Volodymyr Sayenko & Ivan Kasyniuk: story of the international experience synergy


KYIV, 4 February 2020. In May, 2020, one of the key events in the field of agrarian law is to take place - important both for the legal business market and the country as a whole. International cooperation, exchange of experience, attraction of investments, joint position on pressing issues, and simply networking. All this opportunities offers Ist International Agrarian Conference, which will be held on May 18-19, 2020, organized jointly with the IBA.


We are happy to share with you the details of the event organization, its prerequisites and history, and of course the choice of program content from its direct organizers: Volodymyr Sayenko, Partner at Sayenko & Kharenko,(hereinafter - "VS") and Ivan Kasyniuk, Chair of the UBA Committee on Agrarian Law, Partner and Head of International Arbitration Practice of AVELLUM (hereinafter - "IK").

- What is the mission of the Conference?

VS: First of all, to open Ukraine to international lawyers specializing in agrarian law. The Agrarian Law Section of the International Bar Association was established just a couple of years ago. So it is not surprising that our IBA colleagues are very interested in our initiative to hold a joint conference. For them, this is generally the first event of the Section, and for us it is an opportunity to invite leading international experts to Ukraine. I am convinced that we have something to tell them and what they are interested in, and there is something to learn from them.

IK: In addition, this event is a place for Ukrainian and international lawyers to gather, a place for sharing experience and knowledge. It is a communication opportunity essential for the development of each lawyer.

— Can this event be described as unique? Why, in your opinion? This question is in line with the first one, but, nevertheless, agrarian conferences are held outside the UBA.

VS: Certainly, unique! And this uniqueness lies, first and foremost, in the involvement of leading international experts in agrarian law and the promotion of this area of ​​law. Previously, these experts met within other platforms - by the time they were so numerous that they were already able to create their own Section within the IBA framework.

We see how this is done in other committees and sections of the IBA - the profile group wanders from one country to another, holding events every time in a new place. Actually, they don't care where to meet. Attorneys from all over the world can be invited to Japan, Italy, Australia or Antarctica to discuss industry issues relevant to the international community. Considering the significant place of the Ukrainian agrarian industry in the global division of labor, it is very symbolic that we are holding the first for both organizations conference on agrarian law together in Kyiv.

Something similar we had a year ago - I mean the UBA IT conference. It was also conducted with the active involvement of the IBA, in conjunction with their IT Law Committee.

- So you actually create in Ukraine such a platform of international synergy and make it accessible to all lawyers?

VS: That's right, the idea is just that. There are still a few topics and spheres that can be brought to the attention of international experts. For example, it is almost impossible to attract an M&A conference here. Well, let's face the truth /laughs/.

- How and when did the initiative arise?

VS: Some seven years ago, we noticed that UBA members are increasingly traveling abroad for international events. The UBA held its first event within the IBA annual conference in Boston in 2013. Then we saw a significant interest in our country and decided that it would be more expedient to involve foreign colleagues in our activities in Ukraine. We have identified 3 areas that could be of interest to international lawyers: agrarian, competition, and IT law. Actually, the agrarian conference is an achievement at least because the domestic agrarian industry is quite confident in the world market. And now we can attract lawyers from all over the world.

— UBA has a tendency - all its activities are becoming traditional, key in the legal market. In your opinion, what is the prospect of this event?

VS: It is great that this time our interests completely coincided with the interests of the new IBA section. They will probably continue to hold their events in other countries, but the fact that the first event takes place in our country provides incredible opportunities for further involvement of foreign experts in the UBA events. Therefore, when the Association holds a conference next year, and I am convinced that it will indeed become traditional within the UBA framework, we will invite international experts to our local event as well. We will do it exclusively within the Association, but I hope that it will maintain its international focus - it will not be exclusively local.

— How do you plan to impress the guests of the event? Maybe you can name some of the cool topics and speakers?

VS: Speaking of the speakers, we are sure that there will be a leadership of the IBA Agricultural Section and the most active members. Since I have already participated in the previous events of the Section, many of these people are already familiar to us, they represent countries from around the world. The head of this section is a well-known Dutch lawyer who has lived and practiced most of his life in China. Other key members of their board are representatives from Africa, South America and more. That is, the geography in them is simply comprehensive. The issues they usually discuss are not always so mundane - both literally and figuratively. Unlike our typical themes, I mean. Therefore, at the May conference, land reform in Ukraine will be far from being a major topic. I think we will hear a very interesting discussion that will touch on much higher matters. For example, sustainable development of the agricultural industry, environmental protection, use of the latest technologies and more. Representatives of the IBA arbitration section will speak on the specifics of disputes involving agricultural companies.

IK: I think that lawyers from Europe will also be happy to join, seeing a significant prospect of agrarian development. The speakers will be 50/50 - domestic and foreign. We are also interested in the experience of South Asia. And in a little more detail on topics, issues of international agri-food security, high technology and smart land production will be discussed, climate change issues that are already affecting agricultural production. In addition, we will discuss production technologies and product quality, in particular GMOs. Undoubtedly, we will raise legal and practical issues, namely the issue of resolving disputes between exporters and importers, securing claims, resolving problems that arise in international trade. This will be a separate topic.

What I also like is that we will talk directly about the changes that await Ukraine.

VS: By the way, a separate interesting section will be the IT solution for the agricultural business. We will look at innovative technical developments that are changing the industry. It is worth emphasizing that our companies are among the leaders here! I had the opportunity to personally see how some of our agrarian giants work - they have long taken over the best practices and clearly understand the options of monitoring what is happening on each plot of land, processing information, comparing it with the indicators of previous years. They are able to understand how each plot can yield maximum yield based on historical data, clearly understanding the analytics of each patch of land.

— Shall we expect authorities to join the conversation?

VS: We will be very much looking forward to see Ukrainian authorities /smiling/, because the uniqueness of the event is also in timely implementation of the initiative. I suspect that the current debate on the possibility of acquiring agricultural land by foreigners will be even more acute at the time of our conference in May. This is a very political issue, and of course we see it in legal terms and hope that our colleagues will tell us, including, about the international experience of abolishing the monopoly on land sales - how exactly these processes took place in other countries.

IK: I would like to add that we will invite representatives of the Government who, in fact, will be keynote speakers. I'm sure they just won't have any reason to opt out /smile/

- By the way, as for the audience - the conference will be interesting only to lawyers or...?

VS: Lawyers, scholars, power holders and students are our “minimum program”. We will be addressing topics that hurt investors and businessmen alike, so I hope the event will be interesting for the agrarian business as well. They will be able to find out the lawyers' views on the prospects for resolving these pressing issues.

- The event will be held in a classic format or we should expect to see some surprises?

IK: It will be a classic panel format, but we have ideas for "raisins" /smiles/. For example, we plan to split one session in half - to make it parallel. There may be roundtables. I suggested making the question/answer round bigger than usual. The conference is first and foremost a dialogue, a lively communication.

We will not talk about the most interesting things yet. There must be intrigue.

- How will the event affect the investment attractiveness of Ukraine?

VS: This is one of our key goals - to improve the investment climate in Ukraine and the perception of our country in the international arena in the light of the UBA events. However, I am convinced that this industry provides unique opportunities for investors. In addition, we look forward to the participation of international companies that already have subsidiaries in Ukraine. I am sure that it will be no less useful for their representatives, and we hope that they will provide the necessary information within their structures - to stimulate more active participation of their companies in the economy of our country.

IK: We will try to explain that Ukraine is a great place for investments for clients of international law firms. It will be a very interesting point of synergy where Western interests are fully in line with Ukrainian ones, a point of perfect legal collaboration.