This article was originally published in Practical Law Arbitration. Reproduced with permission. This client alert is co-written by Reed Smith Pte Ltd and Resource Law LLC who together form the Reed Smith Resource Law Alliance in Singapore. Reed Smith LLP is licensed to operate as a foreign law practice in Singapore under the name and style, Reed Smith Pte Ltd (hereafter collectively, “Reed Smith”). Where advice on Singapore law is required, we will refer the matter to and work with Reed Smith’s Formal Law Alliance partner in Singapore, Resource Law LLC, where necessary.
* Kohe Hasan is a Partner in Reed Smith's Singapore office and a Director of Resource Law LLC. Li Seah Ang is an Associate of Resource Law LLC.
In Re BSL  SGHC 207, the Singapore High Court considered an application by an English QC under section 15 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed) for admission to represent the plaintiff in the High Court, to set aside an arbitral award.
The Singapore High Court dismissed BSL's application to be admitted to represent the plaintiff in its application before the Singapore High Court to set aside an ICC arbitral award. Even though the court was satisfied that BSL has special qualifications and experience in cases involving the setting aside of an arbitral award on grounds relating to breach of natural justice, the Honourable Justice Steven Chong found that it was not appropriate to admit BSL as the present case was not unusually complex or so difficult as to require continuity in representation nor was it beyond the competence of local counsel.
The decision confirms that there must be an issue of special complexity, or foreign counsel must have special expertise, that local counsels do not already possess which makes it a necessity for foreign counsel to be admitted to represent a party in the Singapore courts.
(Re BSL  SGHC 207 (20 September 2018).)