By R. Jason Huf
Some of you may have obtained entry to the "Monastery" (as I've taken to calling my office) as and when business has required. However, for most of those reading this, I realize that I'm letting you in on a little secret: the advertised address of JHI's NYC HQ office is just a mail stop associated with a shared space & services operation on the 6th floor of good old 11 Broadway. To maintain my strict "No Pop-Ins" Policy, the exact location of the Firm Headquarters Office/ Monastery's actual physical presence is kept confidential, and that confidence is only breached when necessary.
Being able to advertise the mail stop as the office address, and the convenience of renting conference room space by the hour on the 6th floor, both enable me to concentrate on my work with minimal interruption. In addition to this "buffer", availing myself of the shared services when certain tasks need to be performed rather efficiently assists me with keeping costs down, which in turn contributes to my ability to maintaining hourly rates that are very competitive.
(As an old boss of mine used to say, "This is not the Fish Market"; but, with our competitive rates and innovative price structures, there may not be much need for you to bargain when seeking high-quality, world-class International Legal Services that your company can afford)
Perhaps most fundamentally to those of you (still) reading this piece, JHI can make available to your company the seamless provision of professional services spanning just about the entire legal prism, without having to figure massive overhead costs into our hourly rates (or more innovative billing arrangements). The outfit that runs the 6th floor operation only caters to attorneys, and many of these attorneys elect to house their firms and solo practices in physical office space on the site. Irrespective of the level of their arrangement, all who participate in some form or another are listed in a directory and, over time, some of us get to know each other reasonably well.
These attorneys practice in virtually every area of the law, and possess a variety of experience levels. In short, I have at my fingertips a storehouse of legal minds to draw upon, from commercial real estate specialists, to business litigators, to tax professionals - even a very smart fellow who focuses on energy trading. And, like myself, they tend to maintain a relatively unburdensome level of overhead costs, which in turn, permits them to be reasonable with their fees as well.
A few people still tend to think of my practice as rather narrow, until I dispell them of that illusion - JHI is a Commercial, Corporate, Energy & Banking law firm and we perform a wide range of services for clients hailing from a broad variety of industries. We just happen to have extensive experience in the Middle East, which may occassionally give rise to some folks instinctively thinking of JHI as a boutique servicing a particular "specialty" area. However, JHI's capabilities are even broader than I previously reasoned:
Between the NYC HQ, our Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office, additional reources in the UAE (Abu Dhabi & Dubai) and access to Singapore and various major cities in India, JHI as a Brand is known as a capable provider of professional services in the Middle East and South Asia, ranging from company formation to arbitration, for those who have invested - or are looking to invest - in those regions in the world.
What JHI is not (yet) necessarily known for is our ability to assist businesses based in the Middle East and elsewhere with their expansion into the US "mega-market". Whether you are an individual foreign investor entering through the EB-5 Visa process, or a family-owned conglomerate of businesses looking to invest in US real estate, or a publicly traded company in Riyadh entering a joint venture, or a participant in the new US public-private partnerships designed to reform the nation's infrastructure, JHI is well-placed to help get you started as well as protect your US-side business interests down the road.
We have access to an entire network of intellectual assets encompassing a variety of practice areas ordinarily comanded only by big law firms, without having to factor "big firm" overhead into our fees. So, when investing from West to East, or East to West, consider the cost-effective but powerful option of contacting JHI for your legal needs.
Feel the difference and put our NYC HQ and affiliated Community of Attorneys to work for you in concert with our Jeddah office and/ or resources in the UAE, India & Singapore (wherever you're from!) as we help you and your company Explore the Boundaries of Your Business.
– Jason Huf
Wednesday, August 8, 2017
New York, NY
Aug 8, 2017 7:01 PM
By R. Jason Huf
Jun 23, 2017 11:40 AMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan.We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region, including JHI resources in Saudi Arabia & the United Arab Emirates, during the holiday.
Jun 9, 2017 1:34 PMSaudi Arabia's (KSA) new Companies Law of 2015 came into effect on May 2, 2016. At JHI, we wished to see the new law in practice and how it would be enforced by Saudi authorities before commenting. In the meantime, much has already been written about the new law and we need not cover the same ground here.Of particular interest to clients and potential clients of JHI is, we believe, the law's provision of the option of Sole Proprietorships (or "Single-Shareholder" companies), and how applications for the licensing and registration of such by foreign investors are treated by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).As a general matter, the new law provides that SAGIA may continue to impose additionally stringent incorporation requirements on companies being established with the backing of foreign investors. While the process of approving incorporation applications has been somewhat streamlined at SAGIA, a certain level of uncertainty, especially at the beginning stages of such an application, remains.When considering establishing or reforming an entity in the KSA, JHI feels that if a foreign investor has a trustworthy local partner/ agent (or "sponsor") then, for the time being, it may remain prudent to make use of such local parties when doing business in the Kingdom. In addition to possibly enjoying a smoother approval process, one might avoid any potential bureaucratic pushback by some recalcitrant officials who may still be resistant to the Vision 2030 reforms more generally.The relationship with one's local sponsor can be further clarified via a side letter to the sponsorship agreement. Such sideletters have been enforced by Saudi courts with increasing regularity. And, JHI hopes that the provision for Single-Shareholder companies in the new Companies Law is not seen by the local judiciary as a rationale for reversing this trend.We will have more to say about the execution and enforement of the new Companies Law and other reforms as events (rapidly) progress. Speaking of events, recent news indicates a very real likelihood of a shift in the direction of investment capital flowing between the Untied States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.Where the Riyals of the Sovereign Wealth Fund go, other Saudi-based investment capital tends to follow. With that in mind, JHI is seriously considering offering the shepherding of EB-5 (Investor) Visa applications to the menu of professional services our firm offers to incoming companies that invest in the United States, particularly New York, Pennsylvania and/ or New Jersey, where Mr. Huf is admitted to bar. JHI will have more to say on this in the near future as well.
