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It’s been a swings-and-roundabouts kind of week for Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP). On the one hand, the firm has got the regulatory approval to open an office in Beijing, marking its first foray into mainland China. But on the other hand, the firm was denied a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licence in Singapore. Que sera, eh?
BLP’s new Beijing office, which will complement existing offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, will be led by partner Peter Robinson and of counsel Justin Sun. Robinson has been in Shanghai for months now helping out key BLP client Tesco, which is looking for a head of legal in China.
It is not clear why Singapore’s Ministry of Law decided that BLP wasn’t worthy of a QFLP licence, but the firm can take solace from the fact that it is far from alone in the rejection. Some 23 firms applied for a licence following a two-month window for applications that shut in August 2012, but only four got one. Luminaries such as DLA Piper, K&L Gates and Shearman & Sterling are understood to have missed out, too.
These QFLP application rounds don’t come around every year, either. The previous one was in 2008, so perhaps firms should look at other ways of increasing their footprint there. Perhaps a tie-up?