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  1. Shipping: foreign firms
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The team at Clyde & Co LLPbuilds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients’. Its joint law venture with Westlink Partnership is a major draw, allowing it to provide seamless coverage in China, including in litigation. In 2016 and 2017, it acted for a range of longstanding and new clients, which span all types of participants in the shipping industry, from shipowners, charterers and operators to banks. Ik Wei Chong has ‘profound legal knowledge and professional skills, and is diligent to observe clients’ needs’. Andrew Rourke, who splits his time between the Shanghai and Guildford offices, and associate Flora Tang are also recommended. Canming Wang made partner in December 2016.

The ‘very responsive and professional’ team at HFW covers the gamut of shipping matters. On the contentious side, it has substantial experience in high-profile disputes across the region and beyond; Shanghai-based partner and master mariner Julian Davies recently acted for Shagang Shipping Company in complex proceedings in the London High Court governed by English law. The Greater China practice has expanded in recent years, with recent hires including associate Thilo Jahn, who joined from Thomas Cooper LLP in October 2016, while associate Kate Fisher transferred to Hong Kong from the London office. In another development, the firm obtained approval for its formal association with PRC firm Wintell & Co Law Firm. Nick Poynder ‘exhibits commercial savvy and cross-border know-how’. Henry Fung, who splits his time between the Shanghai and Hong Kong office, is another key figure.

The ‘strong team of lawyers’ at Ince & Co is highlighted for its ‘prompt responses’ and ‘dedication’. The firm’s reputation in the shipping sphere precedes it, where the broad practice takes in contentious and non-contentious dry shipping work, ship finance, admiralty, shipbuilding and marine insurance matters. During 2016 and 2017, the team represented a range of new and longstanding clients, including leading banks, finance leasing companies and international shipping companies. Names to note include newly promoted partner Fei Mao, noted for her ‘strong professional knowledge’ and ‘practical approach’; multilingual Beijing office head Wai Yue Loh, who is active in shipping, international trade and insurance work; and Shanghai office head Paul Ho, who is dual-qualified in Hong Kong and England and Wales. At the associate level, significant praise is levelled at Zeldar Wang and Shirley Li.

Wikborg Rein’s China shipping practice remains buoyant; it holds a unique position as the largest non-UK specialist shipping law firm in the Asian market, and the development of its English law practice has led to an increase in international work. The team saw an uptick in casualty work in 2016, with Yafeng Sun taking a lead role in numerous cases, representing the firm’s insurance clients in investigations and settlements following collisions. Among an extensive list of recent disputes, Ronin Zong and London-based partner Clare Calnan represented a Chinese shipyard in a dispute with a Singaporean shipowner regarding an offshore vessel’s conversion contract. Managing partner of the Shanghai office Christian James-Olsen is another key contact.

DLA Piper expanded at associate level, with the hires of Zhao Rong Ooi from an in-house position at Skuld P&I and Desmond Cheung from Fangda Partners. The shipping practice operates from the Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong offices, the latter of which houses a large proportion of the team. On the contentious side, the group has extensive experience in cross-border shipping-related litigation and arbitration. Ernest Yang recently represented Better Marine in a claim against the seller of 17 vessels before the Hong Kong High Court. Roy Chan and Kevin Chan are the managing partners of the Shanghai and Hong Kong offices, respectively.

With a broad office network, Norton Rose Fulbright’s geographic coverage extends beyond China, allowing it to handle regional and global shipping matters in conjunction with colleagues in Asia and elsewhere. Recently, it has been particularly active in sale and leaseback transactions, where it has an impressive market share. Its client base includes leading international banks, and the firm also acts for major Chinese financial lessors. Jonathan Silver leads the shipping practice from Hong Kong, where dispute resolution expert Jim James is also based. They were joined by master mariner Peter Glover, who transferred from the London office in 2017, further expanding the firm’s casualty response capabilities in the region. In Shanghai, banking and finance specialist Fei Kwok is a key name.

The ‘responsive and knowledgeable’ shipping practice at Stephenson Harwood significantly bolstered its China practice through the establishment of an association with Wei Tu Law Firm in Guangzhou, while major developments in the firm’s Shanghai office included the hire of Vincent Xu from Ince & Co, and the strategic relocation of Evangeline Quek from Hong Kong. Ship finance is a particular strength of the team, where senior associate Janice Lee has an active practice. Andrew Rigden Green heads the marine and international trade team from Hong Kong. Associate Brian Yoo is also recommended.

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