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Sunday, 30 October 2011

EU contract law threatens English legal profession

Here's an interesting take on the proposed EU contract law, from Alex Aldridge in The Guardian: English law's hegemony in international contracting would be compromised if the civil law-common law hybrid came into operation. Civil lawyers - that's lawyers from civil law countries, not simply well-mannered ones, though they are probably that too, most of them at least - appear to be rubbing their hands with glee.Should we be worried, or will this only hit a few large City firms who can take it? I think we should be worried, for the impact on Britain's balance of payments and standing in the legal world: fewer disputes would come to England for resolution in the courts or before arbitrators as well as lawyers being consulted yet. English law, and English legal education, remains a gold standard internationally, which is how I find myself tutoring Russian students reading for external London University law degrees.

The advantages of an EU contract law seem pretty nebulous. I rather like Ken Clarke's comment that the best solution to the problems of dealing with 27 different national laws is unlikely to be to create a 28th system. As for the interests of small businesses trying to trade across national boundaries, this will often be dealt with by appointing agents or distributors - although that tends to negate the advantages of Internet trading. But even if they could make their contracts under a single pan-EU law they'd still face the more troublesome problem of having to engage in litigation in foreign courts if things went wrong. Perhaps the rest of the EU should follow our lead (if they haven't done this already) and make litigation so expensive that it's beyond the reach of ordinary consumers.

The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) Regulations 2011

The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 implement the minimum standards of medical fitness required for diabetes mellitus, as specified in Directive 2009/112/EC of 25 August 2009 and Directive 2009/113/EC of the same date. They amend the medical standards applicable for driver licensing of applicants and licence holders with diabetes, set out in the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999. They also amend the terms in which diabetes is prescribed as a relevant disability for the purposes of section 92(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, so that a person with diabetes cannot be granted a licence; and for the purposes of section 92(4)(b) of that Act, by which an applicant can be granted a conditional licence.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

More antitrust trouble ahead for parts makers in US

According to Automotive News, investigations in the US into price-fixing in the car parts market have already led to a $200 million fine for Furukawa Electric Co and gaol for three of its executives. That case involved wire harnesses: it is expected that the investigation will look into the supply of other parts, too. Even bigger fines, and more gaol sentences, are likely.
As in the UK system, co-operation with the authorities can secure immunity from prosecution or from civil penalties, and parts suppliers seem to be engaged in an unseemly race to assist the Department of Justice. Wiring harness manufacturers are handing over information about price-fixing in other sectors.
In Europe, the Commission has carried out dawn raids on TRW Automotive and Lear Corp.
In the US, fines for price-fixing are up to $100 million or twice the profit made on the products - and in this case the DoJ is assuming a profit margin of 10 per cent.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Employment law red tape challenge consultation

The Government has opened a consultation period on employment law as part of its 'Red Tape Challenge' scheme, seeking the public's views on how regulations can be improved, simplified or abolished. Responses are invited on four areas of employment law:
Comments can be made here.

Latest edition - volume 12 number 10 (July-August 2011)

The latest edition went out some time ago. Here are links to the original source material for most of the stories in it:

Consumer rights directive adopted

The Consumer Rights Directive was described in the latest edition of the newsletter, so I won't repeat it all here - but I will tell you that it has now been formally adopted and Member States have two years in which to implement it. You can read it here if you can stand the excitement.