May 26, 2017 1:15 PMIn the United States, we set aside one day to remember those who have fallen in war, defending our freedoms. But, there isn't a single day wherein we forget. We hope that you and yours enjoy the holiday weekend, and that we all take a little time to say a prayer of rememberance and gratitude for our fallen heroes and their families this Memorial Day.
We all die, the only variables are where, when and how - and, sometimes, why. They may be gone, but our war dead are never lost. These soldiers, sailors, airmen & marines are forever in our hearts.
To all of our friends around the world who observe the Holy Month of Ramadan, we at JHI hope that you and your families enjoy a meaningful period of dedication to fasting, reflection and prayer during this period of tremendous changes throughout the Middle East. May your loved ones take this holiday as an opportunity grow closer to each other, your neighbors, the less fortunate and the whole of humanity.We wish you good health in the year ahead. Ramadan Mubarak!
Dec 19, 2016 2:36 PM
During the last week of September, immediately following the opening of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, a series of seminars, workshops and interactive displays collectively coined "A Day in Riyadh" was showcased at the UN. This week-long "Riyadh Day" was sponsored by the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh (Riyadh), and particularly featured the ongoing work of the Arriyadh (Riyadh) Development Authority (ADA). As a Representative (Observer) for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to the UN, and an attorney with an office in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Huf, Principal of JHI, was pleased and excited to attend.
Focused on the capital city of Saudi Arabia (KSA, or the Kingdom) and the governate (province) of Riyadh, the series of presentations covered subjects relevant to the economy, culture, commerce and development of the entire Kingdom, and the Arab and Islamic worlds more generally.
Of particular interest to those who follow this space will be the planned reformation of Riyadh's transportation system which, if fully executed, may be the single-largest public works project on earth during the period of construction. However, we will list all of the subjects covered by the panel presentations at the UN between September 27 - 30, to provide a broad look at the planned continued development of Riyadh (one of the chief purposes of the conference) which, in turn, may give us a better view of the Kingdom-wide social and economic reforms known as Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030".
9/27 "Riyadh: Planning for People" - the overall City Plan (by 2030) moving forward, including details on Riyadh's new "Smart City" initiative.
9/28 "Riyadh: A Sustainable & People-Friendly City" - details concerning the Sustainable Development of Riyadh.
9/29 "Riyadh: On the Move" - The King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport.
9/30 "Riyadh: Development of Civilization and Social Partnership" - Plans for the continued social, economic and intellectual development of the city's population in line with Islamic principles and the traditions of Arabia, particularly youth and especially young women, empowering them to take a more active role in the growth of the city and the future of the Kingdom as a whole.
(Jason Huf and Dr. Sana Alorf. Dr. Sana is extraordinary, but not unique. She is a medical doctor working in Riyadh who also participates in many charitable and civic endeavors. She volunteered, along with many other young Saudis, to travel to New York and talk about their culture, heritage and way of life in side bars at the exhibition. Many ladies are taking up professions [including and increasingly fields such as law, medicine and science], starting businesses and participating in life outside their homes in the Kingdom. Dr. Sana has a wealth of information that dispells many of the illusions concerning Saudi society and highlights the progress Saudi women have made - and continue to make.)
The public transortation project, scheduled for completion in 2018, is a massive affair that could revolutionize life in Riyadh. In addition to a new bus service, the project includes the construction of a commuter railway (Riyadh Metro) with six lines, dozens of stations, a main terminal for each line, and services areas at each stop, including large-scale shopping complexes at each of the main terminals. Anticipating use by roughly 3.6 million residents daily, over 3,000 transport stands will be constructed to accomodate waiting commuters.
With billions of Saudi Riyals being invested into the project, and given the rather brief time frame, this will generate a labor boom in the capital for qualified Saudis and expatriates. Mr. Huf asked Eng. Hassan Al Musa, Deputy Director of the Transport Planning Department of the High Commission for the Development of Riyadh, if resources had been allocated to process what should be a substantial spike in Visa applications. Potential contractors and subcontractors will be interested to know that the Deputy Director responded that his office is in touch with the Ministry of Labor on a regular basis as they set up for this contingency. So long as employers comply with their filing requirements, he said, there should be no delays in the project caused by a labor shortage brought about by paperwork backlogs.
(Eng. Hassan Al Musa and Jason Huf. Mr. Huf found him to be capable, earnest and modest. Although entrusted with day-to-day management of a massive public works project, with a tight schedule, he always gives credit to others, refering to his "Army" of dedicated public servants. "That makes you a General", responded Mr. Huf, who later added, "Eng. Hassan is a nice guy".)
