Python & Peter, a leading Swiss law firm, has set up an office in Tehran in a further sign of the country opening for business in the wake of the ground-breaking nuclear agreement signed last year.
The new office will aim to advise foreign multinationals on how to operate in a country slowly awakening from years of international isolation and numerous economic downturns.
In February, Germany’s CMS was the first international law firm to open an office in Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Economic sanctions were lifted in January this year, following an agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers - the US, UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany - to limit Tehran’s nuclear activities.
European and Asian companies have flocked to explore one of the world’s biggest untapped markets, but substantial hurdles to doing business in the country remain.
US sanctions on terrorism charges are still in place, preventing international banks from handling Iranian business for fears of repercussions.
Iranian law firms with international standards are also rare. But a new generation of lawyers has been encouraged with the entrance of foreign law firms into the country, said Encyeh Seyed Sadr, partner and attorney at law in Bayan Emrooz, a new local law firm.
Lack of trust in Iran’s judicial system and fears of bias and corruption as well as often lengthy proceedings and high tariffs mean many foreign companies are wary of losing their investments should they run into difficulties with their local partners.
Iran’s judiciary follows sharia law, which is an unfamiliar concept to many foreign companies. While civil and criminal cases go under the jurisdiction of public courts, “revolutionary” courts are entrusted with high-profile security and political cases that could lead to punishments that include the death penalty.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016