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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Kim & Chang

05 April 2018

A Seoul firm with foreign-qualified partners constituting half its bench

People in Who’s Who Legal 3
People in Future Leaders 2
Pending cases as counsel 73
Value of pending counsel work US$6.96 billion
Treaty cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments
7 (of which 7 are 
as sole or chair
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 6

Founded in 1973, Kim & Chang has had a dedicated international arbitration practice since 1998 that is home to Korean and foreign-qualified lawyers. It is proud to have been the first international arbitration group in Korea (its first case was against the Korean government).

The group has grown from five lawyers to a more than 30-strong team, almost half of whom are foreign-qualified, with a mixture of civil and common law experience. The practice is led by Byung-Chol Yoon and Eun-Young Park, both based in Seoul.

Park is a vice president of the LCIA court, and serves on the board of directors and court of SIAC. He is also former vice chair of the IBA’s arbitration committee and co-chair of its Asia-Pacific arbitration group. Yoon is a member of the ICC Court and chairman of the Korean Council for International Arbitration. He is also one of South Korea’s representatives to the Commercial Arbitration Committee at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a special administrative region of North Korea being developed as an industrial free zone between the two Koreas. Both are on the executive committee of the Seoul International Dispute Resolution Centre, where Yoon is secretary general.

Other names to know at the firm are construction specialist Byung-Woo Im, Kay-Jannes Wegner and Liz Kyo-Hwa Chung.

Network

There are offices in Seoul and Hong Kong.

Who uses it?

The group represents major Korean conglomerates including Hyundai, Daewoo, Kia, SK and Doosan, as well as major foreign companies. It has also acted for the South Korean government at ICSID.

Track record

One famous client is the Hanwha Group, for which it conducted the largest Korea-related ICC arbitration on record over the sale and control of a financial services company, seated in New York and heard in Vancouver. The group prevailed against a Korean government agency and won a significant portion of its legal fees.

Other big wins include US$950 million for a US party in two ICC cases against a Korean government entity, a similar amount in an SIAC arbitration and US$40 million for Lone Star Funds in an ICC case seated in Tokyo.

It has also advised a consortium led by Canada’s Bombardier in an ICC dispute with the government over a public–private partnership driverless light railway project. That resulted in a US$750 million win for the consortium following a fast-track arbitration that lasted 16 months. A subsequent costs award went 80% in favour of the client, and the awards have been successfully enforced.

The firm also helped a Korean media client settle a US$500 million shareholder dispute in 2015 that had played out in a Hong Kong-seated ICC arbitration.

In 2011, the firm successfully represented Kia in an ICC arbitration regarding a joint venture dispute with Chong Jin Jeon and others, winning all claims and damages of over US$200 million.

Another win was for a European car supplier who had an US$80 million ICC claim brought against them by a Korean auto-parts manufacturer over a joint ventures agreement. The tribunal dismissed all the claims brought against the firm’s client.

Eun Young Park and Joel Richardson successfully represented two of Korea’s leading badminton athletes in a CAS arbitration against the Badminton World Federation, obtaining a favourable resolution that allowed the athletes to compete in the 2014 Asian Games in Inchon, Korea.

Recent events

Kim & Chang currently represents a major Korean construction and engineering company in an ICC arbitration seated in Seoul. The value in dispute is in excess of US$150 million.

It is acting for a French-owned supplier of industrial gases in a US$50 million ICC claim against a steel producer over an attempt to terminate a long-term supply agreement.

A Russian national is using the firm for a US$22 million Korean Commercial Arbitration Board case in the financial services sector, relating to a guarantee agreement.

The firm is representing a European client seeking US$28 million in a dispute over catalyst products shipped to the UAE.

Client comment

Andrew Ahn, from autoparts company Hyundai Mobis, says the firm has efficiently handled arbitrations for it involving numerous parties and three different languages. He says the firm has “helped us manoeuvre difficult proceedings” and that Liz Chung was “quick in her responses” and “thorough in her factual and legal analysis.”

A Korean steelmaker that retained Kim & Chang for a Hong Kong arbitration says the firm had “the best teamwork that I have seen”. Meanwhile a US energy company says the firm did “an outstanding job” in handling a Korea-seated case and explaining the differences with US procedures.

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