In addition to the lifestyle transformation and relief of traffic congestion that will take place once this project is complete, young Saudis who are lacking in resources such as cars of their own will be able to much more easily venture beyond the confines of their own neighborhoods to look for satisfying work and important educational opportunities. And, everyone who lives in Riyadh should enjoy the benefit of cleaner air arising from fewer cars on the highways.
The entire program provided a window through which one could sample Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, the rapid modernization and other wide-ranging reforms ordered by King Salman and spearheaded by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with the aim of guiding a modern but authentically Islamic Saudi Arabia that remains true to its people's history and traditions into a future "Post-Oil" economy.
These reforms include the KSA's Sustainable Development program, which closely follows the UN's Sustainable Development Goals while keeping in conformity with Kingdom's Islamic principles; increased opportunities for youth & women; and, Saudi Arabia's nuclear power program.
At JHI, we have offered our own modest suggestions for the shaping of such sweeping reforms, with an emphasis on attracting increased Foreign Direct Investment in the Saudi market.
With an incoming US Administration that seems keen on utilizing America's energy resources; and, (if feasible) working with Russia to defeat ISIS (which, in addition to commiting henious atrocities, has been fighting forces led directly or indirectly by the Iranians), some may see such investment from the West as slow in coming, and the KSA's reception of it to be less-than-enthusiastic.
Seen by some as signalling potential push-back against the further development of US energy resources and other recent or possible future policy changes, Prince Alaweed bin Talal of Kingdom Holding Company (Saudi Arabia's soverign investment apparatus) suggested selling holdings previously classified "not sellable" (such as shares in Citi Group and US Treasury bonds), which would be a divorce from Saudi Arabia's long-standing policy of having "buy-ins" in important American economic institutions and, thus, the American economy - effectively giving the US a stake in the KSA's existence and continued success.
Noises concerning such potential push-back seem unlikely to stem the increased exploitation of US energy resources (another dip in the price of oil, for example, would seem more likely to give pause to an increase in US production). And, the US-Saudi alliance of over seven decades, while fraying a bit over the last several years, should remain rather tightly tethered: after ISIS is destroyed, a check on Iranian ambition will have been eliminated, and the US and the KSA will more clearly and simply share strong interests in containing Iran and managing increasingly complicated relationships with Russia.
In fact, the strong relationships the KSA enjoys with the West, the interest Western countries have in seeing the continued modernization of Arab states, and Western companies' keen eye to continue - and, possibly increase - their investments in the Gulf region were reinforced recently by UK Prime Minister Theresa May in her mid-December visit to the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Bahrain.
Pending changes to the Kingdom's commercial and corporate laws, which continue to be rolled out, and given at least one or two geopolitical uncertainties, JHI presently and on the whole views it likely that the environment for Foreign Investors will become even more attractive as the Vision 2030 reforms are implemented in the KSA. As to the Great Social & Economic Reformation of the Kingdom known as "Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030", Mr. Huf doesn't think its on par with the Maji Restoration (the radical transformation experienced in Japan during the late 19th century), but he does see it as the most significant series of reforms in the history of the KSA since the reign of King Faisal (perhaps in the Kingdom's entire history - we'll see) and the most positive collection of developments to take place in the Arab world thus far in this new, turbulent 21st century - and, he certainly viewed the exhibition at the UN positively.
Sep 9, 2016 11:44 AMThis is one day of the year all of us set aside for remembering, but there is never a day when we forget.
As with dates officially deemed "National Holidays", JHI's New York HQ Office - per annual Firm tradition - will be closed for business this Monday, September 12, in observance of the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001.Just as JHI is proud to perform work that may make some small contribution to what, some day, may be the development of a broad, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East, JHI is honored to be a witness to the resurgence of downtown Manhattan. The Financial District's magnificent comeback is best symbolized by our neighboring Liberty Tower:
September 11 will be a day of remembrance and reflection for us all. JHI will resume offering high-quality professional services on Tuesday, September 13.JHI also wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid Al Adha holiday. We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect delays in certain services due to office closures - particularly banks and government offices - throughout the Middle East region during the holiday, which is scheduled to begin at sundown on Sunday, September 11.
Jul 5, 2016 2:41 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan, despite the challenges to peace and security during the Holy Month this year. We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.JHI will continue its expansion in the region and hopes that, even as they mourn those lost this past week, the good people of Medina, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Kingdom celebrate God-given life and its highest pursuits.
In the United States, we celebrated the 240th anniversary of our Independence on July 4. These past several weeks have seen barbarity at its worst. With specific reference to the terrorist attack at Medina, we in the Land of Liberty, irrespective of faith, stand with and pray for the innocent victims of that atrocity. Everyone has a right to freedom from terror.
While the savage primitives of ISIS/IL are strongly suspected of coordinating the attack in Medina and other places throughout Saudi Arabia, no group as of the date of this writing has claimed responsibility and the motives of the suicide bomber in Medina are as yet unknown. It was nonetheless a murderous act of barbarity that the whole of the civilized world must reject. ANY "cause" served by the use of Terror as a tactic must, summarily, be deemed illegitimate.
