Laws, Regulations and Legal Services
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Among the commonly misunderstood facts about the investment environment in North Korea (DPRK) is the perception that there is no legal structure, or if there is, it has little use or meaning.

Not so.

Michael Hay started off his contacts, more than a decade ago with the top lawyers in the country - and has stayed with them ever since. That strong working relationship is what led to the founding of HK&A.

Even today, seasoned, long-term diplomats in Pyongyang are surprised to learn that there is a rather extensive and sophisticated array of laws dealing with not only foreign investment but numerous aspects of life and business in the DPRK - as in any country.

This 'gap' was a clear opportunity needing filled, to get the message across to potential clients that there is far, far more to the DPRK than people realize - and you won't see it in the news.

Here are some common questions asked of us regarding the legal system in the DPRK.

Does North Korea (DPRK) have a formal, legal environment for foreign investors ?

Yes - and it has had one for years . And it is an evolving environment. HK&A has worked with the most prestigious and well-known lawyers in the country for years - they and the DPRK as a whole fully recognize that foreign businesses, foreign investors, foreign NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) need a minimum "level of comfort" before they will go into a developing country. As to "evolving", the DPRK fully realizes , as in any country, that a legal system cannot remain static, and must develop along with social developments, such as mobile telecommunications, the internet, infrastructure projects, dispute resolution, and so on.

Can you give an idea of how seriously they take the legal environment for foreign investors or business- counterparts

There over sixty laws and implementing regulations covering the field of foreign investment - in addition to which there are special legal systems for the special trade zones such as Rason (formerly known as Rajin-Sonbong). In addition, there are provisions for tax breaks and reductions, in certain sectors of investment. Those working on the laws are working very hard, and have been for years. The issue is getting the word out.

Can't I find the laws on the internet ?

Basically - no. Here's why -- and there are several reasons. You can find what seem to be DPRK laws on the internet, sure. But here are the problems.

First, most of the "laws" floating around the internet or world-wide-web, whether from respected universities, think-tanks or individuals, are: entirely out of date, and the sites have not been updated.

Second, in many cases they do not even provide the regulations - the regulations are the meat and the bones of the implementation of the law. In addition, it is essential to know how the laws and regulations are applied and what exemptions there may be - so this comes down to policy guidelines, and you won't find this on the internet.

Third, most sources are not only out-of-date, but they are English translations. Even if they are not out of date, the translations are not accurate.

Finally - and this point is critical - many companies confuse DPRK laws and the laws of the part of the Korean Peninsula commonly referred to as "South Korea". These laws are totally different from those of the DPRK.

Example: Just a few weeks ago, before this website was updated, a world-famous company requested assistance regarding a DPRK-law related matter. They had done preliminary research. Upon reviewing the file, it became clear that the research referred to entities and laws that do not even exist in the DPRK, snd the only explanation was that they had research, unwittingly, South Korean laws.

Fact: No South Korean entity or person is permitted to work in the field of DPRK legal advice. With HK&A, these questions are answered accurately, and in up-to-date fashion - DPRK law and advice. Period.

What if my business has a dispute in the DPRK. ? Can we really stand any chance of winning ?

Answer - one word: "Absolutely".

Michael Hay has spent a large part of his career working in the field of international dispute resolution. To date he and his teams have never lost an arbitration case. And in the DPRK, he has fought on behalf of foreign NGOs and companies, before DPRK tribunals, with DPRK arbitrators. In these cases, the DPRK found against the DPRK companies, and found in favor of the foreign party - and the DPRK courts also took enforcement measures against the losing DPRK party. (Note: DPRK companies have also won major court and arbitration awards abroad, so it would be quite wrong to assume that the fault is always on the DPRK side).



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