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The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor.

Russia: Government Begins Testing Driverless Cars

(Jan. 18, 2019) On November 26, 2018, the government of the Russian Federation issued a regulation that permits the testing of driverless cars on regular roads to begin. (Government of the Russian Federation, Regulation No. 1415 of November 26, 2018, on Conducting an Experiment in Testing the Use of Highly Automated Vehicles on Public Roads, Russian Government information portal (in Russian).) The new Regulation is the first piece of national legislation that regulates the use of autonomous vehicles.

The government will conduct the experimental testing between December 1, 2018, and March 1, 2022, on roads of two constituent components of the Russian Federation—the capital city of Moscow and the Republic of Tatarstan, a territory located about 500 miles to the east of Moscow. Simultaneously, the government approved the Rules of the Experiment, which designate a government research lab to coordinate the testing. (Id.) The laboratory is to collect applications from owners of the autonomous vehicles, issue testing permits after reviewing the test vehicles and their electronic equipment during a 45-day review period, monitor the results, and provide recommendations for safety standards. (Id. para. 10.)   Reports summarizing the test results and proposing further developments must be submitted to the government by March 2020 and again in 2022. These reports must contain recommendations regarding technical requirements and standards for the practical use of autonomous vehicles. (Id. para. 3.)

Each autonomous vehicle is to be equipped with a data recording system; a mechanism allowing the pilot, whose presence in the car is required, to activate and deactivate the autonomous driving system; and equipment for recording traffic and the pilot’s actions. This video recording must be preserved for no less than 10 years and can be given to government agencies upon their request. Each driverless car must bear a special sign with a large black letter “A” to identify it as an autonomous vehicle. A pilot must have no less than three years of professional driving experience, have a clean driving record, and be medically certified to serve as a driving instructor for the specific category of cars that is being tested. (Id. para. 11.)

The owner of an autonomous vehicle is responsible for all traffic and other accidents that occur on Russian roads with the car if nobody else is found guilty. Liability insurance with at least 10 million rubles (about US$150,000) of protection is required. The owner of a car equipped with a system for autonomous driving can be a legal entity, and the owner cannot be changed during the testing period. (Id. para. 7.)  Russian attorneys believe that disputes arising from traffic accidents involving autonomous cars can be resolved under general civil legislation and, in the future, only the owners of driverless cars will be financially liable regardless of the severity of damages inflicted. Others are of the opinion that the responsibility for damages can be placed on the pilots who monitor the autonomous driving system if they are found to be at fault and on the developers of the autonomous technology if in an accident was the result of a system failure. (Ivan Buranov, Driverless Cars Will Have Their Rights, KOMMERSANT (Nov. 6, 2018) (in Russian).)

The original draft of the Rules established that no more than 200 driverless cars can be tested in one constituent component at the same time and stated that the equity capital of an enterprise that owns the car must be no less than the equivalent of US$1.5 million. These requirements were criticized during public discussion of the Rules, mainly because of a threat that many smaller startups working in this field would thus be excluded from the market. These provisions were removed from the final version of the document. The major Russian Internet company, Yandex, is leading the country’s development of driverless technology, while state-owned car manufacturers are known for the poor quality of their cars. Such major car manufacturers as Scania, Volvo, Toyota, and Audi have also reportedly expressed interest in testing their autonomous vehicles in the traditionally difficult Russian driving conditions. (New Legislation Set to Regulate Russia’s Burgeoning Driverless Car Market, THE BELL (Nov. 10, 2018).)

Industry experts predict that by the year 2025, there will be around 20,000 driverless cars on Russian roads. (Elena Botoroeva, There Will Be 11 Million Driverless Cars in Russia in 25 Years, PARLAMENTSKAIA GAZETA (Nov. 12, 2018) (in Russian).) They cite the absence of a requirement to test driverless software and technology under specifically established standards before beginning the road test as a weakness and see this as a potential traffic-safety issue. The fact that the Rules do not specify what would qualify as a successful test is seen as another deficiency of the Rules. (Ivan Buranov, Transportation Ministry Proposes Amendments to the Vienna Convention, KOMMERSANT (Sept. 8, 2018) (in Russian).) The State Duma (Russian legislature) has not included laws regulating driverless cars in its legislative agenda and, in September 2018, one of the Duma leaders stated that the parliamentarians are going legislate “the more important problems of transportation infrastructure and highway construction.” (Id.)

