First Australian law firm ties knot with Singapore under joint law venture

by Azadeh Khalilizadeh

Allens Arthur Robinson (Allens) has become Australia’s first law firm to sign a joint law venture with a Singaporean firm under the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock issued the joint law venture licence in April to Allens and Singaporean firm TSMP Law Corporation, in order to establish “Allens Arthur Robinson TSMP” in Singapore from 1 June 2007.

What is a joint law venture?

A joint law venture involves joint ownership of a firm between a Singaporean firm and an overseas firm. Joint law ventures are permitted to practice Singapore law.

Currently, there are two kinds of associations allowed between Singaporean and overseas firms, the second being “formal law alliances”. Unlike joint law ventures, formal law alliances mean parties retain their independent legal identities.

Under SAFTA, conditions on the establishment of joint ventures in Singapore involving Australian law firms have eased, including:

  • The requirements with respect to the number of foreign lawyers of the foreign law firm are resident in Singapore; and
  • How many years of experience is required by foreign lawyers in Singapore.

Singapore has also improved access for Australian law firms and lawyers to the practice of Australian law, third country law and international law.

(For further details see www.fta.gov.au )

Joint law venture set to provide “seamless access” to legal expertise – Allens

According to Allens in a statement dated 24 April 2007, the new 50-lawyer joint law venture will provide its clients with “seamless access” to leading international legal expertise.

Allens executive partner for Asia Jim Dunstan said Allens is “delighted” to be part of the joint law venture.

TSMP senior executive director Dr Thio Su Mien said the firm is also “very excited” about the joint venture as it enables TSMP to offer a “broader suite of services” to clients.

“As Singapore companies move into the Asia Pacific more aggressively, Allens Arthur Robinson TSMP will be able to support our clients in their expansion initiatives,” he said.

According to Allens, key practice areas will include:

  • Banking & finance;
  • Funds management/REITs;
  • Resources, projects & energy;
  • Mergers & acquisitions;
  • International/regional arbitration; and
  • Capital markets.

The creation of Allens Arthur Robinson TSMP follows Allens’ acquisition of two new offices in Vietnam earlier this year.

Ruddock welcomes “benefits” of joint venture

Mr Ruddock welcomed the joint venture as a “clear demonstration” of the benefits of SAFTA and shows improved access for Australian and overseas lawyers continues to be a priority.

“Singapore has facilitated the establishment of this joint venture and I hope this recognition of the quality of Australian lawyers and law firms leads to further liberalisation,” he said in a statement dated 26 April 2007.

The Attorney-General said the joint venture enables goods and services providers from both countries to obtain legal services covering the laws of Australia and Singapore from a single source.

“Joint ventures like this also increase opportunities for Australian firms across the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.

According to Mr Ruddock, the Australian Government’s and its International Legal Services Advisory Council are working closely with the legal profession to promote the interests of Australian lawyers in countries including China, India; and USA.



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