The Legal 500

South Korea

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Editorial

Overview

A significant amount of domestic activity in the Korean market over the past year has focused on the employment sector, in particular relating to the disputes arising from the jurisdiction’s singular ‘ordinary wage’ policies.

A number of class action lawsuits are currently pending before the Korean courts and the substantial retrospective wage pay-outs that could be ordered are potentially ruinous for small and medium sized companies. These companies are therefore choosing their counsel carefully, and many of the country’s biggest firms – including Lee & Ko and Kim & Chang – have been highly active in this area, as have Bae, Kim & Lee LLCYulchon, Yoon & Yang LLC and Shin & Kim.

Elsewhere, lawyers report a steady increase in outbound transactions and investment, fuelled largely by the importance the Korean government is now attaching to such activity. Korean companies are still mainly active in Asia and the US in this area, but European markets and projects are starting to be explored. There has also been a small spike in capital markets activity.

For foreign firms entering the market, the competition is stiff. A number are well positioned to compete with the domestic market leaders for cross-border corporate, banking and M&A work, but all are having to identify a USP to guarantee prosperity in the long term.

Firms in the spotlight

Press releases

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Legal Developments in South Korea

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • South Korea: Court Decisions Since the Supreme Court Rulings on Ordinary Wage

     
  • Court Decision on Collusion Case Regarding Compensation for Commission Rate Tied to Personal Life..

       Court Decision on Collusion Case Regarding Compensation for Commission Rate Tied to Personal Life Insurance Products   Following the Korea Fair Trade Commission (“KFTC”)’s correction order and imposition of administrative fines on December 15, 2011 against 16 life insurance companies for their engagement in unfair concerted action (cartel), consumers that purchased the insurance policies (the “Complainants”) brought a number of civil actions against these 16 life insurance companies.   On April 25, 2014, and on June 27, 2014, the Seoul Central District Court issued judgments on a number of these civil cases in favor of the life insurance companies on grounds that the aforementioned life insurance companies had not been conclusively found to have engaged in unfair concerted action.
  • Essilor’s Proposed Combination with an Optical Lens Maker in Korea is Blocked

    In its press release on March 17, 2014, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (the "KFTC") blocked the proposed acquisition of 50% shares by Essilor Amera Investment Pte. Ltd. (a subsidiary of Essilor International S.A., the largest optical lens maker in the world) in Daemyung Optical Co., Ltd. (the second largest optical lens maker in Korea) citing inter alia the likely lessening effect on price competition and the probable future abuses of the enhanced market power. On top of the expressed competitive concerns, the KFTC observed that allowing foreign firms to acquire local firms and turn them into their local sub-contractors worsens the competitive market structure of the domestic optical lens industry.
  • Recent Issues of Data Protection Regulation in Korea

    The Personal Information Protection Act ("PIPA") was enacted as a general law of personal information in March 2011 to fulfill the need for presiding rules to govern personal information protection. In fact, there have already been a number of special laws governing personal information protection in various special areas and cases, such as The Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization Information Protection ("Network Act") governing information and communications services, and the Use and Protection of Credit Information Act ("Credit Information Act") governing personal credit information. Special laws prevail over the general law, when in conflict with individual articles of the general law.
  • Comprehensive Measures to Protect Personal Data in the Financial Sector

    The following is a summary of the press releases made by the Financial Services Commission on 10 March 2014. These are action items and policies that the FSC and relevant ministries are seeking to implement. The following measures have developed from a series of measures previously announced since the data leakage from the three credit card companies were revealed last January.
  • Essilor’s Proposed Combination with an Optical Lens Maker in Korea is Blocked

    In its press release on March 17, 2014, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (the "KFTC") blocked the proposed acquisition of 50% shares by Essilor Amera Investment Pte. Ltd. (a subsidiary of Essilor International S.A., the largest optical lens maker in the world) in Daemyung Optical Co., Ltd. (the second largest optical lens maker in Korea) citing inter alia the likely lessening effect on price competition and the probable future abuses of the enhanced market power. On top of the expressed competitive concerns, the KFTC observed that allowing foreign firms to acquire local firms and turn them into their local sub-contractors worsens the competitive market structure of the domestic optical lens industry.
  • Ordinary Wage: After the 2013 Supreme Court Decision

    1. First Trial Court Decision on Employer's Good Faith Argument On December 18, 2013, the Supreme Court of Korea made an en banc decision that ordinary wage includes regularly paid fixed bonus amounts. The Supreme Court also expressly noted that if an employer is able to prove that (i) there is an agreement between the employer and the labor union that fixed bonuses are excluded from ordinary wages and (ii) paying employees for past underpayment of overtime wages will cause a substantial detriment to the management or a major threat to the existence of the company due to the unexpected financial burden, then employees' claims for past underpayment can be denied based on the principle of good faith. However, the Supreme Court did not provide specific criteria for such denial, which caused controversy over the definite scope of application of its judgment (please refer to our newsletter of December 19, 2013 in this regard).
  • Criminal Breach of Duty (Bae-im) under Korean Law

    Criminal breach of duty, or bae-im in Korean, is a typical crime on which owners, directors, officers or managers of corporations and businesses in Korea are frequently indicted. A person commits bae-im when he or she, in dealing with the affairs of another person, breaches his or her duty and obtains, or enables a third person to obtain, a pecuniary advantage through such breach, thereby causing a loss to the person to whom the duty is owed. Bae-im is similar to the concept of Untreue under German law, while bae-im is broader in scope than Untreue in that a mere attempt to commit bae-im is also punishable in Korea.
  • Greater Labor Protections for Non-regular Employees

