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Albania’s real estate market has undergone a significant transformation in the last decade, attracting global attention across the residential, commercial, and tourism sectors. This surge in interest is a result of the country’s economic and legislative reforms, political stability, successful justice reform implementation, and progress in the EU accession process. These factors collectively present investors with promising opportunities in Albania’s dynamic and evolving market.

On 15 February 2024, the Albanian Parliament adopted law no. 18/2024 “On some amendments and addendums on law no. 155/2015 ‘On gambling in the Republic of Albania’, as amended” (the “Gambling Law”). The amendment overturned a five-year ban on sports betting activities in Albania and entered into force on 27 March 2024.

In Albania, renewable energy, start-ups, and gaming all present significant market opportunities according to Partner Anisa Rrumbullaku of CR Partners in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners, with significant changes being implemented that stand to not only revitalize the economy but also create a hotbed for legal expertise.

Slovenia and Croatia adopted the Minimum Tax Act (MTA). The MTA implements Directive (EU) 2022/2523 to ensure a global minimum level of taxation for multinational enterprise groups and large-scale domestic groups in the EU. The latter is a consequence of the OECD’s global fight against tax base erosion within the scope of Pillar II.

The luxury design company Hermès is facing allegations of engaging in unlawful practices by “tying” the purchase of its popular Birkin bags to the purchase of other luxury clothing and accessory items, as claimed in a class-action lawsuit filed in the US. According to the lawsuit, two California shoppers stated that they were compelled to buy additional Hermès products from various categories such as apparel, scarves, and homeware before being allowed to purchase Birkin handbags from the Paris-based brand.

Last week, the Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition (“Commission”) released two decisions involving the two biggest producers and wholesalers of ground coffee in Serbia – Atlantic Group (“Atlantic”) and Strauss Adriatic (“Strauss”). One decision marked the end of the Commission’s antitrust investigation imposing penalties on Atlantic and Strauss, issued on December 29, 2023 (“Antitrust Decision”), and the other one is the merger control ruling conditionally approving Atlantic’s acquisition of Strauss, issued on February 28, 2024 (“Merger Decision”).

Albania underwent a substantial overhaul in its approach to insolvency and restructuring proceedings with the enactment of Law No. 110/2016 “On Bankruptcy” in 2017. This legislative stride replaced a prior law that had been in effect since 2002, often leading to disputes and difficulties in uniform enforcement.

In Croatia, the legal landscape governing insolvency and restructuring is meticulously outlined in the Insolvency Act (Official Gazette no. 71/15, 104/17,36/22) providing a comprehensive framework for the initiation and execution of pre-insolvency and insolvency proceedings, outlining the ensuing legal consequences, and delineating the respective rights and obligations of debtors and creditors. With the recent amendment to the Insolvency Act introduced in 2022, solutions from the European Union have been adopted to encourage early restructuring of sustainable businesses, maintaining the continuity of company operations, and preventing insolvency. With these new changes, emphasis is being placed on insolvency prevention while also providing a strong framework for the protection of the creditors.

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) has been present in our lives for a while now, but it became a buzzword when OpenAI introduced ChatGPT to the public. Therefore, the lawsuit against OpenAI and the datasets used by ChatGPT deserve more attention than other similar cases.

Competition law reform in Albania is underway, marked by several important changes to Law no. 9121, dated 28.07.2003, “On Protection of Competition” (“Competition Law”). Within the context of harmonizing with the EU acquis, last November, the Albanian Competition Authority (“ACA”) launched a public consultation phase for the proposed amendments to the Competition Law (“Draft Law”). However, the final version of the Draft Law has not yet been submitted to Parliament.

The Law no. 55/2015 “For strategic investments in the Republic of Albania”, determines the procedures and rules applied by state bodies for the examination, approval, and support by the Albanian government of strategic investments in Albania, both domestic and foreign. The deadline for obtaining ‘Strategic Investment’ status, after being postponed several times, expired on 31 December 2023, however now a new amendment pending approval by the parliament, aims – among other things – to extend the benefits of the law until 31 December 2027.

Under the Serbian Law on Foreign Exchange Operations and its accompanying bylaws, Serbian residents have various reporting obligations towards the National Bank of Serbia (“NBS”), which is competent for controlling foreign exchange (“FX”) operations of residents and non-residents. It is not rare in practice that companies operating in Serbia are not aware of (all) such obligations, especially in the cases of first-time entrance to the market, which exposes them to potential liability for FX misdemeanours. The controls in this area are common while identified irregularities are followed by misdemeanour proceedings.

Albania has officially implemented law no. 29/2023, dated 30.03.2023 “On Income Tax”, effective starting from 1 January 2024; repealing and replacing law no. 8438, dated 28.12.1998 “On Income Tax”, as amended. Despite successive amendments over the years, law no. 8438 is deemed outdated and inadequate in addressing the contemporary principles and methodologies associated with personal income tax and corporate income tax (the “New Income Tax Law”).

Did you know that, using the Activity Rankings function of the CEELMDirect website, you can look up the 2023 deal leaderboards in each CEE market, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Slovenia?

Karanovic & Partners at a Glance

Karanovic & Partners is a regional legal practice in Southeast Europe with a tradition spanning over 25 years and cooperating offices in Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania. With more than 150 attorneys at law working together across the region, we take pride in our work, dedication, and understanding of our clients' industries and needs.

We work with some of the most respected and reputable businesses in the world, banks, as well as governments, state-owned entities, start-ups, and NGOs. We see our clients as long-term partners. We focus on straightforward solutions and tailor-made advice. Lawyers cooperating with us are fully immersed in our clients’ culture and industry to ensure that the work is delivered intelligently and reliably.

In our company culture, excellence is a must. We are reliable, adaptive, and fast. We operate under the “one team” principle, combining our regional reach and local know-how to deliver coordinated legal advice necessary for achieving our clients’ goals.

We are ambitious to propose innovative legal solutions and we are at the forefront of legal developments in Southeast Europe, pioneering new areas of the law and paving the way for new practices and regulations.

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