Hong Kong SAR

Review

Dispute resolution
Allen & Overy

With international arbitration as a core strength, Allen & Overy’s dispute resolution team is also known for its work in commercial litigation in corporate and finance matters, particularly those involving derivatives. The firm’s geographical reach, as well as its strong Greater China practice, enables the team to take on multi-jurisdictional disputes under institutional rules including the LCIA, ICC, HKIAC and ICSID.

Commercial litigation partners Matt Bower and Fai Hung Cheung are highly respected in this space. Matthew Hodgson specialises in international arbitration, particularly active in investment treaty, energy and infrastructure disputes.

Commercial case highlights include work for a state-owned Chinese multinational bank on its security enforcement against the borrowers and the mortgagor, and more generally, its exposure in connection with a HK$3 billion loan; and representing a subsidiary of a Hong Kong-listed company in the financial services sector in a dispute against a Chinese investor for payments due under a total return swap transaction.

In the international arbitration space, the firm is representing BG Exploration and Production India and Reliance Industries in over $5 billion London-seated arbitrations against the Government of India under the UNCITRAL Rules 1976. The claims have arisen under two (Indian law-governed) production sharing contracts in respect of oil and gas fields off the west coast of India.

In white-collar crime, the firm acted for a global specialty chemicals company on alleged corruption in one of its most significant construction projects in China. The allegation concerned the bidding process of multiple packages of the project.

Eugene Chen joined the firm from Hogan Lovells in November 2019 as part of the firm’s expansion of its global white-collar crime practice. Chen focuses on regulatory investigations and enforcement actions across the region.

Bird & Bird

With a well-established IP practice, Bird & Bird is active in a wide spectrum of dispute resolution work across financial services, life sciences, technology, and consumer goods and services. Notable members in the dispute resolution team include Allison Wong and Matthew Laight.

The firm continues to represent Merck in Hong Kong and China as the plaintiff in proceedings against members of the Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) group of companies. The Hong Kong and China proceedings are part of a global series of disputes in respect of the use of the term ‘Merck’.

In another case highlight, the firm has been acting in a long running dispute between two telecoms giants over the terms of a patent licence.

Boase Cohen & Collins

Boase Cohen & Collins is widely distinguished for its capability in family and matrimonial and white-collar crime. It has an experienced and versatile team that handles all aspects of matrimonial law including divorce and separation, childcare and custody, pre- and post-nuptial agreements and surrogacy and parental orders. Its criminal law team is best known for handling cases involving fraud, financial irregularities, SFC investigations, anti-corruption and other general corporate crimes.

Co-founder Colin Cohen has vast experience in commercial litigation, securities regulatory issues and complex corporate and financial crimes. Usha Casewell has a long-standing reputation in the family law space.

Bowers

Founded in 2020 by Kevin Bowers, a former consultant at Tanner De Witt, Bowers has etched itself a formidable niche in the Hong Kong legal landscape with its concentration in representing plaintiffs in employment. The firm’s reputable labour and employment practice handles a full range of work on both the employee and employer sides. It has extensive experience in wide-ranging sectors, and is active in aviation, banking and financial services and insurance.

Bowers specialises in commercial, insurance and employment litigation both in Hong Kong and internationally. He acts for both employers and employees in a wide range of contentious and advisory employment matters, and is experienced in advising upon and handling internal disciplinary investigations and proceedings. Partner Derek Cheuk is another key figure.

The firm advised Dragonair Pilots Association, one of the largest employee unions in Hong Kong, on the fall-out from the ceasing of operations of Cathay Dragon. The firm represented about 375 pilots in relation to their exit from the airline, which involved negotiating terms of separation based upon complex Conditions of Service and discontinuing ongoing employment litigation between the airline and its former pilots.

In another employment dispute, the firm is advising a group of senior executives on retaliation claims after whistleblowing on market misconduct in international investment banks, which entails advising on separate employee claims against separate financial institutions for the victimisation, marginalisation and ostracism of the employees concerned in breach of bank non-retaliation policies.

Clyde & Co

Clyde & Co is recognised for its work in international arbitration. Traditionally known for its sector expertise in shipping, insurance and transportation, the team is developing strengths in the oil and gas, and construction sectors. The firm is the largest user of the London Court of International Arbitration. Gilbert Kwok is a highly respected construction dispute expert. Other key figures include Simon McConnell and Patrick Perry.

In one commercial and transactions sample, the firm is acting for a Big Four accountancy firm in defending a HK$2.5 billion claim, which is one of the largest pieces of litigation currently in the Hong Kong courts.

The rest of the clients the firm has acted for during the research period remain confidential.

The firm hired partner Rosie Ng, who joined from HFW. Shanghai-based IP litigator Elliot Papageorgiou left firm and joined Gowling WLG in early 2022.

Clyde & Co had recently celebrated 40 years since it first established an office in Hong Kong, the firm's first office outside London.

Client feedback

“They provide excellent, timely advice, with measured views and clear options.” – Commercial and transactions

Christopher Short

“Gives excellent, clear advice, offering pragmatic solutions.”

CMS

Full-service law firm CMS has a growing international arbitration practice in Hong Kong and is active in commercial, construction and post-M&A disputes. The firm is substantially active in intellectual property in Beijing and Shanghai. The Hong Kong team is also sought out by clients for its significant investment and maritime disputes experience.

Based in Beijing and Shanghai, Nick Beckett and Ulrike Glueck are key figures in the life sciences and healthcare sectors. Nicolas Wiegand, based in Hong Kong, is a key contact in its international arbitration practice. Andrew Horton and Steven Wise are key contacts for shipping. Jonathan Chu is a key contact for IP.

In international arbitration, work highlights include the firm representing a Taipei-listed biopharmaceutical corporation in a dispute arising from a license agreement with an Austrian pharmaceutical company; represented a German technology corporation in an ICC arbitration seated in Hong Kong against a Chinese customer; and advising an international construction group in an United Nations Commission On International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) arbitration seated in The Hague against an Eastern European road authority regarding a road rehabilitation project.

In intellectual property, the firm acted for Baidu Online Network Technology in passing-off and trademark infringement actions concerning its mark ‘Baidu’ in Hong Kong. The firm also represented Xiaomi in defending a Hong Kong opposition application against a well-known US technology company.

In shipping, the firm is acting on behalf of a Korean terminal operator and its insurers in respect of a claim against a vessel that allied with the terminal facilities causing $100 million in damages.

The rest of the clients the firm has acted for during the research period remain confidential.

Client feedback

“Consistency in scope of advice as with their various other offices, especially in the UK.” – Intellectual property

“They can coordinate very well actions involving multiple jurisdictions.” – Intellectual property

“The firm has shown us a deep knowledge of the applicable law and the local market and regulation, and a significant experience in relevant cases. The required answers and solutions were swiftly provided, along with our replies to any questions concerning applicable law, regulatory, judicial and factual practice. The team has also duly followed-up on any developments on the cases handled.” – Intellectual property

Nick Beckett

“He is a life sciences and IP expert.”

“He has a vast high-quality international network, thus helps well in any jurisdiction.”

“Beckett responded quickly to our request for assistance and outlined in a clear manner all the possible actions that could be taken, along with their advantages and disadvantages, allowing us to provide a comprehensive advice to our client. The solutions and follow-up actions recommended were business and solution oriented, aiming to effectively protect the client's intellectual property rights. He has also provided information on actions that should be taken after the initial legal actions filed with the competent authorities, aiming at and achieving a successful overall outcome, safeguarding the client's legitimate interests. In general, he has a thorough and efficient approach against the matter at hand, and he always provides quick and effective feedback to any queries.”

Cocking & Co

Newly established construction boutique firm Cocking & Co provides a full spectrum of construction-related legal services in Hong Kong and internationally. The firm assists clients across the entire project life cycle including environmental impact assessment study, procurement methods, contract administration and dispute resolution. The firm frequently instructs contractors, public and private employers, insurers and subcontractors.

Founding partner Ian Cocking is recognised as one of the leading construction specialists in Hong Kong with over 30 years’ experience. Gilbert Kwok is highly experienced in construction disputes across arbitration, litigation and mediation. Dennis Wong handles various complex commercial disputes.

In one case highlight, the firm is acting for National Petrochemical Industrial Company (Natpet) against international consultant ERM- Hong Kong in a High Court action arising out of an explosion of a chemical plant in Yanbu, Saudi, Arabia.

Another case highlight saw the firm acting for Chubb Hong Kong, a registered fire service installation contractor, in six High Court actions to defend against multimillion-dollar claims by various parties all arising from an alarm fire at a container terminal in Hong Kong.

During the research period, the firm hired Vivian Wong as partner from Clyde & Co.

