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If you are a company conducting business in the automotive industry with intentions of expanding on the European market, where do you look? The answer may be the Central European country of Slovenia.

In The Corner Office we ask Senior and Managing Partners across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time around: “What is the one skill, ability, or characteristic that fresh law school graduates in your country most commonly lack?”

A transformation of the legal profession is happening globally, and its effects are also felt, slowly but surely, in the law firms of Southeast Europe. Due to the changing expectations concerning the quality, speed, and commerciality of services, we are seeing a move towards even more client-oriented solutions. Traditional sectors are being replaced with emerging industries, and where we previously had slow processes, with low profit margins, we see value being generated at lightning speeds. Also, a new generation that entered the workforce recently is slowly imposing their own values and approaches, necessitating changes in structure and the values of traditional legal practices.

The NPL market in Serbia traditionally knows of only two concerns, embodied in the numbers 48 and 204. Although you would assume that numerology had something to do with this assertion, the backstory is actually a lot more appealing.

It is not uncommon for post-communist societies to wrestle with the idea of competition enforcement. Executives of a more old-school bent are often confounded by having something which once was common market practice, sometimes even mandated by the state, now scrutinized and considered a serious infringement of law. This is why competition advocacy is a crucial tool for relatively inexperienced competition authorities – it would hardly be fair to beat upon market players legitimately unaware of changes to the modus operandi.

Representatives of more than sixty law firms from across Central and Eastern Europe and from as far away as the United States, United Kingdom, and China came together in Prague on June 6, 2018, for the first ever Dealer’s Choice international law firm conference and CEE Deal of the Year Awards Banquet.

Until a few years ago, the narrative within legal practices, as in most service industries, focused mainly on austerity, small growth numbers, and the crises. Most legal practitioners feared an uncertain future and all the risks it held, including evolving client expectations, financial pressure, and the long-term impact of the global economic crisis.

As Serbia is gearing up for EU accession, harmonizing with EU legislation and business practices becomes not only mandatory, but also a market necessity. Although there are discrepancies between business practices in Serbia and in the EU, one thing seems to be unanimous: local businesses, just like their international counterparts, think ahead when it comes to securing their assets. This applies to every type of business, but it is prevailingly visible in local medium-sized to large businesses which predominantly handle and/or deal with IP portfolios. Nowadays, in the ever-evolving digital world, where almost information is at the reach of one’s hand – even to those located in remote corners of the world – attention and focus are being switched to ensuring the adequate protection of trade secrets. This process is happening in Serbia as well.

The constitutional and legislative structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is complex since it is composed of two entities – the Republic of Srpska (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) – and Brcko District (BD) as a separate unit, and the legislation is adopted on the state level, entity level, and – in FBiH  – on the cantonal level. This means that in BiH as such there is no unified Law on PPP, but rather 12 laws on PPP. While the RS and BD adopted their PPP laws in 2013 and 2010, the FBiH drafted a Law on PPP in 2009 which remains in the adoption process. In addition, the cantons in the FBiH have their own set of PPP laws.

Patricia Gannon is a founder and Senior Partner at Karanovic & Nikolic, where she focuses primarily on the management, business development, strategy, and expansion of the firm. Gannon qualified as a Solicitor in Ireland and after a short period working at the European Commission in Brussels she moved to Serbia and founded the firm. She is a committed advocate of corporate philanthropy, and was amongst the founding members of the Serbian Charity Forum, an umbrella forum of leading foundations in the country.

The first upscale exploration of oil and gas in Montenegro started in 1914, when King Nikola Petrovic approved the National Assembly’s decision for oil exploration around Lake Skadar. The first well in the area of Crmnica dates back to 1922 – although it produced nothing of significance.

In this era of digitalization, where legal frameworks around the world are rapidly changing to cope with revolutionary developments in the IT sector, the Serbian Government is following a similar path. Serbia is in the EU accession process and is thus obliged to harmonize its legislation with EU laws. One such law is EU Regulation No. 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (the “Relevant EU Regulation”). 

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. Our question this time: “What mistake do young associates commonly make that is most frustrating for you?”

The steady growth of the digital products market and an increasing demand for digital products required an adjustment to the Serbian VAT rules applicable to the supply of electronically supplied services (ESS), and that adjustment finally occurred in 2017. Combined with new rules on the VAT registrations of foreign suppliers, VAT obligations related to ESS became more straightforward.

On Thursday, November 30th, leading legal practitioners from across Central and Eastern Europe gathered in Prague to help CEE Legal Matters celebrate its fourth successful year as the leading chronicle of the legal industry in the region, participating in an expert Round Table conversation about the year just concluded and enjoying an evening of dinner, drinks, and bonhomie. 

Intellectual property infringement through the circulation and sale of counterfeit goods is still very much both a global and a local issue. As modern day counterfeiting is now acquiring more sophisticated forms involving a plethora of new and usually unsuspected goods (for example, pharmaceuticals) and with the intent of not only existing on the black markets but infiltrating into the legal market flows as well, we are faced with the need for a more aggressive approach requiring first and foremost improved legislation and subsequently more efficient enforcement activities. 

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.

Karanovic & Partners at a Glance

Karanovic & Partners is a regional legal practice in Southeast Europe with a tradition spanning over 25 years and cooperating offices in Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania. With more than 150 attorneys at law working together across the region, we take pride in our work, dedication, and understanding of our clients' industries and needs.

We work with some of the most respected and reputable businesses in the world, banks, as well as governments, state-owned entities, start-ups, and NGOs. We see our clients as long-term partners. We focus on straightforward solutions and tailor-made advice. Lawyers cooperating with us are fully immersed in our clients’ culture and industry to ensure that the work is delivered intelligently and reliably.

In our company culture, excellence is a must. We are reliable, adaptive, and fast. We operate under the “one team” principle, combining our regional reach and local know-how to deliver coordinated legal advice necessary for achieving our clients’ goals.

We are ambitious to propose innovative legal solutions and we are at the forefront of legal developments in Southeast Europe, pioneering new areas of the law and paving the way for new practices and regulations.

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