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South Korea’s economy is heavily reliant on the country’s family-owned conglomerates, known as chaebols; Samsung alone is estimated to account for 20% of the country’s economy. As a result, work for these clients forms a significant proportion of law firms’ workloads, with firms benefitting from the recent trend among the chaebols to divest of non-core assets, generating an uptick in M&A instructions. Private equity activity has also noticeably increased, with the standout deal for 2016 the $6bn sale of Tesco’s Homeplus business to a consortium led by Asian private equity firm MBK Partners. Although some sectors of the Korean economy are flourishing, the ongoing struggles within the Korean shipbuilding industry has led some to question its future; Daewoo, Hyundai Heavy and Samsung Heavy all posted record losses in 2015, and 2016 looks to continue the downward trend on profitability.
The domestic legal market is led by the so-called ‘Big Six’, which comprises Kim & Chang, Lee & Ko, Bae, Kim & Lee LLC, Shin & Kim, Yulchon and Yoon & Yang LLC. New domestic law firm openings are rare in the Korean market, however in September 2015 KL Partners was established by partners previously at Shin & Kim, and is, along with Jipyong, expected to challenge the traditional hegemony in the market. In other developments, Korean law firms are continuing to establish bases outside of Korea, with Lee & Ko opening an office in Vietnam and Bae, Kim & Lee LLC launching in Myanmar in August 2016.
South Korea remains an attractive prospect for international law firms, with Allen & Overy LLP Foreign Legal Consultant Office opening in September 2015, and Latham & Watkins LLP’s application – in February 2016 – for a licence to open a foreign legal consultant office.
Firms in the spotlight
Cho & Partners
Cho & Partners was established in 2002 by two senior attorneys who decided to leave a large firm environment to create a more focused, efficient and responsive practice. Based on the reputation and capabilities of the founding members, as well as the established trust and loyalty of their clients, Cho & Partners was immediately active in representing multinational clients. The firm’s clients are among the most recognised names and leaders in various business sectors, such as software and technology, retail, luxury goods and fashion, and energy.
Lee & Ko
With more than 30 years’ experience as Korea’s leading full-service law firms, Lee & Ko has a widely recognised and long-established record of excellence in providing expert legal advice and representation to its diverse clientèle in domestic and international matters involving all areas of legal practice.
GC Powerlist -
Australia and New Zealand
Recognising in-house innovation, quality and excellence, the GC Powerlist: Australia and New Zealand identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in these two jurisdictions.
MoreGC Powerlist - Asia Pacific
The Legal 500 Asia Pacific - Insight reports
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Much earlier than expected, on September 12, 2016, the Korean government notified the Hong Kong government of the Korean National Assembly’s ratification of the Korea–Hong Kong Tax Treaty (“Treaty”). On September 27, 2016, the Treaty entered into force.
KFTC Begins to Enforce the Amended Consumer Dispute Resolution Standard to Reinforce Consumer Protection
On July 28, 2016, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance (“MOSF”) announced the proposed tax law amendments for 2017. MOSF has submitted the draft tax law amendment to the National Assembly.
Korea’s Environment Ministry Preparing Tougher and More Expansive Regulations for Chemical Substances & Products
On March 16, 2016, the Patent Court published its “Guidelines Regarding Appeals of IP Infringement Actions” (“Guidelines”).
On July 28, 2016, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance (“MOSF”) announced the annual proposal to amend the tax law for 2017 (the “Proposal”). The Proposal was submitted to the National Assembly on 2 September 2016.- Lee & Ko
- Enforcement Decree to the Fair Retail Agency Transactions Act- Lee & Ko
Proposed Amendment to the Enforcement Decree of PIPA
To date, most issuance of bonds in the Korean capital markets has been focused on the public market, but in regard to issuance of bonds in the public market, there is an obligation to file a securities registration statement for investor protection purposes and there are broad disclosure obligations even during the period of secondary distribution and trading of such securities.
On July 28, 2016, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced its proposed tax law amendments for 2016. According to the proposal, the revisions are aimed at increasing the engines for growth and promoting fairness in taxation in accordance with the mid- to long-term tax policy initiatives of the government. The proposed amendments are expected to come into effect on January 1, 2017 pending approval by the National Assembly.
NautaDutilh assisted Raizen Fuels Finance S.A., as issuer on its USD 500 million 5.3% senior notes offering which successfully closed on 20th January. The issuer is part of the Brazilian Raizen group, the world largest individual producer of sugar cane. The Raizen group also operates a network of more than 5,800 Shell-branded stations in Brazil.
Goltsblat BLP , the Russian practice of international law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), has advised ICBC International Leasing , the leasing subsidiary of the world’s biggest financial group, on delivery of six Airbus A321-211 aircraft to Aeroflot.
Seriously offending one’s work colleagues constitutes good cause justifying exceptional notice of dismissal with immediate effect. That was the verdict of the Landesarbeitsgericht (LAG) Rheinland-Pfalz [Regional Labour Court of Rhineland-Palatinate] (Az.: 4 Sa 350/15).
It is possible for the removal of a company from the commercial register to be instigated by the competent authorities due to a lack of assets. Those who wish to oppose such a move should act immediately.
The managing director of a GmbH, a type of German private limited company, is exposed to considerable liability risks. Legal advice ought to be urgently sought to minimize these risks as well as in the event of something happening that raises the issue of liability.
13 February, 2017
If a GmbH, a type of German private limited company, wishes to part company with a manging director, simply dismissing him won’t cut it. The managing director also needs to be removed from his post.