Mergers & Acquisition Arbitration Matters under Korean Law at the KCAB

Mergers & Acquisitions (M&As) lead to disputes around the world, many of which are complex and involve money that may change substantially the future of a company, shareholders, employees and other stakeholders. Korea is no different in this respect. Korea witnessed the number of its cross-border transaction disputes explode during the 1997 IMF crisis and continue to steadily increase ever since. Many of these issues ended in arbitration and many others lead to criminal charges and into the Korean courts. While there are no readily available published statistics on the number of M&A transactions relating to Korea that led to arbitration , market trends show that the number of disputes have grown in relation to the overall growth of the M&A market. This article shall discuss the frequency of M&A disputes in Korea, the most common M&A issues arbitrated in Korea, as well as the procedural norms for damages and

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Liquidated Damages v. Penalties in Korean contracts

As a NY attorney, it’s a bit strange for me to read a Korean contract and see how the word “penalty” is used.  In the United States (as well as other common law jurisdictions), when a contract contains a “penalty,” the clause is, often, invalidated. Korea, however, allows some “penalties” in contracts. Cutting to the chase, this is merely an issue of confusing and overlapping terminology.  But since its confusing, it is worth explaining. To start with, a bit of background on liquidated damages.  Liquidated damages refer to damages, the amount of which, the parties designate during formation of a contract as compensation for non-breaching parties in the event of breach.   In the US and other common law jurisdictions, liquidated damages clauses are invalidated if the purpose is to punish the breaching party, rather than to compensate the injured party.  These clauses are referred to by the court as “penalties.”

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Korean Arbitration: An Introduction

Korean Arbitration has come a long way since the ratification of the New York Convention in 1973. The Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB) went from a small organization handling a handful of cases to, now, and organization handling hundred of arbitration cases each year. The number of international arbitrations is, also, on the rise. This article shall give readers the backstory of how Korean arbitration as a dispute mechanism tool has developed over the years in Korea; review the key industries involved in arbitration; and provide a quick overview of the mainstay arbitration institution in Korea: the KCAB. 1973 – 2020: Arbitration in Korea Over the Years The Korea Arbitration Act was enacted into law in 1966. The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, aka the “New York Arbitration Convention” or “New York Convention,” is the Magna Carta of international arbitration. The New Arbitration Convention was

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Challenging an Arbitrator at the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board

In our last post we discussed, at length, the benefits of arbitration in Korea over litigation in a Korean court. We shall be updating the reader of numerous issues related to arbitration over the next couple of weeks. The following posts concerns challenging of an arbitrator at the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board. Thus, what happens in a situation when you, as a party in a Korean arbitration, feel that the arbitrator is acting in a manner inconsistent with his or her duties as an arbitrator? At a minimum, all arbitrator should be “independent and impartial” and “capable” – the vast majority of arbitrators are independent, impartial and capable. However, issues can sometimes arise that require the challenging of the arbitrator – we suggest proceeding with caution and care – an unsuccessful challenge can, of course, prejudice your case. Impartiality/Independence of an Arbitrator in Korea Korean Law lays out the duties

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The Case for Arbitration over Litigation in Korea

Many of you are prospectively weighing the options of executing contracts with and without arbitration clauses in Korean contracts (aka setting yourself up for prospective litigation battles in Korean courts or resolving a dispute in Korea with the help of an arbitration panel). Thus, this article is intended to consider the option of arbitration over litigation in Korea. In most cases, IPG recommends arbitration over litigation for expat companies doing business in Korea and/or with Korean companies. While of course every case is unique, we at IPG have found great success over the years fighting for our clients amidst the backdrop of arbitration. Our Korean International Arbitration Team was, recently, ranked the top Dispute Resolution Firm in Korea. Benefits of Korean Arbitration over Litigation in Korean Courts Language: If you are not a native to Korea, there is a high chance that you do not speak the Korean language fluently

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Leading Commercial Arbitration Law Firm in Korea

IPG is one of the leading Korean law firms retained for international arbitration matters by multinational companies in need of efficient, proactive and non-conflicted advocacy in Korea, North America and East Asia. IPG was recently ranked as a top Dispute Resolution Law Firm. We work on complex international commercial arbitration disputes, investor-State arbitration disputes, construction arbitration disputes, and a myriad of other commercial disputes for international companies doing business in Korea and/or with Korean companies. Locally Connected – Globally Experienced: International Arbitration Team IPG is, often, chosen over the ubiquitous Korean-based law firms when non-conflicted, aggressive and efficient advocacy is necessary for success. We are, intentionally, different from the crowd. All international arbitration matters are personally handled by attorneys with significant international and local experience. Our attorneys have judicial, large law firm, in house and/or government experience and most have studied and practiced law in Korea & abroad. IPG shall

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IPG Korea Dispute Resolution Law Firm of the Year

IPG’s Korean Office was awarded the distinction as the Korea Dispute Resolution Law Firm of the year by a well-known international business journal in the United Kingdom. The journal is known for producing tailored news and guides for multinational companies doing business in Asia, North America and Europe. IPG is thrilled that, based on feedback from a survey, our frankness, street-smart advice, non-conflicted advocacy and efficiencies created by a cutting-edge case management system was highly appreciated by our clients. For a consultation with an attorney in Korea please: Contact IPG.

