According to Andrej Kirm, the Managing Partner of Ljubljana’s Kirm Perpar law firm, things are going pretty well in Slovenia. “It’s pretty much business as usual, apart from the Covid-19 crisis,” he says. Indeed, he says, while most larger transactions were put on hold from March to June, “now a lot of things are progressing, and we hope this will continue through the end of the year.” According to him, “we are quite optimistic, and business is surviving better than we expected back in March.
As a result, the legal market is staying busy as well, he says, describing the last few months as “an atypically good summer.” So good, he says, that "there was less vacation than usual.” The market has stayed busy into the fall as well, he says, "so it’s looking quite good.” Still, he warns that this could change if more stringent measures are necessary to tackle the epidemic.
Slovenian courts are operating more or less as normal, Kirm reports, though he expresses some mild confusion at that very normality. “The courts are not using video-hearings as much as they could,” he says, “and we’re not sure why.” Kirm notes that the technology and enabling legislation has existed to conduct hearings by video for many years now, and some matters with foreign clients were conducted remotely over a decade ago — so it’s not clear why courts remain, generally, reluctant to employ those tools now, during a crisis. Instead, the courts have preferred to adapt to the demands of the pandemic primarily by limiting the number of people actively present at hearings as much as possible, and scheduling the hearings in the largest courtrooms available, "so there is as much distance between people as possible.” Still, he says, "with the situation now — with Covid-19 cases increasing throughout Europe — I think the courts should accept videoconferencing as standard practice, as they have in Austria and several other EU countries. The Slovenian Bar Association is also supportive of this approach."
In the meantime, Slovenia’s Parliament is staying busy, “and there are a lot of legislative changes being prepared,” Kirm says, "particularly involving the epidemic.” He draws special attention to the anticipated 5th Legislative Package of measures designed to address the fallout of the pandemic, and “especially those elements related to waiting for work — special measures for those employers who cannot provide work to employees (such as those in the hotels and tourism industry, passenger transport, restaurants, etc.), and guaranteeing monthly basic income for entrepreneurs and micro businesses who have suffered most due to the implemented measures.” According to Kirm, previous measures "saved the year for these businesses” and he reports that the government “is planning on extending those measures, and possibly creating new ones." The 5th Legislative Package is expected to be available soon, he says.
In general, he commends the government’s response to the pandemic, noting that “previous measures have been successful in keeping unemployment rates at quite a low rate.” According to him, “we fully approve of this, and the government measures are going in the right direction.”
In addition, Kirm points to eagerly awaited Corporate Law amendments (which he says should appear by the end of the year) designed to allow virtual shareholder meetings to take place when insufficient shareholders are able to appear in person. Kirm describes this as a necessary improvement, which will "keep some projects happening” that otherwise would fall through the cracks as a result of difficulties in gathering sufficient shareholders together to approve them.
Overall, he says, the political situation is stable, with the next elections not scheduled for another year and a half, and there are “no signs that the government will change before then,” as the business community is quite strong in supporting the economic measures it has taken so far.