Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International LawThe Queen's Award for Enterpise 2012
Colin Ong QC
Office:
Suites 2-2 to 2-8
Gadong Properties Centre
Km 3-6, Jalan Gadong
BE 4119
City:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Country:
Brunei
Tel:
+673 2 420 913
Fax:
+673 2 420 911

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Colin Ong is a member of the Brunei, English and Singapore Bars. He has acted as arbitrator/counsel in over 300 commercial arbitrations under most major rules of arbitration governed by civil and common law. The wide-ranging scope of his arbitration work includes finance, insurance, investment, joint ventures, energy, mining, technology and general commercial disputes.

He has been visiting professor at civil and common law universities, including the University of Hong Kong; the National Universities of Malaysia and Singapore; King’s College London; and the University of Indonesia.

What inspired you to enter the legal profession and international arbitration?

I have been blessed with an excellent ability to recollect both facts and minute details since my early childhood. I was often engaged in debates with my teachers who encouraged me to challenge their views on general reasoning. After entering the legal profession, the late Sir Michael Kerr (former judge of the English Court of Appeal) was an inspiring mentor who first introduced and encouraged me to focus on international arbitration.

You have sat as an arbitrator and acted as counsel on a wide variety of disputes. Have you consciously attempted to maintain a broad practice?

I have not consciously attempted to maintain a broad practice, but it has happened that way, as I have been fortunate enough to have been given many opportunities to act in differing areas of practice by my clients and instructing solicitors. Although I was initially trained as a common law lawyer, I have been fortunate to have worked with a large number of the leading civil law practitioners in different countries for the last 15 years. As a result, I had been given numerous opportunities to serve as arbitrator and to act as counsel in many complex arbitrations. This has all had a cumulative effect, enabling me to take on the challenge of working in a wide variety of different fields of practice across different jurisdictions.

Have you considered becoming a full-time arbitrator in the future? If so, how would you develop your practice to move towards that goal?

Obviously, by this stage of my professional career, the answer is “yes”. I have been steadily moving in the direction of becoming a full-time arbitrator. I believe, however, that I shall continue to have a mixed arbitrator/counsel portfolio at least for the next five years, as I am being continually pulled into arbitrations to act as lead or co-counsel by clients and solicitors.

I have been actively practising across seven jurisdictions for many years now and have deliberately divided up my practice so as to be able to sit more as an arbitrator in some jurisdictions and to practice more as lead counsel in others.

How do you compete with larger international arbitration practices in the market?

I do not compete with the other larger international arbitration practices, since I do regard them as competitors, but rather as “professional colleagues”. I find that there is more than enough work to go around, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. I have also been fortunate in having many of these larger practices, against whom I have appeared in the past, ask me to join them as co-counsel in some of the larger and more complex disputes that I have acted in. They have sought me out and required me to deploy my skill sets as an advocate and strategist and to use my broad-based legal expertise.

Also, those who have worked with or against me, know that I generally conduct large commercial disputes with a minimal number of junior counsel. Some clients, particularly those from Asia, insist on small skeletal legal teams and instructions from such clients are not usually of particular interest to the larger international arbitration practices.

What is the greatest challenge currently facing practitioners in this area?

The greatest challenge currently facing arbitrators and counsel is the issue of perceived conflicts. To my mind, it is going to become almost impossible for barristers in larger sets of chambers or very specialist sets to sit as international arbitrators outside the UK and Hong Kong. The same applies to attorneys and solicitors in larger firms who also practice as arbitrators.

I predict that there will be a significant growth in the migration of leading partners from larger law firms and of barristers from larger chambers to small niche practices.

How has the practice developed during your career?

In the earlier years of my practice, as arbitrator and counsel, I was predominantly involved in handling matters governed by common law and which came from Commonwealth countries. After a time, however, I came to be drawn into an increasing number of civil law cases and have since been spending a significant part of my time working on large quantum disputes emanating from the Asia-Pacific, including China and Japan, and from ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

What has been your proudest moment in practice?

My proudest moments have been seeing young lawyers who I have mentored over the years succeed and advance to leading positions in international law practices.

In your opinion, where do you anticipate the future of the practice lies?

The onslaught of globalisation is relentless. Businesses and professionals alike will have to navigate across a labyrinth of laws and cross-border regulations. The development of the EU appears to have peaked, while the economies in East Asia and the ASEAN are increasingly advancing and converging.

