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The mining industry – particularly that of gold and copper – is the main cog of the Armenian economy and a regular source of work for law firms. Even so, relatively few international companies and foreign investors are active in Armenia, despite Armenia joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Investment has been inhibited by factors such as the struggling economies of the country’s major trading partners, such as Russia, and the lack of official legal agreements on trade and bilateral road transport between Armenia and its large neighbour Turkey. The consequences have been substantial, with World Bank figures showing that net FDI inflow dropped from approximately $944m in 2008 to just $178m in 2015. Those struggles have impacted top Armenian firms, which often represent Russian clients which have business in the market.

Positive efforts to build international trade include Armenia having entered into an EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation agreement, which may in time generate increased investment from abroad. The country also entered into a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the US in May 2015, establishing a US-Armenia Council on Trade and Investment to discuss ways to strengthen economic ties. There are hopes that Armenia can serve as a trade conduit for Iran since the lifting of international sanctions against the latter. Armenia’s status as a member country of the EEU should increase its attractiveness as a trade partner, and representatives of the World Bank have expressed optimism that stalled energy partnerships between Iran and Armenia could be the first sector benefit from these improved international relations.

AM Law Firm is among the largest firms in the country and excels at matters related to tax and customs, IP, insurance, debt collection, employment, and transportation. The team is active in industries such as banking, hospitality, healthcare, mining, real estate, and media and entertainment. Managing partner Grigor Minasyan and Yeva Arakelyan are talented practitioners with previous experience in government, including important roles in the Ministry of Justice. Vanik Margaryan focuses on corporate and tax matters, administrative law, IP, and international law, with Narine Sargsyan handling international business, civil and labour law matters. David Hunanyan and Margaryan have provided legal services to the public TV Company of Armenia. Other clients of the firm have included Swatch Group and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

David Sargsyan continues to lead Ameria Legal and Tax Advisors, which advises clients on contentious and non-contentious matters in the energy, natural resources, telecoms, real estate, construction, transport and financial services sectors. Sargsyan has particular expertise in corporate governance, securities and tax legislation. The team also features civil and European law expert Areg Lazaryan, as well as banking and finance specialist Karen Babalyan. The firm’s clients have included various state and international institutions – such as the government of Armenia and the World Bank – as well as private corporations and investors.

K&P Law Firm gives ‘premium-quality advice that is always coupled with sector-specific knowledge and a deep understanding of the needs and interests of each client, as well as a forward-thinking approach’. The team delivers the full range of legal services, including company incorporation, corporate governance, deal structuring, labour matters, tax consultancy, fund management and pension reform, and ‘clearly understands how to mitigate the risks of long-term transactions with the state and is reliable and loyal to foreign investors entering into transactions related to state assets’. Managing partner Vardan Stepanyan has ‘profound understanding of the investment instruments in Armenia and investment legislation’, and Tatul Khudatyanknows the philosophy of law and is a superstar in real estate and regulatory issues, as well as a very good negotiator with private and public institutions’.

Legelata Law firm represents major corporations, financial institutions and state-owned entities on all types of contentious and non-contentious matters, with recent work including advising clients on major loans, export credits, debt collection, anti-competition and trade mark registrations. Managing partner Levon Gevorgyan has particular expertise in public international law and investor-state disputes, while firm director Gor Margaryan focuses on financial and tax matters. The firm’s impressive client base includes Samsung, Banco Popular and the Agence Française de Développement.

Boutique firm Arlex International Ltd excels with respect to cross-border transactions and dispute resolution, including international arbitration, and is experienced in the real estate, natural resources, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors. Harvard-educated practice head Thomas Samuelian is experienced in CIS-related matters and provides advice on corporate and commercial transactions, international trade and finance, tax planning and contentious matters. US-trained senior partner Tamar Hajian, who formerly served as the vice president and general counsel of Brandeis University in Boston, is active in the American Bar Association and is recommended for taxation and non-profit law.

