Doing Business Right – Monthly Report – December 2017 - By Catherine Dunmore

Editor's Note: Catherine Dunmore is an experienced international lawyer who practised international arbitration for multinational law firms in London and Paris. She recently received her LL.M. from the University of Toronto and her main fields of interest include international criminal law and human rights. Since October 2017, she is part of the team of the Doing Business Right project at the Asser Institute.


This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on Doing Business Right based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @DoinBizRight. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have overlooked.

The Headlines

Landmark corporate bribery trial against Shell, Eni, CEOs and executives

On 20 December 2017, a judge in Milan, Mrs Justice Barbara, ordered the biggest corporate bribery trial in history as the British-Dutch multinational oil and gas company Shell and the Italian oil giant Eni are charged with aggravated international corruption. Also facing trial are Eni’s current CEO Claudio Descalzi, former CEO Paolo Scaroni and Chief Development Operations and Technology Officer Roberto Casula, alongside four former Shell staff, including Malcolm Brinded CBE, and two former MI6 agents employed by Shell. A report by Global Witness and Finance Uncovered in April 2017 highlighted the allegations relating to Eni and Shell’s acquisition of a deepwater oil-prospecting license for one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks, known as OPL 245, in the Gulf of Guinea in 2011. Prosecutors allege that the two companies’ payment of almost $1.1 billion into a Nigerian government escrow account was later distributed as payoffs. No company as large as Shell or such senior oil company executives have previously stood trial for bribery offences. The trial is set to begin on 5 March 2018, whilst Eni and Shell also face criminal charges in Nigeria over the same deal.

Asociación Profesional Elite Taxi v Uber Systems Spain SL: Uber is a regulatable transport service

On 20 December 2017, the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down its judgment in Case C-434/15 Asociación Profesional Elite Taxi v Uber Systems Spain SL. Uber is an electronic platform providing a paid service, connecting individual passengers with non-professional drivers who use their own cars, through a smartphone application. In 2014, a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona brought an action before the Juzgado de lo Mercantil No 3 de Barcelona seeking a declaration that the activities of Uber Systems Spain amount to misleading practices and acts of unfair competition. The Spanish court wanted to ascertain whether the services provided by Uber are transport services, information society services or a combination, as the requirement for prior administrative authorisation depended on the classification adopted. The Court of Justice held that Uber’s intermediation service must be regarded as forming an integral part of an overall service whose main component is a transport service and, accordingly, should be classified as ‘a service in the field of transport’ within the meaning of European Union law. Therefore, it is for Member States to regulate the conditions under which such services are provided, in conformity with the general rules of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

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