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The Debrief: May 2023

The Debrief: May 2023

The Debrief
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In The Debrief, our Practice Leaders across CEE share updates on recent and upcoming legislation, consider the impact of recent court decisions, showcase landmark projects, and stay up to date with the latest developments impacting their respective practice areas. 

This House – Implemented Legislation

Wolf Theiss Associate Oliwia Pecht reports on significant legislative changes in the labor sector in Poland that have come into effect in April 2023. “The introduction of remote work to the Labor Code took effect on April 7,” she says. “According to the new regulations, remote work may be agreed upon by the employer and the employee either at the conclusion of the employment contract or during employment. The employer will be also able to instruct the employee to work remotely in special circumstances – i.e., during a state of emergency, a state of epidemic, or a state of threat of epidemic, and for three months after their cancellation – and due to force majeure preventing safe working conditions. The employee will be entitled to the reimbursement of certain costs related to remote work.”

Additionally, Pecht notes that “on April 26, amendments to the Labor Code came into effect. The amendments implement two directives: the so-called Work-Life Balance Directive and the Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions in the EU.” According to her, “these amendments include introducing care leave for personal care of a relative and time off work due to force majeure for urgent family matters. The employee will have access to new tools to support their secure working conditions, such as a request after a minimum of six months of employment to change the type of contract to an open-ended employment contract or a contract with more predictable and secure working conditions. The employer will also be required to justify the termination of the fixed-term contract and notify the trade union organization of this justification. Until now, these solutions only applied to an open-ended contract.”

NGL Legal Associate Filip Wilinski emphasizes the recent updates in the field of Life Sciences in Poland, related to the new Polish act on clinical trials: “On March 30, 2023, the new law on clinical trials of medicinal products for human use was published in the Journal of Laws. It came into force on April 14, 2023, except for provisions relating to the establishment and operation of the Supreme Bioethics Committee for clinical trials, which already apply since March 31, 2023, and scientific advice to be given by the President of the Office for Registration of Medicinal Products, Medical Devices, and Biocidal Products for conducting tests and trials necessary to prove the quality, safety, and effectiveness of medicines, which will come into force on July 1, 2023.”

This House – Reached an Accord

According to Wilinski, Poland is also moving towards implementing new regulations concerning compliance in the Life Sciences field in the country. “The act implementing the so-called ECN+ Directive in Poland will enter into force soon,” he notes. “On April 17, 2023, the act was submitted to the President of the Republic of Poland for signing.”

Wilinski also highlights the most significant changes introduced by the act: “The new regulations shall govern the liability of parent companies for the actions of their subsidiaries. If an undertaking violates competition law, an undertaking exercising decisive influence over the infringer may also be held liable. Determining whether the decisive influence is exercised will therefore be one of the mandatory findings in the course of any proceedings conducted by the Polish authority. Conducting proceedings also against an entity exercising decisive influence will depend on the discretionary decision of the President of the UOKiK.”

Additionally, according to him, the act sets rules regarding the associations of undertakings. “When a breach of competition law is committed by an association of undertakings, the fine will not be allowed to exceed 10% of the total turnover of the members of that association in the financial year preceding the year in which the fine is imposed.” Finally, he points to the limitation period: “Under the new regulations, the limitation period will be suspended on the date on which at least one undertaking involved in a competition-restricting practice is notified by the President of UOKiK of actions taken against it, including during explanatory proceedings not conducted against the undertaking. The regulations indicate that such events in the course of explanatory proceedings, such as requesting an undertaking to provide information, conducting an inspection/search (dawn raid), or summoning for an interview, will lead to the suspension of the limitation period.”

In Romania’s Banking & Finance sector, the most awaited update is related to the adoption of the EU MiCA Regulation, according to Wolf Theiss Partner Claudia Chiper. “The long-awaited and debated Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation, harmonizing the provisions governing crypto-assets across the EU, was finally approved by the European Parliament,” she notes. “This means that asset-referenced tokens, e-money tokens, and a catch-all category for tokens that are not falling within the preceding concepts – such as utility tokens and other cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin or Ether – will finally be subject to a uniform regulation and approach. In practical terms, the MiCA introduces a regulatory regime for (1) issuers of stablecoins; (2) issuers of non-stablecoins; and (3) entities providing services in respect of crypto assets (the co-called CASPs).”

