As the current parliamentary term approaches its end, the workload of the Finnish Parliament keeps on increasing. There is a multitude of government proposals with high interest to our clients in parliamentary review at the moment, and it is unclear how the time limits relating to e.g. implementing EU directives will hold, and whether there is enough time to complete all relevant proceedings in due course. Transactions and legal solutions concerning our clients’ business may be affected by the uncertainty, but we strive to keep our clients informed every step of the way.
Everybody knows that it is essential for attorneys to keep up with constantly changing legislation. Insights on anticipated legislative reforms and amendments are something that our clients may specifically request from us. Naturally all our legal advice must be based on up-to-date legislation – taking into account any eventual changes in the near future. Our profession is a knowledge profession, and it is central for our lawyers to keep up with legal developments.
In the course of this autumn, legislative processes and reforms have kept us busier than usual. This will continue until next spring, since the Finnish parliamentary elections will be held in mid-April 2019. All proposals submitted to the Parliament by the current Government must be approved during this electoral term, or else they will lapse. Unfortunately, it seems likely that a number of government proposals are destined to lapse, as the parliamentary committees’ workload is enormous – and has been since last spring.
There are currently several substantial – and also politically controversial – reforms under parliamentary review, such as the introduction of regional government, health and social services reform and government proposals for legislation on civil and military intelligence and on the oversight of intelligence gathering. Parliamentary review of these major reforms takes up a great deal of certain committees’ time. The Social Affairs and Health Committee and the Constitutional Law Committee have been particularly burdened.
Parliamentary review of approximately 170 government proposals is underway in mid-October 2018. According to the Government’s plans, a further 120 government bills will be submitted to the Parliament during this electoral term, in the course of which they must also be approved. Small and technical amendments form a part of the aforementioned nearly 300 bills, but there is a multitude of government proposals with high interest to our corporate clients, such as the already delayed implementation of GDPR into Finnish legislation and all the amendments relating thereto. As the implementation of the EU’s fifth money-laundering directive requires review by the Constitutional Law Committee, the aim to have it in force in the beginning of 2019 is also challenging. It is also worth to mention some other government proposals of significance, which have been recently submitted to the Parliament: proposal regarding amendments to energy taxation, which include stipulations on large-scale energy storages, and the reform of trademark legislation including amendments required in the EU trademark directive, which must be implemented already in January 2019.
Even though legal information retrieval is a part of the basic skillset of every lawyer, the core duties of associates and attorneys working in a law firm do not include monitoring legislative processes. It is the expertise and focus on legal research that enables us legal knowledge management professionals to be of true value to our colleagues, who may then concentrate on their own legal expertise – and also on the business of our clients. Indeed, many of my colleagues have expressly shown their appreciation to our KM team’s devotion on proactive follow-up of status and current contents of anticipated legislative amendments in the course of the past few months.
It is fundamental for our clients to be aware of the forthcoming legislation in order to adjust their business accordingly, to ensure their continuing compliance and to stay on top of their game. Strategic legal advice is not only about the present, but also about the future. And although predicting the future seems to be harder than usual today, our continuous monitoring of legal developments and following-up on specific parliamentary proceedings in detail provides our lawyers the possibility to keep up with the anticipated amendments to legislation in their field of expertise. Effective legal knowledge management also makes it possible for both our lawyers and our clients to focus on what they do best: their core business.