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Editorial

Legal market overview

Venezuela continues to experience grave economic difficulties and these have only been exacerbated by the global drop in oil prices, adding to the fiscal pressure on the Maduro administration, which, holding to the socialist agenda of the Chavez period, has reacted with ever more state-interventionist policies. These, in turn, have led many foreign investors to avoid Venezuela or withdraw their investments. Foreign exchange controls make cross-border transactions difficult, and price controls affect almost every economic activity. The resulting shortages in food and other basic necessities have led to political protests and increasing black market activity, leading to even more pressure on the government.

The crisis is also affecting the legal market. Many law firms are following the example of commercial companies by downsizing. Finance and M&A practices in particular are suffering from a drop in transactional activity, and there is widespread pressure on fee rates. On the other hand, the crisis has also led to increased demand for legal services in areas such as public law, tax, labour, and dispute resolution, as clients seek advice on how to cope with increasingly demanding regulation and tax laws, as well as assistance with downsizing and layoffs and help with disputes, where cost-effective arbitration and mediation are particularly sought after.

The four leading full-service law firms remain Baker & McKenzie SC, D’Empaire Reyna Abogados, Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque and Norton Rose Fulbright; which achieve high rankings in almost every practice area. There has been relatively little movement in the market in terms of law firm mergers, spin-offs, and lateral partner hires. Notable exceptions are the merger of WDA legal, S.C. with tax boutique Fraga & Viloria, S.C.; the move of public law expert Alejandro Gallotti from Torres, Plaz & Araujo to Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque; and the move of arbitration expert Marcos Carrillo from Lloan & Asociados to Araquereyna. In light of such challenging economic conditions, it is unsurprising that few law firms are investing; to some degree the legal market is in a suspended mode and awaits better times.

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Legal Developments worldwide

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  • New requirement for all issuers operating on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange

    On 10 August 2017 the Luxembourg Stock Exchange announced that all domestic and foreign issuers operating on the regulated market (Bourse de Luxembourg) or on the multilateral trading facility (Euro MTF) of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange must provide their legal entity identifier (“LEI ”) codes to the Luxembourg Stock Exchange before 15 September 2017.
  • Luxembourg law on the exploration and use of space resources entered into force

    The Luxembourg law on the exploration and use of space resources of 20 July 2017 entered into force on 2 August 2017 and placed Luxembourg among the most innovative space-oriented nations in the world.
  • VAT in the GCC – Q&A updates from the UAE Ministry of Finance

    On 9 July the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Finance (MOF) published an update of the Value Added Tax (VAT) FAQ section of its website.
  • PRIIPs KID: The final pieces of the puzzle

    The pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place. The long-awaited level 3 and 4 measures have been published earlier this week, half a year before the PRIIPs KID becomes compulsory.
  • MiFID II: Further guidance on product governance requirements

    Amongst the numerous topics covered by the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II), the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has decided to provide further guidance on the requirements regarding product governance through its guidelines dated 2 June 2017 which focus on the target market assessment by manufacturers and distributors of financial products.     
  • Arendt & Medernach is again the “Luxembourg Tax Firm of the Year”

    The partners of Arendt & Medernach are pleased to announce that their firm has been awarded once again the prestigious “Luxembourg Tax Firm of the Year” title during the International Tax Review’s European Tax Awards ceremony held at the Savoy Hotel in London on 18 May.
  • Signature of the Multilateral instrument – reservations made by Luxembourg

    On 7 June 2017, the official ceremony for the signing of the multilateral instrument (“MLI”) took place bringing to a close a process initiated last year when a consensus was reached on the wording of the MLI on 24 November 2016 (see also our newsflash dated 2 December 2016, available on our website www.arendt.com section Publications/Newsflash).
  • Arendt & Medernach: Luxembourg Law Firm of the Year

    Luxembourg, May 2017 – Arendt & Medernach is proud to have been named “Luxembourg Law firm of the year” both by Chambers & Partners and IFLR (International Financial Law Review). The prestigious trophies were both received in April in London at the respective ceremonies of the Chambers Europe Awards 2017 and the IFLR European Awards 2017.
  • First VAT EU case law on the cost-sharing VAT exemption

    The question of the scope of the cost-sharing VAT exemption, also referred to in the Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 as amended ("EU VAT Directive") as “Independent Groups of Persons” or “IGPs”, is currently being debated at the Court of Justice of the EU (“CJEU”) in several cases. Last Thursday marked the first milestone regarding this specific VAT exemption since the CJEU released its judgment in the case Commission v Luxembourg (C-274/15).
  • An Introduction to Corporate Guarantee

    In the UAE, the risk management activities inherent in running a corporate or investment banking business remain of crucial importance, not least because of the strong local characteristic of “name lending”, by which is meant lending or providing other banking facilities to family or other private businesses, primarily on the strength of the “name” or “names” of the proprietors standing behind the business, rather than on the strength of the asset quality and underlying credit of the particular business. Of course, in practice, there is commercial overlap between the proprietors and the companies which they own, but the credit analyses can break down where poor banking practices and procedures result in poorly constructed legal documentation and gaps in guarantee and security support documents.

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