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Singapore > Legal market overview

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Singapore’s reputation as a major seat for international arbitration is well established. Increasingly popular among Korean clients, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) remains an attractive venue for Singaporean, Indian and South East Asian parties in particular. Looking to further cement itself as a venue for dispute resolution, the government has proposed to establish two new centres: the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) and the Singapore International Mediation Court (SIMC). The intention is that Singapore will provide a full range of forums for the resolution of cross-border disputes.

For transactional work, Singapore continues to be an important hub for the region; its ongoing popularity, however, is a double-edged sword. New entrants in the local market are sparking concerns among some of the more established firms about sustainability, with the ever-increasing competition bringing fee considerations to the fore.

On the flip side, a number of local firms are looking beyond the domestic legal market, establishing country desks from Singapore or launching offices elsewhere in South East Asia. Rajah & Tann LLP, one of the ‘big four’ law firms in Singapore, is particularly active in regional expansion.

Allen & Gledhill LLP, WongPartnership LLP and Drew & Napier LLC (the remaining three of the ‘big four’) held their dominant positions in the domestic legal market, although other local firms are notable for their size, history and expertise: Rodyk & Davidson LLP, Shook Lin & Bok LLP, TSMP Law Corporation and Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC are all key players.

On the international firm front, 2013 saw the arrival of Simmons & Simmons and the return of Morrison & Foerster. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has made significant strides since its 2012 relaunch, thanks in part to its large regional client base and well-established Hong Kong office.

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