Crude Oil Shipments Affected by Recent U.S. Customs Ruling

In a recent ruling, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) decided that shippers must employ costly U.S.-flag vessels when shipping processed condensate to and from a foreign country to be blended as a diluent with heavy crude.  The ruling comes as a surprise to many because it assumes processed condensate and heavy crude oil are the same product, contrary to industry standards and previous rulings by the U.S. Department of Commerce which recognize these as distinct commodities.

Reed Smith discusses the background of CBP’s ruling, why it was surprising, and its implications for businesses moving forward.  For more information on this topic, please click here.

What the European Court has to say about discount structures used by dominant firms

In a case regarding Post Danmark’s rebate structure, the European Court provided further guidance on the legality of rebates and discounts offered by dominant firms.  While this case involves bulk mail services, the lessons learned are applicable to a wide variety of industries in determining whether discount structures practiced by market leading firms comply with competition rules.

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News on Iran Sanctions: Adoption Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

18 October 2015, marked ‘Adoption Day’ for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  The JCPOA was agreed upon 90 days earlier, between the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, together with Iran.  While the latest measures taken by the EU, the United States and Iran make the necessary legal preparations for sanctions to be lifted, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will need to verify that Iran has met its obligations under the JCPOA before this takes place.

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10 Things Exporters Need to Know About Crude Oil Swap Licenses

Despite recent efforts to repeal the U.S. ban on crude oil exports, the restrictions remain firmly in place.  Recently, however, the Bureau of Industry & Security (“BIS”) authorized exports of U.S. light crude oil in exchange for imports of Mexican heavy crude, causing a stir in the industry and some confusion regarding the legal context for such a crude oil “swap.” To provide some clarification, Reed Smith attorney Jeffrey Orenstein explains 10 things exporters need to know about crude oil swap licenses.

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CFPB Proposes Ban on Class Action Waivers But Not Individual Arbitration

On October 7, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) proposed a ban on class action waivers in consumer financial products and services contracts.  Pending review by a Small Business Review Panel, the ban would potentially take effect in 2018, resulting in increased class action litigation against financial institutions.  The proposal does, however, preserve mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses for individuals.  Bank and nonbank lenders should be aware of the CFPB’s proposal and what it will mean for them going forward.

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The DOJ’s Recent Yates Memo and its Effect on Insurance Coverage for Government Investigations

Sally Yates of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) recently issued a memorandum detailing the DOJ’s increased commitment to pursue individuals engaged in corporate wrongdoing.  The memo will likely affect the manner in which companies conduct internal investigations and interact with government prosecutors.  Companies should take their current D&O insurance policies into consideration, as this memo will have significant insurance-related implications.

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What does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 mean for Businesses in the UK?

On October 1, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 went into effect in the UK.  The Act, which is divided into three parts, encompasses the entire United Kingdom, and extends consumer rights and significantly restructures overall business-to-consumer relationships.  We have summarized the legislation and identified ways in which UK businesses that deal with consumers will likely be affected.  In addition, we propose some ways that businesses can prepare for these changes.

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Proposed FinCEN Regulations Would Bring New AML Requirements to Investment Advisers

Investment advisers subject to SEC registration would be affected by proposed regulations from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.  The regulations, proposed in August 2015, would require such investment advisers to create anti-money laundering programs as well as to undertake reporting and recordkeeping responsibilities under the Bank Secrecy Act, including filing suspicious activity reports.

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Further Amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR)

In keeping with the Obama Administration’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, the U.S. government is making further amendments to CACR and EAR.  While the overall embargo is still in place, these amendments will lessen the degree of various restrictions.  The effects will be seen in areas including travel, telecommunications and internet-based services, commercial and financial transactions, physical presence and operations, support for the Cuban people, and remittances.  The amendments are being put into effect today, September 21, 2015.

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European Court ruling REACH

The European Court’s ruling in the ‘substances in articles’ case FDC and FMB v Ministre de l’ecologie, du development durable et de l’energie will extend aspects of EU chemical law compliance.  Going forward, importers and suppliers doing business in the EU will be required to have increased oversight and understanding of the chemical compositions of products to the level of their component articles.  This piece explores the various implications and potential difficulties arising as a direct result of this ruling.

Click here to read the issued Client Alert.