Daniel Stefanica of bpv GRIGORESCU STEFANICA joins ICC Fraudnet, the leading global network of law firms specializing in tackling business crime

We are proud to announce that our firm’s partner, Daniel Stefanica, has joined ICC FraudNet. Founded in 2004 by the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), FraudNet operates under the auspices of the ICC’s London-based Commercial Crime Services unit and is an international network of independent lawyers who are the leading civil asset recovery specialists in each country. Membership of ICC FraudNet is by invitation only, and Daniel and our firm are the first-ever Romanian members of the network.

We are honoured to have been invited to join the exclusive network of ICC FraudNet. It is a confirmation of all the hard work and of the reputation build by our team in Romania and internationally. We look forward to bringing the network’s stellar expertise in fighting big crime to clients and enforcement agencies in Romania“, said Daniel Stefanica. “ICC FraudNet offers our client the necessary platform to pursue the recovery of business crime proceeds in every corner of the world. The knowledge base and the global reach fit very well into our existing practice, especially in connection with cybercrime, tax evasion and financial services fraud“, adds Catalin Grigorescu, managing Partner of bpv GRIGORESCU STEFANICA.

ICC FraudNet’s membership extends to every continent and the world’s major economies, as well as leading offshore wealth havens that have complex bank secrecy laws and institutions where the proceeds of fraud often are hidden. Since its creation, ICC FraudNet members have recovered billions of dollars for victims of some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated global frauds involving insurance, commodities, banking, grand corruption and bankruptcy/insolvency. Chambers Global recognizes ICC FraudNet as the world’s leading asset recovery legal network.

bpv Grigorescu Ștefănică obtains a favourable court decision in the first dispute regarding the annulment of a utility model in Romania

Mondialacqua, whose majority shareholder is the American group Culligan Water, is an important player in the public water fountains` market and is continuously expanding throughout Europe. The decision issued by Bucharest Court of Appeal upheld Mondialacqua’s claim for the annulment of a utility model registered by a competitor.

Our litigation team represented Mondialacqua SRL and finally won the dispute against a competitor who registered, in 2012, a utility model for a public water fountain with technical characteristics similar to a Mondialacqua`s product. Mondialacqua is selling public water fountains since the beginning of 2000 and, in Romania, operates under the trademark “Frizzy”.

As a first step, bpv GRIGORESCU ȘTEFĂNICĂ filed a motion with the Romanian State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM) requesting the annulment of the utility model registered by Mondialacqua`s competitor. OSIM admitted the motion and annulled the utility model. In the ensuing court dispute, the Bucharest Tribunal upheld the challenge against OSIM`s decision. Finally, the Bucharest Court of Appeal ruled that the utility model be annulled and awarded in full the claim of our client.

The team representing Mondialacqua was coordinated by Daniel Ștefănică, Partner. Raluca Marcu, Managing Associate and Șerban Dumitrescu, Senior Associate were also part of the team.

The dispute was challenging, considering that it is the first dispute, in Romania, aiming to annul a utility model. From this perspective, the lack of any case law raised the difficulty of the case, as the team was required to provide the court with an adequate and accurate interpretation of the legal provisions in the broad context of patent laws. Further, the dispute was demanding both in term of duration (it was initiated in 2015) and required evidence. Two complex expert reports were required to answer the objectives approved by the courts. Finally, we are anxious to read the full text of the court ruling in order to understand how it is likely to shape the future case law in these matters. We expect the court to rule one of the main questions raised in the dispute: in order to enjoy protection, is it required that a utility model shows a minimal inventive activity or element, beyond the mere juxtaposition of pre-existing elements that does not lead to a new effect?” Daniel Ștefănică declared.

