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4 more foreign firms get nod to practice Singapore law

Ten foreign law firms will now be allowed to practice local law in Singapore, after the country’s law ministry approved four new Qualified Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licences out of 23 total applicants.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Jones Day, Linklaters and Sidley Austin were approved in the QFLP program’s round two that concluded today.

Six firms were approved in the first selection round in 2008: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Latham & Watkins, Norton Rose, Herbert Smith, and White & Case.

The firms approved today will have six months from 1 April 2013 to initiate operations as QFLPs. Their licenses will be valid for up to five years from the respective start dates.

Among the 13 failed applicants that applied on 31 August 2012 were law firms such as DLA Piper, Watson Farley & Williams and K&L Gates, according to Asia Legal Business

US law firm Sidley Austin, which was one of the four approved QFLPs today, established its first office for the Asia Pacific region in Singapore in 1982, which, the firm claimed in a press release, was now the hub for transactions involving India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia and China.

Jones Day opened its Singapore office in 2001, and has now grown to almost 30 lawyers and a hub for South and Southeast Asia transactions in M&A, private equity, energy, banking and finance, capital markets, fund formation and dispute resolution, according to Reuters.

The QFLP scheme originated in 2008 from the recommendations of the Justice VK Rajah committee, and allows foreign lawyers to practice local law in Singapore in certain areas permitted under the license. Selection of the firms was based on determinants such as the firm’s Singapore office’s generated value of offshore work, number of lawyers, areas of practice, extent of it serving as regional headquarters, and the overall track record of the firm. [Asia One]

The Indian legal market remains closed to foreign law firms.

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