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Legal market overview
Two notable consequences of the financial crisis are visible in the Austrian legal market and have informed the flow of work: firstly, the volume of contentious work has increased and is keeping many law firms busy and, secondly, regulations have been tightened in a number of areas and financial supervision has been increased. This has led to a steady flow of mandates, especially on the compliance side and particularly for banking regulatory, tax and employment practices. The economic climate has also created a stage for large restructuring cases such as the Hypo Group Alpe Adria case, which remains a prominent theme of the Austrian market, and M&A transactions as corporates continue to sell non-core assets. Private client practices have been affected by changes to tax legislation with the effect that private foundations have lost their appeal and firms have been shifting their focus towards other forms of asset protection, such as trusts and family holding structures.
The rise in instructions for smaller, more flexible law firms continues to be a trend and has led to the establishment of a number of specialised boutiques. Perhaps the most notable move was in the dispute resolution arena. Wolf Theiss’ former head of arbitration Florian Haugeneder and Bettina Knötzl left the firm together with former counsels Katrin Hanschitz and Axel Thoß in January 2016 to found dispute resolution boutique Knoetzl Haugeneder Netal. Changes in other practice areas are no less noteworthy. Axel Reidlinger, formerly head of competition law at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, founded Reidlinger Schatzmann Rechtsanwälte GmbH together with Gassauer-Fleissner’s co-founder Hanno Schatzmann. Founding partner and media lawyer Christoph Leon left Fiebinger Polak Leon & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH to work independently. Competition lawyer Christian Mayer and energy expert Thomas Starlinger also left Fiebinger Polak Leon & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH in February 2015 to found Starlinger Mayer Rechtsanwälte GmbH. Rudolf Pendl and Gerald Mair established IP boutique Pendl Mair Attorneys at Law after leaving Zeiner & Zeiner. Brauneis Klauser Prändl Rechtsanwälte GmbH rebranded as bkp Rechtsanwälte.
Firms in the spotlight
Lugger | Bankler
Lugger | Bankler is a modern, independent Austrian business law firm. The firm provides clients with personal, individual and efficient legal advice to the highest professional standards. The firm advises national and international commercial entities, as well as public institutions in the areas of business and commercial law. It also advises private clients on commercial issues. The firm’s major practice areas are corporate, M&A, commercial, banking and finance, and dispute resolution. Further it focuses on environmental law and energy law.
The In-House Lawyer
International comparative guides
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Legal Business: country analysis
Breaking new ground – advisers hope shale revolution can restart CEE market
Weighed down by political unrest and slowing economies, energy and infra projects look like one area to be driving
the CEE economy. Can the shale revolution power up
Click here to read the feature.
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One last hurdle – the signature of Czech President Miloš Zeman –before the so called Anti-Smoking Bill enters into force on 31 May 2017.
Facilitation or Liability Trap for Foreign Employers? - The Revised Austrian Law against Wage and SoOn 1 January 2017, the revised Austrian Law against Wage and Social Dumping (" Lohn- und Sozialdumping Bekämpfungsgesetz" or "Revised LSD-BG") came into force. The Revised LSD-BG applies to matters arising after 31 December 2016.
If there are two or more conflicting water use projects (eg, hydroelectric power stations), the Water Act provides for a special conflict procedure. A pending conflict procedure suspends decisions in all underlying approval procedures. As a result of the conflict procedure, the project which serves public interests best will take priority over the inferior project. read more...
In 2016, Austrian Criminal Law experienced some substantive legal developments in both, procedural and material aspects. The following overview reflects the most relevant developments in Austrian Criminal Law in 2016.
Austrian Supreme Court Establishes New Standards as Regards the Decisive Underlying Reasoning of ArbThe decisive underlying reasoning ( motifs, Begründung ) is, without doubt, an essential part of any arbitral award and as such bears the potential of frustrating parties and arbitrators alike. On the one hand, elaborate reasoning in arbitral awards more often than not comes at the price of long waiting periods for the issuance of the awards, and periods of meticulous drafting on the part of the arbitrator(s). On the other hand, a lack of elaborate reasoning may likewise be a headache, since it exposes the arbitral award to setting aside. read more...
The Czech Republic joins other European countries in regulating the sale and advertising of unhealthFrom January 2017, selling and/or advertising chips, soft drinks or mayonnaise-filled sandwiches to children in schools will be illegal.
On 30 November 2016 the European Commission published its "Winter Package" containing proposals for new rules for a consumer-centered clean energy transition. The 500 page Winter Package had been eagerly awaited by the energy industry since it was to contain the major energy regulations for 2020 onwards. As expected, the most substantial measures and amendments proposed concern renewables and energy efficiency in the European Union. In addition, the electricity market design is proposed to be amended. read more...
