Dispute resolution: foreign firms in China
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has on the ground dispute resolution experts in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, who advise Chinese and multinational clients from industry sectors such as energy, TMT, banking, pharmaceuticals, hospitality and funds. The team was further strengthened with the hire of Cathy Liu from KWM at its joint operation Kewei Law Firm; Liu specialises in commercial litigation and also has extensive experience in regulatory investigations, white-collar crime and labour disputes. A notable recent area of growth for the team has been infrastructure-related disputes. Highlights include representing a PRC, state-owned enterprise, as claimant, against its joint venture partner in a high-value arbitration surrounding the investment in a European company. International construction, projects and infrastructure disputes lawyer Hew Kian Heong splits his time between Shanghai and Beijing, as does infrastructure and energy sector litigation expert Michelle Li . The other main advisers are Shanghai-based Helen Tang and recently promoted senior consultant Stella Hu. Former international arbitration and dispute resolution partner Jessica Fei left for King & Wood Mallesons.
Simon Chapman; Hew Kian Heong
‘It has a strong team with formidable and highly efficient legal minds. It is also progressively increasing its Chinese language capabilities, which is encouraging‘.
‘Responses are always prompt and correct‘.
‘Deep understanding of client’s needs‘.
‘Hew Kian Heong and Michelle Li combine understanding of Chinese clients with a wide international experience‘.
‘Hew Kian Heong’s experience as a top construction lawyer is unique in the PRC. His tactical acumen is very strong indeed. He has the ability to identify the key issues in any case and does not get diverted by irrelevant issues‘.
‘Michelle Li always shows total commitment to her clients and inspires great client confidence‘.
‘Helen Tang is a highly impressive adviser‘.
China Shanshui Cement
- Advised China Shanshui Cement Group on numerous ongoing litigation proceedings in Hong Kong and overseas.
- Advised BYD Company, a Chinese electronic component and electric vehicle manufacturing company, on its defence against complex litigation proceedings in the Hong Kong High Court, which were commenced by Foxconn.
- Advised eHi Car Services, as international counsel, on a just and equitable winding up petition presented in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands by a minority shareholder, Ctrip Investment Holding.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP is highly rated for its experience in international arbitration and arbitration-related litigation, particularly in relation to areas such as energy, construction, telecoms, insurance, IP, banking and finance, metals and mining, automotive and M&A. Jane Jiang is a dispute resolution partner in the Shanghai office, while in Hong Kong Matthew Gearing QC is the co-head of the international arbitration group.
Matthew Gearing QC
Other key lawyers:
BG Exploration and Production India
- Acted for BG Exploration and Production India and Reliance Industries in an arbitration against the Government of India, which arose under two oil and gas production sharing contracts.
- Acted for Nissan in a high-profile claim against India, which concerned investment incentives that were promised to Nissan in relation to its setting up of a manufacturing plant in Tamil Nadu.
Baker McKenzie FenXun is well-known for handling complex, high-value Hong Kong and China-related arbitrations, particularly in relation to post-M&A, joint venture and shareholder disputes; energy, mining and infrastructure projects; real estate investments and developments; and IP disputes. Shanghai-based Simon Hui focuses on compliance and investigations, commercial litigation and international arbitration, and Paul Teo in Hong Kong heads the arbitration practice for Hong Kong and China.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team is diligent, provides quality advice and never gives up‘.
- Advised two investment companies on the first-ever arbitration in China involving emergency arbitrator proceedings.
- Defended a client against the enforcement of an arbitration award.
Jones Day‘s China disputes practice is widely respected for its representation in commercial arbitrations, and it fields experts in regulatory investigations that involve sanctions, The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, anti-corruption and antitrust. Peter Wang, who is based in the Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, leads the China antitrust and litigation practices, and Haifeng Huang, who divides his time between Hong Kong and Beijing, covers disputes involving IP, unfair competition and technology licenses. Former partner Michael Vella left to found nTheta.
Other key lawyers:
Kirkland & Ellis International LLP's experience includes complex commercial litigation, antitrust disputes, product liability cases, IP disputes, environmental claims, and securities and shareholder litigation. Shanghai's Tiana Zhang, Jodi Wu and Agnes Li are experienced practitioners.
