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The novel coronavirus has sent markets into a tailspin and forced the scrapping of many plans for this business year. Commercial law firms, their businesses closely tied to the way economies ebb and flow, have been forced to adapt. This global phenomenon is in some ways particularly poignant in Greece, which was finally, after a decade of darkness, showing signs of returning to the light. Commercial Greek law firms, excited about the prospects of a highly-anticipated economic recovery, have discovered they’ll have to wait just a little bit longer. Still, they insist, good times are just around the corner.

The White Paper on Artificial Intelligence published on February 19th by the European Commission presents some important building block policy options to enable the trustworthy and secure development of artificial intelligence in the EU, fully respecting the presiding values and the fundamental rights of its citizens. The enormous volume of data which has already been generated and that yet to be generated constitutes an opportunity for Europe to position itself at the forefront of global AI policy. The use of AI brings both fears and uncertainties: on the one hand, citizens fear they will be left powerless against the information asymmetries of algorithmic decision-making, while on the other, companies are truly concerned with legal uncertainty.

Economic recovery, growth, and FDI are the main themes of the Greek market, where, after nine years of recession, the economy is beginning to shift and grow.

Virginia Murray is a partner in Watson Farley & Williams’ International Project & Structured Finance Group and is Head of the Greek law Corporate, Projects and Finance practice in the firm’s Athens office. She graduated from Cambridge in 1989 and moved to Greece and qualified as a Greek lawyer in 1998. She is fluent in Greek.

In the October 2015 issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine we spoke with Eleni Stakathi, the Head of Legal at Upstream in Greece. We decided to check in with her and see how things had changed in the last four years.

Greece is slowly recovering from the economic crisis – although even “crisis” hardly seems to capture the depths of the country’s economic plummet – that plunged the country into financial lockdown, with massive restructuring commitments to the Troika, record unemployment, and nose-diving foreign investment. With the darkest days of recession now past, and with a new government in power, the country finds itself peering forward, hoping that the light it sees coming towards it through the lingering fog is the sun of a new day … and not an oncoming train.

The latest buzzwords in the automotive and manufacturing industry, “autonomous driving” and “connected mobility,” serve as foretokens of a new “mobility services” era. The industry is affected by current ecological, environmental, and digital standards, and the mobility habits, trends, and demand are gradually disbanding from conventional practices. New indicators are affecting business models in this important industry, including those of parts-suppliers and distributors, by calling for new regulations and consumer expectations.

In an attempt to lighten the heavy burden on the Greek judicial system, articles 178 to 206 of Law 4512/2018 on Arrangements for the Implementation of the Structural Reforms of the Economic Adjustment Programs and Other Provisions provide guidelines for new mediation procedures in civil and commercial matters. This alternative extrajudicial dispute resolution method seeks to provide an attractive and expeditious solution in the form of an executed agreement that is immediately enforceable.

With less than a month before it eventually rolls out across the EU, the GDPR is still treated by many businesses as a complicated piece of legislation triggering serious debate between professionals and regulators and imposing a heavy compliance burden for large organizations. However, the GDPR implementation date – May 25, 2018 – should be looked at more as a starting line rather than a hard deadline, providing organizations with the opportunity to map – through their search to identify any personal data processing – both their entire corporate life and their day-to-day operations.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation is, according to the EU-hosted GDPR website, “the most important change in data privacy regulation in the past 20 years.” The Act, which was approved by the EU Parliament on April 14, 2016 and will become fully effective on May 25, 2018, was designed “to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens’ data privacy, and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”

The winners of the 2017 CEE Deal of the Year Awards were announced at the first ever CEE Legal Matters Deal of the Year Awards Banquet last night in Prague. The biggest smiles in the joyous and music-filled celebration of CEE lawyering, perhaps, were on the faces of Partners from Avellum and Sayenko Kharenko, which, along with White & Case and Latham & Watkins, won the award both for Ukrainian Deal of the Year and CEE Deal of the Year for their work on the 2017 Ukraine Eurobond Issue (a story initially reported by CEE Legal Matters on October 2, 2017).

Greece has long been a regional energy market. However, drastic changes have been taking place which have the potential to transform Greece to an energy hub in the South Eastern Mediterranean region. The first step was made with the inauguration of the Greek-Turkish gas pipeline at the beginning of the millennium.   

On Thursday, November 30th, leading legal practitioners from across Central and Eastern Europe gathered in Prague to help CEE Legal Matters celebrate its fourth successful year as the leading chronicle of the legal industry in the region, participating in an expert Round Table conversation about the year just concluded and enjoying an evening of dinner, drinks, and bonhomie. 

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. 

Almost nine years since the onset of the Greek debt crisis, the country’s deep and prolonged recession has led to a substantial decline in ordinary financial activity and has swept away a quarter of Greece’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an aftermath usually observed in times of war. 

The 2017 CEE Legal Matters General Summit took place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Warsaw on June 1-2, 2017, once again bringing together well over a hundred General Counsel and Heads of Legal from across Central and Eastern Europe for two full days (and one entertaining evening) of seminars, panel discussions, best practices review, and networking. This year’s event — the third annual, following the 2015 GC Summit in Budapest and the 2016 GC Summit in Istanbul — was the biggest and most successful yet.