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Editorial

Legal market overview

Even though inbound investment into the mining sector is still the major source of revenue in Armenia, foreign investors have recently shown increased interest in the renewable energy industry. US-based investors largely drive solar and wind energy projects, which are a promising source of work for local law firms, especially as the construction and agriculture sectors have suffered significant setbacks due to reduced public investment and poor weather conditions. Nevertheless, mid-2017 saw a strong GDP growth and a substantial increase in services, industrial production and exports, which led the Armenian government to prepare $500m of Eurobonds to be issued in either 2019 or 2020.

Armenia’s borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan have been closed since 1991 and 1993 respectively, leaving only Iran and Georgia as available land trade routes. This geographic isolation means Armenia is particularly susceptible to economic changes in Russia, its main trading partner. As the Russian economy is showing signs of increased activity, this is expected to have a positive impact on Armenia over the next couple of years.

Regulatory requirements, due diligence, compliance and competition law are gaining increased prominence in the market, generating a stream of work for Armenian firms. Another hot topic for companies and law firms alike is the new tax code, which will be enacted in January 2018.

AM Law Firm, led by Grigor Minasyan, is predominantly known for its expertise in contentious and non-contentious matters concerning tax, employment and debt collection. Recent highlights include advising US government agency Peace Corps on Armenian criminal law. With the promotion of criminal law expert Levon Sahakyan in October 2016 and Narine Sargsyan in June 2017, the team now consists of six partners.

The five-partner team at Concern Dialog law firm stands out for its ‘extremely high levels of engagement’ with clients and ‘proactive approach’ and is particularly active in the collection of non-performing loans and debts. The firm is also experienced in matters concerning insolvency, litigation and arbitration. In one recent highlight, the team acted for a major mining company in a tax-related dispute. Arbitrator Aram Orbelyan is noted for his ‘excellent communication and negotiation skills’; tax expert Roustam Badasyan and corporate lawyer Narine Beglaryan recently made partner.

K&P Law Firm is experienced in advising clients on matters related to real estate, finance, IT and tax law, and stands out for its ability to ‘address complex legal issues in a new and developing regulatory environment with great flexibility’. In a recent highlight, the team advised the Armenian IT company Zangi on intellectual property matters. The firm has a track record assisting international companies, such as Access Consultants and ibis Hotels, with their market entry into Armenia and investment-related issues. Vardan Stepanyan is recommended for his extensive knowledge ‘over the full spectrum of financial services’ and counsel Anna Hakobyan provides ‘well-grounded legal advice on compliance, corporate and regulatory matters’. Tatul Khudatyan is experienced in real estate and banking transactions.

At Legelata Law firm, tax expert Arman Poghosyan was made managing partner in August 2017, following the departure of previous managing partner Levon Gevorgyan to EY Law in November 2016. Other key names include Gor Margaryan, who has a core focus on banking and finance-related matters, and Hovhannes Harutyunyan, who handles contentious matters. Clients include well-known multinational companies, such as ABB and Huawei.

Ameria Legal and Tax Advisors is led by David Sargsyan, who is known for his expertise in corporate and tax-related matters. The team advises clients from various sectors, including mining, banking, IT and real estate. Counsel Karen Babalyan is experienced in banking and finance, insurance, regulatory issues and corporate law.

Arlex International Ltd is known for its experience handling international disputes and complex cross-border transactions across a wide variety of sectors, including telecoms, real estate, transport and media. The team, led by Thomas Samuelian, advises on corporate matters, due diligence exercises, regulatory compliance, tax and intellectual property law matters.

Professional and client-orientated’ Hakob Tadevosyan leads the three-strong team at Grant Thornton Legal and Tax LLC, which is particularly experienced in advising foreign investors and financial institutions on matters regarding market entry, cross-border transactions and disputes. Tadevosyan recently assisted F. Hoffmann-La Roche with the closure of its office in Armenia. Aram Poghosyan is another key figure. Davit Harutyunyan left the firm in 2017.

Hovhannisyan & partners LLC provides ‘practical advice and has a strong business sense’; it has extensive experience in corporate, compliance, competition, insolvency and tax matters. Managing partner Hayk Hovhannisyan is a member of the ICC Court of Arbitration and has a strong track record representing clients in litigation and arbitral proceedings with cross-border elements.

Investment Law Group LLC is led by Artashes Kakoyan, who is widely respected for his experience in the mining sector. The team is also known for handling civil, administrative and energy-related disputes. Vahe Movsisyan is a key name for IP, IT and competition issues, and Vahagn Dallakyan has expertise in banking, finance and bankruptcy matters.

Martirosyan & Partners Advocates and Business Lawyers, which ‘looks outside the box to find the best practical solution’, has expertise in corporate, commercial, IP and financial law matters. Experienced litigator Hamik Martirosyan heads the firm. Maria Grigoryan, who is ‘very well versed in the aviation field’, and Emil Vardanyan, who focuses on dispute resolution, made partner in 2016.

Despite being relatively new to the market, Adwise Business and Legal Consulting has firmly established itself in the areas of tax, IP and employment. The team, led by Ara Khzmalyan, is experienced in commercial transactions and recently gained Capital Motors as a new client. In one highlight, the team successfully represented local supermarket chain Eva and Suzi in a tax dispute.

Fidelity Consulting CJSC’s two-partner practice has a core focus on the contentious and non-contentious aspects of corporate, commercial and employment issues. Armen Melkumyan is a key name for regulatory law and dispute resolution and is particularly experienced in the mining sector. Arayik Hayrapetyan handles employment-related matters.

ILC is led by ‘very professional and reliable’ corporate expert Edith Khachatourian, who is admitted to the bar of the Republic of Armenia and the state bars of California and New York. The team advises foreign investors on entering the Armenian market, handles contentious matters and stands out for the ‘quality’ of its IP-related advice. Emil Amirkhanyan was appointed deputy chairman of the Chamber of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia in November 2016.

EY Law handles tax and corporate matters and is particularly experienced in tax-related disputes. Levon Gevorgyan heads the team following his arrival from Legelata Law firm in November 2016. Kamo Karapetyan is a key name in the financial services space and is particularly knowledgeable about financial litigation.

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