Firm Profile > McDonald Patafta & Associates Lawyers > Vientaine, Laos

McDonald Patafta & Associates Lawyers

Leading firms Tier 2

McDonald Patafta & Associates Lawyers advises on a range of general corporate and commercial matters, domestic tax, and project development. In particular the team has experience taking companies through the whole suite of requirements for Lao registration and operation, and is fully capable of handling any required financings, corporate transactions and capital markets listings, joint venture agreements and commercial contracts, and Lao taxation matters. In addition, the team has acted for lenders and government clients in large power and infrastructure projects. Mike McDonald oversees the team from Singapore, Kaz Patafta heads the on-the-ground Lao team, and Khamkong Liemphrachanh leads the government relations practice.

Legal market overview

As markets in Southeast Asia are concerned, Laos is a notoriously difficult one to navigate. The one-party state operates under an extraordinarily opaque and under-developed legal framework, wherein clearances for commercial operations and the early resolution of disputes often occur through direct negotiation with the country’s authorities rather than under a well-defined set of laws and processes. As a result, in speaking with lawyers throughout the region with only peripheral experience in Laos, there is a sense of bemused bewilderment surrounding the country’s regulatory framework and the essentials of getting business done in Laos.

One point to note in 2019 is the rise in Chinese investment into Laos, which is of course a common trend throughout much of the ASEAN. What makes the Laos case slightly unique however is, first, the influence of Laos’ neighbour to the east; and second, the current policy of the Lao government toward the preservation of its wildlife. Laos finds itself between two spheres of influence: one from China and the other from Vietnam. Obviously China carries considerably more weight than the coastal nation of Vietnam, though the Lao government has judged its relationship with Vietnam to be an important one and is, therefore, hesitant to allow China to monopolise its foreign investment market. Further, though Laos is an important market for Chinese infrastructure, the Lao government has set an ambitious goal for the protection of its wildlife, pledging that 70% of the country will remain protected forest lands.

The Lao legal market is fairly small, although given the regulatory quagmire faced by any commercial entity, companies will want to ensure that their lawyers have a real depth of experience in the market. DFDL Legal & Tax, Tilleke & Gibbins (Laos), and VDB Loi were top performers in 2019, while other recommended firms include McDonald Patafta & Associates Lawyers, Rajah & Tann (Laos), and ZICO Law.

McDonald Patafta & Associates Lawyers (MPA Lawyers) (formerly Arion Legal) is a registered foreign law firm in Lao PDR and has been operating in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) since 2008 and is the only Australian law firm registered in Lao PDR.

MPA Lawyers provides international standard legal and tax advice and documentation for foreign investors operating in, or looking to invest in, the Lao PDR. With extensive commercial legal experience our senior Lao and foreign legal and tax advisors take a practical and problem-solving approach to their work, whilst maintaining a high level of integrity in all dealings.

Our team has the skills and expertise to guide clients through the complexities of doing business in Lao PDR and we provide excellent services to our clients by developing strong relationships, understanding objectives and working to ensure our client’s legal affairs are dealt with professionally and expeditiously.
In particular, we have specialist expertise in all aspects of mining and hydropower projects as well as other large-scale investment projects in the Lao PDR, having represented investors, lenders and the Government of Lao PDR for various projects.

Our major services and capabilities extend to:

– Foreign Investment
– Energy & Mining
– Corporate & Commercial
– Tax Advisory
– Construction & Infrastructure
– Property Transactions
– Project Finance
– Asset Purchase & Divestment
– Labour & Employment Law
– Environment & Agriculture
– Forestry
– Legal Due Diligence

MPA Lawyers is managed by highly experienced directors Mike McDonald and Kaz Patafta who take a hands-on approach in the day to day running of the office and provide expertise and support to the Lao team, a talented and experienced team of foreign and Lao national lawyers led by Soulignasack Liemphrachanh.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing Director Mike McDonald +61 (0) 407 727 046
Director Kaz Patafta +856 (0) 20 5559 9430
Photo Name Position Profile
Ms Rosie Cole  photo Ms Rosie Cole Legal Advisor
 Khamkong Liemphrachanh photo Khamkong Liemphrachanh Senior Counsel
Mr Soulignasack Liemphrachanh  photo Mr Soulignasack Liemphrachanh Deputy Director
 Mike McDonald photo Mike McDonald Managing Director
Mr Kaz Patafta  photo Mr Kaz Patafta Director
Mrs Chintala Xayyaveth  photo Mrs Chintala Xayyaveth Legal Advisor
English (fluent)
Chinese (Mandarin)