Dispute resolution: Arbitration: foreign firms in China

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP’s international arbitration department in Shanghai operates seamlessly alongside its counterpart in Hong Kong, Perth and Singapore; in addition, the firm’s domestic firepower on the ground also benefits from its formalised joint operation with Lang Yue Law Firm. The group is equally experienced in commercial and investment treaty arbitration. It is particularly prominent in the energy disputes space, though its recent workload demonstrates a strength in the manufacturing and financial services sectors. Practice head Jane Jiang is dual-qualified in Hong Kong and the UK, and so is Hong Kong-based Matthew Hodgson, whose additional qualifications include being a qualified New York attorney. In the spring of 2021, former department lead Matthew Gearing departed to join Fountain Court Chambers in London.

Practice head(s):

Jane Jiang

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Hodgson

Key clients

The Republic of Korea

Work highlights

  • Advising a PRC technology company on a $100m HKIAC arbitration commenced by a US claimant concerning a technology transfer agreement and alleged patent infringement.
  • Advising a leading Chinese media and entertainment company on a dispute brought under a shareholder agreement and a share purchase agreement concerning an alleged failure to honour a redemption request.
  • Acting for a global semiconductor manufacturer on issues arising out of a joint venture company formed between it and an entity on behalf of the municipal government of a Chinese province.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

A go-to destination for high-stakes commercial arbitration, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP boasts a notably active practice across mainland China and Hong Kong; its local offering is additionally strengthened through its seamless collaboration with Kewei Law Firm in Shanghai. In addition, the team is adept at collaborating on a cross-office basis with the firm’s arbitration specialists worldwide, including at other arbitration hubs such as London and Singapore; Shanghai-based Helen Tang stands out for her recent multi-jurisdictional work in the financial services sector. For more demanding e-discovery assignments, the department is also able to draw on the expertise of the firm’s dedicated alternative legal technology groups. Multiple team members, including Hong Kong-based practice head Simon Chapman QC, are noted for their oral advocacy abilities complemented by fluency in Mandarin and other key languages. In December 2020, Champan was also promoted to regional head of the wider dispute resolution group across Asia. Further, adjusting well to the clients’ needs arising in relation to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the team is well versed in disputes in the infrastructure sector; global construction group co-head Hew Kian Heong is among the country’s most experienced specialists in this space. Additional sectors of focus include energy, oil and gas, TMT and real estate, among others.

Practice head(s):

Simon Chapman QC

Testimonials

They always provide us with high-quality services arising out of thoughtful consideration upon the issues from various perspectives in the most expeditious manner‘.

Key clients

Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation / Addax Petroleum UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation, as well as Addax Petroleum UK, subsidiaries of the Sinopec Group, in the largest claim ever filed with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, valued in excess of $5.5bn.

Clifford Chance LLP

Clifford Chance LLP is noted for its astute handling of complex commercial disputes for a varied mix of domestic and international companies, financial institutions, investment funds and private equity firms. The department’s recent workload demonstrates a particular strength in arbitration administered by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), though it is also experienced in matters relating to other sets of arbitration rules. It specialises in China-related disputes and is able to conduct arbitral proceedings in Chinese, with Lei Shi being a key contact for both PRC and multi-jurisdictional work; Shi splits time between Shanghai and Beijing. The teams in mainland China and Hong Kong operate seamlessly as one; Cameron Hassall leads the greater China group and is based in Hong Kong and Sydney.

Practice head(s):

Cameron Hassall

Other key lawyers:

Lei Shi; Nathan Zhou; Thomas Walsh (Hong Kong); Haoyang Zhang (Hong Kong); Feifei Yu (Hong Kong)

Testimonials

‘The team is professional in business, efficient in service, reasonable in billing, and provides high-quality service with a five-star recommendation.’

‘Thomas Walsh leads an excellent team and provides excellent service for Chinese clients. Zhang Haoyang is an excellent lawyer who provides the best feedback in the shortest time, and the feedback quality is extremely high.’

‘This team is always on top of everything, knows the case inside out and provides advice which is comprehensive and spot-on.’

