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It was another challenging year for Serbia’s saturated legal market, with a dearth of big-ticket transactions and projects. The much anticipated privatisation of 526 state-owned assets has ignited interest from around the world, but continues to stall amid political and social pressure. In early 2015, for example, the reprivatisation of the Železara Smederevo steel mill collapsed when US steel producer Esmark withdrew its bid; and, in December, what was hoped would be the deal of 2015 – the proposed sale of the most valuable of all Serbia’s state-owned companies, Telekom Srbija, which has generated work for numerous law firms – fell apart when the government decided not to sell.
The legal market comprises a leading pack of six to seven firms consisting of domestic heavyweights BDK Advokati/Attorneys at Law; JPM Jankovic Popovic & Mitic; and Karanovic & Nikolic, plus the local operations of three international/regional firms that dominate the Balkans: CMS; Schoenherr; and Wolf Theiss. Also firmly entrenched in the local scene is Harrisons Solicitors, founded by UK lawyer Mark Harrison. Behind these key players is a group of mid-sized firms with standout expertise in key areas. These firms are, perhaps, well positioned in the current climate of small, price-sensitive transactions.
Firms in the spotlight
TSG - Tomic Sindjelic Groza
TSG law office Tomic Sindjelic Groza is one of the leading national law offices in Serbia with an international orientation. It provides services to national and international clients in Serbia in English, German, Russian and Serbian. The law office was founded in 2000 by a group of Serbian lawyers of the younger generation with international education. Today this law office is known in the market for providing to its clients highly efficient services with a personal and experienced touch.
Law Office of Tomislav Sunjka
The story of the Law office of Tomislav Šunjka success is a story with a moral: integrity is an investment that offers substantial professional, private and financial rewards. Quality means being different. The key to quality is delivering on promise. Quality is our way of operating, and we are attorneys who are passionate about quality. Quality is our way of life.
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
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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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The speakers will be Jennifer Barnard, Special FBI Agent, who will speak of FCPA investigations in the region and practical aspects of cooperation between U.S. Department of Justice and local authorities, Roger Burlingame, attorney at law and partner at Kobre & Kim Law Office< , London, and Nenad Stankovic, attorney at law and senior partner at Law Office Stankovic and Partners, Belgrade.
The New Merger Control Regulation, governing the content and the manner of submitting merger filings to the Serbian Competition Commission, entered into force today, 2 February 2016. The new Regulation represents a modern legal document, fully aligned with the relevant EU acquis, and will significantly facilitate the merger filing process to the benefit of the applicants, as well as the overall efficiency of the Competition Commission.
Karanović & Nikolić labour law experts from multiple jurisdictions have taken an active role in the preparation of a new 2016 guide to European employment law. Karanović & Nikolić participated here as a member of the World Service Group, an association of international independent leading legal, accounting and investment banking firms. Shepherd and Wedderburn, a leading UK law firm and the founding member of World Service Group, has organised the publication of this useful international guide for investors, and our team has provided a contribution for Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Slovenia. The 2016 edition of the popular guide summarises recent changes to labour laws across 20 European jurisdictions and highlights the major changes and trends in this area. The chapters referring to countries covered by Karanović & Nikolić may be found available for download below, while the entire publication may be downloaded from Shepherd and Wedderburn site
Employment law expert, Mirko Kovač, attended a Roundtable discussion on the new Law on Conditions for Secondment of Employees Abroad and their Protection organised by the Ministry of Labour on 13 January 2016. Our office previously analysed this law in more detail and additional information on the novelties it introduces may be found on our website ( http://www.karanovic-nikolic.com/2015/11/16/serbia-adopts-law-on-conditions-for-secondment-of-employees-abroad-and-their-protection/ ). Mirko has been personally invited by representatives of the Ministry of Labour to take part in this discussion, as a recognised expert in the area of secondment regulations. The discussion was lively and mainly focused on the practical aspects of the new law's application, as well as its impact on the protection of our citizens abroad. Trade union representatives – present at the discussion – raised their concerns regarding certain aspects of the law and the level of protection provided to employees abroad, noting how they expect state authorities to closely monitor that employers fully abide to this law in practice. For more details on this Roundtable, please refer to http://www.minrzs.gov.rs/lat/aktuelno/item/4391-od-danas-primena-zakona-o-privremenom-upucivanju-na-rad-u-inostrantvo-zaposlenih-lica
The Parliament of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on Conditions for Secondment of Employees Abroad and their Protection (the “Law”). The Law will be applicable two months following its coming into force, i.e. 13 January 2016.
