Lawyers' families flee Singapore smog crisis

THE FAMILIES of international lawyers working in smog-hit Singapore have begun to flee the city state to escape the pollution there.

Firms are offering to fly home families with young children because there is still no sign that the suffocating cloud of smog that has hung over the city since August will disperse.

At Freshfields, one lawyer has already taken up the offer to have his children flown back to the UK, while another family will return to Australia soon.

“We have a number of lawyers who have very young children and they are particularly concerned,” said managing partner Charles July.

“We have also told staff that we would not expect them to travel to the regions which have been particularly badly hit, such as Sumatra, where there have been reports that the recent plane crash may have been caused by the smog.”

Freshfields is one of several firms in Singapore that has drawn up contingency plans. Others include Ashurst Morris Crisp and Allen & Overy.

Although Singapore has not been as badly affected as Kuala Lumpur, there are days when pollution levels are 50 per cent higher than the recommended safety threshold.

Richard Gubbins, managing partner at Ashursts' office in Singapore, said the firm would even consider evacuation if the situation deteriorated.

He said: “It's very depressing. We haven't seen the sun for a month, but it is very hot and there is 90 per cent humidity.”