Poland

Preparation for the European Championships in 2012 have been scuppered by a lack of funds for the stadia, but Polish lawyers are optimistic of a much-needed turnaround in the coming years. Most practice areas, excluding M&A, have survived well for the firms.

Banking, for example, is slowly benefiting from more confidence in the market. While it may have been a difficult period for financial services, football fever is growing and lawyers can look forward to riding the wave that only a major sporting event can muster.

Banking

Marek Król, partner, CMS Cameron McKenna Dariusz Greszta Spólka Komandytowa

The Polish economy is in a good situation and our banking ­market is seeing some changes. On the debt side, the biggest Polish banks have decided to open new credit lines for the biggest companies in the country. New investors are now ­interested in buying the assets of Polish companies and the situation is better than it was a year ago.

The market is rapidly changing. In the past month Polish banks are now ready to buy bonds and ­participate in tenders to buy bonds. The big ­companies have sufficient liquidity and credit ­facilities are larger than a few months ago.

Liquidity in other European countries can also be a deciding factor in contracts with Polish companies. We have a much better relationship with Russia ­following President Putin’s visit last month and the main contracts between Russia and Poland will continue –  Russia is a big market for Polish enterprises.

I also observe that Polish companies have received a lot of funds for the development of the country’s infrastructure – overall I am optimistic about the economic situation in this country.

Real estate
Artur Kulawski, partner, Linklaters

Similarly to other European ­markets, the Polish real estate legal market has been affected by the global real estate downturn.

However, in Poland the crisis hit later and with a lesser impact than in Western Europe or Russia. Moreover, we can see that the ­Polish real estate sector has quickly adjusted to the new business ­conditions and, beginning in the second quarter of 2009, new trends and products were developed.

Given the current difficulties in raising funds for development and investment, joint venture (JV) structures play an important role in the Polish property market. Recently we assisted our clients in ­creating JVs where the real estate expertise of one ­JV partner, ­combined with the financial resources of the other JV partner, allowed for increased profits from a transaction that might ­otherwise be impossible to complete and, equally importantly, to reduce the transaction risk exposure by sharing it between JV ­partners. We believe that this type of deal will remain popular among investors for the duration of the current downturn.

Another source of new assignments is from the public sector. ­Public contracts and procurements (mostly for infrastructure ­projects) generate a lot of legal work for highly experienced lawyers, especially in relation to the largest EU-sponsored projects, where both bidders and public entities are well aware that they require ­professional counselling to ensure a smooth walk along the legal paths of the tender. An example of public contracts that have been very prestigious, lucrative and an important source of legal work are projects related to the Euro 2012 Uefa Football Championships.

The Polish government and large Polish cities have been spending billions of euros on stadium development projects, transportation infrastructure and related services (such as hotels) and have adopted special regulations allowing for the streamlining of Euro 2012-­related investments. These assignments have already been fuelling large law firms and it appears that this trend will continue for the next two years.

Understandably, the current market conditions not only provide a stimulus for developing new products but are also taking their toll, which is resulting in an increased number of all types of ­restructuring work, from credit facilities through lease agreements to spectacular bankruptcies of large developers.

IP
Pawel Siekierzynski, partner, Schoenherr

The recent significant changes to ­Polish IP law came into force in 2007. The most important ones were ­connected with the harmonisation of ­Polish law with EU law and were aimed  at  the implementation of  directive 2004/48/EC on the ­enforcement of IP rights.

As a result, a possibility of so-called ‘information claim’ (the purpose of which was to obtain information ­necessary to seek claims for the infringement of ­IP rights) was ­introduced to Polish law. The ­implementation was not  made in a complex manner and it does not take into account the specific nature of the Polish system of justice; in effect some problems with its practical functioning may be expected. Most importantly, doubts  surround  the fact that there are no effective ­mechanisms for the enforcement of court decisions, which would acknowledge an information claim. However, no immediate changes should be expected.

Another essential change ­introduced in 2007 concerned ­making the principles of criminal prosecution in relation to trading in goods marked with a counterfeit trademark more specific. The initial regulation was interpreted by the ­Polish Supreme Court in the ­following manner: only the initial marketing  of goods is  liable to ­criminal prosecution (that is, only the first transfer of goods with counterfeit mark by the manufacturer).

Such interpretation led to ­considerable difficulties in ­prosecuting  ­trading  in so-called ‘counterfeit ­trademark’. The ­amendment removed such problems by introducing a ­provision that any trading in goods with counterfeit trademark, and not the sole ­introduction  of those goods into the market, should be deemed a crime.