2015 was the first time in history that announced M&A volume topped US$1 trillion in Asia. According to Thomson Reuters data, the total value of deals in the region (excluding Japan) was US$1.65 trillion in 2015, up 59 percent from recorded deals in 2014 (US$731.3 billion). With strong predictions that M&A activity will continue to grow in 2016, much of this issue focuses on transaction-related issues and opportunities that may flow from this boom.
For instance, the Corporate Law feature provides a useful Guide to the Economics of Commercial Transactions. In it, the author first outlines an economic framework that was designed to unravel the complex structure of commercial transactions and then examines how the framework operates in practice. For those in small to mid-sized firms, the Practice Management article may also be of interest, as it explains ways in which smaller firms can grasp not only more, but potentially more interesting cross-border work.
The Contracts feature discusses Arnold v Britton, a recent English Supreme Court decision in which the Court signalled a very clear reminder that there is a limit to the extent to which a court can be creative in interpreting contractual provisions. There it was decided that where the natural meaning of the wording is not ambiguous it is not open to the court to re-interpret the contract to give it a purposive meaning even if the interpretation might be regarded by some to be absurd or draconian in its effect. It also examines the likely consequences if Arnold v Britton’s strict approach is adopted in Hong Kong, highlighting the importance of good contract drafting.
Also included in the February issue is an Insurance Law feature that highlights the significant and noteworthy features of the first part of the Insurance Companies (Amendment) Ordinance (“Amendment Ordinance”) that came into force on 7 December 2015. The Amendment Ordinance radically overhauls the existing Hong Kong regulatory framework, bringing it closer in line with other leading financial service centres. As such, its enactment marks a key milestone in what has been described as “the most important regulatory reform in [Hong Kong’s] insurance sector in the past 30 years.”