Key clients include Casey Company, iReality Investments, Long Faith Engineering, We Architects and Yearfull Contracting.

Ian Cocking

“Very hands on and attentive to clients’ needs and requirements.”

Davis Polk & Wardwell

Davis Polk & Wardwell is one of the strongest corporate law firms in the region, so it comes as no surprise that its strength in dispute resolution is in the financial services sector. The firm is active representing global investment banks, accountancy firms, brokers, insurance companies, as well as trading exchanges before regulators including the HKEX, SFC, SEC, DOJ and Treasury Department. The team also offers renowned and recognised capability for the handling of white-collar crime and international arbitration.

Key names in the firm’s commercial, finance and corporate disputes team include Martin Rogers, Karen Chan, Patrick Sinclair and James Wadham. Rogers, Chan and Sinclair also have particular expertise in white-collar crime and regulatory matters.

In the commercial disputes space during the research period, the firm continues to represent Luckin Coffee, a PRC-based technology-driven retail company listed on the NASDAQ Exchange, in connection with securities class actions filed in federal and state courts in New York, as well as derivative and opt-out claims that have also been filed. The firm also advised the same client in a $175 million settlement of the federal class action, which received preliminary approval from the court in October 2021. In another case sample, the firm is representing Tencent Music Entertainment Group, a PRC-based online music entertainment platform, in a securities class actions filed in federal and state courts in New York.

In the white-collar crime space, the firm successfully represented a non-executive director of Magic International Holdings in proceedings brought by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) before the Hong Kong Market Misconduct Tribunal. This is the first and test case in which the SFC have taken action against non-executive directors for the responsibility under legislation introduced in 2013 to ensure adequacy of controls to comply with continuous disclosure obligations.

Client feedback

“Very detailed and thorough advice.” – Commercial and transactions

“Technically very sound and commercial.” – Commercial and transactions

Martin Rogers

“Extremely experienced, technically very sound and commercially astute.”

“Provides insightful advice and top-notch legal analysis.”

Deacons

One of Hong Kong’s premier litigation firms, Deacons maintains its coveted dominance in the city’s dispute resolution community, a position it has held for decades. The firm maintains top tier in almost all categories including commercial disputes, IP, insolvency and private client. It comprises a long-established client base across a wide range of industries including blue-chip businesses, governments, banks and tech giants. The firm’s growing family law practice team is experienced in handling a wide range of family-related matters including financial disputes and children matters, maintenance, and financial provisions for special needs children and cohabitees.

Key players include commercial litigators Joseph Kwan, Robert Clark and Peter So alongside IP disputes star Charmaine Koo and labour specialist Elsie Chan.

In intellectual property, the firm successfully represented Google in relation to a landmark Hong Kong decision where the Administrative Appeals Board (AAB) confirmed that there is no independent ‘right to be forgotten’ under Hong Kong law.

In another IP case, the firm is acting for Alibaba in IP infringement proceedings commenced in Hong Kong by a cosmetics supplier against three Alibaba companies, Zhejiang Tmall Network, Zhejiang Tmall Technology, and Taobao China Holding and two Mainland China third-party sellers on the www.tmall.com and www.taobao.com platform. This is the first Hong Kong case dealing with online platform operator’s liability.

The firm’s family law practice hired Sherlynn Chan as partner from Stevenson Wong & Co to further expand its service scope.

Client feedback

“They are resourceful, experienced and reliable.”

“Timely service, understand the issues of concern and give concrete advice.”

Cecilia Lau

“Cecilia has a deep understanding of people, which is an integral part of her practice. She is skilled in dealing with high conflict matrimonial cases and can truly understand what is really at stake for her clients and the children involved.”

Debevoise & Plimpton

Debevoise & Plimpton is the law firm of choice when it comes to regulatory disputes. With offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, the firm advises both regional and multinational companies in complex disputes arising out of their Asian operations, particularly involving the financial sector. Its lawyers are frequently engaged by clients for commercial litigation, white-collar investigations, regulatory disputes and international arbitration.

Specialising in commercial and regulatory disputes, Mark Johnson leads the practice. Gareth Hughes is a key contact for commercial matters.

All the cases worked on during the research period are confidential, however, it has been observed that the firm has kept busy with cases involving fraud, share agreements, private equity funds and SFC investigations.

Dentons

The Beijing office of Dentons, known as Dacheng (大成), is widely recognised for its work in commercial disputes, particularly in the banking and finance space. The firm’s industry strength lies in financial services, technology and communications, energy, aviation and life sciences. In Hong Kong, the firm is active in the international arbitration space. As a result of active involvement in the BRI initiative, the firm handles an increasing number of disputes arising out of BRI projects and investments.

Huazhi Yuan and Zhibin Zheng are noted for their work in construction and insolvency disputes. In the Hong Kong office, key figures include Richard Keady and Allan Leung who specialises in commercial disputes and international arbitration.

Case highlights include representing a PRC state-owned enterprise and two of its general directors in defending High Court proceedings brought by a former chairman of a Hong Kong-listed company; acting for The National Trust in its application for an urgent domestic and worldwide Mareva injunction against its debtor and obligors; and acting for the joint liquidators of Ocean Sino and PBM Asset Management in pursuit of legal actions against BGA Holdings and its directors and other shareholders for recovery of valuable assets.

In international arbitration, the firm is acting for Southwest Pacific Bauxite (HK) in an HKIAC arbitration regarding a shareholder dispute. The decision was important as it established for the first time in Hong Kong that a company could not be wound up based on a debt arising out of a contract containing an arbitration clause.

Key clients include Abercrombie & Fitch, Akbank, Cheung Kei Center and Hong Kong Solicitors Indemnity Fund.

The firm has launched an interactive web-based tool that allows clients to obtain injunctive relief, temporary respite and control of a situation in case of urgent legal emergencies across multiple jurisdictions.

Client feedback

“The firm provides an excellent service to their clients in advising on the complexities of litigation and preparing thoroughly for litigation.” – Commercial and transactions

“Dentons provides succinct, on point and clear advice which allows efficient and correct decisions to be made.” – Commercial and transactions

“The firm is able to think from the counter-parties perspective. It offers a practical business approach and provides actual technical legal advice.” – Commercial and transactions

“Highly professional and deep knowledge of arbitration rules and procedure.” – International arbitration

Richard Keady

“Analyses the legal problems and arrives at clear solutions.”

“Works like a business partner who doesn't try to run up bills nor create false expectations.”

DLA Piper

DLA Piper’s team of substantial litigators in both Hong Kong and China handles a wide range of commercial disputes. The team is frequently sought out for shareholder disputes, regulatory investigations, through to more specialised cases in the areas of banking and finance, employment, IP, construction and shipping. The firm’s litigation and regulatory team is highly experienced in handling private client disputes. It often keeps busy advising ultra-high-net-worth individuals, executors, trustees, wealth advisors, fiduciaries and family offices.

Key names in commercial and transactions include partners Harris Chan, who brings more than 20 years of extensive experience in commercial litigation at all court levels in Hong Kong, as well as in arbitration proceedings, and head of the firm’s litigation and regulatory practice in Asia Kevin Chan, who focuses his practice on civil dispute resolution. Satpal Gobindpuri is another key figure.

In commercial disputes, the firm is acting for Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) (ICBCA) in a Hong Kong High Court action to recover an over HK$1.5 billion defaulted loan from a subsidiary of Lerthai Group, with Lerthai Group itself and its chairman as guarantors. The firm also advised ICBCA on further proceedings in the PRC with regard to the enforcement of securities.

In another case, the firm advised investment office Sand Aire on an ongoing High Court civil action against an individual and Cre8ive Investment for their default in making payment under a settlement agreement with a settlement sum of Rmb270 million.

Key clients include Chow Sang Sang Securities, Combest Holdings, DIO Corporation and Haitong International Assets Management.

Dorsey & Whitney

Dorsey Whitney is often sought for its multi-jurisdictional contentious offerings, particularly in the commercial and transactions space. The firm is active in litigation and arbitration proceedings involving corporate acquisitions, shareholder disputes, contentious insolvencies and a wide variety of commercial matters related to investments and transactions in the PRC. The firm’s litigation group has profound industry knowledge in the areas of banking and financial services, biotechnology, manufacturing and TMT.

Partner Sirui (Ray) Liu heads the firm’s office in Beijing. He concentrates on international and commercial litigations and arbitrations, primarily those involving cross-border and extraterritorial disputes. Yiqin (Karen) Fan is a partner to note in the Shanghai office. Other key figures include Janet Wong, Lilian Shi and Katherine Cheung.

