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Hong Kong > Dispute resolution > International arbitration > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution: international arbitration
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Sheila Ahuja - Allen & Overy
    • Ben Yates - RPC
    • Thomas Walsh - Clifford Chance
    • Yan Zhang - Sidley Austin

Who Represents Who

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Handling investment treaty and commercial arbitrations for states and businesses, Allen & Overyprovides an excellent overall level of service, with very good response times’. Practice head Matthew Gearing QC and Frances van Eupen acted for Reliance Industries and BG Exploration & Production India in a London-seated arbitration regarding profit sharing in production-sharing contracts concerning oilfields off the west coast of India. In other work, Gearing and Matthew Hodgson successfully represented Baggerwerken Decloedt En Zoon in an ICSID claim against the Philippine government, securing the first-ever award against the government. In addition, Hodgson works with offices across the firm’s international network in several multibillion-dollar investment arbitrations for the Pakistani government, one over the rights to mine a gold and copper deposit in Balochistan and another regarding the arrest of several powerships stationed in the Arabian Sea to generate electricity for Karachi. Other clients include major banks. ‘Standout’ of counsel Sheila Ahuja is ‘star material: she is extremely sharp, works hard and is very personable’. At associate level, Joanne Lau is ‘very dedicated and thorough’.

The ‘excellent’ team at Clifford Chanceprovides responses to questions in a timely and organised fashion, taking into account the commercial considerations and not just focussing on esoteric points of law’. The firm handles China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) arbitrations heard by leading arbitrators covering a range of commercial matters, civil fraud and shareholder disputes, alongside investment treaty arbitration. Practice head Cameron Hassall is ‘an excellent strategist – he is calm, hands-on and gives succinct and practical responses’, and consultant Romesh Weeramantry provides investor-state dispute firepower. Ling Ho, who has intellectual property experience, is ‘particularly good, based on her rich experiences and insights in to what clients require’, and consultant Thomas Walsh is also a name of note. Senior associate Yvonne Shek is ‘particularly impressive – responsive, clear, commercial and understanding of what clients need’.

Herbert Smith Freehills, ‘a team with excellent strength in depth’, is for some ‘the leading firm in Hong Kong for international arbitration’. May Tai and Simon Chapman are key contacts, handling a range of disputes including those covering oil and gas. Global head of dispute resolution and regional managing partner for Asia Justin D’Agostino represents claimants in investor-state disputes, and South-East Asia managing partner Alastair Henderson is also a key contact. In recent personnel developments, Kathryn Sanger joined from Clifford Chance, Elizabeth Poulos arrived from the firm’s Brisbane office and Brenda Horrigan moved to the Sydney office. Clients include leading names in the telecoms, oil and gas, banking and hotel sectors.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s practice, headed by John Choong and also including senior associate Eric Chan, handles challenging cross-border finance, joint venture and M&A disputes, often with Chinese aspects, frequently working with the firm’s other offices. Many cases handled by the team are ICC disputes, but it also has experience of Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) arbitrations, as well as matters heard at Chinese centres.

The ‘exceptional’ team at King & Wood Mallesons includes ‘partners who have been names in the market for two decades and exhibit both local and international knowledge’. The firm has a particularly strong portfolio of China-related work, including representation of Chinese state-owned enterprises, covering CIETAC arbitrations as well as those based in Singapore and Hong Kong. Paul Starr and Edmund Wan ‘stay close to their clients, providing strategic commercial, legal and definitive advice – they are not afraid to stick their necks’. Barbara Chiu is also a key contact at partner level. Donovan Ferguson, a new recruit from Ashurst, is also recommended, as is Peter Bullock, who contributes telecoms disputes expertise and joined from Pinsent Masons.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s Hong Kong arbitration practice covers disputes governed by ICC, SIAC and UNCITRAL rules, covering M&A disputes, borrower-lender matters and construction projects, among other issues. Alfred Wu brings an engineering background to disputes involving construction and large infrastructure projects, while Camille Jojo is a key contact for banking and corporate disputes. In the consultant ranks, arbitrator Phillip Nunn is a name to note, as is Jim James, who handles disputes ranging from fraud through to shipping matters. Benjamin Ridgeon is an of counsel of note, while key senior associates include Kevin Hong and Michael Chik.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s team handles a range of disputes with a particular strength in those concerning technology and media, but also including M&A and real estate disputes. Rory McAlpine is ‘a serious presence’, who has ‘a very good practical sense of how to strategise, which is especially useful in drawn-out shareholder disputes’. The team now includes the well-known Chiann Bao, who joined the firm in 2016 from a role as secretary-general of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. Other areas of expertise include enforcing arbitral awards in Hong Kong and mainland China. Wilfred Ho is ‘a promising associate who is sharp beyond his years’.

Baker McKenzie’s Greater China international arbitration practice, now headed by Paul Teo, who joined in January 2017 from Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee in Singapore. It handles a range of Hong Kong arbitrations covering all manners of commercial disputes such as joint venture disputes and banking matters, some of which are against a backdrop of insolvencies, covered by a range of different governing laws. Gary Seib, Mini vandePol and Kwun Yee Cheung are also partners of note in the practice. Soo Khim Keoy was promoted to the partnership in July 2017.

The team at Bird & Bird provides ‘an excellent level of service, especially with regards to responsiveness and insightfulness’. Richard Keady is singled out ‘for his analytical capacity and ability to convey highly complex problems in an easily understandable way’ – his work includes high-stakes joint venture disputes and commodities matters, frequently with mainland Chinese connections. Robert Rhoda, who has a particular following among Korean clients and private equity managers, represented a Singaporean private equity firm in an arbitration with a co-owner of one of its portfolio companies, an electronics manufacturer, which ran in parallel with litigation in the British Virgin Islands.

