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New Trade Regulations Boon to Lawyers

Posted January. 11, 2007 07:17,   


Thanks to Fair Trade Commission’s (FTC) recent actions to strengthen regulations against private companies, many law firms are enjoying an unexpected boom now. Resisting the FTC’s restrictions, many companies are preparing for lawsuits. Besides, in order to avoid disadvantages of the regulations, companies are consistently asking for legal advice from law firms.

Because of this, leading law firms are taking competitive actions to consolidate fair trade special teams and to scout figures that have experience working with the FTC. However, in regard to this, some people criticize that the FTC’s recent actions may be intended to give benefits to FTC retirees.

The FTC’s authority is expected to increase further-

At last year’s FTC office closing ceremony, Kwon Oh-seung, chairman of the FTC, said, “Particularly, when an economic downturn continues, it is important to keep market rules and punish companies who violate these rules with strict measures.”

Kwon also emphasized the strong regulations during the FTC office opening ceremony this year, saying, “I think we can realize market principles in the Korean market by imposing stern measures against companies which abuse dominant positions, seek cartels, and unify each other without competition.”

In addition to this, there is a recent attempt to introduce an amendment to allow the FTC to have the right to track bank accounts without warrants issued by courts, which also predicts the increasing power of FTC as ‘a prosecutor in economic sectors.’

The FTC is also being given a great deal of attention because its investigation about undue insider trading of Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, and about collusion among oil refinery, sugar manufacturing, and petrochemical companies, which started last year, is just about to be released this year.

Law firms are striving to invite FTC retirees-

Pushed by demands of private companies which are sensitive about issues related to fair trade, law firms have been moving fast to invite FTC retirees over recent years.

Lee & Ko hired Cho Hak-guk, former vice Chairman of FTC as an adviser and Woo Yun Kang Jeong & Han employed Lee Seok-jun, former director of monopoly monitoring team of FTC, and Oh Seong-hwan, former member of FTC standing committee, as an adviser.

In addition, Bae, Kim & Lee hired Seo Seung-il, former member of the FTC standing committee, Chang Jae-geon, former official of the FTC monopoly bureau, Pyo In-su, a U.S. attorney and former director of trade in Asia session of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, as members of the FTC special team.

Yoon Yang Kim Shin & Yu, which hired Heo Seon, former secretary general of the FTC, as senior consultant, holds a Korea competition forum every month together with FTC senior officials, lawyers, scholars. Kim & Chang also hired Kim Byeong-il, former vice chairman of the FTC, as an adviser.

Law firms scout fair trade special teams-

Shin & Kim scouted the entire fair trade special team of Barun Law. Even though there was a case that small special law firms merge with large law firms, moving an entire team to other company is unprecedented.

This team is headed by Im Yeong-cheol, former director of the FTC lawsuit planning division, and consists of three lawyers who have experience working with the FTC. Despite such small size, its ability in dealing with FTC issues was highly praised last year.

One lawyer belonging to a major law firm said, “The fair trade sector is a newly emerging market to law firms because it is expected that the market size is increasing more than 10 percent every year,” adding, “Large law firms create new divisions to reinforce the fair trade sector, which, in past, belonged to the enterprise legal service team as one part.”

The lawyer, however, predicted that, “Since major law firms are funneling hundreds of millions of money to hire FTC retirees, it is getting harder for small law firms to squeeze into the increasing fair trade market.”