Mihaj, Ilić & Milanović (MIM Law) is a relatively new player in the Serbian market but is already ranked by The Legal 500 as top tier. How and why was the firm founded, and what has been the secret of your success?
Senka Mihaj: MIM Law was established at the end of 2015 by Senka Mihaj, Nemanja Ilić and Marko Milanović [pictured left to right], experienced dispute resolution lawyers, with an idea of creating a top-notch law office focused primarily on dispute resolution. Only a few months after establishment of the firm, rankings showed that our dispute resolution team is among the best in Serbia and, to be frank, that was not a surprise, since MIM is the only Serbian firm with three partners focused on dispute resolution. We have great experience in commercial disputes, in counselling and representing clients in insolvency and restructuring/pre-packaged reorganisation plan (UPPR) proceedings, as well as in both commercial and investment arbitration proceedings. There is no secret behind our success, only hard and devoted work within the profession that we all love.
MIM started as a litigation boutique. What has changed?
SM: After being recognised as a top-tier dispute resolution firm, MIM widened its business and now fully represents corporate law firms, with more than ten lawyers on board. For that, we have to thank our clients, who have recognised our team as the best choice not only for dispute resolution matters, but also for corporate and commercial matters, labour and competition matters, etc. After our partner Tanja Unguran joined MIM, we further developed our palette of legal services, since now we also have a reputable tax expert in our team. Last but not least, through work with our clients, we developed expertise in different industries, such as pharmaceuticals, energy, IT, airline and food, which is a great advantage that enables us to understand what our clients need. The only thing that remains unchanged is our devotion to our work and clients.
‘Rankings showed that our dispute resolution team is among the best in Serbia and, to be frank, that was not a surprise.’
MIM advises clients in the most complex, high-profile arbitration proceedings in the region. What makes you different from the other law firms and why do clients choose MIM?
SM: I would say that experience in arbitration proceedings is what makes us different. Second, and most important, is the fact that our clients feel safe with us leading the process. This is why we have been chosen to provide full service concerning arbitration proceedings to many clients in various high-value arbitration proceedings. Today MIM represents clients in seven international arbitration proceedings showing that, when it comes to arbitration, our team is recognised as capable of providing the best possible service in the SEE region.
You have one of the strongest disputes team in the region. How do you continue to recruit the best partners and lawyers?
Marko Milanović: It is essential for MIM Law to have educated, dedicated and passionate team members. We are aware that supporting development and growth of each individual member of our team is essential for our future success. With only the best lawyers, we can provide the best service to our clients. Co-operation and communication within the team is another very important thing – exchange of ideas and information is a great advantage not only for our team members, but also for the clients, whose problems are thoroughly and deeply analysed within our team. Young graduate lawyers, as well as experienced practitioners, recognise and appreciate our principles, which is why MIM Law attracts a lot of attention from young people who wish to build their career as lawyers in Belgrade.
Before which arbitration institutions have you represented your clients?
SM: The unique skillset of MIM in resolving investment and commercial arbitration disputes encompasses representing clients before the most prominent arbitration institutions, such as: the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, International Chamber of Commerce, London Court of International Arbitration, Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution, Arbitration at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, as well as representing in proceedings under UNCITRAL Rules.
What has so far been the most challenging issue in the arbitration proceedings in which you acted as a counsel?
SM: Each arbitration case is unique and has its own challenges. For me personally, one of the greatest challenges, and also successes, was in an investment arbitration case where my colleagues and I succeeded in proving that there is no jurisdiction of the arbitration tribunal. Anyone who deals with investment arbitration knows how hard and challenging it is to succeed with a jurisdictional objection.
The clients marked the MIM team as specialists for commercial law disputes. What are your recent developments in that field?
MM: We are constantly engaged in different high-profile court proceedings. Currently, one of the most interesting cases is a litigation where we represent a renowned pharmaceutical company in a fair-trade market court proceeding. Also, we were heavily involved in a number of pre-packed reorganisation proceedings and we are happy that we helped an important client in adoption of three pre-packed reorganisation plans.
‘We are aware that supporting development and growth of each individual member of our team is essential for our future success.’
Bankruptcy proceedings is something that is part of a company’s business existence. What is the experience of MIM when it comes to preparing the plans for a company’s economic survival?
MM: We are proud to be recognised as a law firm that is the best choice for clients facing insolvency and needing professionals able to guide their business to survive through UPPR. The capacity to negotiate, to construct the package of different measures in order to save the business, and striking a balance between the interests of debtors
and creditors, is something the
MIM team delivers to its clients.
Apart from acting before the domestic courts and arbitration institutions, do you have any additional experience in representing clients before the national courts in other countries?
MM: MIM actively represents clients in Montenegro in various civil and criminal proceedings. Recently, we achieved great success for one of our clients in Montenegro, who won a long-lasting court battle worth more than €16m.
Having in mind global trends in proclaiming human rights topic, have you had any experience in representing clients before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)?
MM: In fact, we have great experience in representing clients before the ECHR. Sometimes this is the only tool left for protection of the client’s rights and our experience shows that it is worth addressing the ECHR.
Mihaj, Ilić & Milanović
Čika Ljubina 12
Tel: +38 11 1414 64 88