I have been described by various colleagues as one of the pioneer thought leaders on ASEAN cross-border legal convergence in the late 1990s. While the pace of legal convergence has not been as fast as I had anticipated, it has progressed and I believe that the future of practice, at least for me, appears to be more likely to take place in this region.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Banking: Finance

Colin Ong is a partner of Dr Colin Ong Legal Services and a member of the Brunei, English and Singapore bars. He has broad experience as an adviser and as counsel in court litigation and commercial and investment arbitration matters covering many areas of banking and finance, including: construction and infrastructure projects (bridges, downstream projects; pipelines, ports; roads), mining sectors, energy (coal mining; oil and gas and supply contracts; production-sharing contracts; electricity supply), information technology, and aircraft and shipping financing.

He has broad and deep specialist experience across a wide spectrum of banking law and financial services practice. He is regularly instructed by government-owned companies; major corporations as well as banks and major law firms to work as part of the drafting team and to provide front-end advice on commodities supply; cross-border structured finance transactions in major energy projects; power-purchase agreements; and major infrastructure and IT projects. He regularly provides advice under English, Singapore and Brunei laws across various aspects of derivatives, financial collateral, Islamic banking, revolving credit facilities, securities lending, structured finance, swaps and syndication of loans. He advises financial institutions and their holding companies on regulatory issues and is regularly instructed by banks and financial services entities (including hedge funds) to provide advice in the development of new financial products and services for the ASEAN markets. He advises financial entities on how to structure and market securities products without triggering off securities laws, and represents banks, private equity and hedge funds in connection with new banking products. He is also regularly consulted on new Islamic banking products for project finance, insurance products and risk management and the avoidance of riba and gharar.

He advises institutions without the requisite financial licences on how to work within the applicable securities legislation and has also had experiences in providing assistance to financial regulators on feedback as to regulations and comparative law. He works with financial and non-traditional financial clients on a broad array of regulatory compliance issues, including issues related to anti-money laundering, anti-bribery and anti-terrorist financing.

As counsel, he has much experience in dealing with various aspects of civil fraud, enforcement, asset-freezing measures and tracing relief.

He holds several legal qualifications including LLB (Sheffield), LLM, PhD in Law (Queen Mary, London), FCIArb, FMIArb, FSIArb and DiplCArb. He is a visiting professor of law or has been a visiting professor in both civil and common law jurisdictions.

He has been on various editorial boards including Butterworths Journal of International Banking & Financial Law and Maritime Risk International since 2000. He was a core drafting member of the current Malaysian PAM 2006 Standard Building Forms of Contract.

WWL says: Colin Ong QC is a firm favourite among clients who praise his “deep familiarity with, and experience of, financial instruments”.

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

Who's Who Legal Construction: Lawyers

Colin Ong is the senior partner of Dr Colin Ong Legal Services and a member of the Brunei, English and Singapore bars. He has broad experience as counsel in both court litigation as well as counsel in commercial and investment arbitration matters covering many commercial areas including: banking and finance, construction and infrastructure projects (bridges, downstream projects; pipelines, ports; power plants; roads), insurance, mining and minerals disputes, energy disputes (coal mining and supply disputes, power purchase agreements, production sharing contracts, electricity supply, gas contracts and oil exploration joint ventures), information technology, intellectual property, shipping, telecoms, technology transfer and general commercial trade-related matters. He has acted as arbitrator and counsel in many arbitrations governed under civil law as well as under common law applying most major institutional rules as well as UNCITRAL rules.

He is recommended as a leading arbitrator and counsel in a number of publications. Feedback includes: “He is always exceptionally fast in absorbing points and extremely patient,” (Chambers and Partners, 2013); “noted for his ability to summarise and condense complex legal arguments and concepts,” (Chambers and Partners, 2014); and “commercially focused with the ability to react extremely quickly when presented with any sudden problems,” (Asialaw Profiles, 2014) and “A very able advocate and arbitrator with a supreme command of legal issues.” (The Legal 500 - Asia Pacific, 2017).

He has sat as arbitrator or conducted many large quantum arbitrations as counsel under AAA, BANI, CIETAC, HKIAC, ICC, ICDR, KLRCA, LCIA, LMAA, SIAC, UNCITRAL and WIPO rules under many applicable laws including English, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Hong Kong, PRC, Singapore and Thai law. He qualified as a barrister in England and Wales in 1991 and is a master of the bench of the Inner Temple in England. He is an associate member of St Philips Stone Chambers in London and counsel at Eldan Law LLP in Singapore. He is a chartered arbitrator and holds several legal qualifications including LLB (Sheffield), LLM, PhD in Law (Queen Mary, London), FCIArb, FMIArb, FSIArb and DiplCArb. He is and has been visiting professor at both civil and common law jurisdictions including the University of Hong Kong; the National University of Malaysia (UKM), the National University of Singapore, University of Malaya, Kings College (London), Universitas Indonesia, Padjajaran University (Indonesia) and Queen Mary, University of London. Member, Task Force of ICC Commission (Arbitration). Member, Task Force of ICCA-Queen Mary (Costs and Third Party funding).

