The Legal 500


Singapore > Legal market overview


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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  • Data Protection & Privacy in Singapore 2015 - article in GTDT

    As the invited authors of the Singapore Chapter in Getting the Deal Through - Data Protection & Privacy 2015 , Head of TMT Lim Chong Kin and Director Charmian Aw share further updates on developments in Singapore's data protection regime, as well as the growing impact of the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 on organisations and individuals alike.

    This update discusses the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 (" Bill "), which was passed by Parliament on 8 July 2014.
  • Proposals to enhance regulatory safeguards for investors in the capital markets

    This update discusses a consultation paper published by the Monetary Authority of Singapore on proposals to enhance its regulatory framework for safeguarding investors' interests. The proposals are in the following three key areas: (a) extending to investors in non-conventional investment products the current regulatory safeguards available to investors in capital markets; (b) requiring investment products to be rated for complexity and risks, and for these ratings to be disclosed to investors; and (c) refining the non-retail investor classes including providing accredited investors the option to benefit from the full range of capital markets regulatory safeguards that are applicable for retail investors.
  • Competiton Law Quarterly Update Q2/2014

    In this edition's feature article "CCS airline industry market study", we discuss CCS findings from an airline industry market study which CCS commissioned to examine whether certain joint ventures between airlines operating through Singapore have actually resulted in net economic benefits.
  • PDPA related amendments to MAS AML/CFT notices and MAS’ response to feedback received

    In light of the Personal Data Protection Act coming into force, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (" MAS ") published a consultation paper proposing amendments (" Personal Data Amendment ") to MAS notices on prevention of money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (" ML/CFT Notices "). The Personal Data Amendment aimed to clarify that for the purposes of meeting anti-money laundering / countering the financing of terrorism requirements, financial institutions may collect, use and disclose personal data without customer consent, as per existing practice. Following the receipt of feedback, MAS made further amendments to the Personal Data Amendment and published its response discussing the further amendments in light of feedback received. This update is a follow up to our earlier update on the Personal Data Amendment and discusses MAS' response.
  • Proposed framework for systemically important banks in Singapore

    The Monetary Authority of Singapore (" MAS ") recently published a consultation paper proposing a regulatory framework for systemically important banks in Singapore. This update discusses MAS' proposals, including, an overview of the proposed regulatory framework, the assessment methodology for identifying systemically important banks in Singapore, the policy measures to be applied toward such banks and the implementation timeline for the proposed regulatory framework. 29_july14_proposed_framework_for_systemically_important_banks_in_singapore
  • Compensation for Breach of an Arbitration Agreement: Damages for Damages

    One of the guerrilla tactics sometimes deployed to undermine an international arbitration is a party's wrongful attempt to invoke the jurisdiction of a national court to resolve a dispute. Often this is done because the party anticipates, or can improperly secure, a favourable outcome before its ‘home' court. This may be a pre-emptive strike in anticipation of an arbitration being commenced by the other party, or it could be done to frustrate an existing arbitration. How can you effectively combat such tactics and uphold the dispute resolution process you had bargained for?
  • Modi’s First Budget – A Reason for Foreign Investors to Rejoice

    Narendra Modi's National Democratic Alliance government unveiled its first budget for India on 10 July 2014. Presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the budget is primarily aimed at increasing investment, improving infrastructure and reviving manufacturing. The budget has largely adhered to market expectations by delivering investor-friendly policy initiatives. We set out some key areas below.
  • Making SGX Attractive to S-Chips

    In November last year, the Singapore Exchange ( SGX ) and the China Securities Regulatory Commission ( CSRC ) announced the establishment of a direct listing framework ( Framework ) that will allow companies from China (which satisfy SGX's listing criteria) to list directly in Singapore.
  • Is Singapore’s Legal Framework Ready to Deal with Crowdfunding?

    A small restaurant in Minneapolis offered people free beer for the rest of their lives if they invested US$1,000 in it, or 0.5% of its equity for every US$5,000 invested. Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub managed to raise US$220,000 to secure a bank loan and 2 years later, it is still thriving - the investors did not drink them dry. Lifetime beer members rarely went to the pub to drink by themselves, but almost always ordered food and brought other people along with them. For the investors, it was about the sense of ownership - they ended up being a huge army of cheerleaders for Northbound.

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