 

bpv BRAUN PARTNERS ranked highly once again by Legal 500

This year’s Legal 500, one of the two most prestigious international legal handbooks ranks bpv again in top spots, recommending the Czech office in seven areas and the Slovak office in four.

bpv is highly recommended in employment law (“bpv Braun Partners s.r.o.’s ‘fantastic’ team has ‘deep knowledge in the sector’. The team led by Arthur Braun provides day-to-day employment advice to domestic and international clients, with a focus on cross-border secondment matters. Of counsel Lucie Kalašová specializes in employment litigation and is also noted for advising on GDPR issues in combination with the firm’s data protection practice.”

With the Slovak team offering “Excellent quality, solution-oriented, longstanding experience, international experience and local know-how”) and real estate law (“bpv Braun Partners s.r.o.’s real estate team advises local and global clients on development projects, real estate investments and financing. ‘Top-notch lawyer’ Jiří Bárta, who is the key name to note for complex transactions such as acquisitions and sales, jointly leads the team with Miroslav Dudek, who advises German clients. The practice also handles cross-border deals with the support of its Bratislava office. ‘Igor Augustinič is always on the spot and supports commercial ideas’.”)

In the category of projects and energy the publication emphasizes: “bpv Braun Partners s.r.o.’s projects and energy team is praised for its ‘comprehensive support and excellent legal advice’. The practice is jointly led by the highly regarded Marc Müller and David Vosol, and advises a variety of sector clients on electricity, gas and international pipeline projects. Senior associate Michal Fogel is recommended.”

Legal500 points out regarding TMT: “bpv Braun Partners s.r.o. has ‘highly specialised lawyers in the field of TMT’ and is led by Pavel Vincík.

The team advises on GDPR matters, data protection and TMT-related litigation. Managing partner Arthur Braun is recommended for his IP specialisation”, whereas the team for commercial law, corporate law and mergers & acquisitions is described as one that “impresses clients with its ‘enthusiasm and professionalism’“ (“Key contacts in the group include senior partners David Vosol, Pavel Vincík and Jiří Bárta, who is recommended for real estate-related M&A deals”), while the Slovak team offers ‘‘Excellent quality, solution-oriented, longstanding experience, international experience and local know-how’”.

The handbook also recommends bpv BRAUN PARTNERS for banking, finance and capital markets (“bpv Braun Partners s.r.o. provides an ‘excellent quality’ banking service and is experienced in handling cross-border financing deals for domestic banking clients. David Vosol leads the team, which also includes Arthur Braun and senior associate Zuzana Štěpánková”. According to client feedback “Katerina Trzaska and Arthur Braun are standouts”. Both provide swift responses and never miss a deadline. They are reliable, competent and multilingual“.’ “The (Slovak) team is super reliable and competent; it has never once missed a deadline and is very fast”. Clients also point out that ‘Igor Augustinič thinks out of the box and supports commercial approaches‘ and ‘Monika Kardošová works hard, is very analytical and does a good job‘.) and dispute resolution (“Smart, personable and practical’ team is led by Pavel Vincík.

The team counts many energy sector players among its key clients and is experienced in representing clients in both the Czech and Slovak courts. Marc Müller is a key contact for German clients.”

Litigation during the state of emergency. A brief guide.

*An article by Cezara Constantinescu and Serban Dumitrescu

Preliminary considerations

By Decree no 195/2020 regarding the establishment of the state of emergency on the territory of Romania (the “Decree”), a state of emergency was established for a period of 30 days, starting from the 16th of March 2020, with effect to the entirety of the territory of Romania.

By the Decree, inter alia, measures with direct impact over a multitude of practice areas of the Justice domain were taken. In what follows, we will briefly analyze the measures with direct impact over the civil cases that were pending when the state of emergency was instated or are bound to be registered with the courts following such date.

Our analysis takes into account the civil cases, particularly the cases under the jurisdiction of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (the “HCCJ”), of the Bucharest Court of Appeals (the “CAB”) and the courts under its territorial jurisdiction. Short considerations regarding cases under the jurisdiction of other courts of appeals will be made only with respect to insolvency proceedings. Notwithstanding, on a national level, the courts of appeals established in a generally similar/ uniform manner the cases deemed as urgent.

