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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.
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.
GC Powerlist -
INSIGHT: Hard graft
the pan-Europe bribery crackdown
As European agencies turn up the heat on bribery and corruption, we team up with Simmons & Simmons to assess how clients are responding.
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As of September 1st 2016, a newly established special department, dedicated solely to white collar crimes, has commenced its work within the Hungarian Metropolitan Public Prosecution Office (Fővárosi Főügyészség). read more...
The CJEU already had the chance to rule on the legitimacy (under copyright law) of hyperlinks to copyrighted works in the Svensson (C-466/12) and Bestwater (C-348/13) cases. In both cases the court came to the conclusion that hyperlinks to copyrighted works freely available on another website are not "communications to the public" (ie a "new public") and therefore do not require the consent of the right holders. read more...
On 2 September 2016, the Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition proposed a draft act for amendments (the "Draft") to the Competition Protection Act (the "CPA"). These amendments aim to implement Directive 2014/104/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 26 November 2014, on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law, for infringements of competition law provisions of Member States, and of the European Union (the "Directive"). read more...
When allocating costs, investment arbitration tribunals apply two principles: a “pay your own way” principle which provides that each party pays its own legal costs and they effectively share the costs of the proceedings, and secondly a “costs follow the event” or “loser pays” principle which provides that the losing party bears the costs of the proceedings including the legal costs of the successful party. read more
Pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare suppliers have always been of special interest to the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) due to the associated public health concerns. In light of this, the HCA has concluded several cooperation agreements with other agencies to facilitate the investigation of these markets. Initially, the agreements were developed with the authorities responsible for the authorisation and monitoring of medical devices and food supplements. read more...
After the broker scandals of 2015, the government introduced new protective measures this year to restore Hungarian investors' trust in capital markets instruments and investment service providers. In 2015, it was discovered that some local broker houses had manipulated their information systems and as a result their reports on securities were not an accurate reflection of the reality. read more...
On August 28 2014 the Austrian Supreme Court submitted a request to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) (6 Ob 137/13 k) for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of EU law regarding cross-border mergers. read more...
Recent media coverage has reported that it will be prohibited for companies to use hashtags such as #Rio2016, or to share official reports regarding the Olympic Games on social media. Are these serious threats? Or are they simply (unsuitable) attempts to protect official sponsors as comprehensively as possible? read more...
As of 1 July 2016, an amendment to Act III of 1952 on the Code of Civil Procedure (" Act ") came into force introducing the possibility – sometimes the obligation – to communicate with the courts electronically. read more...
While it has been possible to register one or two character domain names ("short domains") under several Top Level Domains (TLDs) for quite some time (eg for the German ".de" TLD, following the 2009 "vw.de" judgment), the Austrian registry operator nic.at has hitherto not delegated short domains under the TLD ".at" (to date the minimum length of domain names under the ".at" top level domain had been three characters). 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...