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Singapore > Legal market overview
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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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The Singapore Accounting Standards Council ( ASC ) announced in late May 2014 that all Singapore-incorporated companies on the Singapore Exchange ( SGX ) must apply a new financial reporting framework identical to the International Financial Reporting Standards ( IFRS ) for annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2018. This translates into a lead time of more than 3 years to embrace the new financial reporting framework.
Privately held Indian companies now have a two year window (which begun on 11 October 2013) to raise capital by directly listing on overseas markets without first listing in India. Despite the scheme being limited to International Organization of Securities Commission or Financial Action Task Force compliant jurisdictions, or those with which the Securities & Exchange Board of India ( SEBI ) has signed bilateral agreements, this marks a return to the Indian position in the 1990s and early 2000s. When the regulation changed in 2005, Indian companies had to satisfy the criteria of simultaneous or prior listing in India in order to undertake fund-raising abroad.
Are Damages for Loss of Profits from Termination of One Contract Recoverable in an Action for BreachAre damages for loss of profits from termination of ONE contract recoverable in an action for breach of A second INTER-RELATED contract?
Our previous article in the November 2013 edition of the Chronicle introduced the genesis of the Asia Region Funds Passport project, being a framework to allow collective investment schemes ( CIS ) established and regulated in a passport member economy (the home economy ) to be offered to investors in other passport member economies (the host economy )  . The working group members 2 have since released a consultation paper 3 setting out proposals relating to the application process and supervision / enforcement regime for the ARFP, as well as substantive criteria relating to the eligibility of passport funds, licensing of the passport fund operator, operation of the passport fund and investor interactions.
The theory of universality in insolvency, along with globalisation, has gained much traction across many jurisdictions in recent years. Briefly, the universality theory proposes that an insolvency proceeding has worldwide effect over all the assets of the insolvent company, wherever they may be.
We have compiled below a series of responses to questions which we frequently encounter in the course of advising our clients, and we hope that these will be useful for your planning purposes.
In the previous issue, we explored the English court's approach to challenges mounted by a party against an arbitrator's independence or impartiality under the UK's legislative framework for arbitration in the context of commercial arbitration. In this issue we will compare how similar challenges are resolved before arbitral tribunals in the context of investment treaty arbitration.
Penalty clauses are unenforceable under both English and Singapore law. A distinction has traditionally been drawn between liquidated damages clauses and penalty clauses: while the former provides for a genuine, pre-determined compensation for a breach of contract and is upheld, the latter goes beyond compensation, seeks to deter parties from breaching a contract by penalizing that party and is unenforceable (see the seminal case of Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company Limited v New Garage and Motor Company Limited ).
Disgruntled employees and customers can sometimes wreak havoc in businesses.
Stamford Law advises Goodland Group Limited on its acquisition of land in Malaysia valued at approximately RM547.8 million slated for development as commercial and residential properties through the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Citrine Assets Pte. Ltd.
Stamford Law acted as Singapore counsel to Magicapital Fund L.P. in relation to Magicapital's investment in Novel Food Manufacturing Co Pte. Ltd.
Stamford Law is advising SGX-listed Giken Sakata (S) Limited on: (i) its proposed acquisition of a majority stake in Cepu Sakti Energy Pte. Ltd. for an aggregate consideration of up to S$48 million; and (ii) its proposed diversification into the oil and gas services sector.
We are pleased to announce that the Firm has won 3 awards at the ALB Southeast Asia Law Awards 2014. The firm took home the SE Asia M&A Deal of the Year, Singapore M&A Deal of the Year and the SE Asia Deal of the Year awards. The winning transaction for all three awards was the highly watched takeover of Fraser & Neave, Limited ( F&N ), in which the firm acted for F&N. Congratulations to the team!
On 14 April 2014, it was announced that Sound Investment Holdings Pte. Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of CapitaLand Limited, intended to make a voluntary conditional offer to acquire all the remaining shares in CapitaMalls Asia Limited ( CMA ), CapitaLand's 65.3% subsidiary, for S$2.22 per share. The offer was increased to S$2.35 per share on 16 May 2014, valuing CMA at S$9.16 billion.
In January this year, Sun Hung Kai International Limited ( SHKI ) was publicly reprimanded and fined HK$12 million by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong ( SFC ) for poor due diligence practices and failing to maintain adequate records in its role as a sponsor in the listing of Sino-Life Group Limited ( Sino-Life ) on the Growth Enterprise Market of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited ( GEM ). In addition, SHKI’s licence to advise on corporate finance was suspended for one year. Amongst others, SHKI had failed to disclose and explain a 45% difference between the respective cash flow figures reported by two accounting firms, a difference which was regarded as material as it impacted on whether Sino-Life satisfied the listing requirement for positive operating cash flow. On appeal to the Securities and Futures Appeal Tribunal ( Tribunal ), the Tribunal affirmed the SFC’s decision and laid down several principles in relation to the duties of sponsors in initial public offerings ( IPOs ). Given the substantial overlap between these principles, and the legislation and guidelines governing such duties in Singapore, this decision should be of particular interest to IPO managers in Singapore.
When is a restraint of trade clause enforceable? The High Court has issued a timely reminder in the case of Lek Gwee Noi v Humming Flowers & Gifts Pte Ltd  ( Lek Gwee Noi ) that the enforceability of restraint of trade clauses in employee contracts remains a fact-specific inquiry into the reasonableness of the clause, given the unique circumstances of each employee. It is not an exercise of simply using sample and past boilerplate clauses which may appear reasonable in a different circumstance.
Stamford Law advised TalkMed Group Limited in relation to its initial public offering and listing on the Catalist board of the SGX-ST to raise proceeds of approximately S$21 million by way of a placement of 105,143,000 new shares at the issue price of S$0.20 each.
Stamford Law is advising on the S$285 million acquisition of Scott and English Energy Pte. Ltd. by SGX Mainboard-listed Swissco Holdings Limited, a leading marine service provider for the offshore oil and gas industry. Scott and English is in the business of owning and leasing mobile offshore drilling units and service rigs for exploration and production activities.
Stamford Law acted as Singapore legal adviser to a consortium of Chinese investors including Bank of China Group Investment Limited, a large Chinese insurance company, HOPU Logistics Investment Management Company Limited and other state-owned companies and institutional investors (the Investor Consortium ), in its investment of up to US$2.5 billion in Global Logistic Properties Limited, a provider of modern logistic facilities listed on the Mainboard of the SGX-ST, and its wholly-owned Chinese subsidiary, Iowa China Offshore Holdings (Hong Kong) Limited ( China Holdco ).