Draft legislation, including a draft law to create a Commercial Court and a draft Civil Code, is at the top of the agenda for lawyers in Kosovo, according to Ramaj, Palushi, Hajdari & Salihu Partner Mentor Hajdaraj, who also points to several ongoing foreign investment disputes of significance to the country's overall FDI strategy.
Two recent ground-breaking court decisions are the main topics of conversation between lawyers in Romania, according to Vertis Legal Partner Grigore Pop – one involving how criminal courts should operate going forward and one involving another lawyer that raises "serious concerns over the legal profession as a whole."
“The third wave of the pandemic, and unfortunately the most severe, has dominated the developments of the past month in Hungary,” says SBGK Partner Peter Lukacsi. He says that severe restrictions have been imposed in the country to combat the uptick in the numbers of newly infected people, including the closings of lower grade schools and kindergartens. “Courts have been closed as well,” he says, “and no personal hearings have been held in both civil and commercial matters since March 8.”
“Covid is still a very hot topic in Slovenia, I’m afraid,” reports ODI Partner Suzana Boncina Jamsek. “The vaccination efforts have somewhat stalled, especially with some problems that Europe seems to have been having with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and this is affecting the market and our daily work.” Boncina Jamsek says that the country still has some lockdown measures in place, but that these change “almost on a weekly basis,” and are not very strict at the moment. “Still, business meetings are rarely taking place in person and this is still a hurdle for all of us,” she says.
According to Rafal Rapala, Senior Partner at Kochanski & Partners, recent developments of interest in the Polish economy include, among other things, several investments by the state-owned Orlen oil company in several regional daily newspapers. This is another step in expanding the company’s portfolio beyond traditional fuel production and distribution, following its 2020 acquisition of Ruch, one of Poland's biggest kiosk and press distributing companies.
In this time of economic distress, many countries have suffered. Yet, reports Milos Gledovic, Partner at Samardzic, Oreski & Grbovic, Serbia has proven resilient. “The pandemic has not affected the number of transactions in our market, except in the industries directly affected by anti-COVID measures,” Gledovic says, describing the overall economic situation in Serbia as stable.
The current political situation in Belarus remains strained, according to Maksim Salahub, Partner at Sorainen in Minsk. Salahub reports that President Lukashenko held an “All-Belarusian Assembly” between February 11 and 12 – an event Salahub describes as “politically sterile.” According to him, “even though the event was supposed to seem all-Belarusian, the participants were carefully selected by the authorities so that the event would instead be attended by Lukashenko loyalists.” Nonetheless, Salahub says, many followed the event closely, hoping that some constructive ideas would be voiced and de-escalation measures proposed. Unfortunately, in Salahub’s opinion, the event only indicated that repression against the pro-reform groups will continue and that the same economic course will be followed as before.
“It’s very complicated at this moment, with most people changing their mind very often,” says Irena Georgieva, Managing Partner of PPG Lawyers in Sofia, about the situation in Bulgaria. “Everybody is focused on their personal Covid-19-related problems and it’s hard to adequately measure what the community really thinks about the government, as somehow all political decisions are inextricably linked with pandemic issues.”
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.”
“There is a lot going on at the moment, politics-wise,” says Rojs, Peljhan, Prelesnik & Partners Partner Ana Grabnar. “One of the coalition parties left the coalition and joined opposition parties in filing for a no-confidence vote for the government – that took place this week.” The opposition did not gather the necessary majority; “surprisingly it gathered even fewer votes than predicted,” she says.
“The hot topic in Hungary right now is the January 2021 amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure” says Komor Hennel Attorneys Managing Partner Ildiko Komor Hennel. “The act passed in the 1950s had one previous major overhaul back in 2017,” she says, adding that the recent amendments were necessitated by “modern times, technological updates, procedural effectiveness and business reality – just imagine not being able to file documents electronically!”
“Austria has learned in the last year that every choice needs to be evaluated and reevaluated,” says Klaus Pfeiffer, Partner at Weber & Co. in Vienna. “Especially when it comes to making decisions about the pandemic, facts on which assumptions are based can change rapidly.” Having learned this lesson, he says, the Austrian government has “put itself in a good position to be flexible and able to constantly reassess its position – which will lead to better responses to the current crisis and future challenges.”
The most notable recent political event in the Czech Republic was the October 2020 regional election, says Jaroslav Havel, Managing Partner at Havel & Partners. However, Havel is quick to point out that, no matter who has been in office in the last ten years, politicians have not had a major impact on business in the Czech Republic. A more tangible effect of the election, he says, is that his former partner, Jan Holasek, who left the former Havel & Holasek law firm six years ago, has become a member of the Czech Senate.