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Brazil: Program Will Reduce Red-Tape in Opening or Closing a Company

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(Mar 02, 2015) On February 26, 2015, the federal government launched a program (Programa Bem Mais Simples Brasil) to reduce the government paperwork involved when opening or closing small- or medium-sized companies in Brazil. Under the new program the average time to go through the process of opening a business is expected to be reduced from the current 83 days to five days. (Luana Lourenço, Governo Lança Programa para Reduzir Burocracia para Pequenas e Médias Empresas, AGÊNCIA BRASIL (Feb. 26, 2015).)

The program will not only reduce the amount of paperwork necessary to open a company but will also unify the different relevant databases, making it possible for future entrepreneurs to access different public services that will now be situated in one single place, and ending many requirements that new technologies have made unnecessary. (Id.)

A national system to close companies (Sistema Nacional de Baixa Integrada de Empresas) is also being implemented. It will allow entrepreneurs to close companies faster by no longer requiring that business owners present documents (certidões negativas, negative certifications) that prove that a company does not have debts, which previously had been necessary to close a business included in the National Database of Legal Persons (Cadastro Nacional de Pessoa Jurídica). According to rules in force since last year, any debt associated with a company being closed will automatically be transferred to its owner and registered in the National Database of Physical Persons (Cadastro de Pessoa Física). (Id.)

Author: Eduardo Soares More by this author
Topic: Bankruptcy More on this topic
 Corporations More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Brazil More about this jurisdiction

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Turkey: Draft Guidelines on Consumption Tax

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(Mar 02, 2015) It was reported on February 27, 2015, that Turkey's Revenue Administration has published draft guidelines on excise taxes. (René Offermanns, Turkey: Draft Guidelines on Excise Duty Published, TAX NEWS SERVICE (Feb. 27, 2015), International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation online subscription database; Özel Tüketim Vergisi (I) Sayili Liste Uygulama Genel TebligÂÂ?i [General Guidelines on Application of List I of the Special Excise Tax], Revenue Administration website (last visited Feb. 27, 2015).)

The guidelines are based on the list of goods set forth in Appendix I of the Special Excise Tax Law (Özel Tüketim Vergisi Kanunu, Law No. 4760 (June 6, 2002, as last amended by Law No. 6552 of Sept. 11, 2014), MEVZUAT; Offermanns, supra.) They apply to imported petroleum products, natural gas, and biodiesel, subdivided into category A, which covers, e.g., general gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and fuel oil products; liquefied petroleum gas; and oil derivatives; and category B, which covers, e.g., solvents and their derivatives and lubricants. (Offermanns, supra; Özel Tüketim Vergisi (I) Sayili Liste Uygulama Genel TebligÂÂ?i, supra.)

The Guidelines also "provide information on taxable events, taxpayer liabilities, the scope of exemptions, possibilities for tax deferral, submission of forms, and the tax deduction procedure for excise taxes paid for the manufacture of other specified goods." (Offermanns, supra.) They will enter into force as of the beginning of the month following the date of their official publication, but the provisions applicable to fuel oil will be effective as of July 1, 2015. (Id.)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Excise taxes More on this topic
 Oil and gas More on this topic
 Taxation More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Turkey More about this jurisdiction

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Japan: Supreme Court Upholds Punishment for Sexual Harassment

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(Mar 02, 2015) On February 26, 2015, Japan's Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Osaka High Court, which had itself reversed an Osaka District Court judgment approving suspension and demotion as punishments for two male managers who repeatedly verbally sexually harassed female employees. (2014 (Ju) No. 1310, S. Ct., 1st petite bench (Feb. 26, 2015), Courts of Japan database http://www.courts.go.jp/app/files/hanrei_jp/883/084883_hanrei.pdf (in Japanese).) The decision is the first of its kind by the Supreme Court. (Top Court Backs Kaiyukan on Sex Harassment Suspensions, JAPAN TIMES (Feb. 26, 2015).)

Facts of the Case

The employer "suspended one man for 30 days and the other for 10 days and demoted both in February 2012 over remarks they made to two temporary female employees." (Id.) All three courts found that the men, who had managerial positions, committed sexual harassment. The two men repeatedly made sexual comments, including recounting a story to the women about extramarital sex and the strength of their sexual urges. They also asked the female employees why they were single, after asking their ages. (Supreme Court Decided "Valid," Punishment for "Not Yet Married" Statement, YOMIURI NEWSPAPER (Feb. 26, 2015) (in Japanese).)

District Court Judgment

The two men filed a lawsuit to contest the penalties with the Osaka District Court, complaining that the employer had abused its authority by imposing too heavy a punishment without any advance warning. The District Court ruled that the penalties were appropriate, finding that the managers' comments were obscene and malicious. It also stated that the women were in a particularly vulnerable position because they were temporary employees. (Top Court Backs Kaiyukan on Sex Harassment Suspensions, supra.)

