Singapore Govt Making Law Firms Re-Apply For QFLP’s

So it looks as if the 6 firms growth isn’t aggressive enough they won’t get a new license.. ummm
Ministry of Law says QFLP renewals will depend on firms’ performance over past five years and future plans
The first group of international law firms to be awarded Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licences in Singapore are being asked to reapply for their permits if they wish to continue practising local law in the city-state.
The six firms – Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance (CC), Herbert Smith Freehills, Norton Rose Fulbright, Latham & Watkins and White & Case – are currently in talks with the country’s Ministry of Law (MinLaw) to give details about their future growth plans – a process that is expected to be completed in the next two months.
The firms were first awarded their five-year QFLPs in 2009 as part of a Government initiative to liberalise the legal market, giving them the ability to practise local law except in areas such as litigation and conveyancing.
According to MinLaw, which has since handed out four additional licences this year to Linklaters, Jones Day, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Sidley Austin, there is no guarantee that the licences will be re-issued, with renewals dependent upon the firms’ performances in the past five years and their plans until 2018.
It said key considerations would include the value of offshore work that the Singapore office will generate, the number of lawyers who will be based in the office and the strength of the practice areas that the Singapore base will offer.
MinLaw expects to inform the firms of the results of the process in the first quarter of next year and has confirmed it will not be handing out any additional licences. Any licences that are renewed will be valid for another five years.
Jeff Smith, managing partner of Norton Rose Fulbright in South East Asia, said his firm was looking to significantly increase its Singapore team by 2018.
“We can certainly see room for growth in asset finance and the offshore energy sector, also in projects and construction, debt capital markets, regulated industries and financial services, and the whole business ethics and anti-corruption business,” he said.
“We have no limitation on headcount or size as long as we can do it profitably. I can see solid growth in the next few years. Of course you’ve got to weigh in some of the other factors – there is a lot of competition and these markets change quickly.”
News of a second round of QFLP awards in late 2012 drew applications from a further 23 outfits, but just four licences were awarded in February.
MinLaw has not announced plans to issue further licences to international firms, but some outfits with operations in the city-state are understood to be mulling alternative joint law venture (JLV) and formal law alliance (FLA) options, which would give them better access to the local market.
However, CC, which has an FLA with Cavenagh Law, recently came under scrutiny for issuing misleading statements about its ability to offer litigation services.