Toh Kian Sing.JPEG

Toh Kian Sing, SC

Head, Shipping & International Trade
Senior Partner

Practice Area:

Shipping & International Trade
International Arbitration
Chinese-Related Investment Dispute Resolution

Bachelor of Law(Hons), National University of Singapore
Bachelor of Civil Law (1st Class), University of Oxford
Advocate & Solicitor, Singapore
Snr. Acc. Spec. (Maritime and Shipping), Singapore Academy of Law

T +65 6232 0614

Toh Kian Sing SC is a Senior Partner and Head of the Shipping & International Trade Practice of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP. He was appointed Senior Counsel in January 2007.

He brings to his law practice a background of academic excellence and experience having taught full time and subsequently, as an Adjunct Associate Professor, carriage of goods by sea, admiralty practice and conflict of law with the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore. Chambers Asia-Pacific (2018) ranks him as a “Band 1” lawyer and reports that clients recognise him as “a leading authority in maritime law...very knowledgeable, commercially minded, meticulous and approachable.” He is also recognised as a “Leading Lawyer” by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific (2018) and has been described as a “master strategist”. Kian Sing is ranked by Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific (2018) as a “Dispute Resolution Star” and by Asialaw Profiles (2018) as a “Market-leading lawyer”. He is also recommended in The Best Lawyers in Singapore (2019) for maritime law.

Apart from a busy court practice, he also acts as counsel in shipping and commodity arbitrations (in Singapore and elsewhere) and accepts appointments to act as arbitrator in these areas. He is on the panel of arbitrators of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration, China Maritime Arbitration Commission, Shanghai International Arbitration Centre, Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration and has accepted appointments to act in ICC arbitrations. He is a Fellow of the UK Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators.


Kian Sing’s scope of expertise includes bills of lading, charterparty, marine insurance and reinsurance, shipbuilding, ship sale and purchase litigation as well as arbitration, oil trading, oil rigs and commodity disputes as well as letters of credit litigation. His practice also includes managing complex cross border litigation and arbitration in areas such as shipping, commodity, trade finance, international banking, insurance and reinsurance. He is the author of a book on admiralty law (now into its third edition) as well as numerous articles in the field of shipping.

Additionally, Kian Sing has nearly two decades of experience handling trade finance matters, both of a contentious and non-contentious nature. He has argued many of the recently reported Singapore decisions involving letters of credit as well as advised Singapore banks and commodity house in trade finance litigation in jurisdictions such as the UK, New York, Korea, China, India and even Iraq. He also handles drafting and non-contentious work for banks and is responsible for preparing the complete set of letter of credit forms for several leading trade finance banks in Singapore.

In recent years, Kian Sing's practice has expanded into the field of joint venture disputes, particularly those involving Chinese parties, as he is proficient in both spoken and written Mandarin and has years of experience acting for Chinese state and privately owned entities. In this regard Kian Sing has handled many Sino-foreign joint venture disputes as counsel and arbitrator in Singapore, Hong Kong and China on non-maritime areas. Such joint venture disputes relate to diverse areas of business like hotel management, technology transfer, sub-sea projects, food production etc.

Having previously taught full time at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore and now a Visiting Professor at Dalian Maritime University, he ‎continues to lecture on an adjunct basis in Singapore and China on the areas of shipping, international sale of goods and private international law.

