Essex Court Chambers’ Toby Landau QC has become the first practising silk to be called to the Singapore Bar, another signal of Singapore’s ambition to become a key global dispute resolution hub.

Landau was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1993 and took silk in 2008. He is considered among the best arbitration specialists at the Bar.

Toby Landau

Over the past a few years, Landau has been involved in a growing number of litigation and arbitration cases in Singapore. International and local disputes lawyers in Singapore describe Landau as a “highly sought after” counsel and arbitrator for complex disputes.

For example, he was granted ad hoc admission to argue the complex and long-running legal battle between Malaysia’s Astro media group and Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group, before both the Singapore High Court and Court of Appeal.

It is the first time British QCs have been allowed to conduct advocacy in the Singaporean Court since the enactment of the Singaporean Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill in February 2012.

He has also advised the Singaporean government on a number of international matters, including Singapore’s Railway Land Arbitration against Malaysia in 2014.

Landau told The Lawyer that one of the reasons prompted him to make the move is the increasing amount of work he has done in Singapore.

“I’ve been doing an increasing amount of work in Singapore and have been admitted to the Bar on an ad hoc basis. It’s a natural progression to cement that to a permanent call,” said Landau.

“The feeling among the government and local practitioners in the field is that it’s a good thing to attract international practitioners. There’s a desire to be inclusive and welcome specialist international practitioners.”

Landau said the regulatory process for him to officially start practising in Singapore is still on-going. But he had no plan to set up a law firm nor join a local set in Singapore.

“I’ll maintain my London court practice with Essex Court Chambers but will also include a Singapore base in parallel. I’ll continue to remain an individual advocate and always work alongside local firms as and when I am needed,” he said.

The Singapore government has been active in setting the City State up as a legal hub for the Asia Pacific region over the past several years. In 2012, Singapore’s parliament passed amendments to its Legal Profession Act that will pave the way for foreign firms to merge with local firms and make it easier for foreign QCs to appear in Singapore courts ad hoc.

In January 2015, the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) was established to enhance the nation’s position as a key global dispute resolution hub. It enables cross-border commercial cases to be heard before international judges and allows parties to instruct foreign counsel to argue the case for them.

For the more established Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), its caseload continues to rise. In 2016, SIAC received 343 new cases, up 27 per cent form the 271 cases filed in 2015. The aggregate sum in dispute for all new case filings amounted to $11.85bn (SG$17.13bn).