Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International LawThe Queen's Award for Enterpise 2012
Alvin Yeo SC
Office:
12 Marina Boulevard Level 28
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3
018982
City:
Singapore
Country:
Singapore
Tel:
+65 6416 8142
Fax:
+65 6532 5711/5722

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Alvin Yeo, senior counsel, is the chairman and senior partner of WongPartnership LLP. He was appointed senior counsel of the Supreme Court of Singapore in 2000 at the age of 37, the youngest ever to be so appointed. He is an arbitration and litigation counsel and also has extensive experience in arbitration proceedings in both Singapore and the wider region, primarily in corporate, commercial and infrastructure disputes.

Was it always your plan to pursue a career in arbitration?

I acquired an interest in arbitration early in my career when I became involved in construction and infrastructure disputes, which utilised arbitration as the chosen mode of dispute resolution. From there, my interest was sparked.

Describe your career to date.

My career in arbitration grew in tandem with the international arbitration practice of WongPartnership. So when I received the Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession Award from Chambers & Partners in March, I thought the award a fitting testament to the success of WongPartnership in the Asia-Pacific legal landscape, working alongside my brilliant colleagues over the past 25 years.

How has your practice evolved over the years?

WongPartnership’s arbitration practice evolved with Singapore’s development as an arbitration hub. The firm and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre both started in the early 1990s. In the early days, arbitration was concentrated in the construction field and since WongPartnership had a leading practice in that area, it was a natural development to grow the arbitration practice.

As arbitration in Singapore became more international, so did our practice. The first cases we were involved in had a Singapore element or involved a foreign party who wanted a Singapore co-counsel. When the SIAC started taking off in the 2000s, we had built a solid reputation on what we could do; international clients started approaching us even when there was no Singapore component in the dispute.

What has been the most challenging case you have worked on?

We acted for the Astro group of companies in an international arbitration concerning a failed pay-television venture in Indonesia with claims totalling over US$1.75 billion. Mastering the sheer breadth of issues playing out over multiple proceedings across a span of jurisdictions, with a host of arbitrators, legal counsel, expert and factual witnesses of different nationalities, while executing an overall, coordinated strategy, was the biggest challenge.

What do you foresee in the future for the disputes sector?

The future is bright for arbitration with Singapore as the leading arbitration venue in Asia. Along with the growth of international commercial arbitration, we are seeing more investor-state disputes seated in Singapore.

WongPartnership was the first Singapore law firm as sole counsel on record in an ICSID arbitration, where we defeated an ICSID claim brought against Papua New Guinea for expropriation of the shares in a mining company with more than $1.5 billion in assets. We secured a ground-breaking victory for foreign investors against Laos in respect of investment treaty claims valued at over US$1 billion arising from the misappropriation of gaming investments. We are acting for investors against Lesotho’s application to set aside an investment treaty award finding the state liable for denial of justice.

Singapore is all about the rule of law and good governance. It is known as a country with zero tolerance for corruption. When added to the concentration of legal talent based here, I believe Singapore will continue to grow as a centre for international dispute resolution.

As WongPartnership celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, how has the firm managed to stay ahead of the competition over the years, when attracting new clients and maintaining existing relationships?

Compared to our main rivals, we are a younger and I believe, more dynamic partnership. We have a regional presence and have established twin strengths in transactional work and dispute resolution. The Legal 500: Asia-Pacific (2017) rankings bear this out: WongPartnership is the only Singapore law firm to receive top rankings in our M&A, capital markets, litigation and arbitration practices in the last 10 years. As we continue our journey as a leading law firm in the Asia-Pacific, we remain firmly committed to building a winning partnership with all our clients.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

Alvin Yeo, Senior Counsel, is the chairman and senior partner of WongPartnership LLP.

His main practice comprises counsel work for corporate, commercial and infrastructure disputes, both in litigation and arbitration. Alvin has also acted as arbitrator in disputes involving projects in various parts of Asia.

Alvin is a member of the Court of the SIAC, the ICC Commission on Arbitration, the Panel of Disciplinary Tribunal Chairmen of The Singapore Medical Council and the Appeals Advisory Panel of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). He is also the vice president of the LCIA Asia Pacific Users' Council, a fellow of the SIArb and is on the panel of arbitrators of the ICDR, HKIAC, KCAB, KLRCA and SCIA.

Alvin graduated from King's College London, University of London, and was admitted to the English Bar (Gray's Inn) in 1987 and the Singapore Bar in 1988. In January 2000, Alvin became the youngest lawyer to be appointed Senior Counsel.

In 2017, Alvin was honoured with the "Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession" Award from Chambers Asia-Pacific and was listed as "Lawyer of the Year" for Arbitration and Mediation in Singapore by Best Lawyers 2017.

Described by Chambers Global as "the most impressive, as an advocate, out of all the Singapore firms", he is acknowledged for his prominent international profile and regional recognition. Alvin is also recognised as a leading litigation and arbitration counsel in international legal directories such as The Legal 500, IFLR1000, Chambers Global, Chambers Asia-Pacific, Expert Guides, Who's Who Legal and Best Lawyers.

WWL says: The "exceptional" Alvin Yeo is "a real star" in the market, who draws effusive praise from commentators for his extensive experience in the field.

 

 

 

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Arbitration which can be purchased from our Shop.

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