Saturday, 24 June 2017

Singapore wins Most Improved Jurisdiction award at Global Restructuring Review Awards 2017

London awards boost to Singapore's efforts to be global insolvency and restructuring hub
Republic lauded for efforts to help troubled firms
By K.C. Vijayan, Senior Law Correspondent, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2017

Singapore's efforts to be positioned as a major restructuring and insolvency hub received a boost in London on Wednesday when it was named the Most Improved Jurisdiction, fending off the likes of Germany, India and other nominees at an international awards event.

The inaugural award by the Global Restructuring Review (GRR) recognised recent ground-breaking legislative changes made by Singapore to its debt restructuring framework, resulting in a hybrid regime that incorporates the best features of the world's leading regimes, said the Law Ministry yesterday.

Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said the recognition was significant because "we are positioning Singapore as a restructuring centre in Asia and it is the first time we have won these awards".

She added on the sidelines of the ground-breaking ceremony for Maxwell Chambers Suites: "In the past few years, we've seen many companies which have had difficulties. There's Swiber, there's Ezra, there's Hanjin Shipping. There's clearly a need in Asia for a place where such companies can be restructured, and Singapore has positioned itself to be such a place."

GRR is a daily information service providing cross-border insolvency and restructuring news, features and events.

Singapore also received the award for Most Important Overall Development, for the guidelines on cross-border insolvency matters that were drawn up and released by the Judicial Insolvency Network (JIN).

The JIN, made up of judges from 10 jurisdictions, including the Singapore Supreme Court, met in Singapore last year to discuss and draw up the guidelines.

Two Singapore High Court decisions were also nominated for Most Important Recognition Decision and Cross Border Cooperation in a Specific Insolvency or Restructuring Matter.

The inaugural GRR Awards celebrate the most important firms, cases and marketplace developments in cross-border restructuring and insolvency, said the ministry.

In awarding Singapore the Most Improved Jurisdiction prize, accepted by Justice Kannan Ramesh at the event, the organisers noted that the Republic had made changes to its Companies Act relating to restructuring and insolvency. It had also introduced refinements to its scheme of arrangement incorporating elements from abroad.

The Law Ministry thanked all local and international contributors who had made the results possible. and said it "looks forward to extending these strong partnerships as we continue to strengthen Singapore as a centre for international debt restructuring in Asia".

Additional reporting by Prisca Ang

Singapore law firm in global top 30
By K.C. Vijayan, Senior Law Correspondent, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2017

WongPartnership became the only Singapore firm ranked on the Global Restructuring Review's (GRR) global top 30 law firms list for insolvency and restructuring.

Called the GRR30, these firms top a list of 100 firms identified by GRR in its guide to the world's best cross-border practices "as a safe pair of hands for carrying out insolvency and restructuring work with an international dimension".

WongPartnership, the only national firm from Asia in the top 30, was selected based on its track record, value of current cross-border restructuring and insolvency cases and the number of such active matters handled in the last two years.

The Singapore giant was also nominated for two other awards at the GRR Awards dinner held in London on Wednesday.

Mr Manoj Pillay Sandrasegara, the joint head of the firm's restructuring and insolvency practice who attended the London event, said: "The innovative legislative amendments by our Government has been a game changer in strengthening Singapore's ability to help troubled companies in the region rehabilitate effectively."

He said the firm was honoured by the international recognition of its practice, which he said was on the forefront of developments shaping Singapore's restructuring and insolvency laws. "For this, we thank our valued clients who continue to entrust to us, their most complex and important cross-border insolvency matters."

Red Dot Traffic Building renamed Maxwell Chambers Suites
By Prisca Ang, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2017

To meet increasing demand for office space at Maxwell Chambers, the Government will have a second annexe of 3,500 sq ft built at the adjacent former Red Dot Traffic Building, now renamed the Maxwell Chambers Suites.

This is on top of the 120,000 sq ft - the equivalent of 100 five-room flats - expansion announced earlier this year.

The $25 million refurbishment and conservation project is expected to be completed in 2019, said the Ministry of Law (MinLaw).

The Red Dot Design Museum's lease ended in April. It will be relocated to the Marina Bay City Gallery by the last quarter of this year.

MinLaw said tenants have already taken up 65 per cent of the new office space and include The Arbitration Chambers, headed by Professor Lawrence Boo, and London barristers One Essex Court.

The Maxwell Chambers Suites will also house ancillary services firm Opus 2, an international company which specialises in transcription and hearing room services.

The details were revealed yesterday at a ground-breaking ceremony for the redevelopment of the site.

By 2021, the area will be served by the present Tanjong Pagar MRT station and the upcoming Maxwell and Shenton Way stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line.

Maxwell Chambers Suites will have four floors of about 50 offices for dispute resolution institutions, arbitration chambers, law firms and other ancillary service providers.

An overhead link-bridge will connect Maxwell Chambers and Maxwell Chambers Suites.

"Our vision is for Maxwell Chambers to be a base in Asia for all major players," said Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah yesterday.

"This is part of our larger plan to take dispute resolution in Singapore to the next level over the next decade."

On Wednesday, Singapore won international recognition for ground-breaking legislative changes made to its debt restructuring framework, and decisions in the High Court.

Singapore has seen 10 investment arbitration hearings this year, which have already been held, or are going to be held later in the year. This is double the number in 2013.

Ms Indranee said: "These are typically complex and high-stakes cases that provide good exposure for our legal talent, and raise our profile as a dispute resolution centre."

* Permanent Court of Arbitration to set up office in Singapore
New global arbitration office to open in next 6 months to meet demand for dispute resolution
By Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 26 Jul 2017

A new office to serve the dispute-resolution needs of states and businesses in Asia will soon be set up here - the latest in a series of recent developments in international arbitration.

To be housed at the Maxwell Chambers within the next six months, it will be the Permanent Court of Arbitration's (PCA) first office in Asia and second - after Mauritius - outside its Hague headquarters in the Netherlands.

It will allow the PCA to administer the growing number of its cases being heard in the region, said the PCA and the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in a statement yesterday.

While there were four such cases in 2015, at least seven have been or will be heard in Singapore this year.

Yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah and PCA Secretary-General Hugo Siblesz signed an agreement to set up the new office here, instead of holding dispute-resolution hearings on an ad hoc basis without a staffed office.

Ms Indranee noted that Singapore has been a "client" of the PCA's dispute-resolution services twice: once in 2003 involving Singapore's dispute with Malaysia over land-reclamation activities in the Strait of Johor; and the other in 2012 involving development charges on former Malayan Railway land.

"Significant investor-state arbitrations administered by the PCA, such as the Philip Morris v Australia arbitration, were seated in Singapore" as well, said Mr Siblesz, referring to a case involving the tobacco giant and Australia's plain packaging laws. He said also that the new agreement "opens a new door to expanded cooperation" between the PCA and MinLaw.

PCA's new office will eventually move to the new Maxwell Chambers Suites in 2019 when the complex is completed.

There, it will be housed alongside other international dispute-resolution institutions such as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

The new agreement will "further augment Singapore's position as an international hub for dispute resolution, and particularly in the new area of investment dispute resolution", said Ms Indranee.

It is the latest in a series of such developments. Last month, it was announced that a new case-management office - allowing international arbitration cases to be handled here - will start operations in the first quarter of next year at Maxwell Chambers. Earlier in the year, legislation was amended allowing third-party funding in international commercial arbitration here, offering businesses an additional financing and risk-management tool.

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