    On September 19, 2014, the Act on Protection of Fixed-Term and Part-time Workers ("Temporary Workers Act") and the Act on Protection of Dispatch Workers ("Dispatch Workers Act") were amended to offer greater protections to non-regular workers. In particular, (i) employers will be subject to greater economic implications if they receive a corrective order for discriminatory treatment of non-regular workers and (ii) part-time workers will be entitled to receive compensation for any overtime work performed.
  • South Korea: Draft Act on Compensation and Relief of Environmental Pollution Damage

    The Korean Government has launched a government project to establish a system to compensate and insure against environmental pollution damage, and is pursuing the introduction of a legal relief system for environmental pollution damage. Such Government initiative is intended to address the current situation where environmental pollution accidents inflict serious damage on society due to the enormous amount of tax money that is required for curing the pollution, while companies that caused the accident sometimes go bankrupt because they cannot bear the financial burden of paying the compensation. Moreover, the victims of environmental pollution accidents are often unable to obtain proper compensation due to the burden of proving that their injury resulted from the pollution or due to the prolonged litigation process which is unavoidable in light of the nature of environmental pollution.

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
  • Russian industrialists and VEGAS LEX discuss development of procedural law with Supreme Court

    VEGAS LEX and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and chaired by Mikhail Fridman have discussed improvement of judicial procedure in Russia, also in the context of the new unified Civil Procedure Code Concept and the Code of Administrative Court Procedure now in the works. The event convened representatives of the Supreme Court, the Presidential State-Legal Directorate, the State Duma Committee on Civil, Criminal and Commercial Legislation, major industrial companies and legal experts.
  • Patrikios Pavlou & Associates LLC co-sponsored the CFA first seminar of the year, 6th & 9th March 20

    The Cyprus Fiduciary Association organized two (2) full-day seminars on the Role and Liabilities of Directors which were co-sponsored by Patrikios Pavlou & Associates LLC. The seminars took place at Cleopatra Hotel in Nicosia on March, 6 and at St. Raphael Hotel in Limassol on March 9 and were hailed with great success.
  • Baker & Partners Drive Best Practice for Local Trust Firms

    Baker & Partners have issued a Guidance Note covering the retirement, replacement and removal of trustees, with information of great relevance to Jersey’s legal community and the broader legal and financial sectors. 
  • Popov & Partners admitted as a member of Bulgarian Water Association

    At the beginning of April 2015 Popov & Partners was admitted as a corporate member of the Bulgarian Water Association (BWA) . BWA is the largest organization in Bulgaria that combines all WSS operators, trade companies and business consultants with focus on the management of the water resources and the development of the water-supply services in the country. In international aspect BWA has parnership relations with European Water Association and International Water Association and other international water organizations, whose activity reflects directly over the development of the water sector in global aspect.
  • Slovenia: Schoenherr advises Laško shareholders on a majority stake in Slovenian brewer to Heineken

    Schoenherr advised a consortium of owners of Pivovarna Laško, d.d. ("Laško"), Slovenia's leading brewery group, in the sale of their combined holdings of over 51% in Laško to Heineken International B.V., part of the Netherlands-based brewing group. The opening of final offers took place on 13 April 2015, with Heineken offering EUR 25.56 per share in Laško (translating into a total purchase price of approx. EUR 114 million for the 51.11% stake on sale). Following the selection of Heineken as best bidder, the respective share purchase agreement was signed in Ljubljana the same day. read more...
  • Popov & Partners admitted as a member of Bulgarian Water Association

    At the beginning of April 2015 Popov & Partners was admitted as a corporate member of the Bulgarian Water Association (BWA) . BWA is the largest organization in Bulgaria that combines all WSS operators, trade companies and business consultants with focus on the management of the water resources and the development of the water-supply services in the country. In international aspect BWA has parnership relations with European Water Association and International Water Association and other international water organizations, whose activity reflects directly over the development of the water sector in global aspect.
  • Austria: Arbitration expert Leon Kopecký joins Schoenherr as Counsel

    Leon Kopecký has joined Schoenherr, a leading full-service law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, as Counsel in March 2015. Mr Kopecký focuses on international commercial and investment arbitration, international litigation, and compliance matters. His clients are international firms in the construction, raw materials, infrastructure, finance, fashion and health care industries. He regularly advises clients on complex investment matters. read more...
  • HaoLiWen Selected by ALB as Finalist for Regulatory Compliance Law Firm of the Year

    HaoLiWen has been recently selected by ALB as the finalist for Regulatory Compliance Law Firm of the Year (2015), a market recognition of the regulatory compliance practice of HaoLiWen, which has a history of around ten years.
  • fwp advises UniCredit Bank Austria AG on the sale of Immobilien Holding portfolio

    Vienna, 16 January 2015. Business law firm Fellner Wratzfeld & Partners (fwp) advises UniCredit Bank Austria AG on the multi-stage structured sale of the real estate portfolio it holds via Immobilien Holding GmbH. read more...
  • fwp advises HETA on individual applications for review of special Hypo legislation

    Fellner Wratzfeld & Partner Rechtsanwaelte GmbH (fwp) represents HETA Asset Resolution AG (formerly HYPO Alpe-Adria Bank International AG) in connection with the judicial review proceedings before the Austrian Constitutional Court following the implementation of special Hypo legislation. The Constitutional Court has now rejected all individual applications filed by Austrian and international investors as inadmissible. Read more...