Further, when terrorism is employed, the actors betray their so-called "cause" to be nothing more than a pretext for a war of conquest. This is the reality civilized people across the globe must face with the determination that any such enemy will be defeated and placed in history's rubbish pile, along with so many other would-be tyrants of the past.
Jun 6, 2016 11:28 AMTo all of our friends around the world who observe the Holy Month, we at JHI hope that you and your families enjoy a meaningful period of dedication to fasting, reflection and prayer during these historically challenging times. May your loved ones take this holiday as an opportunity grow closer to each other, your neighbors, the less fortunate and the whole of humanity.
We wish you good health in the year ahead. Ramadan Mubarak!
May 25, 2016 1:50 PM
By R. Jason Huf
Its been quite some time since JHI's last Note or Comment, but that doesn't mean that there hasn't been anything to write about. And, its certainly too much to write about all at once.
With Ramadan just around the corner, should the usual business cycle associated with the Holy Month and High Summer come about, I will make maximum use of the time and write more often:
April was a pretty busy month, inside the office and out. Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030" was unveiled by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on April 25. JHI will provide analysis of the KSA's plan for a "post-Oil" economy, and any changes to the laws of the Kingdom resulting therefrom. We will also continue to track legal developments elsewhere in the Gulf region.
Also, as UN Representative for an NGO, I enjoyed the opportunity of hearing United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speak about the UN's Sustainable Development Treaty, the Sustainable Development Goals, and what the private sector (including the Legal Community) can do to help achieve those goals. This was followed by attending several open forums at the UN, and hosting a talk on 'Conflict Minerals' with an expert on the subject.
I also moderated two very successful Continuing Legal Education panels, one on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the other an Ethics course on Attorney "Branding" for international practitioners.
Almost forgot! In March, I had the pleasure of hosting a New York State judge who discussed the Qatari Commercial Courts after returning from his experience teaching new, young Qatari lawyers in Doha.
More recently, after months of deliberations and conversations with colleagues and others I respect, I have come to a decision on JHI's future in the Middle East - and, beyond.
[ for some of the backstory, click here ---> ].
Further details concerning our expansion of capabilities and services, as well as the other topics outlined above, will be distributed in due course.
In the meantime, Happy Memorial Day -- enjoy the start of summer!
- Jason Huf
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
New York, NY
Mar 1, 2016 5:43 PMBy R. Jason Huf
It is with great pleasure, and not without some sense of humility, that I announce my appointment as Representative (Observer) to the United Nations (UN) by the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA), a Non-Governmental Organization recognized by the UN.Observers have access to certain sessions and other events covering a wide range of topics, and I hope to put this exposure to the best possible use of NYCLA and the legal community as a whole. Naturally, my own focus will be on the Middle East and topics important to those involved in the region, from Womens' Rights (and, Human Rights generally) to Banking, Energy, International Corporate Governmence and Trade.
Of course, I am not a "One Man Army" -- I am working
with a terrific team of dedicated professionals, and I
expect great results as we report back to our
colleagues on issues of importance to international
legal practitioners and other concerned classes of
This is an opportunity - and, an honor - that I am
committed to making the most of as our civilization
marches ahead into an age of rapidly-changing times that
may require some thought be put into changing legal
constructs.And, hey, you can't beat Fun...- Jason Huf
It goes without saying that I will provide a report or two via this space as well. Thank you for your continued interest.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
New York, NY
Dec 22, 2015 10:19 AMThe Law Firm of JASON HUF INTERNATIONAL, pc (JHI) will close the doors of its New York HQ Office for the Christmas and New Year Holidays starting today, December 22, 2015 at 5:00pm.
JHI will resume regular business hours on Monday, January 4, 2016. As usual, because of necessary and prudent building security measures, office visits in 2016 will be by Appointment Only.
During the Holiday Season, the Jeddah office and the Khalil Khazinar Law Firm will remain open. In the event of an urgent matter arising during the Holidays, Mr. Huf can be reached directly by e-mail.
From everyone at JHI, Merry Christmas!! And, best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year!
Sep 18, 2015 11:13 AMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid Al Adha holiday. We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect delays in certain services due to office closures - particularly banks and government offices - throughout the Middle East region during the holiday, which is scheduled to begin on the evening of Wednesday, September 23.
Sep 10, 2015 1:43 PMAs with dates officially deemed "National Holidays", JHI's New York HQ Office will be closed for business this Friday in observance of the anniversary of September 11, 2001.Just as JHI is proud to perform work that may make some small contribution to what, some day, may be the development of a broad, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East, JHI is honored to be a witness to the resurgence of downtown Manhattan - it really is one of the truly great comeback stories of our age, as symbolized by the new neighboring Liberty Tower:September 11 will be a day of remembrance and reflection for us all. JHI will resume offering high-quality professional services on Monday, September 14.Liberty ALWAYS Rises. We will never forget, nor will we quit.
Jul 17, 2015 1:11 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan.
We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.
Sep 8, 2014 4:09 PMJHI will be closed for business this Thursday in observance of the anniversary of September 11, 2001. Just as JHI is proud to do work that may some day contribute to the development of a broad, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East, JHI is honored to be a witness to the resurgence of downtown Manhattan - it really is one of the truly great comeback stories of our age.
