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In the corporate law arena, besides the constant demand for corporate housekeeping, German firms saw an increased need for advice particularly due to regulatory changes. One such notable topic was the Market Abuse Regulation, which came into effect in July 2016, an EU regulation for the combating of insider dealings and market manipulations. The interpretation of the regulation, which replaces significant parts of the German Securities Trading Act, is still not entirely clear. Another current and high-profile subject was the Volkswagen emissions scandal; some firms continued to give comprehensive advice to automotive manufacturers, boards and investors.

In the M&A market, which in 2016/2017 again was a sellers’ market, there was a rising demand for warranty & indemnity insurance, protecting against transactional risks. Chinese companies and investment funds’ interest in German targets was strong, as was interest stemming from the US and a few European neighbours. Some multi-billion deals stood out in the market, notably the $66bn takeover of Monsanto by Bayer and Mideas’ $5bn takeover of KUKA.

Demand for advice on financial transactions remains high, although the German market continues to be a mid-cap market with only a limited number of large-cap deals. The credit market is still characterised by high liquidity; the large availability of equity and debt financing means companies get good offers for financings and refinancings and expectations are that the market will become even more borrower-friendly. Strong competition prevails in bidding procedures, the pressure to invest is high and conditions for borrowers are consistently improving. A market in which supply overtakes demand also explains the increase in and shift towards covenant-lite and covenant-loose loans, which since the financial crisis have only seen a re-emergence in Germany in the last few years. Moreover, financial activities are moving from banks to non-banking entities, including investment funds, capital market constructions, securitisations and project loans. Particularly debt funds and direct lending have gained in significance and are now considered accepted market participants in Germany, although they still make up a comparatively small market share compared to the UK or US.

Banking and finance practices also continue to see heavy workloads in the context of regulatory matters, including the implementation of MiFID II and MiFIR, CRR and CRD IV, and the banking landscape is already seeing challenges in implementing CRD V and CRR II. Furthermore, it was time for a mid-term review of the Capital Markets Union planned by the EU commission by the end of 2019, which aims at facilitating access to the capital markets especially for small and mid-sized companies and infrastructure projects.

In the area of investment funds the largest change in the coming years will be seen in the context of the investment tax reform, which came into effect in January 2018 with a wide-ranging impact on the taxation of income realised through an investment fund.

2016 and 2017 were also markedly shaped by Brexit: Many have high hopes for the strong financial centre of Frankfurt, which may gain in further significance both as a location for financial institutions and law firms.

With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018 advice on data protection has very much moved into focus for many firms and has meant the bolstering of IT teams with experts in the field. This also goes hand in hand with the digitalisation of the economy: Technological innovations and the transformation of structures and value chains are affecting nearly all market players. While the automotive, financial and healthcare industries were the trailblazers on the wave of digitalisation, now also insurance companies, the energy sector, cities and municipalities and housing developers are pursuing digital transformations. Besides hot topics such as FinTech or MedTech, LegalTech too has become a prevalent area of discussion and engagement at many firms, as the shift towards artificial intelligence within the legal sector is drawing closer and the gradual mutation of the legal profession increasingly seems inescapable.

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Legal Developments in Germany

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • LAG DĂĽsseldorf: Dismissal with immediate effect valid in response to threat

    Anyone who seriously threatens their employer or superior should expect to be dismissed with immediate effect. This was confirmed by a ruling of the Landesarbeitsgericht (LAG) DĂĽsseldorf [Regional Labour Court of DĂĽsseldorf] from June 8, 2017 (Az.: 11 Sa 823/16).
  • Tax evasion: Only voluntary disclosure affords protection from severe penalties

    Anyone who has been caught for tax evasion should expect to be faced with severe penalties. Voluntary disclosure is the only way of returning to a state of normal tax affairs and avoiding penalties.
  • GSK Update: AIFM Marketing in Germany - The clock is ticking for U.S. and other non-EU fund managers

    Our GSK Update informs about the impact of recent German investment fund legislation (UCITS V Implementation Act) for AIF managers, who are not domiciled in the EU (“non-EU-AIFM”) and who seek to market AIF shares in Germany in accordance with applicable German investment fund law under the EU-AIFM Directive (2011/61/EU).
  • GSK expands Luxembourg presence with a new tax partner

    Opened at the beginning of March 2016, GSK Stockmann + Kollegen continues to expand its Luxembourg office. Mathilde Ostertag recently joined the Luxembourg team of Equity Partners Dr. Marcus Peter, Andreas Heinzmann and Dr. Philipp Mößner as Local Tax Partner.
  • EIA - Strengthening the role of the public

    Among other things, the recent amendment to the Environmental Impact Assessment Act has broadened the rights of (what is termed) the "affected public". The affected public consists primarily of various citizens' initiatives pursuing environmental or public-health purposes. It may for instance file an appeal against a negative decision at the screening stage (i.e., a decision according to which the given project does not require the issuance of an EIA report), and seek its annulment in court. The affected public has been granted a stronger voice also in subsequent procedures in which the fate of a building project is being decided: zoning proceedings and the proceedings on the issuance of a building permit. Taken together, these legislative changes may make it more difficult to implement projects which require an EIA report; in particular, the length of permission proceedings may be substantially extended.
  • New Top Level Domains – Noerr expert warns against trademark infringements

    On June 13, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) published the names of those who have applied for a new top level domain the ending of which may be geographic, such as "munich", industry identification such as "insurance" and even all trademark names and company descriptions such as "canon" and "adidas".
    - Noerr
  • No obligation to set up filtering systems in order to prevent copyright violations

    ECJ, decision of February 16th, 2012, ref. C-360/10 – SABAM
  • Further ECJ Ruling concerning NGO’s right of action under German environmental law

    For the second time within a short period of time, the non-governmental organisations right to challenge administrative decisions under German law is going to be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In January 2012, the German Supreme Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) referred a case to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling concerning the NGO’s right of action.
  • Lessons in Cross-Border M & A Transactions

    The fundamental advice for international business transactions is obvious and easy to understand: different countries have different laws, business habits and cultures. These differences may range from minor nuances, such as lengthy French business lunches or unusual Spanish office hours, to significant legal roadblocks, such as strict European employment laws.
  • Priority rental rights in insolvency

    Parties to rental contracts for commercial premises often agree priority rental rights. In practice, this concept is used to cover a whole series of legal structures. These range from fixed options for the tenant to a promise made by the landlord as a business policy that if any additional premises become available, they will be offered to the tenant. In 2010 the Berlin Court of Appeal issued a ruling on such priority rental rights in insolvency; the decision has recently been published.

Press Releases in Germany

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to