The South Korean government has won the first arbitration award issued under the Korea-US free trade agreement that was signed in 2012. A Herbert Smith Freehills and Yoon & Yang arbitration team represented the government.

A US citizen and former Korean national brought the claim against the government, arguing it had violated the agreement terms through the compulsory purchase of her Seoul property for redevelopment.

The team representing the government argued primarily that the claimant’s investment did not qualify for redress under the terms of the free trade agreement. After a three-day initial hearing in July, the tribunal agreed and dismissed the claim in an award issued on September 27. The case was seated in Seoul and administered by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre.

The Seoul head of disputes for HSF, Mike McClure commented on the milestone achievement: "By winning the claim at this early stage, the Ministry of Justice will save considerable time and money. Also, with so many close and historic ties between the two countries and their citizens, any other outcome could have led to a rush of similar claims under an agreement designed for international trade rather than individuals' investments."

The HSF team included executive partner Justin D’Agostino and Seoul-based senior associate Philip Kim. The Yoon & Yang contingent were Junsang Lee, Sungbum Lee, Jeongju Jahng and Myung-Ahn Kim. The counterparty was represented by Charles Owen Verrill and Ik Tae Kim of Dodam Law Firm.