David S. Willig: The Civil-Law Notary: A Bridge Between Worlds

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DAVID S. WILLIG, ESQ. – The word "notary” is usually associated in the public mind with a quasi-official who pulls out his or her stamp when someone needs a witness for an oath or some other legal transaction. Only three hours of classroom time are required to be a notary public in Florida, but the Civil-Law Notary is very different. These notaries, where they are part of the legal landscape, are high-level legal professionals who handle important transactions.   In creating this designation, the Florida Legislature realized one of its greatest unsung achievements. The Scope of the Profession The Civil-Law Notary is intended to function similarly to that of notaries in “civil law” jurisdictions such as Quebec and Argentina, not incidentally two of Florida’s most important international economic partners. Asian countries such as Japan and China also have adopted … [Read more...]

David S. Willig: Bilingual Mediation Too Often an Afterthought

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BY DAVID S. WILLIG, ESQ. – Alternative Dispute Resolution continues to be a growth industry, throughout the United States and around the world. Among ADR techniques and mechanisms, mediation leaves the result in the hands of the parties, rather than one imposed from "on high." In mediation, the mediator's only power is that of persuasion, along with creativity in proposing ideas that lead to a negotiated solution. This is challenging enough in normal circumstances. In many instances, mediation can be more challenging still when the parties have language differences. Language in mediation is critical, because of the mediator's role in guiding the parties toward settlement through suggestion and persuasion. In the increasingly diverse communities established or emerging in many parts of Florida, and the U.S., we see language issues more often come to the fore. Disagreeing in two … [Read more...]

Michael L. Feinstein: Florida Makes Big Changes to its Limited Liability Company Act

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BY MICHAEL L. FEINSTEIN, ESQ. – On June 14, 2013, Florida adopted the Revised Limited Liability Act (“Florida’s LLC Act”), based on the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act. Florida’s LLC Act went into effect on January 1, 2014 and is codified in Chapter 605 of the Florida Statutes. Florida’s LLC Act governs new LLCs formed after Jan.1, 2014. LLCs formed before Jan.1, 2014, may elect to be governed under the old LLC statute until Jan.1, 2015, however, after Jan.1, 2015, Florida’s LLC Act will apply to all Florida LLCs. Florida’s LLC Act contains significant changes from the prior statute. Below are some highlights of the material changes: 1. Expansion of Nonwaivable Provisions  §605.0105 Florida’s LLC Act expands the list of statutory rights and provisions that cannot be waived or altered in governing documents or other agreements between an … [Read more...]

Richard Wolfe: Entering into Contracts with Minors can be a Minefield

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BY RICHARD C. WOLFE, ESQ – The fields of entertainment and sports are dominated by the young. Many athletes and entertainers have earned tremendous amounts of money prior to reaching legal age. This article will focus on three contracting issues apropos to minors: where the contract is judicially approved; where the contract is guaranteed by the minor’s parents; and where consideration is given to the minor, but no judicial approval is obtained. Background on Judicial Approval Florida is one of 38 states that has adopted a version of the so-called Jackie Coogan” Law, named after the child actor whose riches were taken by greedy parents (and who regained his fame in middle age as Uncle Fester in the Addams Family TV show) [See Florida Statutes 743.08, 09, and 095 (1995).] Under the common law, the parents possessed the results of a child’s work in return for their legal … [Read more...]

Joseph Sacher: A Concise Contract is the Key

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BY JOSEPH A. SACHER, ESQ - Never underestimate the power of a clear and concise contract, however short, particularly when it contains broad and unambiguous indemnification provisions providing extensive relief for damaged parties. In Florida, clear and unambiguous terms in a written agreement will control the course of contractual relationships, and also determine the outcome, if any disputes should arise. I recently had the pleasure of representing an injured party in a commercial dispute, which was attempting to enforce a one-page Indemnity Agreement executed 10 years before the actual dispute arose, and 12 years before it went to trial. The case, Nature’s Products, Inc. v. Natrol, Inc., et al., Case No. 11-CV-62409-CIV-Dimitrouleas, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Division, serves as an excellent illustration of the value of a … [Read more...]