Top London sets circle Singapore

London set 20 Essex Street and members of Essex Court Chambers are in advanced talks to take space in Singapore’s flagship arbitration centre Maxwell Chambers, The Lawyer can reveal.

The purpose-built arbitration centre, which is funded by the Singapore government, is due to open at the beginning of 2010. Its aim is to house hearing facilities as well as international arbitration institutions, including the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.

It is understood that the Singapore government approached the London-based sets with a view to creating an alliance.

While Singapore-based lawyers are involved in the project (Norton Rose litigation partner Guy Spooner sits on the board), only barristers will be invited to take up office space in the centre.

The Singapore Ministry of Law hopes to make Singapore the arbitration centre of choice for Asia.

In a statement 20 Essex Street said: “This is an exciting venture and Singapore has the potential to become the leading centre for arbitration in Asia.

“Although so far nothing has been signed, negotiations are at an advanced stage. We’re very pleased to be part of this project and intend to operate as independent barristers and arbitrators in Singapore, just as we do in London.”

It is understood that up to 25 members of Essex Court are in negotiations to take space in the centre.