“To enter into force, the MiCA will have to be approved by the EU Council followed by its publication in the EU’s official journal,” Chiper continues. “The first day of application will fall within 20 days of its publication in the EU’s Official Journal. Starting that date, the provisions governing stablecoins will apply after 12 months, while the provisions regarding CASPs benefit from an 18-month period for implementation, which may prove to be rather short considering the required authorization provisions.”

This House – The Latest Draft

Following the recent labor legislation that was enforced in April, Pecht points to the further related legislative updates that are being discussed: “legislative work is currently underway on three regulations that adapt the regulations on labor matters due to the above-mentioned amendments,” she says. “The first regulation provides for changes in employment certificates, and, among other things, the employment certificate issued to an employee is to include information on the employee’s use of time off work due to force majeure for urgent family matters. The second regulation amends the regulations on employee documentation, and so Part B of the employee’s personal file is to be expanded to include the employee’s request and the employer’s response to the employee’s request to change the type of employment contract to an open-ended contract or more predictable and secure working conditions. The third regulation standardizes applications for employees’ parental entitlements and the documents accompanying such applications, taking into account the amendments made to the labor legislation in this regard.”

This House – Implemented Legislation

Wolf Theiss Associate Oliwia Pecht reports on significant legislative changes in the labor sector in Poland that have come into effect in April 2023. “The introduction of remote work to the Labor Code took effect on April 7,” she says. “According to the new regulations, remote work may be agreed upon by the employer and the employee either at the conclusion of the employment contract or during employment. The employer will be also able to instruct the employee to work remotely in special circumstances – i.e., during a state of emergency, a state of epidemic, or a state of threat of epidemic, and for three months after their cancellation – and due to force majeure preventing safe working conditions. The employee will be entitled to the reimbursement of certain costs related to remote work.”

Additionally, Pecht notes that “on April 26, amendments to the Labor Code came into effect. The amendments implement two directives: the so-called Work-Life Balance Directive and the Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions in the EU.” According to her, “these amendments include introducing care leave for personal care of a relative and time off work due to force majeure for urgent family matters. The employee will have access to new tools to support their secure working conditions, such as a request after a minimum of six months of employment to change the type of contract to an open-ended employment contract or a contract with more predictable and secure working conditions. The employer will also be required to justify the termination of the fixed-term contract and notify the trade union organization of this justification. Until now, these solutions only applied to an open-ended contract.”

NGL Legal Associate Filip Wilinski emphasizes the recent updates in the field of Life Sciences in Poland, related to the new Polish act on clinical trials: “On March 30, 2023, the new law on clinical trials of medicinal products for human use was published in the Journal of Laws. It came into force on April 14, 2023, except for provisions relating to the establishment and operation of the Supreme Bioethics Committee for clinical trials, which already apply since March 31, 2023, and scientific advice to be given by the President of the Office for Registration of Medicinal Products, Medical Devices, and Biocidal Products for conducting tests and trials necessary to prove the quality, safety, and effectiveness of medicines, which will come into force on July 1, 2023.”

This House – Reached an Accord

According to Wilinski, Poland is also moving towards implementing new regulations concerning compliance in the Life Sciences field in the country. “The act implementing the so-called ECN+ Directive in Poland will enter into force soon,” he notes. “On April 17, 2023, the act was submitted to the President of the Republic of Poland for signing.”

Wilinski also highlights the most significant changes introduced by the act: “The new regulations shall govern the liability of parent companies for the actions of their subsidiaries. If an undertaking violates competition law, an undertaking exercising decisive influence over the infringer may also be held liable. Determining whether the decisive influence is exercised will therefore be one of the mandatory findings in the course of any proceedings conducted by the Polish authority. Conducting proceedings also against an entity exercising decisive influence will depend on the discretionary decision of the President of the UOKiK.” 

