Ian Robertson on ACC’s recent developments in China


Ian Robertson:Senior director, Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), East Asia


I’m in Beijing really it’s a fact-finding mission. In Hong Kong with a very strong membership over a thousand members and in China we have hundreds of members with her actually doing very much in terms of activities and so on and I very much want to change that.

This is a great opportunity to get into the CBLJ Forum and to meet the general counsel and the lawyers here, and to get a better understanding of the challenges and issues that they are facing in China.

Some of them are very familiar with ACC and if there’s some great feedback in that regard particularly on our maturity model. Others are less familiar with ACC and it’s a good opportunity to share with them a little bit about our worldwide activities and our activities in East Asia in particular.

Whilst talking with the in-house counsel here at the CBLJ Forum, what have they been telling you about trends within China?

I’ve been speaking to a number of lawyers from the financial sector and in the sort of 2015, 2016 period, things are really going very strongly in terms of outbound investments. In the sector there’s a lot going on and sharing with me that in the last year or two years there’s been a little bit of a sea change in that regard and sharing that and some of the transactions that have been doing, there’s been some nervousness from the overseas counterparties, just in terms of how they got the necessary Chinese regulatory approvals to do the deals.

So there are some specific issues in that industry but looking more generally, we got the general counsel they’ve been speaking to reporting their departments are growing. There is increasing respect and understanding for what lawyers can do and many of them are responsible not only for the legal matters in their companies but also for regulatory and compliance.

And it’s becoming a bigger and bigger factor in their company’s activities both in China and globally. So overall it’s quite an interesting picture. Absolutely.

Would you like to tell us about the ACC Annual Meeting that is happening very soon?

It’s an inaugural effect meeting and we’re all tremendously looking forward to it. So we’ll have roughly 200 members from across the region particularly from Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Australia, and Southeast Asia. So we’re really looking forward to a fantastic event. It’s a little bit unusual because we’ll be covering not only legal matters but also covering the latest thinking in terms of management and professional skills for legal departments as well as technology and innovation. So I think that’s something a little bit special for Hong Kong and the Asian market are very much looking forward to.