Oil and Natural Gas Production Subject to New Air Rules

On April 17, 2012, the EPA issued new rules targeting potential emissions associated with hydraulically fractured wells.  Other activities at upstream and midstream facilities are also impacted by the new rules.  To learn more about the new requirements to reduce emissions from the oil and natural gas production sector, please click here to read the Alert published by the Environmental and Energy and Natural Resources Client Service Group on May 1, 2012.

Medical Marijuana:  Arizona Law and the Americans with Disabilities Act

While employers have implemented policies to comply with Arizona’s medical marijuana laws, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that could exclude employees who use medical marijuana from protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  To read more about the ruling and the context of the issue considered by the Court, please click here to read the Alert published by the Labor and Employment Client Service Group on May 30, 2012.

Department of Labor Issues Further Fee Disclosure Guidance

On May 7, 2012, the Department of Labor issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2012-02, consisting of 38 questions and answers that clarify some of the issues raised since the issuance of final regulations on participant fee disclosures with respect to designated investment alternatives in individual account plans.  For a discussion of the issues covered, please click here to read the alert published by the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Client Service Group on May 29, 2012.

California Supreme Court Attempts to Clarify Entitlement to Attorneys’ Fees in Wage and Hour Claims

On April 30, 2012, the California Supreme Court issued its ruling in Kirby v. Imroos Fire Protection, a wage and hour matter that had been making its way through the court system since 2007.  In the ruling, the Court attempted to clarify and limit a prevailing party’s entitlement to attorneys’ fees for bringing certain types of wage and hour claims; however, its failure to address a glaring inconsistency with another law essentially nullifies the holding.  To read more about the ruling and how it further muddies the waters as to whether any party will receive fees for break claims, please click here  for the Alert published by the Labor and Employment Client Service Group on May 8, 20012.

Mayday Executive Order Pertaining to Evaders of U.S. Sanctions Against Iran and Syria

An Executive Order was issued May 1, 2012 authorizing the U.S. Treasury to impose sanctions against so-called “Sanctions Evaders.”  The Order authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prohibit “all transactions or dealings . . . in or related to (i) any goods, services, or technology in or intended for the United states [] or (ii) . . . provided by or to United States persons, wherever located” if the transaction or dealing involves a designated foreign person.  The new Order applies to foreign persons who Treasury determines “violated” the U.S. sanctions against Iran or Syria.  For a discussion of the Mayday Executive Order, please click here to read the Memorandum published by the International Trade Group on May 2, 2012 and click here for a follow-up Memorandum published by the Group on May 4, 2012.

The Prosecutorial Misconduct Report in United States v. Stevens And the Fairness in Evidence Disclosure Act of 2012:  Two Strong Steps Toward Open File Discovery

A bill recently introduced in Congress could have a significant impact on how federal criminal cases are prosecuted, broadening the scope of evidence that prosecutors must provide to defendants before trial.   “The Fairness in Evidence Disclosure Act of 2012” was proposed by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in response to reports of prosecutorial misconduct in the prosecution of former Sen. Ted Stevens.  For a discussion of the reforms proposed by the Act, please click here to read an article written by attorneys in the White Collar Defense and Investigations and Public Policy and Government Affairs groups and published in The United States Law Week on May 8, 2012.

Does Your Chosen Jurisdiction Clause Extend to the Arbitration Agreement?

It is rare for an agreement to state expressly which law will be applicable to the arbitration clause because the clause is part of the agreement.  It has been accepted in many cases that the arbitration clause is governed by the same law as the main agreement.  However, this approach seems to be changing with more case law suggesting that the arbitration clause is to be seen as constituting an independent agreement to arbitrate, subject to the law of the chosen seat of arbitration.   To read more about the separability of the agreement to arbitrate from the rest of an agreement, please click here for the Alert published by the Commercial Litigation International Arbitration Team on May 24, 2012.

Ministry of Justice Seeks Consultation on the Introduction of Deferred Prosecution Agreements in the U.K.

The U.K. Ministry of Justice has initiated a consultation process following its proposal to introduce Deferred Prosecution Agreements as an enforcement tool to combat economic crimes by commercial organisations.   The Ministry of Justice stated that “The Coalition Government is committed to treating white collar and economic crime as seriously as other crime” and called for “increasingly close working with international law enforcement agencies.”  To learn more, please click here to read the Alert published by the Global Anti-Corruption Team, London, May 18, 2012.

Developments in U.S. Sanctions Against Burma

The President announced in May that the United States will ease its prohibitions on the export of financial services to and new investment in Burma.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also separately announced that the United States is “suspending sanctions” against Burma.  To learn more, please click here to read the May 17, 2012 Memorandum published by the International Trade Group.