Pursuant to recent labour regulation amendments, an employer could be released from the obligation to pay mandatory social contributions ( "Contributions" ) for the hired replacement of an employee on a maternity leave, if certain conditions are met. The main intention of these amendments is to increase the protection of female employees and to decrease the risk of termination of an employee due to pregnancy. In order to rely on this exemption, the employer must:
The recently adopted Croatian Bankruptcy Act (" SZ ")  sets out a new integrated pre-bankruptcy and bankruptcy regime. SZ has entirely replaced the previous bankruptcy act that was in force for 18 years, as well as provisions regulating pre-bankruptcy settlement proceedings prescribed under the Act on Financial Operations and Pre-bankruptcy Settlement  . read more
The National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia (“NBRM”) has adopted a new Decision on the Manner and Terms of Recording and Notification of Executed Credit Operations (“Decision”), which applies to credit operations of Macedonian residents with non-residents. This Decision was adopted at the beginning of October, and came into force on 1st November.
On 6 October 2015, the European Court of Justice deemed the “Safe Harbour” agreement that allowed for the transfer of personal data from the EU to the US to be invalid. The “Safe Harbour” agreement was concluded in 2000 between the European Commission and the US government and essentially guarantees protection of personal data transferred by American companies from the EU to the US. In practice, it allowed companies (such as Facebook, Google, Apple etc.) to self-regulate the protection of EU citizens’ data in carrying out exports to US data centres.
As of 3 February 2016, the new Law on Consensual Financial Restructuring (“Law”) will introduce an improved framework for voluntary debt restructuring in Serbia (“Restructuring”). The Law was adopted as a part of a national strategy to address the increasing number of non-performing loans in the country, which was adopted in August 2015 (“Strategy”). The Law will replace the existing Law on Consensual Financial Restructuring of 2011, which produced modest results in practice.
A testator who makes a gift during his lifetime may give rise to tax advantages. However, any gifts need to be taken into account when calculating the compulsory portion.
Montenegrin media outlets have recently reported that the initial phase of the tender for the pre-qualification procedure in awarding the concession for the Kotor-Lovćen-Cetinje cableway – announced on 3 August in the Official Gazette of Montenegro – will be open to interested parties until 5 October this year. The president of the Tender Commission, Daliborka Pejović, pointed out that seven potential concessionaires have so far shown great interest for submitting the required documentation in the pre-qualification stage.
Karanović & Nikolić is pleased to have advised on the recent public procurement case in which our client – the seller – provided the City of Belgrade with five new electric buses for the city's public transport system. The team that led the client throughout the process was represented by Marjan Poljak, Partner, and Ana Stanković, Senior Associate.
Recent news reports from Bosnia tell us that the BiH government, represented by the federal prime minister for economic issues and investments, Suvad Osmanagić, paid a visit to Bihać with Ludovico Camozzi, the president and owner of Camozzi – an Italian company that produces industrial automation machinery.
Ever since Serbia’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU (‘SAA’) entered into force in September 2013, Serbian media have paid significant attention to the country’s obligations concerning the acquisition of agricultural land by foreigners. The fear of one part of the public appears to be that, due to the application of the SAA, large portions of Serbian agricultural land will be sold out to foreigners.
This article was initially featured in CEE Legal Matters, June 2016 edition.
Claims arising from a D&O (Directors & Officers) insurance policy can be ceded to the employer. That was the verdict of the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), Germany’s Federal Court of Justice, in its ruling of April 13, 2016 (Az.: IV ZR 304/13).
According to latest media reports, the governments of Serbia and Bulgaria have agreed on the formulation of a new memorandum for the task of building a gas pipeline between the two countries, during a recent meeting of the group for gas connections in Central and South East Europe that was held in Budapest.
An interesting news update has recently come up in the media, as the Serbian roads company "Putevi Srbije", and the Ministry of Construction, Transport, and Infrastructure – together with the representatives of the relevant institutions in Romania – announced that a contract on implementing a cross border project of building the Belgrade-Timisoara highway is due to be signed in the next two weeks.
Media reports are letting us know that the "Serbia - A Strategic Crossroads between Western and Eastern Europe," conference was held in Paris on 15 September, where the French companies were presented with the political and economic environment in Serbia, as well as with the ensuing investment opportunities and the possibility of financing economic projects.