Battle for Singapore licences

Australian lawyers are attempting to prevent UK firms from securing licences to practise local law in Singapore.

The Australian government is coming under increased pressure from the Law Council of Australia to lobby hard for the right to practise in the former colony.

Under new licensing arrangements, which were passed by the Singapore parliament at the beginning of the year, local firms will be able to align themselves with a foreign practice which holds a joint licence. The parliament is offering just five of these licences.

The Law Council is acting after rumours in the Singapore market that UK and US firms will be first in line for the licences. It is reportedly alarmed by the possibility that none of the licences will be given to an Australian firm.

Ashurst Morris Crisp, Allen & Overy, Norton Rose and Simmons & Simmons are among several UK firms which have expressed an interest in obtaining a licence.