22 Mar 2008

Updates till 20th March

Well firstly, the gone 20th March marks the third completed month of this blog. On its attainment of second straight month of posting we had promised a number of new features on the blog. We have begun with most of them with the Featured Article section running and getting good responses and also with our Expert's Corner hosting its maiden article as of now but looking forward for interesting and intriguing posts. We no doubt have become a bit slow in putting content on the blog, which primarily relates to all of our bloggers collectively having gone in hibernation from posting being bogged down by immensly busy and tight schedules. Nonetheless we continue to bring you stuff from around the world as usual.

This week (actually a fortnight since the last update) we have a number of interesting updates from around the world but then this time lots of them from
India. So let us being with the most interesting ones first.
News from the Indian legal front
What we have to offer to you, most exclusive I believe, is the immense shake-up to the law firm arena in India. The merger of two major Tax law firms of India; 'Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan' an indirect tax primer and 'Vaish & Associates' a leading direct tax practice. Coming up together, they together would constitute the largest tax law firm in India (even overshadowing the Big Four) and also incidently becoming the second largest firm in India, catering to IPR and corporate arena besides dominating the Direct and Indirect taxes front. A steady sign of the Indian law firm culture strengthening and preparing itself for the eventual entry of foreign law firms in India, we expect more such deals to come through in this arena. [click here to read more]

Then in a sort of continuation to one of our posts on Bayh Dole Act (of the United States), the same legislation is sought to be introduced in India. SpicyIP reports the recent coverage of the issue in Indian press and around. A nice update.

In another update from SpicyIP, covering the recent feud between Bajaj and TVS on an alleged patent violation claim by Bajaj against TVS, an interesting insight has been offered by the author on the criteria for determining an infringement, delineating technical dimensions and appraising them in legal paraphernalia. An interesting dissection of the case. [click here to read more]

As you all probably we aware of, in the recent budget presentation, the Finance Minister had waived the debt of the farmers [click here for our coverage of budget and details of this move]. However this en blank waiver has brought in furore from economists from all over the country calling this as an ill-considered and non-starter move. What we update you now is the challenge which has been filed against this move in the Supreme Court by a public interest litigation. The law-and-other-things blog has made an excellent coverage of this update looking not only at the legal dimensions of the problem but also the economic and financial implications of the decision on either side. [click here for the analysis]

Then a good news for the Indian legal system which is crumbling under its own weight. The Government of India has doubled its outlay on the judicial system. Increasing the allocation in the Tenth Financial Plan and earmarked for the modernization of the judicial system, an outlay of Rs. 700 crores has been allocated for this purpose. [click here to read more]

A hot topic in the United States, 'private equity' [click here to see how much] has now come to haunt Indian capital markets. To introduce the underlying basis of 'private equity', they are more like mutual funds except for the fact that contribution to these funds is by a closed group of people who come together to pool in resources and allow a hired manager to invest this pool in a quest for higher returns. This post by a fellow-blogger gives an account of the movement abroad to bring private equity within the scope of regulation and then comes upon to give an insight on the action being mulled over by SEBI for the Indian capital markets. An informative read ... [click here for the full post]

Culling out lessons from the controversy surrounding Islamic law's (or Shariah) interaction with the western concepts, this post from the Indian Muslims blog discusses some socio cultural issues prevailing in India and in the light of lessons learned from abroad, looks for a way forward. An interesting stock-taking of political game-play and the plight of an average Muslim in India. [click here for full post]

Then on a related but different topic, we have the update from the Muslim Woman Personal Law Board of India which has unveiled its new model 'Nikahnama'. Suffice is to note the fact that unlike Hindu law (where marriage is a sacrament), in Muslim law marriage is a contract and thus the various formalities and conditions required for a valid contract are required for a valid Muslim marriage. In an attempt to raise the dignity and status of the Muslim women in India, the Board has come out with a model nikahnama which is suggested to be adopted for upcoming marriages such that the rights of the Muslim girls in India could be protected and their status elevated. [click here for more on the topic] [another nice article on new Nikahnama]

Reflecting that IndLaw is coming up as a worthwhile online law resource, the collection of articles on the site is increasing quiet quickly. This week we have the article on Tort law in India (really an unexplored subject) featured on the site. Discussing right from the origin of tortious principles and relating them with the uncodified and case-law based law in India, the article is an interesting yet exhaustive narration of the Tort law of India. A collector's item.
Covering the world legal news
As the allied forces (read US) occupation of Iraq completes five years, a number of articles have been written on the issue. What we bring to you (after a selection from a host of them) is the one culling out the implications and lessons this gives to us in our quest for understanding and improving the international law on this aspect. A nice reading ... [click here for the article]

Then we had the presentation of the Budget in the UK Parliament by Chancellor Alister Darling on 12th March. While a number of expected moves have not been formalized in the present budget, overall it was described a 'boring' by the press. Instead of passing our own comments on the same, we simply pass you on through the various proposals in the instant budget. [click here for details]

Then we also have the Annual report from the European Commission (the informal formal executive of the European Community) wherein its action for the year gone by (2007) have been summarized and the direction for the upcoming year narrated. Divided into a number of interesting and intriguingly familiar chapters, overall its a nice stock-taking effort made by the Commission. [click here for the full report]

On the corporate tax law front, the EU has come up with a Taxation paper (titled 'Corporate Tax policy and incorporation in EU') which discusses the key issue facing the harmonization of direct taxes (since indirect taxes have almost been harmonized under the VAT Directive) which notably comes out in the paper as the declining corporate tax to
GDP ratios. Overall a gloomy insight.

