Charlotte Robins and Matt Bower are key names in Allen & Overy's team, which has seen an increase in instructions from the fintech space, alongside advising clients from the private banking arena on regulatory issues concerning complex and non-complex financial products. Of counsel Andre Da Roza and associate Bernita Lun are also names to note. Simon Clarke has retired, and senior associate Will Yip left the firm to join HSBC as senior legal counsel. In November 2019, litigation and investigations specialist Eugene Chen joined from Hogan Lovells.
Regulatory in Hong Kong
Allen & Overy
Clifford Chance's team was recently bolstered by the arrival of Jimmy Chan, formerly a director at Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), and the promotion to partner of Rocky Mui. The group provides 'clear and effective advice' to global financial institutions regarding SFC investigations and Market Misconduct Tribunal (MMT) proceedings, and has been particularly busy assisting clients from the cryptocurrency space. Mark Shipman and Donna Wacker are key names, and consultant Viola Lui is also recommended.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Bank of Montreal
Schroder Investment Management
HSBC Global Asset Management
- Representing a Hong Kong-licensed securities firm listed on an US exchange in three SFC investigations, involving alleged segregation of client assets and oversight of the trading system to detect possible market manipulation activities.
- Advising a Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchange on its sandbox application for an SFC licence relating to the virtual exchange of assets.
- Acted for the asset management arm of a leading global investment bank on the SFC authorisation process regarding the launch of seven investment funds.
At Baker McKenzie, Cynthia Tang heads up the contentious side of the practice, which primarily handles both domestic and global financial services regulatory enforcement and litigation. On the non-contentious side, Karen Man leads the practice, which counts fintech work as a core strength. Special counsel Grace Fung is also singled out.
Other key lawyers:
Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation
Walton International Group Limited
Tencent Holdings Limited
- Advised Tencent on establishing a joint venture, Infinium, and the successful application for a virtual banking license, among the first permitted by the HKMA.
Deacons' non-contentious regulatory practice houses Jane McBride, who leads the firm’s dedicated SFC licensing, compliance and regulatory team, and Jeremy Lam; the duo are very strong in assisting clients with securities-related mandates. Simon Deane is well versed in banking regulatory matters. On the contentious side, Joseph Kwan is the key contact, and often acts for clients in SFC investigations.
‘They are one of the premier and most well-established regulatory practices in Hong Kong, led by a partner [Jane McBride] who is well known in the industry for her experience and insight. They are strong in regulatory space for investment management firms, and their clients are able to benefit from their wealth of knowledge from their many touchpoints with the SFC.’
‘Jane McBride is our trusted advisor on regulatory matters, and we know we can generally count on her to provide sensible advice that balances regulatory expectations as well as commercial needs. She is a leader in the field and has a great pulse on regulatory expectations, as well as practical ways of handling certain issues.’
‘Joseph Kwan has been providing excellent advice and strong leadership in my case. Overall good macro-management.’
Herbert Smith Freehills
William Hallatt heads up the practice at Herbert Smith Freehills, which counts contentious regulatory work as a core strength and frequently advises prominent global financial institutions on complex enforcement proceedings brought by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the the Hong Kong SFC. Non-contentious work also features in the team's workload, recently on licensing matters and cross-border compliance issues. Kyle Wombolt and Hannah Cassidy are key names for contentious regulatory work. Jeremy Birch made partner in May 2019.
At Linklaters, Singapore-based Melvin Sng shares leadership of the practice with Annabella Fu van Bijnen, who has extensive expertise in financial regulatory matters, and Sumit Indwar, who counts fintech as a core specialty. The team was expanded in 2018 by the arrival of Andrew Chung, a former legal managing director at Goldman Sachs and has significant experience advising financial institutions on contentious regulatory issues. Gavin Lewis has relocated to the firm's London office.
Other key lawyers:
‘Linklaters’ regulatory practice has a good reputation. It has capacity both for contentious and non-contentious regulatory practice, which is very helpful.’
The 'very knowledgeable' team at Ashurst is noted for providing 'practical advice' on a wide spectrum of non-contentious and contentious regulatory matters, to a client base made up of prominent investment companies and international banks. The 'very engaging' Ben Hammond leads the non-contentious side of the practice, while James Comber heads up the contentious side. Counsel Stephanie Chan is also recommended. In 2018 Gareth Hughes moved to Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.
Other key lawyers:
‘They give pragmatic advice and try to find creative solutions to problems‘.
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Martin Rogers, James Wadham and Karen Chan lead the team at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. Recent work for the group includes SFC investigations, MMT proceedings, and advising clients on financial regulatory matters.
