The FINANCIAL -- BLC Law Office has handled more than 50 cases in 2015. However, due to the difficulties in court proceedings and extended deadlines, only five of them have been concluded thus far. Liberal and less stringent regulations are considered key factors in creating a business-friendly climate in Georgia. While the country continues with proceedings for certain EU regulations, transparency of their adoption and avoidance of over-regulation remain high on the agenda.
BLC is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. 2007 was the most successful year for the company due to the booming economy. The cornerstones of the company’s legal services are: banking and finance law; tax law; corporate transactions and structures; real estate; energy; civil and administrative litigations. The company is witnessing a significant increase in upcoming transactions and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals in 2015. “This is a very promising tendency given the fact that legal service providers may be considered first level indicators of economic growth. Now we have reason to expect that the end of 2015 and 2016 should be promising years,” Ketevan Kvartskhava, Partner at BLC, told The FINANCIAL.
BLC was established in 2000 by attorneys educated in Georgia and the United States of America and experienced in different fields of law. The company grew together with the Georgian market and businesses. BLC provided legal services to the very first direct investors, multinational companies, international organizations, financial institutions, foreign embassies and diplomats, NGOs and Georgian companies.
BLC is the only Georgian law firm with an international practice operating a branch in Batumi and a number of correspondents in neighbouring Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine.
Through its practice, BLC has worked in collaboration with prominent international practices, a few examples of which are: Slaughter & May, Baker & McKenzie, and White & Case, amongst others.
“We have carried out many successful litigations and arbitrations; provided our clients with comprehensive due diligence studies; have been engaged in large and medium transactions involving mergers and acquisitions. Through its associates and experts, BLC has provided services in family law, inheritance, criminal and administrative matters. BLC has been largely involved in privatizations and auctions, carried out by the Georgian Government,” said Ms. Kvartskhava.
Q. Georgian legislation has been developing year after year. Meanwhile it still remains far from international standards. What are your suggestions in this regard?
A. We do believe that Georgian legislation in essence is adequate and quite compliant with the leading international standards. It does correspond to the declared vision of the country to create a business-friendly climate and easy venue for start-ups. For this purpose, liberal and less stringent regulations should exist, which is the case here. We do observe a tendency of adopting certain EU regulations, but do expect that the process of adoption shall be transparent and over-regulation shall be avoided.
Q. What are the main differentiating features of running a law firm in Georgia compared to in its neighbouring countries?
A. Georgia is a small market; legal services cannot develop on their own, they need to have economic support and demand. Nevertheless, this market is constantly growing, partially due to the increased public perception of the need for the legal profession, as well as due to the somewhat stable growth of the economy.
Q. How many disputes did you assist in solving this year? How many of them were successfully concluded?
A. We have handled more than 50 cases this year. Due to the difficulties in court proceedings and extended deadlines we have not yet concluded more than 5 of them this year.
Q. Your clients have included large companies like Canargo, BNP Paribas, TBC, HSBC and more. How did you manage to succeed in the competitive legal market from the beginning?
A. I believe that BLC has the best team of business lawyers in this country. With their diverse experience in various segments of law we provide very quick, efficient and reliable advice. We come when needed and find solutions. Our working culture, ethical standards and attitude have always been outstanding. Partners and associates of BLC have excellent local as well as foreign legal education and long term experience of engaging in Georgian legal services.
Q. BLC is one of the leading law companies in Georgia, accordingly you might be continuing your evolution in this direction. Where do you glean lessons from?
A. BLC is particularly aimed towards further professional development. We have the internal practice of frequent professional trainings, a system of sharing experience, attending all professional forums and discussions. We make sure that our lawyers are well informed of the practical, theoretical and legislative trends and novelties, so as to maintain the highest quality of legal services available in this country. We add experience from our cooperation with a number of international law firms and renowned legal practices.
Q. Recently Baker & McKenzie, the world’s largest law firm, announced that its global revenues had declined, attributed to global currency fluctuations. It turns out that law companies are no exception to being affected by economic changes. What was the impact of the devaluation of the Georgian Lari on your company?
A. We are usually affected when our clients suffer losses, therefore we can say that our revenues have also been affected by the local and global economic trends.
Q. The main subject of this edition is US business in Georgia. On what basis would you encourage US businessmen to invest in Georgia?
A. Georgia is a start-up market. Usually, the largest revenues come from emerging markets, in conjunction with favourable local legislation, low taxes, absence of corruption and very reasonable state administration, Georgia remains one of the best places to invest.
Q. How has the investment climate of Georgia changed over the past three years - has it worsened or improved?
A. Georgia passed the test of sustainable progress and democracy during the past few years. It’s declared path of simple, understandable and business-friendly regulations have been steadily followed. Therefore, we would sum up the recent years as progressive.
Q. What will be the main challenges for BLC in 2016?
A. BLC is a growth-oriented professional organization. We are used to planning our progress in a sustainable and prudent manner, therefore we do not expect to face any unusual challenge that we would have difficulty coping with.