Kim & Chang is a dominant force in dispute resolution in South Korea with over 200 experienced lawyers in the practice group alone. As the largest domestic firm in the country, it houses many of the market’s top litigation and arbitration specialists, and peers acknowledge the firm’s strength and deep bench across all practice areas and industry sectors. The group’s enormous resources allow teams to be agile and diverse, mirroring the dispute resolution needs of its clients. It is well-suited to large-scale litigation in multiple jurisdictions.
The firm ranks in the top tier across all benchmark tables as it regularly features in the most complex and landmark cases. The firm’s in-house forensic and legal technical team provides its litigators with a significant advantage as case management becomes more complex with fact-finding involving high volumes of electronic data.
Key contacts in the commercial disputes team are Sang-Hyuk Ha, Cheolhee Park, Woo-Jin Shin and Kyeong Shim. Cheol-Hwan Choi, In Sung Yoon, Sang Wook Kang, Dae Kwon Yang, Young-Shik Jung and Chan-Ik Park are the lead competition specialists. Leading the intellectual property (IP) team are Duck Soon Chang, Sang-Wook Han and Yu-Seog Won, while the main labour and employment litigators are Hak Joon Kim, Je Ho Lee and Junho Hong.
The international arbitration team is large and notable figures include Byung-Chol Yoon, Eun Young Park, Kay-Jannes Wegner, Sae Youn Kim, Byung-Woo Im and Joel Richardson. In white-collar crime, Chang Hoon Baek, Yong Sang Kim and Hye Kwan Lee are three of the key partners. Hye Kwang Lee, Jin Yeong Chung and Yong Sang Kim are recommended for their product liability and recall prowess. Jin Yeong Chung, Chiyong Rim, Seok Jong Chung and Janghoom Kim are the go-to partners for insolvency disputes; and Byung Moon Jung and Je Heum Baik are key tax litigation practitioners. Construction experts Yong Ho Ryu and Song Ho Lee are the key contacts for contentious construction and engineering matters.
A highlight for the commercial disputes team was successfully representing Hanjin KAL in a dispute related to its issuance of new stock in connection with Korean Air’s acquisition of Asiana Airlines. This case set precedent for M&A and business management in Korea. It was complex because issuance of shares to a third party is in principle prohibited and there were strong challenges by multiple major shareholders to the issuance of shares to Korea Development Bank (KDB).
The firm’s antitrust litigators successfully advocated for an auto parts company in its appeal before the Seoul High Court and the Supreme Court of Korea seeking revocation of the competition authority’s sanctions for involvement in a bid-rigging cartel. This is the first case that establishes the rule regarding the starting time of the statute of limitations in a leniency application case. It is also the first successful case regarding the expiration of the statute of limitations after the amendment to the Fair Trade Law.
On the intellectual property front, the team is representing Bristol-Myers Squibb Holdings as the innovator in a long-running patent challenge brought on by generics. The firm was retained for the Supreme Court appeal last year, with the court reversing the decision made in 2015 to find the patent for apixaban inventive and valid. This recent Supreme Court decision redefined the standard for the patentability of selection inventions in Korea and will significantly impact how selection inventions can be patented and enforced in Korea, affecting not only the pharmaceutical field but various other industries.
In a high-profile ‘David and Goliath’ battle, the white-collar lawyers acted for a Korean display equipment manufacturer and its employees who were criminally charged with misappropriating and leaking industrial technologies and trade secrets belonging to a display panel manufacturer to overseas competitors. This matter was the first case in which the act of selling equipment that was previously supplied to another customer was charged as a leakage and misappropriation of trade secrets. The team helped its client obtain a non-guilty verdict for all nine indicted individuals and other related parties.
