Most recent posts in ‘Business Law’

August 21, 2013

Oil Royalties to Fund Educ. and Health Care

The citizen protests in Brazil features outrage over a lack of funding for the health care and education systems. Making matters worse is that the government is shelling over piles of cash to fund the upcoming World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. Over the last few months, residents have taken to the streets to show their outrage and legislators are finally listening.

It was announced this week that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is expected to sign a bill into law that is considered a "historic victory." It is a plan to exploit the country's oil discoveries through domestic and foreign partnerships which will bring in royalties of between $150-300 billion over the next 35 years. The new bill will take 75 percent of that money and put it toward funding public education, while the remaining 25 percent will be used for the national health care system. Next year that royalties will equal $800 million.

There are some who question whether the money will actually be used in the ways that it has been declared. This is because of the history of corruption within the government. Despite this, President Dilma sees this as a positive step.

"For me and my government education is the principal pillar to transform Brazil into a great nation, assuring that our people are freed from poverty," Dilma said in a radio address.

This issue has been a focal point of the protests that started back in June and the bill is a direct result of that. It was proposed on July and passed by the Senate. It just passed through the lower house last week.

August 20, 2013

Miranda Detention

The case of Edward Snowden and those connected to it has been global news since the NSA leaks he is responsible for broke in May. As a result, many countries, including Brazil, have increased government talks on their internet security and policies.

The latest news involves David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who was responsible for denouncing American and British surveillance programs based on Edward Snowden's disclosure of information.

On Sunday, August 18, Miranda was on his way home to Brazil and Berlin, Germany, when he was detained and searched at Heathrow airport in Britain. He was questioned for over nine hours by officials under the Terrorism Act but was released without charges.

While the British government stands by its actions, Miranda is seeking legal action. His argument is that police illegally seized data from him and wants to ensure they are unable to access it until after a judge is able to hear his claim.

"We are most concerned about the unlawful way in which these powers were used and the chilling effect this will have on freedom of expression," Kate Goold, of the law firm Bindmans, which is representing Miranda, told CNN.

Brazilian authorities are also coming to Miranda's aid, claiming that there is no justifiable reason for the interrogation. No weapons or sensitive information was found on his person and he was threatened with jail time if he didn't cooperate. While terrorist activity needs to be halted it is disturbing to know that there are apparently no limits on what authorities can do to fight this supposed threat.

August 19, 2013

Brazil sues Samsung

Employee rights are a hot topic in countries around the world. It is impossible to debate the fact that workers deserve to be treated fairly, paid a livable wage and have conditions that are up to safety codes, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. However, there are laws in place and courts to bring companies that violate them to justice.

This week, the Brazilian Ministry of Labor has filed a lawsuit against technology company Samsung. The reasons stem from precarious working conditions imposed of the 6,000 employees at a manufacturing facility in the country.

According to a statement released by prosecutors, several irregularities were found at the factory in Manaus. This includes working shifts of up to 15 hours, lack of seats in the production line, lack of breaks and days off. This lead to some 2,000 employees taking sick leave of up to 2 weeks in 2012 alone because of back problems and repetitive strain injuries. On top of that, there are also claims of harassment in the workplace.

Samsung has responded, saying it will conduct a thorough review and co-operate with Brazilian officials to investigate these claims.

"We take great care to provide a workplace environment that assures the highest industry standards of health, safety and welfare for our employees across the world," the company said.

If found guilty, the company could be forced to pay $109 million in damages. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and what effect it could have on the manufacturing industry as a whole.

August 16, 2013

Government Corruption Case

One of the biggest cases in Brazil returned to the country's highest court and began hearing appeals by the 25 people convicted in a scheme to buy pro-government votes. The high-profile political bribery case is raising hopes for a concrete way to stop corruption in Brazil. This process could last months.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the group offering appeals consists of former government officials, party members and business executives who were convicted last year of organizing the vote-buying scheme from 2003 to 2005.

The case, which is popularly referred to as the "mensalão" or the big monthly payoff, has been a part of the protests that have swept the country this summer. The outrage is that none of those convicted have been sent to jail and overturning any of the sentences could add fire to the demonstrations and make things worse.

"The trial, the appeals, and the continued freedom of most of the mensalão culprits…demonstrate the huge dysfunction of Brazil's judicial system," said Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue think tank. "The high visibility of the mensalão is an important part of the explanation of why Brazilians have such a low regard for congress, the executive, and justice system."

This corruption case just adds to the overall feeling of an unjust government and judicial system. A study from anticorruption watchdog Transparency International found that 81 percent of Brazilian respondents believe political parties are the most corrupt institutions, while 50 percent believe it is the judiciary branch. This feeling will not be going away overnight but the outcome could have a major impact on it.

August 14, 2013

Border Dispute

Land disputes still play a major role in many conflicts around the world. When needed, governing bodies step in and make a ruling to put an end to any violence. That is happening in Brazil right now as the Supreme Court (STF) will decide the dispute between boarding states Piaui and Tocantis after officials from the two were unable to reach an agreement.

The issue stems from unclear borders between the two. This became a problem in the late 1980s when Tocantis became a state when it was created by the Federal Government. As a result, certain cultural and bordering problems were not solved at the time and are still being challenged. On top of that, the region is known for its agriculture production, which can add to any state's profile.

A hearing took place on August 6 in the office of Justice Luiz Fux and the states were given ten days to layout their case and present any evidence to their claim of the land. Both sides presented their arguments and were unwilling to negotiate. The states did suggest using the anthropic criteria, which takes into account the the dynamics of human occupants of the land, but still no agreement could be met.

Because they have not been able to settle on their own, the STF will now step in to try and end things amicably. There is no telling where the boarder will end up when this is finally concluded.