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Sim Kwan Kiat

Head, Restructuring & Insolvency Practice

Practice Area:

Restructuring & Insolvency

LLB (Hons), National University of Singapore
LLM, New York University
Advocate & Solicitor, Singapore
Attorney & Counsellor-at-law, State of New York

T +65 6232 0436

“Kwan Kiat is technically strong, practical and commercial in his advice and a very respectable and easy-to-work-with lawyer. He is the next generation market leader in insolvency and restructuring.” – The Legal 500

Kwan Kiat currently heads the firm’s Restructuring & Insolvency practice group.

Kwan Kiat has been cited and recognised by international legal directories for his expertise in his field. He is recognised as a “Band 1” practitioner by Chambers Asia-Pacific 2024, recommended as a “Thought Leader” by Who’s Who Legal: Restructuring & Insolvency 2024, and named “Lawyer of the Year”, for two consecutive years, in Insolvency and Reorganisation Law by Best Lawyers in Singapore (2023 – 2024). Kwan Kiat has also been identified as a “Highly Regarded” and “Elite Practitioner” by asialaw Profiles 2023, IFLR1000 2023, and Benchmark Litigation 2023.

Called to both the Singapore and New York bar, Kwan Kiat’s practice comprises domestic and cross-border disputes and advisory work.  He has advised and acted for debtors, lenders and insolvency office holders in debt restructuring, liquidations, and receiverships of both local and foreign companies.

Apart from regularly advising in the whole gamut of insolvency proceedings, from liquidation, receivership to judicial management and schemes of arrangement, many of the matters Kwan Kiat acted in had a strong cross-border element.

In addition, Kwan Kiat regularly acts for clients in a wide variety of commercial disputes, including banker-customer disputes and shareholder disputes. 

Kwan Kiat is part of the Singapore expert group involved in UNCITRAL Working Group V (Insolvency Law) on applicable law in insolvency proceedings, and has been appointed by the Singapore Ministry of Law to be the Singapore national correspondent for UNCITRAL CLOUT (Case Law on UNCITRAL Texts).

A regular speaker at local and overseas seminars and conferences, Kwan Kiat also teaches Insolvency Law and is the Principal Examiner for the Insolvency Law component of the Foreign Practitioners Examination in Singapore.