The firm represented PICC Property & Casualty Company, the largest non-life insurer in Asia, in a variety of major civil actions, product liability litigations, coverage disputes as well as regulatory consultation matters in the US and Canada. The firm has also been representing various subsidiaries of China Huarong Asset Management, the largest Chinese asset management company, in a variety of commercial dispute resolutions, related financial restructuring and capital market compliance matters in Hong Kong and other offshore jurisdictions.

In IP, the firm represented World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) in pursuing trademark infringement and anti-unfair competition claims against Taizhou World Trade Center in Taizhou, Zhejiang, China. The case was selected as one of the eight typical IP cases in Zhejiang in 2020.

Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Mayo Clinic are some of the notable clients of the firm.

Client feedback

“The firm has rich knowledge and experience in those cross-border matters. Some partners have been regularly appointed and known as expert legal counsel and advisers on the most multifaceted and challenging legal and business matters in China and the US. Overall, the firm's deep experience allows the firm to provide real-world advice that balances commercial sensibilities and risk.” – International arbitration

Sirui (Ray) Liu

“Liu is very capable of wading through complex matters to focus on workable solutions for his clients.”

Ellalan

A Hong Kong IP boutique that has been on a noticeable growth kick in its headcount and its branding traction, Ellalan has attained a sweet spot in the market thanks to the individual and collective vision of name partners Ella Cheong and Alan Chiu. The firm is renowned for its handling of contentious IP matters with a strong focus on fashion and luxury, technology, entertainment and life sciences. It is not only active in Hong Kong but also across Mainland China with its IP agency located in Beijing. It also has further strengthened its position in the market by taking overHung Au Yeung & Partners in January 2020. IP litigation specialist Alan Chiu heads the firm.

The firm continues to act for Hong Kong Karaoke Licensing Alliance in a landmark copyright licensing dispute before the Hong Kong Copyright Tribunal Case against Hong Kong’s biggest karaoke chain Neway. This case is the first Hong Kong Copyright Tribunal’s decision ever. Other case highlights include representing Pandora in trademark infringement, copyright infringement and passing off against a global jewellery e-commerce retailer Glamulet.

In early 2021, the firm hired Simon Wang from Mayer Brown as partner. Valeria Suen and James Choi were promoted to partner.

The firm has expanded its presence and practice in the China by establishing a new fully licenced PRC law firm in Guangzhou this year. The Guangzhou law firm is led by a three-partner team, Travis Wu, Pancy Chen and Vincent Yao, plus two Associates.

Key clients include Alibaba Group, Kering Group, Louis Vuitton Malletier, Singapore Headway Medicine and SMCP Asia.

Fangda Partners

Prominent PRC law firm Fangda Partners opened its office in Hong Kong in 2012. Supported by the firm’s leading practices in corporate and M&A, private equity, and capital markets, its dispute resolution team in Hong Kong advises at the forefront of complex commercial disputes, particularly in respect of cross-border investments and disputes involving entities from various jurisdictions.

Partner Peter Yuen is the head of the firm's dispute resolution practice. His practice covers international and regional arbitration, China-related commercial arbitration and commercial litigation. Other key figures are Andrew Skudder, Olga Boltenko and Howard Chan.

Case highlights include representing SAIF Partners, a leading China-based private equity fund, in proceedings against a former partner before the Court of First Instance, Court of Appeal and the Court of Final Appeal; representing Fullerton Healthcare Group, a leading Singapore-based global healthcare services provider, in devising a legal strategy against its former partners in separate joint ventures in Hong Kong; and acting for act for the Hong Kong subsidiary of China Great Wall Asset Management, an established state-owned financing institution in the PRC, as plaintiff in a set of mortgage enforcement actions before the Hong Kong High Court against four debtor companies for the recovery of a debt of over HK$110 million.

Client feedback

“They have experience with regulators, know how they will proceed and help to formulate our strategies in response to regulators.” – Government and regulatory

“They provide timely and professional advice for us, and have rich resources in selecting attorneys out of China. They're fluent in English and good at communication between Chinese client and foreign legal advisor.” – International arbitration

Howard Chan

“He is very experienced, thoughtful and detail-minded. He provides great advice and points out the areas where we should pay more attention to and help us formulate our plan and strategies in response to regulators.”

Helen Shi

“Rich with experience and has rich legal resources both in China and in abroad. She is very sensitive with loopholes, and good at persuading clients to make right decision.”

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is the go-to firm for Chinese POEs and SOEs involved in litigation outside of China. Its dispute resolution strength lies in commercial and transactions, international arbitration and white-collar crime. The team is frequently trusted by top-tier financial institutions, including bulge-bracket investment banks and leading private equity funds, in connection with their litigation matters stemming from their transactions.

The firm houses renowned litigation stars John Choong and Georgia Dawson. Choong specialises in international arbitration, cross-border investigations and other dispute resolution matters, whereas Dawson is experienced in internal and regulatory investigations, complex multi-jurisdictional litigation, and compliance advice in relation to anti-money laundering, anti-bribery and corruption and human rights. Tim Mak and William Robinson are other key figures.

In commercial and transactions, the firm represented Tsinghua Unigroup, one of the largest semiconductor and chip designers and manufacturers in China, in defending various offshore bondholders’ claims in the Hong Kong courts. The firm also represented a European manufacturer of pet food in relation to a contractual dispute arising from the termination of distribution agreement.

In international arbitration, the firm is advising a leading Chinese preschool education group in a dispute with a global fund concerning redemption rights and associated alleged breaches. In another case sample, the firm is advising a China-based state-owned company on a high-value dispute involving an offshore oil project.

The rest of the clients the firm has acted for during the research period remain confidential.

Client feedback

“Responds promptly and meets the expected requirement.” – Government and regulatory

“It provides speedy and strategic advice. Whilst it has depth of knowledge it is very practical, and solutions driven.” – Insolvency

Gall

Hong Kong independent law firm Gall is exclusively dedicated to dispute resolution. The firm is active in multi-jurisdictional litigation with expertise in a range of matters including insolvency, employment, family and matrimonial, and shareholder disputes. Clients include foreign governments, banks and other financial institutions, hedge funds, listed companies, accounting firms, land and property owners and high-net-worth individuals. The firm often receives referral work from international firms in Hong Kong.

Within its five-partner team, key commercial and transactions names include Nick Gall and Chris Wong. Family and matrimonial specialist Caroline McNally is another prominent figure.

During the research period, the firm acted on several high-profile cases including acting for Tomohiro Okada on a $3 billion shareholder dispute involving Universal Entertainment. This is one of the largest shareholders disputes in Hong Kong in this sector. It also represented SoftBank Vision Fund in a legal action pending in the Delaware Courts against The We Company, Adam Neumann and We Holdings; and representing China Shandong Hi-Speed Capital (HK) in a bond dispute against Great Sunrise.

In the insolvency space, the firm is advising an ad hoc group of bondholders in relation to an offshore scheme of arrangement in the ongoing restructuring of Luckin Coffee in Cayman. The firm is also acting for Victory Sky in disputes arising out of the sale and purchase of the share in ICG I, a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, and the landed properties in Japan held thereunder.

The firm lost employment law specialist Andrea Randall to RPC in January 2021. Partner Nick Dealy also left firm.

Key clients include Cellmark China, Coccinelle, Hammer Capital Private Investments and Remedy Asia.

Client feedback

“Gall is a trustworthy source of instructions – they handle the case meticulously with every point covered.” – International arbitration

Evelyn Chan

“Very experienced and able to predict the way in which judges deal with applications.”

Matthew Durham

“Patience, good legal knowledge, humble and approachable, quick response.”

Chris Wong

“Chris is a very attentive partner, and strikes a good balance between delegating and being hands on.  He is always practical and helpful.”

“A brilliant communicator and can always come up with innovative ideas.”

Gallant

A staple of the Hong Kong legal market, Gallant is one of the oldest independent local firms in Hong Kong offering comprehensive legal services with particular expertise in financial disputes, insurance, employment and shareholder disputes. The firm regularly acts for banks, statutory bodies, NGOs, transportation and telecommunication businesses. Managing partner Brenda Lee and IP partner Rebecca Lo are key names in the firm.

Case highlights during the research period saw the firm acting for a Hong Kong private company in a land title dispute case; representing a statutory authority in an appeal against first instance decision on the new interpretation of the gateway for long arm jurisdiction of Hong Kong courts on tort committed outside jurisdiction; and representing a statutory authority in statutory intervention of high-value personal injuries cases involving disputes on insurance policy coverage.

In intellectual property, the firm acted for a world-famous beverage company based in the US in a series of trademark oppositions proceedings, trademark revocation proceedings and High Court proceedings against a Taiwanese chain store operator in the food and beverage sector. The firm also acted for the operator of a major Hong Kong financial services company in respect of unauthorized use of its registered trademark in a domain name and in website contents.

