One of Singapore’s oldest firms has a large following among Asian multinationals
|People in Who’s Who Legal:||2|
|Pending cases as counsel:||54|
|Value of pending counsel work:||US$10 billion|
|Current arbitrator appointments:||7 (of which 4 are as sole or chair)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator:||2|
This firm can trace its origins to 1859 and John Simons Atchison – the first qualified lawyer to arrive in the former British colony.
Today, Drew & Napier prides itself on being one of the largest players in the Singapore arbitration market, with six senior counsel now devoting substantial time to the area. All of which, by the way, are home-grown. Between them, they handle court work relating to arbitration, plus a number of specific forms of arbitration such as construction and shipping.
The department has grown in sync with Singapore’s emergence as a centre for international cases and several of the senior names are sitting as arbitrators.
Cavinder Bull SC, one of the senior partners in the practice, is a well-known international name. He’s currently vice president of the Asia Pacific Regional Arbitration Group and deputy chairman of SIAC. Other names to know include Davinder Singh SC and Jimmy Yim SC.
Who uses it?
Asian multinationals, to a large extent. For example, the firm is advising an Indonesian conglomerate on a property development dispute and recently counselled an Indian investment company on a telecoms case. It boasts a number of major Malaysian clients including Berjaya Group, automotive manufacturer Sapura Industrial and oil and gas company Petra Energy.
It has also worked for a French pharmaceutical company, the World Sport Group, Norway’s Nexans, CISCO and a Singaporean defence company. The government of Laos is also a client.
In 2012, Cavinder Bull SC and his team helped Singapore’s main power provider settle an US$80 million dispute with Australian listed company Downer over the construction of an underground electrical services tunnel. The Australian side reportedly paid US$40 million to settle the dispute.
The firm also advised a US subsidiary of an Indian telecoms conglomerate against Malaysia’s leading mobile phone company. And it secured instructions from the local 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.
Former senior associate, now director, Lee Chau Ee rejoined the firm from Reed Smith as its head of construction and engineering. It also promoted a new director in Jaikanth Shankar. Associate director Foo Yuet Min was appointed to the leadership committee of Young SIAC.
As co-counsel with White & Case, it successfully defended Swedish software client IFS from a €230 million SIAC claim brought by Sri Lankan company Informatics International. The claim was rejected with an order that Informatics pay the main part of the tribunal’s fees and a large part of IFS’ legal costs.
Cavinder Bull achieved a spectacular victory for Laos in early 2015, persuading the Singapore High Court to overturn an UNCITRAL tribunal’s jurisdictional ruling that the China-Laos bilateral investment treaty also applies to Macao. The case is part of a billion-dollar dispute over investments in Laos’s gambling sector.
In another Singapore High Court case reported by GAR, the firm helped the Philippine National Bank and other clients achieve the set-aside of a US$104 million SIAC award in favour of two companies affiliated with Indian steel magnate Pramod Mittal.
It also had success for construction client CRW Joint Operation before the High Court, upholding an interim ICC award in favour of the client that gave effect to a FIDIC adjudication decision.
Jimmy Yim SC won a US$15.6 million claim for a Norwegian cable industry client, Nexans, in an ad hoc Swiss law arbitration seated in Singapore, arising from an accident following the arrest of a vessel by the Chinese army.
Bjørn Christian Bergstad, general counsel at Nexans, compares Drew & Napier favourably with the opposing counsel in his company’s dispute. “They seemed in general more thorough, working hard and good on the real and substantial issues, and especially with respect of choosing and preparing witnesses they did in my opinion a much better job than the other side.” He was also impressed by the control and overview the team had over the large amount of documents and different arguments. Lead partner Jimmy Yim SC conducted the cross examination with the exception of some minor items.
Bomi Daruwala of Indian firm Vaish Associates Advocates engaged Drew & Napier in a high-stakes ICC arbitration based on the feedback of fellow lawyers in India and Singapore. “It was a treat to watch Davinder Singh SC cross-examine,” he says. “Two things which particularly impressed were (a) he was able to get the truth out of witnesses which was glossed over in the witness statements and (b) during the course of cross-examination, counsel was able to take the tribunal through his perspective on the various documents proposed to be relied upon.” He notes the “deep thought and analysis” behind the responses prepared by the firm, and the care taken over the several hundreds of documents deployed by the firm on behalf of their client.
Stephanie McManus, group legal adviser at World Sport Group, which engaged the firm on a number of arbitration matters including two “critical” ongoing matters, says she would recommend the firm “without hesitation.” It had a clear understanding of the technical aspects of their business and quickly grasped the subject matter of their disputes, she says.
Drew & Napier. Altogether World-Class.
Drew & Napier is home to one of the top arbitration practices in the world. We have 5 Senior Counsel, the largest number in any Singapore law practice. Together, they lead a team of over 100 lawyers in the International Arbitration practice. In the past 4 years, the value of arbitration matters we handled exceeded US$25 billion.
From Australia to India, Brunei to Switzerland, Thailand to the USA, our diverse range of clients count on us to solve their most challenging problems and show them the way forward. We represent Fortune 500 companies, MNCs and foreign governments. Our sterling reputation has led to more international law firms instructing us to act as counsel in arbitrations with little or no connection to Singapore.
Prestigious industry publications like Chambers & Partners, The Legal 500 and Global Arbitration Review consistently confirm our leadership with top-tier rankings in International Arbitration. Clients say Drew’s arbitration practice is "a very strong practice with some very talented individuals", "renowned for its intuitive and conscientious handling of disputes for leading regional and international companies, institutions and governments ", “They’re excellent. Whenever something needs to be handled with care, go to them”.
Many of our lawyers are panel arbitrators, fellows or members of a number of arbitration institutions.
We are dedicated to achieving winning outcomes.
Jimmy Yim, SC
Managing Director, Dispute Resolution
T: +65 6531 2504/2505
F: +65 6533 9029
Drew & Napier LLC
10 Collyer Quay
10th Floor Ocean Financial Centre
T: +65 6535 0733
F: +65 6535 4906