The Constitutional Court of Moldova has spoken: No Need for Acquirer of a Share Stake to Obtain SharThrough its 27 September 2016 decision (" Decision 27/2016 "), the Constitutional Court of Moldova (" Constitutional Court ") has declared certain provisions of the local Law on Limited-Liability Companies (" Law 135/2007 ") unconstitutional. In particular, it ruled that the operation of amendments to constitutive acts cannot constitute a condition and impediment to an acquirer registering its property right over a share stake in the State Register of Companies. read more...
Protection of new and interim financings in restructuring? - The European Commission's proposal on eSince the European Commission adopted the recommendation on restructuring and second chance in 2014, it has been working on the evaluation of its initiative and the introduction of a European legal framework. In 2015 the Capital Markets Union Action Plan included the announcement of a legislative initiative on early restructuring and second chance. Finally, on 22 November 2016, the European Commission published its proposal for a European Directive on preventive restructuring frameworks and a second chance for entrepreneurs. The proposal includes, inter alia, provisions protecting new and interim financing in restructurings. read more...
Schoenherr Bratislava has advised the Albéa group ("Albéa") on the acquisition of 100 % of the shares in SCANDOLARA TUB-EST, s.r.o. ("Scandolara"), a Slovak subsidiary of the Italian Scandolara Group, which produces laminate tubes. read more...
On Friday, 2 September 2016, the Austrian Finance Minister has given the green light to finance a public offer by Kärntner Ausgleichszahlungs-Fonds (KAF) to HETA creditors pursuant to § 2a of the Austrian Financial Market Stability Act. The offer will implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concluded in May 2016 between the Austrian Minister of Finance and a significant number of creditors of debt instruments issued by HETA ASSET RESOLUTION AG (HETA) that are subject to a regional law deficiency guarantee. The offer will be published by KAF on Tuesday, 6 September 2016. read more...
Schoenherr advised an international banking consortium comprising Commerzbank Ak-tiengesellschaft (technical lead), Barclays Bank plc, Crédit Agricole CIB and CaixaBank SA as Joint Lead Managers on the successful issuance of a EUR 500 million fixed-rate mortgage covered bond ( Pfandbrief ) by Vienna-based Erste Group Bank AG (closing date: 9 September 2015). The bond was placed with institutional investors and listed on the Second Regulated Market of the Vienna Stock Exchange. read more...
Austria: JUVE confirms Schoenherr's leading role in Austrian legal market and among corporate/M&A prJUVE, the premier German-language legal business publication, ranks Schoenherr as the leading law firm in Austria and recognises the firm's Corporate/M&A practice for being at the very apex of the country's transactional practitioners . In the newly-released 2015 edition of its annual 150-page handbook on corporate law firms in Austria, JUVE identifies Schoenherr as having generated the highest revenues among the country’s 15 largest law firms, thanks not least to Schoenherr's advisory role in a large selection of the headline transactions and restructurings during 2014/15. read more...
Austria: Schoenherr advises Allianz Capital Partners on its first acquisition of wind parks in AustrSchoenherr advised Allianz Capital Partners (ACP) on its acquisition of four wind parks in the Austrian state of Lower Austria from ImWind, one of the country’s largest wind farm operators, with a portfolio of 320 MW in operation. read more...
Schoenherr has advised UNION Investment Real Estate GmbH, one of Europe's leading property investment management companies, on several prominent real estate acquisitions that the Hamburg-based group has made in Vienna. In addition to space2move, Schoenherr has also advised UNION Investment. read more...
Schoenherr advised Cimpress N.V., a world leader in mass customization, on its acquisition of Druck.at, one of the leading web-to-print businesses in Austria. The transaction, which was announced on 18 March 2015, closed on 17 April 2015 following the successful achievement of various closing conditions including Austrian antitrust clearance. The acquisition supports Cimpress’ strategy of building a software-enabled operational platform that aggregates and optimizes the supply chain and production of mass customized products such as signage, printing, apparel and promotional products. read more...
Schoenherr has been recognized as " South East Europe Law Firm of the Year " (2015) by the renowned legal publisher Chambers and Partners . Schoenherr lawyers Monica Cojocaru (partner; Bucharest), Miloš Laković (partner, Moravčević, Vojnović & partneri OAD in cooperation with Schoenherr; Belgrade) and Marko Prušnik (partner; Ljubljana) accepted the award on behalf of the firm at the Chambers Europe Awards event held this past Friday evening at Amsterdam’s Hotel Okura. read more...
Leon Kopecký has joined Schoenherr, a leading full-service law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, as Counsel in March 2015. Mr Kopecký focuses on international commercial and investment arbitration, international litigation, and compliance matters. His clients are international firms in the construction, raw materials, infrastructure, finance, fashion and health care industries. He regularly advises clients on complex investment matters. read more...
Vienna, 16 January 2015. Business law firm Fellner Wratzfeld & Partners (fwp) advises UniCredit Bank Austria AG on the multi-stage structured sale of the real estate portfolio it holds via Immobilien Holding GmbH. read more...