A standalone practice in its own right, as well as providing the tax structuring pursuant to broader corporate and finance mandates handled by the firm, Baker McKenzie is 'absolutely the best in the market for corporate tax matters'. The nature of the team's work is eclectic, ranging from multi-jurisdictional M&A tax-structuring (where it can effectively leverage the firm's expansive global resources) and tax planning for multinational corporates, through to advice on employment-related taxes and tax disputes. Despite the recent retirement of Richard Weisman (who now serves as a Management Director for the firm), the team still has a tremendous amount of senior experience, including the 'grandfather of Hong Kong tax', senior consultant Michael Olesnicky. Pierre Chan's varied practice encompasses corporate tax matters, estate planning, and a significant amount of disputes work. Steven Sieker rounds out the team at a senior level and is noted, in particular, for his tax advisory work for high-net-worth individuals and contentious tax expertise.
Domestic and International Corporate Tax in Hong Kong
‘It is absolutely the best in the market for corporate tax matters.’
‘Michael Olesnicky is the grandfather of Hong Kong tax.’
Particularly adept on the non-contentious front, DLA Piper provides 'practical and solutions-based' tax structuring to local, regional and multinational corporates pursuant to transactional work handled by the firm (including M&A mandates and major restructuring projects), as well as on discrete advisory mandates, including advice on transfer pricing and executive compensation. Able to leverage tax experts spread throughout the firm's extensive international network, the team is regularly involved in multi-jurisdictional projects, including on the tax structuring pursuant to major global restructuring projects. Team head Anderson Lam takes the lead on many of the group's highest-profile local and cross-border mandates and regularly acts as coordinating counsel on pan-Asian matters. Fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English, Daniel Chan is a key member of the team and excels in providing tax structuring advice to international corporates establishing operations in mainland China.
‘The team has good relationships with local tax bureaus and provides practical and solutions-based advice.’
Gibson Dunn's nascent Hong Kong tax offering has gained momentum since experienced litigators Elaine Chen and Brian Gilchrist joined from Clifford Chance in May 2020. The firm is now well-equipped to handle the full range of tax and trusts disputes for corporates, funds, high-net-worth individuals, and family offices. Both Chen and Gilchrist are 'stand out performers in the field of trusts, tax, and disputes generally; together, they are definitely a team you want on your side'.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team has in-depth knowledge and experience of the issues which arise when trusts, whether commercial or personal, are set up and has an instinctive understanding of the tax consequences of transactions of all kinds carried out by trusts and commercial organisations.’
‘The team is extremely hardworking, responsive, careful, and detailed in its work. It is always on top of the relevant facts and documents in the matter at hand, instructions to counsel are always detailed and thorough, and it provides great support and input to counsel. It assesses counsel’s work and advice critically and never just follows counsel’s views blindly.’
‘Brian Gilchrist has vast experience in resolving disputes relating to trusts and the knowledge which allows him to ensure that his clients avoid disputes wherever possible.’
‘Elaine Chen also has great instinct and a certain sure instinct for the right answer.’
‘Both Gilchrist and Chen are stand out performers in the field of trusts, tax, and disputes generally: together, they definitely are a team you want on your side.’
‘Brian Gilchrist has enormous experience in all kinds of contentious dispute work and has immense knowledge of the law and customs in Hong Kong, which he brings to any issue in which he is involved and which allows him to help bring about the right result for his clients. Elaine Chen straddles the English and Chinese worlds which co-exist in Hong Kong and has a remarkable instinct for the right answer to tax questions.’
- Advising a leading group specialising in the manufacturing and sale of power tools and home improvement accessories in a dispute with the Hong Kong Inland Revenue concerning the source of profits of its overseas operating subsidiary.
- Advising a leading property development group listed on the New York Stock Exchange on matters relating to a claim brought by the Hong Kong Inland Revenue against various directors of its subsidiary for making incorrect tax returns on behalf of the company taxpayer.
- Represented the executrix of the Estate of a prominent Hong Kong property developer on a dispute with the Commissioner of Estate Duty on whether estate duty was chargeable over certain offshore assets and the disallowing of a claim for allowance in respect of a liability indemnified by the deceased.
In somewhat of a transitionary phase, following the departure of leading tax and trusts litigators Elaine Chen and Brian Gilchrist to Gibson Dunn in April 2020, Clifford Chance's contentious expertise, is for the time being led by Ling Ho , as part of her broader litigation and IP function. On the non-contentious front, Anthony Fay handles international tax matters for Asia inbound and outbound investors and is aided in his tax structuring work by the ability to draw from the firm's huge corporate, finance and tax resources throughout its vast international network.
Other key lawyers:
- Advised a global bank in relation to investigations on potential contraventions of regulatory and tax laws, where its representative office in India may have been engaged in permanent establishment activities (in particular, revenue-generating activities) beyond the scope of their permitted regulatory licenses.
- Advising a number of high-net-worth individuals, private clients and prominent families on contentious tax, estate and trust issues, including recent work for a beneficiary of the estate of a prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist of renown in Hong Kong and the PRC, involving billions of US dollars and assets located in various jurisdictions.
- Represented a top brand consumer electronics manufacturer in its appeal to the Hong Kong Board of Review against the Determination of the Commissioner of Inland Revenue with respect to the sources of four main heads of profits/loss derived from its operation in Hong Kong, China, US, Europe and other parts of Asia.
Spearheaded by 'gifted' counsel Stefano Mariani, Deacons' tax team is a firm favorite among a variety of regional and multinational corporates, and public sector bodies, as a result of its conversance with the Hong Kong tax framework, allied to a strong understanding of international tax considerations. Mariani is regularly called upon to advise on cross-border tax planning and Double Taxation Treaty driven tax structuring, while also adding particular value on the contentious front by dint of his ability and willingness to handle his own advocacy on behalf of clients.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team of lawyers led by Stefano Mariani was efficient, fast, and extremely accurate in delivering the advice.’
‘Stefano Mariani is a top-class tax lawyer and extremely knowledgeable in cross-border tax transactions.’