Shipping & International Trade

Managing a complex portfolio of high-end shipping work throughout the region, in both “wet” and “dry” contentious matters, as well as in ship finance and other non-contentious matters, our maritime practice is quite simply the dominant force in Singapore within this highly specialised area.

With varied areas of expertise and a wealth of experience, coupled with keen commercial acumen, our shipping practice group continues to dominate the Singapore maritime scene – and increasingly to make its presence felt in the wider region. The group is consistently placed in the “top tier” and ranked as a “band 1” shipping firm by independent legal directories.

Now led by Senior Counsel Toh Kian Sing, who assumed the mantle from shipping law doyen Steven Chong, the partners are recognised by Chambers Global and the Legal 500 as leading practitioners and experts in the maritime arena. Collectively and individually, we have won testimonials as Asian counsel of first resort in shipping and trade-related work.

A team of many talents

The group has grown steadily over the years, now comprising more than 30 lawyers. Specialists include lawyers with in-house and seagoing experience, two qualified marine engineers, and a resident master mariner. The team continues to diversify and add to its talent pool with foreign lawyers, dual-qualified advocates, and solicitors who are admitted to the English roll.

A world-class client base

Our depth of knowledge and intimate understanding of the maritime industry have enabled us to build a solid following of world-class clients both within Singapore and regionally. We now have a significant practice in North Asia, particularly in China where two of our PRC-qualified lawyers are based at the firm’s Shanghai office. Korea and Japan count amongst the jurisdictions where we have a strong following of ship-owning clients.

A reputation for responsiveness

The group’s strong reputation is grounded upon our responsiveness, the incisive ability of our advocates in both court and arbitration settings, and an ability to offer bespoke, timely, and insightful advice. Industry-attuned expertise and experience remain our forte in resolving conflicts and achieving the best results for our clients. We are ideally positioned to handle the escalation of disputes-work in the turbulent economic climate and steep decline in the shipping sector which has seen our participation in substantial arbitrations in Singapore, Hong Kong and London.

Serving clients worldwide

The group serves an international clientele comprising major shipowners, shipping lines, operators, underwriters, P&I Clubs, shipyards and builders, energy and power generation companies, oil majors, commodities houses, port terminals and banks. We manage a complex portfolio of top-tier casework, advising clients and co-ordinating cases regionally and across most maritime jurisdictions. Our work is typically multijurisdictional, spanning the entire spectrum of general ‘dry’ shipping, casualty and ‘wet’ work, arrests and security-taking, ship finance, trade, and marine insurance.

A seamless service . . .

Our overseas network of correspondents, including foreign lawyers based at the firm’s satellite offices, enables us to advise clients, tap contacts, supervise foreign litigation, and instruct appropriate professionals at short notice to ensure seamless and efficient handling of cases across borders.

. . . from shipyard to scrapyard

Traditionally, contentious work has been the group’s strong suit. Our strengths are equally weighted between ‘wet’ work and ‘dry’ work. We pride ourselves in our ability to assist in every contingency “from shipyard to scrapyard”.


Practice areas

Collisions And Marine Casualties

Led by “wet” specialists Leong Kah Wah and Jainil Bhandari, supported by our resident master mariner, the group’s collision and casualty response team handles a broad spectrum of casualty-related work. In fact, since the 1990s, we’ve been involved in virtually every major casualty occurrence in Singapore – including collisions, sinkings, explosions, fires, strandings, salvage and marine pollution.

The services we provide include casualty management, investigation and resolution of regulatory issues, advice on marine pollution liability, advice on rights and liabilities, choice of jurisdiction, and resolution of disputes arising from casualties, including representation of parties in collision and limitation actions.

Charterparties, Cargo Claims and Security-Taking

We advise on all facets of charterparties, bills of lading, cargo damage / loss claims, tug / tow matters and multi-modal transport issues, both in relation to drafting and problem-solving.

Senior members of the group, Toh Kian Sing SC and Leong Kah Wah, have extensive litigation experience in this varied area of work and handle all aspects of such disputes. Kendall Tan features regularly in foreign litigation supervision and cross-jurisdictional asset-tracing and arrest-work. We pride ourselves on having delivered the desired results for our clients in numerous top-end disputes in court actions and arbitrations, both domestic and foreign.

Oil Trading and Transportation

We handle all aspects of disputes relating to oil and LNG transportation and trading, spanning Platts’ disputes to oil trading arrangements, contamination claims, and other quantity / quality issues. We represent oil majors, terminals, tanker fleet operators, and some of the world’s biggest independent oil-trading houses.

John Seow is recognised as a leading practitioner in this field. Bunker suppliers regularly instruct Kendall Tan, supported by other members of the group who are attuned to the market’s need for prompt and cost-effective solutions.

Shipbuilding, Repairs and Conversion

Led by Philip Tay and Winston Kwek, our practice group in this increasingly important growth area has been involved in the most significant shipbuilding and conversion disputes arbitrated in Singapore and London.

Over the years, the scope of our work in this field has widened dramatically. It’s no longer restricted to the ‘traditional’ issues of shipyard/ ship owner disputes but has matured into a complex and specialised practice involving a wide range of issues relating to the shipbuilding and repair disciplines – including work and task scheduling between the different construction disciplines, prolongation, disruption and acceleration costs, work variations and additional works and quality issues of newbuilding, repairs and conversion. A spike in disputes in this field with the downturn in the shipping market has seen active involvement by members of our group in substantial arbitrations.

Mortgage Enforcement and Ship Finance Disputes

Our team has extensive experience in the mortgage enforcement scene. And we are well equipped to resolve ship sale and purchase and other MOA-related or financing disputes. Winston Kwek’s experience in this area makes him the preferred counsel of choice for banks and other financial institutions, both local and international.

Marine Insurance

This well established area of our practice encompasses cargo insurance, hull and machinery insurance, builders’ insurance and P&I cover. Our lawyers advise underwriters, brokers and insured parties on their rights and liabilities under the relevant marine insurance policies.

Toh Kian Sing SC and Winston Kwek are highly regarded in the area, having acted as counsel in well-publicised marine insurance disputes litigated in the Singapore courts. We are also actively involved in the resolution of a variety of marine insurance disputes whether in court or by arbitration.

Commodity Trading and Trade Finance

The team’s specialist experience covers all aspects of trade finance transactions and disputes with an international trade context. In this key growth area, we advise a broad range of clients including banks, financial institutions, and commodity houses in trade finance documentation and litigation.

Leong Kah Wah and Jainil Bhandari have extensive experience in managing FOSFA and GAFTA arbitrations. Toh Kian Sing SC has established a reputation as the counsel of choice for his expertise in advising banks and traders on both contentious and non-contentious aspects of trade finance including letters of credit, structured finance, warehouse finance, collateral management agreements, and international sale of goods.

Ship Finance and Non-Contentious Work

The group also has a robust corporate shipping & finance practice that is recognised as an outstanding market leader in its own right.  Led by Chua Choon King, who has over 20 years’ experience, the non-contentious shipping team is regularly involved in ship sale and purchase, sale & lease-back transactions and ship financing matters.  The team has acted for a wide range of local and international ship financing banks, on both bilateral and syndicated shipping loans.  The team also handles the whole gamut of shipping corporate work required by shipowners and chartering interests, and routinely advise on financing and ownership structures, tax and related choice of flag issues, shipbuilding contracts, commodities contracts, berth/terminal leasing contracts and joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions involving ship-owning interests.