Thursday, September 11, will be a day of remembrance and reflection for us all. JHI will resume offering high-quality professional services on Friday, September 12.
Liberty ALWAYS Rises. We will never forget, nor will we quit.
Jul 28, 2014 2:48 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect delays in certain services, and possible disruptions of projected time frames, due to office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.
Jul 18, 2014 4:10 PMUnless you are a fan of Battlestar Galactica, the word “Fracking” tends to have negative connotations. People don’t necessarily like it, even without quite knowing that to which the word refers.Fracking is the colloquial term for Hydraulic Fracturing (which may sound ever scarier), a mining process by which a fluid solution is applied at high pressure against fissures in subterranean rock formations to facilitate the yield of valuable materials (usually oil, gas or coal steam) that would ordinarily be uneconomical, or otherwise impracticable, to extract. This process has been in use for over sixty-five years, and over 1 million wells employing such a system have operated in the continental United States alone during that period.While Fracking is not new, the technologies involved in both the Fracking process and in oil and gas exploration have improved to the extent wherein there are new uses that generate higher yields. Perhaps the most discussed new developments as of late concern the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits.Focusing specifically on Fracking as it applies to the Marcellus Shale, in very basic terms: a well is drilled into an extraction site, and the hydraulic fluid is applied at great pressure against cracks in subterranean sandstone formations, allowing for the injection of a proppant that facilitates the release of natural gas particles (mostly methane), which then fill the well thereby making such gas available for extraction. The fluid solution employed in the Hydraulic Fracturing process generally consists of water (90%), sands (9.5%) and certain chemicals (0.5%).The chemicals conventionally used in such a solution tend to include methanol, hydrochloric or acetic acid (to clean the initial fissure), citric acid (to prevent corrosion), salts, glutaraldehyde (a disinfectant against bacteria), water-soluble guar gum and other viscosity control agents, ethylene glycol (to prevent the occurrence of scaling inside the pipes) and friction reducers. These chemicals sometimes vary and are employed to prevent bacterial growth in the water within a wellbore, facilitate and maintain operation of the well, and to prevent or otherwise mitigate the corrosion of the well casing (such well casings typically consisting of a polymer gel or foam).Recycled “flowback” water, liquid propane, carbon dioxide and other gases may be used to reduce reliance on water for this process, as the technology continues to change.Most of the discussion about the recent proliferation of Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale region revolves around the potential environmental impact. In addition to voicing worries over the possibility of increased seismic activity (earthquakes), many are concerned with the potential for pollution: the use of certain known carcinogens in the Hydraulic Fracturing process and, particularly, contamination of groundwater by methane gas via leaks in the wells after such wells are in operation.There is some scientific debate still ongoing as to which is more susceptible to leakage: Fracked wells or conventional natural gas wells. Currently, radioactive tracers and, increasingly, geophones are used to monitor Hydraulically Fractured natural gas wells once established. Unfortunately, much of the research and discussion on issues involving Hydraulic Fracturing and the potential consequences to the environment and our health has been ideologically motivated and politically charged. Thus, when seeking accurate information to become better educated about these legitimate concerns, well, the waters are somewhat muddied.That’s disappointing, but should not discourage one from seeking more information (especially if you live in an area where Fracking is employed, or scheduled to be employed).The intention here is not to craft a scientific treatise or to present an academic paper. This little blog posting is not all-inclusive, but is merely intended to provide some basic facts on an often-mentioned, but little understood, word that has made its way into our vocabulary. JHI hopes it may well be a springboard for conducting your own research on the subject.Finally, this article certainly does not take any political opinion on the subject of Fracking – that can continue to be the domain of those who engage in politics for a living.
Jul 9, 2014 3:37 PMBetween the July 4 weekend and other summer holidays, high summer in the Middle East, the holy month of Ramadan, and some sort of soccer tournament, we find ourselves in the unusual position of having a little free time here at JHI.As such, watch THIS SPACE: In the coming weeks, JHI will post a brief article right here in our Notes & Comments section on Hydraulic Fracturing (colloquially referred to as “Fracking”).
Following Labor Day, JHI will publish a brief note on contracting with parties in Middle Eastern jurisdictions (in particular, Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates(UAE)); and, in a subsequent writing, JHI will share some thoughts on Arbitration Clauses when doing business internationally.
And, while there tends not to be many developments in the law anywhere in world during these summer months, JHI will continue to keep our eyes peeling concerning such developments as and when they affect Marcellus Shale Natural Gas, Charter Schools, Municipalities, Middle Eastern jurisdictions (particularly Gulf Cooperation Council jurisdictions), the law of Contracts, the laws of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and the KSA, and business law generally.In the meantime, we would just like to wish all concerned a safe and happy summertime!
Jun 27, 2014 11:50 AMTo all of our friends around the world who observe the Holy Month, we at JHI hope that you and your families enjoy and gain value from the meaningful aspects of an entire month dedicated to prayer and fasting. May your loved ones grow closer to each other, and humanity generally, during this time. We wish you good health in the year ahead.Ramadan Mubarak!
