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International Commercial - Singapore

posted 12 months ago

Author

Walter Silvester

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+65 62*****
Walter Silvester
Silvester Legal LLC

We are a firm that specialises in commercial work. We have two primary areas of practice. 
 
The first is advisory work. We advise businesses to ensure that the legal side of their growth is well taken care of in terms of regulation and agreements. We are talking about agreements; shareholder’s agreements, sale and purchase agreements, master services agreements, ESOPs, employment agreements, operations and service agreements, reviewing Constitutions and the like. 
 
Secondly, litigation. We have a strong commercial litigation team. We are experienced in shareholder disputes. This is something we have done often, and have become very proficient in, over the last several years. 
 
Our value proposition is simple; big firm expertise, small firm service. We are very good at what we do but do not expect clients to pay an arm and a leg for our services. 

Every business is different, so every business faces different issues. The one common feature of any business are the people who run the business (directors) and the owners of the business (shareholders). The relationship between directors and/or shareholders is critical to the success of any business. That is why this is our primary area of focus. 
 
When it comes to directors and shareholders, clients usually want to be advised on their rights and responsibilities. What must I do? What can I do? What am I entitled to? There are dozens of possible issues. 
 
In one recent case, we were instructed by a founder/ director/ shareholder who was being forced out of his own company by his fellow founder/ director/ shareholder. While what was being done to him seems unfair, it may be within the bounds of the law. We have done many such cases and continue to receive instructions for new cases in shareholder and director disputes. 
 
Typically, we review the shareholder’s agreement (if there is one) and speak with the client to find out what went wrong and how it can be rectified. The problem with many such cases is that clients may come to us at a late stage, after events have happened or agreements have been signed. Ideally, you should have a lawyer advising you from the get-go. Even if that is not the case, always consult a lawyer early if you feel that things are not right, and you are being treated unfairly. 

On the advisory front, we are advising several substantial companies on corporate matters including mergers and acquisitions, financing, commencing operations in Singapore, discussions and negotiations with counterparts in deals. 
 
On the litigation front, we are currently acting in several significant shareholder disputes, many of which have been escalated to Suits in the High Court. Our most recent trial was a five-week trial on minority oppression at the High Court. We are currently working on closing submissions and are hopeful of a judgment by the end of the year. 

In recent months, the spectre of Covid-19 has been gradually lifted and one can feel the positive energy as a result of this. The enthusiasm and drive is discernible as businesses are moving ahead with their plans. 
 
Singapore is an excellent place to do business. The government is constantly trying to make it more attractive to companies to come here and stay here. If you are interested in the developments, there is no better place to explore this than the Economic Development Board (“EDB”) (https://www.edb.gov.sg/). The EDB offers insights on the various incentives and schemes to assist business. An interesting recent development was the Corporate Venture Launchpad which is a $20m program designed to enable companies to launch new ventures from Singapore. 

Definitely. This is an area that many companies are looking towards and it makes sense. Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance and National Development has recently encouraged lawyers to look into this area as a growing area of work. While this is not our primary area of work, it is something we are keeping abreast of should clients need our assistance. 

We keep abreast of developments in terms of where the government is headed, the areas that the government is supporting and the grants and subsidies available to companies to grow their businesses in Singapore. While not particularly active in network events, we work regularly with other specialist law firms to ensure that clients can come to us for any legal work. If we do not do the work, we will find a law firm which can assist them. 

The big recent development was wide-ranging changes in the Rules of Court in April 2022 which governs litigation in the Singapore Courts. 
 
Recent years have seen Singapore grow its arbitration practice as well as offer alternative forms of dispute resolution such as mediation. 
 
The Singapore International Commercial Court is also growing strongly. It is a division of the High Court of Singapore which offers parties the option of having their disputes adjudicated by a panel of experienced judges comprising specialist commercial judges from Singapore and international judges. The Singapore International Commercial Court Rules 2021 came into operation on 1 April 2022.

Thank you. If anyone wants to do business in Singapore, look us up!

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