immigration system.

“And we will prepare for our future independent trade policy, by negotiating and where possible signing trade deals with third countries, which could come into force after the conclusion of the implementation period.”

Queensland law firms lose millions to hackers in ‘sophisticated’ scam

At least two Queensland law firms have lost several million dollars after falling victim to a “highly sophisticated” email scam, prompting an urgent warning from the Queensland Law Society.

Hackers commandeered the email accounts of staff at the law firms by tricking them into revealing their email account login details before hijacking payments from clients.

QLS president Christine Smyth said at least one of the firms that had been hit by the scam was on the Gold Coast, with both legal practitioners and clients having lost out.

“The precise method of attack varies, but the essence is that the criminals obtain access to the firm’s email accounts and use this to misdirect trust money or settlement funds,” Ms Smyth said.

“Some thefts have been of money going to the trust account, others involve money incorrectly paid out.

“Although conveyancing transactions have been hardest hit, any movement of trust funds is at risk.”

Robbins Watson Solicitors managing director and IT expert Andrew Smyth said hackers have been making attempts to access staff email accounts “almost every day” at his workplace.

Mr Smyth described the hackers’ two-step plan.

Phase one.

The first phase sees the scammer email a law firm expressing interest in using their services, a common backstory is that they are buying a house and are interested in conveyancing services.

The hackers continue the conversation until they say they will go ahead and use the firm.

At this point, they send a link to supposed important documents the firm will need. The link is protected and personalised for the specific legal staffer who they have been speaking with and requires them to enter their email address and password to access the documents.

Once the login information has been entered, the scammers have what they came for and the matter goes no further.

Then comes phase two.

The hackers monitor the legal staffer’s email account and watch for information about settlements and payments that need to be made.

When the deadline comes for money to be paid to the firm from the client, the scammer emails the client, posing as the law firm, and reminds them.

However, they change the bank account details where the money needs to be paid to. The hackers give their own desired account instead of the firm’s trust account.

Once the transaction is done, the firm and client are left trying to figure out where the money has gone.

“They are quite cunning. They’re not auto-bots, they are people who speak good English, answer in a convincing away and come with a backstory,” Mr Smyth said.

“There’s a bit of a pattern that you can pick if you have seen these kinds of emails before.

“These emails are coming almost every day now at our firm, just from different people.

“It’s something we talk about with staff on a daily basis, as soon as you are asked for email credentials then pull back.

“But a smaller one-man-band firm with a junior staffer may not be so alert.”

Ms Smyth said the scam was difficult to detect because the source of the emails is trusted, but there are preventative measures that can be taken.

“Firstly, all practitioners must take the measures they can to ensure their email account is secure and stays secure. Recognise that legitimate sites do not request your email credentials,” she said.

“Verify the validity of payment instructions. Funds transfers to bank accounts are the target of this scam.

“When the sums involved are large, some extra security precautions are warranted to verify the banking details you have been provided.

“This can be as simple as telephoning the other law firm (or client as the case may be) and verifying with them the bank account details you have been sent.

“Encourage your clients to call you to verify your trust account details before transmitting funds to your bank account.”

“Let them know that you won’t send them new banking details immediately before settlement.”

A Queensland government spokesman said law firms were not immune to cyber threats.

“All law firms should be vigilant in this area and ensure they take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their data.”

Law firm sues Kushner real estate business for unpaid bills

A law firm that represented senior White House adviser Jared Kushner’s real estate company in court is now suing the company for lack of payment, The New York Daily News reported Sunday.

Corcnicello, Tendler & Baumel-Cornicello filed a lawsuit earlier this month seeking $102,000 for work done in 2014 and 2015. The law firm represented Kushner Companies in dozens of eviction and housing cases, the newspaper reported.

A spokeswoman for Kushner Cos. told the Daily News that the company is “working to resolve this matter.”

Kushner stepped down as CEO of his company earlier this year to go work for President Trump, his father-in-law, in the White House.

Kushner’s properties have come under scrutiny elsewhere. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced in October he was investigating debt collection practices and poor maintenance at several of the company’s properties.

The company also faced scrutiny in May when Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, a principal at the company, mentioned her brother’s service in the Trump administration during a pitch to investors in Beijing.

Three new law firms open in Jersey in a matter of weeks

Formerly of Appleby, Advocates Victoria Myerson, Carly James and Celanne Scally have teamed up to form boutique family law firm Myersons.

Based in Broad Street, the trio are offering services in all aspects of family law including divorce and pre- and post-nuptial agreements, together with matters involving children such as maintenance and contact disputes.

With a core ethos of ‘wellness’, clients will be encouraged to seek counselling, practice mindfulness and make use of other health support services during their family cases.

