Key Issues in OTC Derivatives Contracts as COVID-19 Disrupts Global Financial Markets

It has been an extraordinary few weeks as businesses face challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak.  Companies are grappling with a multitude of issues — from the health and safety of employees to increased cyber security risks to financial and operational stability.  Understandably, assessments of significant contractual and market exposures have been prioritized.  Potential exposures under over-the-counter derivatives contracts should be included in those reviews.  Many companies maintain active OTC derivatives portfolios to hedge commercial risk, whether interest rate, foreign exchange, commodity or other hedges.  The OTC market has experienced large movements in reaction to COVID-19 and the related containment measures.  Below we highlight key OTC considerations for companies in relation to COVID-19:

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Delaware Corporations Can Rely On Federal Forum Provisions for ’33 Act Claims

Delaware corporations routinely include “exclusive federal forum” provisions in their charters and bylaws to designate federal courts as the exclusive forum for litigating claims under the Securities Act of 1933 (the “’33 Act”).  Corporations generally prefer to litigate these claims in federal court as state court is viewed as inefficient and more inclined to grant plaintiffs a summary judgment ruling.  The practice of adopting exclusive forum provisions is intended to avoid state court litigation of ’33 Act claims and state court forum shopping by plaintiffs. Continue Reading

SEC Gives Advisers COVID-19 Regulatory Relief

The SEC announced on March 13, 2020 that investment advisers affected by Coronavirus are exempted from filing an amendment to Form ADV Part 1A and the Brochure (ADV Part 2A) for up to 45 days.  https://www.sec.gov/rules/other/2020/ia-5463.pdf.  The annual amendments for ADV are due March 30, 2020 for most firms.  In addition, the SEC exempted advisers affected by Coronavirus from the requirements to deliver amended brochures, brochure supplements or summary of material changes to clients where the disclosures are not able to be timely delivered because of circumstances related to Coronavirus.

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Federal Offshore Pipeline Decommissioning in BOEM Significant Sediment Resource Areas

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of denials of applications to decommission offshore pipelines in place in a departure from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (“BSEE”) longstanding practices.  The denials are accompanied by an order from BSEE to decommission the pipelines by removal, with reference to Notice to Lessees (“NTL”) 2009-G04 and/or “significant sediment resource areas” (“SSRA”) in the vicinity of the pipeline.  BSEE is also issuing orders to companies to remove pipelines located in SSRAs that were previously decommissioned in place.

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Fifth Circuit to Hold Oral Argument in Sojitz v. UNOCAL in April 2020

Last year, in another dispute over who should bear the cost of decommissioning offshore facilities, the Southern District of Texas held that a former sub-assignee of offshore operating rights was entitled to equitable subrogation from the record title owner and initial assignor.  Sojitz Energy Venture, Inc. v. Union Oil Co. of California, 394 F. Supp. 3d 687 (S.D. Tex. 2019).

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Increasing Scrutiny of Foreign Investment in the U.S.: BOEM Puts Companies on Notice of Potential CFIUS Review of Bids at Upcoming Federal Offshore Lease Sale

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently issued an Information to Lessees (ITL) regarding the potential applicability of new regulations issued by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to bids at the upcoming March 18th federal offshore lease sale (Lease Sale 254), which will offer for lease all available, unleased acreage in the Gulf of Mexico region.

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En Banc Fifth Circuit Issues Long-Awaited Ruling on Federal Officer Removal

The Fifth Circuit recently issued an en banc opinion in Latiolais v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc.,[1] a case previously featured on the Blog, overruling “extraordinarily confused” precedent and establishing a new removal test under the Federal Officer Removal Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1).  This new test is likely to have significant impact on future removals to federal court.

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Texas Supreme Court Decides Energy Transfer Partners v. Enterprise Products

The Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion today in Energy Transfer Partners, L.P v. Enterprise Products Partners, L.P., a case previously featured on the Blog.  This case began in 2011 when ETP and Enterprise explored the possibility of partnering to modify and extend, or construct anew, a pipeline to transport oil southbound from Cushing, Oklahoma.

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Louisiana Supreme Court Addresses Res Nova Attorney Fees Issue

In Luv n’ care, Ltd. v. Jackel International Ltd., No. 2019-C-00749, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted writs to address the res nova issue of whether the “punishment for contempt of court” statute, La. R.S. 13:4611, authorizes the imposition of attorney fees against a party not adjudged guilty of contempt.  In the district court, Plaintiff, Luv n’ care, Ltd. (“LNC”), brought a contempt proceeding against defendants, Jackel International Ltd., et al. (“Jackel”), for allegedly violating a permanent injunction previously entered in LNC’s favor.  While LNC was unsuccessful on its motion for contempt, the district court not only denied the motion, but also awarded a substantial attorney fee award to Jackel as the “prevailing party in a contempt proceeding” based on the recently amended language of La. R.S. 13:4611(1)(g).

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Fifth Circuit Rules “Approximate Physical Presence” is Required for General Personal Jurisdiction

Can targeted advertising establish general jurisdiction over a foreign corporation?  The Fifth Circuit had not addressed this issue until Frank v. P N K (Lake Charles) L.L.C., No. 18-31060, 2020 WL 288213 (5th Cir. Jan. 21, 2020).  But in so doing, the court may have announced a new jurisdictional test with significant ramifications for future cases.

Frank was a wrongful-death lawsuit filed in Texas state court against L’Auberge Hotel & Casino and its marketing division, PNK.  Following removal to federal court, the district court granted PNK’s motion to transfer, finding PNK was not subject to general jurisdiction in Texas.  The plaintiffs appealed.[1]

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