Dispute resolution: litigation in Hong Kong

Clifford Chance

In the words of one client, Clifford Chance's litigation team is 'probably the strongest in Hong Kong', providing clients with 'incredible support and sound advice'. The firm's expertise spans a wide spectrum of contentious matters and the practice reports an uptick in disputes involving trusts and wealth management. The group continues to act for a major UK financial institution regarding its discovery of an internal fraudulent scheme, resulting in the misappropriation of approximately $30m from the accounts of customers and the bank, which had been taking place for over 15 years. Brian Gilchrist and Elaine Chen have moved to Gibson Dunn.

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended a major US financial institution against a claim brought by a client for alleged mis-selling of $55-65m worth of equity accumulators in 2007.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

The team at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP continues to represent Asia Cement Corporation in its opposition to legal proceedings commenced by China Shanshui Cement Group for alleged unlawful conspiracy. The key contacts are James Wadham, who handles shareholder and joint venture disputes; Martin Rogers, who is very experienced in assisting financial services clients with disputes; Patrick Sinclair, noted for handling corporate criminal investigations; and Karen Chan, who has expertise in handling securities-related disputes.

Practice head(s):

James Wadham; Martin Rogers; Patrick Sinclair; Karen Chan

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills has 'a very strong litigation practice', where the team provides 'good strategic advice' across a range of complex disputes, according to clients. The group continues to act for DBS in defending a High Court action brought by the liquidators of a local business, Galleria. Dominic Geiser and Joanna Caen are key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Gareth Thomas

Other key lawyers:

Joanna Caen; Dominic Geiser

Key clients

BYD Company

China Shanshui Cement

Credit Suisse

DBS Bank

eHi Car Services

Work highlights

  • Defending BYD Company against litigation proceedings in the Hong Kong High Court brought by Foxconn, involving allegations of breaches of confidential information and misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • Representing Credit Suisse in a dispute with a former client regarding claims of unauthorised trading.

Allen & Overy

The key names to note in Allen & Overy's litigation practice are Matt Bower and Fai Hung Cheung. The team is well known for its expertise in handling contentious work for clients from the financial services industry and reports an increase in instructions involving derivatives-based litigation. Senior associates Karen Chan and Nathan Colless are singled out. Simon Clarke has retired, and counsel Stuart Rau moved to Harneys in May 2019.

Practice head(s):

Matt Bower

Key clients

WPP

Deutsche Bank

Work highlights

  • Defending WPP against proceedings brought by a shareholder claiming alleged unfair prejudice on the part of the company’s management.

Baker McKenzie

Cynthia Tang heads up the litigation practice at Baker McKenzie, which handles the full spread of disputes and contentious work for a client base made up of high-profile individuals, investment banks, asset management companies, financial institutions and charities. Tang is highly regarded for her expertise in financial services regulatory enforcement litigation; Bryan Ng advises on commercial disputes and insolvency-related matters; Anthony Poon stands out for his extensive experience in corporate disputes and insurance litigation.

Practice head(s):

Cynthia Tang

Other key lawyers:

Bryan Ng; Anthony Poon

Key clients

British Telecom

Hong Kong Telecom

Hogan Lovells

Chris Dobby and Mark Lin head up the team at Hogan Lovells. The firm reports an uptick in contentious insolvency mandates and has also been handling cyber fraud and judicial review work. Senior associate Byron Philips is also singled out. Allan Leung moved to Dentons Hong Kong in May 2019.

Practice head(s):

Chris Dobby; Mark Lin

Other key lawyers:

Byron Philips

Key clients

Borrelli Walsh

Grant Thornton

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for FTI Consulting as court-appointed liquidators in proceedings against the former directors of PMHL, a company in Bermuda, and its subsidiary in Hong Kong, PML, concerning allegations of fraud, negligence, and breaches of duties relating to a large-scale fraud scheme.

Mayer Brown

At Mayer Brown, the team continues to act for DBS Bank on a long-running $50m mis-selling claim brought against the bank by its customers; this is the only reported claim of its kind in Hong Kong, arising from the collapse of Lehman Brothers involving a trust structure. John Hickin heads up the practice; financial services regulatory expert Alan Linning and Nicholas Hunsworth are key names. Vivien Yip made partner in January 2019 and Raymond Chan was made-up in November 2019.

