Singapore > Legal market overview
- Legal market overview
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Singapore continues to grow as a regional hub for international law firms to conduct business in Southeast Asia and beyond. There are currently six international firms that hold Qualified Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licences: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills, Latham & Watkins LLP, Norton Rose (Asia) LLP and White & Case LLP. The licence allows foreign law firms to practise in commercial areas of Singaporean law, and a second round of issuances will take place in 2013.
2012 saw an increase in the number of law firm mergers and alliances in Singapore, indicating the need for firms to remain competitive in a strong market. These included the Ashurst LLP/Blake Dawson merger, and the integrated alliance between Linklaters Singapore Pte. Ltd and Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens) across the region. The international merger between Herbert Smith LLP and Freehills in October 2012 is expected to affect the energy and resources legal market in Singapore. Other established alliances include Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow, Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee and Pinsent Masons MPillay. The market has also seen a sharp rise in the number of new firms opening offices in the country, with RPC, Squire Sanders (Singapore) LLP, Olswang, and Reed Smith the most recent additions.
Also of note is the arrival of niche UK law firm Magrath LLP, focussing on immigration for corporates and high-net worth individuals.
Singapore’s reputation as a seat of international arbitration has expanded significantly, and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) equalled its number of cases from 2011 in the first six months of 2012. This is expected to continue while government support remains strong.
The local market meanwhile is dominated by four pre-eminent firms: Rajah & Tann LLP, Allen & Gledhill LLP, WongPartnership LLP, and Drew & Napier LLC. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP gained traction in dispute resolution, IP and TMT, as did Rajah & Tann LLP in banking and capital markets. Other strong firms competing in the market include Shook Lin & Bok LLP, Stamford Law Corporation and Rodyk & Davidson LLP.
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The separate legal entity doctrine means that a company can sue in its own name for a wrong done to it. Where a solvent company is unable to bring an action, its members can apply to do so. This was set out by the courts in several long standing decisions that set out the circumstances under which this would be allowed. This is known as the common law derivative action. In Singapore, the Companies Act was amended to provide for what has become known as a statutory derivative action where a private company incorporated in Singapore is involved. However, modern businesses are organised in groups of companies so that investors are shareholders in a holding company and businesses are run in wholly-owned subsidiaries. A deceptively simple question then arises - can a member of a holding company apply to court to take out a derivative law suit in the name a subsidiary where the member has no direct shareholding (termed a "double derivative action")?
On 8 April 2013, the Indonesian Investment Coordination Board ( BKPM ) issued the new BKPM Regulation No. 5 of 2013 on the Guidelines and Procedures for Licensing and Non-Licensing in relation to Capital Investments ( Regulation 5/2013 ), which generally deals with foreign and domestic investments in public companies and their subsidiaries in Indonesia. Regulation 5/2013 was promulgated in the State Gazette on 12 April 2013 and took effect on 27 May 2013.
On 2 November 2012, President Thein Sein signed into law Myanmar’s new Foreign Investment Law (the new FIL), replacing the previous Union of Myanmar Foreign Investment Law of 1988. Pursuant to the new FIL, the Foreign Investment Rules and the Classification of Types of Economic Activities Notification (collectively, the Rules) were published on 31 January 2013. The Rules provide further guidance on the new FIL by expanding upon the rights and duties of foreign investors under the new FIL, as well as clarifying the types of activities for which foreign investment is prohibited or restricted.
On 10 April 2013, the Competition Appeal Board (CAB) dismissed all but two grounds of appeal by five modelling agencies that had been found by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) to have engaged in price-fixing activities. CAB's decision resulted in a reduction in the total amount of financial penalties for the five modelling agencies.
NO IMMEDIATE ACTION IS NECESSARY
On 28 March 2013, the Competition Commission of Singapore ("CCS") handed down fines totalling S$179,071 on 12 motor vehicle traders for bidrigging at public motor vehicle auctions held by various government agencies
On 26 March 2012, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") announced the launch of the Financial Advisory Industry Review ("FAIR"), with the aim of raising standards of practice in the financial advisory ("FA") industry and improving efficiency in the distribution of life insurance and investment products in Singapore. Subsequently, a panel, chaired by MAS and comprising representatives from industry associations, consumer and investor bodies, academia, media, and other stakeholders ("FAIR Panel"), was formed on 2 April 2012 to conduct the review.
