Winston is active in dispute resolution work in the Singapore courts as well as in international arbitrations and mediation. He was appointed to the pioneer batch of Senior Accredited Specialists for Maritime and Shipping Law by the Singapore Academy of Law’s Specialist Accreditation Scheme, and has been recognised as one of Asia’s Super 50 Disputes Lawyers 2023 by Asian Legal Business (ALB).
Winston has extensive experience in a wide variety of shipping related work ranging from marine insurance, ship sale and purchase, ship finance, casualty work, ship construction and repair, structured finance, commodities and charterparty disputes to shipping fraud cases.
He is the preferred counsel for banks and financial institutions, both local and international, when it comes to ‘work-outs’ (insolvency, re-structuring and mortgage enforcement) – having led the development of direct judicial sales of ships, both singly and in a fleet, arrested in Singapore to specific buyers instead of via the traditional Sheriff’s public auctions.
In Chambers Global – The World’s Leading Lawyers, he comes highly recommended by clients due to his “overwhelming experience and ability to put in that little bit extra to tip the balance in a case” and is “always the first choice” for mortgage enforcement work. Other recognitions include:
- Chambers Asia Pacific – Shipping: Litigation (since 2010)
- The Legal 500 Asia Pacific – Leading Lawyer
- Who’s Who Legal Southeast Asia – Recommended for Transport: Shipping Guide
- Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific – Shipping Litigation Star
- Asialaw Profiles Asia Pacific – Leading Lawyer
- Euromoney’s Guide to the World’s Leading Shipping & Maritime Lawyers
- Euromoney’s The Best of the Best
- The Best Lawyers – Recommended Lawyer
Winston also taught the Law of Marine Insurance at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore as an Adjunct Associate Professor, and is the Editor of Marine Insurance, Halsbury’s Laws of Singapore.
Notable Cases & Transactions
- Successfully represented Sumifru Singapore in a claim for an employee's (a shipping director) breach of fiduciary duties and the liability of third parties for dishonest assistance.
- Successfully defended Sinoda Shipping Agency Pte Ltd against a shipowner’s allegations and claims of conspiracy, fraudulent and malicious conduct in having issued unauthorized and unlawful switched bills of lading.
- Acted for Changi Airport Group in the first and only proceedings in the Singapore Courts for the break-up and disposal of a cargo-liner operated by Jett8.
- Successfully acted in the worldwide enforcement by HSH Nordbank AG against the Karahasan fleet of vessels, amounting to a claim value of US$65 million, and which resulted in a change in Turkish law on arrests of Turkish-flagged vessels by foreign Courts.
- Successfully acted for a syndicate of banks (with Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank acting as the security agent) in the enforcement of mortgages against and arrests of 3 vessels belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (“IRISL”). The Singapore Admiralty Court being the first in the world to effect arrests of IRISL vessels in the context of the Iranian Sanctions, the matter attracted worldwide attention and was closely followed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, US, and the Attorney-General’s Chambers of Singapore.
- Advising the joint and several judicial managers of Swiber Holdings Limited and Swiber Offshore Construction Pte Ltd in the judicial management of the two companies, which operated more than 50 specialist vessels. This is one of the most significant and high profile judicial management cases in recent years, with total debt of more than US$2 billion.
- Acted for the judicial managers of Swissco Holdings Ltd in relation to issues arising from the judicial management of the Swissco group. The Swissco Group operated more than 100 vessels and its total liabilities were in excess of US$300 million.
- Acted for a leading financial institution and the Judicial Manager in the US$1.5 billion debt restructuring of Agritrade International. The discovery of duplicated bills of lading to obtain multiple financing from different financial institutions for a single underlying or non-existent cargo led to the application of judicial management to investigate and maximise recovery.
- Acted for United Overseas Bank in the enforcement of naval mortgages that secured loans totaling some S$200 million against 11 vessels owned and operated by Searights, a Singapore bunkering company. The 11 bunker tankers and barges were successfully sold together as a fleet.
- Acted for Keppel Shipyard in a successful recovery in the re-structuring (PKPU) of the PT Arpeni Pratama Ocean Lines Group (large Indonesian ship owners and operators, with total debt of about US$590 million) in Indonesia.
- Acted for the Glory Wealth Group in its successful re-structuring of its total debt of about US$900 million.
