2019 EMEA Regional Roundtable Updates

Published on Nov 27, 2019

Regional roundtable updates were introduced by the Asia Regional Conference and adopted by the EMEA and Americas Regional Conference as a way to help delegates and non-attendees understand important firm and legislative updates in the respective country. Here are the updates sent from the attendees. These will be updated as they are received:

CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz

  • Political developments: Early new elections happened this year, no major political shifts by the new government expected
  • Economy: Austrian economy continuing to do well, strong connection to CEE
  • CMS Vienna opened a new office in North Macedonia in 2018

Herguner Bilgen Ozeke

  • Economic & political environment
  • Rule of law issues
  • Economic distress caused the government to take actions like limiting loans in foreign currencies, incentivizing banks for a restructuring of loans, softening setting reserve rules for banks, etc.
  • Green-field investments are mostly popular in automotive, renewables, nuclear.
  • National lottery and betting privatizations are done, next is the horse races.
  • In the M&A market, it is the buyers’ market for the last two years and this will last for a while. The same is true for the real estate market.
  • Privacy and data protection are hot topics, legislation is similar to old version of Europe but with some specific differences
  • There is always work for compliance & investigation teams
  • The government needs money, so tax legislation amendments are on their way.

Locke Lord LLP

Cannabis industry

  • There’s been a huge amount of growth in the US legalized cannabis industry in the past year and this relatively new legal arena of recreational and medical marijuana has brought with it opportunities but also new legal questions and challenges for businesses.
  • Currently, 11 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana use, and momentum is building in a number of other states.
  • The legalized cannabis space is becoming a focal point for many U.S. firms. Locke Lord’s Cannabis Industry Group is tracking regulatory developments state by state and helping clients navigate the complexities of the industry, including the enduring federal prohibition on marijuana.

2020 presidential election

  • Uncertainty surrounding the 2020 presidential election is top of mind for U.S. firms, as the outcome obviously has vast political, economic and regulatory implications across various sectors.
  • The Trump administration has been on a push to relax federal regulations for numerous industries as well as significant corporate tax cuts and we obviously saw the US take the first official steps to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord just a few days ago. The outcome of the 2020 presidential election will determine whether these trends continue or reverse course.
  • Whatever the outcome, uncertainty and calls for reform in the health care sector will continue, with Republicans continuing to pursue the reversal of the Affordable Care Act and some of the leading Democratic candidates advocating for Medicare for All.

Regulatory developments

  • On the regulatory side, along with US businesses belatedly realizing that GDPR applies to them if they do business in the EU, companies of all sizes are now coming to terms with the implications of other consumer privacy legislation.
  • The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 imposes new, more stringent privacy obligations on certain businesses that collect personal information of California residents beginning 1 January 2020.
  • Locke Lord believes the CCPA is a harbinger of what’s to come in US privacy law, with similar legislation/regulations currently pending in a number of other states and we’re currently advising businesses nationwide on compliance.
  • So we’ll continue to monitor developments closely and work with clients to comply with more stringent obligations and adjust their policies and processes to achieve compliance.

Minter Ellison

The Australian market is seeing the rise of the Big 4 Accounting Firms aggressively building out their legal practices. By example 5 or 6 years ago PWC had no legal practice in Australia, and have now grown to what we estimate to be 150 lawyers across a number of states. We do feel clients will continue to look for independence in their advisors and it should be taken as given that clients find the audit/accounting/legal service provision from one place inherently appealing.

As a firm, our (non-lawyer!) leadership has been looking to offer alternative solutions to our clients that sit naturally alongside our existing areas of practice, and particularly those where we are strong. As such we have been building, and have acquired, a number of consulting solutions in areas:

  • IT Consulting – the firm acquired an IT consulting business called IT Newcom which consults on major IT projects, in particular for the government. Our IT Outsourcing legal team then work in conjunction on those projects as a joined-up project solution
  • Infrastructure Consulting – launched earlier this year and lead by a team of qualified engineers. This practice works in line with our market-leading Infrastructure, Projects, and Construction practice.
  • Risk and Regulatory Consulting – advising on compliance and risk management for financial institutions alongside our financial services regulatory legal team
  • Executive Remuneration Advisory – a four-partner practice advising major listed companies and their remuneration committees on the Board compensation arrangements. This team works alongside our first-tier Employment law practice.
  • Tax Consulting- we have one of, if not the largest, tax advisory practices in Australia outside the Big 4 which covers the full spectrum of tax services including litigation and diligence.
  • MinterEllison Flex – a contract lawyer business providing senior lawyer contracting cover for in house teams on a typical 6-12 month contract. The lawyers are vetted carefully by MinterEllison, are trained and have access to our resources. Rather than providing secondees, we are seeing clients take lawyers from our Flex offering, where we make a profit margin on the arrangement. We are also able to draw from this pool of lawyers ourselves as capacity restraints arise e.g. on an M&A deal.

