The empire is the subject of an ongoing legal dispute that is estimated to have cost some $200m in legal fees to date.
Clifford Chance has taken over CMS Cameron McKenna's role as independent court-appointed administrators of the estate of Wang The-Huei, also known as Teddy Wang, who was kidnapped in 1990 and pronounced legally dead in 1999. Camerons left the role vacant after its withdrawal – save that of one insurance partner – from Hong Kong.
Before the successful tender against several Hong Kong firms, Clifford Chance's role on the case was restricted to protecting the estate's assets and bringing them under the control of the administrators by reining in creditors. The administrators, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and PricewaterhouseCoopers, invited Clifford Chance to pitch.
For several years, Teddy Wang's wife Nina, described as Asia's richest woman, has been contesting a 1968 will that transferred the deceased's assets to his father-in-law Edward Chan. There have been trials to establish whether Wang actually died and a court has recently ruled that Nina forged a 1990 will.
The lawyers helping to run up the enormous fees are former UK barrister Clive Grossman and Jules Sher QC of Wilberforce Chambers.