GAR 100 - 15th Edition

Hui Zhong Law Firm

Hui Zhong Law Firm

Professional notice

Began a new investment treaty claim against Cambodia

People in Who’s Who Legal1
People in Future Leaders0
Pending cases as counsel30
Value of pending counsel workApproximately US$ 2.00 billion.
Treaty cases as counsel3
Third-party funded cases1
Current arbitrator appointments12 (3 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator3

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 chair 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.

Hui Zhong opened offices in Hong Kong and Shenzhen in 2020. The firm played a significant part 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. The firm often serves as co-counsel for GAR 30 firms such as Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith Freehills.

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 biotech 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

On the investment treaty front, the firm added another instruction to its roster, which already includes an ICSID claim against South Korea for a Chinese national alongside King & Spalding. The new case sees the firm, as co-counsel with Arent Fox, advising two Chinese investors who are claiming US$322 million in an ICSID arbitration against Cambodia under the ASEAN–China Agreement over the revocation of two telecommunications licences.

On the commercial side, the firm appeared in the first ever set-aside proceedings before the China International Commercial Court, defeating a bid to overturn a pair of CIETAC awards in favour of a Cayman-domiciled private equity client.

The firm is advising a Chinese private company in a US$120 million ICC arbitration in Hong Kong with a set of Egyptian counterparties. Another matter before the Chinese courts is for Wabtec Transportation (Shenyang), which is attempting to enforce a US$360 million HKIAC award against an engineering company.

Client comment

Wan Lixue, legal director at China Export and Credit Assurance Corporation, retained Hui Zhong for an HKIAC reinsurance dispute and praises the team for its understanding and analysis of the case.

Hao Junwei, legal director at Shanghai Electric Group, is currently using the firm in a high-value CIETAC claim against two state-owned entities concerning power plant design. The Hui Zhong team is “well organised and very responsive” with extensive knowledge of Chinese contract law, property law and CIETAC arbitration, he says.

A co-counsel says the firm worked “very efficiently and practically” on a large-scale dispute, singling out the “impressively responsive, smart and thorough” Xueyu Yang. A US co-counsel says the team is “highly knowledgeable, effective and efficient”, adding that “they serve as a powerful bridge between Chinese and international law and practice, and appreciate nuances of civil and common law systems”.

Founded in June 2013, Hui Zhong Law Firm (“Hui Zhong”) is a Chinese boutique law firm specializing in domestic and international dispute resolution. Hui Zhong now have more than 30 lawyers, including 12 partners and 3 senior consultants, offering legal services to domestic and international clients from offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

Despite Hui Zhong’s relatively short history, the depth of experience and high standing of its members are widely acclaimed – each of Hui Zhong’s partners have practiced law for a number of decades. Many are key players in the world of international arbitration and transnational litigation. They have served as leading legal counsel, co-counsel and legal experts in hundreds of significant and complex cross-border commercial disputes, appearing before courts and arbitration bodies in a variety of jurisdictions. Hui Zhong’s lawyers are on the panels of multiple arbitration and mediation institutions, including CIETAC, BAC, SHIAC, SCIA, CCPIT/CCOIC, SIAC, HKIAC, AIAC. Hui Zhong’s lawyers are also experienced in ICC arbitration and ad hoc arbitration. Their expertise spans a wide range of areas, including energy & resources, finance, real estate, joint ventures, M&A, engineering and construction, sales and purchase agreements, intellectual property, technology transfer, international investment agreements such as BITs, employment law, sports law, etc.

With their commitment to professionalism, efficiency, responsiveness and excellence, Hui Zhong’s lawyers excel at teamwork. Over the past seven years, Hui Zhong’s  dispute resolution practice has developed in leaps and bounds. Its remarkable success testifies to the fact that, in addition to run-of-the-mill disputes, Hui Zhong is also ideally positioned to handle complex and challenging cases. These include multi-level cross-border disputes, parallel proceedings, disputes involving novel points of law and new types of disputes at the cutting edge, such as BITs disputes and sport-related disputes. The disputed amount in some of the cases exceeds US$ 100 million.

Hui Zhong has been listed, recommended or highly ranked by GAR 100 (2016 through 2022), Legal 500, Chambers & Partners Global and Asia-Pacific, The Lawyer China Elite, Legalband, and China Business Law Journal.

More details about Hui Zhong can be found on its website, including biographies of Hui Zhong’s lawyers.

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