The Legal 500

China

China > Legal market overview

Editorial

While international firms have benefited from a steady pipeline of inbound work from their global clients in recent years, it is on outbound mandates from state owned enterprises (SOEs) and private companies where the battle lines are being drawn. With aggregate China-outbound M&A values reaching record highs in 2013, and reaching the highest levels since 2009 in the first quarter of 2014, the ability to tap into this rich seam of activity has been crucial.

The energy sector is a key driver of outbound mandates, and Vinson & Elkins LLP’s closure of its Shanghai office to concentrate on the more energy-focused market of Beijing, where many SOEs are based, is indicative of the sector’s importance to foreign firms. Sidley Austin LLP, not traditionally associated with the energy space, secured four high-profile energy-related lateral hires in its Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing offices, signalling its intention to break into the space.

Technology and intellectual property are two other key areas; the acquisitive nature of Chinese life sciences players is well known, while Lenovo’s $2.3bn acquisition of IBM’s server business (Hogan Lovells International LLP and Herbert Smith Freehills LLP representing the respective parties in that matter), and technology conglomerate Tsinghua Group’s acquisition of mobile chip manufacturer Spreadtrum Communications in an all-Chinese, $1.8bn deal (Morrison & Foerster leading the advice to the former) are further examples of the appetite for tech-sector deals.

On the IP front, firms such as Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP have been involved in high-profile US-based patent and trade secrets court actions for both US and Chinese clients, while Bird & Bird, Jones Day and Hogan Lovells International LLP are among those assisting clients with protecting existing IP rights in the Chinese courts, which in the past year demonstrated a significant swing in favour of foreign companies with the granting of the first patent infringement preliminary injunction (PI) to Abbott Laboratories, followed closely by a PI for cross-label use in favour of Novartis. Allen & Overy LLP advised both companies on those matters.

Outbound work has yet to replace inbound mandates as the cornerstone of most practices. However, with the Chinese authorities less encouraging of foreign investment, particularly in real estate, and deals hampered by a punishing regulatory regime entailing lengthy competition reviews, it remains to be seen how long this will last.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP opened its second mainland China office in Beijing, and Duane Morris & Selvam LLP entered the market with the opening of a Shanghai office.

While domestic firms take advantage of a regulatory regime which allows them, and not foreign firms, to advocate in Chinese courts and proffer official written opinions on Chinese law, in practice the restrictions do not hinder practising in China in any substantial way, and international firms are still the natural choice for handling big-ticket cross-border work. However rumours of the merger of some of the biggest local players and an increasing trend for the biggest Chinese firms to recruit foreign partners, may see this inherent advantage cut short in the years to come. Firms such as Junhe, Fangda Partners and Zhong Lun Law Firm all field foreign-qualified lawyers, and have expanded their operations into London and New York in recent years, as well as focusing on the Asia Pacific market with office openings in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. King & Wood Mallesons has gone the farthest in its expansionist strategy, entering into a groundbreaking tie-up with SJ Berwin LLP in 2014.

Press releases

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Legal Developments in China

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • How to Identify Administrative Conducts as Administrative Anti-monopoly

    With a trend towards increasing investigation against administrative monopoly, there will probably be more cases against administrative monopolistic conducts in 2015. Companies may, as plaintiffs, sue local governments or its authorized institutions for administrative monopoly.
  • Foreign Investment Opportunities in Medical Service Sectorin the Shanghai Free Trade Zone

    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 [2013] 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.
  • China Customs Further Reforms Import & Export Clearance Procedures

    The General Administration of Customs (" GAC ") issued Announcement [2013] 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 ").
  • Multinationals urged to watch out for customs duty risks in royalty payments

    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.
  • The hot season of apricots and almonds in China

    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.
    - HFG
  • China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Area:Foreign Investors’ Investment Opportunities

    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.
  • Shanghai Special Customs Supervision Zones Upgraded as National Pilot Free Trade Area

    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.
  • Small Labels, Big Matters-- Product Labeling under P.R.C. Law

    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:
  • Novel food, new regualtion

    China's regulation of so called " Novel food " is changing.
    - HFG
  • CHINA gossIP - Intellectual Property Journal - July/August 2013

    In this issue:
    - HFG

Press Releases worldwide

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to
  • Avellum Partners Advised Nadezhda Group on Corporate Restructuring

    Kyiv, 29 December 2014 - Avellum Partners advised Nadezhda Group ("Group"), operating in the liquefied petroleum and gas industry, on tax planning for holding structure of the Group, all legal and tax aspects of corporate restructuring and acquisition finance issues, aimed at obtaining finance from international finance institutions ("IFIs").
  • Avellum Partners Advised on Exchange Offer of Metinvest

