Highgate Law & Tax

WHAT IS THE REAL NATURE OF HIGHGATE LAW & TAX?

23.06.2018
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After spending several years in Allen & Overy and Dentons, we have set up our own boutique law firm. For a start, we should certainly come up with a market cliché of us providing an infinite scale of legal services, ranging from civil law, commercial law, dispute resolution and obviously now popular GDPR. We prefer to dive depths instead.

Blockchain, tax optimization or investment funds

I firmly believe that we are the first law firm in Slovakia which has hands-on experience with the newest progressive concepts including ICO (Initial Coin Offering), setting up of simple joint-stock companies or SICAV investment fund. Not only the brand, but our CVs and statuses indicate that we focus primarily on a niche of the market of legal services, built around the synergy of law, taxes and accounting.

In a world ruled by effectiveness, receiving legal advice with substantial tax disclaimer does not make the client’s life effective. Synergy of law and taxes is a must not only when setting up or changing corporate structures and investment acquisitions. Our CV is topped by CEE Legal Matters nomination to “Deal of the year 2017” where Tomáš Demo advised on 2 out of 3 nominated transactions.

Work and Travel 2008

In 2008 I was coming back from a work and travel program in USA with 5 000 dollars. What made me sad was the worst dollar to Slovak crown exchange rate ever. I had followed the USD/SKK exchange rate on TA3 daily, even months before travelling to USA. Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in a week after my arrival and my two terms at the Economics University I attended by then boosted my confidence to make a serious investment decision. Immediately change 5000 USD at an exchange rate slightly below 21 SKK for 1 USD. After almost 40 days thereafter, the exchange rate rose to 24,5 SKK for 1 USD. How possibly this could happen at times when Wall Street was on the edge of its end? In times of high volatility (in economy, politics or in life), the critical part of public tend to be in a safe harbour, as opposed to times when the weather is bright. The certainty is not only the winning slogan of the Slovak parliamentary elections in 2012 (Gorila, financial and debt crisis), but also a reason for which the dollar rose by more than 15% within one month at the epicentre of the financial crisis. The investors simply searched for a safe harbour.

Progressive or conservative?

Advocate should be conservative, smartly dressed gentlemen which invites you for a talk over a cup of coffee. The clients seek from advocate the very same certainty as investors sought in 2008. The role of an advocate is to provide hedging, which eliminates the high volatility and risk of occurrence of extreme scenarios. This role also includes advocate’s capability of structuring complex economic relations into comprehensible and manageable structures.

On the other hand, not being progressive at the times of fast-paced technological evolution is too audacious. Being just an advocate is not ought. The clients need a business adviser as well. Being progressive is not necessarily only about bringing legitimate savings on taxes and levies, identifying legal and tax risks arising from blockchain technologies or setting up a tax effective Employee Stock Option Plans. It is also about advising our clients from the position of entrepreneurs. We believe it is not right to threaten the clients with horrendous sanctions while selling GDPR products, without adding that the controlling authorities may not impose these sanctions arbitrarily or that according to the information available, the Slovak Data Protection Office currently has only 5 controllers on board.

Being conservative and progressive advocates at the same time, is what client needs in 2018. And here we find ourselves.

PETER VARGA