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Legal Market Overview

With 2021 representing another year dominated by Covid-19, Slovakia saw its leadership being dragged into the maelstrom; in a major development, Igor Matovic was forced to resign as prime minister in April amid a political scandal triggered by a secret deal to buy Russia’s Sputnik V Covid vaccine. Although Matovic stayed on as finance minister, the move comes barely more than a year after an election victory that saw him sweep into office under an anti-corruption banner with promises of a political shake-up. It remains to be seen whether or not the government (which is now led by Eduard Heger of Matovic’s Ordinary People and Independent Personalities party) will fulfil those pledges, but dealing with bribery and parliamentary privileges is still very much on the agenda.

Notwithstanding the pandemic, the legal market continued to be resilient. M&A remained active, with new pipelines of deals flowing from August 2020 onwards. While consolidation is the key word in the corporate and finance spaces, 2021 also saw a shift in interest from privatisation deals towards the tech sector. Despite this shift the energy and renewables market remains a crucial driving force for the country’s economy, with two major nuclear projects close to completion and increased pressure from the EU to invest in renewables. In contrast, the traditionally strong Slovak automotive industry had a tougher year, putting bankruptcy and insolvency experts on alert.

Employment and labour law has been an understandably active area since 2019, and firms have been busy advising clients on changes in regulation, Government schemes to assist employers, and tech issues related to remote working, as well as the inevitable mass redundancies that every country has had to deal with. Another active practice is real estate and construction, where uncertainty has been offset by strong activity in the logistics industry and a surprisingly buoyant housing market.

Going forward, a high vaccination rate combined with a loose monetary policy and substantial EU funds (over 6.0% of GDP during 2021–26) should provide a boost to recovery and some forecasters predict an economic growth rate of 4.4% in 2022.

In contrast to a market in flux the Slovakian legal sector remains relatively stable, with the landmark deal being handles by international firms with local offices and long-established independent full-service practices. Core players include Allen & Overy Bratislava, s.r.o., Dentons, Kinstellar and Barger Prekop s.r.o., all of whom are active in many of the major cross-border deals. Meanwhile Taylor Wessing Slovakia and Advokátska kancelária MCL, s.r.o. have improving offerings across practice areas, and Paul Q Law Firm, CMS and Cechová & Partners are also mainstays. White & Case s.r.o. exited the market in March 2022 with members of the former team establishing Aldertree legal s.r.o..