In September 2014, Horten entered into integrated cooperation with Greenland's largest law firm Nuna Law Firm in Nuuk. Consequently, Horten may now offer advice to international companies in connection with establishment and investments in Greenland, e.g. within oil, gas and mineral exploration. Advice, which is based on a combination of Horten's expertise within energy law and Nuna Law Firm's local anchoring and expertise within raw materials.
The office in Nuuk employs 11 persons, of which six are lawyers. Nuna Law Firm was established in Greenland in 1966 and was therefore the first law firm in Greenland. Peter Schriver from Denmark joined the law firm in 2000. The idea was that he was going to stay for one year - now 15 years have passed. He emphasises the law firm's physical presence in Nuuk as an important strength:
- Our greatest strength is that we are working within our own society. We are present every day, we are familiar with the working procedures, we know the people - and they know us, says Peter Schriver.
Nuna Law Firm has wide experience within all aspects of the laws of Greenland and Denmark from the takeover of real estate to company and contract law, M&A and advice to international companies. Primary focus is on commercial advice, and Nuna Law Firm represents a number of the major companies in Greenland - public as well as private - and a number of international companies, including companies exploring and exploiting minerals and oil/gas in Greenland.
Special conditions in Greenland
- The companies exploring raw materials and the companies supporting them, e.g. drilling and logistics companies, are international companies. They are typically Canadian, Australian, British or American. The assignments for these companies are often major and require lawyers with local understanding and insight into international contracts. With Horten as cooperation partner, we have now been strengthened in relation to a number of special areas and the work on international agreements and contracts in relation to raw materials, both as regards investments and import, says Peter Schriver.
When operating in Greenland, a number of special conditions apply. One is the Arctic climate and the huge distances without a developed infrastructure, which challenges the logistics and makes special demands on how contracts are to be prepared as regards e.g. time of delivery and transportation depending on the weather. But there can also be a long way from Denmark to Greenland in terms of legislation.
- Most legislation is similar to Danish legislation and many acts have been copied, i.e. adopted in Greenland, but copied from Denmark. This applies to most basic acts. But then you have to note which version of the acts has been copied: For example, the companies act is three versions behind compared to the Danish act, and the new EU legislation has not even been implemented. You may therefore sometimes experience that Danish lawyers come to Greenland to argue a case based on provisions that do not apply in Greenland.
When asked whether he can give a simple piece of advice to Danes and others about how to do business in Greenland, Peter Schriver answers:
- Remember to treat people with respect and equality. Be humble about what you encounter. This applies in all relations - but perhaps particularly when you come from Denmark to Greenland.