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Digest 91

April 18, 2018 Subsribe

SPBILF 2018 News

23 companies throughout Russia from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok have already became the event organizers under the Legal Forum Live project ► Read more

The Legal Forum Live format encourages the participants to stage their own SPBILF branded events anywhere in the world while the Forum is on. New contributors from among leading Russian banks and members of the business community actively sought to join Legal Forum Live at the VII SPBILF in 2017 alongside our customary partners: universities, law firms and local self-government officials.

About SPBILF 2018 Discussion sessions

Prior to the SPBILF 2018 we start a column providing details of themes which will become the key topics to discuss at the Forum.

“It is a rare opportunity to gather leading experts in the field of biomedicine and law, for an exchange on key ethical and legal issues raised by the latest technological developments in biology and medicine”

Technological development has often been a source of major advances, in particular in the biomedical field. They are opening doors to acquisition of new knowledge, development of applications for better monitoring, treatments, prevention... potential and sometimes already actual source of important improvements for human health. They may also be source of progress in other fields. However, they can also be more invasive, intrusive and provide more possibilities to intervene on human beings and control human life raising concerns about possible misuse and abuse. Such developments and the human rights challenges they raised have already impact national and European judiciaries (see the report prepared by the Secretariat of the European Court of Human Rights: https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Research_report_bioethics_ENG.pdf).

The Convention on Human Right and Biomedicine (the Oviedo Convention), celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017, is the only legally binding instrument for the protection of human rights in the biomedical field provides reference principles to effectively address these vital new challenges for humankind.

The suggested session will provide a rare opportunity to gather leading experts in the field of biomedicine and law, for an exchange on key ethical and legal issues raised by the latest technological developments in biology and medicine with a view to identify avenue for regulation actions to prevent misuse and abuse and promote applications for the benefit of human beings.

“The business of Vneshekonombank is aligned with the national strategic objectives and Russia’s long-term development priorities. The new legislation will enable further improvements to VEB’s business as a national institution for development”

Discussion Panel: The Role of Vnesheconombank in the Transformation of The Russian Economy: Legislative Changes, Project Finance Factory, Syndication, High-Tech and Export Projects ►

VEB is committed to supporting innovative industrial projects that make a radical difference for Russia’s industries unrelated to raw commodities, aiding the implementation of cutting-edge technology, bankrolling exports and infrastructure development. To the recipients of all this funding —and we are speaking of more than 200 ongoing projects — this is “long” and relatively inexpensive money, which makes it the much-needed wherewithal to put new manufacturing businesses in motion, create new jobs, roll out new technology, and market new products in Russia and globally. The critical part is that Vneshekonombank knows these investments will pay back. VEB will not add any project to its loan portfolio unless it has performed all-round evaluation on the project, complete with an assessment of risk and market outlook. The development flagship bank has entered the year 2018 with clearly defined priorities, well charted tasks, a detailed business plan and the right team to make it a reality.

VEB is currently building its new project portfolio, culling projects from the strategic industries with an emphasis on technological breakthrough potential, downstream processing capacity, infrastructure and export opportunities. We select our projects in close collaboration with the pertinently specialized ministries and key market players. VEB has set up a unit dedicated to in-depth, industry-specific project analysis. Our new support instruments are focused on tracking the project’s “critical path” to see how any fluctuations affect the project’s financial performance and forecast the project’s further progress by matching it with the experience of similar projects from the past. This is the way to maximize the chances of success for every project — as long as we get alerted in good time of any difficulties arising in the course of the project. We have completely turned around the way we do business in the regions. Now we have 79 regional managers in 50 regions on the case vigorously culling the more promising projects, and 16 case studies are already on the table for the bank. There will be VEB regional managers working in every region of Russia in 2018.

The launch of our “Project Finance Factory” opens up amazing vistas of opportunity for new production financing. The central idea of the factory is to syndicate project lending by involving government subsidies and government guarantees for debt issues. The syndication mechanism is such that that every ruble invested by VEB will be bringing 3 to 4 rubles of supplementary investment into the Russian economy. We can see a great deal of potential in the factory’s projects focused on those industries that VEB, as the institution for development, views as high priorities.