Practice head(s):

John Hickin

Key clients

DBS Bank

MTR Corporation

Nam Tai Group

Norddeutsche Landesbank

Wynn Macau

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright's litigation team has 'a good reputation in the industry'. The group has been kept busy advising private individuals on a range of contentious matters, including defamation and settlements of estates, and also acts for corporations from a range of industries in cases such as breach of fiduciary duties, restructuring, fraud, and misappropriation of assets. Camille Jojo heads up the team, which includes commercial litigator Alfred Wu. Of counsel Michael Chik has left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Camille Jojo

Other key lawyers:

Alfred Wu

Testimonials

Camille Jojo: a great team leader with very sound knowledge of the law‘.

Deacons

Deacons' practice head Joseph Kwan is an expert in high-profile commercial litigation, and is also very experienced in assisting high-net-worth families with asset distribution disputes. The team is acting for DP World Djibouti FZCO, along with two companies within the UAE DP World Group, in a claim against port builder China Merchants Group for allegedly inducing the breach of DP World’s port concession agreement with Djibouti. Carmen Ng and Robert Clark are names to note.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Kwan

Other key lawyers:

Robert Clark; Carmen Ng

Testimonials

Paul Kwan is a very good bilingual commercial litigator who knows the market and is practical and very realistic‘.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has a solid reputation for handling cross-border litigation, particularly within other Asian jurisdictions, including China, Indonesia, and Singapore. Financial institutions are prominent in the team's client base,  including high-net-worth individuals, asset managers, investment banks, and private equity firms. Mark Johnson, Lord Peter Goldsmith and Gareth Hughes are the names to note. In 2019 associate Allison Lau joined from Ashurst.

Practice head(s):

Mark Johnson; Lord Peter Goldsmith; Gareth Hughes

DLA Piper

The 'very strong and very responsive' team at DLA Piper is led by Kevin Chan and Harris Chan. Recent work includes advising John Manners and Company on defending a Hong Kong Court action brought by the directors on allegations they were wrongfully removed from their positions. Satpal Gobindpuri is very experienced in corporate disputes. Senior associate KC Tai and associate Benjamin Ng are also noted.

Practice head(s):

Harris Chan; Kevin Chan

Other key lawyers:

Satpal Gobindpuri; KC Tai; Benjamin Ng

Testimonials

‘Harris Chan is proactive, responsive and always on standby when in need. Always distilling his ideas down to layperson language and foreign lawyer-friendly. Unbelievably clear and precise. A solution seeker. He is a very sensible lawyer and understands commercial needs. Recommended for complex cases.’

‘KC Tai is very responsive and very easy to work with. Always give clear answers and sensible solutions to problems.’

HFW

HFW's 'very professional' team has been handling high-value contentious fraud matters, as well as complex shipping disputes and contentious probate matters, among other areas. George Lamplough and Guy Hardaker are key contacts, while Noel Campbell has relocated to Hong Kong from the firm's London office.

Practice head(s):

George Lamplough; Noel Campbell; Guy Hardaker

Testimonials

Guy Hardaker is first-rate; very client-focussed and results-oriented‘.

Work highlights

  • Representing a financial sector client in coordinating tracing and recovery efforts following a $300m metals fraud involving non‐authentic warehouse receipts.

King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons' 'very commercial and dedicated' team is noted for its extensive expertise in construction and infrastructure disputes, and also handles cases of cyber fraud, alleged misconduct and securities and restructuring disputes. Paul Starr heads up the practice; Barbara Chiu, Rachel Yu, who recently joined from Herbert Smith Freehills, and Edmund Wan are key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Paul Starr

Other key lawyers:

Barbara Chiu; Rachel Yu; Edmund Wan

O'Melveny

Denis Brock heads up O'Melveny's litigation practice. The team is currently defending partners of Deloitte Hong Kong against a High Court claim regarding allegations of breach of duty and contract in respect of a bankruptcy, in which two former partners were formerly trustees.

Practice head(s):

Denis Brock

Key clients

PAG Asia Capital

Aon

Deloitte

Reed Smith Richards Butler

Asha Sharma , who is 'able to understand clients' needs', shares leadership of Reed Smith Richards Butler's practice with arbitration expert Lianjun Li . The team is noted for its extensive experience in handling shipping, securities, energy, and financial disputes. Of counsel Carrie Yiu is also a key contact. In June 2019 Mark West joined from Kennedys.

