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Leading global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has successfully re-registered its office licence in South Korea to avoid potential operating problems in the event of Brexit.

Originally opened in 2013 as a branch of the firm's UK partnership under the terms of the EU-Korea free trade agreement (FTA), its lawyers' ability to practice could have been at risk if the UK leaves the EU.

The office has now been reregistered by the South Korea Ministry of Justice as a branch of the firm's Australian partnership under the Australia-Korea FTA, and is fully open for legal services under its new licence.

Local regulations required the firm to first cancel the original licence on Monday 11 March before receiving the new licence today. This led to a temporary suspension of legal services in this interim period. 

"We are delighted for our lawyers and clients in Seoul that we are now back to business as usual," said Asia managing partner Justin D'Agostino.

"Our team is particularly grateful to the South Korean Ministry of Justice and the Korean Bar Association for their quick consideration of our application, and to the British and Australian embassies for their support since this issue first arose."

The firm's Seoul office has grown rapidly and successfully since opening in 2013 and is now one of the largest foreign law firms in Korea assisting Korean clients with outbound legal work with a primary focus on corporate, energy, oil and gas, investment funds and international arbitration mandates.

"Herbert Smith Freehills is committed to South Korea for the long term, and has enjoyed great support from Korean and international clients since opening," said Mike McClure, Head of Disputes for Korea.

"Our priority throughout this process was to ensure our clients had uninterrupted access to our services in South Korea, and are pleased that this has now been resolved.  We hope now to have our office here for many years to come."

More about Seoul

Herbert Smith Freehills was one of the very first international firms to open in South Korea in 2013 and has grown to a team of eight lawyers  on the ground in the past five years.                                                                  

The Seoul team focuses on corporate, energy, oil and gas, investment funds and disputes law.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales, and its affiliated and subsidiary businesses and firms, and Herbert Smith Freehills, an Australian partnership, are separate member firms of the international legal practice known as Herbert Smith Freehills.

Key contacts

Mike McClure KC photo

Mike McClure KC

Partner, Global Co-Chair of Korea Group, London

Mike McClure KC

Media contact

For further information on this article please contact

Sally Greig

Head of Communications, Asia

Hong Kong