Blackstone & Gold > Singapore, Singapore > Firm Profile
Blackstone & Gold Offices
70 SHENTON WAY
#10-11/12, SINGAPORE 079118
Blackstone & Gold > The Legal 500 RankingsBlackstone & Gold acts for lenders, international traders and insurers, drawing from its capabilities in international trade. The firm provides a ‘bespoke legal service with a personal touch‘ and the team is led by experienced Baldev Bhinder, who is an ‘expert in the commodities world’.
Other key lawyers:
‘Blackstone & Gold provide a bespoke legal service with a personal touch that some of the bigger law firms can’t match or take for grante.’
‘Baldev Bhinder is the first person I contact if I have a question about the commodity market. He has immense knowledge regarding that topic and he is unquestionably an expert in that field.’
‘Bespoke litigation firm with a personal touch and dedicated team who appreciates your requirement nd always being attentive to details and timelines.’
‘Easily reachable and turnaround time is to be admired as they are conscious of our timelines.’
‘We have been working with Baldev Bhinder and Raman Kaur for some time and they have proven to be worthy allies and trusted comrades for us. Baldev brings to the table his expertise in understanding the underlying trade, technical knowledge, experience in claims and arbitrations. Raman’s knowledge, professionalism, service level and attention to detail stands out.’
‘On multiple occasions, Baldev and Raman had gone the extra mile in giving their advice on matters which do not necessarily fall under their official scope of work. Their genuine desire to help us achieve a positive outcome makes working together a pleasure.’
‘True specialisation in the energy and commodities sectors. The team at Blackstone & Gold are highly collaborative and are very happy to work closely with international counsel to provide Singapore law expertise.’
‘The practice is high specialized in commodity trading, is very flexible and responsive. They act quickly and are subject matter experts in all trading issues, and related trade finance / insurance topics as well.’
Global Transit Trading
Euler Hermes Insurance
- Acted for lenders in London arbitration proceedings involving an O&G gas project and successfully obtained an award in their favour in excess of $50m.
- Acted for global insurers on investigation claims in excess of $300m, with global strategy covering multi-jurisdictional proceedings, arbitration and SG restructuring proceedings, alongside novel areas of insurance law involving commodities.
- Acted for lenders in multi-jurisdictional enforcement claims involving UK freezing injunction alongside Singapore and Indian court proceedings.
Blackstone & Gold > Firm Profile
BlackStone & Gold is a specialist energy and commodities law firm based in Singapore. The firm consists of former BigLaw lawyers with unparalleled sector specialism and a dynamic approach to mandates. The firm’s innovative approach is both transformative and transcendent:
- Commodities specialists: From mining and exploration to trading and downstream use, our lawyers perform the role of “in-house counsel” where needed and “expert experts” for specialized structuring and disputes.
- Authentic interactions: Small, dedicated and partner led teams that are interwoven with the business of our clients.
- International experience and local expertise: Singapore and English qualified lawyers who have significant experience in the regional markets of South Asia, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and others.
- Value driven: Working with small teams that are highly leveraged on technology, our lawyers are able to move away from traditional law firm models by offering a conflict free service predicated on delivering real value to our clients.
Our lawyers represent a variety of traders, power producers, contractors and insurers in both transactional advisory as well as disputes in the Singapore courts and arbitrations across the globe. The firm has a strong track record in high value oil, minerals and metals arbitrations. The multi-lingual young team has been recognised by market publications and shortlisted as International Arbitration Team of the Year in the Legal 500 SE Asia Awards 2020.
The firm is headed by Baldev Bhinder, listed as top lawyer under 40 by Asian Legal Business 2017, Singapore Business Review 2018 and Prestige 2019 publications.
Baldev Bhinder is a quality lawyer, who is technically and strategically adept’ ‘Baldev is stellar. He is plugged into the cases, the commodities market and has a great instinct for his cases. He is able to measure up his opponent as well as the judge when running the cases.’ The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020
“Baldev Bhinder is ‘exceptional, ‘understands the practicalities of international trade’, is ‘well connected in the commodities market’, ‘knows the arbitration process inside and out’ and ‘instinctively knows where the pressure points are and can map out an effective strategy from the get go’ ” The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2019
“…key contact for arbitration and litigation work…” Benchmark Litigation Asia 2019
“…tenacious litigator…” ALB 40 lawyers under 40 lawyers in Asia 2017
|Energy & Commodities||Baldev Bhinderfirstname.lastname@example.org||+65 6970 1677|
LanguagesEnglish Bahasa Indonesia Bahasa Malaysia Chinese (Mandarin) Hindi Punjabi Spanish
MembershipsChartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) ICC PERADI Indonesian Advocates Association
Legal Developments14th August 2023 America has one of the most wide-ranging sanctions regimes, which in some cases are also designed to have extra-territorial reach on non-US persons.
24th July 2023 Net-zero has become the modern buzzword for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. As global awareness and demand for sustainable products and services accelerate, businesses eager to capitalise on this trend might run the risk of making false or misleading claims about the climate impact of their products or services, in what is commonly coined as greenwashing.
24th July 2023 BLs have formed an integral part of the trade finance structure. They are often a fundamental security for banks to receive because they give the lawful holder the right of possession to the cargo, and failing that, the right to bring a misdelivery claim against the shipowner that issues the BL. But international trade involves a disjunct: BLs are held by trade finance banks while cargo can be discharged without BLs by traders through letters of indemnity. Banks have allowed such practices to continue without objection with the comfort that if all else fails, they can still bring misdelivery claims against the carrier. But a string case of cases in Singapore and England is recasting these fundamentals of trade finance, with the key question now turning on what a bank would have done it knew cargo was going to be discharged without BLs? The spotlight is now very much on the banks’ actions as gleaned from the recent case of UniCredit Bank A.G. v Euronav N.V. where the English Court of Appeal dismissed a misdelivery claim.