Client feedback

“Advise well on what can be done and what not to be done, and follow up the case tightly with the plaintiff's solicitors and us. They did a good job on damages limitation and suggestions.” – Construction

“The firm does very well in handling our cases. They are very professional and experienced in the field of intellectual property, and they are very careful in handling all the legal documents and exhibits, and pay great attention to every details. Moreover, they coordinate very well with senior counsel and counsel, and explain very clearly to the client on our queries. Overall speaking, they are very professional, reliable, well-organised and trustworthy, making client be peace in mind in the whole process. We are very satisfied with the favourable results in our trademark litigation and application.” – Intellectual property

“Efficiently and successfully taking legal actions in time and minimize our loss.” – Real estate

Dennis Chan

“Good, willing to listen and provide innovative solutions.”

Emily Chick

“Emily Chick is a very nice, friendly, professional, experienced and confident lawyer. She is especially experienced in the field of intellectual property. She is very careful in handling all the legal documents, and pays great attention to every detail. Moreover, she coordinates very well with senior counsel and counsel, and is very patient and professional in explaining the legal points, situation, and future planning to client. She has thorough understanding of the case and client's situation and has comprehensive consideration of our company's history, background and all circumstances in making decision and recommendation, and making client be peace in mind in the whole process.”

Brenda Lee

“Very professional in handling our legal requests. Provide timely and comprehensive response and advice.”

Frederich Li

“Knowledgeable and attentive to client's requests.”

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Famous for its leading white-collar practice, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher draws on significant on-the-ground experience acting on high-profile internal and government investigations across the Asia-Pacific region. It focuses on work involving FCPA, anti-money laundering, securities and trade control laws. The firm has also expanded significantly in the commercial litigation sphere with the arrival of Brian, Elaine and their team from Clifford Chance. It advises on cutting-edge litigation on a full range of complex contentious matters including banking, insurance, contentious probate and tax.

The firm boasts renowned litigators in the market including Kelly Austin, Elaine Chen and Brian Gilchrist. Gilchrist and Chen are highly respected for their commercial disputes expertise, while Austin is prominent in the white-collar and compliance space.

Case highlights during the research period include representing one of the beneficiaries of the estate of a prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist in Hong Kong and the PRC, involving billions of assets located in various jurisdictions; representing an international trustee and successfully defending two high-profile High Court actions commenced by a settlor and beneficiary of the trust, and in another related high-profile action commenced by another beneficiary; and advising an international auction house on disputes and proceedings in relation to consignments for auction and private sales of world-class works of art.

The firm hired William Hallatt from Herbert Smith Freehills as partner in April 2021. He has extensive experience in handling regulatory investigations, particularly high-stakes enforcement matters brought by key financial services regulators. Earlier the year, Oliver Welch was promoted to partner.

Haldanes

Haldanes is best known for its criminal defence practice, regularly advising clients on a broad spectrum of criminal matters from minor crimes to complex listed company fraud and international corruption cases. The firm also has a well-respected family and matrimonial practice backed by seasoned practitioners with profound experience in post-divorce financial matters, liquidation of assets and complex child cases.

Managing partner Andrew Powner and senior partner Jonathan Midgley are key names for white-collar crime. Elsie Liu is endorsed for her work in family and matrimonial.

In the past 12 months, the firm represented two medical doctors in an 86-day ICAC trial regarding charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. This is one of the longest trials on misconduct in public office offences in Hong Kong’s history. The firm also represented four defendants in criminal proceedings concerning money laundering charges related to alleged bookmaking activities involving over HK$2 billion.

Another case saw the firm representing one of the most prestigious construction consultancy firms in the world and its employee in defending industrial summonses concerning fatal accidents and injuries at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

Client feedback

“Haldanes has expert knowledge in all areas of family law. They are a first-rate firm who are excellent at advising their clients, preparing the case, and navigating it through the courts.” – Family and matrimonial

“Provided very detailed explanation of the case, actions need to be done and impacts. Each strategic move is well thought and planned to strive the most and of best interest for the client.” – Family and matrimonial

Anita Leung

“Responsive, thoughtful, tackled the case skilfully.”

Elsie Liu

“She came up with innovative solutions to the problems I encountered and was able to help advise on negotiation tactics. She also spent time to explain the process which other lawyers I encountered did not.”

“Liu is an experienced and sympathetic Mediator. Her skill is in addition to her high competency in matrimonial disputes in which she is commercial and pragmatic in offering solutions for the best interest of her clients.”

Patricia Liu

“Patricia is both on top of the details and strategically brilliant. She is fantastic in communicating with clients and advising them on how to get the best outcome in proceedings.”

Felix Ng

“Haldanes' preparation work for my investigation was unassailable. The firm’s partner Felix Ng clearly articulated the various regulatory investigation steps that I was facing and accurately anticipated the potential questions put forward by the regulators. During the two investigation interviews that I went through, Ng thoroughly analysed the relevant legal and evidential issues to protect my best interest. He had an excellent rapport with the regulators, which helped smooth the process.”

“Felix Ng had particularly impressed me as he is deeply knowledgeable in corporate investigations and financial regulatory matters. Besides his exceptional professionalism, Ng is compassionate, empathetic, and attentive. He gave me the needed trust and confidence throughout the entire process and made this unbearable investigation a lot more bearable. With his presence and assistance, I could defend myself eloquently during my interviews. I feel vindicated and hopeful despite the ongoing investigation between the regulators and my previous bank.”

Herbert Smith Freehills

Enjoying a first-class reputation in the market, Herbert Smith Freehills maintains a vast range of domestic and international disputes capability covering the full spectrum of contentious advice across Asia-Pacific. The firm stands out in commercial disputes, international arbitration and white-collar crime among other areas. It also has the largest dedicated arbitration team in Greater China with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Apart from legal expertise, the firm is also recognised for its strategic and commercial approach to handling cases.

Dominic Geiser and Gareth Thomas are key names for commercial litigation. May Tai and Justin D'Agostino are particularly famous in the international arbitration space, whereas Kyle Wombolt is the dominant player in white-collar crime. Other notable lawyers include Simon Chapman and Kathryn Sanger. Partner Rachael Shek joined the firm in January 2022 from Clyde & Co.

During the research period, the firm successfully defended DBS Bank in a substantial High Court action brought by the liquidators of Galleria (Hong Kong), a multi-national furniture business. It is also acting for both UBS AG and UBS Europe SE in defending proceedings commenced by the liquidators of China Metal Recycling in the court of first instance in respect of liabilities arising out of its sponsorship work for the IPO of China Metal Recycling.

Another case highlight saw the firm represent Bank Julius Baer & Co in its defence against mis-selling and misrepresentation allegations by a former client in respect of over 140 highly complex structured investment products. The case features complex regulatory issues as regards the conduct of private banking accounts, suitability of complex structured investment products and the assessment of the alleged losses.

In the international arbitration space, the firm continues to represent Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation (SIPC) and Addax—subsidiaries of the Sinopec Group—in the largest fraud claim ever filed with the SIAC valued in excess of $5.5 billion. This concerns the 2012 purchase by SIPC and Addax of a significant upstream business in the North Sea, which is now a multibillion-dollar liability. 

Notable clients include Axiata Group, Collins Aerospace, Credit Suisse, Star Petroleum Refining Public Company and Toll Group.

Howse Williams

Premium Hong Kong independent law firm Howse Williams offers an extensive scope of litigation expertise. The firm handles complex multi-jurisdictional commercial disputes involving shareholders, joint ventures, financial and corporate regulatory, clinical negligence, employment, family and probate, and insurance. The firm is also known for professional indemnity and shipping disputes.

Senior partner Chris Howse is a key name for commercial disputes, insurance and shipping matters. Kevin So is recognised for his expertise in commercial disputes and contentious private client work. Other key members include family and matrimonial disputes stars Linda Heathfield and Stacey Devoy and employment focused Michael Withington.

Hugill & Ip

Hugill & Ip is recognised for its work in dispute resolution and the firm has a distinct focus on employment and private client litigation. The firm is also increasingly involved in general commercial disputes. Key names in the dispute resolution team include partners Alfred Ip and Adam Hugill who led the majority of cases worked on during the research period.

One highlight saw the firm acting for Hong Kong hedge fund BFAM Partners to obtain an injunction against its former chief technology officer to restrict his ability to work for a key competitor for the duration of his non-competition covenant. This is a rare example of the High Court upholding and enforcing a non-competition restriction.

In another ongoing case, the firm is defending claims on behalf of Charles Taylor and nine other defendants against allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties and unlawful conspiracy.

The firm also acted for KPMG’s court-appointed administrator to administrate the estate and conduct various recovery actions against the former executor of the estate.

