Dispute resolution: litigation in Hong Kong
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.
- 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.
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.
China Shanshui Cement
eHi Car Services
- 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.
- Defending WPP against proceedings brought by a shareholder claiming alleged unfair prejudice on the part of the company’s management.
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.
Hong Kong Telecom
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.
Chris Dobby; Mark Lin
Other key lawyers:
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited
- 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.
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.
Nam Tai Group
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.
Other key lawyers:
‘Camille Jojo: a great team leader with very sound knowledge of the law‘.
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.
‘Paul Kwan is a very good bilingual commercial litigator who knows the market and is practical and very realistic‘.
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.
Mark Johnson; Lord Peter Goldsmith; Gareth Hughes
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.
Harris Chan; Kevin Chan
‘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'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.
George Lamplough; Noel Campbell; Guy Hardaker
‘Guy Hardaker is first-rate; very client-focussed and results-oriented‘.
- Representing a financial sector client in coordinating tracing and recovery efforts following a $300m metals fraud involving non‐authentic warehouse receipts.
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.
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.
PAG Asia Capital
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.
Asha Sharma; Lianjun Li
Other key lawyers:
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.
Other key lawyers:
‘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.’
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.
Employees of China Shanshui Investment Limited
China Construction Bank (Asia) Corporation Limited
HWH Holdings Limited (a BVI company)
Hong Kong Zhixin Financial News Agency Limited
Dymocks Holdings Limited
Raiffeisen Bank International
Boer Power Holdings Limited
Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation
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.
Mark Side; Jeff Lane; Pamela Mak
‘A truly strong team comprising of high-class lawyers, very knowledgeable, very thorough and success-oriented.’
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.
The Bank of East Asia, Limited
China Citic Bank International Limited
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation
Chinachem Charitable Foundation Limited
Chong Hing Bank Limited
DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited
DBS Bank (China) Limited
Ernst & Young
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Ltd.
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.
Other key lawyers:
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.
‘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.’
Hong Kong Solicitors Indemnity Fund
Kim Dotcom and Megaupload Limited
IMF Bentham Limited
Lagerinn Iceland EHF
Doninvest Commercial Bank Limited Liability Company
- 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.
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.
Other key lawyers:
‘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.’
Standard Chartered Bank
- 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.
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'.
- Representing joint venture company ZPMC-RED BOX Energy Services in a $400m shareholders’ dispute.
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.
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.
Other key lawyers:
‘Rudy Chung is a very sharp, practical and knowledgable individual‘.
The Hong Kong Hospital Authority
The Hong Kong Medical Protection Society
The Hong Kong Dental Association
- Representing Link Fish Import & Export in a claim brought against two Hong Kong companies concerning fraudulent transactions worth more than $10m.
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.
Other key lawyers:
China Life Insurance (Overseas) Company Limited
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.
‘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.’
The Bank of East Asia
Hong Kong Airlines
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.
Other key lawyers:
Luso International Banking Limited
Deutsche Bank AG
Grand City Capital Investment Limited
- 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.
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.
Damien Laracy; Bryan O’Hare
‘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.’
- 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.
Randall Arthur; John Han
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.
David Morrison; William Barber
The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong
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.