Allen & Gledhill and Clyde & Co in Singapore negligence row

Singaporean firm Allen & Gledhill, Clyde & Co and City shipping boutique Waterson Hicks are embroiled in a lawsuit filed by a Swiss Bank against the Singaporean firm over alleged negligent advice.

The legal proceedings, which are being heard in the High Court of Singapore, arose from the arrest of the ship Vasiliy Golovnin by Banque Cantonale de Geneve (BCG) in Singapore in 2006. In that case, BCG was advised by Waterson Hicks and Clydes, while Allen & Gledhill shipping partner Kenny Yap was instructed by Clydes to be the Singaporean counsel.

The arrest was later set aside by the Court of Appeal and BCG, represented by Allen & Gledhill’s Yap in the appeal, was ordered to pay damages to the owners of the vessel.

BCG filed a claim in the High Court of Singapore against Allen & Gledhill, alleging professional negligence and seeking approximately $240,000 (£152,000) in damages. The hearing started on 21 January 2013 and is set to last for 10 days.

In its opening statement before the court, Allen & Gledhill denied the allegations. In its defence, the firm claimed that BCG was “contributorily negligent” and alleged that any loss suffered by BCG was on account of Clydes’ advice. The Singaporean firm has subsequently pursued contribution proceedings against Waterson Hicks, which then issued contribution proceedings against Clydes.

Clydes is also seeking a contribution against Allen & Gledhill for any liability arising from breach of duty allegedly owed by Allen & Gledhill to BCG and/or the third parties. However, it would only seek to claim against Allen & Gledhill in the event that the third parties successfully claim against it.

Allen & Gledhill has turned to rival Singaporean firm Drew & Napier’s CEO Davinder Singh, who is a senior counsel (Singapore’s equivalent to QC), for representation on the case, while BCG has instructed Global Law Alliance’s head of litigation Niru Pillai.

Waterson Hicks is represented by Singaporean firm Legal Solutions director Kevin Kwek while Clydes’ legal representation is led by litigation boutique Gurbani & Co founding partner Prem Gurbani.

Although the damages figure claimed is not significant, it is expected to be a hard-fought trial given the complexity of the case and the number of parties involved.

All firms involved declined The Lawyer’s requests for comment as the case is still ongoing.