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Involuntary Dissolution of a Company in Korea: Shareholder Disputes in Korean Companies

Under Article 520 of the Korean Commercial Act, a minority shareholder, holding at least 10 percent of the total and outstanding shares of a Korean company, may request to the Korean court of competent jurisdiction the dissolution of a company in Korea.  Korean court judges consider this procedure an extraordinary procedure and, only, rule in the affirmative, usually, after all other avenues to resolve the shareholder dispute have failed. However, this procedure is useful, in many disputes, in resolution of the shareholder dispute via litigation or pushing the defaulting shareholder into a settlement. Article 520 of the Commercial Act of Korea (Judgments for Dissolution) “(1) If, in any of the following cases, there exists unavoidable reasons, any shareholder who holds shares representing no less than 10 percent of the total issued and outstanding shares may request a court to dissolve the company; When the company’s business operation continues to be

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Korean Medical Malpractice Arbitration Law

Korean Medical Malpractice lawsuits are often compared to “Beating one’s head against the wall,” since Korean medical malpractice lawsuit are, typically, difficult for patients to prevail in.  In medical malpractice cases, in Korea, and in most developed jurisdictions, the plaintiff has the duty to establish, among other things, a nexus between the alleged injury and the actions or in actions of the doctor.  Proving this nexus is, often, difficult because of the apprehension of expert witnesses (doctors) to step on the toes of other doctors, cost of obtaining neutral experts and lack of adequate legal resources for injured patients. One valid means of obtaining a remedy, in a cost effective manner, is via Korea’s Medical Dispute Medication & Arbitration Agency (“KMDMA”). However, under the prior Act on Remedies for Injuries from Medical Malpractice and Mediation of Medical Disputes (abbreviated as “Medical Dispute Mediation Act”) the a plaintiff was, only, able to

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Enforcement of Arbitral Awards in Korean Courts: Arbitration Law Basics

After an arbitration panel outside of Korea renders an arbitral award against a Korean company or individual, typically, if the non-prevailing party lacks assets outside of Korea or the prevailing party needs to enjoin acts in Korea, the prevailing party chooses to enforce the arbitration award in Korea.  Enforcement is not as easy as just giving arbitral awards to non-prevailing Korean parties.  For enforcement of foreign judgments in Korean courts please see: Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Korean Courts.  When enforcing foreign arbitral awards in Korea, Article 37(1) & (2) of the Arbitration Act of Korea comes into play, thus, leading to the need to apply Korean Law to the enforcement of the arbitral awards and utilize a Korean court for enforcement. The good news is that in 2016, the Arbitration Act of Korea was amended to, among other things, allow for a quicker and less cumbersome manner of enforcing

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Arbitration against Korean Government Agencies in Korea: Korean Arbitration Law Basics.

The Korean National Assembly amended the Act on Contract to Which the State is a Party, partially, on December 1, 2017.  The amendment was intended to encourage the Korean Government to arbitrate more disputes with parties that have contracted with the Korean Government.  To date, few cases have been resolved via Arbitration when disputes occur between the Korean Government and parties to a contract with the Korean Government.  The reason stems, mainly, from realities within many Korean-based law firms, within in house legal teams at government agencies and the lack of knowldge of the benefits of arbitration for the Korean court system, Korean government agencies and those doing business with the Korean government.  For a general article on Arbitration in Korea, please see: Arbitration in Korea.  ACT ON CONTRACTS TO WHICH THE STATE IS A PARTY Article 28-2 (Settlement of Dispute Resolution) (1) The head of each central office or

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English-speaking Korean lawyers and International Lawyers at International Law Firm in Korea discussing issues of Korean Law

IPG Legal is a leading client-focused international law firm with offices in Korea that is, often, selected over the ubiquitous Korean Law Firms when success is essential and success depends on nuanced street-smart advice, proactive  and unconflicted representation. Our attorneys are, intentionally. different from the crowd.  From our retired judge partners to our junior associates, we are all trained with an intense focus on client success, lawyer proactivity, and to understand the nexus between your commercial and legal needs. Our attorneys shall never push to you useless memos, non-nuanced legal advice or get you into litigation without an honest assessment of the merits and shortcomings of the matter. We are  – intentionally different from the crowd.  Globally Experienced – Locally Connected.  We are IPG.  Korean Legal Practices Korean Antitrust, Competition & FTC Arbitration, Int’l & Domestic Korean Civil Litigation Korean Criminal Defense Korean Corporate Law & Compliance Korean Employment, Labor &

