Most Highly Regarded Firms: Singapore 2007 – Regulatory Communications
The research for this chapter has identified 11 individuals, all of whom are recommended for their expertise in the representation of telecoms clients before communications ministries and government regulators. Our research has targeted private practice lawyers with an expertise in offering advice to corporates on questions of licensing, interconnection, tariffs and other general aspects of compliance with the regulatory regime. Given the close relationship between the regulation of communications and competition law, two of practitioners on the following pages appear in both chapters.
Rajah & Tann significantly bolstered its practice in the area thanks to the recruitment of Andrew CL Ong, who joined the firm in October 2007. Ong previously headed the info-communications and technology business group at Drew & Napier and he focuses on IT, telecoms and media law from regulatory and transactional perspectives. Ong was retained as local counsel advising on the formulation of the Information Development Authority’s Telecom Competition Code as well as the Media Development Authority’s Market Conduct Code. During the course our research he received more nominations than any other practitioner. His telecoms practice is wide-ranging and he has advised regulatory and other government authorities as well as private operators on legal and policy frameworks as well as market access and interconnection issues. He has also handled public tenders and spectrum auctions on behalf of clients, as well as drafting and negotiating industry contracts for a long list of blue-chip clients. Lau Kok Keng is also highly thought of. He has a broad-based practice incorporating intellectual property, IT, e-commerce and telecoms. He has also recently been instrumental in the development of the firm’s sports law practice and is increasingly busy on issues related to gambling law. On the communications front he recently advised a television broadcaster on the regulatory requirements on SMS voting. Sources recommended Lau as an “excellent litigator” and he is joined by partner Rajesh Sreenivasan, one of the area’s most respected figures. Sreenivasan’s practice is regional and engagements of note include working for the ASEAN Secretariat to help facilitate a pan- ASEAN forum on regulatory and legislative reforms to address the convergence of telecoms, IT and broadcasting across the 10 member countries. Sreenivasan is also active outside the region, having helped to draft the ICT regulations in Mongolia and assisted on the formation of the ICT framework in Lesotho. He has also advised state authorities in Fiji and Canada on regulatory compliance and statutory interpretation matters. With three of the practice area’s leading individuals on their team it is unsurprising that one source praised Rajah & Tann as “hard to beat”.
Shook Lin & Bok LLP is the only other firm with more than one entry in this chapter. The “outstanding” Jim Lim was consistently recommended, combining a strong regulatory practice with expertise in IP and technology litigation. Lim chairs The Law Society of Singapore’s IT committee and is one of the area’s most respected practitioners. Daniel Lim also combines a strong IP and telecoms practice and is vice chairman of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association’s intellectual property committee. He was variously described as “excellent”, “outstanding” and “experienced”.
Philip Rapp at Clifford Chance Wong Pte Limited has over 15 years’ experience in the Asian markets and is one of the chapter’s high-flyers. Rapp has been involved in many significant matters in the region and is currently advising the major shareholders in Malaysia’s Maxis Communications on its strategic partnership with Saudi Telecom. The deal is valued at over S$3 billion. He also continues to advise an international telecommunications company regarding the privatisation process of MobiFone, VinaPhone and Viettel Mobile, Vietnam’s three state-owned mobile telecoms companies. Joyce Tan established Joyce A Tan & Partners in 1998 and is a “major player” in the market, according to sources. Her strong technology practice complements her telecommunications expertise and she has worked on a number of telecoms infrastructure projects. Tan counts multinationals and government bodies among her clients and has a good reputation for cross-border matters. The “outstanding” Kenneth Chia at Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow is said to be “particularly good at the intersection between telecoms and antitrust” and consequently appears in both chapters. Chia represents telecoms companies, software corporations, computer manufacturers and hi-tech clients on a variety of matters and was consistently recommended by some of the industry’s most respected names. Lim Chong Kin at Drew & Napier LLC also appears in the competition chapter and he advises clients on regulatory, licensing and market access issues. Sources noted that Lim has “worked closely with the Singapore regulator”. Among other matters, he advised on the licensing and regulatory framework for the allocation of radio frequency spectrums for radiocommunications including 3G, LMDS and WBA. He also worked on the 2000 and 2005 Telecom Competition Codes to regulate the telecoms industry in Singapore and is “an experienced and steady pair of hands”.
Tan Wee Meng is a member of the telecommunications, energy and infrastructure group at Allen & Gledhill LLP, where he has worked with both regional and international operators setting up in Singapore. Survey respondents also noted his competition expertise in the regulated industries and he frequently deals with industry regulators. Tan drew praise from all quarters, one source noting that he is “young and talented”. Gilbert Leong, in Rodyk & Davidson LLP’s intellectual property and technology practice, has worked extensively on telecoms regulation, particularly for the regulator. Rated as “one of the best” by sources, he completes the strong contingent in this chapter.