Cross-border activity boom sparks Singapore prof neg trend

Clydes and Allen & Gledhill battle out professional negligence case in Singapore

As cross-border commercial activity in Singapore continues to grow, the chances of professional negligence claims against lawyers are also on the rise. Most recently, Clyde & Co and Singaporean firm Allen & Gledhill have been involved in such proceedings.

In a nutshell, Swiss bank Banque Cantonale de Geneve (BCG) filed a claim in June 2009 alleging that Allen & Gledhill gave poor advice in a ship arrest case in Singapore in March 2006. The case was eventually found to be one of wrongful arrest. Clydes and Waterson Hicks, BCG’s English law advisers at the time of the arrest, were subsequently added to the suit as joint parties.

In the hearing that started in Singapore’s High Court last week, Allen & Gledhill claimed its advice was never conveyed to BCG by Clydes, which instructed Allen & Gledhill as Singaporean counsel. The firm alleges that any loss suffered by BCG was on account of Clydes’ advice. However, Clydes claims that if it is found liable, Allen & Gledhill will be primarily liable.

The case brings back memories of Linklaters’ tussle with former Italian alliance firm Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners. In 2011 the magic circle firm sued Gianni after being hit with a €136m (£115m) claim from Credit Suisse after it took advice from Gianni when advising the bank on a transaction. The case was settled between the three parties, with both firms contributing to the total damages.

The moral of the story? Firms should be just as careful as clients when seeking external legal advice.