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Nicholas Narayanan, Partner

Nicholas Narayanan explains how the firm is adapting to the clients’ needs.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Nicholas & Tan Partnership LLP from your competitors?

Nicholas & Tan Partnership LLP has handled a wide range of complex litigation cases, with a particular emphasis on commercial crime and shareholders disputes. These disputes have traditionally been perceived as requiring the experience and expertise of the larger local and international firms.

Significantly, we pride ourselves on developing strategies that provide our clients with the most cost-effective and practical solutions. We are a commercially savvy firm, which strives to best protect our clients’ interests by examining not only their immediate concerns but also their needs in the long run.

As a boutique law firm, we are also able to provide personalised services without the administrative procedures and distance common to many larger firms.  As a result, we have established close and long-term relationship with many of our clients.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

Given the global economic uncertainty, I foresee insolvency as a growing practice area in the next 12 months. This is in light of the recent reforms to Singapore law in respect of Singapore as an international debt restructuring centre. Indeed, the Singapore High Court has recently delivered a landmark decision on super-priority rescue financing with reference to US jurisprudence regarding similar Chapter 11 applications.

International arbitration will also be a continuing area of growth. With the introduction of third party funding arrangements and the proposed amendments to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act to allow the Singapore International Commercial Court to hear cases under the International Arbitration Act, these developments will cement Singapore as a key arbitration seat in the world and attract more international parties to Singapore to resolve their disputes.

What's the main change you've made in the firm that will benefit clients?

In developing our litigation strategies, our brainstorming process is open to everyone placed on a file. Our firm adopts the open approach of allowing every team member to contribute and share their views on issues. The collaborative culture allows us to work at maximum efficiency and build creative solutions for the most challenging of situations. Much like the Socratic method.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

The use of technology has definitely altered the way the legal industry now operates. Its rapid development has equipped us to provide prompt and efficient services to our clients.

We mostly rely on e-mail to communicate with our clients, and we are able to send over voluminous documents without delay. We are not bound by geographical or time factors in the delivery of our legal advice. We have found this to be especially important when the stakeholders of a case operate in different time zones or when we have had to obtain urgent instructions.

Technology has certainly improved the quality of legal research materials that are available to us as well.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

Our firm takes into account the interaction of the commercial and litigation issues that our clients face and provides advice accordingly. Beyond the immediate legal issues, we often have to address the clients’ concern of the potential adverse impact of a litigation action on their business. One such issue would be a pending litigation action being a possible impediment to the client’s company being listed. Being well aware of the clients’ legal issues and commercial concerns, we have managed to advise them on the adjustment of their business plans.

In one specific instance, we were instructed by a foreign corporation to commence legal proceedings against two separate Singaporean companies to recover payment for unpaid goods. Upon a preliminary review of the documents, we felt that something was amiss and were given the go ahead to commence further investigations. After probing, it transpired that the client’s then sales manager had conjured up an elaborate scheme to defraud the client of millions of dollars though misappropriation and sales to those two companies controlled by him and his family members. While the client is currently in the midst of recovering its losses, the fraud ceased immediately thereby preventing further losses from occurring again.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms? - where do you see the firm in three years' time?

Clients will certainly desire stability and strategic direction from their law firms. As any client would desire value, law firms will have to ensure that they are reliable, cost-effective and forward looking at all times.

In the next three years, I look forward to the professional growth of each team player of our firm as we build on what we have. I also envisage an expansion of our firm’s scope of work in the arbitration sector.

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