Deacons Hong Kong has become the first foreign firm to win a licence to open a third office on the Chinese mainland.
The move follows the Chinese Ministry of Justice’s decision to relax the rules limiting the number of offices that foreign firms are allowed to have on the mainland.
The firm’s managing partner Lyndsay Esler described the Chinese Ministry of Justice’s decision to relax the rules as “an encouraging move”.
Deacons Hong Kong and Deacons Australia are separate partnerships. Deacons’ Shanghai office was a representative office of Deacons Australia, but that office closed on 30 August and was replaced by a new office with the same partner, Elizabeth Cole, and the same staff. The Hong Kong firm will now take control of Shanghai, and that office will focus on corporate work and foreign direct investment.
Deacons was awarded its first foreign firm licence in the People’s Republic of China in 1994, when it opened its office in Guangzhou. It subsequently became one of five Hong Kong law firms to be awarded a second licence in 2002 for its Beijing office following China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.