Kosovo

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: Kosovo Chamber of Advocates

Competition authority: Kosovo Competition Authority

Financial regulator: Banka Qendrore e Republikës së Kosovës (BQK)

IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction: 

Financial and corporate

Jurisdiction overview

Since independence in 2008, Kosovo’s legal system has been made up of three distinct parts. The Kosovo Assembly has drafted and introduced a host of new laws in an effort to build a new system from the ground up. This process is still underway and while a new structure has begun to take shape, there is still a lot of work to be done. As a result there remain gaps in the new legislature where the old laws of the former Yugoslavia still apply. While from the outside this may seem to be an awkward system, it does create a useful overlap between advice that is given in Kosovo and that provided in other states of the former republic. The third area of the law, which does not impact too much on the financial and corporate space, is the legislation passed down from the UN during and directly after the Balkans conflict.

One fault with the system is that in certain cases the new laws introduced by the Assembly do not correlate with the economic realities on the ground. The Assembly, with one eye on future membership, has taken substantial steps to ensure that its new legislation closely matches existing EU structures, however while this creates synchronicity it does not take into account that the Kosovan economy is not as mature and developed as those for which EU legislation was originally drafted. This creates a situation where in certain cases, levels, rates, caps and other statistical limits are set at impractical levels. 

This issue is exacerbated by the lack of precedents and a coherent structure at grass roots level and the fact that the country, having grabbed independence, has looked to make a clean break from its Yugoslav past and in the process has bypassed the gradual path of evolution that legal systems need to be successful.

Clients also point out that when choosing a law firm it is vital to take into account that they will have to coordinate and negotiate effectively with the numerous NGOs and government organisations that have a say in licensing, contracts and disputes.

All local lawyers must be registered with the Kosovo Chamber of Advocates, and one of the conditions for registration is Kosovan citizenship. The other key restriction is that law firms can only maintain one office, though considering Pristina is the primary business centre in the country, this restriction is not a practical problem.

When it comes to the legal market itself, the number of firms who can provide transactional advice remains small, as evidenced by our ranking table. Before the mid-2000s the profession of financial and corporate law advice was limited, with most lawyers in the country focused on litigation. Since independence the market has opened up and the quality of advice has improved. Apart from Kosovan domestic firms the only other market participants are a handful of Albanian firms and Wolf Theiss, which while not handling local law matters has a dedicated Kosovan desk.

Financial and corporate
Boga & Associates

During the research period, Boga & Associates has been mostly engaged in advising international financial institutions such as EBRD and IFC on corporate loan and project finance work. The firm also picked up general corporate work for KEDS.

Ibrahimaga Shite & Associates

Formerly Ibrahimaga Osamni Tigani, Ibrahimaga Shita & Associates was formed when the firm merged with Shita & associates. It is a domestic firm active across financial and corporate and project development work with a focus in the energy sector.

During the research period the firm has been engaged in some of country’s biggest projects. It acted as ContourGlobal’s transaction advisor on the development and financing of Kosova e Re, the biggest project in domestic energy sector and Selac Wind farm, biggest project in the renewable sector. Elsewhere, it is also advising KAN in the development of Prishtina Mall, the biggest shopping mall in the country.

Following the merger Ardi Shita has joined the firm as partner.

Client feedback

"Very well set-up and client-oriented." – Project development, regulatory

Pallaska & Associates

Pallaska & associates is one of the leading firms in Kosovo and active across financial and corporate work.

Most of the firm’s work is confidential, however, it can be said that it has advised on M&A, finance, and real estate work primarily acting for acquirers and lenders. The firm has acted across sectors including transport, where it acted for European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) and Green for Grown Fund (GGF) as lenders on project finance work.

Publishable clients include EBRD, ProCredit Bank, and Raiffeisen Bank.

Client feedback

"Able to provide concrete and justified opinions and advice in legal issues. Continuous availability to assist business matters in any case, even outside working hours. Detailed updates on regular basis related to status of outstanding and ongoing legal in-court procedures. Professional attitude and accountability" – M&A, regulatory

"Strong professional firm, highly skilled personnel, proactive in legal aspects of legislation, and strong expertise in alternative energy financing." – Banking, capital markets, project finance, regulatory

"The firm is very punctual and fast in delivering outputs. We were also very pleased with the quality and depth of the issue analysis as well as the collaboration they had with the international experts involved in the project. All in all, they seem to be very 'switched-on' as regards to the market developments and practice in the financial and corporate law sector. The firm's managing partner, Dastid Pallaska, seems to be a respectable and influential figure among his peers. His suggestions and opinions were well taken by the authorities and other relevant stakeholders." – Regulatory

Wolf Theiss

Wolf Theiss runs its Kosovo team from its Vienna and Tirana offices led by Christian Mikosch and Sokol Nako. The firm has largely been active in advising international clients in establishing operations in Kosovo. 

Publishable clients include Cineplexx Internation and FIL Investment Services.