China > Legal market overview
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The past year saw a general reduction in China-related M&A activity, with the weak global economy, the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and China’s leadership change all being contributing factors. The private equity sector in Greater China has also struggled in recent times, and the continued uncertainty in the global economy and shifting investment strategies have led to an increase in divestments by multinational companies and other foreign investors.
Nonetheless, the enthusiasm of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for energy and resources assets continues to drive outbound investment, as indicated by several significant oil and gas deals announced by Chinese oil companies in relation to assets in Latin America, Canada, the US, Australia and Africa, as well as increased activity in the renewable sectors, both on the inbound and outbound sides.
King & Wood Mallesons again provided the legal market’s breaking news, in July 2013 sealing a merger with UK legal practice SJ Berwin LLP; the tie-up is set to go live in November 2013. Other highlights included Norton Rose LLP’s combination with US law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP to form Norton Rose Fulbright, adding Hong Kong and Beijing-based Jeffrey Blount and Jie Zhang to the practice.
Recently opened mainland China offices for international firms include Eversheds LLP launching in Beijing with two new partner hires in corporate energy law expert Ingrid Zhu-Clark, who joined from the Beijing office of Morgan Lewis LLP, and corporate lawyer Jay Ze; and Seyfarth Shaw LLP opening a new Shanghai office after hiring DLA Piper’s Wan Li as its chief representative. DLA Piper also recruited, bringing in Hong Kong based China energy head Carolyn Dong from King & Wood Mallesons.
Among other developments, Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. announced the closure of its Shanghai office; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP appointed new leadership in China, with Anthony Root, the former head of its Asian corporate practice and Greater China offices, retiring in May 2013 and corporate partner Edward Sun, the chief representative of the firm’s Beijing base, set to leave before the end of the year; and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP bolstered its Beijing corporate practice with the addition of Chen Li, who joined from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.
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On November 13, 2013, the Shanghai Municipal Government issued the Tentative Measures on the Administration of Foreign Owned Medical Institutions in China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone [Hu-Fu-Ban-Fa  No.63] (" Measures "). According to the Measures, a foreign investor, who has engaged in medical institution investment or management for 5 years or more, may, upon the approval by the relevant local government authorities, set up a wholly foreign owned medical institution (" Medical WOFE ") in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (" Shanghai FTZ "). Also, the Measures might open up an investment opportunity for foreign capital to enter the nursing home market in China.
The General Administration of Customs (" GAC ") issued Announcement  No. 58 (" Announcement ") on October 30, 2013, announcing its decision to further reform the customs clearance procedures for importation and exportation, whereby as from November 1, 2013, an AA Category enterprise in China Customs' AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) program, after filing application and signing an MOU with the customs, may choose to file import/export declarations and have the goods cleared at the local customs office of the place where such enterprise is located rather than where the port of entry or exit is located (" Privileged Model ").
Chinese customs authorities have recently stepped up price investigations focusing on cross-border payments of intellectual property ("IP") royalties or license fees. More and more multinational companies ("MNC") have been chosen by the customs as principal audit/investigation targets for their royalty arrangements between Chinese subsidiaries and foreign parent companies or other associated parties. HaoLiWen customs practice lawyers have been approached by some of MNCs to advise on dutiability of such royalty payments and any risk exposure to customs law violation or even smuggling.
On August, 2013, a consumer filed a complaint for misleading advertising with Dong Xin AIC (Zhejiang province) against Hangzhou-based roasted nut and dry-food producer Yaotaitai.
The State Council has approved establishment of China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Area ("SHFTA") and more flexible, efficient and open economic administration will be carried out within SHFTA. In summary, two aspects of breakthroughs are relevant to foreign direct investment in SHFTA.
On August 22, 2013, MOFCOM announced that the State Council of China approved the establishment of Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Area ("SHFTA") to cover four customs supervision zones (Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, Waigaoqiao Bonded Logistics Park, Yangshan Bonded Port and Shanghai Pudong Airport Free Trade Zone), with a total area of 28.78 square kilometers. It was reported that SHFTA will be formally established by the end of September, 2013. Early in September, the NPC StandingCommittee will determine adjusting some administrative examination and approval measures under some laws to be applied to SHFTA.
