28 March 2009

Legal System in Ukraine

I am often asked by business visitors if I can recommend a 'good' law firm that they can use in Ukraine. The BBCU has many law firms who are reliable and I have no problem in making introductions.

There is an interesting article this week in the Kyiv Post written by a young lawyer - Warwick McDonald from Salans law firm. "Establishing confidence in Judiciary will be a key barometer".

The BBCU is involved in a project with the EU-Ukraine Business Council - 'The Rule of Law in Ukraine". If the project moves forward, and I am sure it will, it will require a tremendous amount of work in helping Ukraine to improve how judges are trained, selected and monitored etc.

The former Lord Mayor of London, Sir Gavin Arthur gave an excellent speech back in February at the British-Ukraine Law Society meeting about how the lack of 'the rule of law' is holding back investment into Ukraine. See: http://bula.org.uk/20090205.htm

The EU is funding a project to also help increase the legal system in Ukraine. The project has a budget of Euro 6m. See: http://www.jp.coe.int/CEAD/JP/Default.asp?TransID=146

However, most expats here use a popular phrase to answer just about every problem. "This is Ukraine". Lets be honest, we all know its going to be a huge mountain to climb when it comes to tackling the problem of corruption in the legal system in Ukraine. Judges are poorly paid and 'financial incentives' are still very much a part of life in this part of the former soviet union. Moreover, judges are still used to the system of poltical interference in cases (Is there any other way they may think?).

If western politicians/lawyers/investors are expecting the system in Ukraine to change quickly, they are wrong. (I wish I could say otherwise). I think the system will only change when work begins at university level and later the training of lawyers and judges. Judges in Ukraine are NOT like judges in the EU or indeed the UK. Many of the judges here are not even trained as lawyers. Some of them are former policemen or civil servants.

If western investors are waiting for the legal system in Ukraine to change, they will be waiting a long time. It therefore follows that those investors who are prepared to 'take the chance', will probably succeed and learn how the system works in Ukraine.

On the positive side, things are changing because most of the leading western law firms have established an office in Kyiv. For investors, the process of due dilligence in Ukraine can take a long time and be frustrating. But there are no 100% guarantees.

This is Ukraine.

27 March 2009

The British - How to do Business with them

Our March networking meeting 'The British- How to do Business with them was another success.
With more than 90 people attending our 'standing only' meeting was a bit more social than usual and our members and guests told me they liked it.

Our speakers were: Derek Mansfield - President of Bold Endeavours, who gave a super presentation on the ENGLISH. I think this was one of the best short presentations I have seen from one of our members.
Alex Frishberg - Managing Partner, Frishberg & Partners shared some of his experiences of working with British expats in Kyiv from the early days.
Olga Revina - Management Consultant described her experiences of the different understandings between British and Ukrainian people. (Sometimes we Brits are not serious enough)
Jim Hydzik - Editor & Writer, talked about his work with London based media owners and how it pays off to be 'polite' when dealing with the British.
Our own Tony Wood, then gaves us his personal opinion on the future of how the British are going to do business in the UK. He tolds us about his THREE P's -Purpose, People, Partnership approach to doing business.

This month we had a few more members join the BBCU but we still need many more and a lot more effort is being placed on this. I am sure the Radisson Hotel were happy to get our business again, but its getting more expensive. I just hope the new web site is ready for launching early next month.

Our next meeting will be very soon - Tuesday 7th April and will be a joint meeting with the British Ukrainian Society.

12 March 2009

The British - How to do business with them?

The global financial crisis continues to create new and everyday challenges for the government in Ukraine. The big question is 'Will Ukraine default"?
There are many western banks that cannot afford for Ukraine to default. Sometimes it appears that external interests are more concerned about the situation in Ukraine, than the leadership in Ukraine.
The crisis has really caught up with Ukraine and many businesses are in trouble. Many people have lost their jobs. The frustrating bit, is that the countrys leaders still appear to be more interested in fighting each other than with finding solutions to economic problems.

We will see what unfolds in the next few days.

How ever bad things are, we must always try to be positive and think towards the future with fresh hope. (Even if we cannot get our money out of the bank). Business will continue for those who can manage and implement a survival plan. We all know that in times of hardship, there will always be opportunities for some. So, the next BBCU meeting will be about how to do business with the British. We have some interesting speakers lined up to share their views on this subject.

If you can make it we hope to see you there: Thursday 26 March 2009 - Radisson SAS Hotel, Kyiv - 1900