Dealing with change

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And seeking opportunities

Our cover story this issue explores the legal challenges and opportunities available in a country sandwiched into one of the world’s most contentious regions. South Korea legal is struggling with its own internal issues, but more often future directions for development depend on “the elephants in the room” that are the US, North Korea and China.

LeaderDealing with international trade becomes all the more touchy with the US and China going tit for tat on exports with the likes of Chinese steel, for example, into South Korea a real concern. Moves towards détente are encouraging but with an environment that has been volatile and dynamic for decades, nothing is certain. And there are other issues, such as the Ministry of Justice’s perceived reticence to open up South Korea fully to foreign law firms as per treaties sealed with Europe and the US.

Elephants in the Room gives an intriguing glimpse into how South Korean lawyers and in-house counsel survive and thrive in an area where uncertainty and instability are the norm.

In this issue we are also proud to present our first “A-List”, featuring our take on Indonesia’s top 100 lawyers. The list is based on extensive research conducted and nominations received from in-house counsel around the world, and Indonesian-focused partners at international law firms.

It is a regular feature in our sister publications, China Business Law Journal and India Business Law Journal, with the caveat that Asia Business Law Journal will be working our way through Asia with the same theme, so watch out for future journals and our pick of the best lawyers from your jurisdiction.

Indonesia’s complex legal landscape makes it imperative for both domestic and international businesses to seek legal assistance when navigating the regulatory environment, and we believe our A-List will go a long way to assisting with our choice of the best.

In a nod to Asia Business Law Journal’s presence at the annual International Trademark Association’s 140th annual meeting being held in Seattle, we have an interesting comparison in our Head to Head series of features, this one focusing on trademark law in India and China. With authorities in India and China both keen to assist companies in protecting their marques, recent changes to trademark law are worth studying.

From Japan, Opening Up provides an analysis of some encouraging moves in the sphere of dispute resolution. The Japan Association of Arbitrators (JAA) is proceeding with two crucial projects: first, to establish a new dispute resolution centre in Japan called the International Dispute Resolution Centre; and second, The Japan International Mediation Centre in Kyoto (JIMC-Kyoto).

While Japan has lagged behind Singapore and Hong Kong in this area, by comparison South Korea has been advancing in terms of international arbitration development and promotion. Now the Japanese government seems intent on catching up, and perhaps overtaking, these other countries in terms of utilization and efficiency.

Finally we turn to India and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling declining to allow foreign law firms to open offices in India. The ruling does, however, allow foreign lawyers to continue to visit the country on a “fly-in, fly-out” basis to advise clients on foreign law.

The ruling has sparked some confusion by implying that foreign lawyers who visit India on a fly-in, fly-out basis may be subject to the Advocates Act, 1961, as well as the rules of the Bar Council of India and the Indian government. Read all about this controversial ruling in Locked Out! I’m sure you’ll agree there’s plenty to pore over in this issue. 

Enjoy the read.

Best wishes,

John Church
Editor, Asia Business Law Journal
Editor-in-chief, Vantage Asia