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“The main thing right now is the upcoming amendment to Act on Corporations,“ starts Kinstellar Partner Tomas Cihula, describing the situation in the Czech Republic. “The Parliament is considering proposals which seek to clarify some parts of the current legislative framework and that aim to ease the regulatory burden companies are facing.“ Cihula said that this overhaul was met with “approval from the business sector.“

“It has been busy in the business arena,” says Marko Ketler, Senior Partner and Attorney at Law in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners, citing ongoing consolidation in banking sector with the potential sale of Abanka, the third largest bank in Slovenia, and recent major M&A transactions, including the sale of Intereuropa, the largest Slovenian logistics company, to Posta Slovenije. "We can expect a busy summer with several large M&A deals pending."

Divjak, Topic Bahtijarevic Partner Mario Krka says that “there are currently three major legislative changes that everybody in Croatia is talking about: changes to the Corporate Law Act, certain tax bylaws amendments, and upcoming changes to the Civil Procedure Act.”

“Things are pretty quiet, and there aren’t any big developments,” begins Sead Miljkovic of Miljkovic & Partners, when asked for the Buzz in Bosnia & Herzegovina. He reports that “infrastructural projects and consolidations in the bank sector” are active at the moment, as well as “financing of public projects,” but he adds that “none of it is large-scale."

Schoenherr Sofia Managing Partner Alexandra Doytchinova starts by talking about what’s happening — or rather, what’s not happening — in the Bulgarian legal market. “Nothing has moved,” she says, "which is not surprising, because Bulgaria is very conservative in this respect. Firms splitting and merging happens once in five years, if at all. So there’s nothing happening there on this front.”

Dorda Partner Martin Brodey starts his provision of The Buzz in Austria by describing the market as very busy and reporting that “two things are blossoming in particular – transactions and litigation – which we see from practice as very strong.” He notes that “Austria is mainly oriented towards the export of highly specialized industrial products and the provision of high-skill services,” and that “this keeps business busy - transactions are stable and flourishing.”

"You know that there are quite a lot of things happening in Ukraine now,” says Vadim Medvedev, Partner at Avellum in Kyiv, who begins by talking about the recent election in April of Volodymyr Zelensky to the Ukrainian Presidency. “Everyone is looking forward to the inauguration to see what changes in policies may follow, Medvedev says, while pointing out that, although Zelensky has asked for May 19, the specific date has not been scheduled yet. He explains that outgoing President Petro Poroshenko was considered to be a “'business-as-usual' candidate,” but the business community is uncertain about Zelensky’s plans, “as there are a lot of gray areas and open issues with respect to his policies and programs — it’s simply unclear.”

Vladimir Bojanovic, Managing Partner of Bojanovic & Partners in Belgrade, rejects the idea that legislative or regulatory updates are of critical importance in his country. "In Serbia it’s not legislative reform that would fuel the development on its own,” he says. “It’s closely connected with new investments that require modern legislation — so in a way recent investments (which are by and large the biggest in the recent history) are shaping and pushing forward modern legislation – the relation of these two is symbiotic.” And he reports that four sectors — Energy, Technology, Distressed Assets, and Corporate/M&A — are particularly active in Serbia at the moment.

“The talk about the entrance of two regional players – CMS and Schoenherr – onto the Macedonian market last year is still on everyone’s lips (among lawyers),” says Apostolska & Partners’ Founding Partner Emilija Apostolska-Temov in North Macedonia, who says that the presence of such law firms in the market will undoubtedly influence business, increasing both the quality of legal services and competition. “It also gives us a hint about investments coming in – such big law firms would not come without any plans,” she says. “They must know something that the rest of us will learn later. I think it will be a positive experience.”

“These are really exciting times in Croatia,” says Kallay & Partners Managing Partner Ivna Medic. On January 1, 2019, she says, the rule book of electronic communications in commercial court procedures was changed to provide the conditions for communicating in electronic form. Medic explains that the regulation represents something completely new for the Croatian legal system. “For the very first time we have the opportunity to communicate with courts electronically, and most definitely this will speed up court proceedings and reduce costs for the proceedings,” she says.

“There was a very big scandal few weeks ago that involved top Lithuanian judges getting detained in an anti-corruption crackdown,” says Metida Partner Erikas Saukalas, referring to the eight judges from the country’s Regional Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court who were arrested at the end of February. The arrests were apparently made, Saukalas reports, following the discovery that the judges had accepted bribes ranging from EUR 1000-100,000 in criminal, civil, and administrative cases. Saukalas describes the case as “a huge disappointment for our society.” 

“From the perspective of a finance lawyer, my general observation is that the biggest problem is of course the political issue,” says Herbert Smith Freehills Partner Olga Davydava, referring to the sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union. “The political situation really affects the legal market.”

“On the business side,” says Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Partner Friedrich Jergitsch, when asked what’s happening in Austria, "people are interested in artificial intelligence, data protection, and cyber-issues. These topics are always important to our clients.” Jergitsch says that data protection responsibilities and concerns “reach far beyond the GDPR.” He explains that “it’s an enormous subject in M&A, and M&A-related due diligence, because a lot of the M&A work involves clients purchasing data companies or cyber companies, and of course it’s a common post-M&A dispute topic, as well as a contractual topic, including in finance transactions.”