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Malaysia: Ban on Smoking in All Eateries Comes into Effect

(Jan. 17, 2019) On January 1, 2019, a ban on smoking at all restaurants and other eateries, including open-air hawker stalls, came into effect in Malaysia. (Ban on Smoking in Malaysian Eateries Takes Effect, STRAITS TIMES (Jan. 2, 2019).) According to the Control of Tobacco Products (Amendment) Regulations 2018, which were issued in December 2018, smoking is banned in any “eating place,” which is defined as

any premises whether inside or outside building, where food is prepared, served or sold and includes —

(a)  any room or area on a ship or train where food is prepared, served or sold;

(b)  any area on a vehicle where food is prepared, served or sold, and any surrounding area within a radius of three meters from the vehicle; and

(c)  any area within a radius of three meters from any table or chair which is placed for the purposes of preparing, serving or selling food[.] (Control of Tobacco Products (Amendment) Regulations 2018, reg. 2, P.U. (A) 329, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GAZETTE (Dec. 24, 2018).)

The principal regulations, the Control of Tobacco Products Regulations 2004, impose a fine of up to 10,000 Malaysian Ringgit (RM) (about US$2,444) and up to two years of imprisonment on anyone caught smoking in a prohibited area. (Control of Tobacco Products Regulations 2004, reg. 11, P.U. (A) 324, available on the Tobacco Control Laws website.) Proprietors and occupiers of relevant areas who fail to display a no-smoking sign may be fined up to RM3,000 (about US$733) or sentenced to up to six months of imprisonment. They must also ensure no person smokes in the area, with a fine of up to RM5,000 (about US$1,222) or up to one year of imprisonment applying. (Control of Tobacco Products Regulations 2004, reg. 12 (as amended).) However, the Ministry of Health stated that it “will give offenders a grace period of six months to comply with the ban, during which it would educate and warn restaurant owners and smokers.” (Teething Problems Reported in Enforcing Malaysia’s Smoking Ban, CHANNEL NEWS ASIA (Jan. 2, 2019).)

The Regulations are made under the Food Act 1983 and have been amended several times, including the addition of several areas where smoking is prohibited. (See Legislation by Country: Malaysia – Laws, TOBACCO CONTROL LAWS (last visited Jan. 11, 2019); List of Regulations Made Under the Food Act 1983 (since 2011), e-Federal Gazette website (last visited Jan. 11, 2019).)

Prior to the 2018 amendments, the Regulations prohibited smoking only in air-conditioned eating places, which, until amendments were made in 2017, were able to have a designated smoking area. (Control of Tobacco Products Regulations 2004, regs. 11 & 21; Control of Tobacco Products (Amendment) Regulations 2017, reg. 5, P.U. (A) 32.) When announcing plans for the extended ban in September 2018, the Deputy Health Minister stated that the changes were intended to align the law with the guidelines for the implementation of article 8 of the the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. (Sharina Ahmad, No Smoking at Outdoor Restaurants from December, Deputy Health Minister Says, MALAY MAIL (Sept. 6, 2018); WHO, Guidelines on Protection from Tobacco Smoke (2007).)

Under the Regulations, as amended, “smoking” is defined as “inhaling and expelling the smoke or vapour of any tobacco product and includes the holding of or control over any ignited, heated or vaporized tobacco product.” (Control of Tobacco Products (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2015, reg. 2, P.U. (A) 304.) Therefore, vaping is included in the ban.

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Germany: Courts’ Obligation to Accommodate Disability at Oral Argument Must Be Balanced Against Other Principles

(Jan. 16, 2019) In an order published on January 3, 2019, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) declined to hear a case in which the complainant requested that oral arguments be conducted in a way to accommodate his Asperger’s syndrome. The Court held that the decision of the regional social court (Landessozialgericht) denying his request did not constitute discrimination because of a disability. (BVerfG, Nov. 27, 2018, Docket No. 1 BvR 957/18, ECLI:DE:BVerfG:2018:rk20181127.1bvr095718, BVerfG website; GRUNDGESETZ [GG] [BASIC LAW], May 23, 1949, BUNDESGESETZBLATT [BGBl.] [FEDERAL LAW GAZETTE] I at 1, art. 3, para. 3, sentence 2, German Laws Online website.)

