Regulatory law firms ranking

International law firms are leaders in energy sector

Ranking 2017-04-05
CMS and Dentons took the lead in our ranking.* In the coming year, the energy industry practices will cover energy market regulation and the law on windmills.



Key points

Contacts with regulators, licenses, contracts and RES auctions. Law firms represent business in contacts with regulators, such as the URE regulator and UOKiK, and ministries, primarily with MinEnv. They assist in obtaining licenses for the production, distribution and trading in energy, heat and gas, as well as for prospecting and mining for minerals. In addition, energy lawyers negotiate contracts for the purchase of gas, oil and coal. Despite the collapse in the wind farm industry last year, they helped green energy producers prepare for the first RES auction in December, 2016.

In some cases they call on the help of other departments. For example, in case of energy companies mergers - their M&A departments assist, while in court proceedings and before the URE - their processing departments are called into action. Sometimes energy departments are also assisted by their offices’ corporate law teams, as in the ownership transformations in Polish mining, such as the formation of Polska Grupa Górnicza in 2016. This form of cooperation takes place first and foremost in large law firms (both international and domestic) that are sub-divided into departments.

A number of personnel changes. Michał Piekarski, the leader of the energy law practice at Baker McKenzie, moved to the firm from Polenerga, at the same time as Piotr Ciepiela moved from URE. Jakub Kasnowski, previously associated with Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland, joined Deloitte Legal. Marta Bryjak joined Linklaters after six years working with White&Case, while Piotr Manteuffel moved from ChanPM to EChW's energy department, headed by Anna Kucińska-Bar. In another move, Aleksander Jakowlew from the Gide office began working with Clifford Chance. 2016 also saw important promotions within energy teams: Piotr Ciołkowski of CMS became a partner and Paweł Puacz at Clifford - a counsellor.

Energy work is dominated by the big law firms. As last year, CMS was the leader in the rankings. Dentons, whose Warsaw and European energy and natural resources team is led by managing partner Arkadiusz Krasnodębski, moved up into the first group. Norton Rose and WKB held their second place, followed by Radzikowski, Szubielska and Partners from the third group. Its lawyers formerly made up the Warsaw office of Chadbourne & Parke, but after this foreign company withdrew from Poland they operate under their own names. Group three again includes DZP and Clifford Chance. The new law firms here are Weil, Squire Patton Boggs and Baker McKenzie.

Lawyers helped to create Polska Grupa Górnicza. DZP advised on transformations in the Polish mining industry, including the formation of PGG, which is the largest producer of hard coal in the EU. Dentons represented PSE in the cross-border cases related to the European CACM regulation on transfer capacity allocation and the management of limits. Clifford Chance lawyers in their turn assisted Katowicki Holding Węglowy in the sale of 100 per cent of shares in Katowice's Zakłady Energetyki Cieplnej to DK Energy Polska - a company owned by the French EDF group.

what's next

In 2017, the most important thing for the sector will be the publication of the final version of the law on the capacity market. The government's draft is intended to improve the financial situation of the owners of conventional power plants. Law firms will assist clients in interpreting the imprecise provisions of the law on windmills, which has left firms not knowing how much tax to pay for wind towers. They will also help them in adapting to the possible changes that the RES sector is facing, including the auction system. Revenues will also come from the ownership transformations in the mining industry and the complex process of merging PGG with KHW.

Robert Tomaszewski contributed to this analysis.

* The ranking includes law firms handling regulatory advice, related to public economic law enforced by regulators such as UOKiK, URE and KNF. On March 23, a gala was held to award diplomas to law firms. This is the first ranking of law firms in Poland taking into account qualitative data. The results are based on survey data collected by PI analysts among major companies in regulated sectors and the law firms themselves.

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Justyna Jawor
Fmr. Legal Affairs Analyst
Justyna Jawor
PI Alert

EU summit: Member States launch discussion on financing joint defence initiatives

State of play

Leaders approved appointments to top posts. At the EU summit that ended on Thursday night, they nominated Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as head of EurCom, former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa as head of EurCou and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as head of EU diplomacy. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni abstained from voting for von der Leyen and voted against Costa and Kallas. This means that Meloni is preparing for tough negotiations and may demand a high political price in return for his party's support for von der Leyen in her approval in the EurParl. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán voted against von der Leyen and abstained on Kallas.

They adopted the Union's strategic agenda for 2024-2029. Over the next five years, the Union's goals include a successful digital and green transformation by "pragmatically" pursuing the path to climate neutrality by 2050. Another objective is to strengthen the EU's security and defence capabilities.

Von der Leyen spoke of EUR 500 billion for defence over a decade. This was the EurCom estimate of needed EU investment presented by its head at the EurCou meeting. Poland and France were among the countries that expected the EurCom to present possible options for financing defence investments before the summit, such as EU financing of common expenditure from a common borrowing. This idea was strongly opposed by Germany and the Netherlands, among others. In the end, von der Leyen decided to postpone the debate until after the constitution of the new EurCom, i.e. in the autumn. And the summit - after von der Leyen's oral presentation - only launched a preliminary debate on possible joint financing of defence projects.

Poland has submitted two defence projects. These might be co-financed by EU funds. On the eve of the summit, Poland and Greece presented in writing a detailed concept for an air defence system for the Union (Shield and Spear), which Prime Ministers Donald Tusk and Kyriakos Mitostakis had put forward - in a more general form - in May. In addition, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia presented the idea of jointly strengthening the defence infrastructure along the EU's borders with Russia and Belarus. Poland is pushing for the EU to go significantly beyond its current plans to support the defence industry with EU funds and agree to spend money on defence projects similar to the two proposals. But EU states are far from a consensus on the issue.

Zelensky signed a security agreement with the Union. The document, signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky in Brussels, commits all member states and the EU as a whole to "help Ukraine defend itself, resist efforts to destabilise it and deter future acts of aggression". The document recalls the EUR 5 billion the EU intends to allocate for military aid and training in 2024 (in addition to bilateral aid from EU countries to Kyiv). It says that "further comparable annual increases could be envisaged until 2027, based on Ukrainian needs" i.e. it could amount to up to EUR 20 billion. Ukraine's agreement with the EU comes on top of the bilateral security "guarantees" Ukraine has already signed with a dozen countries (including the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy). As Prime Minister Donald Tusk confirmed in Brussels, talks are also underway between Ukraine and Poland on the text of mutual commitments on security issues.

PI Alert

KO wins elections to the European Parliament

KO received 38.2 per cent of the vote and PiS 33.9 per cent, according to an exit poll by IPSOS. Konfederacja came in third with 11.9 per cent, followed by Trzecia Droga with 8.2 per cent, Lewica with 6.6 per cent, Bezpartyjni Samorządowcy with 0.8 per cent and Polexit with 0.3 per cent. According to the exit poll, KO gained 21 seats, PiS 19, Konfederacja 6, Trzecia Droga 4 and Lewica gained 3. The turnout was 39.7 per cent.

According to the European Parliament's first projection, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which includes, among others, PO and PSL, will remain the largest force with 181 MEPs in the 720-seat Parliament. The centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D), whose members include the Polish Lewica, should have 135 seats, whereas the liberal Renew Europe club (including Polska 2050) will have 82 seats. This gives a total of 398 seats to the coalition of these three centrist factions (EPP, S&D and Renew Europe) on which the European Commission under Ursula von der Leyen has relied on so far. The Green faction wins 53 seats according to the same projection, the European Conservatives and Reformists faction (including PiS) 71 seats and the radical right-wing Identity and Democracy 62 seats.