City firms get thumbs up in China licence spree

City firms Freshfields and Richards Butler have been granted permission to set up offices in China in the first batch of approvals from the Chinese government for over two years.

Thomas Jones, Freshfields partner resident in Beijing, said the firm planned to base around four lawyers in the capital and also hoped to open branch offices.

The firm applied to open in Beijing nearly three years ago after poaching Jones and Norman Givant, both fluent in Mandarin, from Couderts.

“This approval means we can now hang our name plate on the door,” said Jones.

The two UK firms were among 16 firms granted approval at a ceremony at the Ministry of Justice in Beijing on Wednesday last week.

Five were from the US, two each from Germany and Singapore, and one each from Australia, Italy, Jordan, Japan and Hong Kong.