The publishing house Economia has announced its Pro bono & CSR awards for 2017 in an event going into its second year. bnt was one of the four laureates, having been recognized for the unprecedented way in which the firm combines legal and charity work to support Cesta domů (The Journey Home) in the field of palliative care. The winning projects were picked by an expert jury headed by the Czech minister of justice and composed of the chief judges at the highest courts of the land, notaries, in-house counsel of companies, attorneys-at-law, and public prosecutors.
bnt has for a long time been committed to pro bono advisory work, but the encounter with the team of Cesta domů (The Journey Home) proved to be a watershed event for the law firm. The NPO seeks to facilitate changes in society and in the law so that it will become possible to care for the terminally ill and dying in their domestic surroundings. Aside from operating a mobile domestic hospice and acting as a registered healthcare and social services provider, the organization offers respite care, runs a rental service for medical aids, and advises the terminally ill and their families.
Not surprisingly, the initial spark of the collaboration between bnt and the non-profit organization was owed to happenstance: bnt helped draft a number of bids for public procurement procedures. "Of our own accord, we eventually took it upon us to resolve various tax issues, when we found out that NPOs, especially with this kind of specific mission statement, tend to fall through the cracks in the Czech tax system," reminisces Markéta Pravdová, partner of the Prague office of bnt. Over time, more work cropped up: charity auctions called for legal and tax expertise, trade marks needed to be registered, and the provision of certain services triggered specific questions with respect to health insurance.
Aside from on-going legal and tax advice, bnt also oversaw for Cesta domů the creation of a Forum for mobile hospices – an association of mobile palliative care providers that acts as a legal entity of its own and is thus in a better position to push for an improvement of the terms on which palliative services are provided in the Czech Republic. We continued to be involved in the registration of new trademarks and the collection of receivables, and represented Cesta domů in inheritance proceedings to ensure the NPO would receive what a deceased benefactor had bequeathed to it. Our legal advice in selected construction-law and VAT matters contributed in a positive way to the completion of a new palliative care center.
"It is our firm belief that we're doing nothing unheard-of. We simply engage in what we know best. What's important is what purpose our work serves. In our professional lives (and of course in our private lives as well), we are confronted again and again with the topics of death, dying, and care for those who are incurably or terminally ill, and we have noticed that for many years, no one has systematically addressed the legal and tax aspects of this area of life in the Czech Republic," reflects Markéta Pravdová, partner at bnt, on the award.
More than half of the entire team at bnt has at some point been involved in the pro bono work for Cesta domů; we have become a pillar of strength for Cesta domů to rely upon in all matters to do with law and taxes. We at bnt are aware that death is still a taboo subject, and so is palliative and end-of-life care – and yet, these topics will ultimately make an appearance in the life of everyone of us. We appreciate the opportunity to assist the people at Cesta domů who seek to put things right and give us all the chance to spend our last hours at home, where we feel safe and among those who mean the most to us.