He is the author of several legal texts including chapters in leading books on the subject of advocacy, arbitration and cross-examination and is on the editorial board of several international journals including Arbitration (CIArb); Asian International Arbitration Journal; Business Law International; Butterworths Journal of International Banking & Financial Law; Badan Arbitrase Nasional Indonesia Journal; China-ASEAN Law Review Dispute Resolution International; and Maritime Risk International.

He is the president of the Arbitration Association Brunei Darussalam; advisory member of the China-ASEAN Legal Research Centre; vice president of APRAG; vice chair of IPBA arbitration committee; advisory councillor of Indonesian National Board of Arbitration (BANI); vice president of Thailand Arbitration Center (THAC) and board member of Cambodia National Commercial Arbitration Centre. He is listed by Global Arbitration Review as one of the 45 leading international arbitration practitioners under the age of 45. He has been a consultant to the ASEAN Centre for Energy and panel (nominee of Brunei Darussalam) of the ASEAN Protocol on Enhanced Dispute Settlement Mechanism. He is a former vice chairman of the IBA arbitration committee; a former vice president of the LCIA Asia Pacific Users Council; and was a core drafting member of the Malaysian PAM 2006 Standard Building Forms of Contract. His languages include English, Chinese and Malay.

WWL says: Colin Ong QC is a global arbitration expert, acting as counsel and arbitrator on a range of energy, mining and telecoms disputes, among others.

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

Who's Who Legal Litigation: Lawyers

Colin Ong is the senior partner of Dr Colin Ong Legal Services; a Queen's Counsel and associate member of St Philips Stone Chambers in London; and counsel at Eldan Law LLP in Singapore. He has broad experiences as counsel in both court litigation as well as counsel in commercial and investment arbitration matters covering many commercial areas including: banking and finance, construction and infrastructure projects (bridges, downstream projects; pipelines, ports; roads), insurance, mining and minerals disputes, energy disputes (coal mining and supply disputes, production sharing contracts, electricity supply, gas contracts and oil exploration joint ventures), information technology, intellectual property, shipping, telecoms, technology transfer and general commercial trade-related matters. He has acted as arbitrator and counsel in many arbitrations governed under civil law as well as under common law applying most major institutional rules as well as UNCITRAL rules.

He is recommended as a leading arbitrator and counsel in a number of publications. Feedback includes: "Dr Ong's unsurpassed legal and technical knowledge of the oil and gas industry and construction industry," (IFLR 2012); "He is always exceptionally fast in absorbing points and extremely patient," (Chambers & Partners 2013); "He is noted for his ability to summarise and condense complex legal arguments and concepts," (Chambers & Partners 2014); and "He is commercially focused with the ability to react extremely quickly when presented with any sudden problems," (Asialaw Profiles 2014). "A very able advocate and arbitrator with a supreme command of legal issues." (Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2017)

He has sat as arbitrator or conducted many large quantum arbitrations as counsel under AAA, BANI, CIETAC, HKIAC, ICC, ICDR, KLRCA, LCIA, LMAA, SIAC, UNCITRAL and WIPO rules under many applicable laws including English, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Hong Kong, PRC, Singapore and Thai law. He is master of the bench of the Inner Temple; a chartered arbitrator and holds legal qualifications including LLB (Sheffield), LLM, PhD in Law (Queen Mary, London), FCIArb, FMIArb, FSIArb and DiplCArb. He is a visiting professor of law or has been a visiting professor at both civil and common law jurisdictions including the University of Hong Kong; National University of Malaysia (UKM), the National University of Singapore, University of Malaya, Kings College (London), Universitas Indonesia, Padjajaran University (Indonesia) and Queen Mary, University of London.

 

He is the author of several legal texts including chapters in leading books on the subject of advocacy, arbitration and cross-examination and is on the editorial board of several international journals including Arbitration (CIArb); Asian International Arbitration Journal; Business Law International; Butterworths Journal of International Banking & Financial Law; Badan Arbitrase Nasional Indonesia Journal; China-ASEAN Law Review Dispute Resolution International; and Maritime Risk International.

