Secured a win for Vedanta against India in the Singapore courts
|People in Who’s Who Legal||1|
|Pending cases as counsel||100|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$40.8 billion|
|Treaty cases as counsel||4|
|Current arbitrator appointments||21 (9 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||9|
Rajah & Tann, founded in 1976, is one of Singapore’s leading full-service firms. The roots of the international arbitration practice go back to 1999, when Sundaresh Menon (who went on to become Singapore’s attorney general and is now chief justice) and Chong Yee Leong worked on 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 international arbitration for Asia. However, the team returned around 2006, 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, led by Chong Yee Leong.
There was further upheaval in 2013 as Chong and four other partners left to join rival Singaporean firm Allen & Gledhill. But the firm moved swiftly to fill their shoes, appointing Andre Yeap SC to take Chong’s place as practice head and promoting several younger members to the partnership.
Rajah & Tann reckons it still has the largest stand-alone arbitration practice of any firm in Singapore, with around 20 partners working on the area. It says it is not only the heaviest user of SIAC but has also been involved in almost half the cases brought before the Singapore International Commercial Court.
It regards its main competitors for high-end and complex arbitration work not as other Singapore firms, but international firms in the UK and the US.
Apart from Singapore, the firm has offices in Bangkok, Jakarta, Shanghai, Vientiane and Yangon.
A 2014 tie-up with Vietnamese firm LCT Lawyers gave it offices in Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Da Nang. It also has affiliations with firms in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Cambodia; and Al Tamimi & Company in the UAE.
Who uses it?
The firm advises clients in the energy, chemical, and construction and engineering sectors, such as Malakoff, the largest independent power producer in Malaysia; Petronas Chemicals Group; Korea’s GS Engineering and Construction, and Samsung C&T; Australia’s Thiess; and China Machine New Energy Corporation.
It also has metals and mining clients such as Sumitomo, Bhushan Power & Steel and Global Steel Philippines.
In the telecoms sector it has advised AT&T, and other well-known clients are Kempinski Hotels, Singapore Airlines and Air Asia.
Government clients include Laos, Lesotho, Indonesia, the Philippines, Kazakhstan and Mauritius’s State Trading Corporation. It has also been appointed as legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in Singapore, advising on matters relating to the embassy itself as well as Chinese citizens and companies.
In 2012, Rajah & Tann secured a US$100 million SIAC award against the Philippine National Bank and several other financial institutions, on behalf of companies owned by Indian steel magnate Pramod Mittal. The award was partially upheld in the courts.
The firm helped a subsidiary of Indonesia’s Lippo group win a US$42 million SIAC award arising from a dispute over control of a Chinese hospital.
It settled a series of disputes worth a combined US$8 billion for the owners of an Indonesian goldmine.
Some of the firm’s most visible successes have been at the set-aside and enforcement stage. It secured the first ever set-aside of an investment treaty award on the merits in Singapore, on behalf of its client Lesotho, in 2017.
It also persuaded the Singapore courts to exempt a group of minors from the enforcement of a US$550 million ICC award against Indian brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Mohan Singh; and overturned the enforcement of a US$200 million SIAC award against a Lao gaming conglomerate on the basis that the arbitrators wrongly chose Singapore and not Macao as the arbitral seat.
Rajah & Tann defended Vedanta Resources against attempts by India to compel cross-disclosure of documents between two investment treaty arbitrations. The Singapore Court of Appeal found that India’s request was a “backdoor appeal” of the arbitrators’ rulings on disclosure.
It has been reported that the firm is defending a company that operates a special economic zone in Cambodia in a US$14 million arbitration brought by two subsidiaries of Singapore’s Asiatic Group relating to tariff revisions affecting a power plant.
A Dutch subsidiary of US bottlemaker Owens-Illinois is using the firm to enforce a US$400 million ICSID award against Venezuela in the Singapore courts.
Other recent instructions include representing Australian casino operator Donaco International in a SIAC dispute worth US$240 million against a former Thai business partner; and Masan Group, one of Vietnam’s biggest private resource companies, in two SIAC arbitrations worth more than US$100 million concerning a mining project.
Partner Paul Tan left the firm to join Cavenagh Law, the Singapore law firm that has formally allied with Clifford Chance.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP is one of the largest full service law firms in Singapore and South East Asia with offices in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Firm’s International Arbitration Practice is consistently ranked tops in Singapore and Asia by leading legal directories. Led by Andre Yeap, SC and anchored by leading arbitration practitioners, Lee Eng Beng, SC, Toh Kian Sing, SC, Francis Xavier, SC and Tan Chuan Thye, SC, our team is well respected for delivering quality service and providing clients with practical, effective and even out of the box solutions.
Our Practice comprises lawyers with multiple jurisdictional qualifications who act as advisors , legal experts and counsel and in numerous international arbitrations conducted under the auspices of the world’s leading arbitration institutions , including the Permanent Court of Arbitration, International Court of Arbitration of the ICC, London Court of International Arbitration, American Arbitration Association, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, Singapore International Arbitration Centre, China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, Asian International Arbitration Centre ( formerly, Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration), Thai Arbitration Institute and Society of Maritime Arbitrators. Many of our lawyers are also on the Panel of Arbitrators or Board of Directors of some of the arbitration institutions mentioned above and they sit regularly as arbitrators presiding over international arbitrations, whether seated within or outside Singapore.
We have been involved in some of the largest and most complex international arbitrations in the region. We have also been involved in cases arising out of or conducted in diverse areas throughout Asia, America and Europe, including London, New York, Geneva, Singapore, Japan, India, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Taiwan, Pakistan and the Philippines.
With an extensive legal network in Asia, we are particularly well placed to deal with disputes across the region and work with leading local practitioners to support this extensive geographical coverage. We are also active in the sphere of investor-state disputes and have separately represented investor interest and state interest, having acted for or against various governments and government linked entities across the world, including Australia, Philippines, Maldives, Kazakhstan, India, Madagascar, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
As a direct result of our client and case diversity, we possess an impressive level of working knowledge of many different applicable regional laws as well as various industries and businesses. We have led and worked on disputes in relation to various specialized areas, including:
- 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 matters (upstream and downstream);
- Energy and Resources matters, 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 buildings;
- Maritime and shipbuilding contracts; and
- Coal, minerals, forestry, water and oil concessions
Andre Yeap, SC
Head, International Arbitration Practice
Email: [email protected]
T +65 6232 0306