Ukraine has been resisting Russian military aggression for more than three months. The armed forces of Ukraine are fighting for our right to exist, protecting the lives of Ukrainians, and business continues to work, ensuring economic stability.
The rights of national businesses and investors also need legal protection in wartime. This is the battlefield of lawyers.
VB PARTNERS Partner Oleksandr Lukianenko, who specializes in protecting business, explains what has changed in work, what services are in demand, and how lawyers help investors.
- Protecting business in wartime. What challenges do you see as a criminal lawyer specializing in business protection?
Since the beginning of the war, the legislator has adopted several changes to the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine, aiming to simplify the adoption of procedural decisions during the pre-trial investigation. In particular, during martial law, the powers of prosecutors were considerably expanded and, in fact, judicial review was leveled.
In particular, prosecutors are allowed to independently make decisions on granting temporary access to items and documents, including secrecy protected by law (banking, medical, etc.), conducting a search, covert investigative actions, arresting property, detaining a person, choosing a measure of restraint in the form of detention and others.
Of course, the prosecutor must make such decisions if the judge cannot fulfill his powers in time. However, this empowerment in itself puts the business at risk.
This is a potential misuse by law enforcement bodies. After all, the institution of investigating judges has established parity between the side of the defense and the prosecution. Now the prosecution has much more opportunities, which can lead to a simple “settling of accounts” or seizing the assets of a particular business.
Therefore, it is necessary to look closely at this and, in cases of abuse, immediately appeal against the actions of prosecutors. Such an appeal is possible before the court within the territorial jurisdiction of which the crime was committed, after having resumed its work in another locality or before another court nearest to the territory.
- What challenges did the national business and investor face?
In view of the lack of new investment in the country, national and foreign companies are responsible for preserving jobs and ensuring the normal functioning of the Ukrainian economy.
Of course, no one will be in a hurry to invest in new projects, build infrastructure, expand their business. Many companies have lost their property – production, warehouses, premises, goods. Therefore, the state should quickly create legal mechanisms to help businesses resume and continue their activity. In particular, it concerns the mechanism of damage compensation, strengthening the fight against «looting» and reducing pressure on business from the law enforcement system.
- What kind of requests do you receive from clients most often?
As I have already mentioned, first of all, the business is concerned about compensation for damage caused by the aggressor’s invasion of Ukraine. Here, the state should provide a precise compensation mechanism. Unfortunately, such a mechanism has not been created yet, and the business is in a state of uncertainty. However, there is an international practice to deal with these matters, and we are in the process of doing so. Our company has identified 4 possible scenarios for damage compensation at the expense of the Russian Federation`s assets. We propose these scenarios to our Clients. Our conclusions and positions have already been confirmed by the decisions taken over the last few months by the State, Ukrainian authorities and foreign governments. We observe the non-standard approaches to damage compensation and a willingness to limit the «state immunity» principle.
The issue of collaborationism is quite relevant for business, especially for the business that has remained in the occupied territory or has assets there. Sometimes it seems that ordinary economic activity may fall under the signs of collaboration. Therefore, it is very important to carefully analyze your business processes to avoid accidentally becoming an assistant to the aggressor and a participant in criminal proceedings. We have formulated recommendations that will allow businesses to minimize these risks and set the stage for the restoration of their rights and compensation for damages in the future.
In addition, the issue of «looting», which in the territories occupied by the aggressor has caused significant damage to the business, is acute. Moreover, not only the occupiers but also, quite often, the locals, our fellow citizens, are engaged in looting. On the part of the Clients, there is a demand to bring, first of all, such fellow citizens to criminal liability.
Of course, the war has significantly transformed the legal market, but in any case, we continue to work and defend clients’ interests, even under martial law.