Kelly Naphtali; Tiana Zhang; Cori Lable
‘The practice has very good tacticians as well as good knowledge of support service providers, such as China litigation counsel and barristers‘.
- Advised Syngenta on over 1,800 lawsuits in the US, which allege that Syngenta’s commercialisation of Viptera and its introduction into the corn supply caused China to reject all shipments of American corn, thereby depressing the price of corn in the US.
Clifford Chance LLP is 'truly an outstanding international firm with a combination of great understanding of Chinese culture and solid experience of representing Chinese clients in international arbitration'. Its recent growth saw the 'excellent' Lei Shi promoted to partner and relocate to the Shanghai and Beijing offices. The practice is also highly regarded for its advice on complex, multi-jurisdictional litigation and regulatory investigations. Recent highlights include representing an aviation company, as claimant, in a series of joint venture-related disputes against a former PRC business partner, including a shareholders' dispute and acting for a private equity firm in a post-M&A-related arbitration.
Lei Shi; Brian Gilchrist
Other key lawyers:
‘Clifford Chance has a formidable dispute resolution team. Its strength in depth is impressive, and its work product and work ethic are without comparison‘.
‘They do not waste time with nonsense but get to the heart of the matter‘.
‘Familiar with the procedures and operation methods of domestic and foreign arbitration.’
‘Le Shi knows both the international principles and the best practice in China, and offers very on-the-ground advice‘.
- Acted for a global private equity firm in two China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission arbitration proceedings surrounding the acquisition of a PRC restaurant chain.
- Advised a Chinese internet company on a high-value technology and joint venture dispute, which included both arbitration and court proceedings.
DLA Piper's scope of work includes disputes involving shareholders and directors, regulatory investigations, banking and finance, employment law, IP, construction, shipping disputes and cyber fraud. Shanghai-based of counsel Xiaoshan Chen advises on international disputes surrounding charterparties, shipbuilding, sale of goods, trade, commodities, ship sales and purchases, and joint ventures. Kevin Chan heads the Asia litigation and regulatory group, and Ernest Yang leads the litigation and regulatory practice, both are based in Hong Kong.
Kevin Chan; Ernest Yang; Harris Chan
Other key lawyers:
‘The firm is good value for money, and the legal services provided by the team are client oriented and suit clients’ needs‘.
‘It demonstrates sound judgement in planning and managing dispute resolution matters, and gives innovative recommendations that help resolve litigation‘.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia)
- Advised Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (Asia) in a court action, which sought an interim injunction to prevent the sale of mortgaged properties to recover debt.
Hogan Lovells International LLP's 'efficient, clear and responsive' mainland China team has expertise that covers construction, product liability and product recall, labour and employment, commercial and regulatory disputes and investigations. It recently represented Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) in a government inquiry involving its China joint venture, and advised Borrelli Walsh, as liquidators of Akai, on Akai's liquidation and an ongoing investigation and recovery actions against its former chairman. Shanghai’s Eugene Chen is 'a standout name' to note.
Chris Dobby; Eugene Chen
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management)
- Acted for FTI Consulting, as court-appointed liquidators, in an action against the former directors of PMHL and PML for fraud, negligence, and various breaches of duties.
Norton Rose Fulbright advises on disputes involving estates, contracts, commercial law, finance, real estate and construction, along with shipping, insurance, IP, technology, telecoms and high-net-worth individuals. The Hong Kong-based practice includes Camille Jojo and Alfred Wu, along with consultants Jim James and Philip Nunn.
Other key lawyers:
‘Gives practical solutions and recommendations‘.
Asia Allied Infrastructure Holdings
Hang Lung Properties
Hsin Chong Aster Building Services
Chevalier (Aluminium Engineering) Hong Kong
Champ Prestige International
SiS International Holdings
- Acted for ChinaCast Education in proceedings involving fraud, misappropriation of assets and breach of fiduciary duties.
- Advised Champ Prestige International on a shareholders’ dispute, which related to an investment in (and development of) a high-rise tower in Miami.
