Thursday, September 28, 2006

Chancellor of Exchequer's nightmares. Pension solutions

Today's Times (UK) has articles that The Free Lunch has solutions for:
Lloyds of London: The UK government is getting worried about offshoring of London-based insurers due to high corporation tax (zero in Bermuda). The long term solution from The Free Lunch is to reduce such taxes to zero and increase taxes on land value. There would be no escape if a business has any sort of land ownership.

Pensions: This problem is not getting any smaller, read Graham Sergeant's story which goes back to PM Jim Callaghan in the 1960's. The Free Lunch champions a Cititizen's Royalty payment for everyone. It would be a monthly universal payment for all citizens: children and adults. Not only would a basic pension be guaranteed for all but companies would be able to concentrate on creating wealth instead of becoming bogged down by pension liabilities (see also the page 49 article on companies hiding their pension deficits). Sergeant's article points out the follies that governments create as they devise bad solutions. Read The Free Lunch for ideas from the classical economists 200 years ago that would make the economy work more efficiently and other features that would bring more wealth and freedom for all.
See for more.Any source

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


UCLA, Risky Business. October 28 and 29.

All day Saturday, half day Sunday. X 403.22 Management, Reg# S2964U
This comprehensive seminar explores how independent films are financed and distributed. Topics include organizing your company, raising financing via pre-sales, debt and limited partnerships, negotiating tactics, principal terms of the acquisition/distribution agreement, cross-collateralization and creative accounting. How filmmakers can protect their interest by watering down warranties, getting added to the E & O policy, using lab access letters to retain possession of the negatives, and utilizing termination and arbitration clauses. Other topics include:

- Criteria for selection of a distributor
- Collaborations and co-productions
- Building interest with film festivals
- How distributors evaluate a film
- Orchestrating the release of your film
- Compliance with security laws when seeking investors

Registration and General Information
(310) 825-9971 or (818) 784-7006

University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii. November 18 & 19.

Saturday, Self Defense for Writers and Filmmakers. Sunday, Financing and Distributing Independent Features. Call 808-956-8400 to register. More info:

Film Business & Law Seminar, California Lawyers for the Arts at Loyola Law School. September 30, 2006.

Mark will give the keynote address on finding distribution for independent films. Seminar is on Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM. Fee includes breakfast and seminar handbook. Lawyers can obtain MCLE credit. To enroll call (310) 998-5590.

FTX West Film & Television Expo, Vancouver, Canada, October 12-15.

This Trade Show and Conference will be held in the world-class Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre and consist of 106 booths and over 65 exhibitors from across North America. There will be an estimated 5000 attendees expected during the event, gathering from across North America to see the latest and greatest technologies in the film, television and gaming industries. Mark will be teaching several classes:
Risky Business, Part 1, Financing 1 – 3 PM, and Risky Business Part 2, Distribution, 5:30 to 7:30 PM. October 13, 2006. See description below.

Self Defense for Writer's & Filmmakers, 9 to 1 PM, October 14, 2006. Writers and filmmakers need to understand their legal rights and how to defend themselves from those who may seek to exploit them. Production companies and distributors often know all the tricks of the trade, while writers and filmmakers know little about how to protect themselves. This seminar explains how writers and filmmakers can prevent problems from arising by properly securing underlying rights, and by encouraging the other party to live up to agreements by adding performance incentives, default penalties and arbitration clauses. In the event of a dispute, participants learn what remedies are available to enforce their rights. Related topics include creative approvals, typical compensation and terms of studio contracts, merchandising deals, and negotiat-ing tactics and strategies. The seminar includes more than 100 pages of useful contracts, checklists, forms and materials.


Congratulations to our client The Retirement Living Network on their launch. The channel is available M-F from 12-4pm in over 1,500 communities served by Comcast Mid-Atlantic and New England.

Retirement Living has programs on health, lifestyle, finance, and politics including: The Daily Apple explores the important wellness issues. The Art of Living celebrates ordinary people from around the country who are living extraordinary lives doing what they love to do. The Prudent Advisor informs viewers how to get the most for your money, in everything from health care to travel deals to beauty aids. The Informed Citizen recognizes that retirees are the most active citizens when it comes to involvement in the political process. Healthline is a thirty-minute health and medical program equips you with the tools you need to take better control of your own health care.


Congratulations to our client Stephen Purvis, whose film EL CORTEZ opens in NY and LA, followed by exclusive engagements in each city.

