Adrian is Head of Dispute Resolution. In this role, he has oversight of all disputes practices in the firm.
Called to the Bar in 2000, Adrian has been described as “thorough, smart and responsive” and he is recognised in various legal publications for his experience and expertise as counsel in complex commercial cases.
His practice spans a range of civil litigation areas including commercial fraud, securities-related and banking claims, joint venture and shareholder disputes, succession and trust law, real property (including en-bloc sale litigation) as well as construction and projects.
As Adrian is effectively bilingual in English and Mandarin, he is frequently retained to act in matters involving PRC law as well as Chinese parties. Adrian is also active in international arbitrations, both as counsel and arbitrator.
Notable Cases & Transactions
Acting for a client, a US corporation, in an arbitration claim arising from a contract for the supply of a military drone system developed for national security purposes. The purchaser of the system (i.e. the respondent in the arbitration) has alleged that the system did not met contractual specifications and that this alleged failure posed intolerable operational risks. The client, being an experienced supplier of such drone systems, has cited examples of other international and successful users of its systems. Another complication in the matter is the security and integrity of parts of the supplied system, which were called into question, after various missile drones were damaged while in the respondent’s custody (prior to formal commissioning of the system). The resolution of this matter is likely to require extensive expert evidence given the technical and specialised nature of the system to be supplied.
Acting in an international arbitration claim concerning an original equipment manufacturing agreement for the supply and distribution of surface mounter machines used in the electronics industry. Damages in excess of EU$40 million were sought for the clients (who were distributors in various international markets) against the equipment supplier for breach of contract and conspiracy to erode market share. In the course of the arbitration, the equipment supplier was forced to admit that its employees had undertaken forbidden sales of machines and had forged documents in an attempt to hide the wrongful sales. In addition to various technical issues relating to the surface mounter machines, complex issues of Singapore, German and Japanese law were also explored in these proceedings.
- Representing two subsidiaries of a Singapore listed company in an international arbitration claim against their Indonesian and Dutch joint venture partners. The joint venture business between the parties, which was the subject-matter of the arbitration, involved the construction, installation and maintenance of base transmission stations for mobile phone networks in Indonesia. Apart from the highly technical nature of the matter, complex issues of Indonesian law were also raised in these proceedings.
- Acting for a subsidiary of a Singapore listed company in an arbitration claim by its joint venture partner in connection with the financing, construction and operation of a coal-fire power generation facility in Anhui, China.
Banking and commercial
- Defending a bank in a highly publicised claim brought in the name of a wealthy 92 year old customer for breach of duty. The bank considered the customer mentally incapable of providing valid instructions and refused to allow the operation of the customer’s accounts. The High Court accepted that the bank did not breach its mandate and concluded that “the Bank admirably acted to ensure payment was made only if it had the actual mandate from its customer…The Bank did the right thing by its conduct and lived up to its social responsibilities in this case”. The High Court decision, which was the first reported banking case in Singapore involving suspected elderly fraud, was subsequently upheld by the Singapore Court of Appeal.
- Defending a bank in connection with a multi-million dollar financing arrangement asserted by the Comptroller of Income Tax to be contrary to Singapore’s statutory general anti-avoidance rules.
- Representing clients in a case that clarified the limits of a law enforcement agency’s power to withhold property seized for the purposes of criminal investigations. In a ground breaking decision that settled the approach to be applied by the court when presented with an application to extend the period of such aforesaid seizure, the High Court found that the clients suffered serious injustice and ordered the immediate release of the seized properties.
- Acting against the Official Assignee in a landmark case where the Court of Appeal recognised the doctrine of abandonment as part of Singapore law and applied it, for the first time, to intangible property. The decision by the Court of Appeal laid down the test to be adopted for the doctrine of abandonment to be invoked and is also the first case in Singapore to have considered the effect of s 346 of the Companies Act.
Trust and estate disputes
- Representing beneficiaries of the estate of a well-known entrepreneur and Chinese community leader in Singapore (who passed away in the 1960s) in a series of contentious proceedings (spanning decades) involving various executors of the estate as well as family companies. To-date, the estate has not been fully administered. Related court proceedings included Singapore's last appeal to the Privy Council.
- Acting in a series of contentious proceedings and related inheritance disputes, spanning almost a decade, in connection with the estate of a property tycoon worth more than S$400 million.
- Representing clients in a breach of trust claim, worth more than US$600 million, concerning the wrongful dissipation of trust property and funds located in various jurisdictions across the world.
Construction and real property
- Acting as instructed counsel in the first reported Singapore Court of Appeal decision on the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act and in related proceedings.
- Retained as instructed counsel in proceedings involving various explosions arising from taped joint failures in power cables. The failures were observed on copper and aluminum XLPE cables which connected power stations and sealing ends on copper cables.
- Representing majority owners to successfully obtain a sale order from the High Court for the en bloc sale of a 500,000 sq ft site for S$610 million, which was opposed inter alia on the basis that there was misrepresentation by the marketing agent on the applicable development charge payable by the purchaser. In the course of settling various issues of law concerning the en bloc sale regime, the Court of Appeal declared that it was for the objectors to the collective sale to prove lack of good faith in the transaction.
- Representing the plaintiff main contractor in its claims against the defendant subcontractor for breach of contract and negligence in the Singapore High Court in connection with the design and construction of a semi-submersible accommodation unit. In this case, the defendant was awarded a subcontract for inter alia the assembly of pontoons for the said vessel. Following the completion of the works by the defendant, numerous defects were detected at various locations of the pontoons, including but not limited to welding defects at the structurally sensitive areas of the vessel. This matter involves complex disputes of fact, which would necessitate the calling of significant expert evidence on the extent of the defects and necessity of repairs.
- Law Society of Singapore
- Singapore Academy of Law
- Panel Member, Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents (2015 to 2022)
- Board Member, Competition Appeals Board (2019 to 2021)
- Contributing editor, Chapter on “Judicial Review”, Lexis Practical Guidance (Singapore Dispute Resolution) (2016)
- ‘Judicial Review of SGX-ST’s Public Reprimand Powers : Yeap Wai Kong v Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Ltd  3 SLR 565’  24 SAcLJ 568
- Contributing editor, The commentary to Order 24 of the Rules of Court (Discovery and Inspection of Documents), Singapore Civil Procedure 2013 (Sweet and Maxwell, Singapore) (2012)
- ‘Discovery and Cross-examination Challenges in International Arbitrations : a Singapore Perspective’, New York Dispute Resolution Lawyer (New York State Bar Association) (2011)
- Contributing editor, Halsbury’s Laws of Singapore: Banking and Finance, LexisNexis (Singapore) (2011) – updated the chapters on negotiable instruments and syndicated loans