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Legal 500 Doing Business in Singapore

Contributed by Aequitas Law LLP

Doing Business in Singapore Graphic

Overview – legal system

Singapore’s legal system is based on common law and statutes enacted by Parliament. As a common law jurisdiction, case law (i.e. judgments made by the courts of Singapore) forms a source of Singapore law.

The Singapore Courts consists of the State Courts and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court consists of the Court of Appeal (the apex court of the land), the High Court and the Singapore International Commercial Court. The State Courts consists of the District Court, Magistrate’s Court and the Family Justice Court.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

As a leading centre in the world for cross border dispute resolution, Singapore provides a multitude of options for parties in resolving transnational commercial disputes. These include the newly-minted Singapore International Commercial Court, alongside the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the Singapore International Mediation Centre.

Other established alternative dispute resolution service providers with a presence in Singapore include the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration & Mediation Centre, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. These are housed under one roof at Maxwell Chambers.

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Singapore is a fast-developing legal market, thanks largely to the Singapore government’s initiatives to grow the sector and invest in the infrastructure that supports it. A liberalisation of the market that enables international law firms to provide Singapore law advice, has encouraged them to grow their presences in the jurisdiction. Moreover, the Singapore government has promoted the local legal profession and incentivised it to expand into overseas jurisdictions such as Myanmar. As a result, Singapore is becoming a pivotal legal centre, not least because it has built world-leading dispute resolution infrastructure such as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), which is now one of the most prominent in the world; in 2016, it received 343 new cases from parties in 56 jurisdictions, a 27% increase on 2015. The new Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) delivered its first judgment in May 2016 and by the SICC Conference in 2017 eight cases had been transferred to it from the Singapore High Court and six written judgments had been delivered.

Key developments in the jurisdiction, include Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s development of a Singapore practice through a merger with local firm Harry Elias to create Eversheds Harry Elias. Other international firms have sought to gain local law credibility too such as Simmons & Simmons, which entered a Joint Law Venture with JWS Asia Law Corporation. Another significant change in the market was the global three-way merger of CMS Cameron McKenna, Nabarro and Olswang.

Among a number of notable lateral moves, Drew & Napier LLC lost several key corporate partners including Sandy Foo, Ralph Lim and Farhana Siddiqui to Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP, OC Queen Street and KhattarWong LLP respectively. Moreover, prominent figure Gary Pryke retired from the partnership to become a consultant.

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In association with a leading international law firm, Legalease are producing a series of online country comparative legal guides, designed to give the in-house community greater insight to the law and regulations in unfamiliar jurisdictions.

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Press Releases in Singapore

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