We have no expectation that we will compete with the Big 4 on their full range of consulting services. However, we have rapidly distinguished ourselves from our competitors and are offering clients a multi-dimensional service offering that they are responding to in a very positive way and we continue to consider other areas where we can provide aligned consulting solutions.


  • Business in Sweden is generally going good and have been for almost a decade now.
  • Although talk of a looming recession, Setterwalls has seen ongoing growth in most fields, including a very strong M&A market and in the tech sector.
  • Setterwalls has grown both organically and with some significant additions to the organisation. Some of the notable additions have been: Two new banking and finance partners and a team from another Swedish firm, a real estate partner and a team from another Swedish firm, an energy and infrastructure partner from a London firm and two dispute partners and team from another Swedish firm. We have also had additions of a specialist counsel in compliance and investigations, previously from a position as Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer at Volvo, and a specialist counsel in intellectual property, previously from a position as a judge at the Swedish IP appeals court and as the Swedish negotiator in the European Unitary Patent System negotiations.

Soltysinski Kawecki & Szlezak

  • In October 2019 the General Elections took place. The formerly ruling conservative Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) won the elections with 43,59% of votes (while the major opposition party, the liberal Civic Coalition (Koalicja Obywatelska, KO), including the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) gained 29,13% of votes. The win of PiS gave that party ca. 51% of seats in the lower chamber of the Polish parliament (Sejm).
  • However, despite also winning the most of the votes in the elections to the upper chamber of the Polish parliament (Senat), due to a different electoral system PiS only gained 48 out of 100 seats in Senat and just recently lost the first voting for the chairman (Marshall) of the Senat, who was chosen by KO and independent senators (prof. Tomasz Grodzki was chosen the marshall of the Senat).
  • The loss of majority in the upper chamber by PiS can positively contribute to stabilizing the legislative system as the upper chamber may delay and amend the legislation.
  • In the executive branch of the government, a continuation is expected, as the former Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, was again designated as a Prime Minister for another term.
  • As per the European Commission predictions, Poland will take the second place (ex aequo with Hungary) and just after Malta in the GDP growth ranking in 2019 (4,4% in 2019). The EU Commission predictions for 2020 are at the level 3,6% (still making the Polish economy the third fastest-growing in the EU, after Malta and Hungary). At the same time, there is a low unemployment rate (ca. 3,3%; moreover, in big cities this parameter does not exceed 1,5%).
  • Big reform of civil procedure was launched in September-November 2019, introducing some innovations aimed at speeding up the procedure in common courts, especially in commercial disputes.
  • For instance, the two significant changes in the Polish Code of Civil Procedure are: (i) the introduction of written depositions of witnesses (as a primary source of evidence; however, the court will be always entitled to decide to examine a particular witness directly) and (ii) significant changes in the system of commercial disputes, including e.g. an introduction of a new type of agreement: evidence agreement in which any parties could agree to exclude certain types of evidence in case of a court dispute between them. This can be used e.g. in case of SPA of shares with a price calculated by an expert, where the parties could agree, prior to any dispute, that certain documents or court expert opinions would not be allowed between them to calculate the price in any future litigation.
  • Significant changes in the system of court fees were introduced, generally increasing the fees (up to the maximum amount of PLN 200,000, i.e. ca. EUR 48,000), but at the same time introducing fixed and relatively low fees for many types of claims where there have been higher fees so far. This includes e.g. most of the claims regarding unfair competition.
  • Polish system of recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards – based on UNCITRAL Model Law and the New York Convention - was reformed some time ago in order to speed up and simplify the national procedure. I.a., the petitions to declare recognition and enforcement of a foreign arbitral awards are now to be submitted directly to the Court of Appeals, but at the same time, decisions of the Court of Appeals are not further appealable in any ordinary way; only an extraordinary cassation appeal to the Supreme Court of Poland is admissible.