Thursday’s Kiobel v Royal Dutch Shell ruling by the US Supreme Court provides much-needed clarification about the scope of an obscure US law utilised by a growing number of claimants from emerging economies.
The Kiobel case alleged that Shell was complicit in human rights abuses committed in Nigeria in the late 1990s, when activists protesting against the oil industry were hanged by the government. The case was unusual in seeking redress in US courts for a case involving a non-US company and non-US claimants for a crime committed in a non-US jurisdiction. How is this possible? Continue reading »
By Sudip Chaudhuri of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta
India’s Supreme Court has denied Novartis a patent for a cancer drug. Novartis is upset that the judgement will adversely affect innovation.
In this case, the judgement is based upon a simple but powerful idea – and other countries could follow suit. Continue reading »
India’s lawyers will be licking their lips. Just days after the Supreme Court denied the multinational pharmaceuticals group, Novartis, patent protection for its cancer drug, the country’s judges have another case on their hands.
Merck Sharp and Dohme, better known as MSD, has filed a case with Delhi’s High Court claiming that Glenmark, the Mumbai-listed pharmaceutical company, is violating patents on its diabetes drugs, Januvia and Janumet. And in an unusual move – as domestic pharmas rarely take one another on in India – Sun Pharma, has joined the proceedings as a co-plaintiff. Continue reading »
A Dutch court ruled on Wednesday that a Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary, SPDC, was partly responsible for oil pollution in the Niger Delta, but rejected four of the five charges against the Anglo-Dutch group.
It looks like a victory for multinationals trying to limit their exposure to legal claims in far-off countries, and a setback for emerging market activists attempting to bring foreign parent companies to book. Continue reading »
By Naguib Sawiris
Most governments in North Africa acknowledge the role of foreign direct investment in relieving poverty and encouraging economic growth – and in helping countries to respond to the challenges raised by the recent political upheavals in the region.
This is why the behaviour of the Algerian government, in threatening to rip up legal commercial agreements and investment treaties and in targeting one of the country’s largest foreign investors with a campaign of harassment and interference, is so damaging. Its actions could have a devastating impact on the business climate in Algeria and cast a shadow over the investment prospects for the whole region. Continue reading »
Three legal challenges against Shell for pollution charges in the Niger Delta could set precedents for how multinational companies are sued for environmental damages in developing countries. All three inquiries – in the UK, the Netherlands and the US – are being judged in countries other than the one in which damages are said to have occurred.
Shell’s trial in the Netherlands, for which evidence was submitted last week, is thought to be the first time a Dutch company has been brought before a home court to answer charges of environmental damage caused abroad. Continue reading »
By Michael Peel
Alcoa’s settlement of a landmark US lawsuit brought by Bahrain’s state-controlled aluminium company over alleged corruption is a deal that will reverberate around the Gulf – and far beyond the metals industry.
The agreement announced on Tuesday – under which Alcoa will pay Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) $85m – has thrown a fresh spotlight on the commission payments at the heart of a growing number of probes into western multinationals operating in the Middle East. It has also opened the way for other companies to come to The US courts with claims that they have been ripped off by western multinationals involved in bribery. Continue reading »
Costco Wholesale, the US retail giant, has sparked ire in South Korea after opening its outlets in Seoul on two Sundays last month, defying local regulations imposing mandatory closure on big supermarkets for two days a month.
Civic groups already held a big rally in front of one of the retailer’s outlets in Seoul last week, protesting Costco’s flouting of the city’s ordinance to close every other Sunday. They plan to hold frequent demonstrations until the company abides by the controversial regulations restricting their operating hours. Continue reading »
By William Scott-Gall of Kroll
As the judgement in the Boris Berezovsky vs. Roman Abramovich case at London’s Commercial Court has shown (with victory for Abramovich) silent partnerships based on oral agreements can lead to unintended financial and reputational consequences. Abramovich may have won, but he has been forced to disclose uncomfortable details about his business practices, and investors have learnt of the extent to which business in Russia is reliant on krysha or protection. Continue reading »
Roman Abramovich has been declared the winner in his epic British High Court battle with rival oligarch Boris Berezovsky.
But Berezovsky is far from being the only loser. Russian business has suffered another damaging assault on its reputation. By shining a light on the ugly inner workings of Russian capitalism in the 1990s, the trial will serve as a warning to investors doing deals with oligarchs – beware of the past, it may come back and bite you. Continue reading »
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich on Friday won his $6.5bn UK court battle against rival oligarch Boris Berezovsky.
Berezovsky claimed Abramovich betrayed him and bullied him into selling shares in the Sibneft oil company for a fraction of their true value. But the judge rejected his claims of breach of trust and breach of contract. Abramovich denied being Berezovsky’s business partner and breaching any contract with him.
The extraordinary case of Zack Shahin, the ex-chief executive of Deyaar, a Dubai-based real estate company, took a dark turn this week after reports emerged that he had fled to Yemen whilst on bail and was re-arrested there.
“Shahin is still being detained by the security apparatus,” a Yemeni security source, who declined to be named, told Reuters on Sunday. “We expect that the man will be deported to the UAE before the end of the week.”
Shahin was caught up in a corruption investigation that swept across state-linked developers and financial companies before Dubai’s real estate boom imploded. He was released from prison on July 12 after three years of inconclusive trials. Continue reading »
Veritas strikes again. The Canadian investment research firm – known for its scathing criticism of major Indian companies like Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications – has accused real-estate and power group IndiaBulls of poor corporate governance and irregularities in its accounting and financial practices.
The Toronto-based firm released a report last week – titled “Bilking India” – that alleged “select insiders” rather than public shareholders of IndiaBulls benefited from mergers of the group’s infrastructure and power subsidiaries. Continue reading »
When British businessman Safi Qurashi walked from jail in Dubai on Tuesday, he thought his family’s long campaign for his release was complete.
The 43-year-old real estate developer, jailed for seven years for bounced postdated cheques, had been released after a judicial review of his case prompted by a seven-week hunger strike.
Not so fast. Continue reading »
Speculation is ripe that Samsung and Apple may finally bury the hatchet after a year of legal wrangling over technology patents. Both companies said their chief executives will participate in settlement talks in the next three months before their case in California is heard in July.
But with so many disputes between the two companies listed around the world, will a truce in California mark a new peace, or just a temporary halt to hostilities? Continue reading »