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During the current pandemic crisis, courts in countries around the world have had to suspend their regular operations and have focused only on the most urgent and time-sensitive matters. Yet the first few online courts have been able to maintain regular service. This has led to a massive increase in interest in and awareness of online dispute resolution (ODR) and online courts among judges, arbitrators, mediators, and lawyers in general. The pandemic has highlighted the ability of ODR to keep operating in crises that impact physical operations. Suddenly Zoom and even email are being considered ODR technology because they enable online court proceedings and distant mediations.

Similar to other areas of human endeavour, healthcare is bound to undergo the inevitable process of digital transformation. In the last two years the Czech Republic has taken its first steps towards digitizing its healthcare system by introducing mandatory electronic prescriptions and electronic sick notes and is about to introduce an electronic medications record. Unfortunately, there has been little progress on other fronts. Moreover, the Ministry of Health has yet to complete its draft law setting common standards and rules for eHealth, and it is unlikely to meet its current goal of having the law go into effect in 2021.

In The Corner Office feature of CEE Legal Matters we ask Managing Partners at leading law firms across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. In light of current events, the question for this online occurrence of the feature is: "How are you managing your team working remotely during this challenging period?"

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.

One of the challenges of introducing class actions to the Czech legal system is the finding of a proper balance between the interests of clients and those of attorneys. While the default position is that attorneys are to protect the justified interests of their clients and place them before their own (within statutory limits, of course), a careful balancing exercise will need to be carried out if class actions are to be allowed. While class action law is still at the stage of an initial proposal in the Czech Republic, this proposal is demonstrative of the direction the Czech Ministry of Justice intends to take.

In the 26 years since its launch in 1993 by Marek Prochazka as a Prague banking and finance boutique, PRK Partners has added offices in Bratislava and Ostrava and grown into one of the largest and most successful law firms in the Czech and Slovak Republics. That growth, the firm’s partners maintain, is a by-product of the firm’s traditions of flexibility, professionalism, and innovation, rather than the result of a predetermined plan.

Artificial Intelligence is, after distributed ledger technology, the new frontier for legal scholars, and many are working to define how important and significant its future development is and how it is going to shape our legislation, affect our judiciary, and transform our societies. Many are striving to outline new legal definitions of AI, propose novel legal subjectivity and liability for AI’s defects or damage, or reframe ethical principles that AI has to follow, once we finally create it and release it to the world.

DLA Piper Poland, Oppenheim, and PRK Partners have advised Metro Properties on the more-than-EUR 250 million sale and lease-back of 11 Cash & Carry stores in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to FLE GmbH, an Austrian subsidiary of French LFPI Group, investing on behalf of the AIF regulated fund. Allen & Overy, Novalia, and DLA Piper Hungary advised FLE on the transaction, which was finalized in August 2019.

The Czech Republic was one of the first countries in Europe to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes. This was achieved in 2013 by means of an amendment to the Act on Pharmaceuticals, which was subsequently implemented by the “Cannabis Regulation.” Despite this, access to medical cannabis still remains difficult for many patients.

On March 28, 2019 the Slovak parliament adopted Act No. 91/2019 Coll. on Unfair Conditions in Food Trade, which completely replaces previous legislation on the subject.

The tobacco products market is heavily regulated in the Czech Republic, as it is across the European Union. A key document is the Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU), which sets out a uniform, detailed framework for all EU member states. The TPD thus provides substantial direction regarding tobacco regulation, tobacco products, and electronic cigarettes, as well as novel tobacco products. It includes comprehensive definitions of various types of tobacco products and regulates their labeling and packaging, mandatory health warnings and security features, and how to place them on the EU market.

PRK Partners has advised the Remy Cointreau Group on Czech and Slovak aspects of the sale of its Czech and Slovak distribution companies to Germany's Mast-Jagermeister. Germany's Luther law firm provided advice on German elements of the deal, which closed in April 2019. while Germany's Gutt Olk Feldhaus and Schoenherr in the Czech Republic and Slovakia reportedly advised Mast-Jagermeister. Financial details were not disclosed.

Less than 30 years after the wholescale introduction of computers into the legal profession, we find ourselves on the brink of a 4th industrial revolution. Today, we have cars that can drive on their own, we can print almost anything (including entire buildings and human body parts) on a 3D printer, and the Internet of Things is becoming a natural part of our everyday lives. All these tools are making our lives easier and more comfortable. And as the business world adapts to this new era, the legal profession obviously cannot stay behind.

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