Formerly a partner at Appleby, Advocate Myerson is also vice-chairman of the Jersey Family Law Association. Advocate James is the current chairman of relationship support charity Relate.

Advocate Myerson said: ‘We are not a high street firm, we are a boutique offering and our independence affords us the opportunity to work in a completely client-focused way.

‘Over my career, I have seen the stress and impact that family disputes can have on clients’ emotional and physical wellbeing and we are dedicated to ensuring cases are dealt with efficiently and sensitively while encouraging clients to access therapeutic and wellness support. We are not fee focused, we are family focused.’

Also a new firm, Nicholls Law in Wharf Street is focusing exclusively on litigation and dispute resolution work.

Founder Advocate Paul Nicholls previously headed the litigation and dispute resolution department at Walkers and has been practising law for 25 years.

The new service, which promises to be accessible, conflict free and relationship based, offers competitive hourly rate charging and flexible fee arrangements where appropriate, including ‘no win no fee’, deferred fee and fixed fee arrangements, with a free initial consultation for every client.

Advocate Nicholls said: ‘I hope to be able to position myself as a credible alternative to many of the existing Jersey law firms. I strongly believe that the Jersey legal market is changing. I also believe that Jersey law firms need to adapt to be able to offer a more affordable, flexible and timely level of services.

‘My aim is to offer an unbeatable combination of accessibility, experience, quality and value. That credibility comes not from the size of the firm, but from my experience, acumen and proven ability in this type of work.’

In addition, specialist family law firm Corbett Le Quesne has been launched in West’s Centre by Advocates Barbara Corbett and Nicholas Le Quesne, both previously at BCR Law (rebranded from Benest Corbett Renouf).

The experienced family lawyers are qualified in both Jersey and England and Wales and able to advise and represent clients in both jurisdictions. Both are also trained in collaborative law and Advocate Corbett is a mediator and arbitrator.

The ethos of the firm is to help people to resolve their family law issues to ensure the best outcome for the clients and their children, working in a constructive, consensual and holistic way and using out-of-court methods wherever possible.

Advocate Corbett said: ‘Nick and I share a desire to help people by providing exceptional service, support, guidance and representation at what can often be one of the most stressful and traumatic periods of their lives. For us, this means being creative in our approach and accessible whenever our clients need us.’

Mobile-based Hand Arendall merging with Panhandle law firm

Alabama law firm Hand Arendall has announced a merger with Florida Panhandle firm Harrison Sale McCloy, creating a new regional firm to be known as Hand Arendall Harrison Sale LLC.

Hand Arendall announced the agreement Wednesday and said it would be effective Jan. 1. Hand Arendall Harrison Sale will have about 85 lawyers, with Alabama offices in Mobile, Birmingham, Fairhope and Athens and Florida offices in Panama City, Destin and Santa Rosa Beach.

According to information provided by the new company, Harrison Sale McCloy founding partner Franklin Harrison will serve as managing lawyer for Florida. Hand Arendall’s managing lawyer, Roger Bates, has been named managing lawyer for the new firm.

Hand Arendall was founded in Mobile in 1941 and has offered services “in all areas of traditional civil practice,” according to company information. Harrison Sale McCloy was founded in 1983 and likewise handles a broad spectrum of legal matters.

According to information released by Hand Arendall Harrison Sale, talks between the two firms began in early 2017.

“In a dynamic and ever developing legal industry, we made a strategic decision to continue to expand westward from our original office in Panama City four years ago,” said Franklin Harrison. “Hand Arendall was strategically exploring an eastward expansion along the Gulf Coast.  After initial meetings and several interviews, we decided to team with Hand Arendall forming a new firm of Hand Arendall Harrison Sale.  It is an exciting next step in the strategic growth plan of both firms.”

Counterfeiting & piracy: How effective is its enforcement in Cameroon?

Cameroon (like most of the other OAPI Countries), has no legislation dealing specifically with counterfeiting and piracy, but the legislators, through various statutes have provided statutory, civil, criminal and administrative remedies. However, Counterfeiting has been majorly dealt by Intellectual Property Law as it directly invokes the Intellectual Property Rights of the aggrieved. For instance, our Trademark law necessitates appropriate action against passing off, which refers to the imitation of marks or goods in order to take advantage of the goodwill of the lawful owner as well as causes confusion among the consumers.

