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In addition to their traditional role guiding companies through legal and regulatory waters and managing disputes, General Counsels are increasingly called upon to provide input on strategic matters. An expert panel at the second annual Balkan GC Summit considered how this change in the nature of the General Counsel role is manifesting itself in the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

“The legal market is pretty stable,” reports Popovski & Partners Partner Tatjana Popovski Buloski. “The traditional concept of running a legal business that’s been present in North Macedonia keeps it like that. Not to toot our own horn, but the formation of our firm – and the discontinuation of my partnership with Polenak – was the biggest shift last year.” 

The main characteristics of the Macedonian banking market are its small size and the relatively large number of players. According to the latest reports of the National Bank of North Macedonia, out of fifteen active banks, five have significantly higher market shares than the rest. The combined market share of these five biggest banks is 74.4%, with a significant discrepancy between the bank that owns the largest amount of assets (a market share of 22.7%) and the one with the lowest (a market share of 0.5%).

Former Wolf Theiss Poland Co-Managing Partner Ron Given has joined Deloitte Legal as its CE Senior Legal Counsel, responsible for all of the firm’s offices in 19 Central and Eastern European countries.

It is no secret that North Macedonia is facing the issue of usage of products for plant protection which often fail to meet legal standards. Namely, Macedonian manufacturers producing agricultural products for human and animal nutrition often use unauthorized products which fail to meet safety criteria and may have suspicious origins. Although this issue is not as widely-discussed as air pollution in North Macedonia, it contributes significantly to the existing environmental pollution problem and has a huge impact on the health of plants, people, and the environment.

Macedonian lawyers Tatjana Shishkovska, Aleksandar Dimic, and Metodija Velkov have joined the Polenak partnership, working alongside Managing Partner Kristijan Polenak.

After the announced reform of the public procurement procedures in 2017, at the beginning of this year the National Parliament adopted the new Public Procurement Law (“Law”). This new piece of legislation embodies the current EU public procurement rules and sets the legal landscape which is expected to result with transparent and efficient spending of public funds. The Law entered into force on 1 April 2019, but its applicability will be de facto prolonged in practice due to the start of the presidential elections.

“The talk about the entrance of two regional players – CMS and Schoenherr – onto the Macedonian market last year is still on everyone’s lips (among lawyers),” says Apostolska & Partners’ Founding Partner Emilija Apostolska-Temov in North Macedonia, who says that the presence of such law firms in the market will undoubtedly influence business, increasing both the quality of legal services and competition. “It also gives us a hint about investments coming in – such big law firms would not come without any plans,” she says. “They must know something that the rest of us will learn later. I think it will be a positive experience.”

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