The international arbitration team acted for four claimants, regional private equity funds, in a high-stakes, unprecedented International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration case involving the exercise of put options valued at nearly $2 billion. The firm is also representing Schindler Holding in an investor treaty arbitration against the Republic of Korea. The ramifications of this investment treaty arbitration will be significant in terms of defining the reviewable scope of a financial supervisory regulator’s authority in the context of investment treaties, particularly with respect to a regulatory authority’s failure to act. In a maritime matter, the team has been instructed by a Korean shipbuilder for its London Maritime Arbitrators Association arbitration proceedings against Norwegian-Cypriot offshore drilling contractors regarding the supply of four semi-submersible drilling rigs.
The international arbitration practice hired senior attorney Dong-Seok Oh from KL Partners. The antitrust team welcomed Dong-Gook Kim from the National Court Administration in 2021. The firm’s intellectual property and employment groups also saw an inflow of new lawyers from peer firms, government bodies and corporates.
“Professionalism, commitment.” – Competition and antitrust
“They had a very high level of expertise and a lot of experience in the field, competition and antitrust, so they accurately grasped the issue of the case and prepared a solution.” – Competition and antitrust
“Provide clear and detailed information/advice, leaving little requirement for follow-up questions.” – Intellectual property
“Excellent in all aspects such as response strategy establishment, logic development and case analysis.” – Labour and employment
“Providing legal analysis for complicated issues such as regulations on chemicals.” – Labour and employment
“The law firm won the first trials and the appeal cases of the litigation even though the chance of success had been estimated as low before the actions were initiated.” – Labour and employment
“A clear interpretation of legal principles and kind explanation, excellent trial progress.” – Labour and employment
“Excellent legal advice and strong abilities to staff the teams as needed.” – Product liability and recall
“Liaising with the client (in South Korea) and providing clear and helpful instructions to the UK team. Advising on issues of Korean law.” – Shipping
“In litigation with many parties, he well-coordinated their interest.”
“Major infrastructure projects – great attention to detail. Builds rock solid relationships.”
“Excellent legal and strategical advice. Handling of complicated litigation in global cross-border connection.”
“He supervised our company's labour disputes very well and performed oral proceedings at the court excellently.”
“Making accurate legal decisions and accomplishing things passionately.”
“Excellent in every way.”
“Overall tactics and execution of the dispute.”
“Communicates with the client and the rest of the team.”
Lee & Ko excels across all areas of dispute resolution. Its team of talented and experienced litigators is led by no less than 25 partners and 70 litigators who together encompass over 40 different specialties. The disputes team frequently collaborates with an extensive roster of practice area specialists, from construction to insolvency, and employs the expertise of industry specialists such as economic analysts, international trade experts, accountants, tax specialists, patent attorneys and regulatory analysts. The group comprises over 80 former Supreme Court Justices and assistant Attorney Generals, among others. With healthcare and pharmaceutical litigious matters on the rise, Lee & Ko has grown this sector specialisation.
Won Seok Ko, Seong Won Chang, Sang Yong Ra and Heon Myung Jeong are key figures for general corporate disputes. Antitrust litigators Pyoung Keun Song, Young Hoon Jung and Eulhwan Kang are the main contacts for contentious competition matters, while Chan Ik Jang, Joong Hoon Kwak and Jin Wook Yang are core figures in the construction litigation offering. In intellectual property, Jae Hoon Kim, Young Mo Kwon, Un Ho Kim and Choong Jin Oh are the senior figures.
Sean Sungwhoo Lim and Robert Wachter lead the international arbitration group alongside David Ki and Sanghoon Han who co-head the construction arbitration practice group. On the product liability and recall side, the main partners include In Sang Kang, Jin So and Ho Joon Moon. Jay Shim, Ok Hyun Ma, Byeong Jun Son and Sung Hwan Kim are the key tax disputes contacts, while Yeong Seok Park and Tae-Ki Ghil head up the white-collar crimes group.