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English-Speaking Arbitration Attorneys in Korea

International arbitration between Korean companies and American, Australian, British, Chinese, Indian, German and other nation companies is on the increase.  Regrettably, few Korean attorneys are capable of handling international arbitration cases in the English language, because of the lack of experience in complex international arbitration and the lack of adequate English language skills.  The reality is Korea has few English-speaking arbitration attorneys capable of handling complex international arbitration matters, thus, many firms have turned to foreign attorneys to fill this glaring gap.   Sean Hayes is the author of the he Korean Law Blog .  English-speaking Korean attorneys contribute to this blog.  Sean Hayes, his retired Korean judge partner, a senior associate and other international attorneys for IPG are engaged in international arbitration at the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board and other international arbitration board for multinational companies for cases against Korean companies.   Clients engaged us for construction, manufacturing, joint venture and

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U.S. Court Refuses to Enforce Taiwan Arbitral Award: Lesson for Drafting Arbitration Clauses in Korea

My friends over at the publication The International Law Office directed me to an interesting case involving the enforcement of arbitral awards that brings light to the fact that, in most cases, arbitration should not be held in a nation that is not a signatory to the 1958 United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Award (“New Convention”). U.S. Court Reuses to Enforce Taiwan Arbitral Award In Clientron Corp. v. Devon IT, Inc. a U.S. Federal Court in Pennsylvanian refused to enforce a US$ 6.5 million award rendered at the Chinese Arbitration Association in Taiwan.  A Taiwanese Court accepted the award for enforcement in Taiwan.  The U.S. Court in Clientron refused to enforce the judgment under the New York Convention and Pennsylvania’s version of the U.S. Uniform Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act based on the argument noted below. Likely, Korean courts would come to the same

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Liquidated Damages Clauses Upheld by Korean Courts

When drafting an agreement with a Korean party, it is, generally, advisable in a case when a breach is not easy to quantify (e.g. Damages for violation of IP Rights) to include a liquidated damages clause. Liquidate damages are monetary awards where a violation is agreed to be, at a minimum, a certain sum of money.  Thus, a liquidated damage clause may note that revealing of the intellectual property shall result in damages that will not be less than USD 100,000. Korean Civil Act Article 398 (1)- (4)(1) The parties may determine, in advance, the amount of damages payable in the event of the non-performance of an obligation. (2) Where the amount of damages determined in advance is unduly excessive, a court may reduce the amount to a more reasonable and appropriate sum. (3) The determination in advance of the amount of damages shall not affect the obligee’s demand for

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Sean Hayes to give Speech at American Bar Association Conference in LA

Sean Hayes will give a presentation entitled Mickey Mouse, Sports Stars, Celebrities, Billions of Dollars at Stake. Who Owns the Rights to an Individual’s or a Character’s Image? 10:30 – 12:30 April 11, 2014. The speech is part of the ABA Business Law Spring Meeting in LA.  More information can be found at: ABA [email protected]

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Investor-State Disputes/Arbitration in Korea: ABA Dispute Resolution Magazine

The American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Magazine has an interesting article on Investor-State Disputes that is relevant to Korea.  The article appears in the Fall 2013 edition of the magazine. Some of the “top” law firms in Korea have been notoriously conflicted – thus leading to choices made in agreements that are less than favorable to clients.  This has led, in part, to South Korea being perceived as not a foreign-friendly destination for direct investment.  Additionally, the courts, recently, invalidated an arbitration award against the Korean government – thus frightening more investors from the Korean shores.  Hopefully, Korea has learned from these mistakes.  Korea is a developed market with a vibrant local economy.  Protective measures are no longer needed.  Enforcement of the next arbitration award against the Korean government can be a way to enhance the international reputation of the Korean courts and, thus, increase investor confidence.    The article

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Arbitration in Korea under the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board: International Arbitration Rules

Prior to the revision of the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board’s International Arbitration Rules, all cases submitted to the board under arbitration clauses that did not specify “International Arbitration Rules” govern the arbitration -would lead to the local arbitration rules being applied and the language of the arbitration being English. A client that was working with one of the other law firms in Korea, got caught up in this issue and, luckily, we were able to amend a joint venture agreement (amended for a variety of reasons) to take into account the disadvantage that could have been appreciated if arbitration was required. Many foreign companies, prior to this amendment, quickly realized that they hired attorneys that were not aware that the local arbitration rules would apply. We recommend, always, having multiple internationally-experienced attorneys looking at your agreements or you, also, may be stuck with an agreement that may not adequately protect

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