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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 currently heads the firm’s Restructuring & Insolvency practice group, which is the largest dedicated legal practice in the country dealing with banking and financing disputes, corporate insolvencies, business advisory, workouts and debt restructurings, and enforcement of creditors' rights.

Kwan Kiat has been cited and recognised by international legal directories such as Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022 as a “Band 1” practitioner, recommended as a “Thought Leader” and “Global Leader” by Who’s Who Legal: Restructuring & Insolvency 2022, and named “Lawyer of the Year” in Insolvency and Reorganisation Law by Best Lawyers in Singapore 2023. He has also been identified as a “Highly Regarded” and “Distinguished” practitioner by asialaw Profiles 2023, IFLR1000 2023, and Benchmark Litigation 2022.

According to The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022, Kwan Kiat is “commercial minded, highly analytical and helpful. Besides strong technical knowledge, his ability to see through complex restructuring and understand the landscape among various stakeholders, serves as a cutting-edge tool for lenders.

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.  He is also active in arbitration, having advised and acted for clients in several multi-million dollar arbitration disputes.

Kwan Kiat is part of the expert group involved in the ongoing work 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 Deputy Subject Coordinator for the Insolvency Law and Practice course for the Singapore Bar Examinations.

Notable Cases & Transactions include:
  • Acting for judicial managers of Hontop Energy Pte Ltd, a trader of oil and other commodities with debts of around US$700 million.
  • Acting for liquidators of Coastal Oil Singapore Pte Ltd, a key bunker trader in Singapore, with debts of around US$350 million.
  • Acting 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.
  • Acting 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.
  • Deputy Subject Coordinator of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education Part B Course, Insolvency Law Module
  • Chairman, Insolvency Committee of Law Society of Singapore
  • 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

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 (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)