Albania has seen a boom of call centre services outsourcing in recent years by a number of multinational companies. Foreign companies, mostly from Italy, have benefited from several advantages of outsourcing call centre services in Albania, including tax rates, low labour cost, flexible employment conditions and highly qualified employees, with advanced language skills in several foreign languages.

Moreover, Albania offers a favourable legal environment for foreign companies to outsource TMT products and services, from the perspective of data protection, intellectual property and trade secrets protection.

EU privacy legislation requires that personal data can be transferred only to third countries providing “adequate protection”. Albania is a member of the Council of Europe Convention for the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data and additional protocol and Albanian law on Data Protection is fully approximated with the EU legislation.

However, in order to be covered from legal risks, foreign companies should ensure that their Albanian contractors comply with such legislation. For instance, during the period between March and July 2015, following a mutual cooperation agreement entered into with the Italian Privacy Authority earlier in February of this year, the Albanian Data Protection Authority (DPA) investigated several call centers in Albania, and fined thirty of them due to non-compliance with the Albanian data protection legislation. Out of all non-compliant call centres, only one had notified the DPA on the processing of personal data before starting such activity. Most of them were not aware of the law or such legal requirement.

In compliance with EU legislation, Albanian Personal Data Protection Law applies to personal data processing by controllers located in Albania, as well as controllers that are not located in Albania, but exercise their activity through the use of any equipment situated in Albania. In such cases, the controller must appoint a representative who should be located in Albania.

The provisions of the law with respect to controllers apply to their representatives as well. In order to ensure legal compliance and minimize privacy risks, foreign companies should consider the following requirements:

  • their local contractors have duly notified their activity to the Albanian DPA;
  • they have implemented adequate technical and organisative measures to ensure security and confidentiality of the data, such as: clearly defined functions among the organisative units and restricted access to personal data only for the purpose of fulfilling their duties, confidentiality declaration signed by their employees, internal privacy policies and procedures, restricted access to the environment where the data are collected and kept and rules for the return and/or permanent destruction of the data as per defined retention periods;
  • they have signed a data processing agreement, in case the outsourcing of products and services includes the processing of personal data.

In addition, the applicable data protection legislation requires that direct marketing through phone calls, e-mails or other communication means may be performed only upon prior consent from the data owners, which must be documented and evidenced.

An additional guarantee for foreign companies outsourcing in Albania is the legislation in force on the protection of intellectual property, privileged information and trade secrets. Intellectual property legislation provides a comprehensive framework for the protection and enforcement of IP rights, including patents/utility models, industrial design, trademarks and geographical indication, as well as copyright and related rights. According to the Albanian Labour Code, employees have a confidentiality obligation for production or activity secrets, of which they have been made aware during their employment. Moreover, the Law on Commercial Companies defines trade secrets and provides for liability of the management vis a vis the company for damage caused due to disclosure of trade secrets. On the same note, infringement of IP rights, trade secrets and privileged information constitutes criminal offence, punishable under the Albanian Criminal Code.

Nevertheless, it is highly recommended that the above matters be clearly and carefully stipulated in the contractual terms of the agreement with the local company.

The contract terms may be enforced either by Albanian courts or in foreign jurisdictions. The enforcement of a foreign court’s judgment in Albania may be sought after it has been recognised by the Court of Appeal. While examining the request for recognition of a foreign court’s judgement, the Court of Appeal does not review the merits of the case, but checks only compliance with certain procedural principles, such as the competency of the court that has issued the judgment, the due notification of the defendant, whether a different judgment between the same parties, with the same object and reason has already been issued by the Albanian courts, whether a lawsuit on the same matter has not been filed before the Albanian courts prior to the foreign court’s judgment becoming final etc.

Currently, outsourcing of TMT products and services is regarded as a growth driver for foreign investment and increase of employment in Albania. That said, in order to better protect their interests and maintain a high-level in their quality of service, foreign companies must seek and obtain deeper knowledge of the Albanian legal system before selecting their Albanian contractor.


Ekflodia Leskaj

Partner Albania