    Kyiv, 14 January 2015 - Avellum Partners acted as Ukrainian legal counsel to Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch and ING Bank N.V., London Branch, who acted as Dealer Managers, in connection with the exchange offer of Metinvest B.V., the parent company of a vertically integrated group of steel and mining companies ("Metinvest") for its USD500 million 10.25% guaranteed notes due 2015, coupled with the new issue of USD289.7 million 10.5% guaranteed notes due 2017 ("Notes") under its USD1,500,000,000 Guaranteed Medium Term Note Programme and a 25% cash consideration. The Bank of New York Mellon, London Branch acted as the Exchange Agent. The Notes are listed and admitted to trading on the Global Exchange Market of the Irish Stock Exchange.
  • Gorodissky new practices

    In December 2014 the IP team of Gorodissky & Partners was joined by Valery Narezhny who will be in charge of the firm's new law practices such as taxes, customs and commercial laws. Valery graduated from Finance Academy under the Government of Russia (Moscow) majoring in "Finances and Credits" and the Academy of Law and Management (Moscow) majoring in "Civil Law", holds PhD degree in economics. He is specializing in taxes, currency, customs, labor and commercial laws and in court disputes. Valery started his carrier in the state bodies (Tax Policy Department, Ministry of Finance, and Government Administration), worked for a number of Russian and international law firms. He is author of more than 150 publications and 9 books on taxation and civil law issues. Valery Medvedev, Managing Partner, Gorodissky & Partners, commented: "It appears from our clients' enquiries that they are in the need to obtain consultations and professional advice relating not only to protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights but also to IP issues governed by taxes, labor, currency and commercial laws. Valery Narezhny having considerable experience and knowledge in these practices will no doubt enhance our team of lawyers and considerably enlarge the range of the firm's legal services"
  • HaoLiWen helps client resolve TP case with the customs

    HaoLiWen has advised a multinational client in a case of the customs challenge against import transfer pricing. Recently, this case was successfully closed. The customs has accepted the transfer pricing policies of the client.  The client has incurred no further import tax exposure, and the deposits put up with the customs for the shipments in question are to be refunded by the customs to the client.  
  • VEGAS LEX to support 2015 Jessup Moot Court Competition

    The VEGAS LEX law firm will support this year's Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the largest and most prestigious law school competition, which will take place in Moscow from January 28 through February 1.
  • P+P Pöllath + Partners berät die Deutsche Bank und DN Capital bei Investitionen in Onlineportal Wi

    Der Onlinehändler Windeln.de hat seine bislang größte Finanzierungsrunde abgeschlossen. Mit einem Investitionsvolumen von insgesamt etwa EUR 45 Mio. beteiligten sich neben dem Hauptinvestor Goldman Sachs auch die bisherigen Geldgeber MCI Management, 360 Capital Partners, die Londoner Beteiligungsgesellschaft DN Capital sowie mehrere Deutsche Bank Fonds.
  • AT/USA: Schoenherr advises AIM Software Group on investment by Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe

    Schoenherr advised AIM Software Group ("AIM") on the receipt of an investment from and transfer of a majority interest to U.S.-based private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe ("WCAS"). AIM is a leading provider of data management software products to the financial services industry. Under the terms of the transaction, which was announced on 14 January 2015, AIM's existing management team will continue to operate the business and maintain a significant ownership stake in the company. WCAS is also investing primary capital in the business which will be used to further accelerate AIM's expansion.  read more...
  • 12 January 2015 - Walgreens Acquires the Remaining Equity Ownership in Alliance Boots

    Walgreen Co., the largest drug store chain in the United States, has completed the acquisition of the remaining 55% equity ownership in Alliance Boots GmbH, the Swiss parent company of a leading international pharmacy-led health and beauty group. Walgreens had acquired 45% in Alliance Boots GmbH in 2012 with the option to proceed to a full combination by acquiring the remaining 55%.
  • 15 January 2015 - Daniel Leu elected partner

    We are pleased to announce that we elected Daniel Leu as partner as of 1 January 2015. Daniel Leu, a Certified Inheritance Law Specialist, advises private clients on corporate and estate planning, on the handling of estates, in connection with foundations and trusts and on questions in connection with the place of residence. Other areas of work include advising clients who buy or sell real estate in Switzerland and art law.
  • MOLITOR expansion continues

    Luxembourg, 26 November 2014 - MOLITOR Avocats à la Cour, have continued expansion plans by announcing the recruitment of experienced litigator François Cautaerts. François comes to MOLITOR from Philippe & Partners as a partner, with Paulo Lopes Da Silva, in litigation and Dispute Resolution as well as specialising in Restructuring & Insolvency.