- Advised on the Fok Estate dispute, one of the most prominent tycoon estate disputes in Hong Kong.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has extensive experience advising on litigation in the US; the team stands out for its representation of China-based issuers in US securities litigation and is also active in international arbitration. Rory McAlpine is head of the practice in Hong Kong, where Steve Kwok is also highly regarded. Bradley Klein returned to the Washington DC office, but remains actively involved in the firm's China white-collar investigations and litigation practice.
‘Strength in depth, expensive but worth it, shrewd recruitment of the brightest young talent and also easy to work with. Really well-connected.’
‘I have dealt with Rory McAlpine in a series of multi-jurisdictional disputes. Calm, tactically astute, good lawyer, well-connected,good company and always able to put together a good team including talented associates like Wilfred Ho.’
- Acted for Bermuda trust companies that were established by a Taiwanese conglomerate, as respondents, in a large, complex dispute involving the assets of the late owner of The Formosa Plastics Group.
Clyde & Co LLP
Clyde & Co LLP is best known for its expertise in industries such as insurance, infrastructure, transportation, marine, aviation, and trade and commodities. Shanghai-based Ik Wei Chong has acted in arbitrations in Singapore, Andrew Rourke divides his time between the Guildford and Shanghai offices, and Canming Wang works from the firm's joint legal venture with Westlink Partnership. The team saw the arrival of Nicholas Lum who recently joined from Ince, and splits his time between its Shanghai and Singapore offices.
Ik Wei Chong; Canming Wang
‘Nicholas Lum makes quick decisions and responses, providing clients with tailor-made solutions’.
‘Nicholas Lum has good understanding of Chinese corporate culture, and can effectively understand, collect and feedback the information that clients need, and form effective solutions or suggestions’.
China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation
CMS' disputes group benefits from the firm's expertise in life sciences and healthcare, IP, and joint venture and distribution agreements. The names to note are Beijing-based Nick Beckett who handles IP and commercial disputes and Falk Lichtenstein, along with Ulrike Glueck and Nicolas Zhu in Shanghai.
‘An expert understanding of both civil and administrative dispute resolution in the PRC. Practical advice always delivered with carefully nuanced explanation of true practice in the country‘.
Dechert LLP's team in China is led by Beijing-based Jingzhou Tao, who 'not only analyses the situation from the client's commercial interests, but also integrate resources with effective strategic arrangements to understand the client's business intentions'. Tao is experienced in both China-related complex dispute resolution and international arbitration; international litigation and arbitration specialist Mariana Zhong was recently made national partner.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team is good at handling the coordinated management of international disputes.’
‘Jingzhou Tao actively maintains legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies in international arbitration and international litigation.’
- Advised a US conglomerate on its efforts to enforce a substantial arbitral award against a BVI holding company.
Morrison & Foerster LLP's China litigation practice handles high-stakes, complex, multi-jurisdictional disputes across a range of sectors, including technology, energy, chemicals, construction, manufacturing, telecoms, private equity and real estate. Timothy Blakely heads the Hong Kong litigation department, where Adrian Yip is also a key adviser.
Timothy Blakely; Adrian Yip
Kwong Wui Chun & Chan Yiu Tsuan Benby
Beam International Foundation
- Defended the former chairman and CEO of the Asia Aluminum Group against two actions commenced by liquidators.
- Defended Beam International Foundation against trade mark infringement and passing off litigation that was brought by Operation Smile.
Shearman & Sterling LLP is recommended for disputes and arbitrations involving the energy, construction, infrastructure, financial and telecoms sectors, as well as joint venture and shareholder disputes, and M&A-related claims. Shanghai's Brian Burke heads the Asia litigation and investigations practice, Nils Eliasson divides his time between Hong Kong and Beijing, and Emmanuel Jacomy is based in Beijing and Singapore.
Nils Eliasson; Emmanuel Gaillard
Kot Addu Power Company
The People’s Republic of China
- Acted for the People’s Republic of China in an arbitration brought by Hela Schwarz under the China-Germany bilateral investment treaty.
- Represented Kot Addu Power Company in a Singapore arbitration against the Pakistan Water Power and Development Authority, which arose from power purchase agreements.
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP's Hong Kong-based team is experienced in complex mainland China-related commercial litigation, regulatory investigations, white-collar crimes and arbitration. Representative disputes advice covers anti-corruption, securities fraud and major corporate transactions. The recommended names are Martin Rogers and James Wadham.
