Legal Market Overview
Burundi remains the scene of considerable internecine strife despite the death of long-serving President Pierre Nkurunziza in June 2020 in unclear circumstances, believed to be linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nkurunziza had ceded power to his nominated successor Évariste Ndayishimiye, but was expected to retain significant influence over state affairs. There is little sign of Burundi’s dominant-party system changing, though negotiations have begun over a normalisation of relations with neighbouring Rwanda, and refugees have begun returning to Burundi following the exodus of an estimated 400,000 people after the controversial 2015 election.
Human rights abuses remain a significant area of concern, while Burundi’s economy is stagnant- early signs of growth in 2018 have since been wiped out by the Covid-19 pandemic and a series of international trade blockades and sanctions. The Burundian franc has significantly depreciated, while border closures have hindered trade with key regional partners such as Congo. The small Burundian legal market has seen mixed fortunes. The arrival of a number of major international companies has seen standout firms such as Mabushi Chambers and Rubeya & Co – Advocates pick up notable cross-border investment and M&A mandates, but ongoing political turmoil and damage to infrastructure has seen a number of firms struggle to continue regular operations. Law firms in Burundi operate with relatively flat structures, and are generally diverse in their practice areas in order to insulate against market shocks and ongoing uncertainty.