Legal market overview in Algeria
The Algerian legal market continued to be characterised by a strictly regulated economic environment and instability related to fluctuating oil prices. Ongoing political uncertainty is underpinning the run-up to presidential elections in 2019.
In spite of the attractiveness of its rich natural resources (notably oil and gas), foreign investment faces remarkable challenges, due in particular to the 49/51 regulation, which prevents foreign entities from owning over 49% of any business. In this regard, however, changes might be forthcoming, with the government expected to implement reforms which would enable foreign investors to manage capital projects.
The government has been also promoting a diversification of the economy, which is heavily dependent on hydrocarbons, focusing on the development of the automotive, pharmaceutical and renewable energy sectors.
Commercial and corporate work takes up a substantial part of the legal market. Dispute resolution to settle controversies over Algerian energy assets - particularly in the form of international arbitration - is another prominent area of activity.
Along with firms which have traditionally led the market - Ghellal & Mekerba, Chemloul & Associés and Hamza Law Office - newer firms such as Bourabiat Associés are consolidating their position and reputation. International firms such as Gide Loyrette Nouel and LPA-CGR have offices in Algeria, while other foreign entities operate from their desks in Paris, London and other African countries. Among these, Shearman & Sterling LLP and King & Spalding LLP have been active in a number of high-profile arbitrations, representing state and state-owned entities and foreign investors respectively.