The cases not deemed as urgent, pending before the courts when the state of emergency was established

The general rule is that the hearing of the civil cases is suspended by operation of law throughout the entire period of the established state of emergency. The suspension comes into effect without any special procedure being required to be fulfilled to this end. The hearing of those cases shall be resumed, ex officio, after the termination of the state of emergency. The courts are obliged to take all the necessary measures to set new hearing dates and to summon the interested parties within 10 days of the termination of the state of emergency.

The new cases not deemed as urgent, that are to be registered with the courts

As regards the cases to be registered with the courts that fall under the CAB’s jurisdiction, they shall be transmitted to the courts exclusively by postal service, express courier services, telefax or by electronic mail.

The new cases shall be registered and receive a case file number, and they shall be randomly assigned to a judge-panel. Nevertheless, the preliminary administrative procedure for such new cases is suspended throughout the state of emergency period. Similarly, the first hearing date shall not be set in such case files until the state of emergency ends.

The cases deemed as urgent, pending before the courts when the state of emergency was instated, or that are bound to be registered with the courts following such date

By way of exception to the general aforementioned rule, the trial of civil cases continues or commences, during the state of emergency, only with regard to those cases deemed of immediate urgency. The cases of immediate urgency are decided upon by the Management Board of the HCCJ regarding the cases under its jurisdiction and by the Management Boards of the Courts of Appeal regarding the cases under their respective jurisdiction.

Nonetheless, even as regards such cases deemed of immediate urgency, the court shall carry out the hearings through video-conference, when possible. The Bucharest Tribunal has already implemented the video-conference system.

Furthermore, the procedural acts shall be communicated by the court by telefax, electronic mail, or by any other means that ensure the transmission and the acknowledgement of receipt of the aforementioned acts.

A novelty aspect regarding the trial of the urgent cases regulated by the civil procedural law is represented by the court’s prerogative to set hearings from one day to another or even in the same day.

Even regarding cases that are deemed of immediate urgency, if the interested party files a request for the postponement of the hearing based on the circumstance that he/she is confined to home isolation, is quarantined or is being hospitalized as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the court may postpone the hearing. In the event that the postponement request is denied, the court, either by request or ex officio, shall postpone the ruling so as to allow the interested parties to submit their written conclusions.

The list of cases deemed of immediate urgency that are heard during the state of emergency

In the Annex to this guideline, you will find a table drawn up by us, containing the list of causes deemed of immediate urgency by HCCJ and CAB, which are heard during the state of emergency.

Nevertheless, a court may decide to hear a case that is not expressly included on that list, if the interested party is able to prove the urgency of such-case.

The list of causes deemed of immediate urgency that are being tried during the state of emergency should be available on the courts of law portal (website). De facto, not all courts have communicated the information regarding the cases that are being tried during the state of emergency.

Insolvency proceedings. The particular situation of the debtor’s application for insolvency

As a general rule, the debtors’ applications for insolvency are not heard during the state of emergency period. This conclusion results from Decision no 53/18.03.2020 of the Management Board of CAB, as well as from the more recent Decision no 8/30.03.2020 of the Management Board of the Bucharest Tribunal.

However, at a national level, we identified three exceptions to this general rule. There are three circumscriptions where the tribunals hear the debtors’ applications for insolvency, namely:

» The tribunals under the circumscription of the Court of Appeal of Pitești, namely: The Specialized Tribunal of Argeș, The Tribunal of Vâlcea

» The tribunals under the circumscription of the Court of Appeal of Târgu Mureș, namely: The Specialized Tribunal of Mureș, The Tribunal of Harghita. However, it is specified that these courts shall hear debtors’ applications for insolvency to the extent that such cases will be deemed of immediate urgency, taking into account the specific circumstances of the case.

» The tribunals under the circumscription of the Court of Appeal of Suceava, namely: The Tribunal of Botoșani, The Tribunal of Suceava.