Normally perceived as a very small piece in the whole picture of production and distribution, product labeling is seldom taken seriously by distributors. However, the consequences of improper label are exceptionally severe in serious cases, including but not limited to:
China's regulation of so called " Novel food " is changing.
In this issue:
Product design is playing an increasingly important role in commercial competition nowadays. Other than product quality, it is the design of a product that draws consumer's attention. A well designed product is more likely to impress consumers with its fashion appearance.
Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, advised Österreichische Volksbanken-AG (OeVAG) on the sale of its fully-owned subsidiary Volksbank Malta Limited to Malta-based Mediterranean Bank plc. On 11 April 2014, OeVAG and Mediterranean Bank signed a Share Purchase Agreement for 100% of the shares in Volksbank Malta. Closing shall take place after the required approvals of the relevant regulatory bodies are received. read more...
Stefan Kuehteubl will join Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), as a partner and the head of the firm's Employment practice as of July 2014. A highly-regarded employment law practitioner, Kuehteubl will be returning to Schoenherr, where he previously worked as a member of its employment team between 1999 and 2004. During the past ten years, he worked in a well-known Vienna-based employment law boutique, in which he was a partner since 2008. read more...
The Swiss law on product safety ( Produktesicherheitsgesetz, PrSG) is currently scheduled to enter into force on July 1, 2010. This new law aligns Swiss product safety requirements with EU law. It applies not only to manufacturers, but to anyone who commercially or professionally markets products in Switzerland, and it introduces substantial new obligations before and after the sale of a product.
The Chambers Global 2014 international ratings have hailed Pepeliaev Group's tax practice and the firm's managing partner Sergey Pepeliaev as Russia's best in the area of taxation (band 1 and Star Individuals). Commentators describe Mr Pepeliaev as "the father of Russian taxation." He has an outstanding reputation in tax litigation, for which he is said to be "absolutely brilliant." In addition, Chambers Global lavishes praise on Rustem Ahmetshin (band 2), one of the firm's senior partners, who has considerable expertise in areas such as VAT and audit advice. Chambers Global sources commend Pepeliaev Group partner Valentina Akimova (band 3) as a "smart tax specialist." She has significant experience in a wide range of tax matters such as VAT, income tax and excise duties. Sources recommend Andrey Nikonov (band 3), another senior partner in the firm, as an authority on VAT, mineral extraction tax and unified social tax. Chambers Global also rates Mr Nikonov highly for his experience in resolving tax disputes advising on the tax aspects of M&A transactions.
Dhir & Dhir Associates advised National Housing Bank, wholly owned by Reserve Bank of India, on the Tranche- II of public issue of tax free bonds in the nature of secured, redeemable, non-convertible debentures with benefits under Section 10(15)(iv)(h) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, aggregating upto Rs. 1,000 Crore.
In a recent landmark judgment of the Hon'ble Andhra Pradesh High Court in the matter of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd. (DCHL) & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors ., the Hon'ble Court has laid down an important principal of law to the effect that SARFAESI Action can be taken by an assignee/ successor in interest only if the original lender had SARFAESI power.
DHIR & DHIR ASSOCIATES ADVISES NATIONAL HOUSING BANK ON THE PUBLIC ISSUE OF TAX FREE BONDS AGGREGATIDhir & Dhir Associates advised National Housing Bank, wholly owned by Reserve Bank of India, on the public issue of tax free bonds in the nature of secured, redeemable, non-convertible debentures with benefits under Section 10(15)(iv)(h) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, aggregating upto Rs. 2,100 Crore.
On 20.03.2014 was carried the first part of the annually organized forum "Legal Day" of German-Bulgarian Industrial Commercial Chamber. Representatives of the leading legal companies in Bulgaria and industry representatives also took part in the event.
On 24.03.2014 a meeting of the Advisory Board "Law" of the German-Bulgarian Industrial Commercial Chamber (GBICC) was held. The event was attended by representatives of the business as well as lawyers from major law firms in Bulgaria, including the law firm "Popov & Partners."