GAR 100 - 7th Edition

Fangda Partners

Professional notice

A mainland Chinese firm with a presence in Hong Kong

People in Who’s Who:
1
Pending cases as counsel:
10+
Treaty cases:
0
Current arbitrator appointments:
1 (1 as sole or chair)
No. of 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. 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”.

The firm has 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 (she also sits as an arbitrator there), while Benjamin Miao has spent six years with a UK magic circle firm in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Network

The firm has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Since 2012, 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?

Recent clients include a well-known TV shopping company in a CIETAC arbitration against its distributor in China; 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 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.

Track record

In an 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.

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.

Recent events

Helen Shi, Benjamin Miao and Arthur Ma co-wrote the China chapter of the Asia Arbitration Handbook, published by Oxford University Press.

Ma, who, like Yuen, originally hailed from Freshfields, left Fangda Partners in October for Herbert Smith Freehills in Beijing.

Since the last edition of the GAR 100, the firm has also hired counsel Andrew Skudder from Freshfields. Melody Wang, previously of counsel, was promoted to partner in Beijing.

The past year has also brought some new instructions. The firm is representing a Hong Kong subsidiary of one of the biggest herbal tea manufacturers in China in a CIETAC arbitration with a state-owned pharmaceutical company over the validity of a trademark licence agreement. The arbitration is likely to determine the fate of the business, which has an annual revenue of over US$1.5 billion.

The firm also acted for a large Chinese state-owned construction company in a London-seated UNCITRAL arbitration wih the road authority of an African state. The parties settled their dispute, which was worth over US$100 million.

Fangda is advising a European industrial gas company in a CIETAC case against a Chinese solar energy company concerning the validity of a “take or pay clause”, with the value of the dispute potentially reaching US$25 million. In Hong Kong, the firm helped a leading manufacturer of surfwear and boardsport equipment seek an anti-suit injunction against its licensor for breach of an arbitration agreement; and is also acting for Airway, a leading PRC information technology company, in proceedings under the HKIAC rules.

Client comments

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”.

Offices:

Beijing

21/F, China World Tower
1 Jian Guo Men Wai Avenue
Beijing 100004, China
Tel: +86 10 5769 5600
Fax: +86 10 5769 5788/5799
Hong Kong

30/F, One Exchange Square
8 Connaught Place
Central, Hong Kong, China
Tel: +852 3976 8888
Fax: +852 2110 4285
Shanghai

32/F, Tower 1 Plaza 66,
1266 Nan Jing West Road,
Shanghai 200040, China
Tel: +86 21 2208 1166
Fax: +86 21 5298 5577/5599
Shenzhen

14/F, Tower Two, Kerry Plaza
1 Zhong Xin Si Road, Futian District
Shenzhen 518048, China
Tel: +86 755 8256 0188
Fax: +86 755 8256 0189

Website:
www.fangdalaw.com

Founded in 1993, Fangda Partners is one of the longest-established law firms under mainland China’s contemporary legal system. We now have close to 300 lawyers, including about 55 partners, offering commercial law services in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. We are widely regarded as a leading Chinese commercial law firm, ranked Band 1 by Chambers & Partners 2014 for Dispute Resolution and Corporate/M&A, as well as winning the coveted Domestic Law Firm of the Year 2013 from 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 65 lawyers. There are 16 partners in the department–seven in Beijing, two 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.
  • IP/IT disputes.
  • Construction and real estate disputes.
  • Labour disputes.
  • Environmental 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 seven other Hong Kong/English-law qualified lawyers, two PRC-law qualified, and two Australian-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.

 

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