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GAR 100 - 13th Edition

Hui Zhong Law Firm

23 April 2020

New recruits strengthen team leading US$1 billion multi-jurisdiction real estate dispute

People in Who's Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 25
Value of pending counsel work US$1.32 billion
Treaty cases 0
Third-party funded cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments 37 (20 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 7

Based in Beijing and Shanghai, Hui Zhong Law Firm was founded in 2013 as one of the first Chinese law firms to specialise in dispute resolution and has significant experience in the field.

The practice, comprising 15 partners, consultants and counsel, is led by co-founders Xinguang Cao and Ning Fei in Beijing. Cao, who served as senior partner of Haiwen & Partners for 21 years, was one of the first arbitrators appointed by the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC). Fei led the dispute resolution group at Jun He Law Office for five years and worked at the CIETAC’s secretariat.

Senior consultant Shengchang Wang is the former vice chairman and secretary general of CIETAC who was controversially imprisoned for being part of a tribunal that ruled against Chinese interests in the PepsiCo arbitration, a major Sino-Western dispute of the 2000s. The episode made Wang a champion of the arbitral community.

The firm often serves as co-counsel for other international law firms on the GAR 100, such as Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith Freehills.

Hui Zhong also played a lead role in drafting amendments to the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration (SCIA) rules, including its authority to hear investor-state cases and to administer cases under UNCITRAL rules.

Who uses it?

Financial services clients are prominent users of Hui Zhong, including the Bank of China, China Everbright and Hong Kong’s Core Pacific-Yamaichi.

In other sectors, the firm has acted for IBM, Hugo Boss, Swiss multinational ABB, US water treatment company Culligan, Danish bio-tech company Novozymes, US flash memory manufacturer SanDisk, and Shanghai Electric and Shanghai SECCO Petrochemical Company Limited, one of China’s largest joint ventures.

Track record

The firm has minimised its clients’ losses in arbitrations, ranging from an UNCITRAL claim over a contract for the importation of soybeans to a CIETAC claim involving the Beijing subsidiary of the NBA.

The firm has also engineered advantageous settlements. US chemicals provider Lubrizol retained the firm for parallel SIAC and SHIAC proceedings over a construction dispute that settled. The firm also settled a US$33 million HKIAC case over the sale of goods.

For another client, Hui Zhong reached a settlement with a Japanese supplier in a US$35 million HKIAC case. The supplier withdrew its claim on the second day of the hearing.

The firm also recently helped a Taiwanese client settle a US$110 million claim against the Chinese government over the transfer of land use rights.

Recent events

Hui Zhong continues to act (alongside Clifford Chance) for a US private equity firm in a US$300 million CIETAC dispute over a restaurant chain.

In another significant matter, it remains lead counsel to Beijing Zhongtian Hongye Real Estate Consulting in arbitral and judicial proceedings in China, also acting as general coordinator for related litigation in Korea and Barbados – over 30 proceedings in total worth US$1 billion.

Meanwhile, an in-depth study conducted by Hui Zhong on how to reform the remuneration system in China’s arbitration institutions helped to influence the Beijing Arbitration Commission’s reform of its arbitration fees schedule.  

One partner left the firm, while Xiaohu Ma and Dihuang Song joined, both at partner level, from US law firm Morrison & Foerster and Guangzhou-based firm Wang Jing & Co respectively.

Client comment

Ginger Lu of medical equipment manufacturer Smith & Nephew praises the team’s “solid legal knowledge, practical solution, smart strategy, remarkable logic and strong business acumen”. Shanghai-based partner Jingjing Chen offers “big-picture thinking and attention to details”, and is “eloquent and practical”, Lu adds.

Insight

Reviews

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The Middle Eastern and African Arbitration Review 2020

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