Singapore invites foreign firms to apply for alliance licences

The Singapore government is finally opening up the country’s legal market to foreign firms.

The Legal Profession (Amendment) Act came into force last week and now the Ministry of Law is inviting applications for licences from local and non-domestic firms that want to form joint ventures and formal alliances.

The move will allow outside firms to dramatically increase their work-load in the lucrative market.

Denton Wilde Sapte’s international managing partner David Moroney says that although it presents opportunities, much will depend on local firms.

He says: “It is a question of which firms are available in Singapore, if they want to deal exclusively with another firm and so on.”

But another international lawyer warns of competition issues: “What you have is actually a bit of restrictive trade practice. Five foreign firms may get licences but what happens to the rest? They are at a disadvantage.”

Applications under the act must be submitted by 15 June.