Lei Shi and Feifei Yu are very experienced and knowledgeable. Their advice to clients is always meticulous and accurate and they are also able to come up with practical suggestions and solutions even for a difficult case. They also work with counsel closely and provide all necessary support that counsel needs from time to time.’

Shearman & Sterling LLP

Shearman & Sterling LLP is noted for the strength of its Chinese client base, including the Chinese government which instructs the firm in high-stakes investment treaty arbitration. The team also has a wealth of experience in commercial disputes arising in sectors such as power, oil and gas, financial services and construction; it is also gaining additional ground in the telecoms and technology space. The department is jointly led by Nils Eliasson and Emmanuel Jacomy, each of whom splits time between Hong Kong and Beijing, and Beijing and Singapore, respectively.

Practice head(s):

Nils Eliasson; Emmanuel Jacomy

Other key lawyers:

Edward Taylor

Testimonials

‘Shearman provides superior legal services in handing complex dispute, they have deep expertise in oil and gas industry, and they are truly professional, intelligent and client oriented throughout the proceedings. Not only they know about their work, but also patient in explaining to client and persistent in areas that they believe will truly benefit client and help win the case. ’

‘Nils Eliasson, Emmanuel Jacommy. Both are very experienced and hardworking. Nils is very intelligent, logic, thorough and client friendly. Emmanuel speaks great Mandarin and is absolutely delightful to work with.’

Key clients

People’s Democratic Republic of China

Electricité de France, Inc.

Kot Addu Power Company Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing the People’s Republic of China in an ICSID arbitration initiated by German company Hela Schwarz GmbH under the China-Germany bilateral investment treaty.
  • Representing a North American subsidiary of Electricité de France (EDF) in an ICC arbitration in New York initiated by a North American energy company in relation to the implementation of a put agreement.
  • Representing Kot Addu Power Company Limited in an ICC arbitration in Singapore against the Pakistan Water Power and Development Authority in relation to power purchase agreements.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP offers a significant depth of commercial arbitral expertise in the firm’s sectors of traditional focus, such as trade and commodities, insurance and marine. The team is able to draw on the firm’s global resources spanning over 50 offices, but also offers a notable local strength due to its joint venture with Westlink Partnership. Shanghai-based Ik Wei Chong focuses on shipping, insurance, international trade and energy cases and has extensive experience in representing clients in international and regional arbitrations. Chong heads up the department, where other key contacts include Nicholas Lum who splits his time between Shanghai and Singapore and local partner Canming Wang who splits his time between Shanghai and Chongqing.

Practice head(s):

Ik Wei Chong

Other key lawyers:

Nicholas Lum; Canming Wang

Testimonials

‘The team, led by Nicholas Lum, is able to quickly and efficiently obtain clients’ business intentions and assist in resolving relevant disputes at an efficient cost advantage. The team will adopt reasonable plans suitable for Chinese enterprises in terms of fees, give priority to solving clients’ concerns, and will control costs well in the future.’

‘Nicholas Lum works with keen professional judgement and infectious business thinking.’

HFW

Split between mainland China and Hong Kong, HFW’s arbitration group is a popular choice for commercial arbitration mandates in the shipping, construction, energy and commodities sectors. The team frequently acts in arbitration-related court proceedings and a number of practitioners are arbitrators and mediators.  Shanghai-based Nicholas Poynder sits at the helm of the practice, and handles cross-border dispute work, including charterparty, bill of lading, MOA and insolvency issues as well as M&A and financing transactions.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Poynder

Other key lawyers:

Thilo Jahn; Julian Davies

Pinsent Masons

Pinsent Masons is well versed in all stages of international commercial arbitral proceedings, in which it primarily represents a varied mix of Chinese, Japanese and South Korean clients. The team has particularly deep expertise in the construction, infrastructure and energy sectors. Dean Lewis in Hong Kong co-leads the firm’s global arbitration group, while Beijing-based duo Sam Boyling and Helena Chen share leadership of the team in China.

Testimonials

‘The firm has strong presence across Asia Pacific. They provide high-quality professional services, very good profile in construction projects and international arbitration proceedings. ’

The team has some spectacular partners along with excellent associates‘.