Martin Rogers; James Wadham; Patrick Sinclair; Karen Chan
China Overseas Asset Management International
Hillhouse Capital Group
Ernst & Young
- Represented Asia Cement Corporation in opposing proceedings, which were commenced by China Shanshui Cement Group for alleged unlawful conspiracy.
- Acted for Deutsche Bank in a wrongful dismissal claim.
- Assisted a former China chief financial officer of a global life sciences company with inquiries from the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice.
HFW's 'impressive dispute resolution practice'' is particularly experienced in maritime cases. It also covers shareholder agreements, contracts, company sale and purchase agreements, shareholder and minority rights, and share transfers and share swaps, along with directors' rights and duties, derivatives, wrongful and fraudulent trading liabilities, and schemes of arrangement. The 'very experienced' Nick Poynder heads the Shanghai office, which also fields Julian Davies and Trevor Fox. The firm has an association with Wintell & Co Law Firm in Shanghai, which enhances the scale and reach of services it can offer to clients.
‘You can always trust the team to put forward practical and feasible solutions‘.
ANZ Commodity Trading Pty
Shanghai Future High-tech Co
Ever Judger Holding Company
- Advised Shanghai Future High-tech Co on a dispute between two sets of shareholders in a PRC company.
- Acted for ANZ Commodity Trading Pty in coordinating tracing and recovery efforts, which followed a $300m metals fraud involving non-authentic warehouse receipts.
- Acted in proceedings for the owners of an oil tanker that collided with a bulk carrier, causing a catastrophic fire.
Kobre & Kim
The team at Kobre & Kim is 'persistent, energetic, diligent, creative and with a number of ideas as to how disputes can be settled effectively'. It regularly represents Asia-based clients in internal investigations and related cross-border government enforcement actions that involve US authorities. Wade Weems is now the main contact following the departure of Shaun Wu who recently joined Paul Hastings LLP.
‘Kobre & Kim focuses solely on disputes and investigations, which makes it very unique in China’.
‘By engaging the firm, clients don’t just get a piece of advice, they get results’.
‘The group has an impressive cadre of litigators, many of whom come from prosecution backgrounds, and most of whom are uniquely positioned to serve their geographic areas of expertise due to their vast range of language capabilities and a native understanding of local culture.’
Shanghai Lan Cai Asset Management
Investors in Sky Solar Holdings
- Acted for Shanghai Lan Cai Asset Management in enforcing an arbitration award against Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting.
- Acted for BVI-incorporated Broad Action in a bond-related dispute against Brightoil Petroleum Holdings, a Hong Kong- listed Chinese oil company.
- Advised Dooga, a digital asset-trading platform that was defrauded via transactions made through channel payment providers in China, on tracing and identifying funds.
Latham & Watkins LLP focuses on disputes involving antitrust and competition; bankruptcy and insolvency litigation; anti-corruption and anti-bribery issues, investigations; investment, commercial and trade disputes; and securities, shareholder and joint venture litigation. The team recently represented China Life Insurance (Overseas) Company in a substantial investment-related commercial dispute. Hui Xu is the key contact in Beijing.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team has comprehensive expertise in dispute resolution and provides timely feedback.’
China Life Insurance (Overseas) Company
eCloudvalley Technology (HK)
Nutanix Hong Kong
China Orient Asset Management (International) Holding
- Acted for China Orient Asset Management (International) Holding in a complex, satellite-related dispute.
- Successfully protected Sinovac Biotech’s board of directors from the actions of dissident shareholders, including 1Globe Capital, a US medical biotechnology research organisation.
Linklaters stands out for its understanding of China's legal and regulatory environment, with extensive experience in China-related arbitrations and disputes involving Chinese parties. The team's track record includes acting in parallel court proceedings in Hong Kong and Beijing, which involved breach of contract claims. Hong Kong-based Asia dispute resolution head Melvin Sng advises global financial institutions and corporations on their most sensitive and complex disputes and regulatory investigations in Asia. Justin Tang has a particular focus on China-related, cross-border commercial disputes.
Other key lawyers:
O'Melveny fields specialists in cross-border disputes, particularly US-bound litigation. Hong Kong-based chair of the international disputes and arbitration practice Denis Brock focuses on commercial and corporate arbitration, litigation and regulatory investigations. Former partner Binga Guo left for White & Case LLP's Beijing office.
