The first Singaporean firm in the GAR 100, Rajah & Tann has been building its regional footprint.
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$4.7 billion
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 9 (of which 9 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Rajah & Tann is one of Singapore’s leading full-service firms, founded in 1955. The roots of the international arbitration practice go back to 1999 when Sundaresh Menon (now Singapore’s attorney general) and Chong Yee Leong had a case in Bangkok. Other cases swiftly followed and the pair worked in Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka over the next four years.
In 2003, the entire group moved laterally to Jones Day, with Menon taking the role of head of Asian international arbitration. However, the prodigal lawyers returned between 2006 and 2007, equipped with new international know-how and experience of arbitrations in London, Paris and Geneva. It was at this point that Rajah & Tann created a stand-alone arbitration practice – believed to be the first in Singapore.
Nowadays, the group is led by Chong Yee Leong (following Menon’s appointment as attorney general). In recent years, it has expanded and grown in prominence, thanks in no small part to the Singaporean government’s drive to make the city-state an arbitration hub for parties in South Asia, Indo-China and beyond.
The firm has six offices in Asia: in Singapore, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur and, as of 2011, in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and the Laotian capital of Vientiane.
Meanwhile, internally it is also building specialist groups focusing on Japan, Indonesia and South Asia. On top of that it has affiliations with firms in Indonesia and Cambodia, and with Dubai-based Al Tamimi & Company.
Who uses it?
Clients tend to be construction, engineering and chemical companies, energy firms, mining businesses and governments, plus the odd hotelier, aerospace company and telecoms giant.
One of its biggest matters right now is for Global Steel Philippines against creditors and liquidators of the US National Steel Corporation over the purchase of a steel plant. The dispute is thought to be worth more than US$1 billion.
Other clients in the past year include PT Thiess Contractors Indonesia (in a dispute with Kaltim Prima Coal over mining rights in Indonesia), Singapore Airlines and the government of Laos (as co-counsel with Jones Day).
In the Global Steel Philippines v US National Steel case, the firm helped the client to prevent closure of the plant via various court and arbitration injunctions.
In another case – demonstrating the degree to which work in Singapore is now “international” – Rajah & Tann helped a Cayman fund defeat claims for specific performance and damages in a joint venture dispute governed by Indonesian law over Libyan oil concessions. The arbitrators ordered more limited relief – a transfer of shares.
The firm also produced good results for a Malaysian consortium against a German contractor (by preventing the enforcement of a US$32 million dispute adjudication board decision on jurisdictional grounds) and a Singaporean client (by reducing a US$56 million claim for fraud and breach of warranty to US$2.5 million).
It also recently won a US$50 million case against a company owned by high-profile Indonesian political and military figures – in a dispute about non-delivery of paper pulp.
In 2011, Lam Wei Yaw joined the practice as partner after nearly a decade at international law firms. Another hire was Tetsuo Kurita from Japanese firm Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, who will help the group raise its profile among Japanese investors in Asia.
Chong Yee Leong was nominated for advocate of the year at the GAR Awards in Seoul.
The firm saw an uptick in work out of Vietnam, prompting it to open in Ho Chi Minh City. It recently filed (with SIAC) the largest claim to emanate from Vietnam to date and is representing the Saigon government in another US$50 million dispute at the centre over an iconic building in Ho Ci Minh City.
India-related work is also on the rise, apparently. Prakash Pillai, who heads the South Asia arbitration team, has handled seven India-related international arbitrations with a total value of approximately US$330 million.
Founded in 1954, Rajah & Tann LLP is ranked as the largest full-service law firm in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
The Firm’s international arbitration team has been consistently ranked as the top international arbitration practice in Singapore and Asia by leading publications. The team is well-known for consistently delivering top quality service and providing clients with real and sensible solutions. The practice is led by Chong Yee Leong and anchored by several other leading arbitration practitioners including Lee Eng Beng SC, Andre Yeap SC, Toh Kian Sing SC, Francis Xavier SC and Chong Boon Leong.
The team comprises lawyers with multiple jurisdictional qualifications and has been retained as advisors and counsel on numerous arbitrations conducted under the auspices of the leading arbitration institutions of the world, including the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC, the London Court of International Arbitration (“LCIA”), the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (“HKIAC”), the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (“SIAC”), the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (“KLRC”), the Thai Arbitration Institute, and the Society of Maritime Arbitrators. Many of our arbitration lawyers are also appointees to the Panels of Arbitrators or Boards of Directors of some of the arbitration institutions highlighted above and sit regularly as arbitrators presiding over international / local arbitrations.
In terms of geographical spread, the team has been involved in dispute resolution proceedings arising out of or conducted in diverse areas throughout Asia and Europe, including London, New York, Geneva, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Cambodia, Taiwan, Pakistan and the Philippines. The team’s extensive geographical practice coverage is largely due to the sophisticated business structures of its clients. The team has also acted for or against various governments and government linked entities throughout Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos and Australia.
As a direct result of its client diversity, the team possesses an impressive level of working knowledge of various industries or businesses. The team has led and worked on disputes in relation to:
- Infrastructure and civil engineering projects such as airports, railways, ports, highways, suspension bridges, tunnels and sewerage systems;
- Building projects including residential, industrial, mixed development and commercial buildings;
- Power projects and power purchase agreements;
- Oil and gas contracts (upstream and downstream);
- Petrochemical projects;
- Corporate and commercial disputes such as complex cross-border joint venture and shareholder disputes, insurance, regulatory, distributorship and employment disputes;
- Telecommunications networks, infrastructure and sales; and
- Shipbuilding contracts.
Chong Yee Leong
Head, International Arbitration practice
Tel (DID): (65) 6232 0232
9 Battery Road
#25-01 Straits Trading Building
Republic of Singapore
Tel: +65 6535 3600
24 hour hotline: +65 9690 2253