The primary focus for most in Slovakia right now – and the talk of the town this season – is the upcoming elections. According to Dentons Bratislava Managing Partner Peter Kubina, the elections have led to the markets going into somewhat of a maintenance mode, yet things stand to pick up the pace again as autumn progresses, with litigious activities taking center stage.
“The legal market in Slovakia has been primarily focused on maintenance and ongoing work in the first half of 2023, due to the impending elections,” Kubina begins. “The summer months typically bring a lull but, now that autumn is here, we're seeing renewed activity. The banking and finance sector, for example, has seen more maintenance-related activities, and more interesting developments are on the horizon.”
Specifically, Kubina mentions that while the banking and finance sector “hasn't seen many new financings,” there have been “numerous amendments, refinancing, and restructuring activities. Despite some challenges, this year is faring better in terms of overall activities compared to the previous year,” he outlines, citing a few examples of interesting M&A activity areas. "One major regional transaction is taking place in the energy sector right now, with Slovakia at its epicenter, and there are a few interesting regional developments that hold a lot of promise,” he says.
Furthermore, Kubina continues by mentioning that “there has been a reorganization of courts, particularly impacting Bratislava. This led to disruptions in court hearings during May and June, but things have since settled down,” he explains. “We have resumed our activities, and several high-profile disputes, such as those concerning the national football stadium and the Slovak public online portal, are still pending.”
Specifically, Kubina mentions that “criminal litigation has thrived as a market” but that the upcoming elections are expected to “influence its trajectory. A noteworthy case is the prosecution of former President Andrej Kiska, involving tax-related allegations that have been subject to wide political abuse. The trial has been ongoing since late June, with four sessions held already and the final one planned for October 11, 2023. The political turmoil surrounding the elections adds a layer of complexity to such cases,” Kubina stresses.
Finally, he reports that the “legal community is watching the elections with a mix of hope and fear. The outcome of the elections will determine the geopolitical course and influence investments, especially larger projects,” he says. “We're actively involved in criminal litigation, and the elections will have a significant bearing on whether such cases continue, as they are intertwined with the high-level political management of the country,” Kubina adds in conclusion. “In the meantime, the result of the elections may bring a degree of uncertainty into the rule of law in Slovakia and its geopolitical orientation.”