The firm represented the chief executive of SK Chemicals in a high-profile criminal case concerning a humidifier sterilising agent and led the client to a not guilty verdict in January 2021. This matter is the most representative case in South Korea in product liability, holding a manufacturer criminally liable for product defect injuries to its customers. Another big win for the product liability team was its successful defence of KleanNara Company in a class action lawsuit regarding hazardous material found in sanitary pads.
Another highlight saw the firm’s litigators represent Banpo Complex 1 Reconstruction Association in a $9 billion lawsuit in relation to the reconstruction project of 5,000 homes. It also recently worked with Hyundai Heavy Industries for compensation of loss against the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and helped it retrieve $13 million for its client. This case is significant as a precedent as it recognised DAPA’s responsibility in relation to its failure to guarantee a reasonable project period.
In a seminal case, the firm’s antitrust team represented Mitsubishi Electric Corpration in a lawsuit it filed against the Korea Fair Trade Commission seeking a cancellation of a specific corrective order and related fines. The client was victorious and the case is currently pending at the Supreme Court since the competition regulator appealed. This matter sets an important precedent as to whether the act of voluntary reporting to foreign competition authorities affects domestic fair trade law procedures. Another noteworthy case saw the litigation team secure a Supreme Court win for Lotte Himart in its lawsuit against its former chief executive. The case is awaiting hearing at the appellate court and serves as an important precedent to the decision-making process for directors’ remuneration.
The Lee & Ko employment litigation team was successful for Korea Development Bank in another precedent-setting case that helped define the scope of legal obligations under the Act on the Protection of Temporary Agency Workers. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of KDB in April 2021 after a case was initiated by dispatched labourers about their employment status.
The international arbitration team continues to go from strength to strength. It counselled the government of Korea in an investment treaty arbitration under the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and 2013 United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Arbitration Rules brought by American hedge fund Elliott Associates. At the time, the matter was the first investment treaty arbitration case initiated under the KORUS FTA and the fourth case against the Republic of Korea. This case was the first transparent investment arbitration proceeding to be conducted against the Republic of Korea pursuant to the transparency provisions in the KORUS FTA.
Another international arbitration highlight was the team’s successful representation of Chang-Jae Shin, the chairman and chief executive of Kyobo Life Insurance Company. The arbitration was commenced by Guardian Holdings, Apfin Investment and Hoenir against the firm’s client in relation to a shareholder agreement dispute.
The disputes team bolstered its expertise with numerous senior-level hires, most of whom served in their former capacities for nearly 20 years. These include former chief judge at the Seoul High Court, judge at the Seoul Central District Court and director general of criminal cases at the National Court Administration, In Seok Lee; former judge in the Korean judiciary Da Joo Jung; and a former patent court judge and Supreme Court research judge, Heon Lee. Several prosecutors from the prosecution service and Korean National Police Agency were also recently recruited.
“Lee & Ko is an exceptionally well-oiled machine. They are extremely dedicated and provide swift turnaround on their work product and advice, which is often exceptional in quality. They are specialist IP and patent litigators and are highly regarded in South Korea. They know their stuff and are top-notch in providing great client service.” – Intellectual property
“1) understanding of client needs; 2) development and execution of litigation strategy; 3) consultation regarding legal issues in the biopharma industry.” – Intellectual property
“They have a deep bench. The cases on which I have worked were led by Robert Wachter, the co-head of the arbitration team, but effectively managed day to day by associates and senior associates. Even relatively junior members of their team are highly capable and very hardworking (Saemee Kim - recently made a partner; Grace Yoon; Han Ah Lee). I am also impressed by their style of advocacy - from what I have seen, they present the case in a clear way, both in written pleadings and oral submissions.” – International arbitration
“Provided high quality legal documents.” – Labour and employment
“Responsive, good technical advice, and good understanding of tax insurance product.” – Tax
“Provided alternative arguments and laid out all arguments clearly.” – Tax
“He always gives very kind and easy advice.”
“He is an excellent communicator. English is his first language as he is from Canada and qualified as a Canadian lawyer, but he also understands Korean culture and business practices.”