- Jason Huf
Jun 5, 2014 12:33 PMJHI is pleased to announce that the Firm's Founder and Principal has been awarded the honor of serving as Co-Chairman of the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, effective June 1, 2014."This is an exciting time for the Foreign & International Law Committee, and NYCLA generally. Jay (Safer) and Jacqueline (Wolff) have done a terrific job as Co-Chairs of the Committee over the last several years, and we have some pretty big shoes to fill. It is an honor to follow them, and I will do my level best."Continuing the tradition of hosting excellent guest speakers, and working with NYCLA to explore the offering of CLE programs designed for international practitioners, will be at the top of Mr. Huf's agenda.Mr. Huf assumes the Co-Chairmanship of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee with his distinguished colleague, Ms. Clara Flebus. They will serve together for the 2014-17 term.
Marcellus Shale Legal Update: Land/ Natural Gas Owners Challenge Constitutionality of Forced Pooling
May 29, 2014 1:05 PMA few individual private parties owning rights to the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas beneath their land have succeeded in adding themselves as litigants in an action between an energy company and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).In successfully inserting themselves as parties to a suit filed by Hilcorp Energy (to compel the DEP to approve more applications for horizontal drilling permits), five private land owners holding three affected parcels of land are seeking to have the court declare that forced grouping, or “Forced Pooling” violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As the additional drilling Hilcorp Energy seeks to perform partially depends on the enforcement of forced pooling, the court recognized the land owners as having standing and admitted their participation as parties to the case at bar.Forced Pooling is akin to the concept of “Eminent Domain”, wherein the owners of mineral rights and other such natural resources are compelled to lease their rights along the same terms and conditions as their neighbors for economic reasons.The court’s decision on the constitutionality of Forced Pooling will impact individual property rights in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and have economic repercussions across Pennsylvania and beyond. Also, regardless of the outcome, the court’s decision is likely to trigger off a series of appeals, separate suits and legislation (as well as impact the current course of pending legislation) that could well shape the success or failure of the development of Pennsylvania’s infant natural gas industry.JHI will continue to track developments affecting the rapidly changing Marcellus Shale legal landscape.
May 12, 2014 11:06 AMFrom time to time, a trial balloon is floated in one GCC jurisdiction or another concerning the imposition of a new tax, whether it be an individual income tax, corporate tax or a value added tax. The most recent of these is now floating over Dubai, which is still grappling with the residual effects of the 2008 crash while maintaining high levels of infrastructure spending.A prominent Emirati businessman based in Dubai publicly raised the idea of a corporate income tax in Dubai and voiced his general support for such an idea. This is easily to understand, given the depletion of Dubai's oil reserves, the reversal of 2008 and resulting cash crunch, and the Emirate's continued high level of spending. However, it would be somewhat akin to Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.Dubai rose up from the desert, transforming itself from a small trading post adjacent to Sharjah into the "City of Dreams", on the basis of its business-friendly laws, easy access to the oil-rich Gulf region, an unburdensome regulatory environment, quick access to financing and investment capital, and clever marketing revolving around the fact that the Emirate is Tax-Free.
While there are numerous government fees, paid annually, along with payments to sponsors, exceedingly high rental costs and other expenses one could say amount to a sort of taxation, companies and individual entrepreneurs from all over the world continue to flock to Dubai, drawn to the City of Dreams by the prospect of Tax-Free wealth. Imposition of a corporate income tax could threaten this influx and inspire existing businesses to relocate elsewhere in the Gulf. Even if such a tax were quickly repealled, reestablishing Dubai's image, carefully crafted and astutely marketed for many years, might be next to impossible. And, isn't the real "Dream" not quick wealth, but having a broad-based economy not entirely dependent upon oil in the very heart of the Gulf region?
If Dubai is the City of Dreams, the "Green Capital" of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, has been the Emirate of Reality. With much of the UAE's energy resources, over half the country's population and land mass (much of it still undeveloped), and a very similar body of business law and regulations, and a robust banking industry, Abu Dhabi is also Tax-Free. Abu Dhabi may not be known for a miraculous boom of the sort that made Dubai famous, but it has enjoyed steady, broad growth that has withstood the 2008 crash.Today, and not accidentally, Abu Dhabi is a leading target for foreign direct investment. A corporate income tax in Dubai would not only enhance the relative attractiveness of Abu Dhabi to newcomers to the region, it might also encourage some of Dubai's existing businesses to take a two-hour drive and check out why the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is "green" in more ways than one.
Mar 26, 2014 11:43 AMOn March 17, 2014, HB 1684 passed out of the Pennsylvania House of Representative's Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and now awaits the consideration of the whole House. The bill seeks to define the term "post production costs" and mandates that deductions by gas producers/ lessees of natural gas rights cannot deduct for post production costs to the extent that the net royalty paid on extracted gas is reduced to below 12.5%.In its current form, the bill would provide that royalties for unconventional wells would be calculated when the gas enters the commercial marketplace, as ownership of the gas passes on to an unrelated entity (an entity "at arms length"). In the event such receiving/ purchasing entity does not meet the definition of "unrelated", the lessee/ producer has the burden of proof in showing that the royalty generated is at fair market value.HB 1684 also provides for a 12.5 percent "Minimum". That is to say, post production costs cannot drive the royalty actually paid out after calculation to an amount below the 12.5 percent mark. And, such post production costs will have to be itemized for the benefit of the owner in accordance with the guidelines set forth in the legislation.While the bill would affect current as well as future lease agreements, it does not retroactively impact royalties already paid out. That said, this is especially important in light of a recent push to enforce "forced grouping" or "forced pooling" beyond the Utica region, into the gas-rich lands that are considered to fall within the Marcellus region.Forced Grouping is a something of a variation of eminent domain, wherein land owners who have not signed a deal to lease their gas rights are compelled to accept the deal given to a majority of their neighbors. The underlying reasoning is simple: Natural Gas is not segmented by the above-ground property line. This means "hold-outs" can effectively hijack economically useful and beneficial production on an entire deposit, absent some provision such as forced grouping.
