Graham Vincent

Leeds’ legal eagles descend on China

Lawyers from Leeds City Region are in China as part of the most ambitious regional trade mission of its kind.

Led by Leeds and Partners, the mission is focussed on attracting new Chinese investment into the region and to raise the profile of the economic opportunities Leeds provides, which employs over 1.3 million people and accounts for 4% of national GDP.

As part of a wider delegation of businesses and universities, representatives from DLA Piper and Francis & Co. will underline Leeds’ status as a global legal power house.

Lurene Joseph, chief executive of Leeds and Partners said: “The mission is an opportunity to cement Leeds’ status as a global hub of legal expertise – demonstrating that it is a city where Chinese businesses and high net-worth individuals can get world class legal advice on the huge economic opportunities that the region and UK has to offer, and how to capitalise on them.”

There are over 200 law firms located in Leeds, employing 22,000 people in the region, with the city’s strength coming not only in its breadth but also its depth of expertise.

Alastair Da Costa, Leeds and Partners board member and consultant at DLA Piper, which has located its global IT hub in Leeds and are supporting the trade mission, said: “Being in Leeds gives us many things, not least quality people. There is a professional services hub here in Leeds and you can’t have a hub without quality people.”

The city boasts specialisms in intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, information technology and high-tech, and renewable energy.

“Through a series of events, Leeds’ legal industry will be put firmly in the international spotlight,” added Ms Joseph.

“Top of the agenda at a legal roundtable in Guangzhou on 17 January will be the protection of intellectual property – a coup for our delegates whose knowledge of this area is unsurpassed.

“This will be an excellent opportunity to position Leeds’ law firms as the destination of choice for the growing number of Chinese businesses concerned with intellectual property.”

Awareness of the value of intellectual property protection has increased as the Chinese economy has grown, with the Government focusing more and more on effective legal enforcement.

Brett Stewien, partner at Francis & Co., who will participate in the mission, said: “The Chinese Government’s commitment to introduce a specialist intellectual property court by 2020 has brought a renewed focus to these issues.”

“This provides the city’s specialist law firms with an opportunity to help British companies successfully navigate their way through Chinese legislation and achieve the protection that they need to export to or operate in China. It also provides them with the platform to share their expertise with Chinese businesses that may also need support, both in China and the UK.

“We’re excited to be part of this mission and to be at the forefront of the UK’s legal sector’s expansion in China.”

Dr Kin Kam, innovation director at Inclusive Innovations Ltd, will travel to Hong Kong with the delegation to seek investment for his patented ‘iiCap’ – a unique headwear innovation that offers wearers of glasses improved comfort and stability for leisure and sport.

He said that being confident of the legal protection afforded to his invention in China was critically important: “Thanks to the expertise of a Leeds lawyer, I have invention patents granted in China and Hong Kong. These are essential to exploit the Chinese and HK markets effectively.

“As an SME based in York it’s vital that I am confident that I’ve taken all the necessary steps to provide the legal cover that can be called upon if required. Delegations such as this are invaluable as they help me to understand what I need to do and when.”

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