This year’s Consulegis Autumn Conference led us for the first time to the west coast in the USA, to Santa Monica in California. For most participants this meant a long journey, but however time and cost a total of roughly 100 persons came to Santa Monica, the Europeans being again the strongest fraction (48 participants), followed by North America with 31 , Latin America with 15, and 4 participants from Asia. A total of …. law firms were represented.
The hosts, Daar & Newman, Lawyers from Los Angeles, took great care in offering a carefully planned and excellently realised conference. Hotel (Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel) as well as all events were well chosen, and participants enjoyed some interesting and relaxed days. A mild critique has to go to the weather God, who surprised guests and hosts alike with cloudy and sometimes rainy days.
The conference started in the evening of Thursday October 20, with the traditional get together cocktail offered by the host, this time in the Loew’s Santa Monica Hotel. Tequila “à discretion” and a lively Mariachi band soon created a fairly relaxed atmosphere.
Howard Palser, our chairman opened the conference at 8.30 a.m. of Friday October 21. He welcomed two newly accepted firms. These were:
Morvilliers Sentenac Avocats in Toulouse (France), as well as
Thomas Graham, Solicitors in Cardiff, a firm to which Howard Palser is a consultant.
Together with the managing director, Dr. Roland Ermini, he then informed the audience of the most important decisions taken by the Board during the year. These were:
a.) the signing of service contracts with a marketing specialist in London and a press agent
b.) the realisation of the Dr. Thomas Marx Award;
c.) the creation of a Consulegis subgroup Latin America, called CALC (Consulegis America Latina Chapter);
d.) the creation of a Willis project group, for coordinating all insurance projects with Willis.
Dr. R. Ermini then presented the preliminary budget for 2006 according to which total income and expenses will be 293’000 Euro (based on a total of 91 members). The most important expense items will be (all figures in 1000 Euro): personnel 108 (plus 2), marketing 70 (no change), and two international conferences 35 (no change). Profits will be slightly negative
(-3). The audience was informed that in view of these figures the Board did decide that special efforts should be made for finding new members during 2006. The Budget 2006 has to be adapted accordingly.
No questions were asked, and Mrs. Lúcia Hollanda from Brandi in Rio de Janeiro took the floor to report on the status of the project CALC (Consulegis America Latina Chapter) the creation of which had been decided during the AGM 2006 in Budapest. The goal of this chapter or subgroup is to form a better cohesion between the Consulegis members in America Latina and to create incentives for a closer collaboration between these firms and with the rest of Consulegis. The group presented a comprehensive summary of legal systems in Argentina, Brasil, Mexico and Paraguay (*). They plan to extend this work to the other “Consulegis-countries” in America Latina. CALC will extend its activities into
Europe and North America., thus promoting their members outside of America Latina as well.
Before coffee break Jonathan Wood, member of the Board and marketing coordinator informed the audience on the status of QBO Bell Pottinger’s work for promoting Consulegis to the international media and, with the help of a German specialist, Dr. Jens Heise, in Germany. QBO Bell Pottinger published their first Consulegis newsletter just in time before the LA conference. The next edition is due in February/March 2006.
After the coffee break the Chairman together with the creator of the award, Dr. Pedro Pais de Almeida (Lisbon/Portugal), introduced Dr. Csaba SÁRI from our member firm Balázs & Holló in Budapest/Hungary as the winner of the Dr. Thomas Marx Award 2005. The election committee had to judge two entries and decided unanimously in favour of Dr. Sári who wrote a paper entitled: “EU-Legislation on Consumer Protection re: sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees”. Dr. Sári was invited by Consulegis to Los Angeles and received a money prize of Euro 2’500.-.
The next Award will be handed over in Baden-Baden /Germany on October 13, 2006.
Guy Facey from KSB London has excellent contacts in the emerging country of China and
presented a short but impressive list of do’s and don’t’s when dealing with Chines partners. In the ensuing lively discussion he and Michael Lintern-Smith from Hongkong revealed valuable information on China.
Thanks to the good contacts of Jeffery Daar to official Los Angeles, Consulegis was one of the first international audiences to receive a most inspiring speech from the Honorable Antonio Villaraigosa, the recently elected Major of Los Angeles. Mr. Villaraigosa is of Hispanic origin and has quickly become a national figure in the United States. In his charismatic presentation he described openly the problems but also the immense chances
Greater Los Angeles does enjoy thanks to its truly international population. The Consulegis audience loved Antonio Villaraigosa’s presentation and thanked him with a long applause. In exchange the Major handed over a diploma issued in honour of Consulegis together with the American Flag which, as a special distinction, was previously flown over the White House in Washington.
In the afternoon of Friday October 21 our traditional specialist groups met in four different groups. Their reports will be distributed as soon as they are available.
The evening program took the participants to a tram tour of the Universal Studios’s back log in Hollywood, followed by an animated dinner in their conference hall. Young Marilyn Monroe (an actress) made men sucking in their bellies and amused the ladies present .
On Saturday morning a group of members proposed in a heated discussion that a resolution be published in which Consulegis condemns “unjustified restriction of the free exercise of the legal professional of any of its members” by the Russian Government (Case of Bob Amsterdam when defending Mr. Khordokovsky - Yukos). The Board agreed to this proposal and a final version (see annex) was distributed to the international press by QBO-Bell Pottinger (UK).
The Chairman of the Board closed the conference around 10 a.m.
Participants split into two groups: the first was of for a city tour through Los Angeles, and the second group, the golfers, played their 18 holes at the Braemar Country Club, a private club boasting two full size golf courses. Saturday evening the program was rounded out with a visit to the impressive Getty Museum, followed by a wine tasting competition and the traditional dinner this time pepped up with Salsa dancing.
Our very best thanks are extended to our host Daar & Newman for an excellently organized , and most interesting conference. It will be remembered as a truly memorable event.