Appeals & Issues
Rajah & Tann offers the expertise and experience of the nation’s only group of advocates dedicated to the practice of appellate advocacy before the Supreme Court of Singapore.
Building on the Firm’s already powerful disputes practice, our lawyers are regularly instructed in some of the most important and complex appeals to confront the Singapore courts. Extending beyond appellate work, our lawyers’ prized skills in legal research, written and oral advocacy means that we are often involved in “high stakes” trials and arbitrations, especially those involving novel issues of law, complex facts, cross-border and international elements, or which are likely to be appealed or challenged in court.
Why it’s different
Clients everywhere usually consider strengthening their legal teams for appeals before the Supreme Court because they represent the last opportunity to convince the courts of one’s case. There are also keen differences between trial and appellate advocacy. The focus in trials is on witness handling. Appeals, on the other hand, are often heard under immense pressure of time, based on a reading of the documents tendered at trial. This requires an ability to bring to life a client’s case while maintaining keen focus on the legal issues and facts that will carry the court. Appellate judges are also concerned about the impact of a particular decision on the future development of the law. Persuasive appellate advocacy thus requires a wider appreciation of the social, political, economic and legal context of a case. In recent times, the practice of our Court of Appeal has also changed dramatically, requiring specialist skills in written and oral advocacy. In addition to intense questioning from the Court, page limits on written submissions demand selective, direct and powerful advocacy.
Why we’re different
Our practice is unlike any other. We are the first to recognise the value-add of a strong appellate practice to our clients. We do this by studying trends in both the practices and judicial philosophies of the appellate court. Our practice is helmed by managing partner and senior counsel Lee Eng Beng and draws upon the Firm’s other senior counsel, Andre Yeap, Francis Xavier and Toh Kian Sing. We are also privileged to count among its members, lawyers with exceptional academic and practice credentials, including former Supreme Court law clerks, former judicial officers, highly-regarded academics and top graduates from the finest universities in the world with extensive mooting, debating and law review experience. A significant number of our lawyers also hold postgraduate specialisations and are qualified in major jurisdictions such as England and Wales and the State of New York.
Our lawyers are also active members of the legal profession, and contribute through their memberships in various high-level committees, law reform efforts and in other advisory capacities. We also speak, teach and write in our respective areas of research interest, thus providing thought leadership both in and beyond the confines of the courtroom.
In addition, we have access to the Firm’s Visiting Academics, which presently include Professor Yeo Tiong Min (Dean, Singapore Management University School of Law) and Associate Professor Goh Yihan (Singapore Management University School of Law). Both have published influential work and appeared as experts and amici before the courts.
Our collective experience gives us invaluable insight into the workings of the judiciary which are brought to bear in every case.
Areas of expertise
In line with the Firm’s profile, our Supreme Court practice spans a broad range of significant civil and commercial disputes, often involving cross-border elements. Our practice includes the following:
- Banking and financial services disputes, including allegations of lack of mandate, fraud and negligence, disputes relating to the ISDA Master Agreement, and mis-selling of financial products.
- Shareholder disputes, including minority oppression and disputes among joint venture partners.
- Public and administrative law cases, including judicial review, the jurisdiction of the courts, and the professional discipline of lawyers and doctors.
- Private international law disputes, including issues arising from cross-border disputes, such as jurisdictional disputes, the enforcement of foreign judgments, as well as arbitration-related court proceedings.
- Public international law disputes, whether in court or before international tribunals, on issues involving bilateral investment and other treaty obligations, sovereign immunity, sanctions, privileges and immunities of international organisations.
What we do
Our practice covers every aspect of Supreme Court advocacy, including advising on the merits of an appeal and actual conduct of the appeal. We also collaborate with trial teams to identify and craft the most persuasive positions, as well as advise on tactical and strategic considerations involved in applications for summary judgment, striking-out, and leave applications to appeal or to seek judicial review.
- Advice: we advise at any stage of the proceedings on any aspect of the dispute. This includes advising as to the merits of a claim, defence or appeal or on any aspect of the trial and appellate process itself.
- Written advocacy: our lawyers are able to provide thorough research capabilities and written advocacy including written advice to clients, strategic correspondence, pleadings, and submissions before the courts and international tribunals.
- Oral advocacy: our lawyers have been involved in leading advocacy before tribunals and courts at every level and are able to represent our clients accordingly.
How we do it
We avoid unnecessary costs by working closely with our clients to understand and to meet their needs. In this regard, we promise the following:
- Customised service: Although we are fully capable of leading an appeal, our practice comprises lawyers at all levels of seniority who are also capable of slotting into a pre-existing team and to fulfill specific roles within the team. We recognise that not every case requires a huge team or senior counsel and that clients should have maximum flexibility to tailor their legal teams with members from various practices, firms and chambers.
- Collaborative service: Even when instructed as lead counsel for an appeal, it has been our experience that a collaborative effort with the trial team is often productive and ultimately saves costs by minimising disruption and tapping on their knowledge of the trial. Indeed, some clients prefer to retain their trial lawyers for the appeal but desire a second opinion or an extra pair of hands. Our lawyers are accustomed to working closely with trial teams to deliver the best possible outcome for our clients.
- Flexible fee structures: We are fully committed to minimising legal costs for our clients. To this end, we are able to provide flexible fee arrangements depending on your needs. For example, we are able to provide preliminary views on the merits of an appeal at a flat fee.
Consistent with the Firm’s active involvement in the community, our practice also welcomes enquiries to act for indigent clients within our spheres of competence on a pro bono basis.