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.

Write to author
Justyna Jawor
Fmr. Legal Affairs Analyst
Justyna Jawor
PI Alert

Constitutional Tribunal ruled that EU Treaties are unconstitutional

ConTrib was considering the case at the request of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. In March 2021 the PM asked about the conformity of certain EU Treaty provisions with the Polish Constitution insofar as the former allow Polish judges to disapply provisions of Polish law which are contrary to EU law. Dissenting opinions to the judgement were made by judge Piotr Pszczółkowski and judge Jarosław Wyrembak. The judgment of the Tribunal will have serious consequences: it will undermine Poland’s place in the EU legal order, further delay the approval of Polish Recovery and Resilience Plan and reinforce the claims that the ruling camp wants Poland to leave the EU.

PI Alert

RPP rises interest rates

On Wednesday's meeting, the Monetary Policy Council (Rada Polityki Pieniężnej, RPP) decided to raise from 0.1 to 0.5 per cent the reference rate and from 0.5 to 1 per cent the Lombard rate. This is the first interest rate hike in Poland since 2012, and the first rate change in almost a year and a half. The RPP has not published the rationale for its decision yet, but it is probably related to the highest inflation in 20 years (5.8 per cent in September). In reaction to the rate hike, the zloty strengthened, and the banks' share prices rose sharply - this sector earns more on loans if the rates are higher.