United States: Transparency Requirements, Health Care Fraud and Abuse Law Changes, and Program Integrity Provisions Enacted as Part of Health Reform Legislation

I. Introduction

On March 30, 2010, President Obama made law of the final chapter of health care reform when he signed the reconciliation bill (H.R. 4872, the "Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010" or "Reconciliation Bill") passed by both houses of Congress on March 25, 2010, which amended the landmark health reform legislation, H.R. 3590 (the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act") signed by the President on March 23, 2010. Except for the postponement of two effective dates noted in Section III.A below, the Reconciliation Bill does not affect the provisions we discuss; accordingly the amended law will be referred to as "the Act." The Act enacts a number of provisions designed to enhance transparency and improve the integrity of federal health care programs, including several important changes in the health care fraud and abuse laws. Although the "physician payment sunshine" provisions requiring disclosures by manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals, and medical supplies are perhaps the most widely recognized new transparency requirements, the full array of fraud and abuse-related changes affect not only manufacturers, but hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, group purchasing organizations (GPOs), and a host of other providers.

This article summarizes the "physician payment sunshine provisions" and provides an overview of other notable transparency enhancements, fraud and abuse law changes, and program integrity provisions, with citations to the applicable sections in the Act. We address provisions on:

  • Transparency and Disclosure of Financial Relationships
  • Changes to the Stark Whole Hospital and Rural Provider Exceptions
  • Creation of a Stark Self-Disclosure Mechanism
  • Reduction of the Intent Standard for an Antikickback Law Violation
  • Required Provider Reporting of Medicare Overpayments
  • New Civil Monetary Penalties
  • Other False Claims Act and Program Integrity Changes

II. Transparency and Disclosure Provisions

A. Physician Payment Transparency Provisions for Manufacturers of Drugs, Devices, Biologicals, and Medical Supplies (Section 6002)

As widely expected, federal "physician payment sunshine" provisions have become a reality as part of the comprehensive health reform legislation. Companies must prepare to track expenditures made in 2012 for the first disclosure, which is due March 31, 2013. As compared to the broad disclosure requirements contained in legislative proposals previously introduced by the House of Representatives, manufacturers likely will welcome the comparatively narrow disclosure requirements in the Act. However, weak state law preemption provisions will do little to allay concerns that manufacturers may be faced with myriad state-specific requirements in the coming years.

Applicability: The Act adds a new Section 1128G to the Social Security Act, which requires "any applicable manufacturer that provides a payment or other transfer of value to a covered recipient (or to an entity or individual at the request of or designated on behalf of a covered recipient)," annually to submit information to the Secretary regarding the value, nature, purpose, and recipient of the transfer of value. An "applicable manufacturer" is defined as an entity engaged in the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, or conversion of a covered drug, device, biological, or medical supply for which payment is made under Medicare or Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) state plans (or waivers of such plans). While the Act's application to entities engaged in the "propagation" of a covered product creates some room for interpretation, unlike an earlier version of the legislation proposed by the House, "distributors" are not specifically covered. However, an entity under common ownership with an applicable manufacturer "which provides assistance or support to such entity" with respect to the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, marketing, promotion, sale, or distribution of a covered drug, device, biological, or medical supply is covered by the Act. This leaves open the question as to whether research or other affiliates of a covered entity may be subject to the disclosure requirements. Note that an "applicable manufacturer" covered by the Act is limited to a manufacturer "which is operating in the United States, or in a territory, possession, or commonwealth of the United States."

Effective Date: The first disclosure under Section 1128G will be due on March 31, 2013 for payments or other transfer of value made during calendar year 2012. Subsequent disclosures will be due on the 90th day of each subsequent calendar year.

Covered Recipients: Covered recipients are narrowly defined as "physicians" and "teaching hospitals."