“Excellent statesmanship in leading and driving forward litigation strategy.”
“He is responsive, gives sound technical advice, and had a good understanding of tax insurance products.”
“Jay Shim is the best tax lawyer. He tries to find the best option for the client.”
“He is a strong advocate in both written and oral form. He manages a relatively large team and I understand that it is because of his leadership style that the team is well-organised and efficient. He has made the international arbitration team more international through his recent hires and he himself brings an international perspective to the team (while also being very knowledgeable about Korea – he has lived and worked here for many years).”
“He is knowledgeable in the development and execution of patent litigation strategy. Good legal counselling regarding issues in the biopharma industry.”
Boutique arbitration law firm, RosettaLegal, was established at the end of 2017 by Young Seok Lee. Lee decided to strike out on his own when he was head of Yulchon’s international dispute resolution group. The firm is niche and composed of three lawyers who handle significant arbitration matters for top-end clients seeking an alternative to the Big Six. It handles domestic and international arbitration cases in an array of industry sectors, including international trade, distributorship, insurance, telecommunication, technical license, construction, engineering, infrastructure and shipbuilding. Since its inception, the Rosetta team has handled more than 10 international arbitration cases worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Founding partner Young Seok Lee is the firm’s key contact. He is a member of the ICC Korea international arbitration committee and has served as the chair of the Korean Council for International Arbitration, the secretary-general of Seoul International Dispute Resolution Center and the chair for the Korea International Trade Law Association. Lee is also active as an arbitrator for various arbitration institutions.
In a recent highlight, Lee and his successfully team defended KEPCO KDN in an ICC arbitration against claims filed by a multinational software company. The issue of ‘indirect use’ of computer software was the key issue, on which there are not many court precedents globally. The claimant withdrew its entire claim just before the evidentiary hearing. Another notable case saw the firm represent the subsidiary of a luxury hotel group in a $55 million ICC arbitration relating to a development project in Korea. The dispute was in relation to who would be liable for the abandonment of the project.
Hwado DC REIT, Shinhan Bank and their insurer, Chubb Insurance, instructed the firm for a series of proceedings involving a fire at a warehouse in Korea. As the dispute involved multiple parties with conflicting interests in respect of an incident of which the cause was not clearly identified, many complex legal issues in respect of the notion of defect and possession of the structure were at issue.
Other active clients include City On Asset Management, Hwachon Plant Construction, Hyundai Electric Machinery, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, Nepal Hydro and Electrical, Sean Engineering & Construction and Supportec.
Shin & Kim offers its clients an established dispute resolution offering that focuses on six core specialised litigation practice groups: administrative, tax and fair trade law; construction, real estate and project finance; capital markets and financial disputes; corporate labour and bankruptcy; intellectual property and product liability; and criminal. The team has a strong reputation for public law, construction and real estate, financial, general corporate and intellectual property disputes.
The group has bolstered its industry groups with the hiring of numerous experts in tax, mobility, international trade and customs, defence, banking and finance and intellectual property. It welcomed key figures including Jung Hoon Kim, a former commissioner of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, Jinkyu Yoon, a former chief judge at the Supreme Court research division, and Hee Seok Byeon, a former Seoul Regional Public Procurement Service Commissioner. Notably, the firm also recruited Korea’s first female deputy chief prosecutor at the Central District’s Prosecutor’s Office, Noh-Kong Lee.
The key figures in commercial disputes are Jong-Han Oh and Yong Ho Kim. The main antitrust and administrative litigators are Young Jin Ahn and Byung Il Im. Senior partner Sinseob Kang and Jin-Ho Jeong are the leads for banking and finance disputes and construction disputes are the domain of Jae-Yun Yun, Jae-Doo Shim, Seung Soo Lee and Chang Hwa Kim. In the intellectual property space, Yong Ho Moon, Young Joon Cho and Ghyo-Sun Park are the key figures. Other noteworthy disputes leaders are restructuring and insolvency partner Young Ku Lee, white-collar crime specialist Dong Shin Yeom, tax litigation specialists Hee Chang Byun and Choon Cho, and labour experts Yong Joon Cho and Byung Han Lee.