Notable Cases & Transactions
Selected Reported Judgments
  • Shanghai ‎Turbo Ltd v Liu Ming (2018) (service out of jurisdiction; floating choice of law and jurisdiction clauses)
  • The Yue You (2018) (rights of suit under bills of lading)
  • The “Xin Chang Shu” (2016) (wrongful arrest of vessels, setting aside of vessels)
  • Abani Trading Pte Ltd v BNP Paribas (2014) (letters of credit claim)
  • The “Nasco Gem” (2014) (leave to appeal on setting aside of arrest of vessels)
  • Zweite Ms “Philippa Schulte” Shipping GmbH & Co KG v PSA Corp Ltd (2012) (port liability for damage to vessel)
  • Hanwha Non-Life Insurance Co Ltd v Alba Pte Ltd (2012) (successful defence of re-insurance claim in Singapore)
  • Prestige Marine Services Pte Ltd v Marubeni International Petroleum (S) Pte Ltd (2012) (enforcement of arbitration award)
  • The “Makassar Caraka Jaya Niaga III-39” (2011) (setting aside of arrest of vessel)
  • Transocean Offshore International Ventures Ltd v Burgundy Global Exploration Corporation (2010), (2014) (dichotomy between arbitration and jurisdiction clauses)
  • Alliance Concrete Singapore Pte Ltd v Comfort Resources Pte Ltd (2009) (sale of goods dispute)
  • Banque Cantonale Vaudoise v Fujitrans (Singapore) Pte Ltd (2007) (discovery; warehouse finance fraud)
  • Swift-Fortune Ltd v Magnifica Marine SA (2006) (Mareva injunction in favour of foreign arbitration)
  • UCO Bank v Golden Shore Transportation Pte Ltd (2005) (rights of suit under bills of lading)
  • Standard Chartered Bank v Korea Exchange Bank (2005) (letters of credit claim)
  • Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd v Cho Hung Bank (2004) (letters of credit claim)
  • Mizuho Corporate Bank Limited v Woori Bank (2004) (letters of credit claim)
  • Sinogreat International Trading Ltd v Hin Leong Trading (Pte) Ltd (2004) (sale of goods dispute)
  • Keppel TatLee Bank Ltd v Bandung Shipping Pte Ltd (2003) (rights of suit under bills of lading)
  • Banque Cantonale Vaudoise v Fujitrans (Singapore) Pte Ltd (2003) (discovery; warehouse finance fraud)
  • The “Rainbow Spring” (2003) (setting aside of arrest of vessel)
  • UCO Bank v Golden View Maritime Pte Ltd (2003) (stay of proceedings)
  • The “An Ji Jiang” (2003) (charterparty dispute)
  • Beam Technology Pte Ltd v Standard Chartered Bank (2002) (rights and liability of confirming bank under letter of credit)
  • Tapematic SpA v Wirana Pte Ltd (2002) (letter of credit dispute)
  • PSA v Korea Exchange Bank (2001) (banking secrecy)
  • Credit Agricole Indosuez v Banque Nationale de Paris (2001) (letter of credit dispute)
  • Everbright Commercial Enterprises Pte Ltd v AXA Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd (2001) (marine insurance claim)
  • The “Salina” (1999) (setting aside of arrest of vessel)
  • Member, Law Society of Singapore
  • Member, Singapore Academy of Law
  • Member, Regional Panel of Arbitrators appointed by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (since 2003)
  • Panel of Arbitrators in the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (since 2010)
  • Member of the General Committee and Panel of Arbitrators of Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (since 2004)
  • Panel of Arbitrators in London Court of International Arbitration (since 2016)
  • Supporting Member, London Maritime Arbitrators Association
  • Arbitrator on Panel, China Maritime Arbitration Commission (since 2005)
  • Arbitrator on Panel of Shanghai International Arbitration Centre
  • Fellow, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (since 2006)
  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (since 2007)
  • Admiralty Law and Practice, 633 pages (Butterworths, 1998); 2nd Edition of Admiralty Law and Practice published in 2007; 3rd Edition in 2017 (cited in various Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Hong Kong judgments). 
  • Contributing Author, The Law and Practice of Documentary Letters of Credit (2010).
  • Contributor to Singapore Civil Procedure (2003) and Annual Review of Singapore Cases (Admiralty and Shipping) (since 2005).
  • Contributor to Singapore Civil Procedure.
Selected Articles 
  • The Possessory Lien in Admiralty Actions in Rem published in [1997] Singapore Journal of Legal Studies at page 291.
  • Of Himalaya Clauses, Bailment, Choice of Law and Jurisdiction – Recent Privy Council Perspectives from The Makhutai [1996] Vol. 10 Journal of Contract Law at page 212 (co-authored with Associate Professor Andrew Phang, as he then was). Citied in Burrows, Sinn and Todd, Law of Contract in New Zealand (a successor to Cheshire & Fifoot’s Law of Contract, 8th NZ Edition), at page 473.
  • Of Straight and Switch Bills of Lading, [1996] Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly at page 416. (Cited in Yates Contracts of Carriage, Vol. 1 at p.522/4.)
  • Jurisdiction Clauses in Bills of Lading, [1995] Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly at page 183. Cited in Dicey & Morris, Conflict of Laws, 12th Edition, 4th Supplement (1997) at page 68.
  • Obtaining Jurisdiction over Foreign Companies, [1995] Singapore Academy Journal of Law at page 171. (Cited in Tao Commodity Trader Inc V Fortis Bank (Nederland) N.V. [2004] SGHC 30.)
  • Conflict of Laws Implication of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992, [1994] Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly at page 280. (Cited in Jackson, Enforcement of Maritime Claims, 2nd Edition (1996), at pages 243, 573 and 599; Benjamin’s Sale of Goods, 5th Edition (1997) Page 1833; cited with approval in Primetrade AG v Ythan Ltd [2006] 1 All ER 367).
  • Re Charged Card: Problems, Practice and Statutory Reversal published in the July 1993 volume of the Asia Business Law Review at page 82 (co-authored with Mr V.K. Rajah, SC, as he then was).
  • Illegal Contracts in the Conflict of Laws: Some Recent Developments in Singapore published in the 1993 Volume of the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, page 214. (Cited in Singapore Court of Appeal decision of Peh Teck Quee v Bayerische Landesbank Girozentrale [2000] 1 SLR 148).
  • Stay of Actions based on Exclusive Jurisdiction Clauses under English and Singapore Law, published in the 1991 Volume of the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies at page 103. Cited in Briggs and Rees, Civil Jurisdiction and Judgment, (1992) at pages 184 and 185.