Legal Market Overview
Following its declaration of independence in 2008, Kosovo has been gaining economic strength – slowly, but surely. In the past, the country was largely unaffected by the financial crisis and its future seems equally bright, as the World Bank reports that the economy is expected to grow by 4.8% in the period 2018-2020. However, the speed and stability of Kosovo’s economic growth is negatively affected by other compromising factors. At the time of writing, a potential land-swap between Serbia and Kosovo has increased political uncertainty in the country. This absence of predictability, combined with repeated allegations of corruption and abuse of power among public officials (including the judiciary), does not engender a business-friendly environment. The deficiency in reliable energy supplies poses yet another constraint on economic growth.
The country has a constant influx of capital from two clearly identifiable sources: financing from Kosovans abroad as well as foreign direct investment (FDI). The steady rise of FDI net flow is certainly an identifiable trend — foreign investments amounted to €287.8m in 2017, compared with the inflow of €220m in 2016. Hence, it comes as no surprise that international financial institutions constitute a significant part of the client base of the largest law firms in the region, which makes expertise in financial and corporate law a necessity among local lawyers. Most legal work involving project finance, for example, focuses on projects in the fields of real estate and leasing, construction, and infrastructure. However, new jobs are being created and future FDI contributions are expected to concern the food, IT, infrastructure, energy and mining sectors.
Key law firms in the Kosovo market include Judex Law Firm and Pallaska & Associates, which frequently cooperate with international law firms. Other major names in the market are Boga & Associates and Albania-headquartered firm KALO & ASSOCIATES.
Foreign law firms also frequently provide advice from abroad. Wolf Theiss has a Kosovo desk, which is run by its offices in Vienna and Tirana; key contacts are Sokol Nako and Christian Mikosch. The firm advises investment funds, insurance groups and telecom companies. With its coordinating office in Serbia, boutique firm Zivkovic & Samardzic Law Office is also active in Kosovo; the firm’s work focuses solely on intellectual property matters.