Hospodarske noviny, 19.4.2013: EN

 

Hospodárske noviny, 19.4.2013

http://hnonline.sk/ekonomika/c1-59719030-pociatek-vybral-pravnikov-tajne

 

 

Počiatek chose lawyers secretly

 

Ján Počiatek, Mikloš, Kažimír, Ministry of finance, Arbitration, Lawyers , The European Union, violation of the law
The Ministry of Finance ignored the legal requirements for public procurement and secretly employed a law firm.

 

The Ministry of Finance, under the management of Jan Počiatek, disregarded public procurement laws when they chose a law firm to represent Slovakia in the dispute Achmea B.V (formerly Eureko B.V) v. The Slovak Republic.

 

This is confirmed by observations made by the European Commission and Slovak lawyers. In 2009, KŠD Šťovíček obtained a contract. The firm was paid for its services using government funds in excess of 12.3 million Euros.

 

According to research by Hospodárske Noviny (Economic News), information that the department is looking for legal representation appeared only in two highly specialized international arbitration magazines.

 

Several experts agree that if KŠD Šťovíček was given a contract in this manner, then the Ministry of Finance has thereby broken the terms of public procurement law.

 

"In my opinion, the contract was not made in accordance with the Public Procurement Act and the relevant EU guidelines. Standard procedure under the law would be to publish tender notices not only in our journal, but also the Journal of the European Union due to the magnitude of the contract." stated Radovan Pala, a partner at law firm TaylorWessing e|n|w|c attorneys at law.

 

Confirmed by the European Commission.

According to the Pala, the Ministry of Finance falsely relies on an exception in law and EC directive. His statement was confirmed by the European Commission. This exception applies to arbitration services, and not to legal representation or defense.

 

"This means that the authority for the defense of interests in arbitration must obtain legal services in accordance with normal procedure for procurement of non-priority services. The exception only applies to arbitration tribunals or independent arbitrators that decide a ruling, and not any legal representation or advice, " Andrej Králik, the spokesman of the European Commission in Slovakia told HN.

 

The Ministry of Finance continually denies that public procurement law has been violated. "The Ministry of Finance chooses legal representation for the Slovak Republic in international arbitration in accordance with the law on public procurement and the procedure agreed on by the public procurement office," claims the press office of the Ministry of Finance.

 

Sanctions looming

 

Attorney at law Jana Martinková Advocatus Martinková s.r.o. warns that the contract, which was so ambiguously concluded, may be invalid. "Under the civil code, the contract is void if the act is in its content or purpose is contrary to law or bypasses it, or is abhorrent to morality. In doing so, it constitutes an infringement of public procurement law, wherein the nature and gravity cause the actual content of the contract to conflict with the provisions of the act, contradict it, bypass it entirely." She claims that Slovakia cannot even avoid sanctions by the European Commission if a violation of public procurement law is directly or indirectly identified.

 

Martinková works with the law firm Skadden, which represented Slovakia in a dispute with the private insurance company HICEE B.V. regarding bans on profits enacted by the first Fico government in 2007. In this case, however, she says they did not cooperate.

 

In a dispute with the owner of the Union ZP Achmea, we were initially represented by KŠD Šťovíček, concludes Rowan Legal. The arbitration tribunal ruled against us, and Slovakia was ordered to pay 22 million Euros in compensatory damages and legal costs to Achmea.