Four more foreign law firms allowed to practice here

The four firms are: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Jones Day, Linklaters and Sidley Austin. They join six other law firms awarded licenses in 2008.


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Full statement from Ministry of Law:

Award of the second round of qualifying foreign law practice licences

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) invited applications for the second round of Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licences on July 1, 2012. Twenty-three applications were received by the closing date of 31 August 2012.

QFLP licences will be awarded to the following four firms (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher;
  • Jones Day;
  • Linklaters, and
  • Sidley Austin.
  • The firms will have up to six months from 1 April 2013 to commence their operations as QFLPs, and their licences will be valid for an initial period of five years from the respective start dates.

    Background

    The QFLP scheme was introduced in 2008 following the recommendations of the Committee to Develop the Legal Sector chaired by Justice V K Rajah. The Committee, which included senior lawyers from top local firms, assessed that local firms and local lawyers would benefit from the increased foreign presence and competition over time.

    The QFLP licences allow Foreign Law Practices (FLPs) to practise in permitted areas of Singapore law. The scheme seeks to support the growth of key economic sectors, grow the legal sector, as well as to offer additional opportunities for our lawyers. A total of six FLPs were awarded QFLP licences in the first round in 2008.

    The nominal value added of the legal services sector has since grown by more than 25 per cent from S$1.5 billion in 2008 to an estimated S$1.9 billion3 in 2012. Singapore is also exporting more legal services.

    From 2008 to 2011, the value of legal services exported from Singapore increased by 51.8 per cent, from S$363 million in 2008 to S$551 million in 20114.

    In particular, arbitration activities have grown significantly. Singapore is now recognised as one of the preferred seats of arbitration in the world5. The total number of new cases handled by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has increased from 99 cases in 2008 to 235 cases in 20126.

    In addition, the total sum of disputes arbitrated in SIAC in 2012 was S$3.61 billion, more than the total sum of disputes in 2010 (S$1.35 billion) and 2011 (S$1.32 billion) combined.

    Collectively, the liberalisation of the legal sector has generated more opportunities and exposure for Singaporean lawyers.

    Selection Process

    Following a favourable review of the performance of the first round of QFLP licensees, FLPs were invited to apply for a second round of licences. The applications were first considered by an Evaluation Committee chaired by Dr Beh Swan Gin, Permanent Secretary (Law).

    A Selection Committee, chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam, then decided on the award of the QFLP licences, taking into account the Evaluation Committee's recommendations.

    In determining the award of licences, the Evaluation and Selection Committees took into account, factors such as:

    a) The value of offshore work that the firm's Singapore office will generate;
    b) The number of lawyers who will be based in the Singapore office;
    c) The areas of legal practice that the Singapore office will offer;
    d) The extent which the Singapore office will function as headquarters for the region, and
    e) The FLP's track record.

    The applications received were of high quality. The four firms that will be awarded the QFLP licences are ranked among the world's top 20 law firms.

    They have extensive global networks and deep expertise in key practice areas10 that will support the growth of the Singapore economy and the development of our legal services.

    Conclusion

    The second round of QFLP licences awarded marks Singapore's continued push to broaden and deepen its legal services market. It will also reinforce Singapore's position as a premier global and regional legal services hub.

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