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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Fangda Partners

05 April 2018

A mainland Chinese firm with a presence in Hong Kong

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 9
Value of pending counsel work US$455 million
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments
5 (of which 1 is 
as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator  3

Founded in 1993, Fangda Partners was one of the first law firms established under mainland China’s contemporary legal system.

The firm has been advising foreign investors in China on disputes since the early days, but the international arbitration practice came to the fore after the opening of the Beijing office in 2004 and the addition of US-trained practitioners with deeper international experience. In 2007, the firm added former China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) deputy secretary general Ming Kang. The combination of common law (Hong Kong and English) and PRC law arbitration and litigation capability is still a relatively rare offering in the Greater China market.

Besides handling CIETAC work, Fangda Partners frequently teams up with leading foreign firms for ad hoc and institutional arbitrations under the major rules, and provides expertise on Chinese law in overseas proceedings. It is one of the few Chinese firms to have independently and successfully represented Chinese and foreign clients in international arbitrations in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

Prominent members of the practice are Daniel Huang, who has handled dozens of foreign investment cases; US-trained senior corporate lawyer Xiang Ji; and Helen Shi, a CIETAC arbitration specialist and alternate ICC Court member for China. Another name to note is Damien McDonald, who has practiced in London and Australia and was promoted to partner in 2016.


The firm has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and, most recently, Guangzhou. Since 2012, it has offered litigation and international arbitration capabilities in Hong Kong through an association with Peter Yuen & Associates – headed by a former Freshfields partner and including bilingual lawyers qualified in Hong Kong, English and Singaporean law.

Who uses it?

Clients include Citibank, China National Offshore Oil Company, Deloitte, GE, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Texas Pacific Group and IDG Group.

The firm was instructed by US energy company ConocoPhillips to settle a US$230 million environmental claim brought by the Chinese government arising from an oil spill in the Yellow Sea – by far the largest such claim in China to date. It has also co-counselled the same client in a related US lawsuit brought by Chinese fishermen.

It acted as Chinese counsel to one of the big four firms in a US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation concerning the audit of a US-listed Chinese company; and for an Asian private equity firm fighting a US$20 million claim by a former partner in relation to their separation agreement.

Track record

Fangda helped a European real estate investment fund win a US$31 million award in 2015 after a six-year dispute over a transfer of property. The same year, the firm helped a client win 90% of its claim in a leasing dispute at the Shanghai International Arbitration Centre (SHIAC); and achieved a favourable settlement in a dispute over a US$300 million real estate development in Beijing that did not get the approval of Chinese security services.

In 2013, the firm acted for a large Chinese state-owned construction company in a London-seated UNCITRAL arbitration with the road authority of an African state. The parties settled their dispute, which was worth over US$100 million. It also says it gained a landslide win plus costs for a Spanish client in a Hong Kong seated UNCITRAL arbitration with two Chinese entities.

Looking further back, the firm famously advised leading Chinese beverage company Wahaha in a CIETAC arbitration with French dairy company Danone, which was settled on terms that were regarded as favourable to the French company.

It also acted for a Chinese business celebrity in a US$100 million Hong Kong-seated ICC arbitration against an international mobile service network – achieving a settlement in favour of the client.

In 2010, the firm helped a Chinese airline prevail in a contractual dispute with a Canadian pilot academy under ICC rules and before a New Zealand arbitrator. English was the arbitration language, meaning that until Fangda’s engagement the Chinese airline had been disadvantaged.

Its performances in the Chinese courts include enforcing the first ever Hong Kong-made ICC award for a European client in Shanghai in 2009, soon after the ICC Court opened its Asia office.

Recent events

The firm is currently handling disputes over joint ventures, patent licences and share transfer agreements for some of the largest corporations in the US, Europe and South Korea.

It helped Canada’s Primeline Energy Holdings settle a pair of CIETAC arbitrations against affiliates of China’s state-owned oil company CNOOC. Fangda continues to represent Primeline in a much larger claim against CNOOC being heard at SIAC under UNCITRAL rules. All three cases relate to petroleum blocks in the East China Sea.

Fangda also continues to represent a German investor in a Chinese shopping mall in a dispute with a Shanghai real estate developer that has raged for 10 years. In June 2017, the firm applied to a Shanghai court to set aside a US$33 million Shanghai International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (SHIAC) award against its client on the grounds that it contradicts an earlier award issued by a different tribunal concerning the same dispute.

The firm successfully defended a Chinese client in a sale of goods dispute at SHIAC, where the tribunal rejected the claimant’s case and partially upheld the client’s counterclaim. It won a good settlement for an international hotel management company after a two-year arbitration worth US$60 million.

At CIETAC, a Hong Kong real estate client won the entirety of its US$30 million-plus claim against a Chinese industrial company. In another case, the firm defeated a US$90 million claim against a German manufacturing client.

It has recently acted for a Korean company in a rare China-seated SIAC arbitration over liquid and gaseous products. It also defended 14 parties in a US$150 million Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre arbitration with a pension fund involving claims of misrepresentation.

Alvin Xiao and Yi Su, were recruited to lead the firm’s new office in Guangzhou as partners. Both practised at King & Wood Mallesons for 10 years, frequently representing clients before arbitral institutions in the Pearl River Delta, including the CIETAC South China Branch. Peibing Qi joined the Beijing office as partner.



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