Reasoning and communication of court rulings

The Superior Council of the Magistracy has decided that throughout the period of the state of emergency “the courts may also communicate the rulings drafted in other cases than those deemed of immediate urgency.” However, it is not specified whether the courts will also draft the rulings in the aforementioned cases, making room for the interpretation that the court will communicate only the rulings that were already drafted when the state of emergency commenced.

In practice, we found that some courts also draft the rulings in the cases that are not deemed of immediate urgency.

The situation is the same as regards the summoning: although, theoretically, summons should be issued only regarding the cases deemed of immediate urgency, in practice the courts also issue a summons in cases that are not heard during the state of emergency. Moreover, the practice is split under this regard, meaning that some judge-panels decide to set hearings ex officio after the 1st of May 2020 and issue a summons for the case files that had hearings set during the duration of the state of emergency, despite the fact that such cases were suspended de jure.

The limitation and the preemption periods. The appeal periods.

The limitation and the preemption periods are suspended, meaning:

» if such periods started running before the establishment of the state of emergency, they are suspended and shall resume running after the termination of the state of emergency:

» if such periods should have begun running after the establishment of the state of emergency, then their course will start as of the termination of the state of emergency period.

Similarly, if the appeal periods regarding the cases not deemed of immediate urgency started running before the establishment of the state of emergency, the elapsed periods are interrupted. As such, new appeal periods of equal duration will start to run as of the termination of the state of emergency period.

If appeals were filed before the establishment of the state of emergency, in the cases not deemed of immediate urgency, such cases shall be forwarded to the competent court after the termination of the state of emergency.

The carrying out of judicial expertise activities

In principle, the carrying out of judicial expertise activities is not suspended. This is due to the fact that, even if a meeting of the parties and the expert would be required/ if the expert would be required to travel, such would be allowed based on an affidavit indicating the professional necessity thereof.

However, in our practice, all the summons for meetings with experts set during the period following the establishment of the state of emergency were cancelled. This is attributed to the fact that experts voluntarily take strict measures in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to the fact that the cases in which the expert’s report was requested are, in turn, suspended by order of law during the state of emergency.

The enforcement procedures

As a general rule, the enforcement procedures continue in all cases where the rules regarding sanitary discipline instated through the National Committee’s for Special Situations of Emergency Decisions can be respected.

For example, for an enforcement procedure regarding a sum of money owed by the debtor, there are theoretically, no impediments as long as all forced enforcement acts can be fulfilled and communicated through electronic means (notices of garnishment, communications, distribution of the sums obtained through the enforcement procedure etc.)

ANNEX to the guideline »

EU Commission exempts imports of medical equipment from non-EU countries from customs duties and VAT

The European Commission temporarily exempts imports of medical equipment from non-EU countries from customs duties and VAT. This was decided on April 3, 2020 by applications from the EU member states and the United Kingdom. As a contribution to the fight against the corona virus, the aim is to make it easier for doctors, nurses and patients to receive the urgently needed medical equipment.

The regulation initially applies for 6 months.

The measure affects masks and protective equipment, as well as test kits, ventilators and other medical equipment. It is valid for a period of six months, but can be extended even further. The decision applies retrospectively to all imports from 30 January 2020.

 

bpv Huegel Partner Christian F. Schneider honoured at the prestigious Client Choice Awards 2020

Christian F. Schneider, Partner and Head of Public Economic Law at bpv Huegel, was honoured in London with the Client Choice Award 2020 in the category “Energy & Natural Resources” for Austria.

The Client Choice Awards, which have been presented by the International Law Office together with Lexology since 2005, honour lawyers around the world that stand apart for the excellent client care they provide and the quality of their service. The criteria for this recognition focus on the ability to add real value to the clients’ business above and beyond the other players in the market. Nominations can only be made by in-house counsel.

“The prize I was awarded is a very special recognition for my work since it confirms the particular confidence my clients have in me” Christian F. Schneider is delighted after the award of the prize.

