The mainland Chinese firm now has a presence in Hong Kong
- People in Who’s Who:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 3 (none as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Founded in 1993, Fangda Partners is one of the first law firms established under mainland China’s contemporary legal system. It now boasts over 150 lawyers offering commercial law services in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzen. Its name comprises two Chinese characters – “fang”, meaning integrity, and “da”, meaning open-mindedness – which the firm says provides “a short-form mission statement”.
Lawyers at the firm have been advising foreign investors in China on disputes since the early days, but the international arbitration practice really came to the fore after the opening of the Beijing office in 2004 and the addition of new US-trained practitioners with deeper international experience. In 2007, the firm added former CIETAC deputy secretary general Ming Kang.
Nowadays, the firm says the dispute resolution team consists of around 40 lawyers. Besides handling CIETAC work, it 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 also one of the few Chinese firms to have independently and successfully represented both Chinese and foreign clients in international arbitrations in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Increasingly, clients are using it in arbitration-related court proceedings in China.
Prominent members of the practice group include Daniel Huang, the first partner at the firm to specialise in arbitration, who has handled dozens of cases about foreign investments; US-trained senior corporate lawyer Xiang Ji, who is said to be a household name in China for his skills in public debate; and veteran litigator and expert in construction arbitration Nuo Ji.
In addition, Helen Shi is an internationally experienced CIETAC specialist, while Benjamin Miao has spent six years with a UK magic circle firm in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The firm has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Since last year, it has offered litigation and international arbitration capabilities in Hong Kong through a formal association with Peter Yuen & Associates – headed by a former Freshfields partner who joined the firm in June 2012 and including bilingual lawyers qualified in Hong Kong, English and Singaporean law. This has prompted speculation that the firm may aspire to open other international offices beyond China.
Who uses it?
Some recent clients are Guthy-Renker, the TV shopping company, in a CIETAC arbitration against its distributor; and Citibank. It has also represented China National Offshore Oil Company, Deloitte, GE, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, HSBC,Texas Pacific Group and IDG Group.
Recently, the firm has been instructed by energy company ConocoPhillips to settle a 1.5 billion renminbi environmental claim brought by the Chinese government arising from an oil spill in Bohai Bay in the Yellow Sea – by far the largest such claim in China to date. It is also co-counsel to the same client in a related US lawsuit brought by Chinese fisherman.
It has been acting as Chinese counsel to one of the big four professional services 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.
In Hong Kong, Yuen is advising one of the largest private equity firms in the world and a leading maker of semiconductors in ICC arbitrations.
As of August 2012, Helen Shi, Kang Ming and Ju Xiang were sitting as arbitrators, under ICC, UNCITRAL and HKIAC rules, respectively.
In a recent UNCITRAL arbitration seated in Hong Kong, the firm says it obtained a landslide win (plus costs) for a Spanish client against two Chinese entities in a dispute related to their share purchase agreement. The case is now about to enter the enforcement phase in China.
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 widely 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 claimant.
In 2010, the firm was engaged by a Chinese airline 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. With the firm on board, the client won (Fangda lawyers provided four rounds of written submissions and cross-examined witnesses in English).
Its performance 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.
Fangda Partners’ foray into Hong Kong was good news for GAR – the firm was among the sponsors of our first GAR Live to be held in the jurisdiction, with Yuen appearing on a panel that gave insights into the current internal feud at CIETAC.
As well as extending its reach beyond the mainland for the first time, the firm promoted a new partner – Kai Li – in May 2012.
Helen Shi, Benjamin Miao and Arthur Ma (who, like Yuen, originally hails from Freshfields) co-wrote the China chapter of the Asia Arbitration Handbook, published by Oxford University Press.
In 2011, Judy Zhang, chief financial officer of M+W Shanghai engineering and construction company, wrote that the company had worked with Fangda for over 10 years. She said the firm places “high emphasis on excellence of their services, a commercial attitude to transactions, efficiency of costs and, most importantly, speed of response.”
“We trust their professional services and have always valued their insights during the course of our working relation”.
Beijing Hong Kong
21/F, China World Tower 30/F, One Exchange Square
1 Jian Guo Men Wai Avenue 8 Connaught Place
Beijing 100004, China Central, Hong Kong, China
Tel: +86 10 5769 5600 Tel: +852 3976 8888
Fax: +86 10 5769 5788/5799 Fax: +852 2110 4285
32/F, Tower 1 Plaza 66, 14/F, Tower Two, Kerry Plaza
1266 Nan Jing West Road, 1 Zhong Xin Si Road
Shanghai 200040, China Futian District
Tel: +86 21 2208 1166 Shenzhen 518048, China
Fax: +86 21 5298 5577/5599 Tel: +86 755 8256 0188
Fax: +86 755 8256 0189
Founded in 1993, Fangda Partners is one of the longest-established law firms under mainland China’s contemporary legal system. We now have over 200 lawyers, including about 50 partners, offering commercial law services in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzen. We are widely regarded as a leading Chinese commercial law firm, most recently winning the coveted Domestic Law Firm of 2013 title awarded by China Law & Practice.
Lawyers at the firm have been advising foreign investors in China on disputes since the early days, but the international arbitration practice really came to the fore after the opening of the Beijing office in 2004 and the addition of new US-trained practitioners with deeper international experience. In 2007, the firm added former CIETAC deputy secretary general Ming KANG.
The dispute resolution team now consists of about 40 lawyers. There are 15 partners in the department–seven in Beijing, one in Hong Kong, six in Shanghai and one in Shenzhen.
Besides handling CIETAC work, we frequently team up with leading foreign firms for ad hoc and institutional arbitrations under the major rules and provide expertise on Chinese law in overseas proceedings. We are also one of the few Chinese firms to have independently and successfully represented both Chinese and foreign clients in international arbitrations in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Increasingly, clients are using Fangda in arbitration-related court proceedings in China.
The firm’s DR practice is best known for:
Chinese investment disputes – joint venture and private equity disputes.
Construction and real estate disputes.
Through our formal association with Peter Yuen & Associates, Fangda Partners has since July 2012 had Hong Kong arbitration lawyers, who are part of the Fangda Greater China Dispute Resolution team. In the city, the dispute resolution team has five other Hong Kong/English-law qualified lawyers, and one PRC-law qualified. The DR team has litigation and arbitration capability covering all four of our offices.
More detail about Fangda can be found on our website, including biographies of our lawyers.