NEWS

MEET OUR MEMBER: Frank Bold Society – innovating business combined with non-profit solving social and environmental issues.

29-01-2019

Frank Bold is a purpose-driven law firm using the power of business combined with a non-profit approach to solving social and environmental problems. We are a fifty-person law organisation operating six branches across three European countries. We have been serving individuals, municipalities, and businesses since 1995. We promote corporate and governmental accountability, and provide legal support to civil society in human rights, environmental, and anti-corruption cases. Our offices in Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Kraków, and Brussels, provide specific legal consultations to the public and local NGOs, run legal cases and publish briefings and papers.

Frank Bold is showing new ways to combine for-profit and nonprofit missions effectively to deliver solutions for current challenges. This type of entrepreneurship requires frankness and boldness to inspire others.

A team of lawyers together with a group of law students provides civil society with free legal advice on national and EU law. In addition, we lead advocacy activities driven by our legal expertise and professionalism. Our advocacy efforts, together with other public interest law activities, have one purpose: to protect the environment and promote the rule of law and democracy.

Our work is divided into several programmes, each of which addresses different societal issues. The non-profit section deals with the following topics:

Responsible State: We empower people to defend the public interest and develop, promote, and enforce laws to prevent systemic corruption in the Czech Republic.

Responsible Companies: We develop and promote new business models that better integrate societal interests into corporate purpose, governance, and decision-making. We are also active in the field of business and human rights, where we work to bridge global governance gaps and improve individuals’ ability to assert their rights.

Responsible Energy: We develop and promote legal initiatives that support the transformation towards clean and decentralized energy production and consumption in EU countries.

Legal Counselling Centre: We empower citizens and local communities in the Czech Republic by helping them to assert their rights and actively participate in public policy. By supporting individuals and local initiatives, we aim to strengthen civic society, which is the foundation of the solution to the systemic corruption that is deeply embedded in our governance systems.

What are the highlights of your organization in recent years?

We managed to partially quash four faulty air quality plans for the most heavily polluted areas of the Czech Republic due to their inefficiency and respective non-compliance with the Ambient Air Quality Directive. The plans completely lacked crucial features such as prioritization of the proposed measures for improving air quality, a time frame for their implementation as well as evaluation of potential overall air quality improvement (or in other words, the efficiency of each individual measure). The Supreme Administrative Court actually stated that expecting these air quality plans to help reduce air pollution would be as futile as waiting for Godot. The judgements were delivered at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. The Ministry of Environment now has to draw up new air quality plans and implement the changes suggested by the Court. Some changes have already been implemented by amending the national Air Quality Act. We are continuously overseeing the process, ready to provide insights and comments to the Ministry.

What is the major change you are striving for right now?

Our main internal goal is to develop and implement innovation of our legal counseling center. We are trying to provide new services and ways for our clients to access legal information with less effort and more effect and impact on their activities leading to success. Instead of counseling and sharing information, we want to push ourselves and our clients to solving the issues while also taking into account different environments, context and challenges. The main idea is to not only provide basic legal information but to inform, present a range of possibilities within the Czech legal system and empower our clients to solve them using our own platform and tools. Developing that complex system is a challenge also from the  perspective of an administrator’s duties – how to react to new events on the Czech political scene as well as ongoing and future legislation changes to keep the content up to date. Our target group is rather broad because of the range of topics (from fighting corruption and a public referendum on local government level to EIA or IPPC) we cover in our articles or videos. However, we mainly focus on active citizens interested in public interest issues (particularly environmental ones). In the future, there will be a possibility to create brand new services  which will address concrete practical problems and needs, based on our content.

This will happen during 2019. We have already begun to work on a research phase according to design process methodology, which we follow.

From our clients’ perspective, in addition to the mentioned platform, we are also looking for innovative ways to work with our local partners beyond the usual methods of interaction (personal meetups, helping with their cases). This is also part of our innovation efforts.

How does Justice and Environment contribute to achieving the objectives of your national organisation?

Frank Bold was one of the founding members of J&E network in 2003. We share the same values and use similar tools to strive for better environmental legislation in both Europe and the Czech Republic leading to preservation of nature and reducing the impact of ecological harm on humans and the environment.

Through the J&E network, we regularly gain important information concerning legislation, case law and legal practice in J&E member countries so that we can use it to support legal arguments presented in the frame of our national cases. Further, together we were able to reach the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the EU with the environmental topics we have dealt with.

As for highlights, J&E helped us with co-organizing, together with the Czech Ministry of Environment, an international conference on access to justice under the Aarhus Convention in 2009, in the scope of the Czech presidency of the EU, namely with the practical seminars on model cases. We also used a preliminary version of an analysis ”Access to Justice in Environmental Matters”, prepared within the J&E project, as one of the main preparatory materials for the conference.