Notable Cases & Transactions
  • Acted for lenders in enforcement of rights including appointment of receivers in relation to the Japan-Guam-Australia submarine cable systems.
  • Acting for Japanese trustees in relation to cross-border insolvency proceedings involving companies in the United Ocean Group.
  • Acting for the judicial managers of Hontop Energy Pte Ltd, a trader of oil and other commodities with debts of around US$700 million.
  • Acted for the judicial managers of Catalist-listed Sen Yue Holdings Limited.
  • Acting for liquidators of Coastal Oil Singapore Pte Ltd, a key bunker trader in Singapore, with debts of around US$350 million.
  • Acted for major bank lenders in the restructuring of the Pacific Radiance group.
  • Acted for Ley Choon Group Holdings Limited (“LCG”), listed on the main board of the Singapore Exchange and its group of companies in its debt restructuring. LCG is one of the largest underground utilities infrastructure company in Singapore.
  • Advising bank lenders in the proposed restructuring and insolvency of Ezion Holdings, a Singapore listed oil & gas company.
  • Acted for bank lenders in the insolvency and restructuring of the Ezra group of companies, with debts of around US$1 billion.
  • Acted for lenders in the debt restructuring and judicial management of Mercator Lines (Singapore) Limited, an international dry bulk shipping company listed on the main board of the Singapore Exchange.
  • Advised and acted for Indonesian conglomerate Bumi Resources group, which has interest in more than 60 entities around the world, and owns the largest coal exporter in the world, and Bumi Resources’ Singapore subsidiaries, in the restructuring of debt of around US$4 billion.
  • Acted as Singapore counsel for the lenders in the global restructuring of Danish shipping giant Torm A/S with debt of close to US$2 billion.
  • Acted as counsel for the liquidators of Beluga Chartering GmbH in obtaining rulings from the Singapore Court of Appeal on novel and significant issues relating to cross-border insolvency and the treatment of company assets where a company is wound up in more than one jurisdiction.
  • Acted for Singapore bank lenders in the restructuring of the Drydocks World group, which manages businesses and projects for the Dubai government and owns the largest shipyard in the Middle East.
  • Advised the bank lenders in relation to debt restructuring of First Ship Lease Trust, a public listed shipping trust with total debt of around US$480 million.
  • Advised on the restructuring of PT BerlianLaju Tanker Tbk, a leading worldwide seaborne liquid bulk cargo transportation specialist and the third largest chemical tanker operator in the world, which is listed on the Indonesian and Singapore Stock Exchanges.
  • Acted for bondholders and their Trustee in respect of bonds issued by Norwegian entities PetroMena ASA (bond amount approximately US$600 million) and PetroProd Ltd (bond amount approximately US$335 million), in disputes between the bondholders / Trustee and the bond issuers.
Selected Court Decisions
  • Acted for former liquidators of a company involved in property development in successfully defending a court application to void the dissolution of the company (Management Corporation Strata Title Plan No. 4339 v Coral Edge Development Pte Ltd (dissolved) [2023] 4 SLR 1019).
  • Acted for a major creditor in the proposed pre-packaged scheme of arrangement of a group of companies which resulted in an important Singapore High Court decision on pre-packaged schemes (Re DSG Asia Holdings Pte Ltd [2022] 3 SLR 1250).
  • Acted for the liquidators of a company in successfully setting aside a mortgage as a transaction at an undervalue (Leow Quek Shiong v Rothstar Group Ltd [2021] SGHC 176).
  • Acted for a member of the BW group in a successful application, notwithstanding an arbitration agreement between the parties, to wind up Tamarind Resources Pte Ltd, part of the group which owned the Tui oil field in New Zealand, (BW Umuroa Pte Ltd v Tamarind Resources Pte Ltd [2020] 4 SLR 1294).
  • Acted for the judicial managers of Swiber Holdings Limited in a court application concerning important questions of law including issues on the rights of secured creditors to vote and the treatment of their votes in a creditors’ meeting (Re Swiber Holdings Ltd [2018] 5 SLR 1130).
  • Acted for a listed company in a successful claim for breach of contract (HG Metal Manufacturing Ltd v Gayathri Steels Pte Ltd [2017] SGHC 284) where the High Court also decided on the issue of representation of companies in legal proceedings - HG Metal Manufacturing Ltd v Gayathri Steels Pte Ltd [2016] 5 SLR 238.
  • Acted for a shareholder of a company in leading a successful court application to stay court proceedings in favour of arbitration, resulting in the landmark Singapore Court of Appeal decision which sets out principles on arbitrability and the intersection of arbitration and insolvency (Silica Investors Limited v Tomolugen Holdings Ltd and others [2014] 3 SLR 815 (High Court); [2016] 1 SLR 373 (Court of Appeal)).
  • Acted for a bank lender in a successful winding up application against a debtor involving the meaning of compounding a statutory demand (United Overseas Bank Ltd v Bombay Talkies (S) Pte Ltd [2015] SGHC 142).
  • Acted for the provisional liquidators of a company in a successful court application which led to the determination of the nature and scope of a provisional liquidator’s lien (Re International Formwork & Scaffolding Pte Ltd [2014] 1 SLR 205).
  • Acted for the liquidators of Beluga Chartering GmbH in obtaining rulings from the Singapore Court of Appeal on novel and significant issues relating to cross-border insolvency and the treatment of company assets where a company is wound up in more than one jurisdiction (Beluga Chartering GmbH (in liquidation) v Beluga Projects (Singapore) Pte Ltd (in liquidation) & anor[2013] 2 SLR 1035 (High Court); [2014] 2 SLR 815 (Court of Appeal).
  • Acted for a company involved in the management of an energy fund and its directors in successfully resisting a shareholder’s application to commence a statutory derivative action (UrsMeisterhans v GIP Pte Ltd [2011] 1 SLR 552).
  • Chairman, Insolvency Committee of Law Society of Singapore
  • Principal Examiner, Insolvency Law component of the Foreign Practitioners Examination
  • Member, International Insolvency Institute
  • Fellow, Insolvency Practitioners Association of Singapore
  • Associate Mediator on Insolvency Panel, Singapore Mediation Centre
  • National CLOUT Correspondent for Singapore, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
  • Member, INSOL International
  • Deputy Subject Coordinator of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education Part B Course, Insolvency Law module (2013-2023)

Articles/ Papers

  • Judicial Discretion in the Grant of Relief in Recognition Applications under the Model Law [2022] 30 Insolv LJ 107
  • INSOL Technical Paper Series No. 52 – A Comparative Review of Legislative Restrictions on the Enforcement of Ipso Facto clauses (2022)
  • Consultation group expert for Guide on Conducting an Out-of-court Workout in Asia, March 2023, Asian Business Law Institute and International Insolvency Institute
  • Consultation group expert for Guide on the Treatment of Insolvent Micro and Small Enterprises in Asia, May 2022, Asian Business Law Institute and International Insolvency Institute
  • Jurisdictional Basis of Synthetic Proceedings in Cross-border Insolvency [2019] SAL Prac 10
  • The New Insolvency Landscape in Singapore (2018) International Corporate Rescue, Vol 15, Issue 1
  • Rethinking the Mandatory/Discretionary Legislation Distinction in WTO Jurisprudence (2003) World Trade Review (Volume 2) 33

Book chapters

  • Contributor to the Chapter on Insolvency Law in the Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review of Singapore Cases (2013 - ongoing)
  • Co-author, Singapore Chapter of the Insolvency Global Practice Guide, Chambers and Partners (2020)
  • Co-author, Singapore Chapter in Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency in Asia, Asian Business Law Institute (2020)
  • Author of Singapore Chapter in Debt Restructuring: an alternative to insolvency proceedings (Thomson Reuters, 2015)