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79 New Articles

The law on carriage of goods is a well-harmonized area of international law –  a streamlined set of rules that allows cargo owners and carriers to save valuable time and resources. While freight forwarders are an important element of every consignment it is surprising that many elements of forwarder’s liability are still regulated by national law.

Estonia’s commercial real estate sector is enjoying steady growth in practically all segments, with the construction of numerous new office buildings, logistics centers, hotels, and industrial buildings. Even though the majority of transactions are still being made by local property funds, there is an increasing inflow of foreign capital looking for decent returns in a stable environment. One critical aspect facilitating foreign investments into Estonia’s property market is the favorable legal environment.

The Baltic real estate and construction markets remain active, with a number of sizeable transactions completed during the first few months of 2019 and investment pouring into the development of infrastructure, commercial, and residential projects. For the past decade, the Estonian and Lithuanian real estate markets have been more active than the Latvian market. Now, however, with Estonian and Lithuanian markets becoming more and more saturated, Latvia is attracting an increased amount of interest from developers and investors.

Earlier this year the Estonian parliament enacted long-awaited dedicated covered bond legislation, finally allowing local banks to enter both regional and European-wide covered bond markets and to gain access to a reasonably priced and stable source of long-term funding for their key banking businesses (most importantly for funding the issuance of mortgage loans). Additionally, under the new legislation, local covered bond issuers able to meet prudential requirements under the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR) will be able to benefit from certain forms of preferential treatment afforded to covered bonds. For the local banking sector that, at the moment, remains dominated by Scandinavian banking groups, the new legislation also creates a viable alternative to the parent funding.

Amazingly, the Lithuanian FinTech ecosystem report of 2018 revealed that there were 170 FinTech companies based in Lithuania – reflecting 45 percent growth over the previous year – with some 2,600 employees working in FinTech companies, more than 700 of which were newly-employed in 2018. The numbers are still growing this year.

This April, the new EU foreign investment screening regulation entered into force, with terms scheduled to become applicable on October 11, 2020. The regulation was conceived and designed to provide member states with a valuable tool to employ in defending their strategic interests. We spoke to several experts in the region to learn more.

In late 2018, the Competition Council of the Republic of Latvia published the final report on its most recent in-depth sector inquiry on the distribution practices of reimbursed medicines on the wholesale market and potential competition restrictions therein. The sector inquiry had lasted for almost two years, during which the Competition Council gathered information from both the public and the private sectors, approaching seven producers, twelve wholesalers, and several public institutions, such as the State Agency of Medicines and the Health Inspectorate, among others. Although the Competition Council proclaimed that the main goal of the sector inquiry was to analyze potential competition restrictions on the wholesale market, which could be apparent because of the vertical integration of wholesalers and leading pharmacy chains and the exclusivity status of the wholesalers, no infringements proceedings were initiated as a result. Notwithstanding the lack of subsequent infringement proceedings, however, some crucial conclusions were drawn.

With the June 7, 2019 initiation of the draft Patient Insurance Act, the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs has achieved an important milestone in the development of the Estonian health care system. This draft act marks a principal change towards the creation of a patient-centric health care system, which will have a major effect on patients, health care service providers, health care professionals, insurance companies, and society at large.

After a valuable and information-rich day of panel discussions on important business development and law firm management topics, participants reconvened that evening (and were joined by several dozen newcomers) at the first ever CEE Legal Matters Annual Banquet and Deal of the Year Awards Ceremony – a celebration of CEE’s legal markets and the lawyers who work within them. Awards were presented for 17 qualifying markets in CEE – plus a surprise award for overall CEE Deal of the Year – with many of the lawyers playing key roles in nominated deals joining the celebration.

The Deal:  On March 20, 2017, CEE Legal Matters reported that Primus’s Tallinn office had advised BaltCap on its acquisition of 100% of Sanoma Baltics AS – the operator of the Estonian online classified sites auto24 and Kuldne Bors – from Sanoma Media Finland Oy. Sorainen advised Sanoma Media Finland, and Cobalt advised the management of Sanoma Baltics on the transaction, with Ellex Raidla advising AS LHV Varahaldus on its provision of financing for the transaction.

On July 18, 2017, an elite selection of Baltic legal experts from both the private practice and in-house worlds gathered at Cobalt’s Riga office for an in-depth discussion about the Baltic legal markets.

In The Corner Office, we invite Senior and Managing Partners at law firms from across the region to share information about their careers, management styles, and strategies. For this issue, we asked them to describe their least favorite part of their jobs. 

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.