What are the most common challenges to efficient market access?

What factors can impact a market entry application and result in considerable delays? And how can an energy trader plan accordingly?

By

Eszter Pontenagel

Table of Contents

  1. What are the translation and legalization requirements for a market access application?
  2. What are the differences between notarization, apostille, and legalization of documents?
  3. Why can a translation slow down a market entry process?
  4. How to ensure the fastest market entry possible?
  5. How to choose a good law firm when entering a new market?
  6. What factors do you need to consider when choosing a law firm?
  7. How does Time2Market assist in choosing a law firm?
  8. What is the time validity of a document and how does it affect a market entry application?
  9. What can happen if the time validity of documents is not taken into account when planning a scope?
  10. What else can lead to delays in a market access application?

Even though Time2Market has only recently turned one year old, our team has been working on market access cases for over a decade. Every case carries its unique challenges just as every market has its unique requirements. We have learned a lot through our work and the time has come for us to share that knowledge.  

As part of the webinar Time2Market and Energy One held on January 30th, 2024, Eszter Pontenagel has sat down and outlined some of the big challenges in a market entry application, which can lead to considerable delays.

What are the translation and legalization requirements for a market access application?

The contents of a market entry application are highly dependent on the local counterparties’ requirements. In most cases, however, these documents need to be translated into the official local language. Furthermore, translated documents often are required to be legalized. Every counterparty in a market has their own guidelines to the type of translation, as well as the formality of legalization that is required.  

What are the differences between notarization, apostille, and legalization of documents?

There are multiple types of notarizations that we have seen requested by the local National Regulation Authority (NRA), Transmission System Operator (TSO), or other relevant counterparty looking over a market entry application.  

Regardless of the specific type, a notarization is carried out by a public notary and certifies that a legal document is genuine or an original, authenticating a signature or witnessing a person’s identity. There might be struct instructions on whether a sword statement (otherwise known as an Affidavit) is required as part of the application, or another notarization.  

Another notarization type that might be required is the Apostille. An Apostille is a validation stamp, usually carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country where the document was issued. It is an authentication of public documents, which makes said documents fully legally recognizable in most foreign countries.

After a document is notarized or apostilled, there might be further requirements for legalization. Legalization is carried out by the embassy or consulate of the market the application is for. In other words, a document can be legalized by the country where it will be used if a counterparty requires it.

Why can a translation slow down a market entry process?

It is all in the details. Which documents need to be translated? Is a sworn translation required? Which documents need to be notarized or legalized? Are there special requirements for translators and notaries? Are copies of documents sufficient, or do originals need to be sent? Are document submissions digital or physical?  

Many of these processes can be planned well in advance to avoid waiting multiple months for an appointment, which is one of the benefits of doing a market scope. Having an ordered to-do list of when each part of an application needs to be translated, notarized, signed, or shipped can be the difference between a 3-month entry process and up to a year of delays and headaches. Registered international shipping should not be overlooked at this point in the process, as it is an implied requirement for almost any shipment of physical documents.

How to ensure the fastest market entry possible?

Time2Market works with trusted local partners, as well as the preferred partners of our clients, to ensure all details and practicalities around translation and submission of documents are done orderly. Having worked with over a dozen clients in close to 50 energy markets, we have seen it all and keep an updated list of all requirements in every market, thus offering accelerated market entry to our clients.

How to choose a good law firm when entering a new market?

Being represented by a local law firm is a must for most markets in Europe and simply a very good idea that will save a ton of time and money in any market entry. This firm will deal with anything from setting up local subsidiaries to fact-checking your market scope and drafting legal documentation in the local official language.

What factors do you need to consider when choosing a law firm?

Imagine the following scenario: You decide to begin a market entry procedure for a new market, so the first thing you need to do is start writing to law firms that may or may not have an English webpage. The top firms in the area cost a lot more, but because they are big international firms, they have the necessary experience to process your case. They are professional, speak English, and you can trust that they will save you if you end up in a bad situation. In other words, the international law firms operating in the local market are a safe but expensive choice.

On the other hand, there is a lot more uncertainty regarding smaller firms regarding language and culture. Read more about the challenges of multicultural communication in market access on our partner, Energy One’s blog. If you want to avoid working with a big law firm for whatever reason, you will start having conversations around pricing, communication, English proficiency, quality of service, work ethic, etc. With many smaller firms until you find the one whose values align with yours.  

We have seen that this process can easily take 2-3 months if you do not have connections in the market.

How does Time2Market assist in choosing a law firm?

Time2Market’s CEO, Eszter Pontenagel, has worked in international market access since 2014, spending a decade creating and nurturing professional relationships in all markets she has worked in. During that time, she has identified both firms that are not optimal and firms that do their job exceptionally well.  

When a client announces to Time2Market that they are looking to enter a new market, one of the first discussions we have is to decide whether we will use a law firm the client already has worked with or whether we should recommend one we have had a positive experience with.

In this case, the client will usually receive the trusted law firm to assist with legal matters’ terms of service in their email inbox by the end of the week.  

Why should you spend 20 hours in meetings with law firms over multiple months or risk compromising on quality when Time2Market already has trusted firms we have worked with in every European market?

What is the time validity of a document, and how does it affect a market entry application?

All documents which are submitted in an application are required to be recently issued. Depending on the specific document and counterparty, we have seen documents that can be as old as a few years or as recent as a month from their issue date. This aspect is especially important when planning out a scope.  

It is all about timing. When does the issuing, translation, and notarization of each document need to be initiated to ensure all of them are submitted with the required time validity to the corresponding regulatory body?

What can happen if the time validity of documents is not considered when planning a scope?

We at Time2Market have seen the case of a client who attempted to carry out a market entry by themselves before working with us. By being unaware of how long a single document would take to issue, the entire application of over 20 translated, notarized, and collected documents became too old for the regulatory body to accept.

Entire applications can fall through this way, forcing an applicant to resign, retranslate, and renotarize all documents with a fresh signature. Such a process could easily delay an application by half a year for a first-time applicant who has the misfortune of overlooking the time validity or execution times of just two documents.  

What else can lead to delays in a market access application?

If you are interested in finding out how cultural differences and language barriers can affect a market entry, you can read more on  Energy One’s blog on Challenges in Market Access. In that article, you can also find out more about the challenges that energy traders from non-licensed countries, such as Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands face when entering new markets.  

This article is a part of Energy One’s campaign on operating effectively in Europe’s fast-changing energy markets. If you’re interested in hearing more about the challenges that can lead to delays in market entry, Time2Market and Energy One’s joint webinar on speeding up market entry processes is for you. You can watch the recording of the webinar here.

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Disclaimer: Time2Market ApS is not responsible for the completeness, accuracy, and actuality of the information provided. This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered business or legal advice.

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