New York
Harlem International Film Festival - World Premiere
"El Cortez" Red Carpet: 7pm Thursday, October 5, 2006
at AMC Magic Johnson Theatre at 125th & Frederick Douglass Blvd. (8th Ave.)

EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT - Opens Friday, October 6, 2006
34 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011

Los Angeles
ACT TODAY! (Autism Care & Treatment Today!) BENEFIT Premiere
6pm Saturday, October 14, 2006
Pacific Design Center - SilverScreen Theatre
8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069

EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT - Opens Friday, October 20, 2006
9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211

You can view a trailer at www.elcortezthemovie.comAny source

Monday, September 25, 2006

New networking solution and lower mobile rates

Telecommunications is one of the most fundamental elements in modern business. That is why the last news from Cable & Wireless and CCT Global Communications cannot but please local people as well as those having business connections to the BVI.

CCT Global Communications is the sole mobile telecommunications provider in the British Virgin Islands and the company that offers advanced digital voice and data network in the Caribbean. The company has lowered its rates for BVI customers (almost 10 000 people). Rob Lyons, CCT General Manager, has announced lowering GSM Flexphone rates by 60%. The lower mobile rates took effect on 1 September 2006.

It is worth mentioning that in less than a year this is already the 3rd time the company has reduced its rates. In March, it was announced that incoming cell phone to cell phone calls would be free. The 2nd announcement was that long distance rates would be lowered by 60%. Also, it should be noted that CCT Global Communications has never raised its rates in company's history.

Another giant of communications industry, Cable & Wireless, has recently announced fine-tuning and preparing numerous exciting products and services that would be introduced to the British Virgin Islands. Cable & Wireless will offer Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) solution to meet the priorities of its customers. Now, customers will be able to run more applications including voice, over one network of converged data services.

The company invested more than USD 10 million in the MPLS network, and currently Cable & Wireless is planning to continue investing in this new-generation network for providing world-class services.
Article any source

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Screenwriter loses implied contract suit against Miramax

Miramax has prevailed in an implied contract case filed by screenwriter Jeff Grosso concerning the Miramax movie “Rounders” which Grasso claimed copied ideas from his script.

The case was first dismissed when a federal District Court ruled that Grosso’s contract claim was preempted by federal copyright law. But this decision was overturned by a federal Court of Appeals which held that an implied contract claim is not preempted.

The California Superior Court granted summary judgment to Miramax on the grounds that Grosso did not submit the script to Miramax to Gotham Entertainment Group which was not a defendant in the lawsuit.

The court rejected Grosso’s claim based on a “First Look/Last Matching Right” deal between Gotham and Miramax.

Grosso v. Miramax Film Corp., Case No. BC215947 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2006) (read case at


Congratulations to our client Phil Nibbelink whose animated family film, Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss opens on October 27, 2006 on numerous screens. In the Los Angeles region the film will be shown at such theaters as AMC Burbank 16, Beverly Center 13 Cinemas, Culver Plaza 6, Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15, Mann's Plant 16, Regal Valencia Stadium 12, UA La Canada 8, Civic Center Stadium 16, and the AMC Ontario Mills 30. The film will be shown on 5 different screens in SAN DIEGO and 5 screens in SAN FRANCISCO.

The picture is being released by Indican Pictures. Additional information and the trailer can be viewed at:

“Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss” is a fantasy about two star crossed seals from warring families that fall in love against their parents’ wishes. When Juliet’s father gives her hand in marriage to the monstrous elephant seal Prince, Juliet must fake her death in order to be reunited with Romeo. But the plan goes afoul and it’s a desperate race to the end. With the help of their friends Friar Lawrence and Kissy, the kissing fish, the young lovers are reunited with a happy ending. The picture was written, directed and animated by Phil Nibbelink who has been a writer, director and animator on numerous films including The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Company, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Casper and An American Tail-Fievel Goes West.Any source

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

BVI holding companies boosting foreign investment to Hong Kong in the Q2-2006

I have already mentioned that the British Virgin Islands keep the 2nd largest foreign investor's position in China, the first one being Hong Kong - Special Administrative Region of the China. The 2nd quarter GDP and foreign investment data released yesterday by Hong Kong Census & Statistics Department, confirmed the similar situation in Hong Kong where the BVI has leading status among foreign investors.