VEB has contributed instrumentally to fostering the legal institution of syndicated lending in Russia — a banking practice change that was awaited with great impatience by the entirety of Russia’s banking sector. The new syndicated lending legislation is designed to remove any legal ambiguities in the regulation of syndicated loan deals. When this legislative update takes effect, VEB stands to emerge as an active syndication player.

The Development Bank Act and Syndicated Lending Act, both enacted at the end of 2017, are aimed at perfecting VEB’s business in the capacity of a development institution. With the new Development Bank legislation, Vneshekonombank will be in a position to successfully implement its 2021 development vision. The legal framework is now in place to assure the success of VEB’s 2021 Development Vision.

In partnership with executive authorities, lawmakers, the competent ministries and the professional community, VEB has worked very effectively to modify the current laws in a bid to become a better banking institution in the service of development, redefining its approaches to the legal aspects of corporate governance across VEB Group.

The business of Vneshekonombank is aligned with the national strategic objectives and Russia’s long-term development priorities. The new legislation will enable further improvements to VEB’s business as a national institution for development. Moreover, this new legislation broadens the bank’s functionality: VEB is now poised to manage and/or participate in syndicated financing solutions, and it has been assigned a leading role in lending support to projects as part of the National Technology Initiative and the digital economy drive.

Who may benefit

Given the high relevance and novelty of the stated discussion topic, a great deal of interest should be expected from the corporate counsels of Russian and international banking institutions, corporations and law firms, as well as members of the judiciary.

“The possibility to bring individual applications to the ECHR not only provided Russian citizens with an additional remedy, but also led to positive structural changes that strengthened the authority and effectiveness of the Russian judicial system”

Twenty years ago, Russia ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, thereby entering the pan-European legal space created by the Council of Europe. As a main consolidating mechanism for the fundamental legal values of European society, the Convention has a huge impact on all European legal systems, including that of Russia. For 20 years, the Convention has become an integral part of Russian law, bringing added value to all its areas. The possibility to bring individual applications to the European Court of Human Rights not only provided Russian citizens with an additional remedy, but also led to positive structural changes that strengthened the authority and effectiveness of the Russian judicial system.

At the same time, today the Convention mechanism is reforming, the process of building an equal and constructive dialogue between the European Court of Human Rights and national legal systems is in the process, and the limits of the competence of the European Court are being realized in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. The guarantee of the long-term development of the Convention’s control mechanism is the trust of all member states of the Council of Europe.

The cases being examined today by the European Court concern not only the usual questions of criminal and civil law, but also new spheres of life such as bioethics (e.g. organ donation, surrogacy), Internet governance (e.g. site blocking, moderation of users’ posts, domain names registration, company control over the correspondence of employees), sports (restrictions imposed on athletes in connection with doping controls, preventive detention of fans) and many others.

This session will gather the leadership of the Russian judicial system, advocacy, relevant ministries, the Council of Europe and the European Court in order to take stock of Russia’s participation in the Convention system during the past 20 years and discuss topical questions of further cooperation. On the occasion of the anniversary of the ratification of the Convention, the session will also include a presentation of a special project “20 cases of the ECtHR that changed Russian law”.

“While there is no definition of ‘fairness’ in the corpus of law, and the term ‘fair’ remains purely estimative, invocations of fairness occur in court rulings with increasing frequency”

Discussion Panel: Justice and Equity in the Civil Law ►

To speak of fairness is much like speaking of the concepts of good and evil or of the purpose of life. A single, universally acceptable definition is hardly attainable. Life’s events have a tendency of making adjustments to the declared shared values. In the meantime, the concept of fairness or equity, filled largely with moral/ethical and ideological content, has found its reflection in constitutional law and many other legal fields, including civil law and commercial/business law.

While there is no definition of ‘fairness’ in the corpus of law, and the term ‘fair’ remains purely estimative, invocations of fairness occur in court rulings with increasing frequency. How should the sense of fairness (the “spirit of law”) impact on understanding and application of specific provisions (the “letter of law”)? How does the social-philosophical concept of fairness become adapted to fit the method of civil and commercial law? Lawyers will ask the same question they have asked for ages: What are the criteria? And where is this written?