- Acted for Norsk Tillitsmann ASA, bond-trustee, DnB Norbank and a number of unsecured creditors in the re-structuring of the PT Berlian Laju Tanker Group in Indonesia. This is the largest Indonesian liquid cargo shipping company, owning a fleet of about 50 vessels at the time. In January 2012, with total debt of almost US$2 billion, it had suddenly announced a standstill on debt repayments and later obtained court protection from creditor action in Singapore and the US against its assets.
- Acted for Finance Ltd of US$150 million senior secured callable bonds, secured by, amongst others, a first priority mortgage over the Offshore Drilling Unit “Petrosaudi Saturn” owned by PSOS Finance, which is part of the Petrosaudi Group.
- Acted for Alpha Bank SA in the US$54 million loan default by the borrowers/owners of the MV “SEA URCHIN”, in which Singapore jurisprudence in the specific aspect of judicial sale of ships was further developed. When arrested in Singapore, there was a US$40 million cargo of soya bean onboard. To avoid the cargo interests having to bear at least US$3 million in cargo discharge and transshipment costs, all parties involved (mortgage bank, charterers and cargo owners) collaborated and found a buyer who was prepared to pay slightly above market value to purchase the vessel, with cargo onboard, in a judicial sale and thereafter sail to destination to discharge the cargo. In a controversial decision, however, the Court rejected the parties’ application for direct sale of the vessel to the buyer. The SEA URCHIN  SGHC 24.
- Acted for bondholders and their trustee, Norsk Tillitsmann AS, against the Petromena, Petroprod and Petrojack Groups, who had defaulted under various loan agreements that were secured by assignments of a number of rig – construction contracts and mortgages over FPSO’s. The value of the claim exceeded US$1 billion.
- Acted for Den Norske Bank in the successful foreclosure of a loan against the Norbulk fleet of 6 vessels in Singapore and in Hong Kong. We successfully applied for direct judicial sales to named buyers. The entire enforcement process from the arrest of the first vessel to the sale, judgment and payment out of all vessels took only four months. The value of the claim was US$7.8 million.
- Sumifru Singapore Pte Ltd v Felix Santos Ishizuka and others  SGHC 14
- Koh Chew Chee v Liu Shu Ming and Tong Xin  SGHC 25
- Fengli Group Shanghai Logistics Co. Ltd and others v Visa Resources Pte Ltd and others  SGHC (unreported)
- Tongbao Shipping (Singapore) Pte Ltd and another v Woon Swee Huat and others  SGHC 165
- Simgood Pte Ltd v MLC Shipbuilding Sdn Bhd and others  1 SLR 1129 (High Court)
- Grains and Industrial Products Trading Pte Ltd v Bank of India and another  1 SLR 1213 (High Court);  3 SLR 1308 (Court of Appeal)
- The Sea Urchin  2 SLR 646
- Alliance Concrete Singapore Pte Ltd v Sato Kogyo (S) Pte Ltd  3 SLR 857 (Court of Appeal);  SGHC 127 (High Court)
- Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd and others v McTrans Cargo (S) Pte Ltd  4 SLR 250 (High Court)
- The Sahand  2 SLR 1093
- Alliance Concrete Singapore Pte Ltd v Comfort Resources Pte Ltd  4 SLR(R) 602 (Court of Appeal);  4 SLR(R) 848 (High Court)
- NCC International AB v Alliance Concrete Singapore Pte Ltd  2 SLR(R) 565 (Court of Appeal)
- Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance (Singapore) Ltd v Metico Marine Pte Ltd and Another  3 SLR(R) 333 (High Court)
- Re Econ Corp Ltd  1 SLR(R) 273 (High Court)
- Supermix Concrete Pte Ltd v Econ Corp Ltd (Public Utilities Board, garnishees)  1 SLR(R) 250 (High Court)
- Fortune Hong Kong Trading Ltd v Cosco-Feoso (Singapore) Pte Ltd  2 SLR 717 (Court of Appeal)
- Fortune Hong Kong Trading Ltd v Cosco Feoso (Singapore) Pte Ltd  1 SLR(R) 962 (Court of Appeal)
- The “Nikolas”  4 SLR 385
- The “Million No II”  2 SLR 618
- The “Kapitan Temkin”  3 SLR 254
Memberships / Directorships
- Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
- Fellow, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators
- Independent Director, BH Global Marine Limited
- Independent Director, Penguin International Limited
- Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore (2003 to 2016)
- Adjunct Fellow, Centre for Maritime Law, National University of Singapore (2015 to 2018)
- Editor, Marine Insurance, Halsbury’s Laws of Insurance, Vol. 13 (2)
- Editor, Insurance Law, Annual Review, Singapore Academy of Law