“Unfortunately the situation in Macedonia is not bright” says Dragan Dameski, Partner at Debarliev, Dameski & Kelesoska in Skopje, referring to the prolonged political instability in Macedonia, and the “selective implementation of rule of law by the official institutions and bodies in power.”
Dameski is frustrated with the political controversy that has dominated recent years in Macedonia. “You cannot do or plan anything on a long-term” he says, referring to the spiraling situation started by the so-called “opposition bombs” and culminating in the violent April 27 invasion of the Parliament in Skopje. According to Dameski, the situation “is discouraging the potential investors and evidently slowing down the economy.”
On a not-completely-separate note, Dameski reports that his colleagues from the criminal practice sector are, as a result of the situation, fairly busy at the moment.
Although the situation has adversely affected the legal profession and economy in Macedonia, Dameski is optimistic that things will improve soon as a result of the reinstitution of democratic processes in official institutions and bodies, strengthening of the rule of law, and the country’s involvement with the EU and NATO, all of which are supported by Macedonia’s foreign partners like the EU and United States.
Referring to recent developments in legislation affecting the legal profession, Dameski says that an amendment to the Law on Notary Publics that became effective on January 1, 2017, represents a positive step. Prior to this amendment, only notary publics could register certain executory documents between parties. The new amendment, Dameski says, requires the presence of lawyers at the moment of drafting of the notarial deeds and mandates that all drafting of private deeds with value above EUR 10 thousand be performed by lawyers, then later confirmed by a notary. The new amendment also allows parties in non-conflict procedures like Execution of Wills to have their lawyers present before the notary public – at the same fees as before, now split between the notaries and lawyers. Although initially a source of real conflict between notaries and lawyers, over time that conflict has subsided, “showing that lawyers and notaries can work together for the benefit of the client.”
In summary, “things are very slow in the legal market for business lawyers” Dameski reports, with mandates on standby and exits by foreign investors on the rise. The few M&A transactions which do exist arise from these exits, he explains, rather than from development. He is nonetheless optimistic that things will improve soon.