GAR 100 - 3rd Edition

Rajah & Tann

Professional notice

Although the 100 includes more and more firms in Asia from the pool of indigenous law firms, Rajah & Tann will always be able to say it is the first from its peer group to make the grade. It’s been in the book since its first edition and so is Singapore’s only charter member of the 100. It earned that honour by being the only all-Asian firm in the region with an arbitration group brought in from one of the field’s international players. Its team was, for several years, Jones Day’s local arbitration branch, whose members joined Rajah & Tann in 2006. That combination of a top-rank Singapore firm and a team formerly at a global player is unique, and in the absence of extraordinary developments in the market is likely to remain so. Today those lawyers work on disputes regionwide - from Pakistan to the Philippines and everywhere in between - as well as appearing often in Singapore courts on arbitration-related matters. Many of the group’s clients are construction and engineering businesses, but energy firms, mining businesses and governments have used it too. As such the practice has become celebrated for what a local player can accomplish in the arena. GAR 30 researchers note that it has appeared in that ranking twice and again this year.

No. of pending cases:
Value of all claims:
US$3.9 billion
No. of appearances in Who’s Who Legal:
No. of treaty cases:
No. of arbitrator appointments (no. as chair or sole):

In contrast to the other, larger home-grown Singaporean law firms, Rajah & Tann has avoided either a merger or a joint venture with a UK, Australian or other international firm. Partners focus on particular jurisdictions. Francis Xavier SC, for example, covers Indonesia, and you can read other designations below. When it comes to rankings, two print sources disagree about precisely where Rajah & Tann belongs in the overall litigation market - level with Drew & Napier or just behind it? - but nobody has any doubt that the arbitration expertise is a distinguishing feature. The firm is ranked in the third band of an Asia-wide arbitration list, making it the highest-placed all-Asian firm, equal in that with Bae Kim & Lee from Korea.

Recent events

In 2009 the firm’s managing partner, Steven Chong SC, followed his predecessor’s path to the bench; head of international arbitration Sundaresh Menon SC took over. Menon was also appointed deputy chair of the SIAC. The firm reported a substantial tactical victory on behalf of a mining company seeking to preserve its position in a joint venture. The firm assessed the seriousness of the case as a nine or 10 out of 10 on the seriousness scale. It obtained a partial award for the client by characterising one of the points of disagreement as an issue of law purely - reducing expense and speeding up delivery of the award. The award has helped to offset proceedings against the client in local courts. Menon has also become Singapore’s representative on the UNCITRAL arbitration working group. The firm also fought 14 court proceedings about arbitration during the same time. 2009 also saw Francis Xavier become an SC, Singapore’s equivalent of taking silk.

Names to know at Rajah & Tann:

  • Singapore: Sundaresh Menon SC (covers: Asia-Pacific/India); Chong Yee Leong and Chong Boon Leong (Asia-Pacific); Francis Xavier SC (Indonesia); Kamilah Kasim (Malaysia); Toh Kian Sing SC and Yang Lih Shyng (China); and Andre Yeap SC and Lee Eng Beng SC (Singapore).

Founded in the 1950s, Rajah & Tann LLP is one of the largest full-service law firms in Singapore and the Asia Pacific.

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 Sundaresh Menon 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.

Contact Partner:

Chong Yee Leong
Head, International Arbitration practice
[email protected]
Tel (DID): (65) 6232 0232

Singapore Office

9 Battery Road
#25-01 Straits Trading Building
Singapore 049910
Republic of Singapore

Tel: +65 6535 3600
24 hour hotline: +65 9690 2253

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