Reporting: Manufacturers will have to report the name, address, National Provider Identifier (for physicians), amount of payment or other transfer of value, date(s) on which payment was provided to the covered recipient, a description of the form of the payment or other transfer of value (e.g., cash, in-kind items or services), and the nature of the payment or other transfer of value. In addition, if the payment or other transfer of value is related to marketing, education or research specific to a covered product, the name of that product must also be provided. Payments made to an entity on behalf of a covered recipient must be disclosed under the name of the covered recipient.

Payment or Other Transfer of Value: The disclosure of any "payment or other transfer of value" includes not only gifts and payments for meals, travel, honoraria, research, and certain consulting and educational payments, but also current or prospective ownership and investment interests, royalties and licenses, profit distributions, dividends, and option grants. The Act includes a provision, potentially applicable to some market research activities, that excepts from the definition of a "payment or other transfer of value" any payment made indirectly to a covered recipient through a third party in connection with an activity or service where the manufacturer is unaware of the identity of the covered recipient.

Exemptions: Certain payments or other transfer of value are exempt from the reporting requirements including:

  • payments or transfers of $10 or less (unless the aggregate annual payments or transfers to a recipient exceed $100 (both amounts indexed for inflation beginning in 2012));
  • educational materials that directly benefit patients or are intended for patient use;
  • in-kind items for the provision of charity care;
  • product samples;
  • loans of a covered device for a short-term time evaluation, not to exceed 90 days;
  • items or services covered under a contractual warranty;
  • discounts (including rebates);
  • dividends and other distributions from publicly traded securities and mutual funds; and
  • transfers to physicians solely for services with respect to a civil or criminal action or an administrative proceeding.

In addition, manufacturers may delay reporting payments to covered recipients for services furnished pursuant to a product research or development agreement or in connection with a clinical investigation of a new drug, device, biological, or medical supply, or with a new application of an existing drug, device, biological, or medical supply. The delay extends the reporting deadline until the earlier of (1) the date of the approval or clearance of the covered drug, device, biological, or medical supply by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or (2) four calendar years after the date such payment or other transfer of value was made. Information subject to the delayed reporting would be considered confidential and not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or any other state or federal law.

Penalties: Manufacturers that fail to comply with the reporting requirements in a timely manner are subject to penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for each unreported payment (not to exceed $150,000), and $10,000 to $100,000 for each knowing failure to report a payment (not to exceed $1,000,000). In addition to enforcement by federal authorities, state attorneys general would have the authority to enforce the reporting provisions.

Preemption: As noted above, the law preempts only duplicative state laws but would not preempt state laws that require reporting of information that is more robust. As a transparency and disclosure statute, the federal law also does not preempt provisions in state laws that may impose restrictions on the types of transfers of value that may be made by manufacturers, such as the "gift" limits and restrictions in the state laws in Minnesota, Vermont, and Massachusetts. The law also does not preempt provisions in state laws, such as those in California, Nevada, and Massachusetts, that require companies to adopt a code of conduct.

Public Availability: Information submitted to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be made available through a searchable internet website.

B. Reporting of Payments Where there is Physician Ownership or Investment (Section 6002)

The Act takes a small step to address some of the inherent conflicts of interest that exist when referring physicians secure a revenue stream from the products they order for their own patients through ownership in manufacturers, as well as other medical device supply chain companies, such as GPOs. Where physicians have an ownership interest in an applicable manufacturer, described above, or in a GPO, the Act requires annual reporting of all transfers of value to that physician by such entity. In addition, the Act requires annual reporting of information regarding the dollar amount invested by each physician (or immediate family member) in the manufacturer or GPO and the value and terms of such ownership or investment interest (which would seem to require, among other things, that the report include the physicians' return on investment).

C. Prescription Drug Sample Transparency (Section 6004)

The Act establishes a new Section 1128H of the Social Security Act requiring manufacturers and authorized distributors of prescription drugs for which payment is available under Medicare or Medicaid or CHIP plans (or a waiver of such plans) to submit annual reports to the Secretary regarding the identity and quantity of drug samples requested and distributed under Section 503 of the Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987. For purposes of this provision, "authorized distributors" means those distributors with whom a manufacturer has established an ongoing relationship to distribute the manufacturer's products.

