Interview with Tair Nazkhanov, Managing partner at ‘Nazkhanov and Partners

Tell us about your firm

Nazkhanov & Partners law firm specialises in litigation and is a union of highly experienced lawyers, having worked as judges, prosecutors and police investigators.

Our specialisation is very narrow and therefore successful. We represent interests of entrepreneurs in all types of litigation – criminal, civil and corporate.

All partners at the firm are licensed attorneys as well as members of the Almaty City Bar Association. They are subject to the Code of Professional Ethics of Lawyers. Considering attorneys in Kazakhstan go through a very strict selection and all their activities are regulated by law, we are sure to say that our firm holds the facts mentioned above, to our advantage.

Have you ever worked as a lawyer abroad?

No. I have not yet had a chance to work abroad as a lawyer. However, I have a great deal of international experience from within the country.

How would you describe the current business climate in your country?

Kazakhstan is a vastly emerging market. Therefore, the business climate is very much “alive”, if you will. However, just like in any other developing country there are some shortcomings. Government intervention in the business process, followed by the opacity of decision-making would be one of the major issues, which in turn I think, leads to the lack of reliable information. Alongside that, there are many restrictions set by the government. Many businesses now require a licence.

What are the main opportunities and challenges for foreign law firms in your country (e.g. in opening offices, building networks, managing clients’ expectations)?

Kazakhstan being a new country, offers a great deal of opportunities such as – possibility of a high income in a developing country, many opportunities of providing legal services of a high standard due to a good reputation of foreign legal providers in the eyes of the local population. However, there are some minor challenges one should be ready for when entering an emerging market. Some of them include the lack of English language proficiency in the majority of the local population and the lack of legal knowledge not only in the common population but also among the government officials.

What advice would you give to companies new to the country?

Be very attentive when looking for staff and work with reliable and honest partners.

What opportunities for co-operations are there between your country and UK law firms?

The opportunity to consult central state authorities on English law. What would be of interest especially, is court procedures in the UK, which involve government officials, national companies, businesses and individuals.

I would also like to add that attorneys of Kazakhstan can and should help our colleagues from the UK by consulting them on the laws and regulations of the Republic of Kazakhstan as well as gathering the appropriate documentation.

Do clients prefer smaller local firms or larger international networks?

Depends on the issue and the subject that requires legal assistance because in the Republic of Kazakhstan large international law firms specialise in corporate law. Attorney offices i.e. licensed lawyers, who are also members of the Bar Association, are not very large in size and the specialisation of attorneys is litigation. Therefore, today we do not have large attorney offices in Kazakhstan, where staff exceeds fifty people.

What are the practice areas you definitely think a European firm would find business in?

It would be participation in mergers and acquisitions. I also see a European firm finding business in providing legal opinions to central state authorities as well as national companies.

What recent legal developments you have seen in your country?

There has been a lot of development in the legal area within the last few years. For instance there is a gradual narrowing of court participation by representatives operating on the basis of power of attorney, which leads to heading towards attorney monopolisation. There also has been an enactment of the most recent Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure as well as the increase of law enforcement officers who investigate cases against entrepreneurs.

Are you aware of any changes that may affect or changes that took place and had an impact on the profession and practice rights in your country?

In my opinion during a criminal trial there has to be more freedom in gathering and providing the attorneys with information. We need to allow attorneys to perform a law investigation. We should introduce a law on private detective activities. Provide attorneys with immunity and introduce the possibility of a judicial review in international judicial institutions after the exhaustion of the possible legal mechanisms in Kazakhstan.

Finally, what are your recommendations for visitors to the country?

Kazakhstan has two major cities, which you may want to consider visiting – Almaty and Astana. I highly recommend sightseeing with an interpreter, though. Almaty is famous for its mountains. Astana is a fairly new city and capital. The city offers visitors its modern architecture and rapid development. Also, for those who enjoy nature and wild life there are many places, which would take away your breath such as our steppes, canyons and lakes.