Client feedback

“They are without a doubt, the best firm in this area. They are very professional. Work is done efficiently, timely and to a high standard. They understand thoroughly the law in their practice area, and they are focused on giving realistic advice and execution.” – Private client

Adam Hugill

“Adam is very good, I’ve worked with him on a few matters. The team is quite busy, for a good reason. They are good at what they do. There are not that many employment lawyers in Hong Kong, not that many that's truly specialised in it. Adam Hugill is one of them.”

Alfred Ip

“Unparalleled knowledge of his practice area. Heavy focus on practical solutions that reflect client's interests. Excellent negotiator.”

“Alfred Ip is amongst the most well-known and established trusts and probate lawyers in Hong Kong. Such a reputation is well-deserved. He is able to combine technical skills and strategic thinking, with an ability to find the most efficient and pragmatic solution for clients.”

JonathanMok Legal

Jonathan Mok Legal is an independent boutique law firm focusing on family disputes and private wealth-related matters for Hong Kong tycoons and ultra-high net worth families. The firm is particularly known for advising high net-worth clients in disputes arising from divorce, custody and financial claims as well as inheritance.

The firm is led by principal partner Jonathan Mok, who focuses on high-profile family disputes as well as criminal defence, regulatory compliance, and debt recovery litigation.

Due to the sensitive nature of its work, all cases submitted are highly confidential.

Client feedback

“Very good at communicating and at explaining various options available.” – Family and matrimonial

“They were very good at listening to my intentions, and teaching me how to delicately achieve the goals thru email communications. They were also successful in solving the problem without having to go to court.” – Family and matrimonial

“Empathetic and responsive. They listened to me well and were insightful and professional. They advised me with all options and possibilities.” – Family and matrimonial

“Fair presentation of the situation, strategic with recommendations, responsive, good coordination with counsels.” – Family and matrimonial

“Great communication, very client oriented. Excellent with legal documentation and communications. Knows the courts, system and proceedings very well. Able to offer other value-added services and adjacent legal services through their network.” – Family and matrimonial

Carmen Cheng

“Gives good and detailed advice. Documents are well prepared and comprehensive. Very attentive to client's attitude and feelings in sensitive matters. Prompt communication. Very talented!”

Jonathan Mok

“Jonathan Mok was able to think out of the box and provided solutions and compromises that work well for both parties.”

“He was very good at quickly and accurately sifting out all the key points from the piles of documentation provided.”

Elaine Sum

“She had been very responsive and providing constructive and professional advice.”

“Responsive, able to meet deadlines, detail-oriented, can think from the client's perspective.”

K&L Gates

K&L Gates’ dispute resolution practice is active in commercial and transactions. The firm has experience handling debt restructuring, fraud, professional liability, and contentious employment matters, as well as construction, securities and investment company litigation. In addition, it has been handling an increasing number of technology and intellectual property related disputes.

Key partners include two Hong Kong-based partners Christopher Tung and Sacha Cheong. Tung is active in construction, environmental law, clean energy, and carbon finance. Cheong, on the other hand, specialises in commercial cases, white collar crime, employment and construction. Jay Chiu is another key contact.

The firm is assisting Idemitsu Chemicals, a publicly listed company on the Japanese Stock Exchange, in relation to a litigation matter before the Hong Kong High Court concerning the recovery of $35 million resulting from a sophisticated fraudulent scam. The firm has secured refunds and judgments against 24 of the 32 defendants, and there are on-going steps against the remaining eight defendants.

One IP dispute highlight shows the firm acting for Luxshare Precision, one of the biggest and most well-known connector companies in China, and its subsidiaries, in ITC litigation against US company Amphenol.

Some of the new clients of the firm are American Express International, China Silver Asset Management, CS Asia Opportunities Master Fund, Idemitsu Chemicals (Hong Kong), Wuyi Bairong Electric Appliance and ZTE Corporation.

Client feedback

“The partners are approachable and attentive to clients' needs. K&L Gates offers pragmatic and sensible advice to clients with resolving client's problems rather than unnecessarily inflating bills as the ultimate goal.” – Commercial and transactions

“Knowledgeable and providing effective solutions swiftly.” – Insolvency

Sacha Cheong

“Cheong responds to queries very quickly, which is rare for a partner. He gives frank and pragmatic advice at the early stages of litigation, so that the client will not have unrealistic expectations. On the other hand, he has solid knowledge and experience in litigation to back up his advice. A very nice person to work with.”

Eugene Yeung

“Very connected in the market. Eager to interact with clients proactively and think for the best solutions.”

King & Wood Mallesons

One of the dominant players in the region, King & Wood Mallesons boasts a deep bench of experienced litigators in China and Hong Kong, offering clients broad coverage in Asia-Pacific supported by a wide international network. The firm represents clients before all levels of court and various arbitration tribunals, including CIETAC, HKIAC and ICC. The Hong Kong office is especially known for its construction and international arbitration capability. The firm is also active in contentious financial services regulatory work.

Key names in the commercial and international arbitration space include Yuwu Liu and Ariel Ye in China and Paul Starr and Barbara Chiu in Hong Kong. Beijing-based Zhongsheng Li and Jing Xu are notable in IP disputes and Kuncheng Zhao is known for insolvency. Edmund Wan in Hong Kong is a key name for construction. Chiu is also active in the regulatory and white-collar space together with Rachel Yu.

In a construction dispute example, the firm represented Global Switch Hong Kong in disputes under the design and construct contract and the negotiation of a new design and construct contract for the expansion of the almost complete data centre. It also acted for the Hong Kong Competition Commission in three of the first four cases prosecuted by the Commission concerning the breach of the Competition Ordinance by making and giving effect to market sharing and price-fixing agreements.

Other notable case highlights include acting for CMIG International Capital in commencing bankruptcy proceedings against the guarantor providing guarantees for two defaulted loans; and advising X-Fab Sarawak, an international microchip manufacturing group listed in Europe, on commercial fraud investigations and tracing of lost funds.

During the research period, Rachel Yu joined the firm from Herbert Smith Freehills as partner who focuses on financial litigation and regulatory investigations.

Clients of the firm include Industrial Bank Financial Leasing, Invictus International School, Sequoia Capital China Advisors, Shandong Chenming Paper and Qingdao Haier Medical.

Kirkland & Ellis

Kirkland & Ellis has an exceptionally well-respected team for insolvency and white-collar crime work, with extensive expertise in fraud investigations, asset recovery and tracing, fund and shareholder disputes. With offices in Shanghai and Beijing, the firm has a substantial PRC-based disputes practice handling cross-border litigation issues involving China.

Neil McDonald and Kelly Naphtali are key figures for insolvency, while Cori Lable and Richard Sharpe in Hong Kong and Tiana Zhang in Shanghai are highly regarded in the field of white-collar crime and investigations.

Insolvency cases include the firm advising Car Inc, one of the largest car rental companies in China, on its successful completion of consent solicitation for amendments to change of control related terms existing US and Rmb notes; and advising Committee of creditors of China Fishery Group in relation to defaults under the $300 million notes and $650 million club loan facility guaranteed by China Fishery Group and the subsequent chapter 11 proceedings commenced by China Fishery Group and its affiliates.

The firm is acting for Xiaomi, the world’s fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer, in defending patent infringement claims brought by Sisvel International SA and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in the UK for infringement of allegedly standard essential patents (SEPs) relating to 3G and LTE technologies. In another case sample, the firm is representing TCL Corp in defending a high-profile patent lawsuit brought by Philips, one of the world's large standard essential patent (SEP) holders and an experienced licensor.

The firm’s litigation practice welcomed David Harrington as partner in March 2021. Later in the year, restructuring and insolvency partner Daniel Margulies left firm.

Key clients include CWT International, Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, HNA Group (International) Company, IL&FS Transportation Networks and TCL Corp.

Client feedback

“Knowledgeable, friendly and responsive.” – Commercial and transactions

“The firm is tenacious, thorough, and creative when it comes to problem solving. It understands internal sensitivities within the business and ensures that it treats everyone with respect while still working hard to get to the heart of the allegations.” – White-collar crime

Neil McDonald

“Gravitas, with in-depth knowledge and gives practical advice.”

Tiana Zhang

“Takes control of the matter and ensures that no issue slips through the cracks. She will not rest until the matter is resolved.”

LC Lawyers

LC Lawyers, a member of the EY global network of law firms, specialises in dispute resolution and compliance and investigations. Its team is led by Kareena Teh who is recognised for her strong commercial litigation experience. The firm is best known for its solid strategies, effective advocacy and commercial and pragmatic approach in resolving complex cross-border disputes. The firm is also active in Mainland China-related disputes and enforcement actions.