Practice head(s):

Asha Sharma; Lianjun Li

Other key lawyers:

Carrie Yiu

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Rory McAlpine heads up the practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. McAlpine has extensive experience in acting for corporate and financial institutions in domestic and international litigation, and often handles multijurisdictional disputes. Associate Wilfred Ho is also singled out; he advises Asia-based clients across a range of commercial litigation, notably shareholder disputes and insolvency-related matters.

Practice head(s):

Rory McAlpine

Other key lawyers:

Wilfred Ho

Testimonials

‘Strength in depth, expensive but worth it, shrewd recruitment of the brightest legal talent. easy to work with. This outfit understand how to get results in litigation.’

‘Rory McAlpine is a complete litigation star with huge experience and concealing a very astute tactical brain behind his easy charm. He does nothing if it does not advance the client’s cause. Good team behind him including super-bright associate Wilfred Ho.’

Key clients

Middleby

Petrobras

Stephenson Harwood

Ivan Ng heads up the litigation team at Stephenson Harwood, which acted for Dan Form International (DFIL) and its major shareholder in a dispute with Grassmere, a minority shareholder in the company, after Grassmere commenced winding-up proceedings against DFIL in the British Virgin Islands.

Practice head(s):

Ivan Ng

Key clients

Employees of China Shanshui Investment Limited

China Construction Bank (Asia) Corporation Limited

Société Générale

HWH Holdings Limited (a BVI company)

Hong Kong Zhixin Financial News Agency Limited

Dymocks Holdings Limited

Rabobank

OCBC

ICBC

Raiffeisen Bank International

Boer Power Holdings Limited

Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation

PwC

Tanner De Witt

Tanner De Witt's 'very user-friendly' team provides 'no-nonsense advice', and is 'very strong on shareholder and listed company disputes'. Other areas of instruction for the group include cyber fraud, contentious insolvency cases, and high-value commercial fraud matters. Mark Side stands out for his 'fantastic knowledge'; he leads the team with Jeff Lane and Pamela Mak. In 2019 Kevin Bowers joined as a consultant from Howse Williams 何韋律師行.

Practice head(s):

Mark Side; Jeff Lane; Pamela Mak

Testimonials

‘A truly strong team comprising of high-class lawyers, very knowledgeable, very thorough and success-oriented.’

Key clients

KPMG

PwC

Deloitte

Borrelli Walsh

Wilkinson & Grist

Wilkinson & Grist counts contentious probate matters and shareholders’ disputes as core strengths. The team continues to represent a private client in a dispute with his siblings regarding the estate of the late tycoon, Henry Fok Ying Tung. Keith Ho is the name to note.

Practice head(s):

Keith Ho

Key clients

The Bank of East Asia, Limited

China Citic Bank International Limited

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation

Chinachem Charitable Foundation Limited

Citibank, N.A.

Chong Hing Bank Limited

DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited

DBS Bank (China) Limited

Ernst & Young

FTI Consulting

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Ltd.

KPMG

PwC

Clyde & Co LLP

At Clyde & Co LLP, recent work includes practice head Simon McConnell successfully assisting the Airport Authority of Hong Kong with obtaining a court order to sell a Russian Boeing 767 aircraft, which was detained at Hong Kong airport after the airline failed to pay outstanding fees, as part of the client's statutory right. Patrick Perry, noted for his expertise in handling commercial litigation, claims against professionals and construction litigation, is a key contact.

Practice head(s):

Simon McConnell

Other key lawyers:

Patrick Perry

Dentons Hong Kong

Keith Brandt heads up Dentons Hong Kong's litigation practice, which was significantly bolstered with the arrival of Richard Keady, Robert Rhoda, and associate James Wong from Bird & Bird in 2018, and former Hogan Lovells partner Allan Leung in May 2019. The team is notably strong in advising on disputes within the financial services, aviation, life sciences, technology, energy, and communications sectors.

Practice head(s):

Keith Brandt

Testimonials

‘Keith Brandt is senior, highly-respected and still hands-on. His determination to fulfil clients’ wishes where at all possible is emphasised to counsel and properly tempered by a no-nonsense, practical approach. He understands and responds well to the special requirements of a client constituted by both mainland and international parties.’

Key clients

Hong Kong Solicitors Indemnity Fund

IDOM S.A.

