Slovakia’s political life is currently marked by the government's internal struggles, says Martin Magal, Managing Partner at Allen & Overy Bratislava. “We have a fairly inept coalition government and our politicians are much more involved in fighting among each other than fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Nonetheless, Magal says, the Slovak people and the country’s economy are doing fairly well. “Even though we had a 6% negative GDP last year and we are currently under strict lockdown, I don’t remember a busier period, transaction-wise,” he says, pointing to Cisco’s acquisition of Sli.do as one of the more notable recent transactions.
In addition, legislative activity hasn’t slowed down significantly, Magal says, and he reports that reforms of Slovakia’s judicial system are underway as well. “The idea is to close down and merge a number of small district courts which only have several judges and thus cannot specialize,” he says. The number of appellate courts will be reduced from eight to three and the current five district courts of Bratislava will be unified into a single first instance court. “This reform faces some backlash under the pretext that it will make the courts less accessible to people,” he says. “However, the small, local courts may have been susceptible to cronyism, so I applaud the change.”
Magal reports that a new Public Procurement Law was drafted by the Slovak Deputy Prime Minister that, if passed, will speed up the public procurement process by dispensing with many of its previously-mandatory procedures. Magal, for one, is not enthusiastic about the change. “Apart from my role at Allen & Overy, I am also Vice President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovakia,” Magal says. “We have taken a stance against this proposal because we believe in the principle that the public procurement procedures should be used as rule and not as an exception.”