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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.
Benefits-Plaza offers an Employee Benefits platform for administration and communication relating to insurable employment conditions. By using this platform, insurers and brokers achieve efficiency, time and cost savings. Regardless of where the insured schemes are hosted, all arrangements can be managed in the platform, such as all types of pension schemes, group disability, absenteeism, accidents and medical expenses. Benefits-Plaza has years of experience and built up a strong position with leading clients, including Avéro Achmea, Allianz, Aegon, Delta Lloyd and Zwitserleven.- AKD
Employers ought not to rely on the rules of intestate succession but instead prepare a will. The law firm GRP Rainer has extensive experience in business succession planning.
Partner Emma Pitcher is quoted in World Intellectual Property Review’s (WIPR) feature about the “Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Mapping the Economic Impact Findings” report released by the OECD and the European Union Intellectual Property Office.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamt, has brought a close to the so-called “Schienenfall” (rail case) and imposed a fine amounting to millions of euros on a rail company for illegal price-fixing agreements.
The new regulation concerning European Union trade marks is set to come into force on March 23, 2016. What has hitherto been known as a Community trade mark will then become a European Union trade mark.
Kinanis Opens New Office in Shanghai China
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the communications network linking physical objects and allowing them to exchange information without the need for human intervention. It is expected that many new businesses will be set up to create and use IoT technology, introducing new companies to the telecommunications industry, alongside the many and varied existing participants.
Chambers & Partners has published the latest edition of its guide this month, and we are pleased to announce that Karanović & Nikolić has once again been included in its list of the best legal practices in the world.
RSPP and VEGAS LEX have discussed the consequences of the planned compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals in the context of growing competition, antitrust regulation and other restrictions in the regulation of intellectual property rights at a roundtable with the participation of FAS Russia.
In a recent statement to the press, the Slovenian Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, labelled the Serbian spas as great tourism potentials and 'undiscovered gems', before continuing to declare Slovenian interest for investing in them. According to him, this investment would not be purely financial, as it would also include the investment of Slovenian industry know-how in the process of developing and upgrading the spa offer in Serbia, as a response to emerging health trends and increasing spa vacation demands.