Most Highly Regarded Firms: Singapore 2007 – Competition
The practice of competition law in Singapore is relatively new. The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) was established under the Competition Act on 1 January 2005 and the new merger regime only came into force on 1 July 2007, allowing parties to notify the commission of any proposed merger and to receive a decision as to whether it would infringe section 54 of the Competition Act. A consequence of the relative infancy of the competition regime is a small pool of firms and individuals practising in the area. While firms wait to see the levels of enforcement they will encounter, there are few lawyers dedicating 100 per cent of their time to competition matters.
An indication of this is that, of the seven lawyers selected for this chapter, four also feature in other sections such as regulatory communications, corporate governance, franchise, labour and employment, and real estate. One can be sure, however, that the individuals that we identify were all strongly recommended for their knowledge of what is an increasingly important consideration for local and international companies doing business in Singapore.
Rajah & Tann was one of the first firms in Singapore to establish a competition practice and the first to successfully obtain two public decisions from the CCS. Members of the firm’s competition team played an active part in the consultation process when the laws were first introduced and continue to draw up compliance programmes for clients as well as assisting during investigations. They also advise on the implications of the various competition laws, prepare clients for potential ‘dawn raids’ and draw up and lodge notifications. Rajah & Tann is the sole firm with more than one partner in this chapter. Kala Anandarajah heads the competition and trade law practice group and also features prominently in the corporate governance chapter. Anandarajah is the author of the first book on competition law in Singapore and counts regulators, banks, financial institutions, multinationals and start-ups among her clients. She is a member of the Competition Roundtable set up by the CCS and comes recommended by sources as “very knowledgeable”. Dominique Lombardi brings over 10 years’ experience in European competition laws to the table and is well respected within the market. Lombardi joined the firm as a foreign lawyer in early 2006 having worked both in-house and in private practice in Paris. Rated as “outstanding” and “excellent” she completes a strong showing for Rajah & Tann on the following pages.
Allen & Gledhill LLP “are seriously into the area” according to one prominent source. In the figure of Daren Shiau the firm boasts the most highly nominated practitioner in our research and “a real expert”, according to rivals. Shiau heads the firm’s competition and antitrust practice and has European experience, having been seconded to the London and Brussels offices of Linklaters where he worked on matters involving the UK’s Of- fice of Fair Trading. His international profile resulted in nominations from both local and international respondents to our survey and his highlights in the field include advising on a US Department of Justice Antitrust Division investigation into the Singapore operations of a European multinational for price fixing. Shiau is one of four practitioners appointed to the CCS’s Competition Roundtable established to discuss issues and provide feedback to the commission on initiatives and policies. Susan de Silva at Alban Tay Mahtani & de Silva is another of Singapore’s leading lights and a member of the CCS’s roundtable. A founding member and head of the firm’s corporate and commercial group, she gets nothing but praise for her competition practice. De Silva’s appearance in the franchise and labour & employment chapters is further evidence of the strength and breadth of her practice. A significant amount of her competition work concerns the shipping, gas, electricity, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and IT industries. Recent highlights include drawing up and advising on dawn raid preparedness and response programmes for US multinationals with offices in Singapore. Among other matters ATMD has advised several US-based multinationals on distribution agreements they have entered into and the firm also worked on Singapore’s first competition law appeal fixed to be heard before an appeal panel set up by a government minister. De Silva’s experience and market presence sees her recommended as a “leading player” by our sources.
Lim Chong Kin co-heads the competition law practice group at Drew & Napier LLC and is recommended for his experience in the telecoms sector. Lim works with both trade associations and companies on compliance programmes and he advised a dominant company on enforcement issues relating to competition laws. Kenneth Chia at Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow is another practitioner with a strong telecoms focus and, perhaps unsurprisingly, he also appears in the regulatory communications chapter alongside Lim. Chia is “up to speed on competition” and he works for telecoms companies, software corporations, computer manufacturers and hi-tech clients on antitrust matters.
Ameera Ashraf is a partner in the competition group at WongPartnership and has been active in the area since the implementation of the Competition Act. Aside from her local knowledge she also picked up invaluable experience of UK and EC laws thanks to a secondment with Clifford Chance’s competition group in London. Like others in this chapter, Ashraf advised the regulator on the drafting of its competition framework and she advises clients on issues relating to merger control, restrictive practices, abuse of dominance, the drawing up of compliance programmes and handbooks as well as conducting compliance training. Clients come from sectors such as energy, aviation, telecoms, health care and construction; recent highlights include advising a number of multinationals on possible complaints of breach under section 34 of the Competition Act relating to anti-competitive agreements. The group has also advised industry bodies on the application of the Competition Act to their recommended guidelines.