He is president of the Arbitration Association Brunei Darussalam; advisory member of the China-ASEAN Legal Research Centre; vice president of APRAG; advisory councillor of Indonesian National Board of Arbitration (BANI); and board member of Cambodia National Commercial Arbitration Centre. Listed by Global Arbitration Review as one of the 45 leading international arbitration practitioners under 45. He is listed as one of the top 30 lawyers in the world by Expert Guides: Best of the Best 2017 (Arbitration). He was lead counsel before the Singapore Court of Appeal in PGN v CRW [2015] SGCA 30 which was named runner up most important decision globally of 2015 at the 2016 GAR Awards. He has been a consultant to the ASEAN Centre for Energy and panel of the ASEAN Protocol on Enhanced Dispute Settlement Mechanism. A former vice chair of IBA arbitration committee; a former vice president of the LCIA Asia Pacific Users Council; and a core drafting member of the Malaysian PAM 2006 Standard Building Forms of Contract. His languages include English, Chinese and Malay.

WWL says: Colin Ong QC continues to be highly sought after for his leading litigation abilities in the finance, construction and energy sectors where he is "a serious talent".

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

Who's Who Legal Mediation

Colin Ong is the senior partner of Dr Colin Ong Legal Services and a member of the Brunei, English and Singapore bars. He has broad experience as counsel in both court litigation as well as in commercial and investment arbitration matters covering many commercial areas including: banking and finance, construction and infrastructure projects (bridges, downstream projects; pipelines, ports; power plants; roads), insurance, mining and minerals disputes, energy disputes (coal mining and supply disputes, power purchase agreements, production sharing contracts, electricity supply, gas contracts and oil exploration joint ventures), information technology, intellectual property, shipping, telecoms, technology transfer and general commercial trade-related matters. He has acted as arbitrator and counsel in many arbitrations governed under civil law as well as under common law applying most major institutional rules as well as UNCITRAL rules.

He is recommended as a leading arbitrator and counsel in a number of publications. Feedback includes: “He is always exceptionally fast in absorbing points and extremely patient” (Chambers and Partners, 2013); “noted for his ability to summarise and condense complex legal arguments and concepts” (Chambers and Partners, 2014); and “commercially focused with the ability to react extremely quickly when presented with any sudden problems” (Asialaw Profiles, 2014) and “A very able advocate and arbitrator with a supreme command of legal issues.” (The Legal 500 - Asia Pacific, 2017).

He has sat as arbitrator or conducted many large quantum arbitrations as counsel under AAA, BANI, CIETAC, HKIAC, ICC, ICDR, KLRCA, LCIA, LMAA, SIAC, UNCITRAL and WIPO rules under many applicable laws including English, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Hong Kong, PRC, Singapore and Thai law. He qualified as a barrister in England and Wales in 1991 and is a master of the bench of the Inner Temple in England. He is an associate member of St Philips Stone Chambers in London and counsel at Eldan Law LLP in Singapore. He is a chartered arbitrator and holds several legal qualifications including LLB (Sheffield), LLM, PhD in Law (Queen Mary, London), FCIArb, FMIArb, FSIArb and DiplCArb. He is and has been visiting professor at both civil and common law jurisdictions including the University of Hong Kong; the National University of Malaysia (UKM), the National University of Singapore, University of Malaya, Kings College (London), Universitas Indonesia, Padjajaran University (Indonesia) and Queen Mary, University of London. Member, Task Force of ICC Commission (Arbitration). Member, Task Force of ICCA-Queen Mary (costs and third-party funding).

He is the author of several legal texts including chapters in leading books on the subject of advocacy, arbitration and cross-examination and is on the editorial board of several international journals including Arbitration (CIArb); Asian International Arbitration JournalBusiness Law InternationalButterworths Journal of International Banking & Financial LawBadan Arbitrase Nasional Indonesia JournalChina-ASEAN Law Review Dispute Resolution International; and Maritime Risk International.

He is the president of the Arbitration Association Brunei Darussalam; advisory member of the China-ASEAN Legal Research Centre; vice president of APRAG; vice chair of IPBA arbitration committee; advisory councillor of Indonesian National Board of Arbitration (BANI); vice president of Thailand Arbitration Center (THAC) and board member of Cambodia National Commercial Arbitration Centre. He is listed by Global Arbitration Review as one of the 45 leading international arbitration practitioners under the age of 45. He has been a consultant to the ASEAN Centre for Energy and panel (nominee of Brunei Darussalam) of the ASEAN Protocol on Enhanced Dispute Settlement Mechanism. He is a former vice chairman of the IBA arbitration committee; a former vice president of the LCIA Asia Pacific Users Council; and was a core drafting member of the Malaysian PAM 2006 Standard Building Forms of Contract. His languages include English, Chinese and Malay.

WWL says: Colin Ong QC is one of Brunei's leading mediators; he is recommended for his excellent disputes skills and ability to reach solutions that work for his clients.

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

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