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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Shin & Kim

10 March 2017

Helped to settle an ICSID claim against South Korea

Pending cases as counsel 4
Value of pending counsel work US$5 billion
Treaty cases 2
Current arbitrator appointments 2 (of which 1 is as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 2

Established in 1981, this 230-plus lawyer firm was one of the first in Korea to use a Western-style partnership system. Its experience in international arbitration doesn’t go back quite that far, but it still has more than many other practices in that market. Its arbitration practice developed with the firm’s entry into China in the early 2000s – it has offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

A few years ago, the firm recruited Benjamin Hughes, a US-qualified arbitration specialist from Shearman & Sterling, bringing it into the GAR 100 for the first time. Hughes has since moved on, as has his successor as practice head, Beomsu Kim. The practice is now in the hands of former managing partner Doo-Sik Kim.

 

While Shin & Kim is not yet spoken of in the same breath as market leaders Bae Kim & Lee and Kim & Chang, it has a pipeline of good work.

Who uses it?

The firm’s highest-profile instruction is probably from US investment fund Lone Star in an ICSID case against South Korea worth more than US$2.4 billion. In that matter, it’s acting alongside Sidley Austin.

Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund IPIC also retained it for another ICSID case against South Korea (alongside White & Case), which recently settled.

A lot of its work has a Korean connection. It’s been associated with such names as Samsung, Hanwha, Daewoo, Korea Development Bank, Kookmin Bank, Woori Bank and MBK Partners (Korea’s largest private equity fund).

The firm’s Latin American capability has produced new instructions from that region, including one from a Brazilian heavy machinery company in a dispute with a Korean joint venture party.

Track record

The firm has told us that it prides itself on outcomes that, while favourable, also allow for the resumption of a business relationship – in other words, settlements, which are not that common in Korea.

Sometimes, though, cases do go the full distance and provide strong results. Shin & Kim won costs while defending a UK company against a claim by a Korean satellite firm. It has also successfully defended Korea’s largest bank in a documentary credit dispute brought by an aeroplane manufacturer under ICC DOCDEX rules.

Recent events

Partner Jaemin Jeon moved internally to join the arbitration team, while Seungmin Lee was promoted to the partnership.

The firm has taken on around 15 new commercial instructions in the last year, though details remain confidential. They range from construction and intellectual property disputes to military and defence-related matters.

Hearings in the Lone Star case at ICSID were completed in early 2016 and an award is now awaited.

In the meantime, the firm helped Abu Dhabi’s IPIC settle its US$340 million ICSID claim against South Korea, which related to tax. The case was discontinued in October 2016.

Client comment

A client the firm represented in a Korean ICC dispute says, “We were very happy and satisfied with [the lawyers’] attention and efforts and the result.”