First Subsidy-Free Solar Farm Opens in UK

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies and Michael Green

The first solar farm has successfully launched in the UK without government subsidisation. Clayhill Solar Farm, a 10 megawatt (MW) site near Flitwick in Bedfordshire, is capable of generating enough power for 2500 homes. Clayhill’s developer, Anesco, is a private company specialising in the design and development of solar and battery storage sites.

Renewable energy projects like Clayhill have become increasingly viable in recent years due to the falling cost of solar panels and batteries. In particular, cheaper manufacturing costs have enabled solar generation to become cost-competitive with electricity from fossil fuels. However, despite these favorable conditions, the Renewables Obligation subsidy scheme — one of the UK government’s main mechanisms for encouraging renewable electricity projects — closed to new applicants in March 2017. Continue Reading

Portuguese Children Crowdfund Climate Change Suit Against 47 Countries

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies and Michael Green

Six Portuguese children are raising funds to sue 47 European countries, asserting that their right to life has been threatened because governments have allegedly failed to adequately deal with climate change.

With the support of lawyers from the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), the children will ask nations in the suit to strengthen their emissions reduction policies, and to commit to keeping the majority of their existing fossil fuel reserves “in the ground”. The 47 countries targeted by the legal action are collectively responsible for approximately 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and include Europe’s “major emitters”, such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

The children, who are between 5 and 14 years old, claim to have been directly affected by Portugal’s worst-ever forest fires in Leirria this summer, which resulted in more than 60 fatalities. Climate change is thought to have exacerbated the Iberian Peninsula’s extreme heatwave that extended the wildfire season from two months (July and August) to five months (June to October). Continue Reading

IP & Brexit: The Impact of Brexit on the Community Unregistered Design Right and the Creative Industries Who Rely on Them

Posted in Brexit

By Deborah Kirk and Elizabeth Purcell

Brexit discussions will need to address the application of the Community unregistered design right (CUDR) in the UK following the UK’s exit from the EU. The CUDR currently provides:

  • Unregistered design protection in all of the EU member states
  • Automatic and broad protections to UK designers for qualifying designs first disclosed within the EU that would otherwise prejudice a subsequent application for a Community registered design right
  • That a disclosure in the UK by a designer is not novelty-destroying of a subsequent application for a registered Community design right if submitted within 12 months of the disclosure

In terms of the UK’s position following Brexit:

  • The UK will no longer be a member state afforded protection by the CUDR, so the 12-month grace period may not be available.
  • The UK Intellectual Property Office has stated that “protection for unregistered designs will continue to exist through the UK unregistered design right”.
  • However, given the UK unregistered design right offers a narrower protection than the CUDR, how the UK government will aim to fill in the gap between the CUDR and the UK unregistered design right remains to be seen.

Continue Reading

China’s War on Pollution: Measuring the Economic Impact

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies and Andrew Westgate

China’s State Council released an “Opinion Concerning Establishment of a Long-Term Mechanism for Early-Warning and Monitoring of Environmental and Natural Resources Carrying Capacity,” which will halt major projects in heavily polluted areas, according to a report from the official Xinhua news agency. The opinion also calls for authorities to use a new pollution alert system that tracks areas ranging from “green non-alert zones” that are the least polluted to “red zones”, where environment and natural resource pressures are greatest.

The opinion provides that in “red zone” areas, government authorities will suspend approval for projects. Companies responsible for environmental damage and local officials failing to implement the ban strictly enough will be held accountable, and could even be prosecuted for criminal liability. Conversely, the government may provide a financial reward for “green non-alert zones”.

The initiative is the latest development in China’s environmental crackdown, which has intensified this year, rattling the country’s ports, factories, and commodities markets, in particular. Economic analysts have suggested that China will sacrifice 0.2 percentage points in economic growth and approximately 40,000 jobs this year to achieve cleaner air in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei alone. Continue Reading

UK Launches Taskforce to Encourage Growth of Green Finance

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies and Michael Green

The UK government has announced that it is bringing together a new taskforce led by senior financiers in order to encourage the growth of “green finance”. The taskforce, which will be chaired by Sir Roger Gifford, former lord mayor of London, has six months to develop proposals aimed at accelerating investment in low-carbon projects.

The UK’s climate change minister, Claire Perry, announced the initiative in New York at the opening of Climate Week. According to Perry, “The transition to a low-carbon economy is a multi-billion pound investment opportunity and a key part of this government’s industrial strategy”. Continue Reading

China Unveils Plan to Ban Fossil Fuel Vehicles

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies and Andrew Westgate

Addressing a car forum in Tianjin, Xin Guobin, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology, announced that the Chinese government is developing plans to follow in the footsteps of some European countries to phase out fossil fuel-powered vehicles. “Some countries have worked out a timetable to stop production and sales of traditional fuel vehicles. Now the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has launched a study as well, and will work with related departments on a timetable for our country,” Xin said. A phase out of fossil fuel vehicles could have a significant impact on air quality in China, where reports suggest that as many as 1.6 million people die each year from health issues related to air pollution.