In a marquee highlight, the firm successfully represented Hanmi Pharm in demonstrating that the act of filing for a drug price after the patent was initially invalidated was not an illegal conduct and the reduction in its client’s drug price was due to the notification from the Minister of Health and Welfare. This Supreme Court ruling established precedent that generic pharmaceutical companies do not bear liability for damages in the decrease of original drug prices. Thanks to this, generic pharmaceutical companies are now able to release generic drugs immediately after a patent is invalidated in a lower court, allowing consumers access to original drugs at a much lower price.
The team represented SK Broadband in a landmark litigation related to Netflix’s network fee in Korea. The judgement, which was handed down in the summer of 2021, marks the first time that a court in any country has ruled on the question of the obligation to pay network usage fees in the internet network usage market. As the first court ruling on the issue globally, the decision is highly significant in that it confirmed internet service providers’ (ISPs) network services are not free and that content providers like Netflix that gain massive profits by streaming content through ISPs’ networks do bear the obligation to pay network usage fees regardless of, and separate from, the end users.
Another high-profile case featuring the Shin & Kim litigators is a dispute over the contract deposit following the failed acquisition of Asiana Airlines. The team is representing Asiana Airlines and, after this litigation was filed, the Korean government selected Korean Air to be the new acquirer of the client. In an insolvency case, the team is acting for Dongbu Construction in an action for nullification of the claim written in the table of rehabilitation creditors. As the loan structure, in which the client was the borrower, was through a trustee, the preferential beneficiary does not have any claim directly against the debtor. This matter will confront whether it is possible to accept the claim for compensation instead of the loan provided by the preferential beneficiary. It is being fiercely debated and will set a precedent as it is being heard at the Supreme Court.
The firm is serving as the only domestic player involved in all Qualcomm investigations cases in Korea and in the ongoing US cases. The Qualcomm cases have tested several antitrust principles and remain landmark antitrust cases in Korea. The Supreme Court decision on the earlier Qualcomm case has set the standard for reviewing conditional rebates in Korea.
The firm’s stable of clients includes Amosense, Cho Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corporation, CJ, Gilead Sciences, Helixmith, Industrial Bank of Korea, Pine Tree Partners, Regus Group, Samsung, Seoul Broadcasting System, STX Heavy Industries and Vidente Corporation.
Yoon & Yang moves up a tier in the construction and employment tables this year. The disputes team offers expertise across a variety of practice areas, with its core litigation practice focused on complex corporate, construction, finance, employment and securities matters. The team’s sector expertise includes manufacturing, construction, finance and technology. It has strong and well-regarded competition, employment, white-collar crime and product liability teams. The corporate litigation team comprises 70 former judges, 20 former prosecutors, two former Supreme Court Justices and one former Prosecutor General.
Key contacts of the firm’s commercial disputes team include Seung Ryong Yoo, Keon Joo Cho, Donghoon Shin, Sang-Pil Lee and Sue Yeon Woo. Hoil Yoon, Seong-Sig Kim, Jae Young Kim, Chul Ho Kim and Paul Rhee are prominent figures in the competition and antitrust space. The contentious construction experts are Seung Ryong Yoo, Don Eok Choi, Young Kang Eo, Kyung In Jung and Soo Hyeon Park.
For product liability and recall matters, the main lawyers are Seung Ryong Yoo, Young Kang Eo and Chulgun Lim. Notable intellectual property partners include Wonil Kim, Dongju Kwon and Jeong Gyu Kim. Sang Hoon Park, Tae Hwan Oh, Seong Hong and Chan-Keun Park are the senior partners in the labour and employment practice. Partners Junsang Lee and Myung-Ahn Kim co-head the international arbitration group.
