Norton Rose eyes Beijing to dovetail with HK return

Norton Rose has applied for a licence to open in China after deciding to establish a presence in Beijing.

`Although the firm has chosen Beijing rather than Shanghai, it is expected that Chinese regulations will make it easier in future for law firms to switch between cities.`The move has been timed to coincide with the firm's return to Hong Kong in April 2002.`Norton Rose's international managing partner for Asia Paul Giles said an office in mainland China would complement the Hong Kong practice.`”We have a lot of clients in China. Many of our global clients have a presence there and there is no doubt China is a market of the future,” he said.`The firm's main clients in the area are shipping corporations but Giles said the China office would not necessarily focus on shipping.`This will depend on several factors including whether China joins the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and whether it is chosen to host the Olympics in 2008.`”If China joins the WTO we will be more likely to see investment from overseas and if it gets the Olympics there will be a lot of construction work,” said Giles.`In Hong Kong the office is expected to mirror Norton Rose's Singapore practice which focuses on corporate, banking and finance, projects and dispute resolution.`Norton Rose has been unable to have a presence in Hong Kong since it ended its 22-year association with long-standing partner Johnson Stokes & Master (JSM).`Under the agreement with JSM, Norton Rose faced restrictions on its brand in Hong Kong and China, which included a three-year ban from the region. The restraint period ends on 31 March 2002 and Norton Rose plans to open an office there the next day.