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CMS expands in Norway

In June 2021, CMS announced that the Norwegian law firm Kluge has joined it as a full member firm. The addition of Kluge and its deep local market understanding further strengthens CMS's presence in key business hubs in Europe. 

Bjørnar Alterskjær, Managing Partner at CMS Norway, provides some insight into the Nordic business environment.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted clients in your region and what have been the principal ways in which you have supported them?

The pandemic has impacted almost all our clients in one way or the other. At the beginning, we helped our clients deal with the immediate effects of the pandemic and lock-down, such as legal issues connected to delays in the delivery of goods and services, interpretation of contracts in this highly unusual situation and  labour law issues.

During the pandemic, the need for quick legal advice on everything from labour law, state aid, contract law and travel restrictions was high. Providing up-to date information on the ever-shifting rules and regulations under COVID-19 has been important to support our clients in their day-to-day business.

One of the more memorable assignments during the pandemic has been our assistance to the Norwegian Institute on Public Health in the drafting and negotiations of contracts for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines from multiple suppliers, including Pfizer and Moderna, through the centralised EU approach on procuring vaccines.

Given the increasing emphasis on ESG priorities worldwide, how do you see this playing out in Norway and the Nordic region? What priorities are your clients tackling right now and how are you helping them?

A good track-record and compliance with ESG criteria are increasingly being regarded as a basic condition and as a license to operate in the marketplace. For most companies in the Nordics, climate change is the main focus right now.

We are helping our clients comply with existing regulations and prepare for  future regulations. Many of our clients are also heavily involved in businesses that will grow in the new green economy, such as wind farms, energy projects, battery technology, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and low-carbon construction projects. We are assisting in both financial, regulatory and other issues for our clients in an ever-changing legal landscape, for example by helping companies adapt to the EU Taxonomy for sustainable activities. 

What will be the most important market trend affecting your clients over the next six months?

The most important market trend will probably be the return to normal after a period with more or less closed borders and half-empty offices. We expect the economy to grow significantly, and with that follows the need for good and efficient legal advice in most areas of corporate law.

In the long run, the shift to a low carbon society will probably be more important. At CMS, we are working closely with our clients, both in Norway and globally, on the transition to a world that will be dramatically different from today. This is a huge challenge, but also offers clients who are prepared an opportunity to deliver the many new goods and services that are needed to transform the global economy to a low carbon economy.