Negatives and positives

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The July/August issue marks another milestone for China Business Law Journal. We proudly launch our China Business Law Directory, an impressive listing of Chinese and international law firms, as a handy reference guide for corporate counsel and China business leaders to locate quality legal advisers for China-related work. In tandem with the Directory, the timing was perfect for Snapshot, an editorial light meter on the nation’s legal community. We interviewed the leading lawyers and legal experts, and gleaned a plethora of viewpoints across most areas of practice.

As expected, all eyes are on the economy, and the impact of slower growth on business development and accompanying areas of practice. Interestingly, as the pendulum swings against IPO activity, M&A and the property market, opportunity knocks in arbitration and commercial litigation. For some law firms, the introduction of more comprehensive and complex regulation is creating confusion; for others a lack of regulation is having the same effect. Importantly, law firms are looking further afield. Beyond Chinese borders, lead firms have shown that low-hanging fruit awaits, and integrating into international practice regimes is no longer a pipe dream for those keen to follow.

cblj-1207-prologueIncluded with Snapshot are two opinion columns on the way forward for in-house counsel: one from an academic mind with an exciting new research centre in Beijing – the China Research Centre for Corporate Legal Affairs Management – and the other from the president of the Hong Kong Corporate Counsel Association, representing some of the world’s sharpest corporate counsel. The former discusses the future development of China’s corporate counsel, and the latter provides some interesting comparisons that may shed light on the road ahead for both in-house communities. While we’re shedding light, we throw some into the dark corners of corruption with Stopping the rot. Anti-corruption and compliance have evolved beyond an examination of red packets and the odd free mooncake. China’s efforts to upgrade legislation come at a time when the US has stepped up enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK has introduced its own Bribery Act. We compare the three countries’ laws and get expert advice on how a global company and counsel can navigate them, along with some step-by-step tips for a truly international compliance system.

Finally, we look to North America and observe that it’s all buy! buy! in American pie. But Chinese investors beware. In the US, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) takes its work seriously in weighing the national security implications of foreign investments. In Canada, the need for due diligence is no less crucial. In many cases, joint ventures may be the wiser course of entry. American pie looks at the hurdles and pitfalls that legal experts in this field are advising investors to avoid before getting their piece of that pie.