D. Pharmacy Benefit Managers Transparency (Section 6005)

Health benefit plans and Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs) that contract with a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) sponsor or a Medicare Advantage (MA) organization offering an MA-PD plan under Medicare Part D, or that contract with qualified health benefits plans also are required to disclose information to the Secretary regarding their activities. Among other things, these entities must report the percentage of drugs that are distributed through retail pharmacies versus mail order pharmacies; the generic dispensing rate by pharmacy type; the aggregate amount of rebates, discounts, or price concessions the PBM negotiates on behalf of the plan (excluding bona fide service fees) and the aggregate amount of such rebates, discounts, or price concessions that are passed through to the plan sponsor; the aggregate amount of the difference between the amount the plan pays the PBM and the amount the PBM pays the pharmacies; and the total number of prescriptions dispensed. PBMs face penalties and are subject to suspension of their agreements with PDPs and qualified health plans for failure to comply with these requirements or for knowingly providing false information.

E. Nursing Home Transparency (Title VI, Subtitle B)

Extensive transparency and program integrity provisions in the Act also are designed to address long-standing concerns about conflicts of interest, quality of care, and patient safety in long-term care facilities, such as skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities. Among other requirements, the Act imposes robust transparency requirements, including with regard to ownership, organizational structure, direct care staffing, wages and benefits paid to direct care staff, and nursing facility closures. As with many transparency requirements included in the Act, much of the information subject to these disclosure requirements will be made available on public websites. Certain facilities also are subject to a number of other requirements — such as a requirement to implement a compliance and ethics program — and the Act creates programs within HHS to both enforce these requirements and to otherwise improve the quality and safety of these facilities for their residents. Finally, if these facilities self-report and promptly correct deficiencies for which civil monetary penalties were imposed, they may be entitled to a reduction of up to 50 percent of the applicable penalties provided they are not repeat deficiencies or result in a pattern of harm that jeopardizes residents' safety or health.

F. Disclosures Related to Referrals for Radiology Services (Section 6003)

The Act also addresses potential conflicts of interest in referrals for radiology services. For services furnished on or after January 1, 2010, physicians referring patients for radiology services under an in-office ancillary services exception to the physician self-referral ("Stark") law must inform patients in writing at the time of referral of the availability of other suppliers who may provide such services and furnish a written list of suppliers who provide the services in the area where the patient resides.

III. Provisions Regarding Self-Referrals

A. Restriction on Availability of Whole-Hospital and Rural Provider Exceptions to Stark Law (Section 6001, as amended by Section 10601; Section 1106 of Reconciliation Bill)

The Act amends the Stark law to prevent the formation of new physician-owned hospitals pursuant to the whole-hospital ownership exception. As amended, the exception requires that a hospital must have a Medicare provider agreement in place as of December 31, 2010. Additionally, a hospital must not have been converted from an ambulatory surgical center to a hospital after the date of enactment.

The Act permits existing physician-owned hospitals to continue to qualify for this exception but prohibits the hospital from increasing the percentage of its physician ownership interests above such percentage as of the date of enactment of the Act, significantly restricts the ability of those hospitals to expand, and imposes additional compliance and safety requirements, which the hospitals are required to satisfy no later than 18 months after the date of enactment.

The Act also requires each qualifying hospital to submit an annual report to the Secretary containing information concerning all owners of or investors in the hospital and the nature and extent of those ownership and investment interests. Hospitals also must have procedures in place requiring both the hospital and referring physician owners to disclose the physician ownership interests to patients and the general public.