According to the information provided, the direct investment income in Hong Kong grew 10.6%, compared to the same period last year.

Foreign investment share from the BVI is at impressive 18% placing it at the top of the investors' list. The British Virgin Islands provide continued inflow of direct investments into Hong Kong economy due to the large number of BVI holding companies which have been established in the BVI by Hong Kong residents. Other major investors are the US and UK at 10.1% and 6.9%, far behind BVI.

Above the level of BVI investments there are only investments received from Chinese companies and accounted for 31.4% of the total amount. As far as Hong Kong retains its status of Special Administrative Region of China, the Mainland is at all times the major source of Hong Kong's external factor income inflow.

Hong Kong GNP increased to $340.7 billion in the second quarter of this year, that means up 1.4% compared to the same period last year. The GDP increased even more and made $348.3 billion, up 5.1%.
Article any source

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Co-op gets farm subsidies divi

The leading recipient of CAP direct aid in the UK in 2004 was Farmcare Ltd., the large scale farming group owned by the Co-op. It got a divi of £2.359m from CAP, down from about £2.6m in 2003. All of the top five English aid recipients were farm businesses or co-operatives, Strutt & Parker (farms) coming in second with £1.382m.

However, private landowners also feature in the list. Sir Richard Sutton's Settled Estates got £917,650.93p. Lord Rayleigh's farms got £571,808.88p. Grovesnor Farms, owned by the Duke of Westminster, reputedly one of the richest men in the UK, came 45th in the list taking £421,000.

Sugar and dairy sector companies dominated the list of non-CAP payments, accounting for all of the companies in the top ten. Sugar importers and refiners Tate and Lyle claimed a cool £125m with traders C. Cazrinkow Sugar coming in second with some £39.4m. Fairfield Foods Ireland got £18.3m while NestlĂ© had to be content with £5.16m. The agricultural division of multinational Cargill got a mere £1.478m.

The data revealed by Defra shows that farmers were paid a total of £1.4 billion in 2004/5. Non-farm payments totalled £431m, making the overall total over £1.84 billion.

More information on subsidies across the EU (at least for those countries that have released data) can be found at Jack Thurston's web page: Subsidies Any source

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Appleby Spurling Hunter and Bailhache Labesse Merger

Recently, both offshore law firms announced that their merger had been formally completed, so this is the birth of one of the most extensive offshore legal networks in the world. The merger was completed on September 1, 2006. Now, the group is called Appleby Hunter Bailhache and it is the only offshore provider of legal, fiduciary and administration services with a major presence in 4 leading offshore business centres - the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Jersey. The group offers improved services to both new and existing customers.

Appleby Hunter Bailhache's key strengths are corporate and commercial advice, funds and investment services, insurance, asset finance, capital markets, banking, dispute resolution, trusts and real property, insolvency and restructuring, telecommunications and technology as well as company accounting and management services.

Both companies are one of the leaders in their respective jurisdictions, and the combined resources of the new company will give the possibility to provide support and superior services to customers aiming at conducting offshore business in the most crucial offshore jurisdictions. Both Appleby and Bailhache are described in the offshore service firms Appleby and Bailhache on June 4, 2006

As it has already been mentioned, the offshore service firm Appleby Spurling Hunter located in the most successful offshore jurisdictions – British Virgin Islands (BVI), Bermuda, Cayman Islands – and having offices in London and Hong Kong had more than 430 lawyers and staff.
15 of Appleby's lawyers had been admitted to practice in the British Virgin Islands. Appleby's BVI office is situated in Road Town, Tortola, where 5 resident attorneys provide corporate and litigation services.

Bailhache Labesse Group is a Jersey-based offshore company established in the 1890s that provided legal, fiduciary and administrative solutions to global corporations, institutions and high-net-worth individuals. Its vital features were corporate & financial services, commercial property, dispute resolution and private client work.
Article any source

Decoupling at risk after ECJ overturns cotton reform

A ruling from the European Court of Justice that the reformed EU cotton regime introduced in 2004 must be dismantled and replaced raises wider questions about decoupling, a centrepiece of the latest round of CAP reforms.

In the cotton regime reform the Commission decoupled 65 per cent of payments but left 35 per cent coupled which they claimed would be enough to maintain cotton production in all areas of the EU where it was important for the agricultural economy (principally Spain and Greece).

Spain, however, claimed that the reform did not provide enough subsidies to ensure that cotton production remained viable. They had a special legal argument because the maintenance of cotton production is enshrined in Spain's EU accession treaty.

