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The Deal:  On February 16, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported that Glatzova & Co. had advised Denemo Media s.r.o. on its acquisition of a 50% shareholding in FTV Prima, with Allen & Overy advising Modern Times Group, the seller. Denemo Media is a Czech joint venture between Alphaduct, a.s. (with 75% ownership) and GES Media Asset, a.s. (with 25% ownership). Alphaduct, a.s. is owned by Czech businessman Vladimir Komar. GES Media Asset a.s. is part of the GES Group, which already owned 50% of FTV Prima Holding.

Legislators on both the European and Czech level have been active in adopting new regulations that influence several areas of the modern economy. Financial services, with consumer finance on one side and markets in financial instruments on the other, have been at the center of these efforts. Financial regulation is not, however, the only measure heavily affecting banks, investment firms, and FinTech companies by putting new compliance requirements in place. Another huge legal instrument – the General Data Protection Regulation adopted on the EU level in 2016 – imposes new requirements on all companies dealing with personal data.

In the Czech Republic, the most important buzzword in the field of legal services and IT deliveries is “GDPR-Compliance” and it has serious ramifications for organizations, businesses, and public corporations.

Czech lawyers, not known for ebullience, are nonetheless finding it hard to keep the smiles off their faces. After a decade of disappointment and struggle, if the Managing Partners at Czech firms are to be believed, the last remnants of the global financial crisis have dissipated and business is booming. As spring rolls through Central Europe, the sunshine is both meteorological and metaphoric. Prague is basking in the warmth.

As the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Payment Services in the Internal Market (PSDII) introduces a number of changes to existing Czech legislation, a completely new Payment Services Act regulating the provision of payment services will be adopted in the Czech Republic. PSDII should be implemented by January 13, 2018.

As consumers conduct an ever-increasing amount of their shopping and banking on-line, the digitalization revolution is having a significant effect on both industries, and payment service providers – companies offering online services allowing merchants to accept electronic payments by, among other forms, credit cards or bank-based payments such as direct debit, bank transfer, and real-time bank transfer based on online banking – are working with both merchants and banks to facilitate their operations. 

This past autumn brought extensive changes to the Czech Republic’s real estate acquisition tax, which, according to lawmakers, should align the country’s regulation to the European standard. Is it really the case? With the assistance of members of the Real Estate team within Taylor Wessing CEE, we compare the new regulation to those in neighboring countries. 

I keep hearing that local offices of international firms have been dominating the CEE legal market. Journalists covering the market look at the corporate, finance, and litigation league tables for the region, notice that international firms occupy more places than would be typical in Western Europe, and report a story of global brand domination. I am almost certainly biased, but I see things differently.

The 2017 CEE Legal Matters General Summit took place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Warsaw on June 1-2, 2017, once again bringing together well over a hundred General Counsel and Heads of Legal from across Central and Eastern Europe for two full days (and one entertaining evening) of seminars, panel discussions, best practices review, and networking. This year’s event — the third annual, following the 2015 GC Summit in Budapest and the 2016 GC Summit in Istanbul — was the biggest and most successful yet.

On May 31 and June 1, 2017, CEE Legal Matters was proud to host a rare event: A gathering of those senior lawyers from each Central and Eastern European country identified by peers as being most influential, most important, most uniquely responsible for having created the country’s modern commercial legal market.

In the European Union, competence of courts is harmonized and regulated by Brussels Ibis regulation No. 1215/2012 (the “Regulation”). The competence of courts determined by the Regulation is protected and applies unless the Regulation stipulates otherwise. Arbitration is not subject to EU harmonized regulations. It is governed by international treaties, most notably the New York Convention.

Thomas Hruby was born in Montreal, Canada, where he attended McGill University, from which he received his B.A., B.C.L., and LL.B. degrees. He was admitted to the Bar of the Province of Quebec in 1983 and practiced law in Montreal. He obtained a Master’s degree in law from Charles University in Prague in 1991 and was admitted as a fully-qualified Czech advocate by the Czech Bar Association in 1992. In 1993, he opened the Prague office of the Montreal law firm Mitchell, Gattuso and he subsequently joined the Prague office of Linklaters & Alliance. In 2001 he started his own practice in Prague, and he was joined by Jiri Buchvaldek in 2006 to form Hruby & Buchvaldek. 

Vladimira Jicinska is the Head of Legal at AHOLD, responsible for the Czech market. She first joined the company in December 2012 after spending a little over two years in China working as the Head of Legal and Compliance of Home Credit China. Before that, she worked for AAA Auto holding for nine years, initially as an Acquisition Lawyer, and later as the Group Legal Manager of the company.

The Czech Republic has implemented a number of statutory reforms aimed at tackling corruption and fraudulent business practices. These reforms have been welcomed by Transparency International, which describes the Czech Republic as making one of the greatest advances in fighting corruption worldwide in 2015. In this context, the Czech Corporate Criminal Liability Act (CCLA), applied by prosecution authorities with growing frequency, has in particular been in the limelight.

The Deal:

In October 2016, CEE Legal Matters reported that Baker & McKenzie had advised European payment and transactional services provider Worldline on its agreement with Komercni Banka, a subsidiary of the Societe Generale Group, to develop products and services for Czech and Slovakian merchants. CMS advised Komercni Banka on the deal. We reached out to Baker & McKenzie Partner Libor Basl and Associate David Reiterman, both in the firm’s Prague office, for more information.

In The Corner Office, we invite Managing Partners at law firms from across the region to share information about their careers, management styles, and strategies. For this issue, we asked them to describe the first major deal or client matter they generated themselves, and how they did it. 

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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