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GAR 100 - 13th Edition

Dan Tan Law

14 April 2020

A US boutique with links to Singapore

People in Future Leaders 1
Pending cases as counsel 22
Value of pending counsel work US$1.6 billion
Treaty cases 1
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 7 (4 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

Singaporean Dan Tan launched Dan Tan Law in 2011 and operates it from New York and San Francisco, as well as working alongside 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 international investment law at Stanford Law School, having also been an adjunct faculty at the Singapore Management University School of Law. He is also a lecturer in law at Oxford, and an associate member of 36 Stone (formerly Stone Chambers).

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 cases. The firm has also added Paul Barker, an English barrister with Doughty Street, to the San Francisco office.

Tan, who also sits as arbitrator, 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.

Dan Tan Law says it is the only US-based law firm that focusses exclusively on international arbitration.

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 has acted for the Palestinian Water Authority in an UNCITRAL case where the other side was represented by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Track record

The firm is known for successfully settling disputes. 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.

It previously won the liability phase in an UNCITRAL arbitration against a South East Asian state-owned entity represented by White & Case. The contractual claims alone were in excess of US$500 million.

It has also won an ICC arbitration, based on an environmental indemnity claim, on behalf of a Brazilian company against a US entity and hedge fund.

Recent events

The firm has been engaged in a several international commercial arbitrations during the last 12 months. Notably, it has acted in two separate SIAC arbitrations relating to a construction dispute in an Asian country, the amounts exceeding US$200 million; represented a cryptocurrency company in an SIAC arbitration over trademarks and related contracts; and acted for the sellers of a company in a tax indemnity dispute – also before the SIAC.

A fund and some high-net-worth individuals have also turned to the firm to represent them in US court proceedings in Boston relating to an investor state arbitration award against the Republic of Poland.

A media company in South East Asia has instructed the firm to represent it in a US$5 million matter, while it also defends the Association of American States in ICDR proceedings brought by a former contractor.

Client comment

Michel Le Quellec – founder of Wall Street English schools in Vietnam – came to Dan Tan Law with a potential dispute against a large family office fund to whom he sold his business two-and-a half-years ago.

Referred to the firm by his corporate lawyer, Le Quellec says Dan Tan came to Vietnam a few weeks after he contacted him to collect all the information to understand the case well. What struck him was that Dan and his colleague, who travelled with him, “took the time to really understand the situation and tell me what could be done to negotiate well with the family office”.  

He says he was “impressed” by Dan’s focus and says the partner gave him the impression to combine “integrity and agility”.

Ultimately, when the dispute actually arose Le Quellec says he was happy with Dan’s “speed of reaction” as well as his “availability”. Overall, the client is confident that the firm will defend his interests well.

Insight

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