The Court has required the Commission to make a fresh impact assessment. The current regime can continue until a new one is place, an outcome welcomed by the Commission which also emphasised that the basic principle of decoupling had not been challenged. Nevertheless, the ruling could re-open the issue in relation to other products where partial decoupling has been retained to protect production in [politically] sensitive areas.

It could also lead to trouble in the WTO where the 'cotton club' of Burkina Faso, Chand and Mali are upset about the collapse of the Doha Round and the prospect of better access to markets. They are considering a legal challenge over subsidies to cotton producers in rich countries. Although their principal target has been te US, any talk of recoupling payments could bring the EU into the frame.

Another tricky problem for the Commission to try and unravel.Any source

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New appointments in Harneys BVI and Hong Kong offices

The Hong Kong office of Harney Westwood & Riegels, which is the oldest and largest law firm in the British Virgin Islands and one of the leaders in international legal practices, has announced the new appointments at its headquarters. It announced the arrival of Michael Gagie from the BVI office. He took the post of the head of the Hong Kong office.

Ray Wearmouth, the lawyer who was on this position, returned to the British Virgin Islands and continues to lead the Financial and Commercial branches of the firm in the BVI.

Both lawyers participating in this rotation have obtained high reputation in the BVI offshore jurisdiction and internationally.

Michael Gagie regularly appears in the global legal directories as one of the leading corporate lawyers in the BVI. He was qualified as an English solicitor in 1997. Working in several London law firms, namely Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Simmons & Simmons, he specialized in mergers and acquisitions. He was seconded also to the London Stock Exchange. In the same period of time he was engaged by Shell International Limited as an in-house counsel.

His current areas of legal practice include all corporate and commercial disciplines. He joined Harneys in 2003. Now he regularly consults the AIM exchange in London on subject of the listing of BVI corporate entities. This year he is also registered as a Foreign Lawyer in Hong Kong and since July 2006 he is a partner.

Ray Wearmouth, another Harneys' partner, has started his career in 1994, when he was qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales and started working in the corporate department at DLA. He joined Harneys in 2001 and became a partner on December 2004. In 2005 he was registered in Hong Kong as a Foreign Lawyer. Currently he is working as Head of Banking & Finance and Corporate & Commercial in the BVI.
Article any source

Thursday, September 7, 2006

BVI Captive insurers receive Practice Directions from Financial Services Comission

The BVI Financial Services Commission has published the new legislative acts. These are three Practice Directions that are issued under the Section 40 of the Financial Services Commission Act, 2001, and which give supplementary explanation of some terms, definitions and Commission requirements included in the Insurance Act, 1994 and Insurance (Amendment) Regulations, 2005. The documents were signed by Robin Goal, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Financial Services Commission, and officially sealed on 29 August 2006.

The Practice Direction Number 1 of 2006 - Definition of Terms – Insurance Allowable Assets gives formal definitions of the certain terms included in the Insurance (Amendment) Regulations, 2005, which expand the list of allowable assets and non-allowable assets. These terms are "high grade rating, "medium grade rating", "credit assessment institutions recognised by the Commission" and "stock exchanges recognised by the Commission". The Practice Direction includes the list of the Credit Assessment Institutions and Stock Exchanges recognised by the Commission, and represents the table of investment ratings.

The Practice Direction Number 2 of 2006 - Investment Policy for Captive Insurance Companies provides the criteria how the Commission may be ensured in the competent manner of insurer's business and prudent investment management practices. The need for satisfying the Commission that the insurer has available knowledge and expertise to carry on insurance business is provided by the Insurance Act, 1994. This Practice Direction applies to all Captive Insurers licenced under the Insurance Act, 1994, and sets out the minimum policies and procedures of prudent investment management.

The Practice Direction Number 3 of 2006 - Books and Records for Captive Insurance Companies also applies to all Captive Insurers and their insurance managers licenced under the Insurance Act, 1994. It provides guidance how they can demonstrate to the Commission that they meet the minimum requirements for maintaining books and records at the principal office of a Captive Insurer in the British Virgin Islands. The Practice Direction 3 also sets the minimum information amount that should be mantained in the insurer's principal office.
Article any source

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Little change in Poland's farm structure

As Poland takes steps to reassure other member states that it is a good European, news comes from Eurostat that the modernisation of farm structures is proceeding at a snail's pace. Average farm size fell very slightly between 2002 and 2005. The average farm size in Poland was now 12.1 hectares compared with 12.2 hectares in 2002.

