Russia’s MoJ Wants Domestic Law Firms to Have Increased Presence

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Nov. 22 – Russia’s Ministry of Justice wants to disrupt the leadership of foreign law firms in the country’s legal market, Russian gazeta.ru reports.

“About 90 percent of Russia’s legal services market is occupied by foreign legal firms,” Russian Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov said on Wednesday, having qualified such situation as “abnormal.”

“It is not right when the overwhelming majority of transactions in different market segments of the Russian economy refer to the English law and to the Stockholm, Hague or London commercial courts,” Konovalov said.

The Ministry of Justice would like to disrupt this circumstance without destroying existing legal institutes already working in Russia.

According to Konovalov, the ministry is now working on essential changes to be introduced to the Civil Code, which, he believes, can bring Russia up to international standards.

The country’s legal services market has mostly been built up by the foreign companies.

“When foreign investments rushed to Russia, the domestic lawyers weren’t ready to serve them. More over, the state did nothing to protect domestic legal firms as it was in Turkey or China,” Andrey Zelenin, partner from Lidings said to gazeta.ru.

Administrative measures won’t solve the problem, Zelenin considers. “Market participants should compete in price and quality of work while the regulator shouldn’t interfere,” he said.

“In all WTO member states, foreign lawyers can’t consult on the national legislation, it is forbidden by the law,” Evgeny Tarlo, member of Constitutional Law Committee of the Federal Council said.

Well-known lawyers confirm that a considerable part of large-scale deals conclude according to the English law.

“It’s not only in here. The English law is highly rated all over the world as a very convenient set of legal rules and clear court practices,” Yury Bortnikov from Vegas Lex said.

Cases considered abroad are typically concerned with the general mistrust of the Russian legal system, experts consider.

“When Russian courts better understand business processes, the nature of deals, and will interpret them judging from the whole context of a particular business, the entities will practice Russian law more often,” Bortnikov said.

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