“Right now probably the most important topic is Corporate Criminal Liability,” said Partner Dana Nemcikova of Ruzicka Csekes in Slovakia. “The new law enacted last year incorporated criminal liability for corporations, which had not been part of the previous law.”
A year later, businesses are starting to recognize the significance of the law, Nemcikova reports, and while firms are continuing to offer seminars and webinars for their clients, those clients “are starting to pick up on it and come back to us with concrete questions.” Nemcikova describes this as “quite a hot topic” in Slovakia, reporting that Lucie Schweizer is leading the prominent Ruzicka Csekes team on the subject.
As for the law itself, Nemcikova notes that “of course it’s a good step,” as Slovakia had been one of the few countries in Europe without such a law on the books. “It’s not written well,” Nemcikova reports of the new law, noting that it’s already been formally amended once, “but that’s always the way with a new law. Of course it will need some time to work itself out.”
According to Nemcikova, one particularly interesting development is the recent attempts in Slovakia to find ways around the amnesty issued in March 1998 by former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar to those responsible (allegedly members of the Slovak intelligence service and the country’s government) for organizing the 1995 kidnapping of then-President Michal Kovac’s son. A new proposal, according to Nemcikova, would allow for the amendment of Constitutional Law and overturn that declaration of amnesty. According to Nemcikova, this is “a very hot topic” — especially following the recent publication of a letter signed by some 26 of the country’s prominent legal experts, Supreme Court judges and Constitutional scholars declaring that the amendment would be possible and consistent with general legal principles, and citing precedent from other countries.
In terms of the business climate in general, Nemcikova says that 2015 was “a very good year” in Slovakia, and last year “still had some good signs.” The most notable deal in recent years was the 2015 investment agreement signed by Jaguar/Land Rover to produce cars in the country, and construction started on the plant in August 2016. The first car is expected to roll off the line in autumn 2018, Nemcikova reports, noting with pride that Ruzicka Csekes advised Jaguar/Land Rover throughout the process. She says there are also some “huge PPP projects” planned for the country for 2017, particularly for the country’s highways. “So we’ll see,” she says. “We’re quite optimistic. Hopefully it will happen."