In a precedent-setting case, the team was instructed by multiple Taekwang Group affiliates for its fight against the Korea Fair Trade Commission in an administrative lawsuit seeking the annulment of administrative surcharges. This is the first case where the KFTC had regulated the undue benefit of a related party by dealing in greater volume than when dealing with outside suppliers, instead of dealing at a lowered price. The standard for determination of unlawfulness has not yet been established for regulation so the pending court decision is expected to establish a blueprint on the standards for determining unlawfulness of assisting affiliated companies by dealing greater volume.
The construction litigators successfully acted for Korea Land & Housing Corporation in a revocation of disposition charging costs of the construction of a sewage system in relation to a land development project in Gwacheon. Another highlight in this sector saw the team win for HDC Hyundai Development, Daewoo E&C and Poongli Industrion in a litigation seeking payment for indirect construction costs caused by a delay in the construction period for roadbed facilities in a zone of the Ulsan-Pohang double-track railway.
The firm mounted a successful criminal defence for Samsung Electronics Service after it was indicted for alleged illegal dismissals of temporary workers. It also assisted SKF Korea in a Supreme Court win in a lawsuit filed by the National Labor Relations Commission alleging unfair labour practice.
On the product liability front, the team was successful for Hanwha Aerospace in defending it against liability related to a fire at the emergency generator and exhaust chimney of a data centre. Similarly, the team also successfully defended Dongil Compressor in relation to lawsuits filed over an air compressor fire. The IP litigation team helped SK Innovation in its longstanding patent dispute with LG Chem over electric vehicle battery technology, with both parties successfully reaching a settlement in May 2021.
The product liability and recall team was bolstered by the joining of five senior practitioners from the bench: counsels Sung-Ho Lee and Chang-Ho Ahn, and partners Min Kul Lee, Sang Jae Park and Su Yeol Lee. Senior IP lawyer Seung-Kook Synn joined from SK Group and the white-collar crime practice welcomed partners Sungkyu Lee and Young Hyun Kim.
Key corporate clients of the firm include Audi Volkswagen Korea, British America Tobacco Korea, GE Healthcare, Keystone Food and MAN Truck Bus Korea. Core construction clients include Daehan Real Estate Investment Trust, GS Engineering & Construction, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Korea Teal Estate Investment & Trust and POSCO Engineering & Construction. Intellectual property clients include some of the world’s best-known brands such as Amazon, BMW, Intel, L’Oréal, Merck, Microsoft, Nike and SK Hynix.
“Lawyers with expertise participated and thoroughly prepared for pleading for the trial.” – Commercial and transactions
“Even if the overall understanding of the case is high and there is a lack of evidence, they do their best to go to trial and always respond kindly to customers.” – Commercial and transactions
“I think that Yoon & Yang is one of the best law firms in litigation matters. They have plenty of former judges and prosecutors and their experience on the bench quite well work on the litigations and advice on pre-litigation issues. They bring the most proficient and favourable results in the litigations and disputes that our company faced over the last 12 months. I believe that they are the best litigation firm in Korea.” – Commercial and transactions
“They give us fast feedback whenever we ask urgent requests.” – Construction
“Responsive, zealous representation, flexible with fee arrangement.” – Construction
“First of all, with respect to advising on the major issues of the case, we think that their strengths are: (i) accurate understanding of our needs; and (ii) best solution offerings based on good understanding of our business operations.” – International arbitration
“This is one of the top international arbitration law firms in Korea. They are bilingual and can handle all complex cross-border disputes.” – International arbitration
“The briefs prepared by Yoon & Yang attorneys are persuasive as the team collects evidence and conducts related research very thoroughly. Given the employment issues are hinging upon the public attention, they handle various media coverage and other unexpected situations very well during oral proceedings (trials) as they diligently prepare their oral arguments and hold thorough meetings for prior briefing.” – Labour and employment
“Yoon & Yang has strengths in civil/criminal litigations and legal advice.” – Product liability and recall
“Yoon & Yang's lawyers well understood our issue with the local corporate tax and relevant precedent cases to develop legal principles to make a persuasive argument at the court.” – Tax
“He has always been humble and sincere when dealing with customers, has always been active in issues of the case, has a good response plan and has a personality and character that can be respected enough as a human being.”
