In January the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) heard oral argument in a case challenging the ability of car sharing company Turo to facilitate pickups at Logan International Airport without paying the taxes and fees that Massport requires of traditional car rental companies. Like Airbnb and HomeAway do for the short-term house rental market, Turo allows individual car owners to rent out their cars for short periods of time when they would otherwise sit unused. The case, Massachusetts Port Authority v. Turo, Inc., promises to have national implications for whether car sharing companies and other internet businesses that facilitate peer-to-peer transactions can shield themselves from liability by relying on the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA). The CDA protects internet businesses from being held liable for claims that would treat the website as the publisher or speaker of objectionable content posted by third parties. Search engines and social media applications are classic examples of companies often protected by the CDA, but it is less clear whether the immunity extends to companies that do more than simply serve as a bulletin board for third-party posts.
In a win for developers, Supreme Judicial Court says six-year clock for design and construction defect claims runs separately for each building within condominium development.
In our modern global economy, many Massachusetts companies are finding themselves with a need not only for legal advice concerning Massachusetts and U.S. law, but also for legal advice concerning international law and the local laws of foreign countries in which they do business. As a result, foreign legal consultants--foreign lawyers who advise Massachusetts companies and residents on foreign law--are increasingly in demand. In order to avoid running afoul of prohibitions against the unlicensed practice of law, foreign legal consultants must become licensed prior to providing any legal advice in Massachusetts. There are specific rules issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ("SJC") governing the licensing of foreign legal consultants and the limits of their practice. Both foreign attorneys seeking to consult in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts companies seeking to retain foreign legal consultants, should become familiar with these and other applicable rules.