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GAR 100 - 4th Edition

Drew & Napier LLC

18 February 2011

Housing one of Singapore’s largest commercial disputes departments, Drew & Napier features in the GAR 100 for a second year.

Value of pending counsel work:
US$5.8 billion
Treaty cases:
Current arbitrator appointments:
3 (of which 2 are as sole or chair)
No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:

The firm owes its name to Alfred Henry Drew and Walter John Napier, who in the 1880s joined a practice that had been established by John Simons Atchison – according to the firm, the first properly qualified lawyer to be admitted in Singapore. He arrived from England in 1859 and the roots of the practice were born – but it wasn’t until almost a century later that Drew & Napier recruited its first Singaporean lawyer, Joseph Grimberg (now SC and a former judicial commissioner of the Supreme Court). He remains a senior consultant at the firm.

The practice is now home to seven senior counsel, which it asserts is the largest number at any Singapore firm. Three are under 40, all the more impressive as appointments to the SC rank before that age are rare. In fact, the committee is supposed to refrain from them. All the SCs trained at the firm. No lawyer focuses entirely on arbitration, the firm says, but over the past decade, as Singapore matured into an international arbitration hub, several have become well versed in the field and now major in it. Work is usually led by an SC, assisted by more junior lawyers who may be specialised in arbitration or a relevant field of law.

Researchers note a dispute over the construction and launch into orbit of a telecommunications satellite as one of several cases that has kept the firm soaring above its competitors in the region, accounting perhaps for its dominance as a recipient of many Asian awards in recent years.

Recent events

In 2010, the SIAC named Cavinder Bull SC as its deputy chairman, to succeed Sundaresh Menon SC of Rajah & Tann, who left to become Singapore’s attorney general.

On the work front, it achieved a successful ruling from a SIAC tribunal, which said that Drew & Napier’s client, Proton, a Malaysian car manufacturer, did not unlawfully terminated a joint venture contract with a former Chinese partner.

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