A British national has been granted a special licence by the communist government in North Korea to set up the country's first ever law firm, which opened its doors for business last month.

Hay Kalb & Associates, set up by business consultant Michael Hay, is the only entity in North Korea licensed to provide legal advice to foreign corporations.

Mr Hay, a British and French national who has links with North Korea stretching back 13 years, approached the country's external economic law authority to set up a law firm to assist in its drive to attract foreign investment. A specialist entity - with profit-making powers - was specially created and spun off from the authority to jointly own Hay Kalb & Associates with Mr Hay.

The firm is also tied-in to a government-owned auditor and aims to provide a one-stop shop service to foreign investors advising on legal, accounting and business matters.

Mr Hay worked for ten years at South Korean law firm Bae Kim & Lee, but left in 2001 to set up a business consultancy in North Korea.

Mr Hay said: 'Based on several years of direct work in the North, negotiations of business deals, and observations of the changes in the country, I am merely doing what I have generally tended to try to do, whether as a lawyer or consultant, and that is get up before the competition, since the potential returns are enormous.'