KWM China closes Europe and Mideast, forms Eversheds alliance


King & Wood Mallesons’ (KWM) China business and Eversheds Sutherland launch a formal co-operation agreement, requiring KWM China to refer all future matters needing legal advice in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America to Eversheds.

KWM China will close six offices across Europe and the Middle East by October 2024, with partners and staff at those locations expected to join Eversheds. While Eversheds offices in Beijing and Shanghai remain open, clients requiring PRC legal advice will be referred to KWM China exclusively by both firms, subject to client preference and conflict clearance.

Wang Ling, managing partner of KWM China in Beijing, told Asia Business Law Journal that clients from China need to comply with the laws of such jurisdictions where they invest.

“There will also be Chinese regulatory requirements, such as data protection, which Chinese clients need to follow even when investing overseas,” Wang said. “The needs of Chinese clients are vast, and it is difficult to define the key practice areas and industries.”

In terms of the new arrangement, Wang added that Eversheds has offices in different jurisdictions and its in-depth local practice capabilities will be helpful for Chinese companies going overseas.

“We also have a commonality in culture and it lays a good foundation for co-operation,” said Wang. “As the Chinese saying goes, one flower is not spring, but a variety of blossoms is truly spring. We welcome more Chinese firms to join internationalisation in whatever way that fits them.”

Stephen Kitts

Stephen Kitts, chair for Eversheds Sutherland in Asia and based in Hong Kong, agreed that compliance is the key requirement that international law firms need to comply with when assisting clients from China.

“Chinese clients operate in international markets which are diversified and complex,” said Kitts. “Compliance is a big topic for those clients as they navigate their way in different jurisdictions.”

Kitts also highlighted that the arrangement between the two international law firms were driven by client demand. KWM China has many clients who operate in international markets and need trusted advisers alongside them.

“Both firms remain independent and will operate on a ‘business as usual’ basis,” he added. “The co-operation agreement is all about referrals between two firms to ensure that their respective clients get top-quality advice wherever they do business.”