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In “The Buzz” we interview experts on the legal industry living and working in Central and Eastern Europe to find out what’s happening in the region and what legislative/professional/cultural trends and developments they’re following closely. Because the interviews are carried out and published on the CEE Legal Matters website on a rolling basis, we’ve marked the dates on which the interviews were originally published.

One of the four announced priorities of the Slovakian presidency is the “modern single market,” according to Squire Patton Boggs Partner Jana Pagacova. Part of this, she explains, is the aim to develop unifying projects such as an energy union and the digital single market. And a “big rush in the legal environment” that makes up a significant part of the digital single market process, she explains, is to create an “electronic mailbox” system for all individuals and legal entities in the country through which they will receive all statutory communications from the court.

The strike of Skopje court administration employees that began in May ended in mid-August, according to Biljana Joanidis, the Managing Partner of Law Firm Joanidis — but only, perhaps, temporarily. Joanidis reports that the employees have agreed to return to work until the December 11 national elections — after which they’ll consider and, potentially, walk out once again.

"The overall situation in the country — political, financial, social, and so on, which largely determines business (and thus our business)", says Sergey Penev, the Managing Partner of Penev LLP, "may be considered ‘terrible’ for much of Europe, but in Bulgaria it’s pretty stable." The country is in the top 3 or 4 in terms of GDP to debt radio, he says, suggesting that in fact things are not as bad as some claim.

"We simply don’t want to see a Bar that is owned by a handful of firms," was the explanation offered by Aleksandar Cvejic, Board Member and Secretary of the Board of the Belgrade Bar Association in support of the controversial draft bylaws submitted for a vote at the upcoming assembly of the Belgrade Bar on September 24, 2016.

The relative success of the center-right Croatian Democratic Union in the September 11th extraordinary parliamentary election in Croatia “should be good for Croatia and good for business" reports Boris Savoric, Senior Partner at Savoric & Partners in Zagreb, if the party succeeds in forming a government with one of the minority parties in the country.

According to Leonid Zubarev, Senior Partner at CMS, Russia, the economy in Russia continues to suffer from the wave of sanctions imposed on the country by the West in 2014 — an effect only exacerbated by the simultaneously plummeting price of oil and depreciation of the ruble. As a result, he reports, “clients are thinking twice,” and international law firms in Moscow are "fiercely competing" for work. The problem is especially potent, he believes, for firms without diverse practices, while those with the capacity to refocus on bankruptcy, restructuring, and other contentious practices are in a bit better position.

The Buzz is a short summary of the major and relevant topics of interest in Central and Eastern Europe, provided by those best positioned to know: law firm partners and legal journalists/commentators on the ground in each CEE country.

Belarus — squeezed as it is uncomfortably between Ukraine and Russia both geographically and economically — continues to suffer from the ongoing crises in and conflict between the two, according to Sorainen Belarus Managing Partner Kiryl Apanasevich, as well as the indirect but continuing affects of foreign sanctions, imposed on Russia as its closest trade partner and largest investor.

This is a stable and steady time for lawyers in Slovenia, according to ODI Law Managing Partner Uros Ilic, who says that the consistent growth of the past few years — he reports 12 straight quarters of growth in the country — shows no sign of abating. Indeed, Ilic reports, although lawyers and clients alike are taking holidays in August, July was “extremely busy” in Slovenia.  

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