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 (who went on to become Singapore’s attorney general) and Chong Yee Leong worked on a case in Bangkok.
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$5.5 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 31 (all are sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
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 international arbitration for Asia. 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.
Since 2006, the group has been led by Chong Yee Leong (following Menon’s move into government and then to the role of Chief Justice of Singapore). 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 group is supplemented by lawyers from other practices within the firm who are actively involved in international arbitration. It says it regards its main competitors for high-end and complex arbitration work as not other Singapore firms, but international firms in the UK and US.
The firm has six offices in Asia: in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Shanghai, in the Laotian capital of Vientiane and in the Vietnamese capital of Ho Chi Minh City (it recently filed with SIAC what is believed to be the largest claim emanating from Vietnam to date and is also representing Saigon Metropolitan in a dispute over the assignment of an iconic building in Ho Chi Minh).
Internally, it is also building specialist groups focusing on Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar and South Asia. On top of that, it has affiliations with firms in Indonesia and Cambodia, and with Dubai-based Al Tamimi & Company.
Partner Prakash Pillai heads the South Asia practice and has been leading efforts to capture work in the arbitration market in India (the leading source of Singapore-based international arbitrations).
The firm says its stand-alone arbitration practice consists of 29 lawyers.
Who uses it?
The firm advises numerous clients in the energy, chemical and construction and engineering sectors, including Malakoff, the largest independent power producer in Malaysia; Petronas Chemicals Group; Korea’s GS Engineering and Construction and Samsung C&T; and Australia’s Thiess.
It also has metals and minings clients such as Sumitomo, Bhushan Power & Steel and Global Steel Philippines.
In the telecoms sector it has advised AT&T in a dispute with a major telecoms group. It has also advised Kempinski Hotels, Singapore Airlines and Air Asia.
Government clients include Laos, which it represented as co-counsel with Jones Day (resisting a US$3 billion claim).
The firm highlights 12 “significant wins” since the last edition.
These include acting for a group of companies owned by an Indian steel baron; the purchaser of a steel plant in the Philippines, in a dispute over the failure of the vendors to provide encumbrance-free title; a Thai public company in a SIAC arbitration against Singapore and Indonesian entities over breaches of a financing agreement and related coal supply contracts; and a Cayman Island fund in a dispute over a joint venture with an Indonesian oil group to take on Libyan oil concessions.
In court, it successfully resisted an application for interim relief requiring its client, a US-based software development company, to deposit money in escrow, deliver up software products and licences and refrain from certain business acts. It has also acted in successful enforcement proceedings.
A US$75 million award gained against its client, Laos, has recently been set aside by the Malaysian courts.
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.
India-related work is also on the rise. Pillai has handled seven India-related international arbitrations with a total value of approximately US$330 million. In May 2012, he was elected vice chair of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which establishes links between the business commmunities in the two countries and funnels international arbitrations to Singapore.
Menon stepped down as attorney general in 2012 and later in the year was appointed Chief Justice of Singapore. He is now issuing arbitration-related judgments in the Supreme Court.
Members of the firm are hearing arbitrations under ICC, SIAC and UNCITRAL rules among others, with Chong Yee Leong particularly in demand as a sole arbitrator.
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 Andre Yeap SC and anchored by several other leading arbitration practitioners including Lee Eng Beng SC, Toh Kian Sing SC and Francis Xavier SC.
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 American Arbitration Association, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (“HKIAC”), the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (“SIAC”),the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, 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.
The firm has been consistently involved in some of the largest and most complex international arbitrations in the region, and has been involved in cases arising out of or conducted in diverse areas throughout Asia and Europe, including London, New York, Geneva, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Taiwan, Pakistan and the Philippines. With a regional footprint that spans Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and China, the firm is particularly well placed to deal with disputes across the region, and to also work with leading local practitioners where required to support this extensive geographical coverage. 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 many different applicable regional laws as well as various industries or businesses. The team has led and worked on disputes in relation to:
- Corporate and commercial matters, such as complex cross-border joint venture and shareholder disputes, banking, finance, insurance, regulatory, distributorship and employment disputes;
- Oil and gas (upstream and downstream);
- Energy and Resources including power stations, power purchase and connection agreements;
- Telecommunications networks, infrastructure and sales;
- 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 building projects; and
- Maritime and shipbuilding contracts
Andre Yeap SC
Head, International Arbitration practice
Tel (DID): +65 6232 0306
9 Battery Road
#25-01 Straits Trading Building
Republic of Singapore
Tel: +65 6535 3600
24 hour hotline: +65 9690 2253