Recognised by GAR for helping to build international arbitration culture among Korean clients, Kim & Chang now competes on its own terms on the world stage
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$ 3.5 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 6 (of which 6 is as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Founded in 1973, Kim & Chang has had a dedicated international arbitration practice since 1998 that’s home to Korean and foreign-qualified lawyers. The practice is led by Jin Yeong Chung, Byung-Chol Yoon and Eun-Young Park, all based in Seoul and commonly known by their first two initials.
Who uses it?
One famous client is the Hanwha Group, for whom it conducted the largest Korea-related ICC arbitration on record. The firm is reluctant to disclose clients’ names but one of public record is a consortium led by Canada’s Bombardier and Korea’s Daelim.
The ICC arbitration for the Hanwha Group finished with Hanwha prevailing in its claims and being awarded a significant portion of its legal fees. The case, which was New York-seated, was heard over two weeks in Vancouver, with a Korean government agency on the other side. The dispute concerned the sale and control of a Korean financial services company.
The firm has also worked on high-profile arbitrations (over power plants, the production of engines, shipbuilding, steel manufacturing and bank profit-sharing, among other matters) and has appeared in enforcement or set-aside proceedings in Korea, Germany, China and the US.
Kim & Chang was honoured with a “Special Recognition” award at the GAR Awards in Seoul in 2011 for its contribution to international arbitration culture in Korea – just one in an assortment of plaudits from legal publications.
BC Yoon, who already serves as a member of the ICDR’s panel of arbitrators and the SIAC emergency arbitrator panel, was appointed to similar panels at the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration and CIETAC and to a committee that will assist the secretariat of the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board in dealing with arbitrator appointments, challenges and replacements.
Yoon has also been appointed to two important committees launched by the Korean Ministry of Justice. One is to advise on ways to enhance the global competitiveness of the legal service industry in the wake of Korea’s signing of free trade agreements with the European Community and US. The other (on which he sits with a younger colleague, BW Im) is to provide pro bono legal advice to small- and medium-sized enterprises and public entitites making investments overseas to prevent international investment disputes before they arise.
Kay-Jannes Wegner, who is qualified in England and Germany, joined the firm in early 2011, bringing experience of working at the Singapore office of Herbert Smith and as counsel in the secretariat of the LCIA. The group also added Jennifer Keh, who used to practise commercial litigation in Los Angeles. John Rhie, meanwhile, was the youngest lawyer to feature in GAR’s latest “45 under 45”.
A senior member of the firm, Jun Hee Kee, left the firm at the start of 2012 to become international general counsel at Hyundai Heavy Industries.
Kim & Chang organised and hosted the first Korean International Commercial Arbitration moot in Seoul in 2010, in which nearly 130 students from 17 law schools took part. It also regularly mentors teams for the Vis Moot.
As reported in GAR, a major pending case for the practice is representing a consortium led Bombardier in a case in Seoul against a Korean provincial government. The consortium claims it was forced to terminate its contract with the government after failing to secure approval of its plans for a driverless rail network. The firm says the US$1 billion claim – one of the biggest filed in Asia in 2011 – involves politics, a state of the art transport foreign system and international foreign investment.