Deacons represents international clients in arbitrations in Hong Kong and elsewhere, covering construction and infrastructure disputes and well as some natural resources matters. Construction disputes are a particular area of note, where key matters are led by Joseph Chung and Kwok Kit Chueng, who on top of his arbitration work, represented a Chinese insurance company in court proceedings to defend an application by two businesses to set aside an ICC arbitral award. Robert Clark is also highly regarded. Mongolia Energy Corporation is a client.

Hogan Lovells’ team is ‘very good and frequently considered for arbitral appointments’. James Kwan and Timothy Hill handle complex disputes regarding energy, infrastructure and construction, while Owen Chan and Mark Lin are also key contacts. Damon So, a qualified engineer, adds extra firepower to the construction offering. Clients include leading Japanese and Korean industrial players, as well as international banks and institutional investors. Senior associate Mariel Dimsey, who is qualified in Australia, is a name of note for investment arbitration matters.

Ince & Co handles a range of disputes including shipping and commodities matters, ranging from commodity sales though to debt recovery and cargo matters. Max Cross, Rosita Lau and Rory Macfarlane lead heavyweight mandates. Geographically, clients range from mainland Chinese and other Asian clients, as well as European and US players.

At Latham & Watkins LLP, ‘the quality of the firm’s product and responsiveness to the task truly demonstrates its depth of expertise’. The firm primarily handles HKIAC arbitrations, but also some SIAC and ICC disputes, involving manufacturing, intellectual property, finance and M&A transactions. Ing Loong Yang is ‘able to give timely, sound and commercially oriented advice thanks to his wide experience of arbitration’; he also acts as an HKIAC, CIETAC and ICC arbitrator. On the counsel side, he recently represented Great Wall Pan Asia International Investment in a HKIAC arbitration over a loan to the chairman of a Hong Kong-listed company. Simon Powell represents Trajectory, a US e-book start-up, after the collapse of a business alliance with a Chinese partner which sought to compete with it and allegedly used a shared director to provide inside information. Other clients include South Asian Transport Services Company, which Yang acted for in a SIAC arbitration over the sale of a helicopter, and a number of Chinese state-owned companies.

Shearman & Sterling provides ‘excellent legal analysis and strong business strength, giving workable and efficient advice in the light of the clients’ best interests’. Nils Eliasson, who divides his time between Hong Kong and Beijing, is ‘very experienced and on top of the facts of his cases’; he represents a range of Asian clients, some of which from mainland China, in Hong Kong and Singapore arbitrations concerning joint ventures, infrastructure, construction and energy. Associate Fang Wu ‘has great people skills and is a solid drafter – she learns the case facts quickly’.

Sidley Austin has grown its practice through the recruitment of a number of lawyers from O'Melveny. Friven Yeoh, for example, handles a range of Hong Kong arbitrations, often concerning mainland China, allegations of civil fraud and real estate investments. Yeoh is a big name in the market, and key counsels in his team include Desmond Ang and Yan Zhang.

Baker Botts L.L.P.’s Philip Georgiou represents a range of Asian clients, including leading Korean construction companies, in matters concerning renewables and hydrocarbon energy, as well as manufacturing and infrastructure. Phillip Georgiou and Sonny Payne have left the firm to set up their own boutique practice.

CMS entered the Hong Kong market in September 2016, with the transfer of Nicolas Wiegand from the firm’s Munich office. Wiegand represents a range of clients, many of them leading German names in their sectors, in arbitrations worldwide concerning construction, infrastructure, intellectual property and M&A.

The ‘professional’ lawyers at DLA Piperalways provide quick advice and use their experience to give valuable advice’. Ernest Yang has ‘a good common law background and experience in dispute resolution – his strength is to tease the frame of the case and decide on a winning strategy’; he represented Pacific Crest in a dispute regarding a failure to deliver two platform supply vessels. In another case, Ashley Bell acted for the liquidators of a geophysical survey company in an arbitration against its creditors. Other highlights concern telecoms, aviation, shipping and commodities matters. At associate level, Yuki Chan is ‘a good communicator with clients and can easily grasp what they need’.

Mayer Brown JSM is ‘highly experienced in international arbitration’, including construction, commercial, investment fund and joint venture disputes. Key partners include John Hickin, Bill Amos and practice head Menachem Hasofer.

O'Melveny’s practice head Denis Brock is ‘exceptional – the service level is very high and the attention to detail is remarkable’. The firm has expertise in cases ranging from shipping through to commodities, with a number of cases involving strong technology links. Counsel Kieran Humphrey is also a key contact. Friven Yeoh is now at Sidley Austin.

With experience representing mainland Chinese and international businesses, RPC is active in a range of disputes, often concerning mainland China, heard before both the HKIAC as well as mainland Chinese centres. Key lawyers leading mandates include Gary Yin and Andrew Horton, who has expertise in shipping matters. Yin also accepts arbitral appointments, and is a member of the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration panel. Jonathan Cary relocated to the firm’s London office.

Reed Smith Richards Butler’s Hong Kong practice represents parties in commodities and joint venture disputes in Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as award enforcement litigation. William Barber and Asha Sharma are key contacts.

The lawyers at Squire Patton Boggsdo a great job; they learn quickly and provide timely responses’. Practice head Peter Chow represents Chinese businesses and those in disputes against them, regarding intellectual property, financing and infrastructure. Geographically, arbitrations handled by the firm span Hong Kong, Singapore and further afield. Clients include the International Finance Corporation, Power China Road and Bridge Corporation, and Guangdong Dapeng LNG.

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