Stephenson Harwood embarks on formal law alliance with Singapore ally

Stephenson Harwood has formalised its relationship with local firm Virtus Law after its application for a formal law alliance (FLA) was approved by Singapore’s Attorney General’s Chambers.

Stephenson Harwood has been in an exclusive association with the Singaporean firm since May last year following its unsuccessful application for a qualifying foreign law practice licence (1 May 2013). The two have now been given the green light to set up an FLA, under which, they are able to share up to 33 per cent of profit and to work more closely to provide English and Singapore law advice.

Virtus is a successor firm to Arthur Loke LLP, which was established in Singapore in 1981. The six-partner boutique firm is headed by senior partner Arthur Loke and focuses primarily in corporate, commercial, intellectual property and shipping.

The two will work under the banner of The Stephenson Harwood (Singapore) Alliance.

“The alliance with Virtus Law LLP will enable us to offer clients a more tightly integrated service in multi-jurisdictional matters involving English law and permitted areas of Singapore law,” said Martin Green, Stephenson Harwood’s Singapore managing partner.

The strengthened Singapore presence is part of Stephenson Harwood’s Asia push. Recently, the firm has hired DLA Piper’s Korean practice head Michael Kim in a bid to apply for a licence to open an office in Seoul (7 February 2014). Last year, it launched a new office in Beijing (1 May 2013) and an association with U Tin Yu & Associates in Myanmar (8 May 2013).

Singapore passed the amendments to the Legal Profession Act in 2012 that provide increased flexibility and scope for collaboration between foreign and domestic firms. 
Important changes include the introduction of an enhanced FLA scheme, allowing equity and profit-sharing of up to 33 per cent in the event of a tie-up (16 April 2012).

Clifford Chance is another UK firm to have taken advantages of the changes. It has formed an FLA with Singapore litigation boutique Cavenagh Law (11 December 2012).