Major law firms avoid defending FSS in lawsuit with Woori chief

20-Oct-2021 Intellasia | Koreatimes | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) has ultimately not hired attorneys from major law firms for the second round of its court battle with Woori Financial Group Chair Son Tae-seung.

The financial watchdog said Tuesday that it signed contracts with the state-run Korea government Legal Service (KGLS) and private law firm Kim, Chang & Lee to overturn the Seoul Administrative Court’s August 27 ruling ordering it to revoke the heavy sanctions it had placed last year on Son.

“Kim, Chang & Lee may not be well-known to the public, but it is a competent firm,” FSS legal affairs department head Yang Jin-tae said.

In the first trial, the institution was represented by lawyers from the mid-size law firm, HMP Law, but after they moved in August to another mid-size law firm, Jipyoung, there were fewer reasons for the FSS to maintain its contract with HMP Law.

The FSS was also unable to sign a contract with Jipyoung, because several other cases that are handled by the law firm could cause conflicts of interest.

“The large law firms have offered a variety of legal advice to financial companies and represented them in several lawsuits, so most of them cannot serve as our attorney,” Yang said.

Despite these obstacles, the FSS was confident about winning the appellate trial, saying that the KGLS does not lag behind large private law firms in terms of its capabilities.

Another source familiar with this issue said on condition of anonymity that major law firms have been reluctant to defend financial authorities, due to the possibility that they could lose their clients in the private sector, which pay them more than public institutions do.

The FSS is said to have paid 30 million won ($25,000) to HMP Law, while the Woori chair is thought to be spending more on his attorneys.

The chair was represented in the first trial by the nation’s leading law firm, Kim & Chang, and the sixth-largest law firm, Yoon & Yang, which has been recognised for enabling financial firms to defeat regulators in multiple legal battles. Yoon & Yang has also hired a number of lawyers who worked previously for the FSS.

Woori declined to comment on whether or not its chair will maintain his contracts with the two law firms. The group said that it is irrelevant to the lawsuit, because the chair is engaging in this litigation as an individual.


Category: Korea

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