DIARY: Legal firm warns funny foreign laws imminent

Picture the scene. You're the chairman of an agency which has just

won a multimillion-pound account. Your board is downing Champagne and

your front-page story in Campaign is guaranteed.



Suddenly your celebration is cut short by the dedicated account team

from the client's former agency, demanding to continue working on the

business.



Refusing your demand to go forth and multiply, they claim they've become

employees of your agency by virtue of the Transfer of Undertakings

(Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981. To make matters worse, the

losing agency has made the team redundant and you face being hit by

transferred claims for unfair dismissal.



You think it couldn't happen? Think again, Roger Alexander, a senior

partner at the media law firm Lewis Silkin, warns. Apparently, the

relentless outpouring of new employment laws from Europe is throwing up

so many novel and unexpected issues that m'learned friends will never

want for a new brief.



But his may be the least of the industry's worries, according to the

firm's predictions for 2002.



In the US - where else? - the battle over publicity rights is heading

from the ridiculous to the downright bizarre. The trend began in

California's 9th Circuit Court, which has become so protective of such

rights that it is known as "the circuit of the stars".



Alexander says: "We predict that someone purporting to have exclusive

rights to represent the estate of the late Mr Osama Bin Laden will

commence proceedings in Los Angeles for infringement of his publicity

rights arising from a website running an unauthorised 'hunt the

terrorist' game."



Alexander's other big forecast for the year: Publicis to take a majority

stake in M&C Saatchi and merge it with Saatchi & Saatchi. But we all

know that, don't we?



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