Michael Wong and Maria Sit head up the practice at Dechert. The team acted for the Investment Company Institute in the SFC's consultation concerning revisions to the Hong Kong Code on Unit Trusts and Mutual Funds, and changes to the regulations for reporting OTC derivatives. Kareena Teh departed for LC Lawyers LLP in December 2018.
Stifel Financial Corporation
Investment Company Institute
Bank of Singapore Limited
Red Gate Asset Management
At Hogan Lovells, the team is noted for its strong capabilities in handling insurance regulatory matters, and also acts for clients within the fintech space across a broad spectrum of contentious and non-contentious mandates. Mark Lin and Tim Fletcher are the key contacts.
King & Wood Mallesons
King & Wood Mallesons is 'strong in the compliance and regulatory field'. Practice head Richard Mazzochi has extensive expertise in non-contentious regulatory work and counts a number of banks and securities entities as clients; his recent workload includes advising on licence applications for virtual banks. Regulatory specialist Urszula McCormack is singled out for her experience in digital banking mandates, with a focus on blockchain regulation.
Other key lawyers:
‘This practice is quick to grasp the core issues and understand the commercial drivers behind the legal advice required. They are engaged with the problems and proactively offer flexibility and practical solutions‘.
Hong Kong Stock Exchange
Standard Chartered Bank
The Hong Kong Association of Banks
- Acted as Hong Kong counsel to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) on the establishment of a spot commodity trading platform in Shenzhen in China.
- Advising Standard Charted Bank on the regulatory aspects of its Faster Payments System arrangements with leading stored value facilities (SVFs).
- Advising Fusang Group on compliance issues concerning its virtual assets.
Minter Ellison's practice received a boost with the arrival of David Morrison, Nathan Dentice, Eddy So, Desmond Yu and William Barber from Reed Smith Richards Butler in January 2019. Recent instructions for the 'user friendly, effective and efficient' team include advising global financial institutions regarding MMT proceedings and SFC investigations.
‘It has in-depth experience of dealing with Hong Kong’s regulators and law enforcement agencies and has much to offer clients as a result.’
‘In my view, David Morrison, Nathan Dentice, Desmond Yu are all excellent solicitors. They give clear, practical advice to clients and they fight hard but fair in court and the MMT. They can be relied on in times of crisis to produce the goods for clients.’
‘A team with decent size which allows them to allocate resources and expertise to fit the complexity of the matter. Partners in the team are experienced and know our business/market well.’
‘Desmond Liaw and Eddy So both understand the legal technicality and delicacy of dealing with reulators well. Very accessible.’
Noble Group Limited
The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong
Financial Reporting Council
The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants
BHP International Markets
Pacific Andes International Holdings Limited
Real Gold Mining Limited
- Acting for skincare company Magic Holdings in ongoing MMT proceedings regarding an alleged breach of SFO disclosure regulations after L’Oréal acquired all shares in the client.
- Advising the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong on non-contentious regulatory matters.
Mark Reed heads up the non-contentious side of Stephenson Harwood's practice, while Ian Childs leads on the contentious side. A number of major asset managers, investment companies, and international banks instruct the group. Katherine Liu made partner in May 2019.
Other key lawyers:
Goldenwise Capital Group
Guggenheim Investment Advisors (Hong Kong)
AC Asset Management
Impax Asset Management (Hong Kong)
Wykeham Capital Asia Value Fund
Kaiyuan Education Fund GP
Akami Master Fund
The Bank of East Asia
Dah Sing Bank
- Assisted AC Asset Management, an SFC-licensed asset manager, with obtaining a waiver from the SFC of a condition imposed on its securities licences to permit the client to extend its advisory and asset management services via an online platform.
- Assisted Indonesian conglomerate Mayapada Group with successfully obtained a money lenders licence for its Hong Kong entity, marking the client’s first entry into Hong Kong’s financial sector.
Kennedys' team, led by Kevin Yam, continues to represent a prominent, listed company executive in connection with regulatory and criminal investigations involving the first ever joint operations between the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the SFC. Peter Cashin has left the firm.
Catherine McBride and counsel Simon Hawkins head up the practice at Latham & Watkins LLP. The team counts fintech as a core strength, and has been advising clients from the financial services sector on regulatory issues concerning developments in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
‘Simon Hawkins is practical, sharp, and quick, and his work is thorough and high-level‘.
Etelka Bogardi heads up the practice at Norton Rose Fulbright. The team handles a wide range of non-contentious and contentious regulatory work, primarily for financial institutions, and reports an uptick in instructions from the fintech space. The group also represents clients in HKMA and SFC investigations.
Advanced Fund Technology Group
China Southern Fund Management Company
National Social Security Fund (NSSF)
- Advised multinational crypto-asset investment company Diginex on financial services regulatory matters.
- Advising Advanced Fund Technology Group on Hong Kong regulatory requirements under the HKMA and SFC regimes.