The Computer Misuse Act has been renamed the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act. The name change is only the first sign of the myriad of changes within the body of the Act, with new provisions giving the Government “sweeping powers over cyberspace”. The wording of the law now allows a very broad interpretation of the circumstances in which the Government may exercise such “sweeping powers” to order "measures and requirements... as may be necessary...
In the case of Shin Khai Construction Pte Ltd v FL Wong Construction Pte Ltd, the Learned Assistant Registrar Jordan Tan AR (“the learned AR”) had to consider the novel question of whether an adjudication determination may be set aside on the ground that the adjudication application was lodged later that the period of entitlement stipulated by s 13(3)(a) of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (Cap 30B, 2006 Rev Ed) (“the Act”).
17 May 2013 - For the ninth straight year, Drew & Napier LLC ("Drew") has been crowned the Commercial Litigation Law Firm of the Year at the Asian Legal Business (ALB) Southeast Asia Law Awards 2013 . Drew has won this title every year since the inception of the awards.
Stamford Law has been engaged as advisers in connection with the proposed S$219 million acquisition and takeover of C&O Pharmaceutical Technology (Holdings) Limited, a company engaged in R&D, manufacturing, import and distributing pharmaceutical products in China and which distributes strong brands including Amoxycillin Capsules. The acquisition (which involved a direct purchase of shares from the single largest shareholder as well as a mandatory general offer) is proposed to be made by Shionogi & Co. Ltd., a leading Japanese pharmaceutical research-driven manufacturer listed on the Security Exchange of Tokyo and Osaka with a market capitalisation of approximately US$6.0 billion.
Multilaw was founded in 1990 on the premise that a number of carefully selected independent law firms can work together to fulfil clients' international needs. It encompasses over 6000 lawyers in more than 150 commercial centres around the world. As a priority, Multilaw aims to help its members to deliver the best possible client services in every situation - everywhere, every day. All Multilaw member firms are led by experienced lawyers with deep roots in their communities.
Stamford Law Corporation is pleased to announce that Partner, Tan Chuan Thye has been nominated as a candidate for inclusion in the prestigious Who's Who listing of Professionals. This is the definitive work on the world's leaders in commerce, economics, policy and trade. Tan Chuan Thye has close to 20 years of experience in dispute resolution work and has been recognized as an expert and a leading individual in the field of arbitration and dispute resolution work. International Who's Who is one of the largest membership organizations worldwide and has identified the foremost legal practitioners in multiple areas of business law.
Stamford Law is pleased to announce that Director, Elizabeth Kong, has been nominated and shortlisted for an award in the Corporate Law Category(ies) of the Acquisition International Legal Awards 2011. The Acquisition International Legal Awards celebrate excellence and reward firms, teams and individuals for their contribution to client service, innovation and commitment to quality. The awards are given solely on merit and they differentiate the winners as people nominated by their peers for outstanding work and chosen by our panel as leaders in their fields.
We represent Abercrombie & Fitch, an American casual luxury retail brand in a dispute with a Singapore watchdog over the appropriateness of an image used as part of its marketing campaign in Singapore. Our scope of work includes advising the client on matters relating to compliance with Singapore laws on advertising and decency and on public relations, and assisting the client in engaging with the said watchdog and other relevant entities.
Stamford Law acted as solicitors to the invitation in TA Corporation Ltd's SGX-ST Mainboard listing. TA Corporation is an established player in Singapore's property development and construction sectors. Despite the recent market volatility and concerns over the Eurozone crisis, TA Corporation's IPO attracted strong demand from both institutional and retail investors, and marks the first successful listing of a property developer on the SGX-ST in 2011.
Stamford Law is advising private equity group, Lucrum Capital, in its proposed S$200M investment in SGX-listed TT International's iconic mega warehouse retail project in Jurong East.
Stamford Law Corporation is advising PSL Holdings Limited, a company listed on the Mainboard of the SGX-ST on the proposed divestment of its subsidiary, Antar Cranes Services Pte Ltd, for approximately S$19 million. Antar is the crane leasing arm of the PSL Group. Stamford Law is also actively involved with the structuring of the proposed divestment which involves a reorganisation of Antar's balance sheet prior to the divestment. Partner Soh Chun Bin and senior associate and former investment banker Low Wee Siong lead the transaction team.
Stamford Law Corporation is advising Centillion Environment and Recycling Limited, a company listed on the Mainboard of the SGX-ST, on its proposed rights issue of shares with detachable warrants raising up to approximately S$25million. Partner Bernard Lui and senior associate and former investment banker Low Wee Siong lead the transaction team.