‘The team has excellent experience‘.
‘Denis Brock is a battle-hardened warrior who brings elements of practical experience and client responsiveness that are rare in this field‘.
‘Denis Brock is an incredible litigator who communicates with clients brilliantly.’
PAG Asia Capital
- Acted for PAG Asia Capital (PAG) in litigation against SouFun Holdings (SFH), following SFH’s failure to complete an agreement pursuant to which PAG would have acquired share and convertible notes in SFH.
- Defended Deloitte (Hong Kong) partners against bankruptcy-related allegations of breach of duty and contract.
Pinsent Masons distinguishes itself through its international arbitration experience in the infrastructure, construction and energy sectors. In Beijing, Sam Boyling is praised for his 'excellent ability in writing and cross-examination in arbitration cases'. Helena Chen is another name to note.
Sam Boyling; Helena Chen
Simmons & Simmons' sector focus, namely asset management and investment funds, financial institutions, TMT and life sciences, also applies to the firm's China dispute resolution practice. Joseph Chu, who divides his time between the Beijing and Hong Kong offices, and supervising associate Vera Zuo are the principal contacts.
Stephenson Harwood, which enjoys an association with PRC law firm Wei Tu Law Firm, acts in large, complex and multi-jurisdictional disputes, and is regularly instructed by banks and commodity trading companies in international trade finance disputes. Ivan Ng heads the litigation practice of the Hong Kong office and Evangeline Quek is the principal Shanghai contact.
Other key lawyers:
Dan Form International
Hong Kong Zhixin Financial News Agency
Raiffeisen Bank International
Boer Power Holdings
Shanghai Huaxin Group (Hong Kong)
- Advised over 2,000 employees and minority shareholders of China Shanshui Investment in a shareholders’ dispute.
- Acted for DFIL, and its major shareholder, in a dispute with a minority shareholder, which commenced winding up proceedings against DFIL in the BVI.
- Advised the largest shareholder of British real estate investment trust, Shaftesbury, on a matter that involved a non-pre-emptive placement.
Bird & Bird has a large team in Hong Kong that services China-related work. It specialises in disputes involving the automotive, financial services, life sciences, media, entertainment and sport, retail, and technology and communications sectors. Hong Kong-based Matthew Laight and Andrew Robinson are the key contacts, following the departure of both former international dispute resolution head for Asia Pacific Richard Keady and Robert Rhoda for Dentons Hong Kong.
Matthew Laight; Andrew Robinson
- Advised Merck in Hong Kong and China, as plaintiff, on proceedings over the use of the term Merck.
Led by Beijing office head Wai Yue Loh, Ince focuses almost exclusively on international arbitration; the team is widely respected for its shipping law credentials, but also advises on commercial disputes involving international trade, commodities and corporate joint ventures. The team lost Nicholas Lum to Clyde & Co LLP in October 2019.
Wai Yue Loh
‘The team focuses on solving problems effectively under the premise of cost control.’
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is experienced in advising on cross-border commercial litigation; the practice also covers arbitration, US litigation for Chinese state-owned enterprises, investigations, and IP disputes. Erica Chong in Hong Kong is an experienced adviser.
Xiang Wang; Erica Chong
‘Proficient in the legal and judicial systems of Mainland China and Hong Kong, and the team can provide clients with comprehensive dispute resolution advice. At the same time, they can work in Chinese and English to ensure the efficiency and accuracy of communication‘.
Advanced Technology & Materials
China National Building Materials
Subsidiaries of Bayer
- Represented a US-listed computer software company in an internal investigation.
- Defended China National Building Materials against a $1.5bn class action in the US for alleged defective drywall building materials.
- Acted for Deltatre, a sports market broadcasting services provider, in a breach of contract claim for services rendered to LeTV.
Winston & Strawn LLP acts in virtually every type of dispute that could arise from operating or investing in China. The team acts in disputes arising out of energy, utility, transportation and telecoms projects, as well as disputes in the technology and financial services sectors. Construction, infrastructure and energy arbitration specialist Terence Wong is based in the firm's Hong Kong and Shanghai offices.