Legal Business

Liberalisation of Singapore market gathers pace

The Singapore Ministry of Law (MinLaw) stopped receiving applications from foreign law firms seeking a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licence at the end of August. Twenty-three firms have applied for a QFLP, with UK-based Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, DLA Piper, Olswang and Stephenson Harwood all confirming that they have applied for licences alongside US firms Jones Day, K&L Gates, Watson, Farley & Williams, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Shearman & Sterling.

Singapore used to only allow foreign firms to work alongside domestic practices in limited joint ventures. However, in 2008 MinLaw granted six QFLPs to Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith, Latham & Watkins, Norton Rose and White & Case, allowing those firms to practise Singaporean law with some restrictions. The latest moves reflect the increasing interest of international firms in practising local law.