The firm can trace its origins to 1859 and John Simons Atchison – the first qualified lawyer to arrive in the former British colony.
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$7 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 3 (of which 3 are as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Today, Drew & Napier says it has the largest arbitration team in the Singapore market. (The GAR 100 researchers don’t focus on headcounts – but with six senior counsel, all of whom have relevant arbitration credentials, the claim is certainly credible.) They handle litigation, as well as arbitration focused on specific industry sectors such as construction and shipping. All of the SCs are home-grown.
The department has grown in sync with Singapore’s emergence as a centre for international cases.
Many of the firm’s senior names are now also sitting as arbitrators. Recently, Cavinder Bull SC, head of the practice, became vice president of the Asia Pacific Regional Arbitration Group.
Who uses it?
Australia, China, India, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States have all consulted the firm on matters in recent times.
Otherwise its client list runs the gamut, with the main feature being the number of Asian multinationals. For example, it is currently advising an Indonesian conglomerate on a property development dispute and recently counselled an Indian investment company on a telecoms case. It’s also worked for the Berjaya Group in Malaysia during a dispute in the health-care sector.
The firm recently successfully defended a sovereign state against a claim by a consultant to a naval defence project, though details are scarce.
The firm has also done well on at least one recent pitch. It secured instructions from the subsidiary of a foreign company in a US$3.2 billion case against a state government for allegedly breaching an agreement over the construction of a waterfront city.
Harpreet Singh Nehal SC retired from Drew & Napier in August, reducing the number of SCs.
Cavinder Bull SC has been busy acting in an international arbitration between a Singapore company and an Australian company over an infrastructure project to develop an underground tunnel. The case has required significant technical expertise, with numerous experts expected to give evidence in the proceedings during 2012.
The firm (led by Bull again) is also gratified to have been instructed by an Australian company against an Italian respondent in a matter with zero obvious connection to Singapore (the contract is governed by Italian law, and the hearing is to be conducted in Milan before a Canadian arbitrator).