HFW to expand in Southern China with Shenzhen Qianhai launch

Move sees HFW become first UK-based international firm granted permission to set up shop in Greater Bay Area

Justin Sun Image courtesy of HFW

HFW is set to strengthen its presence in South China after becoming the first UK-based international law firm to be given permission to open a representative office in the booming Greater Bay Area (GBA). 

The new office will be located in Shenzhen Qianhai, one of the nine megacities in the Pearl River Delta that together with Hong Kong and Macau make up the GBA. 

HFW said approval to launch the office followed a number of lawyers from its Hong Kong office passing the GBA legal qualifying exam and receiving their practising certificates last year, enabling them to advise on commercial matters in the nine Pearl River Delta cities in the GBA. 

Hong Kong-based aviation finance partner Justin Sun will serve as chief representative of the new office, the launch of which he said was an “important step” in expanding the services the firm could offer to clients. 

“The GBA offers great access to China’s huge domestic market and serves as an important link to the international market, which unlocks new growth for international law firms like HFW,” he added.

The new office will be HFW’s third in China, having launched in Hong Kong 45 years ago and in Shanghai back in 1999. In 2016 it became the second international law firm to announce a formal association with a Chinese firm under the Shanghai Free Trade Zone rules, with Wintell & Co, following Baker McKenzie’s 2015 tie-up with FenXun Partners. 

HFW said it saw opportunities in the GBA across its sectors and services, including aviation, commodities, construction, energy and resources, insurance, shipping, commercial litigation, international arbitration, corporate and finance.

The firm has been “committed to staying at the forefront of the legal development of the GBA” since the launch of the region’s development plan in 2019, which aimed to turn it into a leading international bay area to rival the likes of New York, San Francisco and Tokyo. 

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the GBA’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, with GDP rising by a quarter between 2019 and 2022 to reach $1.89trn. The region has the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in China and is home to many of the country’s leading tech and innovation companies, including the likes of Tencent, ZTE and Huawei.

HFW’s launch there is in line with comments made late last year by HFW managing partner Jeremy Shebson after he won a second term that the firm would “continue to actively target partners, teams and bolt-ons” across its international network. 

In April the firm also bolstered its construction team in the Middle East with the hire of Slava Kiryushin from DWF, where he had co-led the global infrastructure, construction and energy team. 

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