A Whiff Of Dystopia In The Air

Published date30 November 2022
Subject MatterCorporate/Commercial Law, Energy and Natural Resources, Corporate and Company Law, Contracts and Commercial Law, Energy Law, Oil, Gas & Electricity
Law FirmSoulier Avocats
AuthorMr Jean-Luc Soulier

The end-of-year-holiday season is fast approaching and it will be proper to wish the best to our loved ones and to all those whose path we have crossed in 2022. It is time to look back at a traumatic year and to prepare ourselves to face the worst scenarios: war, recession, and their consequences.

The worst is never certain but it may happen again.

My generation grew up in a world based on the values promoted by major international institutions such as the OECD, the Council of Europe and the European Union: democracy, freedom of the press and freedom of conscience or opinion, which are its indispensable corollary, and universal respect for human rights regardless of race, religion, gender, and more recently sexual orientation.

The OECD has tackled corruption 1 and the European Union has unified many rules to promote trade between its Members around four fundamental freedoms: the free movement of goods, the free movement of capital, the free movement of services and the free movement of people. Local wars and the resistance of authoritarian regimes with mafia-like practices seemed to us to be the echoes or jolts of an old world destined to disappear.

Then, two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic reinstated invisible borders and caused individuals and countries to turn inward-looking. Declinism ingrained in people's mind: travel restrictions, distrust in scientific and technological innovations, finding refuge in an idealized bygone world that never existed! The complete opposite of the open world in which we grew up.

Then, Russia's war against Ukraine brought back the ghosts of the past that we thought had disappeared forever: a nationalist rhetoric reminiscent of that of the dictatorships that were responsible for World War II. The words used by Russia to justify its destruction of Ukraine are eerily reminiscent of those used by Nazi Germany before it invaded Poland in 1939. The kleptocracies at work look to 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 dystopias and justify the worst barbarities by their distorted vision of History. A giant leap backwards.

Why does a legal practitioner engage in such considerations? Quite simply because companies must be prepared to face the difficulties caused by the global situation and we must be ready to assist and support them with the only weapon we have: the law.

Many companies, including the largest ones, run the risk of seeing their very existence threatened if gas and electricity prices continue to soar. Industrial furnaces have...

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