As we had pointed out in an earlier post, Sovereign Wealth Funds have really become a hornet's nest for the developed nations. Considering their geo-political and economic might, various reactions have already set on way. The United States Senate Committee on Finance has come out with a proposal to tax these SWFs. [click here for more] However a fellow blogger offers a much more comprehensive analysis of the issue; 'Taxing Sovereign Wealth Funds'. An interesting discussion of the issues involved. Then to add to the variety, we have the official view of the Bank of England (the central bank of UK) on the role played by SWFs and the implications of their association in the balance of world financial systems. [click here for an update of the existing law on taxation of SWF in US]

And though 9/11 has been long written off in the history books, we still have massive movements in the national security policies across the globe. While the US is coming up with the trial of those involved in the 9/11 attacks (and facing with the dilemma whether to give them death penalty and avenge the deaths or not to give them death lest they be called martyrs), the UK is not far behind in its tentative movement from being the most watched country to be being the most fearful country. Recently the UK Prime Minister Mr. Gordon Brown released the new National Security Strategy citing the need to secure life of the British citizens as the first and paramount priority. Since the declaration of the 2001 policy being in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights, UK has been grappling with a significant power crisis on the issue. It is hoped that the new Strategy will survive the ECHR onslaught. [click here for the press release and for full strategy document]

In a ruling which might turn out to have huge implications for popular video hosting sites such as YouTube, Google Videos etc., a French Court has held google liable for not doing enough to prevent the viewing of a copyrighted broadcast. The producer of a documentary called ‘Tranquility Bay' sued Google for alleged violation of French law (Confidence in Digital Environment, French Act of 21 June 2004) as a broadcaster not taking precautions for violation of copyrighted content which was posted on the Google Video medium by various subscribers. [click here to read more]

These couple of posts, which we will not technically describe as updates, are an interesting background material for one and all following constitutional law. This week we offer two posts on 'originalism': a method of interpretation of constitution, which is yet unknown to the Indian legal jurisprudence. This first post comes up with a definition and nuances of what originalism implies. Then this second post from Concurring Opinions mocks at the relevance of this idea of originalism in today's dynamically changing world. The two together give an interesting insight into the issue. [click here for another critique of originalism]

In this background of originalism, we have the interview of all United State Supreme Court judges, wherein they bring out their beliefs and reflections on Constitution and the general legal polity. An investment worth pondering over. [click here for the videos and here for an interesting account on them]

Then this is one proposal, which if goes through, will take away a lot of charm from litigation in the United States. It is well known (thanks to the much publicized criticism of the same and John Grisham novels) that Jury selection is an essentially important pre-trial process of litigation in the United States. In trials by jury, both the parties have the right to object/challenge the selection of members of public called forth for jury duty. Despite being a stage of a law trial, this area is replete with the services offered by psychologists, behavioural analysis etc. whose basic purpose is to find a moderate (if not favourable) jury for their side. However this post makes out a case as to why and how this 'peremptory challenge' process should be abolished. If this goes through, the implications for the US jury trial system will be enormous. [click here for the proposal]

And if you thought that UN as a political arbiter of the world, WTO as the primer of international trading system was not enough, this interesting post argues for an international executive in the wake of the recent financial crisis. Remember that it good a great depression and two world wars to establish the first financial international institutions (the Bretton Woods institutions, that is). So why not an international executive to lead the world out of the surging financial crisis. A fanciful insight I would say.

We also have the third (and probably the final) Working Paper from the OECD on how to measure government performance. In line with the recommendation in the First Working Paper to make a comprehensive data classification and analysis framework on six key variables: revenues; inputs; public sector processes; outputs; outcomes; and antecedents or constraints that contextualize government efficiency and effectiveness, this Working Paper comes out with data classification and analysis on the above variables for all the member countries of the OECD and comes out with an understanding on the quality of governance and like. A worthwhile research base.

For non-starters on the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the ongoing turbulent financial times, we have this Report from the UK Treasury which takes into account the situations wherein the problem started, gives an analysis of the existing financial position the world is grappling with and specific reports and coverage on the various parties responsible for it to conclude with key recommendations and suggestions to deal with the situation. A collector's item, again.

Then we have this, definitely not connected to law in any way, but then we could not avoid the temptation to cover it. When the entire stock markets in the world are up for a turbulent ride, this post from the Indian Stock Market blog culls out the basic checks which an investor must perform before investing in a company. Though involving technical stuff, the language is lucid and simple enough for even a lay man to come to terms with pros in the field. [click here for the post]

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