FactsBP Oil International Limited (“BP”) sold a cargo of oil to Gulf Petroleum FZC (“Gulf”) for delivery ex ship Fujairah or Singapore. BP voyage chartered the vessel for the cargo from Euronav N.V. (“Euronav”), who issued a BL to BP for the shipment. UniCredit had financed Gulf’s purchase of the cargo on terms which provided, among other things, that the BL for the financed cargo would be pledged as security, and Gulf’s sub-buyers would pay UniCredit directly. UniCredit paid BP the purchase price and Gulf became owners of the cargo with UniCredit getting security of the BLs. UniCredit however did not receive the BLs by the time of discharge due largely to Covid restrictions. After BP was paid, Euronav, BP and Gulf entered into a novation agreement by which Gulf became the voyage charterer in place of BP. Euronav discharged the oil on Gulf’s instructions by ship-to-ship (“STS”) transfers against an LOI and without requiring the presentation of any BL. It then transpired that Gulf had perpetrated a fraud on UniCredit and did not repay UniCredit. After receiving the BLs, UniCredit brought a claim against Euronav for the value of the cargo alleging breach of the contract of carriage contained in or evidenced by the BL in delivering the cargo without production of the BL.
Contract of Carriage – BL or Charterparty?The BL’s all powerful status in misdelivery claims rests on one fundamental basis: that it contains or evidences a contract of carriage. At first instance, the High Court found that the since BP was also the charterer, the BL, when issued to it, was a mere receipt of the cargo, the contract of carriage being contained in the charterparty. After BP novated the charterparty to Gulf, the indorsement of the BL did not, in the court’s view, cause a new contract to spring up between Euronav and UniCredit and as such the bank had no right to pursue a misdelivery claim. The Court of Appeal however disagreed, reasoning that where a BL is issued to a charterer, the presumed intention of the parties is that the BL would not be a contract of carriage only as long as shipper and charterer remained the same entity. On the facts, the BL became a document containing or evidencing the contract of carriage when the CP was novated, and remained so until the date of discharge. There was no term of novation agreement which displaced this intention. At the time of discharge therefore, there was a BL contract between Euronav and UniCredit as the BL holder which was breached by discharge without production of BL.
Misdelivery: Did the Bank cause its own loss?On the issue of causation, the Court upheld the first instance finding that UniCredit’s loss was not caused by Euronav delivering the oil without the production of the BL. The court considered that it was insufficient to conclude that breach caused the loss simply because in the absence of breach cargo would have initially remained on board the vessel. It was necessary to ask what would have happened to UniCredit’s security interest if Euronav had initially refused to discharge without production of the BL. As to this, the court noted that it was UniCredit’s own case that if Euronav refused to discharge without original BLs, instructions would ultimately be sought from Unicredit. As to what UniCredit would have done, the court below had made a number of significant findings of fact: UniCredit did permit and would have permitted discharge without original BLs; UniCredit would have permitted discharge by STS or would not have halted it upon becoming aware of it; and the loss would have occurred in any event. In making these findings, the court noted the following:
- It was inherent in the structure of financing and common practice in the oil market for cargo to be discharged without the production of BLs. UniCredit’s witness admitted in cross-examination that she was aware that the cargo would be discharged without BLs, and the original BLs would not be available until after discharge.
- The court rejected UniCredit’s position that it would specifically not have permitted discharge of the cargo by STS transfers. In reaching this conclusion, the court noted certain factors for example, UniCredit did not take the view that the conditions of the financing had to be strictly followed since it agreed that the cargo would not be discharged into storage at Fujairah, even though this meant that it lost its additional protection of control over storage facilities. Further, a request for STS may not have been entirely abnormal in the prevailing times of Covid induced port congestions.
Comment: Spotlight on the Bank.A similar inquiry into causation was conducted in the local case of Standard Chartered Bank v Maersk Tankers (2022 SGHC) (see here) where the Singapore High Court examined the underlying financing arrangements and concluded that it was arguable that the bank did not regard the BLs as security. The court had also referred to the first instance decision of UniCredit v Euronav in its analysis. Although not framed as a question of causation, the Singapore High Court in The ‘STI Orchard’ (2022 SGHC) (see here) also examined the underlying financing arrangements and concluded that it was arguable that the bank did not meet the threshold for honest conduct required to be a good faith holder of BLs as it did not look to the BLs as security when it financed the cargo. These recent local cases concerned applications for summary judgment on misdelivery claims, and the shipowners were granted unconditional leave to defend the claims. The judgments on merits are awaited. That said, these cases do signal a greater scrutiny of banks’ treatment of BLs in their financing arrangements than misdelivery cases have traditionally called for. Not every case will replicate the factual matrix of UniCredit, in particular the court being swayed by the fact that UniCredit was wholly or largely secured in other ways. That said, the message is clear: if the bank wishes to maintain its security over its BLs its conduct with respect to the facility and borrower will have to be consistent with that position. This leaves a bank in a delicate position knowing that cargo is often discharged without BLs or not insisting on such a discharge because other types of security are in place. So is this the end of the BL as the security backbone of a trade finance structure?
Author: Baldev Bhinder, Ramandeep Kaur
24th July 2023 Market volatility in international trade and commodities invariably results in trade defaults. As a hub for international trading companies, Singapore has seen its fair share of insolvencies and restructuring in the past few years as a section of traders felt the effects of the pandemic,
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