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.

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On the rebound

On the rebound

Government initiatives and a resurgent economy have made Singapore and South-East Asia a key focus of the international legal profession once again

In 2006 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s then Asia managing partner Perry Noble explained to LB why the firm had pushed through a major rationalisation of its partnership in the Far East. In the hope that its Asia business would begin to make the profits that the London HQ demanded, the firm radically reduced the size of its partnership in Asia and closed its Singapore office.

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