Legal news of 2017

The turn of the year is traditionally the time of the biggest legal changes. Stay ahead of the curve and get up to speed with the legal news of 2017 and the changes that are still in the pipeline. Whether it’s the first major amendment to the “new” Civil Code, changes to employment law or even the liberalisation of consumer lotteries or cartoons.

5 minutes of reading

Business law and e-commerce

The new EU data protection regulation (known as GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation) is beginning to be intensively implemented in Czech law. Businesses will be preparing for it all year, although it will probably not be in force until May 2018. It brings a number of innovations, such as greater emphasis on the security of personal data, the right to data portability and the right to be forgotten (i.e. not to appear in search results, etc.). Cookies will also now be considered personal data.

Since the new year, so-called consumer lotteries can be freely organised. There is no longer any need for a complicated random element or to limit the prize. However, the lottery must be fair and according to predefined rules. Since January, new regulation of classic gambling has also been in force. The highly controversial law allows the business of foreign online betting companies and includes the much-criticised possibility to block websites with unlicensed gambling. Incidentally, the Ministry of Finance was also awarded an antique in the Crystal Ball poll.

The amendment to the Commercial Corporations Act changes some rules for large joint stock companies, but it also abolishes the obligation to set up a special account with a bank for the repayment of the share capital if its amount does not exceed CZK 20,000. This will make it easier for smaller projects to take the next administrative step in setting up a company.

Civil Code

The President has already signed a major amendment to the Civil Code before the Christmas holidays. It is a response to legislative errors necessitated by the day-to-day application of the new code, but also a return to some established institutes.

The law confirms, for example, that only a power of attorney with an officially certified signature is sufficient to act before a notary (when recording in the form of a public deed). Thus, there is no need to have the power of attorney prepared by another notary as a public deed.

The right of pre-emption for co-owners of real estate is also making a comeback. Proponents of its renewal point out that it has existed for over fifty years and ownership shares should rather be consolidated. However, this new regulation is not due to take effect until January 2018.

The law also newly introduces public registration of so-called trusts, i.e. special-purpose property “taken out” of a particular person’s ownership. The registry will be maintained by the registry courts and should limit the misuse of trusts for unfair purposes.

These innovations will generally come into force two months after the amendment is published in the Collection of Laws.

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Labour law

The summer will see the long-overdue major amendment to the Labour Code. It will regulate the calculation of holidays or simplify the delivery of documents (e.g. termination notices). It also contains a controversial home office regulation, but in reality it will probably leave everything as it works today without regulation.

Some employers criticise the fact that the possibility of unilaterally transferring an employee to another job is removed. However, they appreciate the new institution of the senior managerial employee. The latter will be less bound by the protections designed for ordinary employees. However, a condition for the introduction of such a position will be, among other things, the achievement of a contractual salary of at least CZK 75 000.

Copyright

The amendment to the Copyright Act also strengthens employers, among other things. It facilitates the handling of so-called employee works. Although the employer acquires the property rights to such works, the employee is not completely out of the picture and may limit the transferability of such works. Thus, the employee’s consent to the transfer of his right is now considered irrevocable and applies to all further possible assignments.

An interesting change is also a major extension of the licence for architectural works. The existing statutory licence applies only to completed buildings. The amendment extends this licence to architectural works expressed by drawing or plan.

The amendment also introduces a new statutory licence for caricature and parody. Thus, no one has to ask the author of a work whether he or she may use it for caricature or parody.

Consumer law

Since December we have had a new Consumer Credit Act. It favours consumers, but it is causing wrinkles for some credit providers. It has simplified the process of choosing a loan and also allows the consumer to always have the option to repay the loan early. In justified cases, there is even no charge, in other cases the charge is regulated.

This year is also the year of relief for people in insolvency, and the rules for debt relief will probably be simplified.

Offences and penalties

From the middle of this year there will also be a “revolution” in offence law. The new law will bring together under the term “misdemeanour” other administrative offences committed by natural persons, legal persons and natural persons engaged in business, in addition to the existing offences.

At the same time, fines for some offences are increased, liability is extended to the instigator, facilitator or organiser of the offence and new offences are introduced.

The criminal liability of legal persons is also extended. A commercial company will now be able, for example, to “rape” someone.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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