Competitive, Able and Cost Effective
According to the companies that produce the annual legal rankings reflected on the coming pages, Hungary remains a hugely competitive market, reflecting complaints the Budapest Business Journal heard from market players about intense pressure on fee costs.
Chambers and Partners, the company behind both the Chambers Global and Chambers Europe tables, noted in its country overview that “the government has introduced regulatory legislation that is particularly hostile to foreign investors, especially in the fields of telecommunications and banking,” before adding, ironically, “However, these conditions have created work for Hungarian firms.”
In its analysis of the market place, Chambers notes, “The majority of players […] are either home-grown boutiques or international firm spin-offs, although a number of international firms maintain a strong presence. There is fierce competition across all practice areas, and as a result, the top Hungarian lawyers are seen as being amongst the most able and cost efficient in Central and Eastern Europe.”
Chambers Global spoke of “mercurial legislation” and “a raft of controversial legislative reforms” and that, too, chimed with comments attorneys made to us, under condition of anonymity, complaining that the hectic pace of law making had sometimes produced legislation that was either poorly thought through or failed to link up with other rules and regulations, requiring later amendments.
The Legal 500, bemoaning a dearth on new-money deals, reports “many law firms have shifted their focus from new projects to restructurings and refinancings of existing transactions. The real estate market remained quiet, as did the energy sector, which has been badly hit by the government’s push to lower energy prices.”
Noting that law firms with connections to the state had been kept busy during the 2012-13 reporting period, Legal 500 added that those with “strong competition law practices also had an active year, with headline matters including the Hungarian Competition Office’s continuing cartel investigation into foreign exchange mortgage loans.”
Two Hungarian firms in particular were picked out by Chambers Europe: CMS Cameron McKenna was named Hungary Law Firm of the Year – International, with Oppenheim picking up the National award.
The citation for CMS read, “This impressive local office offers top-level services in a range of practice areas, and is particularly strong in banking, TMT, employment, projects & energy, and real estate mandates. The corporate department recently acted for A&N Media on the company’s strategic exit from its CEE portfolio.” Of Oppenheim it noted, “This office is celebrated for its outstanding competition and dispute resolution work. The litigation team recently represented Agrikon in a €13.3 million dispute with a domestic bank. The firm’s employment team has developed its market standing of late, whilst the firm also includes market-leading individuals for projects and corporate work.”
The IFLR (International Financial Law Review) Law Firm of the Year award for Hungary for 2014 went to Réczicza White & Case LLP.
-- from the BBJ print edition
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