February 2011 Client Alerts

March 1, 2011

Authored by: Jeannie Osborne

CPSC Opens Business Registration for New Consumer Product Safety Information Database

The new Consumer Product Safety Information Database is now available online on a trial basis, and will launch officially in March at www.SaferProducts.gov.  The Database allows a broad range of people to file so-called “reports of harm” informing the CPSC about an incident or concern that the submitter believes is an indication a product is unsafe or potentially hazardous.  To read more the database, please click here to see the Alert published by the Retail Team on February 3, 2011.

IRS Reverses Course — Breast Pumps and Other Lactation Supplies are Now Deductible Medical Expenses Subject to Reimbursement under FSAs, HRAs and HSAs

In Announcement 2011-14, the Internal Revenue Service concluded that breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation are medical care under Section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code and can therefore be reimbursed under a health flexible spending arrangement.  To learn more about this announcement, please click here to read the Feburary 22, 2011 Alert published by the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Client Service Group.

Patent Reform Act of 2011

On January 25, 2011, The Patent Reform Act of 2011 was introduced by Senator Leahy (D-VT) with bipartisan support.  The Bill is the latest installment of Congress’ attempts to pass patent legislation reform, following the Patent Reform Act of 2009 and other bills in recent years, all of which died in Congress.  To learn more, please click here to read the February 22, 2011 Bulletin published by the Intellectual Property Client Service Group.

Wide-Open House Budget Debate Moves Toward Finish Line

The House continues to work towards completing a major budget bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year.  Of the hundreds of amendments which have been offered and voted upon, major energy and environment-related amendments would reverse a law that requires the federal government to pay the legal costs of some environmental plaintiffs, de-fund the White House climate czar’s office, prevent an EPA appeals board from revoking air permits for oil exploration in the Arctic, and de-fund the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions registry.  To read more about the proposed amendments and other energy updates, please click here to see the February 18, 2011 Energy Update.

New Libyan Sanctions

Following on the heels of the Executive Order issued by President Obama on 25 February 2011 blocking property and prohibiting certain transactions relating to Libya, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1970 (2011), calling, among other things, for an asset freeze in respect of all funds, financial assets and economic resources of Muammar Qadhafi and his children.

IRS Announces New Off-Shore Voluntary Disclosure Program with August 31, 2011 Deadline

On February 8, 2011 the Internal Revenue Service announced a voluntary disclosure initiative designed to bring offshore money back into the U.S. tax system and to help people with undisclosed income from hidden offshore accounts become current with their taxes.  To learn more about this Program, please click here to read the February 2011 Bulletin published by the Tax Advice and Controversy Client Service Group.

The California Supreme Court Rules That Asking for Zip Codes Violates Consumer Privacy Law

Retailers may not legally ask a customer to provide a zip code in the course of a credit card transaction, the California Supreme Court ruled earlier this month.  The decision reverses an earlier appellate court ruling that the practice does not violate state law.  To read more about this decision, please click here for the Feburary 11, 2011 Alert published by the Retail Team.

FTC Indicates That Financial Institutions May Be Liable For Customers’ Inadequate Security

On February 3, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a series of settlements with companies that sell credit cards to mortgage brokers for the purpose of determining consumers’ eligibility for credit.  The FTC’s complaints allege that the clients of these businesses lacked “basic security measures . . . such as firewalls and updated antivirus software.”  To learn more about the FTC’s announcement, please click here to read the Bulletin published by the Consumer Protection Group on February 8, 2011.

The Second Circuit Rejects “Gifting” Strategy by a Senior Secured Creditor Class and Sends a Warning to Strategic Claim Traders

In Dish Network Corp. v. DBSD N. Am., Inc., the Second Circuit issued a ruling that sends two very important messages to parties involved in chapter 11 restructurings.  First, the Second Circuit enforced the absolute priority rule in favor of an unsecured creditor who opposed a debtor’s plan that was premised on a “gifting” strategy, where a secured creditor left value behind for the benefit of the equity holders even though unsecured creditors were not paid in full.  Second, and perhaps more importantly, the Second Circuit ruled that a competitor of the debtor that bought a large claim was properly denied the right to vote on the claim because it did so for an improper “ulterior motive.”  To read more about this ruling, please click here to read the Alert published February 15, 2011 by the Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Creditors’ Rights Client Service Group.

New National Security Review Could Add Another Regulatory Hurdle for Mergers and Acquisitions in China

On February 3, the General Office of the PRC State Council promulgated a new notice that will increase government regulation on the mergers and acquisitions of Chinese domestic companies by foreign investors.  For key aspects of this Notice, please click here to read the February 24, 2011 International Regulatory Bulletin.

Downsizing in the UK

When a company reorganises its business, it may need to dismiss employees by making them redundant.  For an introduction to UK redundancy legislation and practice, please click here to see the February 2011 Briefing published by the Labour and Employment Client Service Group, London.

UK Bribery Act Stalled

Just as the results of the UK Ministry of Justice Consultation on Guidance About Commercial Organisations Preventing Bribery were due to the published, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed that the UK Bribery Act will not come into force in April 2011 as previously expected.  To learn more about the reasons for the delay, please click here to read the 1 February 2011 International Regulatory Bulletin.

Indemnification for Work from Home

The French Supreme Court determined in a landmark decision dated April l7, 2010 that the employee’s use of his home to carry out his work, at the employer’s request, was an intrusion into his private life, which must be indemnified.  Pursuant to the court’s decision, if an employee accepts the employer’s request to work from home, he is entitled to indemnification for this specific submission, as well as to the reimbursement of expenses resulting from the occupation of his home for professional purposes.  To learn more about this decision, please click here to read the Briefing published by the Labor & Employment Client Service Group on 28 February 2011.

New French Arbitration Law

The French Government published a long-awaited Decree on Friday, January 14, 2011, updating the French arbitration law for the first time since 1981.  The Decree will enter into force on May 1, 2011.  To learn more about the reasons for the update and new rules for domestic arbitration, please click here to read the Briefing published by the Commercial Litigation and International Arbitration Client Service Group on 23 February 2011.