Additionally, according to him, the act sets rules regarding the associations of undertakings. “When a breach of competition law is committed by an association of undertakings, the fine will not be allowed to exceed 10% of the total turnover of the members of that association in the financial year preceding the year in which the fine is imposed.” Finally, he points to the limitation period: “Under the new regulations, the limitation period will be suspended on the date on which at least one undertaking involved in a competition-restricting practice is notified by the President of UOKiK of actions taken against it, including during explanatory proceedings not conducted against the undertaking. The regulations indicate that such events in the course of explanatory proceedings, such as requesting an undertaking to provide information, conducting an inspection/search (dawn raid), or summoning for an interview, will lead to the suspension of the limitation period.”

In Romania’s Banking & Finance sector, the most awaited update is related to the adoption of the EU MiCA Regulation, according to Wolf Theiss Partner Claudia Chiper. “The long-awaited and debated Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation, harmonizing the provisions governing crypto-assets across the EU, was finally approved by the European Parliament,” she notes. “This means that asset-referenced tokens, e-money tokens, and a catch-all category for tokens that are not falling within the preceding concepts – such as utility tokens and other cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin or Ether – will finally be subject to a uniform regulation and approach. In practical terms, the MiCA introduces a regulatory regime for (1) issuers of stablecoins; (2) issuers of non-stablecoins; and (3) entities providing services in respect of crypto assets (the co-called CASPs).”

“To enter into force, the MiCA will have to be approved by the EU Council followed by its publication in the EU’s official journal,” Chiper continues. “The first day of application will fall within 20 days of its publication in the EU’s Official Journal. Starting that date, the provisions governing stablecoins will apply after 12 months, while the provisions regarding CASPs benefit from an 18-month period for implementation, which may prove to be rather short considering the required authorization provisions.”

This House – The Latest Draft 

Following the recent labor legislation that was enforced in April, Pecht points to the further related legislative updates that are being discussed: “legislative work is currently underway on three regulations that adapt the regulations on labor matters due to the above-mentioned amendments,” she says. “The first regulation provides for changes in employment certificates, and, among other things, the employment certificate issued to an employee is to include information on the employee’s use of time off work due to force majeure for urgent family matters. The second regulation amends the regulations on employee documentation, and so Part B of the employee’s personal file is to be expanded to include the employee’s request and the employer’s response to the employee’s request to change the type of employment contract to an open-ended contract or more predictable and secure working conditions. The third regulation standardizes applications for employees’ parental entitlements and the documents accompanying such applications, taking into account the amendments made to the labor legislation in this regard.”

Done Deal

Radovanovic Stojanovic & Partners Partner Sasa Stojanovic draws attention to a large M&A transaction in Serbia: “In April, the most significant deal in Serbia involved the acquisition of Expobank Belgrade by Adriatic Capital. The latter is the sole owner of Montenegro’s Adriatic Bank Podgorica.” 

Radovanovic Stojanovic & Partners Partner Sasa Stojanovic draws attention to a large M&A transaction in Serbia: “In April, the most significant deal in Serbia involved the acquisition of Expobank Belgrade by Adriatic Capital. The latter is the sole owner of Montenegro’s Adriatic Bank Podgorica.”

Thank you to our Practice Leader contributors for this issue: 

  • Claudia Chiper, Partner, Wolf Theiss
  • Filip Wilinski, Associate, NGL Legal
  • Oliwia Pecht, Associate, Wolf Theiss
  • Sasa Stojanovic, Partner, Radovanovic Stojanovic & Partners
This article was originally published in Issue 10.4 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.

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Țuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii is a First-Tier law firm in all international legal directories and a multiple award-winning law firm both locally and internationally. It received the CEE Deal of the Year Award (DOTY Awards 2021) and the Law Firm of the Year Award: Romania (IFLR Europe Awards 2021). 

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