“Corruption continues to be among the biggest issues in Ukraine,” says Lidiya Klymkiv, Partner at Axon Partners. “There is some kind of quiet consent with corruption, not only among ordinary people, but also in the legal market itself, as there are many stories involving unethical behavior of representatives of the legal profession in court.”
However, Klymkiv says, recent developments are encouraging. First, she says, local law firms have begun discussing the issue of corruption publicly, which “generated a huge resonance in the legal market.” She explained that, “not so long ago, these issues were kept silent, so I believe this whole situation will change in the near future.”
Klymkiv says the reform of the court system that was introduced earlier this year, which she says includes the judges replacement and a new assessment procedure for judges, is also encouraging. Although she believes that these reforms will not immediately eliminate all traces of corruption, she claims that, “the main point is that ethical issues have been raised inside the legal system and among the lawyers, the new legislation cannot have a real impact without a shift in the minds of legal practitioners.”
Klymkiv turns to the subject of Ukraine’s new "On Limited and Additional Liability Companies" law, which came into effect on June 17, 2018, addressing what she describes as the previous absence of freedom in decision-making for businesses. “They lacked instruments in Ukrainian law, and thus businesses would turn to the mechanisms provided in other jurisdictions, such as the system of common law in USA.” According to her, these tools are necessary to emerging markets, as “it is very important at the stage of incorporation to have some effective instruments to take part in the life of the company and to attract investors.” The new law makes a Corporate Agreement — analogous to a Shareholders Agreement — available to people who want to do business in Ukraine, as “having more freedom in the governing of the company is a much more modern approach and it follows the practice of most developed countries that have such institutions, which is a huge step for Ukraine corporate legislation,” she says.
In the meantime, the legal market is reshaping as well. Klymkiv notices an increasing interest among traditional law firm in innovative projects, including solutions for legal practitioners such as legal bots, online platforms for the court system, and property rights registration bots. Another important area is data protection, she says. With the enforcement of the GDPR many law firms now specialize in data protection, providing service that goes beyond Ukrainian borders. “Ukraine is strong in the outsourcing market, and companies that deal with data protection and have access to personal data registered abroad refer to Ukrainian lawyers to provide consulting on the GDPR.”