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Singapore continues to develop as a regional hub for international law firms conducting business in Southeast Asia and beyond. A further four international firms were granted Qualified Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licences over the last 12 months: Jones Day, Linklaters Singapore Pte. Ltd, Sidley Austin LLP, and Gibson Dunn. The licence, now held by ten firms, allows foreign law firms to practise in Singaporean commercial law.

2013 also saw new formal alliances between international firms and their local counterparts: Clifford Chance’s tie up with Cavenagh Law LLP focuses primarily on dispute resolution; Stephenson Harwood’s alliance with Virtus Law LLP increases both firms’ shipping capabilities; and Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore’s alliance with Clasis LLC gives the joint venture combined international and local law expertise and advocacy. Other established alliances include Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow, Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee, and Pinsent Masons MPillay.

The market continues to see an increase in international law firms establishing new offices in the country, with foreign entrants now numbering over 100. New additions include Morrison & Foerster, Reed Smith, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Addleshaw Goddard LLP.

Singapore’s reputation as a seat for international arbitration is growing and the market remains in expansion mode. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) is increasingly becoming the venue of choice for Chinese companies and discussions are also underway to consider the feasibility of establishing a Singaporean International Commercial Court.

The local market continues to be dominated by four pre-eminent firms: Rajah & Tann LLP, Allen & Gledhill LLP, WongPartnership LLP, and Drew & Napier LLC. Real estate work is a mainstay, and the market remains so vibrant that there are fears of a property bubble. The government has introduced cooling measures and price stabilising has also been suggested. Other strong and competitive local firms include Shook Lin & Bok LLP, Stamford Law and Rodyk & Davidson LLP.

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Legal Developments in Singapore

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  • SGX Introduces Circuit Breakers and New Error Trade Policy in February 2014

    Following on from our July 2013 issue, the Singapore Exchange ( SGX ) has recently announced that it will be introducing circuit breakers in the securities market from 24 February 2014 as an additional market safeguard.
  • Singapore to Restrict Remote Gambling

    The Ministry of Home Affairs of Singapore ( MHA ) recently issued a public consultation paper seeking feedback on its proposals to restrict remote gambling in Singapore. Whilst the provision of gambling is prohibited in Singapore under the Common Gaming Houses Act and the Betting Act (unless specifically permitted by way of a licence or exemption), these laws do not expressly apply to remote gambling as they were enacted before the internet era.
  • Challenging Times: Attacks on an Arbitrator’s Impartiality

    The prospect of litigating in the local courts of one's counterparty can induce fear. Those courts may be perceived as inefficient or costly; their substantive and procedural laws may be unfamiliar or unpredictable in application; or their judiciary might not be (at least from one party's point of view) competent. Worst of all is the possibility of home-court bias against the foreign party: " there is little use in going to law with the devil while the court is held in hell ". [1]
  • SGX Enhancing Regulatory Tools in March 2014

    The Singapore Exchange ( SGX ) announced on 7 February 2014 that it is enhancing its regulatory tools in line with international standards, by refining its query process and introducing new requirements. The following is a summary of these enhancements which will take effect from 3 March 2014.
  • The Price of Winning: the Evolving Debate Surrounding Cost Recovery in Commercial Disputes

    Singapore, like many common law jurisdictions, permits a person to recover costs incurred in pursuing or defending a cause of action. At the risk of over-simplification, the winner is entitled to recover its costs from the loser. However, the amount of costs that the court orders the losing party to pay in a commercial case is subject to review by the court. In international arbitration, tribunals may also award costs to the winning party but, in contrast to litigation, the amount awarded is not subject to a court's review.
  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Supervisory Oversight over Banks: Proposed Changes to the Ac

    On 28 November 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ( MAS ) released its Consultation Paper on the Review of the Banking Act ( Consultation Paper ). These proposed amendments aim to strengthen MAS' supervisory oversight over banks and codify MAS' expectations as to the risk management policies that banks should have in place. A public consultation is open until 15 January 2014.
  • The Do Not Call Registry - A Missed Call?

    On 2 January 2014, the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 ( PDPA ) came into force. It is concerned with, among other things, messages advertising or promoting goods or services, or a business or investment opportunity. Those messages are called "specified messages". Any business that intends to send such messages to a Singapore telephone number must check if that number is listed in the Do Not Call Registry ( DNC Registry ). If it is, such messages cannot be sent, unless the subscriber in question has given clear and unambiguous consent to receive them. Failure to comply with the PDPA is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to S$10,000.
  • Party Autonomy - Whither the Pendulum II

  • Proposed Amendments to the Companies Act–Public Consultation on 2nd Pt of Companies (Amendment) Bi

    The Ministry of Finance ( MOF ) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority ( ACRA ) are seeking public feedback on the second part of the draft Companies (Amendment) Bill covering legislative amendments in respect of foreign companies and other aspects of the Companies Act of Singapore. Public feedback is also being sought in respect of three new areas.
  • Direct Listing Framework – SGX as the Asian Gateway for Chinese Companies

    The Singapore Exchange ( SGX ) and the China Securities Regulatory Commission ( CSRC ) announced on 25 November 2013 that they will be establishing a direct listing framework which will allow for Chinese companies to list in Singapore.

Press Releases in Singapore

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to