The flow of circumstances
"We keep a sharp lookout for reshaping the legal world and don’t want to just with the stream, but ride the crest", MARYAN MARTYNYUK, SENIOR PARTNER AT MORIS GROUP LAW FIRM SAYS
— How would you describe the changes on the legal market in general, and in your firm in particular?
— It is said that there is no growth without change. The legal market is developing, new challenges and new legal relations are emerging. Our company is changing along with the market, and this is revolutionary development rather than evolutionary development.
We start new directions and practices. Some are occasioned by market trends, others by changes in the company itself. For example, the crypto industry is developing in leaps and bounds, and the number of IT projects is growing. I've heard lately that our colleagues have a blockchain law practice. We’re not going that far yet, but we intend to have an IT practice. It’s time to talk about the emergence of new generation lawyers – crypto lawyers, and a new language – crypto language. This challenge is our future. "We keep a sharp lookout for reshaping the legal world and don’t want to just to go with the stream, but ride the crest." We’re consciously going to invest in an IT practice.
We already have ICO cases. Hacken, for example, is one of several dynamically developing projects. It was initiated by Dmytro Budorin. Hacken is a platform where you can check your project for vulnerability to external hacker attacks. In fact, your product is the subject of so-called white hackers. They reveal security holes, bugs and give recommendations for improvement. Hacker services are paid in Hacken cryptocurrency.
As regards the role of lawyers in ICO cases, two blocks of issues can be singled out. Classical legal issues (corporate issues, structuring, international tax planning) and quasi-legal issues (white paper, etc.) – this is what modern world of law looks like.
We also accompany cybersecurity projects. For example, crypto projects to protect Ukrainian databases, including the Ukroboronprom project: we work together with programmers to create a new type of security system. Ukraine is a rather vulnerable country in this regard.
— Two cryptocurrency regulation draft laws have been submitted to the Ukrainian Parliament. What is your opinion of these documents?
— In general, negative. Just like the majority of lawyers. Crypto lawyers say that the trend for state regulation of digital currencies is a rather bad thing. At least, the definitions given by the authors of these documents of blockchain, ICO and tokens. They are doomed to fail. It is common for us that law drafters themselves do not understand what they are drawing up. It is not easy for Ukrainian lawmakers to keep track of the changes in global legal regulations, especially in legal relations, where the landscape is changing constantly. This is a challenge for lawyers too. It is possible that they will have to make changes to the structure of their company tomorrow.
I see the state’s role in this process as regulating new types of fraud (so-called scams). However, these issues want solutions not only in Ukraine. Look at how the US is trying to protect its citizens from investing in tools that, firstly, are not regulated by the state, and secondly, are not fully understood and are potentially dangerous. In due time, such an American approach worked well in the situation with buying and selling shares, but let’s see whether or not it works in the modern world.
— What new practice directions are resulting from the company’s evolution?
— MORIS GROUP has cooperated closely with the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) for two years already. The former partner of our company, our friend Yury Zapisotsky, became the FFU Secretary-General. It is reasonable that many representatives of our team were integrated into the sports sector. I am, for example, a member of the FFU Control and Disciplinary Committee. Until quite recently the FFU’s disciplinary bodies consisted exclusively of football functionaries or former sportsmen. This situation needed to be changed, and the FFU structure needed as many lawyers as possible. The sports law sector is small. Nevertheless, we are thinking about starting a sports trend.
— What issues are on the agenda of legal advisors who specialize in sports law, particularly in football-related issues?
— Sports law is not only relationships regarding football. Even though the FFU is pretty much the largest public association in Ukraine. Legal operations in this sector are concentrated in the bodies of football justice in Ukraine, other sports federations, in the Sports Arbitration Court located in Lausanne, Switzerland. It's not just about disputes between clubs, but also about labor disputes between players and clubs on the paying of salaries, bonuses, awards. Our committee is, for example, responsible for imposing sanctions. As our practice shows, each flare in a stadium costs clubs about one thousand UAH. We also have to deal with doping and match fixing. Law-enforcement agencies handle the criminal component of matches where the result has been fixed, and our role is to solve the football dilemma associated with the removal of defendants in a case. We proceed from legal independence when considering disputes. As a FFU FDC member, I try to be independent. I love football as a game, but I do not visually identify football stars, I have no football authorities. In addition, we have to take part in improving the FFU’s regulations, and many legal issues arise regarding the Federation itself.
— Do reform processes in Ukraine affect changes in the structure of the legal market?
— Absolutely. Think, for instance, of medical reform. Earlier, work in the medical law sector was focused mainly on pharmaceuticals (on the servicing of pharmaceutical companies regarding research, antitrust compliance, medical counseling, etc.).
Medical reform redefined the role of medical institutions. Now they will work in a new hypostasis. The legal relationship between the patient and the clinic will take on radically different importance. Our company is also thinking about starting a medical law practice.
— You have already named three new areas of work. Taking into consideration this transformation, do you intend to strengthen the team??
— Yes, we are already actively involved in it. In addition to new areas, we do not forget about our "main breadwinning practices", namely the judicial, tax and corporate practices.
We are very active in the market of so-called toxic assets. MORIS GROUP is one of the few companies to have very actively cooperated with the Deposit Guarantee Fund of Ukraine from its first days. This heavy workload falls on the shoulders of judicial practice, as interaction with the Fund in 90% of cases is connected with legal cases, in which we represent the interests of the banks that are part of the Fund’s management. These projects are very complex and long-term, and fees are paid for those cases that are won. The cases that we started two or three years ago are only now coming to their logical conclusion.
Judicial practice has also been significantly strengthened by legal personnel, since the Fund enlists us, consultants, to handle difficult cases, to unconventional cases. A lawyer cannot pursue 300 such cases. We are aware of the fact that to work with debtors is perhaps financially more profitable for the company. However, we work closely with the Fund, our colleagues trust us, and they have no doubts about our integrity.