Clients of Concern Dialog law firm highlight its ‘cooperation, culture and professional attitude’. The firm has particular expertise in telecoms and is strong at debt collection, capital markets and labour law. Aram Orbelyan has ‘the ability to quickly solve problems due to his innovativeness, creativity and resourcefulness’. Managing partner Sedrak Asatryan combines ‘experience, knowledge of theory, the ability to practice, and excellent communication skills’. Janna Simonyan is recommended for labour law matters, as is Narine Beglaryan for banking and finance work. Key clients include telecoms corporations, international institutions, mining investors, construction companies and medical devices manufacturers.

Grant Thornton Legal and Tax LLC advises corporations and financial institutions, and has particular expertise in accounting and tax law. Aram Poghosyan is ‘a high-level professional in banking law, his responses are well structured and complete, and he is cooperative and accommodates client requests to the best extent possible’. Davit Harutyunyan, Hakob Tadevosyan and Armen Galstyan are highly recommended.

Investment Law Group LLC is best recognised for its experience in mining and energy law and arbitration, and clients appreciate its ‘responsibility, punctuality and manner of approaching problems from different sides in such a way that it leads to a more comprehensive analysis’. Sevak Aleksanyan is an expert in corporate matters, while Sayad Badalyan focuses on natural resources, energy and environmental law. Vahe Movsisyan is recommended for IT and data privacy matters, and Vahagn Dallakyan concentrates on banking and finance. Artashes Kakoyan is the managing partner. Examples of work included providing legal support to Lydian International with respect to investments in the gold mining sector and advising a foreign investor on the construction of gas-turbine power plants.

Adwise Business and Legal Consulting opened in August 2015 and ‘delivers high-quality service and demonstrates a deep understanding of the legal aspects and the business aspects of the matter at hand’. It covers civil and administrative law, corporate advisory support, labour law, tax litigation and IP issues. Co-founder Ara Khzmalyan, who is an expert in competition, employment and litigation, ‘stays on top of all matters handled by the team and maintains personal involvement in all phases’. He served as the head of the legal department at Yerevan Brandy Company until June 2015 and is ‘professional, thorough, well-prepared, responsive, able to prioritise, and delivers in-depth advice and optimal solutions within very tight timeframes’. Co-founder and CEO Lilit Gharayan leads the business advisory department, which focuses on banking and finance matters. Senior legal counsel Asya Sargizova joined the firm in May 2016 and is ‘highly professional, diligent and a good team player’.

Armen Melkumyan continues to manage Fidelity Consulting CJSC, which has experience in the mining sector and, in particular, handles legal issues pertaining to the extraction of gold and copper. He works alongside Arayik Hayrapetyan, who previously served in Armenia’s securities commission and as the head of legal at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The firm’s work has included advising Eurasian Development Bank on major financings and representing international mining investors on option, shareholder and royalty agreements relating to joint ventures with local mining companies.

Hovhannisyan & partners LLC excels at banking and finance work and dispute resolution, largely on the strength of managing partner Hayk Hovhannisyan, who is an expert in mediation and arbitration. Gagik Grigoryan concentrates on civil and municipal law as well as banking matters. Corporate specialists Mariam Mkrtichyan and Hayk Poghosyan are also recommended.

ILC is led by managing partner and corporate expert Edith Khachaturian, who has additional qualifications to practise in New York and California, and who recently worked on a cross-border case in which ‘her advice on Armenian law and procedure was absolutely fundamental, as was her professionalism and refreshingly positive attitude’; her ‘overall point of view and sensibility to international business is impressive’. Her practice ranges from complex transactions to day-to-day tasks such as licensing and registrations. Senior associate Emil Amirkhanyan – who is fluent in Armenian, Russian, English and French – is in charge of the litigation and corporate transaction group.

Knyazyan & Partners CJSC is a boutique firm which is dedicated to IP matters such as trade mark law, domain names, anti-piracy, industrial designs and related transactional work. Managing partner Sarkis Knyazyan and Boris Vardanyan are senior patent specialists. Susanna Nersisyan concentrates on copyright law and Liana Balyan leads the litigation team.

Prudence CJSC is known for its work on mining and mineral rights issues, telecoms, financial regulation, and civil and commercial litigation. Karapet Badalyan is the key contact for litigation and debt recovery, while Armen Melkumyan concentrates on corporate law and securities regulation, as well as mining and environmental law.

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