Case highlights in the past 12 months include representing Daimler in opposing an application for an inquiry into damages allegedly suffered as a result of an interim injunction; acting for Justice Without Borders and a migrant domestic worker in claims for compensation for unfair dismissal; and representing Chiho Environmental Group and its operating subsidiary in Hong Kong proceedings, defending claims relating to convertible bonds and pre-listing loan for payment of trade debts.

Client feedback

“Provided very useful, all-rounded analysis of the current situation and options, and provided sound advice on the next steps to take.” – Commercial and transactions

“LC Lawyers was able to comprehensively and succinctly summarise the objectives and concerns of the lay client to counsel, as well as to relay counsel's views to the lay client effectively.” – Commercial and transactions

“The legal team at LC Lawyers was extremely diligent. In preparing for both the appeal and the re-trial, they paid careful attention to every detail of the case, and showed great dedication to the work they're doing for the client.” – Labour and employment

Kareena Teh

“Provided thorough analysis of the situation, give sound advice on the next steps; patient in explaining the histories of the case as we are new to pick up the case.”

“Kareena Teh is an extremely competent litigator with exceptional attention to detail and problem-solving skills.”

Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown is among the largest and longest-standing law practices in the market. The firm is frequently sought out for its work in general commercial, construction, insolvency and financial services regulatory disputes. The team is also developing a niche in emerging technology matters including electronic transactions and data privacy.

Nicholas Hunsworth and John Hickin are key names in commercial and transactional litigation. Alan Linning is singled out for contentious regulatory work, while Gabriela Kennedy and Menachem Hasofer are recommended for IP and construction work respectively.

The firm has been representing two members of leading private property developer Eton Properties Group in defending a claim brought by Xiamen Xinjingdi Group in purported enforcement of an arbitral award made by CIETAC in Beijing.

The firm continues to represent various leading real estate developers in Hong Kong in compulsory sale application, one of which includes representing a leading Hong Kong real estate developer in its successful compulsory sale application with respect to the State Theatre Building located in North Point, Hong Kong’s largest compulsory sale application in term of redevelopment value at over HK$4.7 billion.

At the time of publication, partner Thomas So had left the firm.

Key clients include Gaw Capital, Huiyuan Juice, Malayan Banking, Swire Properties and The Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Client feedback

“Restructuring and Insolvency team is well established and known in the region.” – Insolvency

“Mayer Brown is incredibly proactive and a very trustworthy and responsible firm who can easily handle any aspect of intellectual property application, registration, protection and defence. The firm is also extremely experienced with arbitration and litigation cases in Hong Kong.” – Intellectual property

Amita Haylock

“Haylock is extremely experienced, acutely intelligent and an exceptionally lovely personality. She works extremely hard and efficiently. To date, she has won every case that the foundation has entrusted to her.”

John Marsden

“Marsden has bundles of experience and regional know how which is vital in this type of work.”

“Tenacious and adept at looking through complex matters to identify the core issues.”

MinterEllison

Australian law firm MinterEllison expanded its contentious offering with the addition of a strong bench of seasoned litigators experienced in banking and financial services, regulatory and investigations—as well as fraud and joint venture disputes. The firm also regularly represents domestic and international developers, contractors, engineers and public bodies in large construction disputes.

David Morrison is highly regarded for his financial and regulatory disputes expertise. Steven Yip is a key name for construction, and Steven Birt is known for his work in IP.

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Morgan Lewis & Bockius is sought out for commercial litigation and arbitration work. The firm’s clients include China-based firms from various industries including real estate, private equity, banking, energy, e-commerce, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals. Charles Mo is a notable figure on the commercial disputes side, while Lesli Ligorner advises on labour and employment and white-collar crime disputes. Shaobin Zhu is noted for his IP litigation expertise.

One employment dispute shows the firm advising a global life sciences conglomerate on the strategy to defend more than 35 legal proceedings brought by a former senior executive for unpaid equity grants.

The remaining case highlights submitted for the research remain confidential, but the firm acted in various cases involving complex contractual claims, trade secrets, debt recovery and investigations matters.

Client feedback

“Highly responsive and timely in a fast-moving matter. Gives practical and business-focused advice.” – Intellectual property

“They are top notch. The matters are confidential, but I get timely response and excellent work product.” – Technology and telecommunications

Morley Chow Seto

Founded in 2014, Morley Chow Seto has developed a reputation for its criminal litigation practice. The firm focuses exclusively on criminal law making it a go-to for white-collar crime disputes. The firm handles cases before the magistracy, district court, high court, the court of appeal and the court of final appeal.

Criminal law focused Eric Seto, Christopher Morley, Anita Chow and Eric Tang are key names in the firm.

Morrison & Foerster

Supported by a highly capable litigation and arbitration practice, Morrison & Foerster is acknowledged for its strength in cross-border disputes across the region. The firm provides corporate investigation and enforcement capabilities backed by a fully integrated regional practice across five offices in Asia. It operates across a broad range of sectors including energy, chemicals, construction, manufacturing, real estate and technology and telecommunications.

Managing partner Timothy Blakely heads the firm’s Hong Kong litigation department. His practice focuses on government investigations, complex commercial litigation and international arbitration matters. Another key partner to note is Sarah Thomas.

In commercial and transactions, the firm advised SoftBank Group (SBG) on obtaining documentary and testimonial evidence in Hong Kong and China in aid of a litigation filed by WeWork in the Delaware Chancery Court. The litigation related to SBG’s investment in WeWork has attracted significant public attention because of WeWork’s global footprints, the unusual withdrawal of the anticipated IPO, and the allegations of wrongdoing against its founder.

The rest of the cases submitted during the research period remain strictly confidential, but the firm kept busy working on matters related to government investigations, shareholders’ agreements, and a number of HKIAC and ICC arbitration.

Timothy Blakely

“Have worked with Blakely on a highly complex litigation for 10 years. He is very responsive, reliable, and experienced. Clients can trust him with any work.”

Norton Rose Fulbright

Recognised for its dispute resolution expertise especially in the commercial and transaction space, Norton Rose Fulbright has an excellent track record of managing large and complex transactions, projects, and disputes in China and internationally. The firm also regularly advises clients on IP related disputes, with a particular niche in the technology and life sciences sector.

Partners Camille Jojo and Alfred Wu are two reputable dispute resolution stars from the firm. Jojo handles a wide range of complex finance disputes, whereas Wu often advises clients on an extensive range of general commercial litigation and arbitration.

Case highlights include the firm defending a former independent non-executive director of Freeman FinTech Corporation, a company listed on the main board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKSE), against the petition of the Securities and Futures Commission in the High Court seeking disqualification orders against him and nine other former directors of Freeman for breaching their director duties in the acquisition and the subsequent disposal of shares in Liu’s Holdings in 2011 by Ambition Union (a subsidiary of Freeman); and acting for Zhaoheng Hydropower in defending a High Court action in relation to a contractual claim lodged by Tailong Group, a hydroelectric business in the PRC.

In the private client space, the firm is acting for one of the executors of the Fok Estate on disputes relating to a settlement agreement. This case is one of the most prominent tycoon estate disputes in Hong Kong, receiving wide-spread coverage in the press since 2015.

The firm promoted Kevin Hong to partner in January 2021. He advises domestic and multinational corporations on fraud and asset recovery and in resolving joint venture, shareholders, shipping, sale of goods, product liability, insurance and other contractual disputes. Counsel Daniel Ng has also been promoted to partner in early 2022. He focuses his practice on commercial litigation, particularly on advising and representing banks, financial institutions and corporates on contentious matters.

Notable clients include Asia Allied, Champ Prestige, ChinaCast, Gammon Construction, GFG Alliance and Paloma Company.

Client feedback

“This firm is excellent at meeting the expectations of its clients.” – Commercial and transactions

“Calmly getting on with managing matters, providing solid and timely legal advice as requested with sound commercial reference points and insights, safeguarding clients' interests with determination and rigour.” – Family and matrimonial

Camille Jojo

“He is very hands on in case management and always has excellent rapport with the client.”

Oldham Li & Nie

Oldham Li & Nie is active in commercial and transaction related disputes. The firm is also lauded for its work in IP and family and probate disputes. The firm frequently acts for ultra-high net worth individuals, serial entrepreneurs and corporates. Key names in the firm include commercial litigation partner Richard Healy and family and probate focused Stephen Peaker.

In one highlight, the firm represented Natural Seasoning International (HK) in a shareholder dispute over breach of agreements. In another case sample, the firm was appointed as the administrator of an estate in High Court proceedings, defending a claim commenced by a creditor in the sum of around HK$200 million.

Key clients include Borqs Technologies, HK Xiangguo Int'l Group Industry and Sigma Engineering.

