Hosted by our Portuguese member Abreu Advogados with offices in Lisbon, Oporto, and Madeira, more than 145 members and guests met in Funchal, capital of the Madeira Archipelago, for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Spring Conference 2010.
The guests could choose between the conference hotel, the traditional Reid’s Palace and, as an alternative, the most modernly furnished CS Madeira Atlantic Resort & Sea SPA. The extremely friendly service, the well-tended premises, and the beautiful surroundings were each factors contributing to the success of this conference. Let us offer our sincere thanks at this point to the management and staff of both hotels for their efforts.
Two last-minute events raised doubts if this conference could be carried out. At the beginning of March, Madeira and especially the region on and around Funchal were hit by a disastrous storm with widespread flooding. Aside from the mounting financial damage measured in the millions, were the many fatalities and even higher numbers of those injured, and in mid-April the Icelandic volcano „Eyjafjallajökull“ darkened the skies above northern and central Europe, grounding air traffic over all of Europe for six days. Fortunately the ban on flights was lifted one week before the meeting, and we could breathe more easily.
The Board and management decided that Consulegis, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, should express its solidarity and affection for Funchal as a guest by making a donation to the official fund to reconstruct Madeira. The call for donation from our members was successful, and our chairman of the Board, Gerd Ziegenfeuter, could present the president of the „Governo Regional da Madeira“, Alberto Joâo Jardim, a check in the amount of €11,8 50.
Gerd Ziegenfeuter opened the annual general meeting (AGM) with a brief review of Consulegis’ history, which began in 1985 with the unofficial merger of three law offices (Dr. Marx & Dr. Zippel in Hamburg, Schmidt-Eych, Dorn, Krämer in Berlin, and Gerd O. Ziegenfeuter in Nice). Five years later, on 5 July 1990, this association was entered officially as an EEIG in the commercial registry of Berlin-Charlottenburg. From these modest beginnings, i. e. 20 years later, today’s Consulegis developed into a group with about 93 member firms and an estimated 1,600 attorneys in 41 countries. As Gerd Ziegenfeuter put it: „We are proud of our network, which numbers among the largest associations of lawyers in Europe.”
Among the guests greeted were John Grimshaw (Nautilus Trust Company, Ltd, UK) and Richard Halstead, (partner in Wynne-Jones, Wayne & James LLP, UK).
The following agenda items were approved according to the bylaws without dissent. Participants then followed the Board’s proposals and approved the minutes of the 2009 Annual Meeting (Manchester), the financial report, as well as the 2009 Annual Report and the 2010 Budget.
The Board and Management were unanimously relieved of their tasks. Horst Becker (the firm of Becker & Partner) was reelected by acclamation for another year as auditor.
Then Dr. Pedro Pais de Almeida and Gerd Ziegenfeuter presented Jeannette Tam (from the law firm Robertsons in Hong Kong) as winner of this year’s Dr. Thomas Marx Award. The prize committee had evaluated seven submissions. Ms Tam won with her article „The United States Global Online Freedom Act of 2009. Is it the Appropriate Approach to Prohibiting Global Internet Censorship?”
For the first time and in commemoration of our 20th years anniversary all contribution are published on a CD-ROM which is at the disposal of all members free of charge.
Dr. Eckard Brödermann (law firm of Brödermann and Jahn, Hamburg) spoke on „The new European International Contract Law: Evolution or Revolution – comparative analysis“, and Frederico Gouveia e Silva (Abreu Advogados, Funchal) informed the interested participants of legal and taxation-related simplifications for international investors in Madeira.
After lunch in the beautifully situated Restaurant Cipriani (part of Reid’s Palace) the following topics were discussed: „Doing Business with Savills“ (Clive Beer, Savills L&P, London); „Young Lawyers Initiative“ (Elin Pinnell, Capital Law, Cardiff); “Marketing Report, 2009“ (Jonathan Wood, DAC, London); „Chinese European Arbitration Center“ (Dr. Eckart Brödermann, Brödermann & Jahn, Hamburg); „Consulegis America Latina Chapter“ (Dr. Pedro Pais de Almeida, Abreu Advogados, Portugal, and Fernando H. Gómez, Hernandez Barbosa e Huerga, Guadalajara), and „Program Committee“ (Jeffery Daar, Daar & Newman, Los Angeles).
As always, Saturday morning was reserved for specialist groups. This time the following groups met: Aerospace, Business Generation, Corporate and Tax Group, Customs – Export and International Trade, Intellectual Property, Entertainment and IT, Labour and Employment Laws, Litigation and Arbitration.
Always important at these meetings as well are the related social events. The hosts, Abreu Advogados in Lisbon and Funchal, came up with a few outstanding ideas here. Besides the usual good meals in various restaurants on Madeira, the absolute highlights were the „Welcome Reception“ in ancient Fort São Tiago on Thursday evenings, the visit to a cellar specialized in producing Madeira wines on Friday evening, as well as the gala dinner in Reid’s Palace. The president of the regional government of Madeira, Alberto João Jardim, honored us with his presence at the gala dinner.
The conference was organized perfectly. All participants agreed on this point. We wish to especially thank Mrs. Rita Menáno Osório who together with her colleagues made this conference a true success. We also offer special thanks to the able staff of Reid’s Palace.
We are grateful to Dr. Pedro Pais de Almeida and his partners for this wonderful meeting!
Dr. Roland Ermini