Setting aside discussion of individual property rights vs the needs of society for the purposes of this one article, as a tangible matter the "fairness" of such compulsory grouping largely depends on the terms of the leasing agreements entered into by the majority of area landowners.The arguments for forced grouping revolve around the economics of energy, fostering and encouraging production and keeping prices down for the ultimate end-user. However, JHI believes that for the anticipated Marcellus Shale boom to be fully realized, the land owners who hold the rights to the gas beneath their feet must be full participants in such a boom.If it becomes law as presently drafted, this owner-friendly legislation will add greater credibility to gas producers/ lessees arguing in favor of the enforcement of forced grouping.While some folks are "hold-outs" for other reasons, in economic terms such might not necessarily be bad news for land owners who hold the rights to Marcellus Shale natural gas. If you are such an owner, know your rights. Gas producers/ lessees have top-shelf attorneys dedicated to pursuing the interests of these companies. You should have a high quality lawyer guarding your rights and interests.In light of this new legislation, talk with your neighbors about a common strategy for moving forward. JHI will continue to track developments in Pennsylvania law impacting the increasingly controversial and complex issues surrounding Marcellus Shale natural gas exploitation.
Mar 6, 2014 1:38 PMThe government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) recently announced its intention to establish training centers for judges. Such training centers will be administered by the KSA Ministry of Justice. This comes on the heels of King Abdullah's creation of 5,000 new judgeships in the KSA, and is accompanied by vocal opposition from the Kingdom's more traditional, conservative quarters.
For years, the commercial community in the KSA (both local and foreign) has expressed a need for greater transparency in Saudi courts. Procedurally and substantively, a perceived lack of predictability has resulted in a chilling effect on commerce in the KSA.
Arbitration clauses in contracts are of uncertain enforceability in the KSA, as senior judicial officials have, in the past, deemed such clauses to be "contrary to Shari'ah". Accordingly, irrespective of any arbitration clause in any business arrangement entered into, in the event of an irresolvable conflict between the parties one could reasonably expect such a dispute to be adjudicated before a Saudi court.
The uncertain enforceability of arbitration clauses and perceived unpredictability of the courts have combined to generate something of a chilling effect on investment in the KSA. Meanwhile, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) provisions that call for entities native to any GCC Member State to be treated as a local company by the governments of each of the other Member States have added to the investment boom in smaller Gulf countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates: some companies enter those jurisdictions in the hope that, at some point, they might be able to access the much larger Saudi market without completely exposing their investment (or, their employees) to the Saudi legal system.
It is hoped by many in the commercial community that the addition of 5,000 new judges, uniformly trained in the enforcement of commercial and corporate law, will improve the overall business environment in the KSA by generating a greater sense of transparency and predictability in the courts.
The details are as yet unknown; and, conservative elements who view laws and their interpretation as coming from God, not precedent, statute or human beings generally, still have opportunities to oppose the establishment and effective administration of such training centers. JHI will continue to track such developments as they arise.
Feb 26, 2014 1:14 PMStories concerning the 2022 World Cup tournament seem to have taken all the oxygen out of news and information about Qatar. True, Doha is scheduled to be the first Arab state to host the world's largest soccer tournament, and this promises to generate something of an increase to the country's construction boom. But, there's more to this small, wealthy Gulf state than sports.Businesses, whether they be engineering firms, banks, energy companies, franchisors, purveyors of luxury items or manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods, might be interested to know that Qatar is the world's third largest producer of natural gas and has a legal and regulatory enviroment wherein compliance is relatively inexpensive. With the highest GDP per capita in the world, Qatar's consumer base is awash in disposable wealth and opportunities abound.As a law firm, JHI takes particular notice of Qatar's bifurcated legal system. The civil courts there are completely separate from and independent of the Shari'ah courts, and the rest of the government generally. These separate courts that deal with matters relating to foreign commercial interests provide a level of transparancy and predictability for which Gulf-Arab jurisdictions, fairly or unfairly, do not always have a reputation. This, in turn, provides an additional layer of security to companies that expand into, or otherwise invest in, Qatar.Conduct your own economic survey and have accounting crunch the numbers and provide you with the tax implications of such a venture. Then, if satisfied (or, excited), contact an experienced law firm and ask them to provide you with a legal and regulatory survey.Take a look at Doha beyond the glamour of sports and see if you would like to Explore the Boundaries of Your Business.
Jan 8, 2014 2:21 PMJHI's New York HQ office is up and running for 2014 following the Holiday Season (and a burst of inclement weather). As we return from our Holiday, the United Arab Emirates has announced the observance of a Holiday of their own:
Government offices, banks and private enterprises will be closed for business on Sunday, January 12, 2014 in celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. This should not impact international business to any great degree, as Sunday is not a workday in most other parts of the world as it is in the UAE and other GCC states.
