Law Times

March 19, 2012

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PAGE 16 March 19, 2012 • Law TiMes u BIZARRE BRIEFS By Viola James ITALIAN VILLAGE BANS DYING ROME — Doctors in the Italian village of Falciano del Massico will probably be working overtime to comply with a ban on dying. According to The Associated Press, Mayor Giulio Cesare Fava issued the ban in response to the village's lack of a cemetery and feud with a nearby town that has one. It has since been trying to figure out what to do with people who die. The mayor, however, says residents are fine with the ban. "The ordinance has brought happiness," he said. "Unfortunately, two elderly citizens disobeyed." PRICES MODERATE AS FAKE CHINESE WINES PROLIFERATE BEIJING — Lawyers may appreciate the modera- tion in prices for high-end wines, but those practis- ing intellectual property law may not agree with some of the reasons for it. According to Reuters, the growth in counter- feit wines in places like China is having a damp- ening effect on prices. Master of wine Jeannie Cho Lee is familiar with the issue. She could tell instantly when she tasted fake wine at a Hong Kong dinner party. "Just from colour and the nose, once you taste it, it was confirmation that it wasn't the genuine wine," she said. But not everyone possesses Lee's acumen. China's booming appetite for fine wine in recent years has fuelled a rampant counterfeit market that indus- try insiders fear could be turning local buyers off, Reuters reported. "What we're seeing across the country is a proliferation of knockoffs and copycats and out- right counterfeit as the imported wine industry really explodes in this market," said Ian Ford of Summergate Fine Wines in Shanghai, adding that counterfeiters are taking advantage of inexperienced Chinese consumers. China has become the world's fifth-largest con- sumer of wine, ahead of Britain, according to an International Wine and Spirit Research study. It forecasts 54-per-cent growth from 2011 to 2015, the equivalent of a billion more bottles. That means supply and demand in the Chinese market can have a significant impact on global prices, according to Reuters. In fact, the cost of high- end wines was down more than 20 per cent year over year in late February, according to the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index. The plunge has been attributed to a range of factors, including a pullback following a strong surge in prices and market turmoil in Europe. Some believe fake wine may have played a role by denting Chinese consumers' confidence in the product. "It has definitely been a contributing factor because there has been a drop-off in demand for some of the wines which have been particular- ly affected by counterfeits — for example, Lafite Rothschild," said Thomas Gearing of Cult Wines Ltd., a London wine investment firm. "As someone has their fingers burnt by buying counterfeit wine, they are going to lose their desire to continually buy that wine." SARKOZY SORRY FOR SON'S TOMATO ATTACK ON COP PARIS — With his poll numbers down, it's not surprising that family members of French President Nicolas Sarkozy are starting to act in strange ways. According to Reuters, Sarkozy has apologized in person to a police officer who said she was the victim of a tomato attack involving the president's teenage son. The suspects, who hurled a tomato and a mar- ble at the officer from the presidential palace this month, were narrowed down to 15-year-old Louis Sarkozy and a friend he was with at the time, a police official told Reuters. "She said she saw a child's face at the window, without being able to say for sure whether it was Louis," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Sarkozy is looking to recover from the worst poll scores of any modern-day French president seeking re-election and the incident marks another poten- tially embarrassing hiccup in his flagging campaign. Last week, his entourage was pummelled with eggs on a campaign stop in the southern town of Bayonne. LT u The INSIDE STORY LEGAL HIRING TO INCREASE: SURVEY Nearly two in five lawyers plan to hire full-time legal staff during the second quarter of 2012, a quarterly Robert Half Legal survey shows. That translates to a 37-per-cent net increase in hiring activity compared to the first quarter of this year. The most in-demand positions were law- yers, legal secretaries, and law clerks. Of the lawyers interviewed for the survey, John Ohnjec half of them expect no change in staff levels over the next three months, while one per cent of them anticipate reduc- tions. More than three in four lawyers also said it was a challenge to find skilled legal professionals. "Hiring is expected to remain active this quarter with many law firms adding full-time positions to pursue business development opportuni- ties and bolster growth," said John Ohnjec, division director of Robert Half Legal in Canada. SUSPENDED LAWYER WANTED IN PONZI CASE The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking a suspended Ontario lawyer in connection to an alleged multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted William Wise last month along with Jacquline Hoegel, 55, for conspiracy and mail and wire fraud following al- legations the pair had operated an extensive Ponzi scheme in the United States and Canada, the To- ronto Star reported. U.S. authorities allege that Wise, 62, and Hoegel marketed and sold more than $126.5 million in fraudulent certificates of depos- it to nearly 1,200 people in Canada and the United States, according to the Star. None of the allegations have been proven. According to an agreed state- ment of facts filed with the Law Society of Upper Canada in November 2007, Wise hasn't been in Canada since 2006 and cur- rently lives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Wise has also been known to work in Raleigh, S.C., where he operated a bank he allegedly used to defraud investors. The law society received a complaint from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in 2006 that alleged that Wise's financial group was fic- titious or unlicensed. The LSUC conducted an investigation into Wise shortly thereaſter. During the investigation, the "He's right, you know. He's not liable for a mandatory minimum sentence if the sixth plant really is owned by his little friend, Punky the invisible chipmunk." law society requested several docu- ments and records linked to Wise's financial group. But according to the agreed statement of facts, Wise refused to produce the records. Wise argued that because he was no longer practising law, held no money in trust, wasn't properly advised of the allegations against him, and had no trust accounts, the law society's requests were ir- relevant to the allegations against him and he couldn't reasonably produce the documents. He also denied any wrongdoing. "Continuing your investigation in the face of Mr. Wise's clear deni- als of wrongdoing will put him in the impossible position of having to submit to an open-ended inves- tigation based on vague allegations to preserve his membership in the law society while at the same time being entitled to preserve his rights in the face of a threat of criminal prosecution," Wise argued. The law society suspended Wise in July 2008 for a period of one month and indefinitely there- aſter until he co-operated with its investigation. That suspension is still in effect. Wise argued he had provided materials within his control, had answered the law society's request for documents to the best of his knowledge, would submit to writ- ten interrogation, and had co-op- erated with the investigation. Wise unsuccessfully appealed the LSUC suspension in 2009. A year later, the law society also issued an interlocutory suspen- sion against Wise aſter it found there was reasonable suspicion to believe he was a risk to the public. "In 2010, aſter additional infor- mation came to our attention, in particular with respect to the pro- ceedings initiated by the U.S. Secu- rities and Exchange Commis- sion, the law society sought and ob- tained an interlocutory suspension to protect the public," says LSUC spokeswoman Susan Tonkin. Wise is currently at large with a warrant out for his arrest. Hoegel, meanwhile, has pleaded not guilty and is out on a bond. 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