Within the past several years, the Japanese insurance industry has experienced rapid and significant changes due to considerable deregulation, which is based on the principle of self-regulation, including integration and reorganization among major insurance companies, entry of foreign capital, the diversification of sales channels, shifting to a consumer oriented focus, and revisions of relevant laws. Under such circumstances, the lawyer’s role has increased and become even more vital.
Our firm provides the following services to clients (i.e., life and non-life insurance companies (both foreign and domestic) including those considering and planning entry into the Japanese market):
(1) Insurance contract law:
As attorneys for insurance companies, we represent companies in lawsuits regarding insurance claims and assist in resolving disputes in relation to insurance policies. Recently, the environment surrounding insurance contract law has greatly changed, including the enactment of the insurance law and other relevant laws and new judgments handed down in sequence by the Supreme Court, and we are required to take such latest trends into consideration in providing our services. In addition, using our well-established knowledge base concerning dispute resolution, we provide clients with advice for preventive legal practice concerning the development of new products, improvement of solicitation systems and other activities. We are also working actively in areas, such as group insurance contracts, group annuity contracts, and reinsurance contracts, which could be groundbreaking areas, since there has been relatively little legal doctrine developed to date.
(2) Problems concerning organization and management of insurance companies:
We provide advice and legal opinions on various issues regarding the organization and management of insurance companies, based on the Insurance Business Act, which was recently amended, and other relevant laws, notifications and judicial precedents. Our services cover various legal problems held by insurance companies, including:
1 ) structuring of the organizational system;
2 ) preparing insurance clauses in connection with amendment of laws and development of new products;
3) arrangement of relationship with insurance agencies including financial institutions
4 ) restructuring of subsidiaries and affiliated companies;
5 ) risk assessment of representative suits;
6 ) preparation of compliance manuals and other company rules;
7 ) risk management and crisis management;
8 ) labor problems; and
9 ) responses to supervising authorities.
This area requires specific expertise in the insurance business law and practices of insurance companies. In recent years, with a trend toward strengthening consumer protection, the response from the consumers’ viewpoint is also necessary.
(3) Asset management:
One of the main businesses of insurance companies is to manage insurance premiums received from policyholders. With their huge funds, insurance companies are significant players in the financial markets. In addition to traditional investment vehicles such as loans and real estate investment portfolios, insurance companies have recently focused their efforts on using alternative investment vehicles. For such asset management, our firm provides services such as preparation and review of contracts, negotiation of contract terms, analysis of various regulations, and other support services.
(4) Integration, reorganization, new entry, etc., of insurance companies:
We provide total support for all legal aspects, beginning at the planning stage, takeovers of failing insurance companies, integration and reorganization of domestic insurance companies, and entry (or withdrawal) of foreign insurance companies into (or from) the Japanese market. These services include proposing and analyzing structures, due diligence, preparation and negotiation of contracts, and the relevant negotiations and obtaining the necessary approvals and permissions from the supervising authorities (among others, the Financial Services Agency).