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 In “The Corner Office” we ask Managing Partners at law firms across Central and Eastern Europe about their backgrounds, strategies, and responsibilities. With summer having just passed, the question this time: What is your one favorite yearly activity to disconnect?

The energy market in Latvia is in a constant process of development, on both the regulatory and business sides. The following highlights suggest the energy sector will remain active in the foreseeable future, providing new opportunities for potential investors.

Although Lithuania cannot boast rich oil resources lying beneath its territory, a number of large oil industry facilities are successfully operating in the country. This suggests that Lithuania has sufficient technical capacity to import oil and petroleum products from various countries, as well as diverse and technically ensured possibilities of supplying petroleum products. Moreover, the country has secured the required amount of petroleum product state reserves, which affords protection against disruptions in their supply.

Regional periodical league tables ranking M&A activity through the lens of the law firms advising on the deals are often dominated by Baltic law firms, with the CEELM Index special issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine reflecting the same trend. To better understand why that is so, we spoke with several Partners – from both Baltic firms and other CEE jurisdictions.

During the last few months number of laws and regulations have been passed in Latvia which have an impact on construction processes, investment in the Latvian real estate and project development.

In February, 2020, the Latvian authorities breathed a sigh of relief after the Financial Action Task Force voted against adding Latvia to the so-called “grey list” of jurisdictions with strategic anti-money laundering deficiencies. Prior to that, MONEYVAL, the permanent monitoring body of the Council of Europe entrusted with the task of assessing compliance with the principal international standards to counter money laundering, found that Latvian financial institutions had failed to introduce sufficient methods to identify suspicious funds primarily associated with clients from the former Soviet bloc countries.

On the 5th of October, the new regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on European crowdfunding service providers for business was approved. Although crowdfunding activities are already regulated in Lithuania by national laws, this new regulation represents a real opportunity for Lithuania and Lithuanian crowdfunding service providers.

In 2015, the word Cobalt took on a new meaning in the legal markets of Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, when a new pan-Baltic law firm with that name opened its doors, immediately entrenched in the top tier of the region’s legal markets. That firm owes much of its success and reputation to the Managing Partner of its Lithuanian office and Chairman of the firm-wide Management Board, Irmantas Norkus.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and various related restrictive measures have created an extraordinary human, business, and legal situation in Lithuania. The Energy sector (like all others) has become subject to various restrictions and challenges, including restrictions on the movement of workers, partner liquidity issues, reduced demand for energy resources, etc. As everywhere else in Europe, Lithuanian electricity market participants have faced a significant decrease in wholesale electricity market prices. Moreover, it is already clear that COVID-19 has negatively affected the international supply chain, as the energy market participants experience disruptions and delays in the performance of contracts and project delivery. In these extraordinary circumstances, industry players (including operating power plant operators, project developers, and so on) have a reasonable expectation that the government will take the effect of the ongoing international crisis into account if developers do not bid in time in auctions or miss their project deployment deadlines.

In accordance with statistical data from 2018 and 2019, Latvia’s State Agency of Medicines concluded that there is a high risk of unavailability of state-reimbursed medicines in the Latvian pharmaceutical market, mainly as a consequence of the behavior of the wholesalers. The same conclusion was reached by the Competition Council of the Republic of Latvia which, in late 2018 and 2019, published two reports on the availability of medicines. Accordingly, it was concluded that the existing regulatory framework was unable to provide an effective market protection mechanism to reduce the risk that patients in Latvia might not have access to state-reimbursed medicines, because after these medicines are made available in Latvia by producers or importers, they are exported to third countries or other EU member states by other market participants.

Over many years, the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian legal markets have been dominated by the same four firms, although the names they operate under have sometimes changed. At the very end of 2018, however, the market in Lithuania, the largest of the Baltic states, shook. when a large team split off from one of those four firms, and several months later merged with a leading independent firm in the country.

In August 2007 crime fiction admirers in Latvia were thrilled to read a book, Kitchen Justice, describing an influential litigation attorney, the trial cases his office handled, and his secret relationship with judges and public figures. The protagonist was immediately recognized by readers, and the legal community was able to identify heroes less known to the public: the judges in the legal proceedings, who were privately communicating with the prominent attorney about the cases they were working on. It was apparent that the disguised author had based his fictional novel on a real-life characters and cases, and without delay, Latvia’s Chief Justice convened an extraordinary session of Supreme Court judges to set up a special panel of five reputable judges with a mandate to investigate the novel’s plot. The commission interviewed dozens of judges who had been identified in Kitchen Justice.

Latvia’s Leading Commercial Lawyers Consider the Country’s New Economic Affairs Court

In recent years, the government and courts of Lithuania have intensified their attempts to develop mediation. There are many reasons for this – promoting social peace, decreasing court caseloads, saving time and money for the end-users, and providing them with higher satisfaction among them.

Attendees to the 2019 CEELM Winter Party were cornered, over the course of the evening, and asked, without warning or an opportunity to prepare, what achievement over the past 12 months they were proudest of.

Cobalt at a Glance

COBALT is a closely integrated alliance of top-tier law offices across the Baltics, uniting more than 250 attorneys and support staff. During 25 years of experience, we have become a strategic partner to our clients in handling both daily matters and complex large–scale transactions and disputes.

The firm’s broad spectrum of expertise and established position as the market leader gives a comprehensive basis for providing full-service business law advice.

Top international and regional businesses, financial institutions, state and local governments, and the region’s most promising start-ups are among our clients. We offer leading-edge solutions in key industry sectors: Consumer Products, Trade & Distribution, Real Estate & Construction, Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare, Energy & Utilities, Communications, Media & Technologies, Financial Services, Transport & Logistics.

COBALT has been named Baltic Law Firm of the Year 7 times receiving Chambers Europe, IFLR, The Lawyer and Mergermarket awards, and we are regularly listed amongst the top-performing M&A legal advisors in the Bloomberg, Refinitiv and Mergermarket deal tables. Recognized as the No.1 Lithuanian law firm in the Prospera Law Firm Review 2021 and No. 1 law firm in Latvia in 2022, 2020, 2019, and 2018 client satisfaction surveys. We were recognized as a Baltic-wide Law Firm of the Year at the 2022 Chambers Europe Awards ceremony and named the Baltic States Tax Firm of the Year and Pro Bono Firm of the Year at the annual ITR EMEA Tax Awards 2021 ceremony. 

More information on COBALT can be found at www.cobalt.legal.