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Editorial

Doing Business in Iceland

Contributed by Lex Law Offices

The business environment

Looking back to the autumn of 2008 who would have believed that in the beginning of the year 2017 Iceland would have a very positive looking economy and be in a very enviable position compared to many western economies. In March 2017 the government of Iceland declared that the currency controls, which have been in place since the global financial crisis in 2008, have been lifted and therefore making investments in Iceland even easier.

Although Iceland experienced a very hard landing in the global financial crisis in 2008, the flip side of the coin were that the dramatic response to the crisis has resulted in a very swift recovery. The sharp depreciation of the Icelandic currency (ISK) resulted in a very positive environment the Icelandic export industries, especially the fisheries and production of electricity which is exported via energy intensive industries such as aluminum smelters, ferrosilicon plants and data centers. On top of that both because of a weak currency and the attention Iceland got because the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 tourism has grown at an unprecedented rate of more than 25% year on year from 2010 to 2016. This boom in tourism which is by almost all estimates likely to continue for a few years more, has significantly boosted the economy in Iceland but not without side effects that are associated with lots of opportunities for the investment community both locally in Iceland and globally as well.

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Legal market overview

Iceland’s capital controls are in the process of being lifted, with a proposed bill to allow individuals to invest ISK100m in securities a year and buy property abroad. Iceland’s Special Prosecutor is now redundant having been absorbed into the newly created District Prosecutor department, which marks the tailing off of the old banks’ white-collar criminal cases. An influx of tourism into the country during 2016 has rejuvenated the hospitality, real estate and commercial sectors, among others, and will remain a big factor in Iceland’s long-term economic recovery.

As restructuring and insolvency work has slowed, corporate and commercial as well as banking and finance work has increased for law firms. Lex Law Offices and LOGOS remain the top firms, with BBA, Juris and Landslog – Law Offices in the chasing pack.

Firms in the spotlight

BBA
www.bba.is

The firm was founded in 1998 by Baldvin Bjorn Haraldsson and Asgeir A Ragnarsson, and was the first law firm in Iceland to build its practice exclusively on servicing the business sector. This focus has allowed BBA’s lawyers to gain substantial experience and a level of expertise which is second to none in Iceland in, among other areas, corporate law, finance law and general business law.

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