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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Dan Tan Law

18 February 2016

Boasting a founder with experience at several international firms, the cost-effective boutique has a presence in both the US and Singapore

Pending cases as counsel 11
Value of pending counsel work US$1.6 billion
Treaty cases 1
Current arbitrator appointments 3 (of which 3 are
as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

Singaporean Dan Tan launched Dan Tan Law in 2011 and operates it from New York and San Francisco, along with a fully licensed affiliate firm in Singapore.

A member of the bars of New York, California, the District of Columbia, Singapore, and England and Wales, Tan has a decade of arbitration experience at three leading firms: Latham & Watkins and O’Melveny & Myers in New York, and Lovells in London. In addition, he teaches international arbitration at Harvard Law School and at the Singapore Management University School of Law, where he is on the adjunct faculty. As of 2013, he is a professor at Stanford Law School where he teaches international investment law.

Tan initially brought in three other international arbitration specialists, of whom one remains: Martin Endicott, formerly of the international arbitration and financial litigation group at Lovells and the World Bank in Washington, DC. The practice has since acquired Jennie Lin, a graduate of Harvard who has represented clients in ICC and LCIA arbitrations.

Tan says the thinking behind the boutique was “to establish a flexible platform capable of delivering specialist advice and representation on cost-effective and value-driven terms”. He says the firm tailors the service offered – as well as the rates – to suit the client.

Those who have worked with Tan pay tribute to his impressive attention to detail and strategy and “easy to work with” approach. “Clients love him,” one former Latham partner told GAR.

Network

In 2013, the boutique established its fully-licensed affiliate firm in Singapore law firm, JLC Advisors, which is headed by Shem Khoo, a former partner at Rajah & Tann.

Who uses it?

One of the world’s largest electronics companies, Future Electronics, is a client. The firm also acts for companies from Canada and the US, Singapore and Hong Kong, central Europe, Russia and China in arbitrations under ICDR, ICC and LCIA rules seated in London and New York.

It is also representing the Palestinian Water Authority in one of the first UNCITRAL arbitrations under Palestinian law against an opponent represented by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Track record

The firm has a track record for successfully settling disputes. In its first six months of action, it settled an AAA arbitration in California – reportedly for 10 times what the client was previously offered to settle the case. A dispute with a well-known US pharmaceutical company represented by Winston & Strawn also settled on the client’s terms.

In addition, Dan Tan Law has successfully defended listed US and Canadian companies in an ICDR arbitration seated in New York. Claims by Singaporean parties for more than US$35 million were fully dismissed.

Recent events

Since the last GAR 100, Dan Tan Law has been retained by a Hong Kong commodities trader in a LCIA arbitration over breach of a coal agreement and by a Singapore corporation in a SIAC arbitration against US parties over a distributorship dispute.

It is also representing a Turkish contractor in an ICSID claim exceeding US$150 million against a Middle Eastern country.

The firm is involved with two ICC claims over intellectual property seated in Singapore and another ICC arbitration in São Paulo relating to a US$10 million claim over environmental cleanup costs.

In addition, it is working alongside Fangda Partners representing Chinese citizens, companies and BVI and Cayman entities in a pending HKIAC arbitration against a major Hong Kong private equity fund for fraud and breach of contract. The total value of these claims is around US$25 million.

Its tradition of settling cases continues: the firm reports negotiating a settlement for a Singapore company for less than one-tenth of the original costs claimed.

Client comment

Tan Chuan Thye, partner of Rajah & Tann, describes Dan Tan as a “tireless arbitration lawyer who does not let significantly different time zones faze him.” He says that Tan is “invaluable” on matters of New York substantive law and has “innovative” ways of presenting complex ideas to a multilingual and multi-jurisdictional tribunal.

Vaibhav Shetty, manager of Indfrag, relates how Dan Tan obtained a settlement on the company’s terms that still enabled it to work with the opposing party again, creating a situation where the opposing party believed there was no chance of settlement and leapt at what was proposed.

Another client, who successfully settled its ICC arbitration, says that it was particularly impressed with Tan’s “working attitude” and the firm’s swift response time, going so far as to “wonder whether the lawyers need to sleep!”