Solicitors governing body: Ministry of Justice
Competition authority: Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Financial regulator: Bank of the Lao PDR
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Financial and corporate, Project development
Laos is a small, still unregulated and risky jurisdiction, despite the fact that the local government seems to be responsive to the market’s needs. Country based practitioners note that as the legal system is still changing, it is very difficult to build a stable practice.
The legal system of Laos combines a number of different traditions and contains French civil law elements from its colonial background alongside Soviet socialist ideology from its years as a communist state. The legal system also incorporates elements from Vietnam and China.
Lacking the presence of international law firms, several large regional firms have offices in the country. In 1994, Mekong regional firm DFDL was the first foreign firm to establish itself in Lao’s legal market, with expertise in the corporate and commercial sector and project finance. Tilleke & Gibbins is the other active foreign law firm which specialises in banking and finance, M&A and project finance. However, while foreign lawyers cannot appear in court, foreign law firms are permitted to advise foreign investors and international organisations on local law.
Candy Chan - Journalist - Asia-Pacific
Rajah & Tann has well-established finance and corporate practices in Laos and has experience in M&A, project financing and rgulatory compliance.
During the research period, the firm has been active in the energy and power sectors and advised high profile clients such as The Export-Import Bank of China on a loan to the Government of Laos.
In M&A the firm advised Comba Telecom in the acquisition of Enterprise of Telecommunications Laos.
Key clients include Thai Samsung Electronics, Mitsubishi Materials and The Export-Import Bank of China.
Tilleke & Gibbins offers advice on a wide array of matters including compliance and M&A.
During the research period, the firm advised a client on a joint venture with the Government of Laos to build and operate an airport. The firm also advised a client on regional restructuring operations across several Southeast Asian jurisdictions.
A staffing change saw Saithong Rattana join the firm.
"We have had a relationship with Tilleke for a long-time and we trust their advice." - Project development
A firm with regional presence, VDB Loi’s Laos practice acted on a number of confidential mandates for both domestic and international firms in sectors including real estate, energy and banking.
"VDB Loi team provides detailed advice on Laotian law and has a good command of English." – Banking and finance
"So far we are satisfied with their service." – Financial services regulatory
ZICOlaw’s strength is financial services regulatory and banking and finance advice.
In the regulatory area, the firm advised ietcombank on corporate governance and establishing a new banking operation. The firm also advised a Vietnamese Commercial Bank on internal operations and legal compliance matters.
In banking and finance, the firm advised a client on a loan facility for hydropower projects.
Notable clients include Vietcombank.
"Very cooperative, with high-skilled and expert lawyers." – Capital markets