“We feel that Jong Hwa really cares about his client with hard work. He has advised us for the tax litigation case and during the course of the dispute, he quickly organised key issues and developed legal principles to defend our position.”
“We mainly work with Kyung In Jung on overall business management matters. As an outside counsel for our company, Mr Jung provides insight on key legal issues. In particular, he is a problem solver by getting legal professionals from Yoon & Yang ready considering with the necessary background and qualifications to handle various legal problems that tend to occur by nature for large entities.”
“Sam is one of the best international arbitration lawyers in Korea. He has extensive experience in actual arbitrations and all of the prehearing briefing. He is also fully bilingual so he can try any case in English. There is no one I would rather work with in Seoul.”
“He provides professional services and is very capable of understanding what clients need.”
“Mr Park always holds a meeting for briefing the case before every hearing and prepares for oral arguments (trials) very thoroughly, which is why his oral arguments are very persuasive. In addition to making preparations in advance as mentioned above, Mr Park prepares his briefs based on an exhaustive collection of evidence, which includes interviews of related people and on-site inspections. Thus, his briefs are of high quality in terms of their content.”
“Dae is very responsive, reliable and proactive. He escalates any potential issues quickly and efficiently while not overly communicating mundane updates. I can fully trust him to zealously represent our interest even though I do not closely oversee or follow up on his work on our projects.”
“Ms Woo is a prominent litigator and she is very talented in spotting the legal issues on the claims and counter-claims.”
“They are talented lawyers who majored in not only law but engineering. Based on experience at corporations and related knowledge (hydrogen, facilities, etc.), they have a high understanding of our issues and draw appropriate legal solutions.”
Leading Korean law firm Yulchon has a roster of nearly 250 professionals in its dispute resolution team alone, including more than 150 trial lawyers led by nearly 30 seasoned partners. In addition to legal practitioners, the group has other professionals such as accountants and industry experts to provide support to its litigators. The disputes offering covers the full spectrum of practice areas, with the market acknowledging its strengths in tax, finance, competition, construction, product liability, labour, intellectual property and white-collar crime. The firm is recognised as a pioneer in class action disputes and for its Supreme Court wins, overturning lower court decisions at a high rate.
Recently, the firm has expanded its scope of expertise to encompass new areas such as mobility, blockchain, education, healthcare, hospitality, sports and entertainment, personal data protection, and environment and energy. The firm has segmented intergroup practice teams to offer tailored specialisation for its clients, with members of both the transaction side and disputes side in each team. For example, the firm offers finance, healthcare, mobility, insurance and sports and entertainment teams, among others.
The firm also boasts special regional practices, with experts from diverse practice groups equipped with the appropriate language and cultural background to suit clients’ needs. Yulchon has offices in China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Russia and Vietnam; and it is part of the TechLaw Group, Ius Laboris, and Taxand networks and alliances.
Partners Dong Ryul Choi, Il Bong Moon and Do Hyeong Kim are key contacts in the firm’s commercial disputes team. Other core leaders for disputes work include international litigation and arbitration specialist Yoon Jae Baek, intellectual property expert Jeong Yeol Choe, insolvency partner Chul Man Kim, tax partner Seok Hoon Kang, competition specialist Sang Hyean Gwack, construction and real estate expert Ju Bong Park, and labour litigator Jae Keun Lee.
The Yulchon team was busy in a potential precedent-setting matter, representing the Korea Exchange (KRX) in a civil action brought by the shareholders of Gamma Nu over the bourse’s decision to delist the company. This case has great significance in that it tackles the question of which duty of care is borne by the KRX and which requirements would place liability on the KRX to compensate the shareholders.