High Court Ruling

The Osaka High Court found that the reason why the managers misunderstood that their behavior was inappropriate was because the victims never explicitly complained to them about it. The High Court also found that the managers did not know about the company's firm policy against sexual harassment and that the company did not give them warnings. Therefore, the High Court decided that the punishment was too harsh and that the company had abused its authority. (2014 (Ju) No. 1310, supra, at 6-7.)

Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court understood that it was hard for the victims to protest because of their fear of retaliation. The Supreme Court also found that the company had let all employees know that sexual harassment was not tolerated, through mandatory classes and in brochures. (Id. at 8.)

Further, the Court found that the managers usually made inappropriate comments when other people were not around. The company did not have the opportunity to give the managers a warning until the victims voiced their complaints to the company after the harassment had persisted for more than one year. Under such a situation, the Court held, the lack of warnings did not help the managers' claims. (Id. at 8-9.) The Supreme Court therefore ruled that the original penalties were appropriate.

Author: Sayuri Umeda More by this author
Topic: Employment and training programs More on this topic
 Harassment More on this topic
 Judiciary More on this topic
 Labor-management relations More on this topic
 Supreme court More on this topic
 Temporary and part-time employment More on this topic
 Women's rights More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Japan More about this jurisdiction

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South Africa; Sri Lanka: Cooperation Agreements in Tourism, Zoo Management

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(Mar 02, 2015) Sri Lanka and South Africa concluded two cooperation agreements on February 24, 2015. The agreements are:

1) Draft Declaration of Intent between the National Department of Tourism of the Republic of South Africa and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Tourism and Sports on Cooperation in the Field of Sustainable Tourism Development for the Period 2015-2107; and

2) Memorandum of Understanding on a Collaborative Relationship Regarding Husbandry, Public Presentation, Research and Keeper Training for Animal Species Common to the National Zoological Gardens of the Republic of South Africa and the Department of National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka. (Sri Lanka and South Africa to Ink Agreement Today, LANKAPUVATH [the national news agency of Sri Lanka] (Feb. 24, 2015); 5th Round of Sri Lanka-South Africa Partnership Forum Convened in Colombo, Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence website (Feb. 25, 2015).)

The signing of the agreements was planned for the official visit of the South African International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister, Nomaindiya Mfeketo, to Sri Lanka. According to the Sri Lankan Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the Sri Lankan government made a request to South Africa to share its experiences in the areas of reconciliation and nation building. (Sri Lanka, South Africa to Sign Two Cooperation Agreements During Deputy Minister's Visit, COLOMBO PAGE (Feb. 23, 2015).)

An event parallel to Mfeketo's visit, the Fifth Partnership Forum between South Africa and Sri Lanka, took place February 24-25 in Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital. (Id.) The Forum focused broadly on cooperation between the two countries. In addition to tourism and zoo management, the topics discussed included economic and trade relations, science and technology, transport, agriculture, mutual legal assistance, education, cooperation between police services, and defense cooperation. (Sri Lanka and South Africa to Ink Agreement Today, supra.)

The Mfeketo delegation is the first from South Africa to visit Sri Lanka under the current Sri Lankan presidency of Maithripala Sirisena, who was elected on January 8, 2015. The visit is considered to be a follow-up trip to the official visit of the South African Deputy President that took place last July. (Sri Lanka, South Africa to Sign Two Cooperation Agreements, Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence website (Feb. 24, 2015).)

Author: Constance Johnson More by this author
Topic: Animals More on this topic
 International affairs More on this topic
 Tourism More on this topic
 Treaties and International Agreements More on this topic
Jurisdiction: South Africa More about this jurisdiction
 Sri Lanka More about this jurisdiction

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Brazil: New Law Criminalizes Sale of Alcoholic Beverages to Minors

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(Feb 27, 2015) On February 24, 2015, the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved a new law that amends the Statute of the Child and Adolescent and more clearly criminalizes the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons under 18 years of age. (Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente, Lei No. 8.069, de 13 de Julho de 1990, PLANALTO; Iolando Lourenço, Câmara Aprova e Vai à Sanção Projeto que Criminaliza Venda de Bebidas a Menores, AGÊNCIA BRASIL (Feb. 24, 2015).)

The new law makes it a crime to sell, supply, serve, or deliver, even for free, an alcoholic beverage to a child or adolescent or, without cause, other products containing ingredients that can cause physical or psychological dependence. A person who violates the law may be sentenced to two to four years in prison and a fine of between approximately US$1,000 and US$3,500. (Lourenço, supra.) As an administrative sanction, the store where an alcoholic beverage is sold to a minor must remain closed until the fine is paid. (Id.) The new law now must be signed by President Dilma Roussef to enter into force.

Author: Eduardo Soares More by this author
Topic: Alcoholic beverages More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Brazil More about this jurisdiction

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