As of December 31, 2010, an existing physician-owned hospital also is not permitted to increase the number of operating rooms, procedure rooms, or beds included in its license. Certain eligible hospitals may apply for a limited expansion of the hospital's main campus once every two years, with a total maximum increase of 100 percent. Finally, the amended whole hospital exception also contains provisions designed to ensure that the physicians have made a bona fide investment in the hospital. The Secretary is required to establish policies and procedures to ensure compliance with these requirements — which may include unannounced site reviews of hospitals — and must conduct audits to determine if hospitals violate these requirements.

The Act also amends the Stark law's rural provider exception as it applies to hospitals. In order to meet the exception, which applies to ownership interest in entities in rural areas, if the entity in the rural area is a hospital, the hospital is subject to the same restrictions the Act imposes on hospitals described above, including new reporting and disclosure requirements and limitations on expansion and additional investment by physicians.

B. Medicare Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol (Section 6409)

The Act addresses the problem of the absence of a realistic mechanism for settling "technical" or other non-fraud violations of the Stark law by requiring the Secretary, in cooperation with the Office of Inspector General (OIG), to establish a Medicare Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol (SRDP), by which healthcare providers and suppliers may disclose actual and potential violations of the Stark law. Importantly, the Act gives HHS the authority to compromise any amount due and owing for Stark law violations. In other words, HHS now has the discretion to forgo requiring a provider to repay the full amounts collected as the result of billing for services provided in connection with a prohibited referral. Among the factors that the Secretary may consider in determining the amount owed in connection with a violation are: (i) the nature and extent of the improper of illegal practice; (ii) the timeliness of a self-disclosure; and (iii) cooperation in providing additional information related to the disclosure.

This new self-disclosure process, and the Secretary's authority to adjudicate a resolution, including the amount of repayment, is particularly important in light of the OIG's announcement last year that it would no longer allow entities to self-disclose Stark law violations under the OIG's existing self-disclosure protocol unless there were other potential violations present as well, such as a "colorable" violation of the Antikickback Statute. Additionally, last year's Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA) Amendments to the False Claims Act, which heightened the disclosure and repayment obligations for non-fraudulent receipt of an overpayment, made it essential for providers to have a clear and meaningful pathway for accomplishing this. The SRDP must be established within six months of enactment.

IV. Kickbacks, Overpayment Reporting and Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs)

A. Revision to Anti-Kickback Statute's Intent Standard (Section 6402(f))

The Act adds a provision to the Anti-Kickback Statute that effectively codifies an articulation of the Statute's "knowing and willful" standard that is applied today by a majority of federal courts. Specifically, the Act amends Section 1128B of the Social Security Act to add the statement: "With respect to violations of this section [i.e., the Anti-kickback Statute], a person need not have actual knowledge of this section or specific intent to commit a violation of this section." The change does not eliminate the requirement that the government prove that the defendant knew his or her conduct was unlawful. Instead, this change squarely rejects the construction of "knowingly and willfully" adopted by the Ninth Circuit in its Hanlester decision, which had required the government to prove that a defendant: (1) knew that the Statute prohibited the conduct they were alleged to have committed, and (2) engaged in prohibited conduct "with the specific intent to disobey the law."

B. Overpayment Reporting (Sections 6402(a) and 6506)

The Act adds a new Section 1128J(d) to the Social Security Act, which sets forth an affirmative obligation for any provider, supplier, Medicaid managed care organization, Medicare Advantage organization, or PDP sponsor that has received an overpayment to report and return the overpayment to the Secretary, state, intermediary, carrier, or contractor along with a written notification of the reason for the overpayment. The deadline for reporting and returning such overpayments is the later of 60 days after the date on which the overpayment was identified or the date that any corresponding cost report is due. FERA created new False Claims Act liability for knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding an "obligation" to pay money to the government. The Act specifically defines overpayments retained beyond the deadline as an "obligation" under the False Claims Act.