Shinhan Investment Corporation has instructed Yulchon in an action for damages regarding an investment in a leveraged crude oil futures exchange-traded note (ETN). The key issue is whether the client, as the issuer of the leveraged crude oil futures ETN and the liquidity provider, is liable to the investors for the loss incurred.
The top rated tax litigation team was successful for client Hyundai Glovis on its Tax Tribunal appeal in relation to a transfer pricing assessment. The lawyers succeeded in establishing that the entities in charge of manufacturing finished automobiles and manufacturing parts entered into an advance agreement regarding the purchase price, whereas the logistics entity derived profits through cost reductions. The legal team pointed out the transfer pricing assessment contradictions between the law and relevant guidelines, resulting in a fully victory for the client. This case is particularly meaningful because it firmly established that the special characteristics of the industry, and not simply benchmarking values, must be considered during transfer pricing analyses.
The antitrust team mounted a successful defence for Hanhwa Machinery in the KFTC’s abuse of dominance investigation alleging an illegal misappropriation of technological information regarding solar cell technologies. The team is acting for Qualcomm in the high-profile, long-running battle against the competition authority’s abuse of dominance accusations and $920 million fine. The matter is now before the Supreme Court.
Seoul Guaranty Insurance Company hired the Yulchon insolvency litigators for representation in litigation between creditor financial institutions that were involved in the workout of 21st Century Shipbuilding. The team helped its client prevail in the first instance, the only party out of numerous other financial institutions.
The group added 13 senior practitioners and partners last year, while three disputes lawyers left. Notable additions include former judges Yeon Hak Kim, Chul Ki Min, Seung Ho Lee and Min Seung Ku. Partner Hyung Suk Suh rejoined the firm from LKB Partners, a litigation boutique recognised for its work in high-profile criminal defence. Former partners Jun Yeob Lee left for the Supreme Court, Eun Jae Park departed for an in-house role at Lotte Corporation and Yung Sang Lee moved to Coupang.
The firm counts domestic giants such as Booyoung Group, Dong-A Pharmaceutical, Korean Air and Samsung among its key clients. Daebo E&C, Kumho Industrial, Seoul Semiconductor and Qualcomm have all worked with the firm recently.
“Yulchon lawyers have good understanding of client's goals. They are enthusiastic and passionate. They accurately identify the facts and key issues of each case. Their work has good results. In litigation, the Yulchon team plans ahead and estimates future process and opponent's direction of argument and prepares scenarios for various cases. Yulchon did oral argument based on such scenario and strategy. Yulchon makes customers comfortable and is very kind to them. Also, they provide customised service and know what needs to be done, even when we cannot accurately say what is necessary. In other words, they are sensitive to client needs and perform their duties from the perspective of the client. The result is satisfying. They also provide good business advice, considering the impact that the work we entrust with them would have on our company, affiliate companies or the industry, and also the impact on other cases of other companies. Yulchon fees are reasonable too.” – Commercial and transactions
“Very good technical legal advice with strong commercial application.” – Competition and antitrust
“Proactively represented our company with well-developed defence strategies against the challenges from the tax auditors during the regular tax audit.” – Tax
“Excellent legal and commercial advice, innovative and strategic.”
“Provide legal advice and litigation strategy.”
“Communication and proactive problem solving.”
“He could grasp the facts and legal issues in a very short period of time. Based on that understanding, he organised the team with proper experts and coordinated our needs and the team's ability. More specifically, he led us dig into the relevant facts that we never even considered. Accordingly, we could find more facts that are advantageous to us and it was crucial in winning the case. Also, he was great at witness examination. He was able to draw favourable statement from a hostile witness by elaborately orchestrating the whole examination. He does not have a fixed way of thinking. He has a very flexible mindset. He uses imagination and looks at the root cause of a phenomenon or relevant facts from various viewpoints.”