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Deal or No Deal, Brexit is a Big Loss for Privilege in the European Union

How will Brexit affect UK in-house counsel who practice in EU courts? Read

Is Your Website at Risk for ADA Litigation in the United States?

Here’s how your company’s website can better accommodate people with disabilities. Read

7 Ways Employers Can Prepare for Violent Attacks

Implementing the right workplace violence policies can help to ensure employee safety. Read

What Employers Should Know About Modern Slavery

Learn what steps your company can take to reduce its risk of contributing to modern slavery. Read

Tech Companies Brace for Regulatory Impact from US-China Trade War

Tightening US export controls will impact emerging technologies and business with China. Read

In Brief

Today's Top Story

Brexit Deal Leaves Companies in Limbo Over Data Flows

The United Kingdom and the European Union just reached a new Brexit deal, but companies have been left in the dark about how they should handle the movement of personal data out of the bloc and into the United Kingdom. Under the terms of the tentative deal, the United Kingdom has until the end of 2020 to reach an agreement with the European Union on data transfers and protection, according to Bloomberg (17 October, Drozdiak). The current EU data protection policy, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), penalizes violators with fines of up to 4 percent of annual sales. Until the end of 2020, the United Kingdom will operate under a system recognizing its data protection policy as in harmony with Europe's. But experts warned there could be complications ahead. UK data-collection practices for national security purposes are likely to come under heavy scrutiny during a review process that may take years, lawyers have said.

From "Brexit Deal Leaves Companies in Limbo Over Data Flows"
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Legal Actions

Turkey's Halkbank Faces US Charges as Tensions Mount

US prosecutors filed an indictment Tuesday in Manhattan federal court alleging that Turkey's government-owned Halkbank participated in a scheme to violate prohibitions on Iran's access to the US financial system. US Attorney Geoffrey Berman alleged that Halkbank's wrongdoing extended to the upper echelons of the bank's management as well as high-ranking government officials in Turkey and Iran, reports Bloomberg (15 October, Farrell, Berthelson). Shares in the bank fell 7.4 percent in the aftermath of the indictment filing, while the Turkish lira fell almost 1 percent. US officials speaking anonymously said there is a chance Turkey might perceive the attack as politically motivated given the recent tensions over Turkey's aggression in Syria. Two people, including a senior Halkbank executive, were previously convicted in the case, which led to the airing in a Manhattan courtroom of many of Halkbank’s activities. At that time, Turkish President Recep Erdogan blasted the investigation as an "international coup attempt." At the heart of the legal action is the allegation that Turkey helped launder money to Dubai, where it entered the global financial system and was used to help Iran pay its bills.

From "Turkey's Halkbank Faces US Charges as Tensions Mount"
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Regulatory Developments

EU Sets Sights on Apple Pay Over Antitrust Concerns

The European Commission has announced that it plans to study antitrust concerns related to Apple Pay, reports the Financial Times (16 October, McGee, Espinoza). A spokesman for the commission said that it was actively monitoring mobile payment options for anti-competitive behavior, signaling that Apple will face scrutiny from yet another angle in the European Union. It is the latest example of the European Union scrutinizing mobile payment options provided by US tech giants, coming after Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency sparked worries of financial risks. The commission is reportedly investigating whether Apple's Wallet app refuses to carry rival payment methods, reaching out to online payment providers, banks, and app businesses to find out more.

From "EU Sets Sights on Apple Pay Over Antitrust Concerns"
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New ASIC Standards Will Make Organizations More Risk Aware

New standards addressing non-financial risk are expected to improve corporate governance in Australia, reports (17 October). The new regulatory guidelines from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) mean organizations will have to answer for risk stemming from conduct, operational, compliance, and strategic factors more than ever before. The standard covers board structure for monitoring and supervising, risk governance, board and management accountability, reporting and information flows, and risk resourcing, says Karen Den-Toll, a partner in Deloitte's Sydney office. The ASIC effort builds on the premise of the 2019 report by the Royal Commission that examined misconduct in banking, superannuation, and financial services, which deemed every unlawful act as an organizational failure. Although ASIC's initial focus was on seven financial services companies, Australian Securities Exchange-listed entities in every sector should be contemplating a potential review by corporate regulators, says Deborah Latimer, a partner at Deloitte Australia who specializes in corporate governance. She describes the new approach as one of "why not litigate."

From "New ASIC Standards Will Make Organizations More Risk Aware"
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Board/Management Relations

Genesco Recruits New General Counsel

Footwear and accessories company Genesco is set to welcome Scott Becker to serve as its new senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary. Becker, who is replacing Roger Sisson, will officially start at the company on 23 October, according to Corporate Secretary (17 October, Maiden). Becker's most recent position was as general counsel, corporate secretary, and vice president for legal and government affairs at Nissan Group of North America and Latin America. During his time at the company, Becker served on the executive management committee and as a member of the board of Nissan North America, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation, Nissan Canada, and Nissan do Brasil. Genesco Chair, President, and CEO Robert Dennis praised Becker's experience, predicting that he will be a "strategic asset" for Genesco.

