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Hong Kong > Legal market overview
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Hong Kong’s legal market has undergone profound change over the last decade. Firms have experienced structural and cultural changes, with the value of China-facing lawyers growing considerably. Firms looking to tap into the dynamic Chinese economy and its further potential have identified language skills and a cultural affinity with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a pre-requisite.
The cadre of Western expatriates is still evident in Hong Kong, but some wonder whether their days are numbered. It is notable that the partnership ranks in most of the leading firms are filling steadily with Hong Kong locals and PRC natives. Naturally Western expatriates are gradually being squeezed out, retiring or relocating. Notable lateral hires that illustrate this include Kirkland & Ellis’ hire of PRC private equity star Gary Li from Ropes & Gray LLP. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Hong Kong) also hired PRC native and equity capital markets specialist Shuang Zhao from Shearman & Sterling LLP.
At the same time, firms in Hong Kong are increasingly reliant on their PRC rainmakers situated over the border. For instance, Clifford Chance’s flourishing Hong Kong initial public offering practice is thanks in part to the connections of Beijing partner Tim Wang and his colleagues.
While Hong Kong, Greater China and Asia Pacific offer significant rewards to firms that are able to successfully execute their strategies, the environment is not for the faint hearted. In 2015, leading Wall Street firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson closed its Hong Kong office, having launched it in 2006. It was a timely reminder that despite a global economic recovery and China’s emergence as an economic superpower, Hong Kong is still a brutally tough spot for firms to succeed. Competition is more intense than almost anywhere else in the world and partner remuneration is commensurate with many firms’ over-zealous enthusiasm to carve out a share of the market. At the same time, because competition is so fierce, charge-out rates often become a race to the bottom. As a consequence, partner remuneration and office profit margins rarely reach a satisfactory equilibrium.
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In a recent speech given by Mr. Carlson Tong, Chairman of the Securities and Futures Commission, Mr. Tong pointed out that companies can improve corporate governance by attaching higher importance to the role of their board of directors as an internal gatekeeper. Mr. Tong said that this can be done more easily by having effective independent non-executive directors (INEDs) on the board.
Authorities in Hong Kong have taken further steps in their deliberate approach to enforcing the Competition Ordinance. A little over a year after it was appointed, the Competition Commission released a report in which it provides a brief introduction to the Ordinance as well as a roadmap leading to its full entry into force. The report also explains how the Commission will prioritise its enforcement activities, and identifies the guidelines, policies and compliance tools which it plans to release before the Ordinance is enforced. Currently only some of the institutional provisions of the Ordinance are effective, allowing the Commission and the Competition Tribunal to prepare for enforcement.
The Hong Kong Competition Ordinance was enacted by the Legislative Council in June 2012. You can download our briefing here .
A recent Hong Kong case reminded us of the importance of getting things right when executing documents in virtual closings, particularly in relation to deeds.
After years of debate, on 14 June 2012 and in its last days of office, the Legislative Council finally enacted Hong Kong’s first cross- sector competition law.
The Hong Kong Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance Has Been Amended: Are Your Data Protection PracticesThe Personal Data (Privacy) Amendment Ordinance (the "Amendment Ordinance") was passed on 27 June 2012.
The Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China (“MOFCOM”) passed the Provisional Measures on the Investigation and Handling of Concentrations between Business Operators which were Not Notified in accordance with the Law (the “Provisional Measures”) on 30 December 2011, and uploaded them on its website on 5 January 2012.
will it emerge (relatively) unscathed or is its very survival threatened?
Article by Timothy Loh and Sherry Xiao
The meltdown in global financial markets has triggered a consolidation of the financial services industry as securities firms, asset managers, insurers and banks alike spin-off assets and restructure their operations to shore up capital. These transactions are often global in nature, involving substantial Hong Kong operations. In this article, we review the basic Hong Kong legal and regulatory framework for these transactions and present some lessons learned.
A testator who makes a gift during his lifetime may give rise to tax advantages. However, any gifts need to be taken into account when calculating the compulsory portion.
Montenegrin media outlets have recently reported that the initial phase of the tender for the pre-qualification procedure in awarding the concession for the Kotor-Lovćen-Cetinje cableway – announced on 3 August in the Official Gazette of Montenegro – will be open to interested parties until 5 October this year. The president of the Tender Commission, Daliborka Pejović, pointed out that seven potential concessionaires have so far shown great interest for submitting the required documentation in the pre-qualification stage.
Karanović & Nikolić is pleased to have advised on the recent public procurement case in which our client – the seller – provided the City of Belgrade with five new electric buses for the city's public transport system. The team that led the client throughout the process was represented by Marjan Poljak, Partner, and Ana Stanković, Senior Associate.
Recent news reports from Bosnia tell us that the BiH government, represented by the federal prime minister for economic issues and investments, Suvad Osmanagić, paid a visit to Bihać with Ludovico Camozzi, the president and owner of Camozzi – an Italian company that produces industrial automation machinery.
Ever since Serbia’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU (‘SAA’) entered into force in September 2013, Serbian media have paid significant attention to the country’s obligations concerning the acquisition of agricultural land by foreigners. The fear of one part of the public appears to be that, due to the application of the SAA, large portions of Serbian agricultural land will be sold out to foreigners.
This article was initially featured in CEE Legal Matters, June 2016 edition.
Claims arising from a D&O (Directors & Officers) insurance policy can be ceded to the employer. That was the verdict of the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), Germany’s Federal Court of Justice, in its ruling of April 13, 2016 (Az.: IV ZR 304/13).
According to latest media reports, the governments of Serbia and Bulgaria have agreed on the formulation of a new memorandum for the task of building a gas pipeline between the two countries, during a recent meeting of the group for gas connections in Central and South East Europe that was held in Budapest.
An interesting news update has recently come up in the media, as the Serbian roads company "Putevi Srbije", and the Ministry of Construction, Transport, and Infrastructure – together with the representatives of the relevant institutions in Romania – announced that a contract on implementing a cross border project of building the Belgrade-Timisoara highway is due to be signed in the next two weeks.
Media reports are letting us know that the "Serbia - A Strategic Crossroads between Western and Eastern Europe," conference was held in Paris on 15 September, where the French companies were presented with the political and economic environment in Serbia, as well as with the ensuing investment opportunities and the possibility of financing economic projects.