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February 2014 Archives

A Primer on Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a relatively new 'cryptocurrency' in which in which encryption technology enables consumers and businesses to exchange goods for currency over the Internet without having to rely on the element of trust in order to ensure payment.  Users buy Bitcoins and load them onto a virtual wallet, which they can then use to transfer Bitcoins instantly and anonymously to other users anywhere in the world.  As such, there are significant cost savings and efficiency benefits associated with the use of Bitcoin as a method of currency.  As Venture Capitalist Marc Andreessen explained on the New York Times' Dealbook, "Bitcoin is the first Internetwide payment system where transactions either happen with no fees or very low fees (down to fractions of pennies)."(1)  Many vendors are starting to consider Bitcoin in part to combat the large fees charged by credit card companies which cut into sales margins.  However, no central bank exists to regulate Bitcoin, and it entirely relies on peer-to-peer transactions and largely unregulated exchanges.

Child Abduction: The FBI's Child ID App

According to the United States Department of Justice, each year about 350,000 children are abducted against the backdrop of divorce or separation.  The FBI's first mobile application, which is free and available in iPhone and Android versions, helps the authorities begin a more immediate and effective investigation if your child is abducted. With the FBI's Child ID App you can securely store photos and up to date identifying information about your child on your smartphone. With the click of a button, you can provide that information to the authorities to aid in their search. 

Contemporaneous Evidence of Off-Record Assignments Satisfies Ibanez

The Massachusetts Land Court division of the Trial Court has affirmed that contemporaneous evidence of off-record assignments are adequate to satisfy the requirements of U.S. Bank N.A. v. Ibanez, 458 Mass. 637 (2011).

Massachusetts Partition Actions: An Overview

A partition action is a legal proceeding to force the sale of real estate that is held by multiple owners, and to fairly divide the sale proceeds among the owners.  A partition action is often used a last resort when one or more owners want to sell, but cannot agree with the other owners on the terms of the sale.  Partition actions are governed entirely by Chapter 241 of the Massachusetts General Laws.  "Any person, except a tenant by the entirety [a married couple], owning a present undivided legal estate in land, not subject to redemption" has a right to partition under Chapter 241.  M.G.L. c. 241, ยง 1.

Counsel's Role in Reducing Costs in International Arbitrations

Parties to a dispute often cite cost control as a reason for choosing arbitration over litigation.  To achieve the goal of keeping arbitration costs down, it is important for counsel to play an active role in advocating for cost control.  Without counsel's vigilant attention from the outset of the case, arbitration costs can rival litigation expenses.  This is especially true in international arbitrations where parties, counsel, and arbitrators hail from different parts of the world.

Who gets the engagement ring?

We've been asked the question "who gets the engagement ring?" by a number of clients whose engagements have been terminated prior to marriage.  As so often is the case in family law, the answer to that question is "it depends."

Easement Dimensions Are Not Necessarily Set in Stone

In a recent decision handed down in January 2014, the Supreme Judicial Court (the "SJC") has expanded on its well-known holding in M.P.M Builders, LLC v. Dwyer, 442 Mass. 87 (2004), to decide that an owner of registered land burdened by an easement can modify the dimensions of the way over his land "so long as the purposes for which the easement was created are not frustrated, and the utility of the easement is not lessened."

Bridging the Gap: Arbitration's Impact on the Panama Canal

In August of this year, the Panama Canal will turn one hundred years old. An engineering marvel from its inception, the canal serves as a shortcut for 13,000 ships every day, making it one of the busiest and most important commercial waterways in the world. Efforts are underway to build an additional set of locks that would create a new lane of traffic, effectively doubling the canal's capacity.

"Strong Medicine" - Prescribed

The First Circuit has described default judgment - a ruling, as sanction, against a defendant on all of the factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint - as "strong medicine," that "should be prescribed only in egregious cases." See Hooper-Hass v. Ziegler Holdings, LLC, 690 F.3d 34, 37-38 (1st Cir. 2012). 

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