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Comparative US and Greek Civil Litigation Analysis

"A Tale of Two Cities" written by Charles Dickens is a novel that has much to say about justice. There is a famous passage: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was a season of Light, it was a season of Darkness, it was the Spring of hope, it was the Winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us....". Although the events in the novel are far more tragic, the above could easily be said of the emotions of anyone who has been through a long and grueling lawsuit. There are many wide ranging definitions and disputes as to what justice is, but most agree with the maxim that "justice delayed is justice denied".

I live in Greece. What can your firm do for me?

  1. Tax Matters - We can assist you with all Greek-US tax matters. These include filing all US FBARS, worldwide tax returns, all IRS forms (while at the same time being fully familiar of your Greek tax filings deductions and foreign tax credits - through our Greek office). When needed, our US and Greek offices can get valuations, appraisals, transactions and certifications of assets and payments.
  2. Inheritance Matters - We have the ability to represent you in all US states with regard to claiming your inheritance or rights. We do this by opening up US probates and ancillary US probate proceedings in any State. Being Greek lawyers at the same time we can understand and undertake the Greek inheritance proceeding and all Greek probate documents; and are able to value and obtain on our own itemize Greek and US assets for purposes of the Federal and State tax forms.
  3. Business Matters - Any investment in the US requires careful and strategic analysis. We have been forming US businesses for over 25 years. Mr. Kounoupis (US and Greek lawyer) was a securities and corporate lawyer for one of the largest law firms in Philadelphia. He is fully familiar with the complex US securities and corporate issues. Mr. Kounoupis has also been general counsel to NASDAQ companies and has taken companies public and led companies from both to private placements of over $1,000,000 to $50,000,00 IPOS. We have the corporate formation experience (from corporate law, regulations, tax real estate, labor) to handle the most complex transaction and we have been handling US-Greek business transactions for over 25 years.
  4. US-Employment & Labor Matters - The firm is one of the leading US labor and employment litigation firms in the US. See (www.employmentlaw-lv.com) . Mr. Kounoupis is also an expert in US labor matters (and authors the BNA Treatises on Greek Employment Law and Non-Competition, Restrictive Covenant law.
  5. Complex US-Greek litigation - The firm, under the leadership of Mr. Kounoupis has handled the most complex US-Greek Civil litigation. The ability of the firm to handle such matters in a unique way is due to the fact that Mr. Kounoupis is thoroughly familiar with the litigation systems and civil procedure of both Greece and US and has litigated numerous cases involving complex issues of both civil procedures.
  6. Real Estate Matters in US - The firm has been representing real estate buyers, development, REITS, shopping center investment, banks, partnership investors in major real estate development projects for over 25 years. The firm by substantial experience in real estate acquisition and financing and title insurance; as well as leasing.

European Law and Doing Business in Greece

O.K. You have told us above about US and Greek law - but what is the effect of Greece being in the EU? In brief, the EU tries to harmonize and create some predictability and uniformity between the different national corporate laws of its members. This of course, is necessary toward a unified market place, as called for in Articles 114 and 115 of the European Treaty. EU has direct effect and is (simply put) part of Greek law. Legal harmonization is deemed important for the objectives of a unified EU business zone. To explain EU law as it effects Greek corporate law, (and thereafter US to Greece business structures) one must consider two different areas. The first part is a series of critical EU Directives which establish rules and regulations regarding national corporate laws.

Typical Business/Investment Agreements we regularly prepare in US-Greece International Legal Matters

  1. US side Corporate Shareholder Agreement (or LLC Operating Agreement or General Partnership Agreement as applicable) identifying the obligations of each owner and incorporating a Joint Venture Agreement describing the foreign investment.
  2. A Joint Agreement describing the joint efforts and undertakings by a US Company and an EU (or other forum) company to develop a business in Greece.
  3. A Merger or Acquisition Agreement by which a US corporation purchases a whole, or controlling interest in a Greek or EU company. Or, a Share Purchase Agreement for less than a controlling share (in which case careful attention needs to be paid to potential minority squeeze out, freeze out risks and oppression).
  4. A US parent, forming a Greek Branch, and related agreements, including registration of the Greek branch and a US branch legal representative in Greece.
  5. A US parent - Greek Subsidiary arrangement by which we set up a Greek SA wholly owned by a US parent. The Greek SA Charter, tax registrations etc... must be formed and the subsidiary obligations vis a vis the parent must be spelled out.
  6. An International Licensing Agreement (by which patents trademarks or copyrighted materials owned by a US part are licensed to a Greek company); or Technology Sharing Transfer and/or Agreement - which relates to non-patented proprietary knowledge and know how).
  7. International Franchise Agreements by which a US company grants an exclusive on non-exclusive franchise to a Greek company or individual.
  8. Independent Sales Representative or Agency Agreement for Greek sales-persons working on behalf of US company - on commission or otherwise.
  9. International Employment Agreement by which Greek Branch of US Co (or Greek subsidiary) employs a Greek person or manager.

The above agreements have to be done very carefully with a full knowledge of US and Greek and EU law. Tax and labor law of both countries, in particular, must be carefully considered. Moreover, being also litigators in such cases for over 25 years, we know the provisions that must be inserted to prevent or anticipate trouble. Choice of law, choice of forum, damages, scope of work, default, payment, delivery and related issues are critical - and there can be great repercussions in failing to recognize these issues and traps. It should be noted that a US company that finds itself in litigation in Greece - without clear and favorable contracts, is in for a difficult time.

What is the US Foreign Tax Credit for US residents with income in Greece?

US Tax payers must declare to the IRS all income received in Greece. However, Greece will require Greek income tax to be paid on Greek source income. Does the Greek-American tax payer have to suffer double taxation? No. IRS Section 901 (b) allows for a Foreign Tax Credit to be taken, to reduce US Tax liability.

US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Liability when you do Business in Greece

Say you are a US investor. You buy an olive oil processing plant in Greece, which has an exclusive arrangement with a local cooperative of olive oil farmers. You learn that one of the owners of the Greek processing plant is also one of the cooperative owners and he has paid for lavish vacations and dinners for a local Mayor to block a competing cooperative from establishing a business. No problem? There will be when the US SEC/Justice Department, sues you under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Very careful legal diligence is required in acquisitions of Greek businesses from a number of perspectives.

Protection of Intellectual Property in Greece

Patent Law 1733/1987 (amended by Article 18 Law 1739/1987; 1883/1990) ratified the Patent Cooperation Treaty in Greece. By filing one international patent application there is protection in 148 countries-including all of US and Europe. Thus a US individual doing business in Greece will obtain Patent protection in Greece, through the Greek laws implementing the PCT.

Why is my bank in Greece sending me

FATCA is the US Treasury Department and IRS's way of making sure your Greek accounts are not being used to evade US taxes. Greek banks are being required to provide information on your Greek bank accounts to the IRS. The Greek bank will require information as to whether you are a US taxpayer or not. If you are you send the Greek bank Form W-9.

U.S. Offices:

Hahalis & Kounoupis, P.C. - Greek Law Group
U.S. Offices:
20 East Broad Street 
Bethlehem, PA 18018
Map and Directions

New Jersey
1015 New Durham Road
Edison, NJ 08817
(By appointment only)
Map and Directions

Greece Offices:

Greece Offices:
18 Valaoritou Street
4th Floor
Athens, 10671
(By appointment only)
Map and Directions

10 Ermou Street
Thessaloniki, 54625
(By appointment only)
Map and Directions

Phone: 610-628-1336
Toll Free: 877-509-4333
Fax: 610-691-8418

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Hahalis & Kounoupis, P.C. - Greek Law Group

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