The Legal 500

Estonia

Editorial

Legal market overview

The Estonian M&A market picked up in the third quarter of 2013, with one trend being large multinational corporations selling off parts of their local businesses. Apart from East Capital’s acquisition of 51% of Starman the capital markets are still very quiet. The energy sector, especially in the renewables space, is increasingly busy, which is partly due to the electricity market being opened to competition in 2013. A continuous growth area is the IT and technology sector, where the Estonian start-up and venture capital community is thriving, attracting foreign buyers and investors. The real estate market is slowly recovering as major infrastructure construction projects are being tackled due to EU funding and public procurement initiatives by municipalities.

There has been some movement in the market: boutiques such as Rask have been formed by lawyers leaving major Baltic firms and the Big Four are also setting up their own law firms. Another such firm, Law Office Nordeus, became part of a pan-Baltic firm and rebranded as Fort.

Magnusson Advokatbyrå took on six attorneys from Concordia Attorneys at Law in November 2013 and Glikman & Partnerid merged with Alvin Rödl & Partner Law Office in January 2013, establishing Glikman Alvin & Partners, one of the largest law firms in Estonia.

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Legal Developments in Estonia

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  • Estonia allows claiming punitive damages

    On 31st December 2010 amendments to the Law Obligations Act (hereinafter LOA) came into force in Estonia, introducing the regulation allowing claiming punitive and preventive damages. Though the new regulation allows exemplary damages to be awarded only in the event of non-proprietary damages, it nevertheless constitutes a general paradigm shift, allowing for a much broader protection of personal rights.
  • Review of reorganisation proceedings in Estonia

    Until the adoption of Reorganisation Act Estonian legislation did not provide efficient regulation for companies which were in temporary financial difficulties, but could be “rescued” via certain turn-around proceedings to overcome the economically difficult period.  
  • New Estonian Advertising Act

    New Advertising Act has entered into force from 1st of November 2008. The main reason for drafting the new Act was the current situation in the advertising market – the legal regulation of the Advertising Act passed in 1997 needed to be modernized. Requirements for advertising goods and services, which are likely to cause controversy in the society, have been specified. Additional restrictions have been provided for advertising of alcohol products and financial services, while exemptions have been added to the advertising regulation of tobacco products and gambling. The efficiency of surveillance has been improved and additional measures have been taken. Consistency with the EU law is important in order to avoid discrimination of foreign manufacturers and service providers. Drafting a new act was expedient, whereas extensive amendments were to be made to the current legal regulation of advertising.
  • Division of the company as the joint property between the spouses

    The Civil Chamber of the Estonian Supreme Court has thoroughly handled the topics of division of joint property, repeated some earlier principles and given the clear instruction in the proceeding of division of the joint property of spouses in the question of assessment of the value of the company.
  • Estonian Supreme Court on the tax avoidance rules in share transfers

    The Estonian Supreme Court handled the taxation of the earnings of the physical persons through the application of the rule of economic interpretation (Taxation Act § 84) in its decision of 6 November 2008. In this case the Supreme Court gave the instructions which circumstances are important for establishing the existence of the objective of tax evasion. This is a significant decision in the cases of transfer of securities, where the tax authority has found that the substance and form of the transaction are not in compliance and in no doubt will have its impact to assessing the tax consequences of corporate restructurings.

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