Boutique arbitration firm Three Crowns has opened a Singapore office, its first presence in the Asia-Pacific, with the hire of partner Daryl Chew, the former head of Singapore at Shearman & Sterling.
Chew will be accompanied by partner Simon Elliot, who moved from the law firm’s Paris office.
Gaëtan Verhoosel, founding partner of Three Crowns in London, told Asia Business Law Journal that the new Singapore office is set to meet increasing demand in the region and serve the firm’s existing client base, including in the energy sector ‒ oil and gas, renewables, and power generation and distribution ‒ and the construction and infrastructure sectors.
“There’s a huge amount of development happening across the region, and a lot of disputes arising from major capital-intensive projects are coming to Singapore and Hong Kong,” said Verhoosel.
He said he anticipated an upswing in private equity-related disputes, along with post-acquisition disputes and shareholder and joint venture disputes following an increase in such transactions in the region.
Chew, who was a partner at Shearman for more than 14 years, has advised and represented clients in arbitrations conducted under all major arbitral rules and arising from energy, construction, M&A, joint venture and general commercial disputes.
With Singapore and Hong Kong welcoming third-party funding for international arbitration and related proceedings, London-based partner Manish Aggarwal said he saw an upward trend in arbitration funding in Asia continuing as companies focused on managing liquidity to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
“Increasingly, we have seen growth in the market for arbitral awards, which presents another option for clients in terms of monetising an award rather than forcible enforcement and execution themselves,” he said.
In November, Singapore began permitting conditional fee arrangements, adding to the range of funding options available to clients. Although most of his firm’s clients have not used third-party funding, Verhoosel said companies were increasingly interested in exploring such a mechanism, while many providers were looking to Asia for new opportunities.
“Many sophisticated and large corporate organisations are attuned to this idea of being able to de-risk litigation that they have on their books, and monetising that litigation,” said Verhoosel. “We have also seen some of the providers with a presence in Asia approaching our firm to discuss potential opportunities.”
Although there were a few cases where arbitration awards may be difficult to enforce, particularly against a government or a government-owned enterprise, Verhoosel said the advantages offered in the enforceability of arbitral awards were still significant compared to court judgments.
With Chew’s arrival, Three Crowns has 15 partners across five offices in London, Paris, Washington, Bahrain, and now Singapore.