Singapore attracts 23 licence applications

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  • I am NOT a lawyer & have no wish protecting the livelihhoods of our multi-millionaire laywer fellow citizens.

    But why opening this segment to foreign firms? Is there a dearth of good lawyers in Singapore? Or the standards of our lawyers left much to be desired?

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  • In theory, a non-Singaporean client who already uses a non-Singaporean firm for most of its work will benefit from cost and other synergies on its Singaporean transactions.

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  • To be fair, only two or three dozen Singapore lawyers earn over a million dollars a year - a lot of the guys in the smaller firms and the sole proprietors can only dream about earning such a livelihood.

    But I too question the rationale for allowing so many foreign firms to have qualifying licenses. I cannot think of another jurisdiction that is so liberal in the scope of the foreign entry it allows to foreign firms. There is no doubt that some of the bread and butter work of local firms is now being done by the foreign firms and the skill levels needed for such work is not cutting-edge. So who really wins from this? I guess if as a client you can get international firms to work for you at local rates then you are a winner. Equally, if you are a local lawyer who can land a job at an international firm to do local work then you will be a winner salary-wise at least in the short term.

    But how is the Singapore legal profession a winner?

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  • @ Charles Soon and 'Ex Singapore lawyer',
    There is a dearth of good lawyers in Singapore (and every country actually) who have the training and experience to advise on foreign and international law.
    Law is the language of international trade, so any company seeking to export or import goods and services needs to engage suitably qualified lawyers.
    The most efficient and convenient way to ensure that companies have access to international legal advice is to allow them to establish an office in the country and to create rules which allow foreign lawyers to provide legal advice on foreign and international law.
    Many companies are interested in engaging a single law firm (rather than 2 or 3 or more) to provide a 'full package' of legal advice. By enabling foreign law firms to employ Singaporean lawyers to provide advice in critical commercial and corporate areas of law, these firms are able to provide that service.

    In many cases, the company may have already been seeking advice from the foreign firm, but because the advice was not provided in Singapore it could not be taxed by the Government and the profits simply went overseas.

    If a firm establishes in Singapore under a Joint Venture or using a QLFP license, then all profits earned in Singapore are taxed with the benefit ultimately going to Singapore.

    The rationale for allowing so many licences is that competition will drive down prices and increase the benefit to Singaporean companies. As with the original JLV arrangements, many foreign firms will not be able to compete effectively, but that is the nature of business.

    The legal services sector in Singapore grew from $1.4 billion in 2007 to $1.8 billion in 2011. That is a pretty good growth rate.

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