Like in the years before, the award of the prizes took place during a gala dinner in London in the impressive building of the Institution of Civil Engineers at One Great George Street, in close proximity to Westminster Abbey.

Municipality of Bucharest prevails in zoning dispute with support from bpv Grigorescu Stefanica

bpv Grigorescu Stefanica represented the Municipality of Bucharest and won a dispute with two private companies, owners of a plot land located in Obor area. The amount claimed by the two owners was of approx. EUR 5,000,000. The amount was determined based on a judicial appraisal and represented the alleged income not earned due to the impossibility to build on the owned plot land in absence of a Zonal Urban Plan which was issued by GCBM only in 2015.

Bucharest Mayoralty was represented by Daniel Stefanica, Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution Practice together with his team of lawyers from which Raluca Marcu (Managing Associate) and Serban Dumitrescu (Senior Associate) were part.

“The case was challenging in terms of both the time length of the dispute (it was initiated in 2012) and the required evidence. Thus, the expert opinions issued in this case had, mainly, the aim, to determine the constructions that the owners could have built, on the plot land, in 2011, as well as their most sensible business use. Finally, the calculation of the unearned income was made in relation to the income that the owners could have derived if they could have erected the buildings and use them at the best since 2011, and the income that they actually earned by exploiting the plot land. From another point of view, the court decision is relevant because it validates a line of thought in the administrative law: the public authority has the right to assess the opportunity of issuing an normative administrative act” declared Daniel Stefanica.

Iveco Defence Vehicles secures EUR 700 million contract with support from bpv GRIGORESCU STEFANICA

bpv Grigorescu Stefanica advised Iveco Defence Vehicles (IDV), part of the CNH Industrial group of companies, during the public procurement procedure of the Romanian Ministry of National Defence for the acquisition of more than 2.900 high mobility trucks for a total contract value over EUR 700 Million. The procedure was finalized with the awarding of the framework agreement to IDV in December 2019, the first batch of 942 vehicles to be delivered over four years, starting 2020.

During the past 12 months, the procedure was challenged several times by IDV’s closest competitor, but the Romanian courts dismissed all claims.

IDV was advised by a joint team of public procurement and litigation experts led by Anca Albulescu, Partner and Head of the Public Procurement Practice, and Daniel Stefanica, Partner and Head of the Dispute Resolution Practice of bpv Grigorescu Stefanica, assisted by Raluca Marcu, Managing Associate, and Serban Dumitrescu, Senior Associate.

bpv BRAUN PARTNERS assisted Unicapital Energy Group in the acquisition of PSP Technické služby

bpv BRAUN PARTNERS provided comprehensive legal advice to its client on the acquisition of PSP Technické služby, a.s., including extensive due diligence, helping to structure the transaction and preparing all the transaction documentation.  The parties decided not to disclose the value of the
transaction.

The team was led by partner David Vosol, supported by managing attorney Pavel Vintr and senior associate Markéta Nešetřilová.

Eversheds Sutherland acted as legal counsel for the seller.

The buyer belongs to the investment group UNICAPITAL a.s., which focuses on strategic acquisitions in real estate and development, energy, agriculture and health care.

The business of PSP technické služby, a.s. includes electricity and natural gas distribution and trade as part of the industrial complex Přerovské strojírny.

bpv BRAUN PARTNERS provided legal advice to Carrier Transicold

bpv BRAUN PARTNERS supported Carrier Transicold in the sale of its Czech subsidiary which will continue to act as Czech distributor for the internationally leading manufacturer of land transportrefrigeration systems. The purchase price  was not disclosed. bpv prepared the data room and advised
in the transaction.

The team was lead by partner Arthur Braun and associate Pavel Březina.

Carrier Transicold helps improve transport of temperature-controlled goods with a complete line of equipment and services for refrigerated transport and cold chain visibility. For more than 45 years,

Carrier Transicold has been an industry leader, providing customers around the world with advanced, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable trailer refrigeration systems for light commercial vehicles, trucks and trailers.