NAME AND EXPLANATION
“Hatzlacha”, the Hebrew for "success", has been adopted as an acrostic for (as translated into English):-
The Consumers' Movement for the Promotion of a Fair Society and Economy
The overall objective of Hatzlacha is actively to promote and encourage proper civil enforcement of regulation and compliance in the fields of the economy, capital markets, consumer protection and competition in Israel. These generic heads embrace fields as diverse as health, education, transportation, communications and the media, and several other major sectors of Israeli life.
HISTORY AND EVOLUTION
In early 2008, a group of experienced and concerned Israeli commercial lawyers, whose ranks were later augmented by economists, accountants – from the ranks of both practitioners and academics – formed Hatzlacha in order to fill the vacuum which they perceived amongst established Israeli NGOs tasked with protecting and promoting good practice in several sectors of Israeli commercial and social life.
The consulting board of Hatzlacha was later joined by distinguished and highly-experienced public figures, including former regulators, holding a wide range of relevant experience. Of particular note are Judge Shlomo Shoham, former parliamentary Commissioner for the Future Generations, Professor Meir Heth (who famously held divers, key and influential positions in the Israeli economy), Boaz Yifat, CPA, Adv. Jacob Cohen, the former chief attorney for Tel Aviv District in relation to Taxation and Economic Issues, Adv. Shelly Audvin-Aharoni, former chief enforcement officer of the Israeli Securities Authority , Dr Meir Amir, economist and an expert witness in economic proceedings, Adv. Yaron Kedar, former Director of the Israeli Corporations Authority and several other distinguished members.
Hatzlacha also enjoys the assistance, on an ad hoc basis, as relevant, of other leading experts, former regulators and government officials, who readily consult and offer their advice and the benefit of their experience.
The purpose of Hatzlacha in filling that vacuum was to create a non-profit NGO ("Amuta"), to act as a gatekeeper in the public interest, in respect of regulatory issues concerned with Israel's economy, capital markets, consumer protection and competition ("the Core Issues"), leading to both fairness and efficiency in the way that society operates.
Over the next years, Hatzlacha focused on four main routes of action:-
· complaints to, dialogue with and (where necessary) action against regulators regarding specific matters that appeared to Hatzlacha to require enforcement by the appropriate regulators;
· civil enforcement by legal action directly against infringers of existing regulation;
· policy-making for both the improvement of existing regulation and the promotion of new regulation where a need was perceived; and
· active employment of Freedom of Information rights for the public benefit, to include the publicizing of data concerning the Core Issues, thereby enriching public discussion.
FIELDS OF OPERATION
Capital Markets and Securities
Hatzlacha has approached several regulatory bodies responsible for the framing and enforcement of the regulation of the Israeli capital markets, such as the Israeli Securities Authority ("ISA"), the Division of Supervision of Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings at the Ministry of Finance and the Commissioner of Banks at the Bank of Israel.
The first, and still the most notable, action taken by HatzlachaHatzlacha was in relation to its class action filed in the matter of Cohen Pituach, a publicly traded company, that had failed to comply with securities law in failing to follow the mandatory procedures applicable to a full tender offer. This case set a very important precedent in Israeli law in that the court set out guidelines for the filing of class actions by organizations and their ability to be become directly involved in the civil enforcement of aspects of corporate and securities law. This action is on-going and is supported through funding by the ISA.
Other actions undertaken by Hatzlacha include complaints and requests concerning: -
· the exercise of authority relating to prohibited publications;
· attempts to prevent information from reaching the public;
· the abuse of inside information;
· requests for information about the activities of regulators; and
· requiring regulatory authority to comply with their duties, by court action against them where necessary.
Competition and Antitrust
Hatzlacha attaches great importance to the areas of competition and marketing to the sophisticated consumer, and the benefit that thereby accrues to the whole economy through the proper and efficient enforcement of the relevant law. For example, Hatzlacha has successfully called on the Antitrust Authority to pursue various complaints and has requested the Authority to take action on issues relating to the media, the automobile market, retail chains, the insurance market and others.
In February 2013, Hatzlacha filed the first antitrust class action in Israel lead by an organization. The claim was filed against airlines El Al, Lufthansa, British Airways and Swissair. This application was the second class action application filed by "Hatzlacha", for at the beginning of September 2012 "Hatzlacha" was the first organization to file a securities class action in Israel, a claim which received the approval of the ISA in connection with its funding (which is ongoing (C"A 2483-09-12 Hatzlacha v. Cohen, et al).
The focus of the lawsuit is a cargo cartel which was revealed by antitrust authorities in mid-February 2006. According to the lawsuit, the defendants were the members of a cartel which fixed, inter alia, fuel and security surcharges, which were added to the basic rate of air freight cargo tariff. These surcharges were coordinated between the years 2000-20006 at least. Their concerted actions included meetings involving high level representatives of the airlines that were parties to the cartel. Since the cartel was exposed, its members have been sued in various countries around the world. In each country, the cartel proceedings were related to the transportation of air cargo to and from that country but, until this lawsuit, no proceedings were taken on behalf of shippers from and to Israel. The lawsuit was filed close to the end of the limitation period. According to an expert opinion attached to the claim, the damages claim totals 613 million NIS (Approximately US$160 Million).
Communication and Media
The information and media content markets, as well as other communication services, are crucial areas of significant interest for the Israeli public, as well as for various participants in the any economy. Israel is no exception and Hatzlacha has repeatedly addressed the relevant regulatory and law enforcement bodies, including the Second Authority for Television and Radio, the Council for Cable and Satellite Television, the Ministry of Communications, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance, regarding issues requiring enforcement and monitoring. Hatzlacha, when it detects apparent violation of the law and the need for intervention by the relevant regulator has acted and will continue to act.
One of the most important issues Hatzlacha has so far dealt with in this arena concerned the apology extracted from Channel 10 News to the multi-billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, after the screening of a an extensive profile of him and his business activates. Hatzlacha published a public report recording the chronology leading to the forced apology. Later, and after the refusal of the Second Authority to review this case once again, and the sanctions taken against Channel 10 News, Hatzlacha filed a petition to the Supreme Court for Directions to declare the apology a nullity and to direct the Second Authority's Council to repeat its proceedings, due to improprieties in the procedure.
Hatzlacha is also concerned with matters of policy and the structure of the media and communication market and has filed various opinion letters and reports concerning those issues.
Among other actions taken in this area, Hatzlacha dealt with breach of provisions relating to freedom of press, cross-financing and ownership within the media market, competition issues and agreements between significant companies in that market, policy-making issues, misleading advertisements, hidden advertising and many more.
Fair Trade and Consumer Protection
hatzlacha is constantly addressing fair trade issues, dealing with law-enforcement officials in the Authority for Consumer Protection and Fair Trade to promote the guiding principles of the law in these areas.
Also, in this context, Hatzlachahas filed several complaints and calls for action to the to the head of the Authority for Consumer Protection and Fair Trade and other senior officials at the Ministry of Economy and Trade regarding specific misconduct and law violations.
Selected Publications In English:
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