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On January 1, 2021, Act No. 49/2020 Coll. – commonly known as the BankID Act – will enter into force. This new legislation has the potential to bring a significant change to the way Czechs operate on the Internet and to promote further digitalization in both the public and private sectors.

The M&A market in 2020 has been significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the latest quarterly M&A overview prepared by CzechInvest, the leading agency supporting business and investments in the Czech Republic, “in a very short period of time and on a large scale, many companies have had to close down or limit their operations, dismiss stuff members, and disrupt supply chains.” Although there has been some recovery since May, the situation remains unpredictable. The second and next presumed waves will likely bring even more uncertainty.

On September 24, 2020, CEE Legal Matters reported that Baker McKenzie’s Prague office had advised Worldline SA/NV on its acquisition of a 53% of stake in GoPay. JSK and Urban & Hejduk advised the sellers on the deal, Pavel Schwarz Jr. and BUDEX Direct.

About a half year ago, I was sitting in a pitch meeting trying to impress a potential client to win an important mandate for a project that would take two years to close. The meeting was attended by top management of the company and by its founder. We discussed all the technical aspects, our past experience with similar projects, and how we worked as a team. We were hoping to come across as a unified team and show that we knew what we were doing. It was already the second round, so we focused on chemistry and relationship-building. At the end of the meeting we devoted a lot of time to discussing how important it is to be open and honest. I told the client that we would not just agree with them all the time – we would be honest with our fees upfront, we would tell them if we thought they were doing something wrong, we would treat them as friends and partners, we would tell them if we thought their instructions create more work than necessary, and, most importantly, we would always have smiles on our faces, even if we needed to tell them they are wrong.

In The Corner Office we ask Managing Partners across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time: “What one ongoing pro bono initiative or project or charity/volunteering project that your firm is involved with has the most meaning for you personally, and why?”

Over the course of our seven years, CEE Legal Matters has interviewed most of the British lawyers working on the ground in Central and Eastern Europe as part of our recurring “Expat on the Market” feature. We reached out to them recently and asked them to bring us up to speed on what they’re doing and/or share their thoughts on the ramifications of Brexit or the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The current Covid-19 situation has changed many aspects of the business environment, and the resulting economic slowdown has prompted legislators worldwide to take measures to ease the situation for local economic players. Thus far, measures proposed by the Czech Government have generally only deferred tax liabilities and tax administrative duties, rather than eliminating them altogether. Of the few permanent types of relief from public duties, a proposal to abolish the Czech real estate transfer tax (RETT) is probably the most significant.

I have always been a fan of marketing and felt that there was something special about it, even back before I had any real practical experience with it. My career started at an international law firm – Hogan Lovells – where marketing was handled both centrally and locally. I became a fan of the field and learned to consider the brand as something potentially very valuable and helpful both in attracting new clients and employees and in retaining existing ones. It also showed me that marketing activities must be conducted systematically.

In The Corner Office we ask Managing Partners across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time around: ”What is your single most favorite client matter in your career?”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption to nearly all businesses in the logistics and manufacturing sectors in Central and Eastern Europe, enough time has now lapsed that identifiable trends and opportunities are beginning to emerge. CMS Partners Ana-Marija Skoko, Ivan Gazdic, Iain Batty, and Lukas Hejduk agreed to share their thoughts about the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on logistics and manufacturing developments in their local markets and across CEE.

According to its website, Budapest-based InvestCEE aims to “humanize technology” for lawyers and provides services to law firms and in-house counsel in Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

The EU has been preparing for a substantial transition of its energy sector to address the urgency of climate change. The Czech Republic has proposed raising the share of its renewable energy sources (RES) in the gross final energy consumption from the current 15% (approximately) to 22% by 2030 to contribute to the EU-wide goal of obtaining 32% of gross final energy consumption from RES by the same year. This means there will be a focus on developing RES in the Czech Republic, and the Czech government also plans to substantially strengthen the role of nuclear energy while allowing the coal-fired energy to decline.

During the current pandemic crisis, courts in countries around the world have had to suspend their regular operations and have focused only on the most urgent and time-sensitive matters. Yet the first few online courts have been able to maintain regular service. This has led to a massive increase in interest in and awareness of online dispute resolution (ODR) and online courts among judges, arbitrators, mediators, and lawyers in general. The pandemic has highlighted the ability of ODR to keep operating in crises that impact physical operations. Suddenly Zoom and even email are being considered ODR technology because they enable online court proceedings and distant mediations.

We decided to lighten the mood this time around by asking our Law Firm Marketing experts from across the region a non-law-firm related question: “What did you most want to be when you were little?”

Similar to other areas of human endeavour, healthcare is bound to undergo the inevitable process of digital transformation. In the last two years the Czech Republic has taken its first steps towards digitizing its healthcare system by introducing mandatory electronic prescriptions and electronic sick notes and is about to introduce an electronic medications record. Unfortunately, there has been little progress on other fronts. Moreover, the Ministry of Health has yet to complete its draft law setting common standards and rules for eHealth, and it is unlikely to meet its current goal of having the law go into effect in 2021.

In The Corner Office we ask Managing Partners across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time around: What major initiative or new plan does your office (or firm) plan – if any – for 2020?

Czech Republic Knowledge Partner

PRK Partners, one of the leading Central European law firms, has been helping clients achieve their business objectives almost 30 years. Our team of lawyers, based in our Prague, Ostrava, and Bratislava offices, has a unique knowledge of Czech and Slovak law and of the business environment. Our lawyers studied at top law schools in the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland and elsewhere. They also have experience working for leading international and domestic law firms in a number of jurisdictions. We speak your language, too. Our legal team is fluent in more than 15 languages, including all the key languages of the region.

PRK Partners has one of the most experienced legal teams on the market. We are consistently rated as one of the leading law firms in the region. We have received many significant honours and awards for our work. We represent the interests of international clients operating in the Czech Republic in an efficient way, combining local knowledge with an understanding of their global requirements in a business-friendly approach. We are one of the largest law firms in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Our specialised teams of lawyers and tax advisors advise major global corporations as well as local companies. We provide comprehensive legal advice drawing on our profound knowledge of local law and markets.

Our legal advice delivers tangible results – as proven by our strong track record. We are the only Czech member firm of Lex Mundi, the world's leading network of independent law firms. As one of the leading law firms in the region, we have received many national and international awards, in some cases several years in a row. Honours include the Chambers Europe Award for Excellence, The Lawyer and Czech and Slovak Law Firm of the Year. Thanks to our close cooperation with leading international law firms and strong local players, we can serve clients in multiple jurisdictions around the globe. Our strong network means that we can meet your needs, wherever you do business.

PRK Partners has been repeatedly voted among the most socially responsible firms in the category of small and mid-sized firms and was awarded the bronze certificate at the annual TOP Responsible Firm of the Year Awards.

Our work is not only “business”: we have participated on a longstanding basis in a wide variety of pro bono projects and supported our partners from the non-profit sector (Kaplicky Centre Endowment Fund, Tereza Maxová Foundation, Czech Donors Forum, etc.).

Firm's website: www.prkpartners.com

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