War is a catastrophe, a challenge and a crisis. But if the national tragedy is experienced personally, the professional must consider the challenges and crises as new opportunities. Therefore, the legal boutique VB PARTNERS, whose main specializations are White-Collar Crime and Dispute Resolution, successfully expands the list of services offered, considering new customer requests.

The Partner of VB PARTNERS Denys Shkarovsky, a leading Ukrainian lawyer in WCC and Dispute Resolution, according to Chambers Europe, Legal 500, in the express interview for «Yurydychna Gazeta» told about the projects that have been stopped, areas in which lawyers are in demand now, and about the niche that will be opened soon.

  • How did VB PARTNERS organize its workflow during the war?

Of course, the war has already changed and will continue to change the legal marketplace. Until April, most of the VB PARTNERS team, including partners, were involved in the defense of the state in various roles: volunteers, soldiers of territorial defence units.

During April, we were working remotely, but the office was open. Part of the team, which was in Kyiv, went there when needed.

Since May we have been back to work at the office with the exception that the dress code has been relaxed. So, in two months after the war, we entirely resumed our work.

We did not intend to relocate the office, nor do we intend to. Our office remains in Kyiv. The employees who left the capital after hostilities started are already back and are now working from the office.

  • How has the war changed customers and their demands? Do customers` requests need a new format of work?

Most of the development projects, investment projects that began before the war, were put on hold. Also, as you know, the courts have significantly reduced the work and are gradually resuming it.

At the same time, we constantly receive requests in one of our main practices – White Collar Crime. The law enforcement system worked in March; investigative actions were taking place, including regarding business. Prosecutors immediately began to abuse the granted powers to carry out specific actions without court permission. The High Anti-Corruption Court also almost did not stop its activity, and in April resumed it completely.

As a result of the war, part of Ukraine became temporarily occupied. Clients with business in this territory ask questions about the risks of collaborationism. They need to know what to pay attention to in economic activities, so as not to become an accomplice of the aggressor accidentally. Part of the assets is used by the occupiers against the will of the Clients, some of the former employees cooperate with the occupiers. This can create problems for the Clients, both criminal and reputational. Nowadays, the request for business analysis for compliance with anti-collaboration legislation is very relevant.

Of course, the issue of compensation for damage caused by the Russian Federation`s aggression is also very relevant. Clients’ requests relate both to the procedure for recording damages and legal way for damage compensation, including the involvement of foreign jurisdictions. Since the first days of war our team have studied all «military» conventions and international legal agreements, reviewed cases in various jurisdictions concerning damage compensation. The experience of armed conflicts over the past 50 years has been taken into account. As a result, we have formed several possible scenarios for damage compensation and prepared analytical materials for clients. Currently, we are starting working on these cases.

  • What are your forecasts for the development of the Ukrainian legal market taking into account the mass exit of business from the Russian Federation? What challenges and prospects do you see?

As for the development of the market, I do not expect it until the end of active hostilities. No investor, neither Ukrainian nor foreign, will invest in Ukraine without understanding that the investment will be preserved. In a crisis, the expenses for lawyers usually decreases.

Also, the state is obliged to create the most loyal conditions for investing in the Ukrainian economy and rebuilding existing businesses. Obviously, it is impossible to achieve its revival by increasing fiscal pressure on an already bloodless business.

I expect that in the near future a layer of redistribution of nationalized Russian assets in Ukraine will form. This will create some work for the legal market: from participation in tenders or other procedures to appealing against abuses during such a redistribution.

Apart from the war, the biggest challenge for economic recovery and, as a result, for the Ukrainian legal market, is corruption. It is useless to expect it to disappear on its own.

On the contrary, when focusing on military issues and in the context of increasing pressure on business, providing disproportionate powers to law enforcement agencies, corruption risks increase significantly. The lack of effective safeguards will not help the economy recover. And, as a consequence, the restoration and development of the legal market. On the contrary, while focusing on military issues and in the context of increased pressure on business, the provision of disproportionate powers to law enforcement agencies, corruption risks increase significantly. The lack of effective fuses will not help the economy recover. And, as a result, it won`t, also, help the restoration and development of the legal market.