We look forward to working on an exciting array of projects this year, and Mr. Huf plans to travel frequently throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on business related to the booming Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.
Speaking of travel, it is that time of the year when Mr. Huf begins booking public speaking appearances. Your next conference or guest lecture series will be discussed for the remainder of the year - Mr. Huf really is that dynamic and compelling. Contact JHI today to discuss subject matters he addresses and to schedule a date. Your next event will be a winner!
JHI hopes your 2014 is as interesting and prosperous as ours. Happy New Year!
Oct 15, 2013 5:14 PMAs energy production on federally-owned land has been slowed to a trickle through government action (and, sometimes, inaction), the production of oil and gas on privately-owned land has increased exponentially. This development has not only provided the first real hope of a sustainable economic boom the United States has seen in years, it also has the country on pace to be energy-independent in just five years. An America that exports energy isn’t a “game changer”, it’s a world changer.
Those who live above, and own the rights to, Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits should be aware that the advances in technology that make Marcellus Shale natural gas exploitable also make such exploitation safe from an environmental standpoint. Everyone likes clean water, and no one wants their use and enjoyment of clean water to be disturbed. Almost as undesirable, however, might be the disturbance of natural gas production by bureaucrats (or, perhaps in some rare instances, ideologues acting in the guise of bureaucrats) tasked with ensuring water safety. Also of concern may be third-party litigants seeking to maintain the artificial scarcity of our energy supply under the banner of “environmental protection”.
How do you maintain peace of mind that your water will remain clean while preventing governmental and other third-party interference that could hamper the value of your natural resource? Through contract. Again, we’re talking about privately-owned land and mineral rights, so federal regulations are not the most pressing concern. As to state regulations, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has thus far proved itself to be one of the most energy-friendly states in the country, where the emphasis on new law has largely been on securing economic growth. But, no government lasts forever – governors have term limits, and seats in the legislature do, occasionally, turn over.
Protect yourself by preempting the rationale for governmental and other third-party action: when you agree to lease the rights to your gas to a gas producer, make sure the contract includes health, safety and environmental standards that are an enforceable part of your agreement. If you own rights to Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits, negotiating for such self-regulation is perfectly reasonable and in your best interests. Reputable gas producers will not fight you on this, and the best of them will actually help you with understanding how the technology works and how to establish enforcement mechanisms that guarantee the quality of their work on your land.
The first step is getting together with your friends, neighbors and others who share your interests and discussing the importance of using your power as citizens and concerned property owners. Being on the same page is fundamentally vital to keeping your environment clean without the assistance of government regulations and regulators. The next step is contacting qualified, experienced legal counsel with the knowledge, expertise and commitment to help your community to help itself.
Sep 10, 2013 4:34 PMJHI will be closed for business this Wednesday in observance of the anniversary of September 11, 2001. Just as JHI is proud to do work that may same day contribute to the development of a broad, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East, JHI is honored to be a witness to the resurgence of downtown Manhattan - it really is one of the truly great comeback stories of our age.
Wednesday, September 11, will be a day of rememberance and reflection for us all. JHI will resume offering high-quality professional services on Thursday, September 12.
An additional note: JHI's website will go offline later this week for maintenance and revision. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and are confident that you will appreciate the updates and other improvements.
Aug 27, 2013 7:39 PMIn July of this year, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law legislation originally designed to provide for greater transparency in determining the deductions from royalties landowners derive from their existing mineral rights leases. Pa. Senate Bill 259 is an amendment to the Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act of 1979, and it contains a controversial caveat that some interpret as an opening for gas companies to apply something akin to a private sector version of eminent domain called “compulsory” or “forced grouping”.
Forced Grouping is the colloquial term for taking the terms and conditions of existing mineral rights leases, contemplated before the discovery of Marcellus Shale natural gas, and applying them against land owners with newly discovered gas deposits beneath their land without the consent of the owners, effectively eliminating their negotiating power. If Forced Grouping is used, such pre-existing terms and conditions previously irrelevant to the leasing of rights in Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits could not only be imposed but, once imposed, would “run with the land”. Therefore, not only could the landowner see a significantly reduced reward for the gas beneath his/ her own feet, but the value of the land itself could plummet as well.If you are a Pennsylvania landowner with an interest in the continuing development of the laws affecting the exploitation of the natural gas beneath your land (for some of you, land your families have owned for generations), do not be in the dark when it comes to your rights. Get together with your friends and neighbors: there’s safety and strength in numbers; and your best defense is making sure people with similar interests and concerns are all on the same page. Also, seek the advice and counsel of a qualified professional licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Know what you may be up against, know your rights and do not be pressured into accepting unfavorable terms as a fait accompli.
Marcellus Shale natural gas represents the best chance this region of the country has seen for a legitimate economic boom in many years, and landowners should be full participants in that boom. The laws concerning your rights in Marcellus Shale natural gas are rapidly changing. Contact a qualified and ethical Pennsylvania-admitted attorney with knowledge of this subject matter to learn more about your stake in an energy revolution that has the potential to change America – indeed, the world – for the better.