From "Genesco Recruits New General Counsel"
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Vulcan Materials Company Names D. Franklin Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Vulcan Materials Company has announced that Denson "D" Franklin III will step into the senior vice president and general counsel position effective 2 December, replacing outgoing general counsel Michael Mills. Franklin, a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, has represented Vulcan as an outside counsel for more than 20 years, according to PR Newswire (17 October). Tom Hill, chairman and CEO of the construction aggregate producer, praised Franklin in a statement. "We are fortunate to bring him in-house to add his experience and perspective from years counseling companies, large and small, on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, compliance, securities issues, and overseas operations," Hill said.

From "Vulcan Materials Company Names D. Franklin Senior Vice President and General Counsel"
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Labor and Employment

Qatar Moves to Announce Abolishment of Kafala System

Al Jazeera (17 October, Ghani) reports that Qatar has promised to abolish its kafala labor system, which sees migrant workers tied to their employers with restricted freedoms. Qatar's Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasir bin Khalifa Al Thani tweeted Wednesday that labor and worker welfare reforms were imminent, pledging to show "full commitment to the fundamental rights relating to labor." Under the kafala system, migrant workers must obtain employer permission before leaving the country or switching jobs. Qatar's labor laws have come under increased scrutiny since the country was chosen to host the 2022 men's World Cup soccer tournament. At the end of the summer, thousands of workers protested working conditions and laws. Protesters said then that they had not been paid for months, that their work permits had not been renewed, and that they were not given permission to switch employers. Amnesty International condemned Qatar's working conditions in September, prompting the government to defend itself in a statement touting its progress and commitment to continued reform.

From "Qatar Moves to Announce Abolishment of Kafala System"
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Saudi Aramco Delays Launch of World's Largest IPO

Saudi Aramco has postponed the launch of its initial public offering (IPO), reports the Wall Street Journal (18 October, Said, Jones), the latest setback for what would be the world's largest-ever stock market listing. The state-oil firm had been preparing to give the green light to proceed with the share sale on 20 October. Now, it is delaying the IPO until at least December or January. Aramco executives reportedly now want to issue a prospectus, then market the IPO in order to better sell the listing to investors. Aramco had already faced investor questions regarding the listing's viability. In a pre-IPO investor meeting with Fidelity Investments, Aramco finance chief Khalid al-Dabbagh didn't provide what fund managers considered standard information, including a deeper understanding of how the company determined its value.

From "Saudi Aramco Delays Launch of World’s Largest IPO"
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J&J Agrees to Settlement Over Pelvic Mesh Devices

CBS News (17 October) reports that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has agreed to a US$117 million multi-state settlement over allegations it deceptively marketed its pelvic mesh products, which support women's sagging pelvic organs. Ohio's attorney general announced yesterday an investigation found the world's largest health products maker violated state consumer protection laws by not fully disclosing the devices' risks. A number of women have come forward claiming the hammock-like devices caused bleeding, infections, and severe pain. The settlement covers 41 states and Washington, DC. It requires the company to fully disclose risks and stop making inaccurate safety claims. J&J was quick to point out that the settlement does not include any admission of guilt.

From "J&J Agrees to Settlement Over Pelvic Mesh Devices"
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Food and Beverage

Anheuser-Busch Accuses MillerCoors of Stealing Recipes

The Associated Press (17 October) reports that Anheuser-Busch is suing MillerCoors over its confidential recipes for Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. Anheuser-Busch claims MillerCoors illegally obtained the recipes through one of its employees, who used to work for Anheuser-Busch. Anheuser-Busch says MillerCoors wanted the recipes because it was planning to retaliate for Anheuser-Bush's Super Bowl ads, which chided MillerCoors for brewing beer using corn syrup. Anheuser-Busch is seeking unspecified damages from MillerCoors. The filing was the latest in a legal battle that began late in this year's first quarter. MillerCoors sued Anheuser-Busch over the corn syrup ad campaign, calling it "false" and "misleading." In September, a federal judge ruled in MillerCoors' favor and ordered Anheuser-Busch to cease using packaging that implies its rival beer contains corn syrup. Anheuser-Busch has filed an appeal.

From "Anheuser-Busch Accuses MillerCoors of Stealing Recipes"
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Economic Outlook

China's GDP Growth to Grind to 27-1/2 Year Low

China is expected to register its weakest economic growth in more than 27 years today, reports Reuters (17 October, Yao), ratcheting up pressure on Beijing "to roll out more stimulus to counter the effects of a costly trade war with the United States. Most analysts believe the scope for aggressive stimulus is limited in an economy already saddled with heavy debt loads following previous easing cycles that have sent residential real estate prices sharply higher. Analysts surveyed by Reuters expect gross domestic product (or GDP) to have grown 6.1 percent in the third quarter versus a year prior, the slowest pace since 1992's first quarter. That would mark a further loss of momentum from the previous quarter's 6.2 percent pace.

From "China's GDP Growth to Grind to 27-1/2 Year Low"
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