Landau First QC Admitted in Singapore

In what is understood to be a “one-off” development, Toby Landau QC has become the first English silk in Singapore’s history to be admitted to its local bar.

The English barrister was called yesterday along with other new entrants to the legal profession in Singapore, in a ceremony presided over by Singapore High Court justice Quentin Loh.

Although Landau is the first QC to be admitted as such in Singapore, he is not the only one currently at the Singapore bar. Colin Ong QC, who has long been admitted to the Singapore bar along with England and Wales and his native Brunei, was subsequently appointed Queen's Counsel this February.

Landau is already a registered practitioner at the Singapore International Commercial Court and a member of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s court and panel of arbitrators.

He has been part of the Attorney General of Singapore’s panel of advisers since 2012 and represented the city state in its Permanent Court of Arbitration dispute with Malaysia over a billion-dollar tax on Singaporean land formerly leased to Malayan Railways.

He has already argued before the Singaporean courts on the basis of an ad hoc admission – appearing in both the High Court and Court of Appeal for a unit of Indonesian conglomerate Lippo in its successful bid to resist enforcement of a US$250 million SIAC award in favour of Malaysia’s Astro Group.

Last year he was denied permission to make a return appearance, this time on behalf of China Machine New Energy Corporation in an application to set aside a US$149 million award in favour of Jaguar Energy Guatemala, on the basis that the case was not considered sufficiently complex to justify the admission of a QC under Singapore's ad hoc admission rules.

Two other QCs at London’s Essex Court Chambers – where Landau practises – have also won ad hoc admission to the Singapore bar to appear in arbitration-related litigation. David Joseph QC appeared opposite Landau in the Astro v Lippo case, while Samuel Wordsworth QC was allowed to appear for Lesotho in an application to set aside an investment treaty award. However, Landau is the first English practitioner to be admitted on a permanent basis.

The Law Society of Singapore, which opposed Landau’s ad hoc admission for the Jaguar Energy case, confirmed to media that Landau is first QC admitted to the Singapore bar. But it dampened conjecture that his admission may be followed by others, saying it considered him a “one-off, sui generis admission”.

The development will be “a boost to Singapore’s growing stature as a legal hub with world class lawyers,” the society added.

In his remarks welcoming the new members of the bar, Justice Loh said Landau’s admission was an “historic occasion in the legal history of Singapore”.

“Singapore is not going to be a small little pond […] We are open more and more to international pressures and international work,” he said. He expressed his hope that Landau would impart his "considerable knowledge and skills and values to some of our young members of the bar."

He called Landau an “advocate of great renown” with “a great reputation and […] forensic skills that are acknowledged by many professional directories.”

“Whilst Queen’s Counsel have been admitted ad hoc for particular cases, Mr Landau has chosen to throw in his lot, so to speak, with us,” he said. "I have no doubt that his skills will still be required for his established practice not only in the United Kingdom but around the world."

Landau told Singaporean news channel Channel NewsAsia that he is “deeply appreciative” of the opportunity to practise in Singapore. “I look forward to strengthening my friendships with the many dynamic practitioners that I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with over the years,” he said.

Singapore practitioner Paul Tan of Rajah & Tann says Landau was a mentor to him during a year and a half he spent on an internship at Essex Court Chambers from 2011 to 2012.

“Of all his qualities, Toby’s willingness to engage and debate with his juniors in cutting-edge cases was inspiring and formative in my earlier days,” he says. “Till today I still count him as an invaluable source of advice. I have no doubt that the younger members of our bar especially will benefit immensely from his work in Singapore.”

Landau still needs to obtain a practising certificate, and complete certain regulatory steps, before his Singaporean practice can commence.

He confirms to GAR that once all regulatory steps have been completed, he will not be joining or establishing a full service law firm in Singapore, but will continue as before as a specialist individual advocate at Essex Court Chambers, albeit with a Singapore as well as London base. 

As he has done for many years, he will continue to work alongside other Singapore practitioners as part of his existing international practice. He will also maintain his existing London Court practice.

Singapore is the fifth jurisdiction where Landau has gained admittance, after England and Wales, Northern Ireland, the British Virgin Islands and New York. He is also a registered practitioner in the Dubai International Financial Centre and the Singapore International Commercial Court.


This article was originally published on 12 May 2017 by our sister publication Global Arbitration Review.

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