Client feedback

“Good at negotiating and also very focused. Understanding the issue and best legal path to take.” – Commercial and transactions

“The firm quickly prepared the problem in a very clear manner and provided us with a clear assessment of the decisive points that we could use in practice.” – Commercial and transactions

“Helped us deal with the lawsuit in the US. Found a good law firm in the US to assist, gave good advice.” – Commercial and transactions

“The firm is good at litigation which is highly appreciated by liquidators when they come across contentious situations.” – Insolvency

“They gave very good advice. They are always looking out for my benefits. They are very experienced and very responsive.” – Labour and employment

“They work efficiently and offer simple and fantastic advice. It is very relationship driven rather than just a business transaction.” – Real estate

“The firm has many partners who are professional and experienced in cross-border trade dispute, inheritance, criminal and arbitration. The personnel of the firm are good to work with.” – Trade and customs

Anna Chan

“Chan is always very friendly and helpful. She manages to break down complicated issues to the point and gives practical assessments for further proceedings.”

“Chan understands her client's objective and provides valuable solutions with quick turnaround time.”

“She is responsive, very polite and knowledgeable. She understands my industry and is attentive to details.”

“Chan specialises in commercial and criminal area. She is always very kind and cooperative.”

Richard Healy

“Provide good, sound legal advice.”

Gordon Oldham

“Communicative and gives real-world business advice.”

O'Melveny & Myers

O'Melveny & Myers is recognised for its international litigation and arbitration practice. The firm works on high-profile M&A, joint venture, insurance, financial services and IP disputes. Managing partner, Denis Brock, is recognised for his work in the commercial and arbitration space. Kieran Humphrey is another lawyer to note.

International arbitration case highlights include representing a US telecommunications company with counterclaims against Mainland Chinese controlled entities in an HKIAC arbitration; representing an international pharmaceutical company in ICC arbitration against an Eastern European distributor; and representing a leading Asian biopharmaceutical company in an HKIAC arbitration case.

The rest of the clients the firm has acted for during the research period remain confidential.

Client feedback

“Very strong on strategic advice, detailed analysis with regard to the commercial goals.” – Commercial and transactions

“Excellent strategic advice on complex matters, while still providing practical and cost-effective advice.” – Intellectual property

Denis Brock

“Excellent knowledge and ability to deploy it strategically. Very solutions based to get the best commercial outcomes.”

Kieran Humphrey

“He listens carefully and then provides answers are solutions which show a thorough understanding of the law, but which also take into account the relevant circumstances and what is possible. We always feel highly confident with his advice and feel he has understood what we are trying to achieve.”

Payne Clermont Velasco

Founded by Gregory Payne, Payne Clermont Velasco is a litigation-focused boutique established in Hong Kong. The firm serves local and international clients with strength in civil and commercial litigation, criminal, family and matrimonial disputes. Other than Payne, Adam Clermont and Jaerey Velasco are key members of the firm.

In the past 12 months, the firm primarily handled commercial disputes as well as family and matrimonial proceedings. Particularly in one commercial and transactions matter, the firm has been acting for Universal Entertainment Corporation and Tiger Resort Asia in claiming damages of up to $620 million against its former director for overspending on a construction project in breach of fiduciary duties and governance rules for costs control.

The details of the rest of the cases the firm worked on during the research period remain confidential.

Client feedback

“They are very professional, well prepared for the hearing, and have an in-depth understanding of the sector. They genuinely care about the clients and work towards achieving the results, rather dragging it on as some other financially bloodsucking lawyers.” – Family and matrimonial

“Great communications and thinking strategically.” – Family and matrimonial

Gregory Payne

“Prepping clients, giving them valuable advice and guidance. Knowledgeable of the legal systems and structure. Sense of humour to help clients feel at ease.”

Jaerey Velasco

“Very good at thinking strategically beyond just the process. Outstanding communications and staying on top of the relevant aspects of the case. Extremely knowledgeable on the relevant law and cases.”

“Velasco is adept at providing her clients with meaningful advice. She is able to help clients consider the reality and consequences of different choices. She is pragmatic and works collaboratively with other professionals including other lawyers.”

“Jaerey Velasco is pragmatic and supportive of her clients.”

Ropes & Gray

Ropes & Gray is best known in Hong Kong and China for its white-collar expertise handling international investigations, anti-corruption matters and regulatory compliance. The firm is the choice for clients operating in some of the most highly regulated sectors in the region including life sciences, private equity, financial services, real estate, technology and consumer goods. It has been expanding the areas of expertise including insolvency.

Partners Andrew Dale, Geoffrey Atkins and David Zhang are recognised in the white-collar crime sphere.

The firm acted on a range of white-collar crime cases involving investigations, fraud, anti-corruption, compliance and sanctions, although all cases provided during the research period remain highly confidential. The firm also represented several cross-border general commercial litigation and arbitration matters such as shareholders’ disputes, joint venture disputes and contractual disputes.

RPC

With decades of Hong Kong dispute resolution experience, RPC is best known for its dispute matters related to banking and finance, insurance, technology and regulatory. The firm’s diverse arbitration practice has profound knowledge across various industry sectors, some of which are banking and financial services, fintech, insurance, retail and technology. The team has extensive experience acting in disputes under a variety of arbitral rules, including ad hoc arbitrations and administered arbitration under the HKIAC, ICC, UNCITRAL, SIAC and CIETAC rules in particular.

Key figures of the firm are litigation star Charles Allen and Antony Sassi, the firm’s managing partner in Asia.

In commercial and transactions, the firm is acting for BDO in defending a $1.95 billion claim commenced by the Sino-Forest Corporation Litigation Trust. This ongoing claim is one of the largest and highest-value litigations currently going through the Hong Kong courts. In another case sample, the firm is acting for BDO in defending against a Rmb6.5 billion claim commenced by the provisional liquidators of China Lumena New Materials Corp.

The firm is also representing the victim of the largest telephone and mobile phone app scam in Hong Kong history, in recovering sums lost in the fraud.

In international arbitration, the firm is representing Noble Prestige in a multi-jurisdictional arbitration and court dispute over the non-payment of sums due under a loan facility agreement.

In early 2021, the firm welcomed renowned employment lawyer Andrea Randall from Gall as partner to set up a local employment practice.

Shearman & Sterling

Shearman & Sterling is best known for its work in white-collar crime with a team where every attorney who works on China investigations is fluent in Mandarin. The firm is particularly active in China-related compliance and investigations, acting for clients across pharmaceuticals, media, financial services, consumer goods, energy and insurance sectors. The firm also has an established international arbitration team on the ground.

Brian Burke oversees Asia-Pacific matters and splits his time between China and the US. Burke is well regarded in the areas of corporate investigations, anti-corruption and FCPA enforcement relating to China. Nils Eliasson is an international arbitration expert who splits his time between Singapore and Beijing. He regularly acts on investment treaty arbitrations, project development and construction-related disputes.

Work highlights in the past 12 months include acting on global and regional anti-corruption compliance and investigations matters for clients in the technology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, energy, oil and gas and automobile sectors.

Sidley Austin

Sidley Austin regularly represents clients in cross-border disputes and regulatory and enforcement actions. With a growing international arbitration practice, the firm is frequently called upon to advise on complex arbitration matters, both in commercial and investor-state arbitrations. The firm is adept in handling major multi-jurisdictional investigations and FCPA matters across the region, particularly sought after by clients in the energy, PE funds, fintech and financial services sectors.

Yuet Ming Tham is recognised for her white-collar crime work while Friven Yeoh is reputable in the commercial litigation and international arbitration space.

The details of all cases the firm worked on during the research period remain highly confidential, however, the firm has been acting for clients before HKIAC, CIETAC and ICC concerning joint venture, sales and purchase agreements, post-M&A and other various contractual issues. The firm was also active with criminal and internal investigations as well as implementing compliance programmes.

Client feedback

“It is very good in managing internal politics. the legal analysis itself, and being transparent in its pricing.” – Commercial and transactions

“It is reliable and provides practical realistic advice on all aspects of the subject areas, not just reciting principles or being too conservative in its advice.” – Labour and employment

“Provides pragmatic advice, and manages complex issues efficiently and cost effectively.” – White-collar crime

Yuet Ming Tham

“She is excellent at client service, ensuring the right person is working on my matter with the required knowledge and expertise. She is also transparent with the billing, and we get excellent outcomes.”

“She understands the local market and legal issues with legal expertise and provides practical solutions.”

“Everything. I use her exclusively in APAC.”

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett offers deep expertise in disputes arising from white-collar crime including criminal bid-rigging and price-fixing, securities and financial fraud, FCPA and anti-corruption violations and government and internal investigations. With partner Adam Goldberg who is fluent in both English and Chinese, the team is able to provide in-depth local experience and understanding of the region. The firm is experienced in representing financial institutions, multinational companies, professional services firms and senior executives. The firm also often assists clients with structuring corporate compliance programmes. Goldberg is the key figure and contact for disputes.