Some of the remedies provided by the Cameroon legal system acting against counterfeiting have been briefly discussed below but only as for trade marks, as carried in the revised Bangui Accord and other broken legislation:

Our Trade Mark law provides civil as well as criminal remedies against infringement of any registered and/or well known trademark. The trade mark law provides administrative remedies, whereby the aggrieved can redress his grievance by seeking intervention from the competent civil court. The law therefore allows the owner of the trade mark to file a suit against infringement. Further, the trademark laws as well as our civil procedure code empowers the court to grant ex-parte injunctions in appropriate cases in order to restraint the infringers from selling counterfeit goods and for discovery of documents or other related evidence. Further, the law provides for civil relief including injunctions, rendition of accounts of profits and delivery up of infringing products for its destruction.

The Trade Mark law provides penalty for applying false trademark and/or trade description, etc. with imprisonment and fines in various amounts

The Cameroon Penal Code sets out punishments for cheating, counterfeiting and possession of instruments for making counterfeits etc. The code’s provisions can be invoked in criminal actions, in addition to the provisions of specific statutes.

For the time being, the laws do not allow holders of specific IP rights such as trademarks, copyright, patents, designs and geographical indications to record their grievances with Customs officials for prompt seizure of counterfeit goods at the port itself.

As the first lines of defence against the cross-border movement of counterfeited/ pirated articles are the National Customs and Border protection authorities, we are hopeful that a Customs law will soon be put in place, to regulate the import and export of goods and this should go a long way to strengthen IP enforcement as it will empower the government to enforce prohibition on the import and export of certain goods to protect Trademarks, Patents, Copyrights, etc. and gives power to the custom officials to confiscate goods imported or exported, unlawfully or illegally.

‘Criminal Remedy’

IP rights are private rights that are mostly enforceable through civil litigation. However, the prevalence of counterfeiting, passing off and piracy along with the economic damage they cause has led to an increased importance of criminal sanctions here. It can be observed that, only few statutes like Trademarks law, the Copyright law, and the Geographical Indications, etc. provide criminal remedies. The punishment varies from 6 months to 3 years of imprisonment and various fines.

Our laws acknowledge this crime as cognizable wherein the police can take action and carry out search and seizure with a court warrant.

Despite having a developing legal framework for anti-counterfeiting in liaison with Police, the mandate of the prevailing law is debilitated by the lax attitude of Police. In addition, Criminal trials become excruciatingly lengthy resulting in heavy backlog of cases for the courts. This has resulted in low conviction rates, thereby reducing the efficacy of criminal remedy sought against counterfeiters.

The Cameroon Penal code acknowledges this crime as cognizable wherein the police can take action and carry out search and seizure with a court warrant/order.

Civil remedies against counterfeiting mostly include injunctions, damages and/or rendition of accounts. The mandate civil remedy is to stop distribution, manufacturing, or retailing of the infringing product or gaining profits from using the pirated product of the rightful owner of the products.

A civil court may even grant ex-parte injunctions while the proceedings are on. Further, the courts have widened their scope in order to deal with a serious issue of counterfeiting and the jurisprudence under this subject is growing as the courts have introduced many interim reliefs under civil remedies through various case laws.

The biggest problem here in defying counterfeiting is the paucity of legal framework and the ever increasing degree of similarity between the genuine and counterfeited products. Therefore, in addition to the existing provisions of civil and criminal laws, it is incumbent upon the government to take up initiatives to educate people about the menace of counterfeiting and its repercussions. The OAPI is working with our Ministry of commerce et seq and are planning Sensitization campaigns can be a vital tool here.

Taking recourse to criminal or civil remedies against counterfeiting depends upon the objective that the Plaintiff seeks to achieve, keeping in view the consequences of the laws. The recourse to civil or criminal remedies provided by appropriate law for an act of counterfeiting should be construed on the basis of the magnitude of the act’s consequences. A criminal action can be an effective remedy to safeguard the interest of general public, especially when the issues of infringement and counterfeiting are growing epidemically.

Likewise, a civil recourse can be taken up where a defendant can be easily identified and is based in a specific established market. The advantage of a civil suit is that the courts can grant an interim injunction along with an Anton Piller order for search and seizure of counterfeit products.

Cameroon has a seemingly growing legal framework for combating counterfeiting and piracy; however, there are gaping holes in the area of enforcement. However, the slow court procedure and laxity on part of Police in matters of counterfeiting, severely handicap any recourse that an aggrieved might take up. Thus, it is utmost important that strong IP laws be supported by equally strong enforcement.

In a nutshell, the following actions are taken here in order to institute raid action:

1. Test purchase obtained, reported to client, obtained confirmation from client that the goods are counterfeit; and
2. Prepare complaint and supporting affidavits, lodge with authorities, liaise with authorities and attend search and seizure operation.

Once the search and seizure operation is complete, the client has an election to proceed civilly and/or criminally. Once the civil and criminal cases are finalised, the goods may be destroyed.