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Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Chan Leng Sun SC is “among the very best disputes lawyers in the world” and is celebrated for being “an extremely bright and sharp advocate” as well as his “calm demeanour and excellent rapport with clients”.

Questions & Answers

Chan Leng Sun SC is a Senior Counsel of the Supreme Court of Singapore. He practises as an independent counsel and arbitrator from Duxton Hill Chambers (Singapore Group Practice). He is qualified in Malaysia, Singapore and England. He has acted as counsel and has sat as arbitrator in numerous jurisdictions on a wide range of matters, including technical disputes, maritime law, international trade, insurance and company law. Leng Sun is the deputy chairman of the SIAC Board of Directors and a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR. He is a chartered arbitrator and a specialist mediator of the Singapore International Mediation Centre. 

What do you enjoy most about practising as a litigator? 

Reducing a complex set of facts to a few fundamental points that will turn the case. The exchanges with well-prepared and knowledgeable judges on the issues that can lead to clarification or development of the law.

What are the advantages of working as independent counsel as opposed to a solicitor at a firm? 

Fewer conflicts of interest, the opportunity to work with a variety of law firms and the ability to customise a team for the case at hand.

How effective do you think virtual hearings have been this year in Singapore?

Very effective. Virtual hearings have been indispensable in moving cases along in 2020. Many cases were brought to a conclusion by virtual hearings, in court and in arbitration, that would otherwise have been delayed, indefinitely, if we had waited for an end to social distancing and travel restrictions.

For readers unfamiliar with barristers’ chambers, could you explain the most prominent differences between how chambers such as yours and law firms approach litigation briefs? 

A law firm will take on all aspects of case handling, from the initial instructions to collecting evidence, interviews, external correspondence, drafting and filings. Our barrister-type chambers (we are called advocates in Singapore rather than barristers) focuses on advocacy. This will include some other aspects such as taking instructions to ascertain the facts, advising on evidence and law, and settling the pleadings. But the main focus of work and where our value comes in are written and oral advocacy. We will work with law firms that provide administrative and legal support, relying on them for the day-to-day running of the case. 

You also have significant experience with arbitration proceedings. How does this enhance your litigation practice and vice versa?

My years of experience with international arbitration have taught me to look beyond common law traditions. It has taught me that there is more than one way to conduct a case. Court litigation can benefit from some flexibility to get to the substance of the case rather than being bogged down in procedural technicalities. On the other hand, arbitration needs to be managed firmly so that the process does not run wild with a lack of discipline. In addition, being an arbitrator has enabled me to see things from the perspective of an adjudicator. I understand better what a judge would look for and what arguments or tactics are likely or unlikely to work. 

How do you see litigation practice evolving in Singapore over the next five years?

Changes are definitely under way. The current chief justice is someone who is experienced with many types of dispute processes. Rules of procedure are already at an advanced stage of review aimed at a more progressive way to litigate. The key themes are to reduce time and costs, with more case management powers to the judges. A significant development has already taken place in January 2021, with the launch of the new Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, to complement and reduce the workload of the Court of Appeal.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to be in your position one day? 

Be careful what you wish for! On a more serious note, I am here by a serendipitous combination of hard work, perseverance and good luck. Choose the area of practice that you are interested in, because that is what you will be spending much of your waking hours on. Have integrity, industry and intelligence. You may think that the last criterion is immutable, but whatever your natural gift, it can certainly be enhanced by learning. Learn as much as you can and always try to improve your skills. Be collegiate and be willing to help others, as people will always prefer to work with someone they like and trust. 

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I have a long way to go as I am merely walking in the shadows of many giants. But I am thankful to be where I am. I hope that I will continue to be a counsel and arbitrator of choice.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"Our go-to choice of arbitrator for an important case"
"He is an extremely bright and sharp advocate"
"He's worth every single cent he charges"
"Among the very best disputes lawyers in the world"

Biography

Leng Sun is a Senior Counsel of the Supreme Court of Singapore. He is the deputy chairman of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the SGX Appeals Committee. He is a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR, and the advisory panel of the Singapore Maritime Foundation. Leng Sun is qualified in Malaysia, Singapore and England. He frequently acts as lead counsel in a broad range of commercial disputes including technical disputes, maritime law, international trade, insurance, company law and financial fraud.

Leng Sun is a chartered arbitrator; a specialist mediator of the Singapore International Mediation Centre; the immediate past president of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (SIArb); and the former global head of arbitration of an international law firm. He has acted as counsel, or sat as arbitrator, in arbitrations seated in Asia, Europe and the USA under ad hoc and institutional rules. He is a chair of the arbitration panel jointly appointed by the EU and Korea, under the protocol on cultural cooperation of the Korea-EU FTA. Leng Sun was a Singapore delegate to the UNCITRAL working group on arbitration and a legal officer of the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva. He is a member of the Committee that wrote the White Paper to set up the Singapore International Commercial Court.

Leng Sun has taught at the law schools of the National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University. He is the author of Singapore Law on Arbitral Awards and co-editor of Conflict of Laws in Arbitration.

Leng Sun is recognised among the top lawyers worldwide by The Legal 500: Asia Pacific (2019), Who's Who Legal: Thought Leaders – Litigation (2021), Who's Who Legal: Arbitration (2021) and Acritas Stars 2020. He is described by Chambers Asia-Pacific (2017) as "one of the best arbitrators and practitioners in arbitration”.

Litigation 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Leng Sun Chan SC is "among the very best disputes lawyers in the world" and is celebrated for his "profound knowledge of shipping law" as well as his "calm demeanour and excellent rapport with clients".

Biography

Leng Sun is a senior counsel of the Supreme Court of Singapore. He is the deputy chairman of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the SGX appeals committee. He is a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR, and the advisory panel of the Singapore Maritime Foundation. Leng Sun is qualified in Malaysia, Singapore and England. He frequently acts as lead counsel in a broad range of commercial disputes including technical disputes, maritime law, international trade, insurance, company law and financial fraud.

Leng Sun is a chartered arbitrator; a specialist mediator of the Singapore International Mediation Centre; the immediate past president of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (SIArb); and the former global head of arbitration of an international law firm. He has acted as counsel, or sat as arbitrator, in arbitrations seated in Asia, Europe and the USA under ad hoc and institutional rules. He is a chair of the arbitration panel jointly appointed by the EU and Korea, under the protocol on cultural cooperation of the Korea-EU FTA. Leng Sun was a Singapore delegate to the UNCITRAL working group on arbitration and a legal officer of the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva. He is a member of the committee that wrote the White Paper to set up the Singapore International Commercial Court.

Leng Sun has taught at the law schools of the National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University. He is the author of Singapore Law on Arbitral Awards and co-editor of Conflict of Laws in Arbitration.

Leng Sun is recognised among the top lawyers worldwide by The Legal 500: Asia Pacific (2019), Who’s Who Legal: Thought Leaders – Litigation (2021), Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration (2021) and Acritas Stars 2020. He is described by Chambers Asia-Pacific (2017) as “one of the best arbitrators and practitioners in arbitration”.

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