C. New and Enhanced CMP

In a number of areas, the act amends the civil monetary penalties provisions under Section 1128A to add and enhance CMPs for health care fraud. Most notably:

  • CMPs for Failure to Report and Return an Overpayment (Section 6402(d)): In conjunction with the new 1128J(d) obligation discussed above, which requires entities to report and return overpayments, the Act authorizes a CMPs for any person that "knows of an overpayment . . . and does not report and return the overpayment" in accordance with those requirements.
  • CMPs for False Statements in Provider Enrollment Applications (Section 6402(d)): Authorizes CMPs for knowingly making false statements, an omission, or a misrepresentation of a material fact on a provider enrollment application. The Act also makes such conduct grounds for permissive exclusion from federal health care programs.
  • CMPs for False Statements in Claims for Payment (Section 6408(a)): Authorizes CMPs for knowingly making or causing to be made any false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim for payment for items and services furnished under a Federal health care program." Penalties amount to $50,000 per false record or statement.
  • CMPs for Delaying Inspection (Section 6408(a)): Imposes CMPs for "failure to grant timely access upon reasonable request" to the HHS Inspector General "for the purpose of audits, investigations, evaluations, or other statutory functions of the Inspector General." Penalties amount to $15,000 for each day of the failure.
  • Broadens CMPs for Services Ordered During Periods of Exclusion (Section 6402(d)): The Act adds new CMPs for ordering or prescribing an item or service during a period in which the person was excluded from a federal health care program and knew or should have known that a claim for such item or service would be made. The Act also expands the scope of the existing CMP for knowingly presenting a claim for an item or service that was furnished during a period in which the person was excluded so that the penalty is applicable for claims made not just to a program from which the individual was excluded but to any federal health care program.

V. False Claims Act (Sections 1313(a) and 6402(a) as amended by Section 10104)

In addition to the provisions that define "overpayment," the Act includes a series of amendments designed to enhance and simplify enforcement of the civil False Claims Act by the government and by whistleblowers in qui tam legislation. Foremost among these, the Act:

  • Amends Section 1128B of the Social Security Act to provide that Anti-Kickback Statute violations constitute false or fraudulent acts under the False Claims Act. This should considerably lighten the burden on prosecutors and qui tam relators, who will no longer have to argue or prove another connection between a kickback and the submission of a false claim (such as an express or implied certification of compliance).
  • Abolishes the jurisdictional bar against qui tam litigation based upon "public disclosures" of alleged fraud, replaces it with a narrower definition of public disclosure and a broader exception for those whistleblowers claiming to be an "original source" of the allegations and provides the Government with a veto that can be used to over-ride dismissal of a whistleblower who fails to qualify as an original source.
  • Declares claims submitted to plans purchased through a health insurance exchange to be subject to the False Claims Act.

VI. Other Program Integrity Provisions

  • Broad OIG Authority to Obtain Information (Section 6402(a)): The Act gives the HHS Inspector General broad authority to obtain information from providers, suppliers, grant recipients, contractors, and other individuals or entities "for purposes of protecting the integrity of [the Medicare and Medicaid programs]." Information collected may include any documentation necessary to validate claims for payments, such as a physician's medical records, and any records necessary for evaluation of "the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness" of federal health care programs.
  • Expanded Subpoena Authority (Section 6042(e)): The Act also expands the subpoena authority for the Inspector General in cases involving the exclusion of certain individuals and entities from participation in Medicare and State health care programs.
  • Suspension of Payments (Section 6402(h)). The Act grants the Secretary authority to suspend payments to a provider or supplier pending investigation of "credible allegations of fraud," unless the Secretary determines there is good cause not to suspend such payments.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Eric M. Baim
 
In association with
Related Video
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
Accounting and Audit
Anti-trust/Competition Law
Consumer Protection
Corporate/Commercial Law
Criminal Law
Employment and HR
Energy and Natural Resources
Environment
Family and Matrimonial
Finance and Banking
Food, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences
Government, Public Sector
Immigration
Insolvency/Bankruptcy, Re-structuring
Insurance
Intellectual Property
International Law
Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment
Privacy
Real Estate and Construction
Strategy
Tax
Transport
Wealth Management
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.