Set overview in Asia Pacific: The English Bar

The English Bar in Asia has been kept especially busy throughout 2022-2023, with barristers from London returning to key Asian jurisdictions to handle disputes and arbitrations in person on a larger scale due to the end of the last remaining COVID-19 restrictions in Asia - notably, Mainland China opened up late 2022 and throughout Q1 of 2023, meaning an increased volume of instructions from Chinese clients to the London Bar in Q2 and into Q3 of 2023.

Notably, sets report a greater volume of instructions from Indian clients, with cases being heard primarily in Singapore, following India’s recent decision to begin opening up the legal market to permit international firms to open offices in the country. The full impact of this new policy is yet to be seen, with international law firms not having opened up offices on the ground in large numbers, although the general mood is one of cautious optimism. The flow is not one-way traffic, with London commercial chambers have been proactive in recruiting Indian advocates as door tenants maintaining their practice on the ground in India, but adding the additional strategic support an elite English set can provide.

Civil engineering litigation and disputes arising from hydrocarbon and renewable projects form a steady stream of work for sets across multiple Asian markets, and on the shipping side, large-scale cargo disputes, charterparty litigation and complex contractual issues have been prominent areas of instruction.