Throughout 2022, the legal market in Poland has been subject to pressures from multiple sources; the continuing conflict in the region, resultant energy crisis and economic uncertainty have all coalesced to exert an influence on the types of work which predominate. The relocation of employees and businesses from Ukraine to neighbouring countries has been keeping commercial, corporate and employment practices busy, as well as introducing key new industry players to the jurisdiction. The transition to renewable energy sources, already gaining traction in 2021, has also become increasingly pressing. Offshore wind and photovoltaic projects, long established as the major areas of focus for international investors, have therefore latterly become key targets for state-owned enterprises. Towards the final quarter of 2022, practitioners became increasingly aware of volatility in the market, and consequent difficulty of predictions relating to 2023, particularly in the corporate and financial fields – the corresponding slowdown in deals revealed a hesitancy which was less tangible during the summer months.
Another trend which dominated the latter half of 2021, and has continued apace, is the tendency towards a more interventionist approach. This can be seen particularly clearly in the competition and antitrust space, with the Polish Competition Authority adopting a stance firmly weighted towards consumer protection; businesses have been coming under close scrutiny, particularly so in the highly-regulated sectors. Litigators, similarly, have been seeing increasing willingness from state authorities to pursue cases in the courts, despite the fact that more generally, alternative dispute resolution methods are gaining momentum, and mediation is rapidly becoming a first choice for both clients and firms. In the tax arena, the ‘Polish Deal 2.0’, which was brought into force by the government in July 2022, has already significantly impacted businesses.
As is the case across much of the globe, technology has been driving forward changes across the gamut of practice areas. Most obviously, TMT-focused practitioners have been grappling with an ever-growing roster of novel matters, with the metaverse and AI proving to be particularly hot topics of late. In other fields, fintech and e-commerce have proved to be particularly pervasive issues. In common with the general pattern of intercession by authorities and state bodies, an increasing number of data breach cases has latterly been brought by the regulator.
Warsaw, in particular, continues to be seen as a key hub for the Polish offices of major international firms; Allen & Overy, A. Pedzich sp. k., CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang Posniak i Bejm sp.k., White & Case M. Studniarek i Wspólnicy – Kancelaria Prawna sp.k. and DWF Poland Jamka Sp.k are just some of the most recognisable names operating from the capital. These players remain in healthy competition with a selection of well-established, full-service independent outfits, including Wardynski & Partners, Soltysinski Kawecki & Szlezak, Domanski Zakrzewski Palinka and WKB Lawyers. Whether the recent transfer of talent between Rymarz Zdort Maruta and Baker McKenzie Krzyzowski i Wspólnicy Sp.k. will significantly alter the balance in this space remains to be seen. In the meantime, boutiques – such as Małgorzata Surdek-Janicka’s newly formed dispute resolution offering SURDEK ARBITRATION – are also making a play for market share, in fields ranging from intellectual property to insolvency. With such drive clearly present across the board, deal sheets are likely to look dynamic in 2023, despite the more tentative approach seen towards the end of 2022.