Amidst the tumultuous backdrop of a war-torn Ukraine, the legal market in the country finds itself navigating a complex landscape marked by uncertainty, according to Avellum Senior Partner Kostiantyn Likarchuk who talks about Ukraine's quest for investment, the status of its judicial reforms, and the pivotal role of antitrust legislation in this challenging environment.
“While the past 19 months have been fairly kind to our firm compared to the rest of the market, we do see many hurdles ahead,” Likarchuk begins. “New projects are not opening much and the horizon seems a bit bleak, which is concerning – the uncertainty stemming from the ongoing war has deterred potential investors and governments from committing to Ukraine.” However, according to Likarchuk, “the truth is, Ukraine needs investments and assistance now, as we cannot predict when and how the war will end. The economic challenges we face ripple across various sectors, making immediate investments crucial for recovery."
Focusing on the markets themselves, Likarchuk shares that “over the past three months, the M&A market has experienced limited activity. Transactional work across the board has significantly decreased. Unless there is a strong push on the side of investors to make the call to invest in Ukraine – not just by Ukrainian entities but also international ones – the transactional practices in our market are at risk of further decline,” he says.
Looking at ongoing legislative reforms, Likarchuk mentions efforts to improve the country’s judicial system. “Ukraine has recently formed the Higher Judges Qualification Commission, marking a significant step forward in our ongoing judicial reform efforts.” According to Likarchuk, this is particularly crucial for Ukraine's aspirations to join the EU. “The process had been halted since 2019 when the previous commission was dismissed,” he explains. “We expect this development to pave the way for more comprehensive judicial reform and legislative updates as we move forward, with accession negotiations expected to kick off by the end of 2023.”
In addition, Likarchuk mentions another critical legislative change in the realm of antitrust legislation. “The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine is set to gain broader powers, including the ability to conduct dawn raids and undertake quasi-policing activities,” he reports. “With the recent change in leadership at the Antimonopoly Committee, we anticipate a more robust push in the fight against oligarchs, making this a significant development in our legal landscape,” Likarchuk posits.
He concludes on a positive note by stressing that “Ukraine's legal community remains resilient, adapting to the ever-evolving landscape and working towards a brighter future.”