Singapore review group says no to full liberalisation of legal market

Following recommendations by a review committee to the government, Singapore is not expected to give the go-ahead for a full liberalisation of the country’s legal services sector.

The review outlines proposals for a period of three to five years and covers all aspects of the local legal scene. Recommendations are understood to have been made on legal education and the internationalisation of local firms.

“A full liberalisation was considered in discussions, but is not on the cards,” said a source close to the review group. “It is too early to map the path to liberalisation and litigation will also not be liberalised.”

The Singaporean Ministry of Law, which received the committee’s recommendations in early autumn, is expected to make announcements relating to the recommendations at the end of the year.

However, the ministry is currently embroiled in the Pedra Branca case at the International Court of Justice, so announcements will be delayed.

“I understand that the report is with the ministry and would expect their announcements as to their acceptance or otherwise to be made by the end of the year,” said a local partner.

“It won’t come any sooner as the next three weeks will be spent on the [Pedra Branca] case.” Under current legislation, foreign firms are only allowed to offer local legal capability in Singapore if they are engaged in a registered joint law venture with a local firm.