Allens’ Thai affiliate opens base in Laos

Allen Arthur Robinson’s Bangkok alliance firm Siam Premier has opened a branch in Laos with the aim of capitalising on growing levels of foreign investment in the country.

The new Vientiane branch, which is dubbed Lao Premier, is being overseen by the firm’s Bangkok-based managing partner Phisud Dejakaisaya. Partners Rawat Chomsri and Chatchavej Chitvarakorn plus four lawyers are currently based in the new office.  

The firm’s chairman Surakiart Sathirathai, who is a former deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Thailand, addressed the rationale behind the Laos launch at a press conference. He said that the firm had decided to expand its business into Laos after learning about the opportunities presented by the growing number of foreign companies investing in Laos.

At the beginning of this year, Laos established a stock market in its capital. Its government has also set plans and policies to attract foreign investors in various sectors, such as natural resources and hydropower industry. It is also poised to transform itself from a landlocked nation to a land link in the region.

All of these new developments will attract foreign investment into Laos and create opportunities for legal service providers, said Sathirathai.

The firm will initially focus on helping companies for floating their shares in the Lao Securities Exchange. Another area, where the firm sees potential work, is to help mining companies to use the land for mining exploration and production.

The firm also stated that it aims to help improve the standards of the Lao legal profession. A number of Lao lawyers have been sent to Thailand for training and some Thai lawyers will work at the Vientiane office to share their knowledge and know-how with Lao colleagues.

Currently there are only 126 licensed lawyers in Laos, nearly all of whom are freelance lawyers. There are only 15 law firms in the Lao PRD registered with the Ministry of Justice, seven of which are local law firms.