Decision

The complainant had asked the regional social court to allow him to join the oral proceedings from his home computer, in a manner similar to a chat in an online forum. The Federal Constitutional Court reiterated that all courts are obligated by article 3, paragraph 3 of the German Basic Law, the country’s Constitution, not only to offer nondiscriminatory treatment to people with and without disabilities, but also to apply the procedural rules in such a way that ensures effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others. (BVerfG, at 3.) However, the Court held that his request to participate from his home computer was not supported by article 3, paragraph 3 of the Basic Law. (Id. at 4.) In the opinion of the Court, the complainant could have appointed a representative to participate in the oral proceedings. (Id. at 5.) Even though courts are obligated to take health concerns of the parties into account so that they may participate in person, this right is not unrestricted. It must be balanced against the constitutional principles of transparency, immediacy, and administering justice within a reasonable period for all litigants. In the case at issue, the Court concluded that accommodating the wishes of the complainant would conflict with the aforementioned principles. (Id. at 7.) Appointing a representative would have safeguarded the rights of the complainant while at the same time safeguarding the constitutional principles and balancing rights and principles appropriately. (Id. at 8.)

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Italy: EU Regulation on the Abuse of Markets Implemented

(Jan. 15, 2019) On September 29, 2018, new legislation implementing an EU regulation concerning the abuse of markets entered into force in Italy. (Legislative Decree No. 107 of August 10, 2018, Provisions Adapting Domestic Legislation to the Provisions of EU Regulation No. 596/2014 on the Abuse of Markets and Repealing Directives 2003/6/CE, 2003/124/UE, 2003/125/CE and 2004/72/CE) (L.D. No. 107), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (G.U.), Sept. 14, 2018, G.U. website (in Italian).)

Increased Information Obligations of Listed Issuers and Their Subsidiaries

The new legislation increases the powers of the National Commission for Companies and Stock Exchanges (Commissione Nazionale per le Soccieta’ e la Borsa, CONSOB) by establishing, among other provisions, that issuers trading securities of units of closed-end funds must now provide the regulated information to CONSOB as well as to other market operators. (L.D. No. 107, art. 3(5)(b).) Listed issuers must also communicate to the public, without delay, certain privileged information directly related to such issuers and their subsidiaries as provided in EU Regulation No. 596/2014 according to the respective technical norms established by the European Commission. (Id. art. 3(6)(a).) Listed issuers must also ensure that their subsidiaries provide all the necessary information to comply with their obligations as set forth in EU Regulation No. 596/2014. (Id. art. 3(6)(c).)

Reinforced Reporting Obligations of Shareholders

The new law provides that any shareholder holding shares equal to at least 10% of the social capital of a company or anyone controlling the listed issuer must notify CONSOB and the public of any transactions related to shares issued by the issuer or of other financial instruments issued by their intermediaries, or other persons directly connected to them. (Id. art. 3(6)(e).)

Broadening the Scope of Reporting Obligations

Under the new legislation, in order to guarantee that the public be properly informed, CONSOB may request the publication of investment recommendations and other information related to investment recommendations by listed issuers and other subjects under their control. (Id. art. 3(6)(g).) CONSOB must approve regulations establishing the criteria for identifying issuers of financial instruments that, although not listed on Italian regulated markets, are widely distributed among the public. (Id. art. 3(10)(a).)

New Administrative Penalties

New administrative penalties are imposed for violating the prohibition on abusing privileged information and unlawfully communicating privileged information, as provided in EU Regulation No. 596/2014. (Id. art. 4(9)(b).) These sanctions are increased up to triple or up to the highest amount of ten times the profit obtained or losses avoided as a result of the offense. (Id. art. 4(9)(d).)

Additional Penalties for Recividism

When the perpetrator of a crime has already committed any of the offenses set forth in the law one or more times during the last ten years, whether with criminal intent or out of negligence, the law also imposes the administrative penalty of permanent interdiction for any position involving the administration, management, or control of the respective institution where the offense was committed. (Id. art. 4(11)(12)(d).)

Recividism for other offenses is punished by a temporary interdiction from participating in the conclusion of operations of the respective company, or by an order to repurchase as a direct result of financial instruments, during a period not to exceed three years. (Id. art. 4(11)(12)(f).)

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