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The Buzz in Russia: Interview with Stefan Weber of Noerr

The Buzz in Russia: Interview with Stefan Weber of Noerr


The announcement that the retirement age in Russia for both men and women will increase – from 60 to 65 for men by 2028 and from 55 to 60 for women by 2028 – have led to quite an outcry, says Stefan Weber, Head of Noerr’s Moscow Office, including recent demonstrations by thousands of protesters across the country.

The draft bill, which is expected to be adopted next year, was initially introduced during the 21st FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia this past June. The timing, Weber notes, “may have been intended to minimize the negative focus and energy.” Regardless, he says, the proposed change is, in light of the age structure of the population, ultimately a necessary measure that should have an impact on the growth of the economy.

Turning from politics to a more law-related topic, Weber reports that amendments to Russia’s Administrative Offenses Code that were introduced in the middle of August include a leniency provision on self-reporting for companies with respect to anti-corruption compliance, which never existed before.

Just as the country's antitrust law allows parties who self-report violations to avoid liability, the new Administrative Offenses Code, Weber explains, allows companies to avoid liability for bribery if they self-report to the appropriate law enforcement agency. “This basically encourages companies to report cases of bribery that they discover among their employees,” he explains.

“Russia continues to fight corruption in different ways,” he says, and notes that “there are many other examples that illustrate the ongoing efforts to improve the Russian legal and compliance environment.” In this respect he also mentions the enforcement practice of the Russian antitrust authorities, focusing to a large extent on fighting manipulations in tender procedures. According to Weber, this new focus is evidenced by the recent report of the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service on its activities on anti-competitive agreements in 2017 and the first half of 2018 that was published on August 2, 2018.

In the meantime, Weber says, the situation in Russia’s legal market is somewhat stable, though he refers to possible changes to the country’s bar admission process, including the creation of special exams for qualification, which – at the moment – are not required for the majority of lawyers. Weber notes that, “if the law goes through, lawyers and large law firms, which are mostly not advocates, will have to pass an exam to become licensed advocates.”

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