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Over many years, the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian legal markets have been dominated by the same four firms, although the names they operate under have sometimes changed. At the very end of 2018, however, the market in Lithuania, the largest of the Baltic states, shook. when a large team split off from one of those four firms, and several months later merged with a leading independent firm in the country.

In August 2007 crime fiction admirers in Latvia were thrilled to read a book, Kitchen Justice, describing an influential litigation attorney, the trial cases his office handled, and his secret relationship with judges and public figures. The protagonist was immediately recognized by readers, and the legal community was able to identify heroes less known to the public: the judges in the legal proceedings, who were privately communicating with the prominent attorney about the cases they were working on. It was apparent that the disguised author had based his fictional novel on a real-life characters and cases, and without delay, Latvia’s Chief Justice convened an extraordinary session of Supreme Court judges to set up a special panel of five reputable judges with a mandate to investigate the novel’s plot. The commission interviewed dozens of judges who had been identified in Kitchen Justice.

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?

Love them or hate them, conferences are a fundamental part of the successful commercial lawyer’s calendar. But time is precious. Those calendars are full. It’s vital for conference organizers to get them right, and critical for lawyers to choose wisely in determining which events to attend and which to skip.

I can pinpoint the exact moment when my interest in the law first flourished: I was 13 years old and my mother had given me a book called The Courage of their Convictions by Peter H. Irons, about 16 Americans who had fought for their rights and taken their cases all the way to the Supreme Court, and what I read resonated deeply within me. It later turned out that my mother had only given me the book to improve my English. But it opened the door to so much more.

Latvia’s Leading Commercial Lawyers Consider the Country’s New Economic Affairs Court

In 2019, amidst the money-laundering scandal of a Latvian bank and the increasing risk that the country would be included in the Financial Action Task Force’s so-called “Grey List,” Latvia’s Financial and Capital Market Commission introduced new regulations on Anti-Money-Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) and Sanctions.

The Labor Law of Latvia states that an employer is generally prohibited from dismissing employees with disabilities and has to provide such employees with adequate jobs. Employees with disabilities can be dismissed, however, on these grounds (and only these grounds): a) misbehavior; b) inability to perform the contracted job; or c) the employer’s liquidation. Additionally, until a recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Latvia, employers were unable to bring actions in court seeking the dismissal of employees with disabilities.

On December 12, 2019, CEE Legal Matters reported that Dentons, Magnusson, and TGS Baltic had advised the Avia Solutions group – a Lithuanian aviation services group – on a five-year bond issuance with a total value of USD 300 million, an annual interest rate of 7.875%, and a maturity date of 2024. The bonds were issued in US dollars and distributed in the US and European markets. White & Case and Sorainen helped JP Morgan and BNP Paribas organize the issuance.

Theis Klauberg took a circuitous route to managing his eponymous firm in the Baltics. He began his education in Germany, at the University of Hamburg, Heidelberg University, and Humboldt University of Berlin, before obtaining an LL.M. at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, then concluding his formal education with an MBA at the Baltic Management Institute. His professional career has been no less diverse, as he has worked in Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, and Zimbabwe.

Nowadays, alternative methods of dispute resolution, not involving the courts, are increasing. Since disputes are getting ever-more complicated, and general peace between parties is preferable, parties now prefer to solve disputes with more peaceful and flexible alternative dispute resolution methods instead of litigation – and judicial systems are encouraging parties to employ these methods. In this context, mediation has in recent years become the most preferred and fastest-growing alternative dispute resolution method.

In recent years, the government and courts of Lithuania have intensified their attempts to develop mediation. There are many reasons for this – promoting social peace, decreasing court caseloads, saving time and money for the end-users, and providing them with higher satisfaction among them.

A little more than two years following its establishment, the Ukrainian Supreme Court is undergoing significant reform of its role in delivering justice. As distinct from the massive judicial reform back in 2017, which was launched by a single comprehensive law, the new overhaul of the Supreme Court is happening gradually.

The extent to which a judge may be active in obtaining the facts necessary to adjudicate a dispute or in finding the legal norms on which a decision is based is a fundamental question of any legal proceeding. Can judges invite the parties to present facts which they consider essential? Or can a judge tell the parties that in his or her view the dispute can be settled on the basis of legal provisions which they have not invoked? These fundamental questions apply to arbitrators as well. In this respect, does arbitration give arbitrators a smaller or greater role than that which judges have? Perhaps surprisingly, arbitrators may in fact have stronger powers in this respect than state-authorized judges.

Until a few decades ago, litigation funding was nowhere to be seen. Today, it is daily business across law firms in the US, UK, and Australia. Although it has taken longer to reach Europe, and particularly CEE, it has now firmly made its mark, and it looks like it is here to stay.

Climate change-related risks have climbed to the top of the agenda of various stakeholders across the globe: governments, international organizations, NGOs, businesses, and ordinary citizens. The Global Risk Report 2020, presented this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, demonstrates that climate-related risks – including extreme weather, climate action failure, natural disasters, biodiversity loss, and human-made environmental disasters – are among the top five long-term risks over the next ten years. Most notably, according to survey respondents, the failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation is this year’s number one long-term risk by impact. The report underscores that, in the 2020s, “concerted action is required not only to reduce emissions but also to develop credible adaptation strategies, including climate-proofing infrastructure, closing the insurance protection gap, and scaling up public and private adaptation finance.”

When it comes to resolving disputes between contracting parties, the threat, “I’ll see you in court!” often is the first thing to cross peoples’ minds. This call to arms is still common, despite the availability now of different dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration.

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