Pearl Oriental

Kim Dotcom and Megaupload Limited

Sisu Auto

IMF Bentham Limited

Oxford Medica

Lagerinn Iceland EHF

Doninvest Commercial Bank Limited Liability Company

Work highlights

  • Assisting IDOM with obtaining injunctions for freezing funds after it was the victim of a $2.4m email fraud.
  • Representing Kim Dotcom and Megaupload in a challenge to proceedings brought in the High Court of Hong Kong by the Secretary for Justice, on behalf of the US, to restrain assets worth $175m held in Hong Kong by the client.
  • Representing Sisu Auto in a $30m dispute with its former joint venture partner concerning an agreement signed by the parties regarding a transfer of shares.

Eversheds Sutherland

The 'highly responsive and knowledgeable' Mark Yeadon heads up the practice at Eversheds Sutherland. The 'dedicated' team provides 'reliable and effective advice' on a wide range of matters, including commercial disputes, financial litigation and contentious regulatory cases. In the case of the latter, telecom disputes have been prominent in the group's recent workload. Rachael Shek is a name to note.

Practice head(s):

Mark Yeadon

Other key lawyers:

Rachael Shek

Testimonials

‘Mark Yeadon has an exceptionally calm and measured approach to clients’ legal matters, providing sharp insights drawn from a wealth of experience in the commercial litigation field. He also has particular expertise in the immensely important and often contentious field of telecommunications regulation.’

‘Mark Yeadon leads a team with great expertise in telecoms matters, including competition issues.’

‘Mark Yeadon has huge experience of the sector and excellent judgment of litigation issues.’

Key clients

Barclay Pharmaceutical

DuPont

HSBC

Standard Chartered Bank

Gemalto

BOCI Securities

Work highlights

  • Representing digital security company Gemalto in a dispute with C & C Security Printing with regard to the provision of allegedly defective goods; the client was the supplier of passport data pages.
  • Defending a global bank against multiple Hong Kong High Court claims brought by the client’s customers concerning allegations of mis-selling, misrepresentation and breach of contract following the purchase of similar foreign exchange derivative products from the bank and subsequent losses due to foreign exchange market movements.

Gall

Boutique litigation firm Gall houses a 'savvy and experienced team that is plugged into the needs of the local market and clients'. Practice head Nick Gall is well known for his expertise in handling international asset tracing litigation and multi-jurisdictional fraud. The team continues to represent one of the most prominent business women in China, Zhang Lan, in a $300m dispute with CVC Capital Partners regarding CVC’s acquisition of an indirect majority shareholding in the client's South Beauty chain of restaurants. Chris Wong is 'highly responsive, user-friendly and has an excellent sense of his clients' core concerns and objectives', and Evelyn Chan is 'hardworking and detail-oriented'.

Practice head(s):

Nick Gall

Other key lawyers:

Chris Wong; Evelyn Chan

Work highlights

  • Representing joint venture company ZPMC-RED BOX Energy Services in a $400m shareholders’ dispute.

Howse Williams

At Howse Williams, the team counts commercial, corporate, regulatory, healthcare and clinical negligence litigation among its areas of expertise; the client base includes medical professionals, private hospitals and private and internationally-listed companies, to name a few. Name partner Chris Howse is a key contact.

Practice head(s):

Chris Howse

Kennedys

Kennedys’ 'very responsive' team is well known for its extensive experience in healthcare-related litigation, and is adept at handling clinical and professional negligence claims. Commercial litigation also features in the group’s caseload. Rupert Skrine leads the team, which includes the 'calm and reactive' Rudy Chung. In June 2019 Mark West moved to Reed Smith Richards Butler.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Skrine

Other key lawyers:

Rudy Chung

Testimonials

Rudy Chung is a very sharp, practical and knowledgable individual‘.

Key clients

The Hong Kong Hospital Authority

The Hong Kong Medical Protection Society

The Hong Kong Dental Association

 

Work highlights

  • Representing Link Fish Import & Export in a claim brought against two Hong Kong companies concerning fraudulent transactions worth more than $10m.

Latham & Watkins LLP

Catherine Palmer heads up the team at Latham & Watkins LLP. Recent instructions for the group include shareholders and directors' disputes, fraud, contentious insolvency matters, and commercial litigation. Catherine McBride is noted for her expertise in regulatory disputes. In 2019 Simon Powell left to set up an independent practice.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Palmer

Other key lawyers:

Catherine McBride

Key clients

PwC

China Life Insurance (Overseas) Company Limited

Simmons & Simmons

The team at Simmons & Simmons is acting for Hong Kong Airlines in an ongoing High Court action concerning shareholders' litigation, involving allegations of misconduct. Marc Thorley heads up the practice, which also regularly acts for financial institutions in a range of contentious work, including insolvency litigation.

