60-second interview with Aldona Leszczyńska-Mikulska

Aldona Leszczyńska-Mikulska , 24/6/2019

Aldona Leszczyńska-Mikulska TEP is attorney at law and partner at GWW Ladzinski Cmoch & Partners in Warsaw, Poland.

What does your firm or organisation do?

GWW is one of the largest law firms based in Poland located in a number of offices across the country. We advise both Polish and foreign clients in most sectors. I’m head of the private client team and we advise clients on all tax and legal aspects of their private wealth, including estate and succession planning, disputes relating to private property, family and spousal cases. We are also experienced in succession planning for family-owned businesses.

What has STEP done for you, individually, or as a business?

Joining STEP gave my firm and me access to a network of highly experienced professionals from all over the world, who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning. Thanks to this I am able to provide high-level legal and tax advice to my clients, who very often have personal or economic interests outside Poland.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

In my opinion the most important thing STEP does or, to be precise, offers is the opportunity for its members to share resources, knowledge and best practice. This means we can provide our clients with consistent, practical advice that’s relevant to each jurisdiction, depending on the client’s needs.

You will be speaking at the STEP Europe Conference this week. What will you be covering?

I am thrilled to speak on the Register of Beneficial Ownership which is soon to be introduced in Poland as a national transposition measure for the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive. Member states of the EU are obliged to introduce central registers containing adequate, accurate and current information on beneficial owners of corporate entities. The rules for the functioning of such registers may vary between Members States. I will elaborate on this matter from the perspective of Polish law.

Why is this topic important for practitioners in 2019?

The introduction of the Register will entail more transparency which, on the one hand, is a good thing as it may help national governments prevent the use of ‘anonymous’ companies to facilitate tax crime, including tax evasion.

On the other hand, the question is how severe the consequences will be when it comes to individuals’ personal interests. It is our fundamental duty to protect our clients’ best interests – not only as STEP members but as lawyers or advisors in general.

In the light of the new rules forcing maximum transparency, we have to make sure we balance what is important to the client, and what is demanded by the tax authorities.

What do you feel are the main issues for the European region in 2019?

When it comes to tax matters, which I am particularly interested in, the most important thing is to safeguard the economic and private interests of clients, especially those who run large multinational businesses.

We’re now in an era of ever more restrictive provisions of law introduced to the EU Member States’ national laws, which is constantly amended to the detriment of even those who have nothing to do with tax evasion. This includes controlled foreign corporation (CFC) rules, exit tax, and general anti-abusive rules. We have to be particularly careful to guide clients along this difficult path without putting them at risk of paying more than they should.

What do you most like about your job?

As an attorney at law advising clients in cross-border matters I like being in touch with professionals from all over the world who are happy to share their knowledge and experience with regards to their expertise – as I do.

.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?

What I find really worthwhile is the outstanding international network of lawyers and advisors. It certainly means we can offer a higher level of service to clients.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?

They must be extremely vigilant when advising clients in matters that may have something to do with tax. Nowadays a minor oversight can be disastrous.

Which sectors are likely to see the strongest future growth, do you think?

For several years I’ve noticed an increasing interest in family businesses and succession planning; so I predict this will become ever more important in future.

What about jurisdictions?

As family businesses and succession planning are very often cross-border matters, maintaining a solid international network of lawyers and advisors in a number of jurisdictions is essential.

What trends do you see in the global private wealth sector at the moment?

High-net-worth individuals are becoming ever more concerned about keeping their businesses and fortunes for future generations. It is absolutely crucial for us, as lawyers or advisors, to be able to advise them on how to protect their assets, so they can be safely passed on to their successors.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing practitioners at the moment, and how will you deal with them?

The greatest challenge is to advise clients on how to achieve their goals without paying more than they should. You have to be extremely careful when interpreting and applying new provisions of law, and to seek professional advice pertaining to foreign law whenever cross-border elements are involved.

Which social media channels do you use and why?

I use LinkedIn as I find it the most convenient tool to stay in touch with my fellow lawyers and clients, as well as to keep up-to-date with news appearing in the legal community.

Aldona Leszczyńska-Mikulska TEP is partner and head of the Private Client practice at GWW Ladzinski Cmoch & Partners in Warsaw, Poland, specialising in international tax and inheritance planning.