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South Korea > Legal market overview
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South Korea’s domestic market remains sluggish, with lawyers reporting slim pickings on the M&A and capital markets fronts. In contrast, firms report an uptick in outbound transactions, and a marked increase in shipping finance. Also, more corporate private auctions are taking place as holding companies seek to sell off subsidiaries.
Outside the transactional arena, employment continues to be a busy area as companies seek to navigate South Korea’s idiosyncratic employment laws; and the ongoing Apple v Samsung patent litigation in relation to smartphones and software continues to generate headlines.
The South Korean market opened up to foreign firms in 2012, with a number taking the opportunity to open an office in the jurisdiction. Linklaters joins Allen & Overy, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Paul Hastings LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in the top tier of foreign firms this year; all have offices in the country except Allen & Overy, which continues to serve the jurisdiction from Hong Kong.
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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.
On March 12, 2014, the Commissioners of the Korea Fair Trade Commission ("KFTC") approved a consent decree with Korea's major Internet portal companies, Naver and Naver Business Platform (collectively "Naver") and Daum Communications ("Daum"). This was the first time since its introduction that a consent decree was used to conclude a case before the KFTC. With this consent decree, the KFTC's investigation of Naver and Daum for their alleged abuse of market dominance ended without any finding of liability.
Recent regulatory developments in the ever-changing broadcasting environment are summarized below.
On October 28, 2013, the Financial Services Commission (the “FSC”) announced an accounting system reformation plan related to the amendment to the Act on External Audit of Stock Companies (the “Plan”) aiming primarily at improving transparency of limited companies ( yuhan heosa ) and non-listed large company’s accounting system.
As noted in our previous issue, the Act on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (K-REACH) and Chemicals Control Act (CCA) were recently enacted. Below are some of the key updates on K-REACH and CCA.
On November 27, 2013, the Korea Fair Trade Commission ("KFTC") agreed to apply for the first time the consent decree process in its investigation of Naver and Naver Business Platform (jointly, "Naver") and Daum Communications ("Daum") for their alleged violations of Korea's Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Law ("FTL").
On February 18, 2014, the Ministry of Environment of Korea ("MoE") announced an advance notice for the draft subordinate statutes of the K-REACH and Chemicals Control Act ("CCA"). Provided below are the key provisions of the legislation that is to take effect on January 1, 2015.
Ordinary wage, the standard in assessing compensation for overtime, nighttime and holiday work and unused annual leaves, refers to any money paid regularly, uniformly and on a fixed basis. On December 18, 2013, the Supreme Court rendered two full bench decisions on the scope of ordinary wage. Kim & Chang represented the Defendant-Appellant Kabul Autotech in both cases, in which the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the lower courts in favor of the Defendant-Appellant and remanded the cases.
Further to the Personal Information Protection Act ( PIPA ), the comprehensive data privacy law passed in March 2011 which will take effect on September 30, 2011, 1 the government has unveiled draft regulations to flesh out a number of the applicable requirements and standards. The drafts of the Enforcement Decree and the Enforcement Regulations, published on May 24, 2011, include significant requirements relating to data security, which, like other provisions, apply to any entity that handles personal information files for work purposes (referred to as “data handlers” below). Also now spelled out are various details concerning consent requirements, website sign-up rules, video camera restrictions, use of third party data handlers, reporting of leaks, and collective dispute mediation.
On September 25, 2014, the VEGAS LEX law firm, the VEB Innovations Fund and the Innovation and R&D Directors Club (IR&D club), organized a roundtable conference, Corporation - Startup: Reaching for Mutually Beneficial Cooperation . The event was supported by Russian Venture Company.
On September 18, 2014, the Federal Road Agency (Rosavrodor) Board met in Sochi before the Sochi-2014 International Investment Forum. The VEGAS LEX experts attended the meeting.
On 12 September 2014, AstapovLawyers has held a Compliance Workshop for employees of Energoatom, a national nuclear energy generating company.
AstapovLawyers has successfully represented Delta Bank, one of the major Ukrainian banks, in a USD 71 million dispute against a Ukrainian tycoon, an owner of a significant agricultural group of companies in Ukraine.
Kyiv, 23 September 2014 - Ivan Lishchyna , Counsel, has taken part in the conference and students seminar "The relationship between alternative dispute resolution and ordinary courts: New trends in the Ukraine, Germany, Poland and other countries" organized in terms of collaboration with Institute for Eastern European Law, Munich. The event took place in the Institute of Legislation of the Verchovna Rada of Ukraine on September 8 - 10, 2014.
This briefing is intended to provide a general overview of some of the issues to be considered by trustees of Guernsey trusts and their advisers when foreign couples connected with the trust divorce.
In January 2014 - July 2014 Zavadetskyi Advocates advised and represented a Canadian citizen who had been imprisoned in Ukraine for serious crime and criminal investigation against whom raised many questions as to its integrity and impartiality. Along with their client, Zavadetskyi Advocates also advised a US charitable institution that provides social services internationally to people in crisis situations. The client has been released from the sentence several years before time and was able to leave Ukraine.
As one of the leading global jurisdictions for structuring foreign direct investment (FDI), Luxembourg has developed a sophisticated framework to enable the financing of such investments.
Azmi & Associates recently advised Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (‘FGVH') in a corporate transaction via its subsidiary, Felda Global Ventures Downstream Sdn. Bhd. (‘FGVD') in a joint venture agreement involving two other parties namely M2 Capital Sdn Bhd. (‘M2 Capital') and Benefuel International Holdings S.A.R.L. (‘Benefuel') which is a subsidiary of Benefuel US, through which an SPV will be incorporated to acquire a biodiesel plant. The JV company has agreed to acquire a biodiesel plant ("Plant") located at Gebeng, in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia from Mission Biofuels Sdn. Bhd. (‘MBSB') for a USD twenty two million and five hundred thousand (USD 22,500,000.00) (‘Plant Acquisition') under a Plant Purchase Agreement. The shareholding of FGVD, M2 Capital and Benefuel in the JV Company shall be 60% for FGVD, 20% for M2 Capital and 20% for Benefuel. The estimated project cost for the proposed joint venture including the Plant Acquisition, licensing costs, purchase of catalyst, refurbishment and retrofit shall be USD forty seven million and five hundred thousand (USD 47,500,000.00). The nature of business of the JV Company shall be manufacturing and producing biodiesel using the retrofitted Plant and other ancillary activities.