Singapore’s Ministry of Law has confirmed that 23 foreign law firms have applied for the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licence following the two-month window for applications, which closed on 31 August.
The Ministry of Law’s spokesperson said: “The number of licences to be awarded will depend on the quality of applications received for the QFLP exercise”.
The evaluation and selection committee will consider a number of factors when deliberating who will be successful. This includes the firm’s commitment to the amount of offshore work that the Singapore office will do. In addition, it will consider the number of lawyers who will be based in the base, what practice areas it will cover and to what extent the office will function as a headquarters for the firm in the region.
The Lawyer revealed in May that the government of Singapore was inviting more foreign firms to apply for QFLP licences, as the City State continues to liberalise its legal services market (29 May 2012). The Ministry of Law started accepting new applications from 1 July. The successful firms will be announced by the end of this year.
The QFLP licences allow foreign law firms to practise permitted areas of Singapore law. Six law firms – Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith, Lathan & Watkins, Norton Rose and White & Case – were awarded QFLP licences in December 2008 (5 December 2008).
Once approved, the QFLP licensees will have up to six months to set up their Singapore office and their licences will be valid for an initial period of five years from then.