News from the IBA - June 2011

  Nobel Peace Prize winner ElBaradei to speak at 2011 IBA Annual Conference

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Mohamed ElBaradei will deliver the keynote speech at this year’s IBA Annual Conference in Dubai, it has been announced.

A seasoned diplomat, Dr ElBaradei served three terms as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an autonomous intergovernmental organisation under the auspices of the UN. He is a staunch advocate of nuclear disarmament, and promotes open and fair standards for the development of nuclear technology.

In October 2005, Dr ElBaradei and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts ‘to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way’.

In early 2011, Dr ElBaradei emerged as a high-profile opposition figure in the Egyptian protests that culminated in Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. He continues to be a voice for change in Egypt’s march toward democracy, calling for open dialogue, transparent legal standards and respect for human rights.

The IBA Annual Conference will take place from 30 October to 4 November 2011. It is the opportunity for legal professionals from around the world to meet and discuss key developments across multiple jurisdictions. Register before 29 July to receive the early registration discount

 


Live IBA webcast with Peter Rees, Legal Director of Royal Dutch Shell

The IBA’s first live webcast of 2011, on 24 May, featured an interview and Q&A with Peter Rees QC, Legal Director of Royal Dutch Shell. The interview was conducted by award-winning journalist James Lewis, the IBA's Director of Content.

In his role as Legal Director, Rees is a member of the Executive Committee and has ultimate responsibility for the Shell global legal function. Formerly a partner at Norton Rose and Debevoise and Plimpton, he is a chartered arbitrator and an accredited adjudicator and mediator. Currently, he is a member of the Council of the International Chamber of Commerce UK, the European Council of the London Court of International Arbitration and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

The hour-long interview was in-depth and wide-ranging, covering such diverse topics as the challenges facing the energy sector, the increasingly powerful role of the general counsel and the developing sector of corporate social responsibility, particularly following BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster.

To watch a recording of the webcast, visit tinyurl.com/IBAfilms.


Social media and the law

Online social networking has entered the legal profession and is here to stay. From journalists tweeting in courtrooms to lawyers searching Facebook for evidence, online social networks are significantly affecting traditional legal practices across the globe.

This is an issue that has been covered extensively in IBA content. See, for example, The In-House Perspective, the sister publication to IBA Global Insight: tinyurl.com/ IHPsocialnetworks

The IBA Legal Projects Team is currently conducting a survey to analyse the impact of online social networking on the legal profession. The survey's principal aim is to determine if there is a need for written guidelines to standardise the use of online social networking by members of the legal profession.

Social media and the IBA

The IBA is currently changing the way it delivers news and information to improve user experience for both members and non-members. The website is constantly evolving and gives members the ability to exchange ideas on a wide range of topics via comment platforms and discussion forums. The IBA is now also on Twitter, the social networking website, allowing users to share short messages and keep up–to-date with the latest news, features and events. Follow the Association at twitter.com/IBAnews.

Anyone with ideas on how the IBA could develop further in this area is invited to contact Tim Licence, the IBA’s Head of Production, Web and Design, at tim.licence@int-bar.org.


South Africa invited to form ‘BRICS’ grouping
Ruth Collins

Following its successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2010 last summer, South Africa has had much to celebrate. In December, the coveted BRIC group opened its doors to South Africa and invited the country to a meeting in Hainan in April. The decision has been met with some criticism, but the invitation to become the ‘S’ in ‘BRICS’ highlights the country’s growing importance on the world stage.

Peter Leon, a partner at Webber Wentzel in Johannesburg and Co-Chair of the IBA Mining Law Committee, says there is a clear strategy behind the invitation: ‘I think that China’s invitation to South Africa was mainly driven by the fact that we are by far the largest economy in Africa and that this is really all about mineral resources.

‘South Africa has the largest in situ mineral resources in the world and is by far Africa’s biggest minerals producer. Inviting South Africa to join the BRICS was a shrewd calculation by China to provide it with better access to Africa’s largest economy and biggest minerals producer.’

According to recent estimates by the Standard Bank Group, bilateral trade between China and Africa is set to exceed US$110bn in 2011 and reach some US$300bn by 2015. With US$373bn GDP, South Africa is Africa’s largest economy and is an obvious choice for the BRIC group to gain a foothold in Africa and further expand its global footprint.

Leon believes there is no mistaking why the country has been chosen as the next pit stop on the emerging market trail: ‘South Africa is obviously also a gateway to the South African Development Community common market and to Africa in general.’

Read the full article, and further Global Insight web content at: tinyurl.com/iba-brics.


China's top court clarifies rules for private antitrust litigation
Phil Taylor

China's highest court has published a draft interpretation governing civil litigation under the country's anti-monopoly law, bringing the prospect of private suits against foreign companies closer and increasing the pressure on state-owned enterprises.

The draft Provisions on Several Issues Applicable to the Trial of Anti-Monopoly Private Litigation Cases represents the first substantive guidance on the Anti-monopoly Law (AML) to be issued by the Supreme People's Court (SPC). As well as dealing with issues such as the possibility of stand-alone and follow-on actions, burden of proof, standing and time limits, they bring much-needed clarification to the widely drawn legislation.

'Judges are likely to feel more comfortable dealing with private actions after publication of the Supreme People's Court's final judicial interpretation,' said Ninette Dodoo, counsel in Clifford Chance's Beijing office.

Analysts have been warning for some time of the potential for Article 50 actions against foreign multinationals once the Supreme People's Court provided guidance.

'The apparent reluctance of the courts to hear such cases when they involve foreign multinationals as defendants may evaporate,' wrote Mayer Brown JSM antitrust lawyers in a recent note.

But Baker & McKenzie special counsel Chunfai Lui said that the courts may find adjudicating domestic conflicts to be 'an easier task' at present. 'From what I hear on the ground, the courts are actually proceeding with caution and in a conservative manner, so agreeing to take on an antitrust complaint against a foreign company involves high stakes where the latter will arm itself with knowledgeable antitrust counsel,' he said.

Meanwhile, Herbert Smith partner Betty Tam told IBA Global Insight that the new interpretation should not put foreign companies in a riskier position.

'This is not so much a question of law but the economy,' she said. 'Foreign companies may be subject to more scrutiny for merger control, not because they do more merger than domestic companies, but because they are compliant and will do the filing when they need to. As for other monopolistic acts, I struggle to think of which foreign companies are more 'monopolistic' than the big state-owned enterprises in China.'

Read the full article, and further Global Insight web content at: tinyurl.com/iba-china-antimonopoly.

 

 

 

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