Some 2.67 million people are still employed in Polish agriculture, although more than half of these were family members working on a part-time basis. To qualify as a farm, an enterprise has to have an annual gross margin of €1200. By this definition there are some 1,082,700 farms in Poland. 35 per cent of farms have less than 5 hectares of farmland at their disposal, while only two per cent held more than 50 hectares. However, holdings in the latter category accounted for some 26 per cent of all Polish farmland.

Around one-fifth of farmers did not own a tractor. However, despite their small size, only 5.9 per cent of holdings engaged in any other gainful activity on farm. One would think that there was more scope for rural tourism. Meanwhile, the sums received from the EU, small though they are, are vital to the survival of such holdings. Historically, some of them were worked on a part-time basis as smallholdings by industrial workers who have now often lost their jobs in heavy industries.Any source

Obesity subsidies for farmers?

Farmers' spokespersons have been trying hard to talk up the threat to food security from terrorists as a means of justifying the continuation of agricultural subsidies. However, the problem of obesity may give them a new basis for subsidy claims.

Australia has one of the worst obesity problems in the world and a call has been made for fruit and vegetables to receive subsidies to make prices more affordable. Research has shown that if apple prices were halved, sales would treble.

How the subsidy will be paid is yet to be decided. It does give farmers an opportunity to make use of discourses about health, although clearly some producers would benefit more than others.Any source

Cows moo with a local accent

Cows in the south-west of England are mooing with an 'oo-arr' according to farmers in the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers Group. They believe that their own regional accent has influenced their cows' pitch and tone who have picked up the distinctive Somerset twang. Accent shifts have also been noticed in cows in Norfolk, Lancashire, the Midland and Essex, the latter presumably having an 'Estuary' moo.

John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at University College London, provided academic confirmation: 'This phenomenon is well attested in birds. You find distinct chirping accents in the same species around the country. This could also be true of cows.'

The farmers themselves believe that the quality time they spend with their cows has led to this distinctive accent. In the winter the West Country cows are wrapped up in cow coats and are played classical music to help them relax during milking.

Lloyd Green of Glastonbury explained, 'I spend a lot of time with my Freisians and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl. I think it works the same as with dogs - the closer a farmer's bond is with the animals, the easier it is for them to pick up on the accent.'Any source

Friday, September 1, 2006

BVI loosing momentum in Ukraine

When talking about foreign investments into Ukraine's economy, the fact that the British Virgin Islands got the 8th place over the first six months of 2006 should by no means be ignored.

In this period of time, investments to the Ukrainian economy essentially increased. In accordance with the State Statistics Committee, the growth of foreign direct investments in first 6 months of 2006 has reached 1.698 billion USD.

As of July 1, 2006, the total amount of foreign investments into Ukraine's economy reached 18.383 billion USD.

About 85% of FDI came from just 10 countries. The biggest investments are from Germany – 495.2 million USD. Germany is followed by the second biggest investor – Cyprus – with 433.6 million USD. The list of biggest investors includes also France with 361.6 million USD, Great Britain with 272.9 million USD, the Netherlands with 270.4 million USD, Russia with 101.5 million USD, Austria with 85.6 million USD. The British Virgin Islands have invested 56.5 million USD. Poland and Hungary conclude the list of Ukraine's top investors with 26.6 and 24.7 million USD.

It is worth drawing attention to the fact that last year the British Virgin Islands were the 4th to invest in Ukraine's economy and its total investments exceeded 700 million USD. As far as Cyprus has been excluded from the Ukraine's “blacklist” of offshore zones while the BVI has been left there, recent BVI investments into the country have decreased while Cyprus is on an enormous increase – well, partially, on BVI's account.

It seems that the team of Mr. Robert Mathavious should include Ukraine in its list of the countries where the BVI jurisdiction is actively promoted, so that the British Virgin Islands would return their position with its other investment companies in Ukraine.

Besides the BVI, the Ukrainian offshore blacklist includes the Bahamas, Belize, Gibraltar, Dominican Republic, Marshall Islands, Jersey, the Isle of Man, the Island of Nevis, the Seychelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Turks & Caicos Islands. However, classical offshore countries – Panama and Mauritius are not blacklisted.
Article any source