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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Shin & Kim

04 April 2018

Helped to settle an ICSID claim against South Korea

People in Future Leaders 1
Pending cases as counsel 10
Value of pending counsel work US$5.06 billion
Treaty cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments 1 (of which 0 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

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 – who left with two other partners in 2015 to set up his own boutique, KL Partners (also listed in the GAR 100).

The practice is now in the hands of former managing partner Doo-Sik Kim.

While Shin & Kim is not 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.

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

Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund IPIC retained it for a US$340 million ICSID case against South Korea (alongside White & Case). The case was settled in 2016.

The firm has told us 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 Derek Lee moved internally to the arbitration group, while David Kim left after 10 years for Lee & Ko, another Seoul firm.

The firm has taken on around 14 new commercial arbitration instructions in the past year, including a case concerning the alleged fraudulent sale of luxury cars.

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

Client comment

A technology client that used the team calls them “top notch lawyers” who ensured “success in every aspect of the arbitration”.

Another client in an ICC case says: “We were very happy and satisfied with [the lawyers’] attention and efforts and the result.”



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