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Editorial

Monaco at a glance

Contributed by CMS Pasquier Ciulla & Marquet

Being the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican, Monaco is located at the crossroads of France and Italy and is opened on the Mediterranean basin, which gives its residents an exceptional quality of life and makes it easily accessible by all means of transportation, Nice Airport being only 22 km away from Monaco. It is about 3.3 km long and 0.6 km wide, with a surface area of about 2 sq. km, some of which has been reclaimed from the sea over the past decades, especially through the construction, between 1966 and 1973, of the Fontvieille area, which can be qualified as the Monaco business and industries district.

With 38,400 inhabitants (among which approximately 8,000 are Monaco nationals) and a density of around 19,000 inhabitants per sq. km, Monaco has an urbanization that covers almost all its surface area, making it the most densely populated country in the world and contributing to maintaining real estate prices that are among the highest in the world.

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Legal market overview

The mature Monaco market was rocked by the arrival of two global law firm brands in 2017. At the beginning of the year, Norton Rose Fulbright announced the opening of an office under the management of Athens-based finance partner Dimitri Sofianopoulos, who will be splitting his time between Monaco and Greece; and in July, CMS became the next high-profile entrant to the principality following its tie-up with full-service domestic firm PCM Avocats, which has been renamed CMS Pasquier Ciulla & Marquet.

Monaco's economy is heavily weighted towards its banking – particularly private banking and wealth management – and tourism sectors. Therefore, private client work remains a key driver of many law firm practices. The shipping industry, which represents over 4% of the country's gross domestic product, is also a significant source of instructions. Most firms also handle an additional mix of commercial and real estate matters.

The heavyweights in the market are CMS Pasquier Ciulla & Marquet and Donald Manasse Law Offices, which specialise in both private client and corporate work, as well as DL Corporate & Regulatory, Ince & Co and Law Offices of Jean-Charles S. Gardetto, which focus on corporate and commercial work.

Its proximity to France, and a legal system that owes much to French law, means that there are many French-qualified lawyers practising in the principality. However, for those seeking to litigate in Monaco, only lawyers with Monégasque nationality are allowed to appear before the local courts.

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