With the Singapore’s Ministry of Law’s recent call for applications under the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licensing programme underway, it has set the tone for the liberalisation of Singapore’s legal landscape. This means that there are greater opportunities for the top law firms of the world to establish themselves in Singapore and take advantage of the numerous benefits that Singapore as a regional legal and arbitration hub of the Asia Pacific region has to offer.
There are more than 100 international law firms with a presence in Singapore. Additionally, the QFLP licensing program that began in 2008, has accorded a higher status to 6 approved international law firms including Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith and Norton Rose that are currently practising and rendering legal services in approved areas such as commercial and corporate law. Not surprisingly, such work is very high-value in nature— in a 2001 census, it was found that $25million alone was derived from cross-border transactions in the year 2000. Seeing as how the Singapore legal landscape has had an annual growth rate of 10% for the past five years, this number is surely an important factor in the boosting of Singapore’s legal services industry.
Why set up your law practice in Singapore?
Singapore has always been well-regarded for having an impressive legal system and in the world of legal academia. As a Commonwealth country and former British colony, it shares many similarities with several common-law legal systems of the world. It also has significant exposure to the civil law tradition as a result of its history of extensive interaction with civil law systems that are a common feature of its Asian neighbours and European trading partners. Additionally, it has a world-class education system, infrastucture, economy and political stability therefore is a safe and transparent bet for any self-respecting law firm from another part of the world that wishes to have a slice of the legal pie here in the Asia-Pacific region.
Further, the National University of Singapore Law school was recently honoured as one of the world’s top Law schools according to QS rankings, which means that foreign law firms are able to choose from a larger pool of world-class top talent right in Singapore. Additionally, there are other Law schools such as the Singapore Management University’s Law school, the New York University- National University of Singapore’s twinning Law programme, the Singapore Institute of Management-University of London Law degree programme as well as the Temasek Polytechnic Diploma in Law and Management programme, that attracts the best and brightest from around the world and produces the cream of the crop in legal talent, at once ensuring your need for top legal staff is always catered to.
How to become a QFLP in Singapore
The acceptance of applications to be a QFLP, to close on 31 August 2012, will be assessed by an Evaluation Committee and a Selection Committee. Factors such as the foreign firm’s track record, the amount of offshore work handled, the number of lawyers who will be based in the Singapore office and the areas of law and the legal services that the Singapore office will practise will be taken into consideration when the Committee assesses the applications, and Rikvin is well-placed as business consultants to advise you on the process and application.
Further, if you obtain such approval and the license, you have up to 6 months to set up a Singapore office and operations, whereby we are able to assist you in all aspects from the incorporation process to human resource issues such as the immigration matters (applying for the relevant visas for your legal professionals). The QFLP license will be valid for an initial period of five years, thus applicant firms under the QFLP program are able to look to Rikvin to hire both Singapore legal professionals as well as relocate established legal professionals from the world over to Singapore.