The focus today is on the COVID-19 world epidemic, and the special legal orders implemented by the affected countries. While Hungary has also adopted numerous extraordinary and temporary measures in this respect, attention must also be drawn to legislative developments which are not related to the coronavirus. The Parliament has recently adopted a new act which amends the Hungarian Competition Act ("Competition Act") and brings numerous changes to Hungarian competition law.
The Czech Constitutional Court did not repeal the Act on Significant Market Power, as demanded by a group of senators almost four years ago. However, the judges stated that the provision on limiting the amount of suppliers’ payments to customers with significant market power to 3% of the supplier's annual sales, is unconstitutional.
During the COVID-19 outbreak businesses are facing the dilemma of whether to seek state aid or survive the crisis using their own resources. Every company should assess if meeting certain criteria for state aid is justifiable financially and in terms of timing. The state has the tool while the business has the option to use it. State aid is a sensitive topic, since it distorts competition by favouring certain undertakings, but this is allowed to take place when its compatibility with the single market is confirmed by the European Commission (the "EC"). Thus, the EC sets the parameters for the implementation of state aid while the Member States align the incentives with the needs of local business.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread across Europe, more and more companies have been forced to implement remote working arrangements for their employees. Logistical difficulties aside, businesses are now facing very real risks associated with information leaks due to human error, use of vulnerable equipment or software, or deliberate external misappropriation of sensitive data (both of the employer and its contractual counterparties). Immediate actions may need to be taken to adapt to this new environment.
It's hard to believe, but some cybercriminals are trying to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis. They seek to exploit IT weaknesses and use our fears and insecurities to obtain passwords, infiltrate company networks or launch cyberattacks. We have therefore put together a short overview of measures to decrease cybercrime risks in the current extraordinary situation.
On 25 March 2020, the Government of Slovenia announced a EUR 2bln rescue package intended to mitigate the adverse and diverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The package primarily seeks to maintain jobs by providing pay check support and tax relief to employers and introducing additional mechanisms to reduce the liquidity shock on businesses.
Bulgaria has been in a state of emergency since 13 March due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On 23 March the Parliament voted on a special State of Emergency Act (COVID-19 Act) which suspended all court, arbitration and enforcement terms and proceedings during the state of emergency, currently in force until 13 April.
Cerha Hempel and Schoenherr advised OMV on the acquisition of a 39% stake in Borealis AG from Mubadala for USD 4.68 billion. Allen & Overy, Eisenberger & Herzog, and Binder Groesswang advised Mubadala on the transaction, which remains subject to regulatory approval and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
On March 11, 2020, the Government of Hungary declared a state of emergency for the entire territory of Hungary in connection with the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic, and at the same time a special legal order. The new type of coronavirus and some related precautionary measures have completely overturned the market in a number of markets: in some sectors (e.g. aviation, event management, other tourism-related services, automotive, etc.) production of goods/provision of services has almost completely stopped, while in other areas, the sudden and extreme increase in consumer demand is causing disruptions (e.g. mouth masks, hand sanitizers, durable foods, toilet paper, medicines / vitamins).
Healthcare and life sciences have a special status as a type of legal practice. The debate about what this specialisation entails, and to what extent it even qualifies as legal work, is endless. However, as a crisis is also an opportunity, the coronavirus pandemic has defined the areas where law, healthcare and the life sciences overlap.