Practice head(s):

Marc Thorley

Testimonials

‘Partner is very engaged, and well resourced as well. Fees are very reasonable and transparent. Overall, very happy with working with the Simmons & Simmons team.’

Key clients

The Bank of East Asia

Hong Kong Airlines

Ashurst

Ashurst's 'very practical' team is led by the 'flexible and responsive' James Comber, who is very experienced in representing asset managers and financial institutions in financial and regulatory disputes. The group continues to defend the Kingboard Group against a High Court action commenced by a US company concerning a $25m contractual dispute regarding an agency agreement for the sale of printed circuit boards. Counsel Stephanie Chan specialises in commercial litigation, particularly cross-border contractual disputes. Associate Allison Lau moved to Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in 2019.

Practice head(s):

James Comber

Other key lawyers:

Stephanie Chan

Key clients

Kingboard Group

Luso International Banking Limited

Deutsche Bank AG

Grand City Capital Investment Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Grand City Capital Investment in a high-profile dispute with Frontier Investment Partners and Hong Kong Airlines Consultation Service (HKACS) regarding the client’s acquisition from Frontier of a 34.16% stake worth HK546m in Hong Kong Airlines Holdings.

Hill Dickinson Hong Kong

The 'very dedicated' team at Hill Dickinson Hong Kong is jointly led by Damien Laracy and Bryan O’Hare. The practice is especially strong in international trade and commodities disputes, shipping litigation, and insolvency-related cases.

Practice head(s):

Damien Laracy; Bryan O’Hare

Testimonials

‘Damien Laracy is always on top of his cases and ensures that every angle to a problem has been considered. He comes across as a very fair-minded practitioner who is committed to providing clients with sensible legal advice which they can trust and actually act upon. He is very good with clients, and can be expected when necessary to step in and help convince the client that an argument or a proposed course of action is not in its best interests.’

‘Bryan O’Hare is always a pleasure to work with. He is very knowledgeable in insolvency matters and also has a wealth of experience in asset tracing and recovery, including urgent applications for freezing injunctions. I always find his views to be commercially-sound and grounded in legal principle. Whilst being a solid lawyer, he knows how to think from the client’s perspective and avoids giving advice which is overly technical or legalistic.’

‘Bryan O’Hare. Great strategist. Great with clients. Hands-on and approachable. Straight to the point. A pleasure to deal with.’

‘Bryan O’Hare is a senior and respected Hong Kong litigator – very commercial and a safe pair of hands for commercial dispute resolution matters.’

Work highlights

  • Defending the Intercontinental Hotels Group, and liability underwriter Chubb, in a High Court action concerning alleged loss and damage arising from a serious water leakage incident at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Causeway Bay.

Kobre & Kim

Randall Arthur and John Han head up the practice at Kobre & Kim. Cross-border disputes are prominent in the team's workload, often with a focus on complex fraud and identifying, freezing and recovering assets. Arthur is noted for his expertise in handling asset recovery cases involving asset misappropriation via cybersecurity breaches and business email compromises. Han is highly experienced in cross-border commercial disputes, in which he acts for financial institutions, high-net-worth individuals and corporations.

Practice head(s):

Randall Arthur; John Han

Minter Ellison

Minter Ellison's 'very efficient' team is headed by David Morrison and William Barber. Areas of instruction for the practice include commodities disputes, construction-related issues, fraud, judicial reviews, shareholder disputes, and contentious probate matters. Malcolm Chin is noted for his expertise in contractual disputes, often within the construction industry. Nathan Dentice is also singled out.

Practice head(s):

David Morrison; William Barber

Other key lawyers:

Malcolm Chin; Nathan Dentice

Key clients

Crown Melbourne

Noble Group

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong

RPC

Asia managing partner Antony Sassi heads up the litigation team at RPC, which was recently bolstered by the arrival of Charles Allen from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. The team's workload includes financial disputes, high-value professional negligence cases, insurance-related matters and cybersecurity. Senior consultant David Smyth has an excellent reputation for his expertise in commercial disputes; Carmel Green and Jonathan Crompton are also names to note.

Practice head(s):

Antony Sassi