Case highlights include acting for Korean telecommunications company KT Corporation in an US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) FCPA investigation; acting for a global pharmaceutical manufacturer in a anti-corruption investigation focused on alleged misconduct in multiple jurisdictions; and representing a telecommunications company and individual officers in an anti-corruption investigation by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

The firm welcomed several new partners in 2021: Antonio Bavasso, Martin Bell and Marc Berger. Meaghan Kelly and Noritaka Kumamoto were promoted to partners.

Client feedback

“Commercial advice, proactive and constructive suggestions to improve programme design.” – White-collar crime

“Analysis of sensitive US-law issues as they relate to enforcement and investigation matters in China.” – White-collar crime

Adam Goldberg

“Excellent commercial and practical legal and business advice.”

“He provides practical advice and guidance on sensitive matters.”

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom provides clients with expert advice on a range of high-value and complex commercial litigation and arbitration matters, including finance, securities and shareholder disputes. Key clients span industries such as manufacturing, technology and telecommunications, financial services and healthcare. The firm also has a strong anti-corruption and white-collar crime practice.

Key names in the litigation and arbitration department include Bradley Klein and Rory McAlpine. Steve Kwok is singled out for his regulatory compliance and white-collar crime expertise.

Case highlights include advising Chinese classified advertisements website 58.com on a shareholder dissenting appraisal action; and representing a group of Bermuda trust companies established by a Taiwanese Conglomerate in a dispute arising from the handling of assets of a Taiwanese individual, the owner of The Formosa Plastics Group who died in 2008.

Client feedback

“The Hong Kong and China staff are very experienced, knowledgeable and responsive in assisting clients to understand the legal and regulatory issues around the situation they are facing, and respond effectively to regulators.” – Government and regulatory

Steve Kwok

“Kwok is very knowledgeable and adept at educating clients on the regulatory issues they are facing, and explaining the practical situation and nuances.”

“He has in-depth knowledge of US laws and regulations in white collar investigations.”

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood has a solid record advising clients on disputes related to insolvency, employment, IP and regulatory issues. The firm is regularly instructed by banks and commodity trading companies to handle international trade finance disputes. Leveraging its traditional forte in the shipping sector, the firm also has a significant presence in the international arbitration arena.

Stevenson Wong & Co

Stevenson Wong & Co’s litigation department focuses on commercial disputes and has a well-respected family and matrimonial practice. The firm is active in disputes related to banking, construction, insurance, employment and insolvency matters.

Heidi Chui heads the litigation and dispute resolution department. Within the team, Catherine Por and Wendy Lam are key lawyers for family law work.

During the research period, the firm successfully assisted the Panama Branch of a major bank in China to recover proceeds of crime as a result of email fraud. The firm also represented a famous businessman and the husband of a celebrity actress in defending a claim of alleged debt of over HK$200 million. In another case sample, the firm acted for Angola Group and Achieve Goal in a shareholder dispute in relation to the operation of a coal mine in Yulin, Shaanxi. This is a long battle between the parties involving multiple satellite litigation, the stakes of which worth approximately Rmb700 million.

The firm promoted Dominic Lau to partner in July 2021.

Tang & Co in association with Helmsman

Shipping specialist Tang & Co operates in association with Singapore international law firm Helmsman. The firm’s Hong Kong office specialises in shipping and commodities disputes and transactional work, insolvency, shareholders disputes, and general commercial litigation. Managing partner Chong Jun Tang is a key figure.

Work highlights include representing Toyota Tsusho Corporation in disputes arising from the sale and purchase of Oman crude oil, and the recovery of approximately $24 million from Brightoil group; advising China Base, the majority shareholder of Camsing International, in a contract dispute against Shanghai Gopher; and representing Quaestus Capital in a securities fraud against Everton Associates and Axis Capital concerning the recovery of 90 million shares in China Metal Resources Utilization.

Key clients include Index-Cool Marine & Industry, PASLA Services and POW! Entertainment.

Chong Jun Tang

“Excellent knowledge of the law and procedures and great customer service.”

Vivien Chan & Co

With over 30 years’ experience, Vivien Chan & Co has built itself a strong reputation in general disputes and intellectual property. The firm is frequently seen working with in-house counsel of multinational companies as well as high-net-worth individuals. Senior partner Vivien Chan oversees the practice. Partner Owen Tse is a key contact for arbitration and construction matters. For IP disputes, Anna Mae Koo is a well-regarded practitioner.

Case highlights include acting for a world leading direct-selling company Alticor in stopping an established business from using a highly similar tradename in Hong Kong; acting for Merck, a multinational pharmaceutical company, in investigation plans in relation to counterfeit vaccines seized at medical centres in Hong Kong; advising one of the founders of a decacorn company in securing her interest in a dispute with other founders; and acting for a corporate purchaser of a major commercial premises to successfully defend claims of commission of exceeding HK$15 million from a consultant.

Wilkinson & Grist

With a history tracing back to 1883, Wilkinson & Grist is best known for handling contentious probate matters, shareholders’ disputes and insolvency litigation. Banks consider it a go-to firm for handling claims arising from default loans. Heading the dispute resolution and litigation practice group is commercial disputes and insolvency specialist Keith Ho. Ivan Chu, Lawrence Chan and Florence Chan are other notable names in the team.

During the research period, case highlights saw the firm representing a leading banking institution on the potential enforcement actions against the debtor and the possible impacts that those enforcement actions might have on the different types of securities given by the debtor; acting for Golong in a commercial dispute against Sesderma; and representing Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and successfully resisting the judicial review proceedings commenced by SUNeVision Holdings, a subsidiary of Sun Hung Kai Group, one of the leading developers in Hong Kong.

The firm lost partners Chloe Ma and Lawrence Chan to Chungs Lawyers in 2021. Partners Lai Lee and Rebecca Lau also left firm in the same year.

William KW Leung & Co

Boutique law firm William KW Leung & Co is active in corporate litigation, including shareholders disputes, derivative actions, restructuring, and cross-border proceedings. The firm’s IP team handles all aspects of trademark, design, patent and domain name registration, licensing and distribution rights including computer contracts, IP consultancy, and infringement matters. William KW Leung is the key contact.

Case highlights include acting for a Hong Kong company in making an application of evidence preservation to the PRC Court via HKIAC; advising the liquidators of a company in liquidation to commence a claim against the former directors and shareholders to recover the company’s assets; acting for a Russian corporate on a claim of damages arisen out of contractual dispute; and advising the charterer on a Mareva injunction commenced by the owner against the charterer.

Winston & Strawn

The litigation practice of Winston & Strawn advises clients on commercial disputes including joint venture disputes, shareholders’ disputes and investment treaty disputes. The firm is also active in patent litigation as well as regulatory defence. It has strength in key industries such as energy, financial services, telecommunications, and utilities.

Former US federal prosecutor, Steve Grimes, leads the Asia litigation practice. Other key names include Terence Wong and Gino Cheng who are regarded for their specialisms in international arbitration and IP respectively.

All cases the firm worked on during the research period remain highly confidential. It has been observed that the firm has been busy handling anti-corruption risk assessment, commercial bribery issues, compliance framework, fraud investigations and misconduct related matters. The firm also took on various international commercial arbitration work.

The firm hired Yachiao Chang from Yuanda China Law Offices as partner. Christy Leung was promoted to the partnership.

Withers

Withers’ family and matrimonial practice positions itself as a formidable player in the market with the largest dedicated team in Hong Kong. The team includes specialist accredited Hong Kong lawyers, trained collaborative lawyers and English family law specialists. It has profound experience acting for high net-worth individuals with international trusts and complex corporate assets. The firm also expanded its general litigation and international arbitration practice by hiring experienced partners and teams. Its newly established team covers a wide range of disputes across the construction, commodities, energy, financial services, healthcare and technology industries.

There was a flurry of moves during the research period. The firm hired Joseph Chu and Michael Chik as partners, who joined from Simmons & Simmons and Bird & Bird, respectively. Partner Soo Khim Keoy departed and joined Clifford Chance. In early 2022, family and divorce specialist Rita Ku left firm and established her own eponymous boutique firm, Rita Ku & Solicitors. She was joined shortly after by family and divorce law doyenne Sharon Ser.

In the family and matrimonial space, case highlights include the firm acting for an individual on a ground-breaking LGBT rights case; successfully setting aside two consent summonses signed on divorce settlement; and representing an individual and acting on disputes arising from the issue of 'habitual residence' in the context of the jurisdictional basis for a divorce of a Japanese nationals couple.