Banks lose millions on Aussie law firm loans

Bigger office for offshore specialist… Why a missing comma has led to a costly court ruling…

Banks lose millions on Aussie law firm loans
Banks lose millions on Aussie law firm loans
The bulk of the huge loans taken out by Australian-listed law firm Slater & Gordon have been sold to a firm which handles distressed debts, resulting in large losses for the lenders.

Westpac, National Australia Bank, RBS and Barclays have taken losses of up to 80 per cent, the Financial Times reports.

The firm which has acquired the loans will be involved in a restructuring of the law firm, which has seen its business hit by tough conditions in the UK personal injury market and costs and other matters related to the Quindell professional services business.

Bigger office for offshore specialist
International offshore law firm Harneys has moved its Singapore office to a larger location.

After several years of growth for the firm’s city-state location, it has relocated to 138 Market Street, Capita Green, allowing extra space for its team of lawyers who advise on the laws of the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

Why a missing comma has led to a costly court ruling
The often-ignored comma which precedes the final item in a list – known as the ‘Oxford Comma’ - has resulted in a costly court ruling.

A US dairy had won a previous claim by its drivers that they should be paid $10 million in overtime because the relevant law in the state of Maine was wrongly punctuated; however, that ruling was overturned last week.

The case hinges on a list of activities for which overtime is not paid:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of: (1) Agricultural produce; (2) Meat and fish products; and (3) Perishable foods.

The drivers said that as there is no comma between the words “shipment” and “or” the clause does not refer to packing and distribution as two activities but only to the activity of packing.

With the drivers believing that this means that distribution is not listed as a separate activity from packing and as they only distribute goods they say their overtime is not excluded.

The BBC reports that Judge David D. Barron said that as the state’s employment laws must be interpreted liberally, he is allowing the drivers’ narrower reading of the exemption.

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