Just as the entry into force of the new Income Tax Act in 2000 gave tax advisers a lot of work, so the new Employment Contracts Act gave legal advisers a lot of work in 2009. Kristel Tiits, Head of Legal, recalls that at the time, the team had to do a lot of work for clients as well as write articles and speak at training events to inform the wider public about the changes. A similar situation emerged in 2020 when the global pandemic forced people to work remotely and lawyers had to quickly help to ensure that the legal aspects of remote work were appropriate for both employers and employees.
However, the lion’s share of the work of the legal advisors at Grant Thornton Baltic is related to company law. In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the provision of advice on the sale and purchase of companies, which naturally requires the input of tax and financial advisers in addition to lawyers. Together, they must navigate the rules of an increasingly complex and diverse business environment. Among other things, this can mean that setting up a business and all the associated procedures is no longer as easy as Estonia’s image as a progressive e-state might suggest.
“Anti-money laundering rules can become obstacles to setting up a company, and it can be very difficult to open a bank account,” Tiits explains. “Five years ago, I could represent my clients on the basis of a POA and set up companies and open bank accounts for them, but now the management board member has to go to the bank in person. It can also happen that an operating company’s bank account will be closed if it fails to disclose the background of its business activities and partners in sufficient detail.” She adds that new obstacles are emerging for entrepreneurs as the rules tighten. But, as the saying goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, or in other words, a more complex business environment is grist to the mill of legal, tax and financial advisers alike.