Top arbitration lawyer moves to S'pore

[SINGAPORE] Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer - a top global law firm and the market leader in international arbitration in Europe and the Americas - is relocating its global head of international arbitration, Lucy Reed, to Singapore, in a move that reflects the Republic's standing as a world-class arbitration centre.

Ms Reed, rated a top-tier international arbitration practitioner by legal rankings publication Chambers Global, will be moving from Hong Kong, where she had relocated to in 2012 from New York.

In an exclusive interview with The Business Times, Ms Reed said: "The choice to relocate to Singapore makes sense for various reasons. Singapore is one of the world's most vibrant arbitration centres, with the government supporting its development through favourable legislation and the creation of Maxwell Chambers (the world's first integrated dispute resolution complex).

"Those measures, combined with the ongoing success of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), mean that Singapore is now certainly on par with the more traditional arbitration jurisdictions of London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong."

Singapore is regarded as the most popular seat of arbitration in Asia, according to international law firm White & Case's 2010 International Arbitration Survey. It is also the third most preferred seat worldwide - along with Tokyo and Paris - after London and Geneva.

One reason for Ms Reed's move is Asia's tremendous growth potential. Freshfields wants to cement its international arbitration presence in the region and capitalise on its growth, having established its practice in the West.

"Singapore is on the doorstep of one of the world's fastest-growing - and most likely busiest regions - for arbitration in the years to come. The South-east Asian and South Asian economies are seeing a significant new wave of investment, and with that, the potential for increased arbitration activity," she said.

"South-east Asia is made up of so many high-growth economies - each with their own commercial and political pressures - that companies are looking for a way to mitigate issues like sovereign risk and shifting legal environments. Our experience in places like South America and Eastern Europe has consistently shown us that arbitration centres are vital to mitigating those sorts of risks."

Ms Reed said Freshfields has a core team of around 10 arbitration lawyers in Asia - with half of those already in Singapore and a sizable number of Singaporeans on the team, including partner John Choong who runs its Hong Kong arbitration practice. Freshfields' international arbitration team is made up of 150 lawyers in 15 offices worldwide.

"We expect our Singapore arbitration practice to grow substantially over the next decade, perhaps doubling in size in the next few years. We will be bringing more Singaporean lawyers into the group as well," Ms Reed said.

The news no doubt bodes well for Singapore arbitration lawyers looking to join a global practice.

Ms Reed has worked on some of the most significant public and private arbitrations in the world. She advised ConocoPhillips on its pending multi-billion dollar International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) arbitration against Venezuela, and represented CMS Energy in obtaining the first ICSID Bilateral Investment Treaty award against Argentina in 2007.

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