With nearly 200 million registered vehicles at the end of 2016, China has the world’s largest car market. New energy vehicles and electric vehicle (EV) batteries are playing an increasingly important role in Beijing’s plans to turn China into a high tech powerhouse. China also has the largest cumulative total of new energy vehicles, ahead of Europe and the United States, which have the second and third largest totals respectively. In 2016, 53% of the 774,000 electric cars sold worldwide were sold in China. In order to meet next year’s demand, forecasters say that China alone needs to make 750,000 new energy vehicles — exceeding the combined worldwide demand in 2016. Continue Reading

China Dominates Global Investments in Renewable Energy

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies and Andrew Westgate

Market research has long recognized China as the largest investor in its own domestic renewable energy industry. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, China invested US$102 billion in 2015 alone. However, a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) found that China’s dominance in renewables is rapidly growing overseas as well.

The report details China’s robust international investment activity. In 2016, for example, China made 11 outbound clean energy investments exceeding US$1 billion for a total of US$32 billion — a 60% increase from 2015. China also ranked as the fifth-largest investor in renewable energy projects in other emerging markets in 2016, totalling US$19.7 billion since 2005. However, according to the report, China still directs a majority of its investments in renewables towards the United States, Germany, and other developed countries.

The report also found that China currently accounts for one quarter of global renewable energy capacity and one third of all global investment in renewables. Chinese manufacturing has altered the economics of renewable power worldwide, making solar generation cost-competitive with electricity from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. As a result, official figures indicate that coal consumption, the main component of China’s carbon emissions, fell in 2016 for the third year running. Continue Reading

Further Disclosure? Yes, but Not at Any Cost

Posted in Dispute Resolution

By Oliver Browne and Hayley Pizzey

In very broad terms, parties to English litigation disclose documents that they or their opponents may want to rely upon — even if the disclosed documents are adverse to the disclosing party. Parties may seek orders for further disclosure in certain circumstances. The rules on disclosure are set out in Part 31 of the Civil Procedure Rules (the CPR) and Practice Directions 31A, 31B, and 31C (the last of which is new and applicable to competition cases only).

A recent decision in Vodafone Group Services Ltd & Ors v Infineon Technologies AG & Ors[i] highlighted some limits of further disclosure orders.

The decision

Certain Vodafone group companies have commenced a damages claim following on from a decision of the European Commission, in which the Commission found that Infineon Technologies and certain other smart card chip manufacturers had participated in a European Economic Area (EEA)-wide cartel involving the supply of smart card chips. Vodafone’s estimated damages are said to be approximately £150 million and the parties were likely to spend around £30 million in total to take the case to trial. Continue Reading

European Commission’s 6 Proposals for Post-Brexit Intellectual Property Rights

Posted in Brexit, Data Protection


By Deborah Kirk

The European Commission (EC) has released a position paper on its objectives for the Article 50 Brexit negotiations with the UK regarding Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). The EC has effectively set out six key principles for the Withdrawal Agreement, including:

    1. Continued legal protection for certain IPRs: Any IPR with unitary character (e.g., EU trademarks, Community designs) granted before the withdrawal date should automatically be treated in the UK as having the same rights that the UK currently enforces under the EU regime, at no extra cost to the IPR holder. This continued protection will also include geographical indications. The EC would require the UK to implement domestic legislation to achieve this when necessary.
    2. Continued priority benefits for certain IPRs: From a procedural prospective, any IPR applications placed before the withdrawal date that have unitary character and are still under prosecution (i.e., ongoing) at the time of withdrawal, are to maintain any priority benefit they have when applying to receive the equivalent recognition in the UK.
    3. Continued protection for supplementary protection certificate or paediatric extensions: Similarly, after withdrawal it should be possible in the UK to receive a supplementary protection certificate or paediatric extensions if an application was submitted before and is ongoing at the withdrawal date. In addition, any protection in the UK should be equivalent to the protection afforded under the EU regime.
    4. Continued protections for database rightsholders: Database rightsholders should continue to enjoy the same protections after the withdrawal date in the EU27 and in the UK in relation to those databases. Conversely, the UK should not exclude EU27 nationals and companies from enjoying database protection in the UK on the grounds of nationality or establishment.
    5. Continued application of exhaustion: Any IPRs that were exhausted in the EU before withdrawal should remain exhausted in the EU27 and the UK. The conditions for exhaustion should be those defined by EU law.
    6. EU27/UK registry cooperation and data transfers: In order to facilitate the principals regarding IPRs with unitary character, the Withdrawal Agreement should encourage cooperation and data transfers between the IPR registries of the EU27 and the UK.

Continue Reading

How Will Court of Appeal Decision in Sabbagh v Khoury and others Affect Future Article 6(1) Cases?

Posted in Dispute Resolution, EU and Competition

By Oliver Browne and Daniel Harrison

The Brussels Regulation provides for an exception to the general rule that a claimant must sue a defendant in the EU Member State where the defendant is domiciled. The exception allows a claimant to sue a defendant where a co-defendant (the “anchor” defendant) is domiciled instead, if the claims are so closely connected that it is expedient for a court to hear them together. In Sabbagh v Khoury and others, a majority of the Court of Appeal (the Court) considered that this exception will not apply if the claim against the anchor defendant is hopeless or presents no serious issue to be tried.[i]

Sabbagh v Khoury and others: the Case and Judgment

Article 6(1) of the Brussels I Regulation (44/2001) provides that a person domiciled in an EU Member State may also be sued : “where he is one of a number of defendants, in the courts for the place where any one of them is domiciled, provided the claims are so closely connected that it is expedient to hear and determine them together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments resulting from separate proceedings.” Article 8(1) of the Brussels I (Recast) Regulation (1215/2012), which replaced the Brussels I Regulation and post-dated the claim in Sabbagh, now contains the same provision. Continue Reading