It can be argued that different concepts of the meaning of “equitable judgment” could be reconciled by means of a caveat to the effect that, where the literal interpretation of a specific provision of law leads to a manifestly unfair decision, then another tool for interpretation of such provision should be sought. It would be fair to so allocate the positive and negative implications between the parties to the civil or entrepreneurial legal relationship in question, should the actual extent to which these parties are able to control (or influence) a likelihood of meeting their interests (the “Risk Doctrine”) is accounted for.

We will undertake to find answers to these and other questions in conjunction with Russian and international legal scholars, philosophers, sociologists and practitioners, who will be joined by representatives of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.

“The current legal framework for the recognition and enforcement of overseas court awards will not allow the effective administration of cross-border insolvency cases”

Discussion Panel: Prospects for cross-border insolvency regulation in the EAEU: how to open the boundaries for the foreign insolvencies and not to become affected by regulatory competition and forum shopping? ►

As they enable business growth across the Eurasian space, states will sooner or later face the issue of insolvencies transgressing the boundaries of a single jurisdiction. Every state would want its insolvency cases recognized beyond its national frontiers so that the creditors could gain access to the debtor’s overseas assets, and also to make sure its domestic collegiate proceedings cannot be circumvented. However, every state has its misgivings concerning the threat of ‘jurisdiction manipulation’ by the creditors, the debtors, or both. The existing legal regulations in this field are very meager. In fact, the current legal framework for the recognition and enforcement of overseas court awards will not allow the effective administration of cross-border insolvency cases.

This session, involving experts from EAEU member nations and some highly experienced international specialists, will examine a certain research project dedicated to cross-border insolvency administration in the EAEU, which is currently in the works under the auspices of the Centre for Studies in International and Comparative Law.

Who may benefit

This discussion may be of interest to a broad audience of legal professionals, seeing as its subject- matter sits at the junction of a number of crucial topics: insolvency, cross-border relations, international cohesion law, and EAEU law. It may prove beneficial to EAEU law experts and insolvency lawyers whose practice encompasses both domestic and trans-boundary insolvency cases. There may be some good ideas to be gleaned for lawyers representing domestic or international consultancies with cross-border insolvency practice in the EAEU, or in-house counsels with some major banks that happen to have creditors in the EAEU.

This discussion may also appear useful to arbitration-appointed receivers, lawyers in the employ of government agencies tasked with drafting cross-border insolvency legislation, or legal researchers professionally interested in this particular field of law.

“The drafting of the new culture bill is a critically important task. Neither the Duma, nor any agencies are able to come up with such a draft that would satisfy everyone — the lawmakers, the professional community and the citizens of Russia”

When the Presidential Council on Culture and the Arts met in December 2017, President Vladimir Putin urged the Council members to contribute more vigorously to the drafting of the new culture bill.

Mikhail Shvydkoi, the ad hoc presidential envoy for international cultural liaison, noted then that the drafting of this new legislation is a critically important task, and that neither the Duma, nor any agencies are able to come up with such a draft culture bill that would satisfy everyone — the lawmakers, the professional community and, last but not least, the citizens of Russia.

It is this impossibility of letting the draft bill be conceived in the minds of the lawmakers and government officials alone that renders the subject-matter of our roundtable here, at the SPBILF, so self-evidently relevant at this time. In the forthcoming discussion between the representatives of culture and the arts, it is important that we define the new ground, on which the interfaces are to be built between the state and culture, articulate the principle of non-interference by the state in the affairs of culture, and think about how to mesh non-interference with professional responsibility.

Culture is not a set of services. To standardize the legal regulation of nuanced problems, arising in this particular sphere, without properly heeding the specifics of the trade, is not a good tactic and it won’t work. And these problems arise for the institutions of culture precisely in the pursuit of their chartered activity in all its manifestations.

In this discussion, we plan to address the need to enact amendments to both cross-industry and more specific legislation, including the laws on purchasing, to reflect a well-reasoned stance of all the branches of government, taking into account international good practice in the legal regulation of culture.

Who may benefit

Culture is dialogue between man and his time. Therefore, the proposed discussion, while targeting the professional communities associated with culture and jurisprudence, should be of interest to a broader audience of legal professionals who realize the importance of allowing culture to thrive within a proper legal framework.

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