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July 29, 2012   Posted by: Margarita Smirnova

Use disclaimers if you want to prevent your e-mail communications from turning into a legally binding contract.

Internet has already changed our lives and how we do business.  A definition of a deal is also evolving!  For better or worse, Massachusetts E-Sign law is changing the way we do transactions today.  A Massachusetts case Feldberg v. Coxall (May 22, 2012) says that an email with an unsigned offer may create a binding agreement.  In its decision, the court relied on the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 110G. The main factors are the context and the surrounding circumstances of between the parties’ communication.

The case involved a real estate transaction consisting of an undeveloped property located in Sudbury, Massachusetts.  Parties negotiated and the prospective buyer e-mailed an offer to the seller with definitive price tag in the amount of $475,000.00.  Later, the prospective seller refused to sell the property.  The issue was whether the emails reflected an offer and acceptance sufficient to show a present intent to be bound to the purchase and sale.  The buyer sued.  The buyer claimed that emails reflected the binding contractual agreement because it satisfied the Statute of Fraud requirements.  See Feldberg v. Coxall.  Under the Statute of Fraud, agreements involving land transaction must be signed.  See http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws for more information.

Essentially, the best way to prevent an unwanted contract from forming is to include a disclaimer in your e-mail correspondence stating that the e-mail exchange will not constitute a binding agreement unless signed in writing or stated otherwise.

Written by Margarita Smirnova, Esq.

If you have a specific question relating to your business, please contact
Margarita

Call: (617)875-8663

E-mail: margarita.smirnova@gmail.com

June 30, 2012   Posted by: Margarita Smirnova

Immigration Law and the Obstacles!

The decision to leave one’s homeland is huge. The obstacles are numerous.

Helping those who do not share American culture and language is an important aspect of the attorney practicing immigration law. Legal system tends to be unclear to an average American. The stakes are high in criminal system where freedom and often times status of life tends to play a major role. It applies to federal and state criminal procedures. The stakes are even higher for those want to enter and/or remain in the country. The decision to leave one’s homeland is huge. The obstacles are numerous. Families struggle for years to reunite; regardless how they arrived to the United States. Some are ousted from their homeland and have no stable place to live. Asking for asylum or refugee status can bring many emotions to different groups of immigrants. One thing they have in common is fear; fear of unknown and instability; the fear for their future. From personal experience, starting from applying, waiting for the application process, the interview and waiting for the immigration officer to deliver the decision can be quite nerve wracking.

There are many obstacles… There is a language barrier, cultural differences, unplanned obstacles such as prior criminal and medical issues and inadvertent mistakes following peoples’ lives. Not understanding how the system works may result in incarceration, detention, deportation, and/or inability to re-enter the country.

Immigration falls under the Federal law system. Federal laws and regulations are stringently regulated. It is even more complicated and difficult to comprehend for those who never dealt with any type of American legal system. Even those who think they know it could be wrong when it comes to sailing through smoothly.

While hiring an attorney is never a 100% guarantee, it is very important to have one represent you in immigration process in order for your case to be reviewed more favorablyIn immigration legal procedures, instructions need to be read literally word by word; just like in criminal proceedings. When there is a gray area and research needed, an attorney can seek through research for the legislative intent and federal case law. An attorney can also ask many questions on your behalf to avoid further complication. An attorney can also help you prepare for the process which can make it less stressful just by knowing what is ahead. While hiring an attorney is never a 100% guarantee, it is very important to have one represent you in immigration process in order for your case to be reviewed more favorably.

Those who are not American citizens do not have the same Constitutional protections like American citizens do. Hence, the non-citizens do not have the right to an attorney to represent them in immigration court.

Written by Margarita Smirnova, Esq.

If you have a specific question relating to your business, please contact
Margarita

Call: (617)398-7482

E-mail: margarita.smirnova@gmail.com

 

May 22, 2012   Posted by: Margarita Smirnova

Monitoring of Sensitive Information, Warrants and Legal Response!

In a recent US v. Jones, (January 2012) decision the US Supreme Court held that “the Government’s attachment of the GPS device to the vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.”  In Jones, the police obtained the warrant but didn’t quite properly execute it.  While the Jones case was mostly the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution and its protections and warrant issues, the key issue in my mind was the surveillance and how far it can go without the warrant.  Warrant less surveillance has been a hot topic forever.  Law responds depending on political movement of what is considered the bad guy at that certain period of time.

Now, US Supreme Court is going to hear a new case.  This time the question involves a post Sept. 11 government’s aggressive use of electronic surveillance.  The scrutiny is over the validity of an amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which is about disclosure of the “secret program to wiretap the international communications of people suspected of terrorist ties without obtaining court warrants,” according to the New York times.  In other words its about the wiretapping law of 2008.

While I clearly understand the “security” reasons behind this particular legislation, it is always the current state of affairs in the country that makes up the decision of the judges.  I find it fascinating how each new legislation especially of this huge caliber brings out the gray area that eventually shapes our legal history in the long run.

See below, Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case on Surveillance, by Adam Liptak, May 21, 2012 
 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/22/us/justices-agree-to-hear-surveillance-challenge.html?_r=1&hp

Written by Margarita Smirnova, Esq.

If you have a specific question relating to your business, please contact
Margarita

Call: (617)398-7482

E-mail: margarita.smirnova@gmail.com

 

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May 15, 2012   Posted by: Margarita Smirnova

H1b visa and travel clarification

For those who are in the U.S. under the H1b visa, commonly known as work visa, please be aware that even if you have H1b visa it may be expired and you are still legally in the country. However, this form not a visa and may not be used in place of visa. It means that your stay can be prolonged with applying for I-94 with I-129 petition for a nonimmigrant worker. If you stay, you are fine. You may leave too. However, to return you must have a valid visa to re-enter.

H1b visa is explained in details on USCIS website and traveling details are readily available on State.Gov/travel.

The contents of this and future articles is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Each individual case is different and the outcome of your case depends upon its circumstances.

 

Written by Margarita Smirnova, Esq.

If you have a specific question relating to your business, please contact
Margarita

Call: (617)398-7482

E-mail: margarita.smirnova@gmail.com

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