International law firm sets up India office in Singapore

November 10th, 2008 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore , Nov 10 (IANS) With foreign law firms unable to set up shop in India, an international law firm has established an office of lawyers in Singapore to focus primarily on capital market transactions in the Indian market.The Britain-based law firm, Clifford Chance, which works closely with numerous Indian law firms, has set up the office in Singapore due to the extensive business ties that the city-state shares with companies in India.

“Singapore was the natural home for our new unit, as it boasts a growing concentration of India-focussed companies and banking units, already well aware of our firm’s capabilities,” said Edward Bradley, who heads the newly-established unit.

At last count, there were around 3,500 Indian companies registered in Singapore and more are following suit. Increasing business between India and East and Southeast Asia has also opened up the likelihood of more litigation and arbitration cases.

With Singapore pushing itself as a hub for international arbitration, law firms in the city-state say it would be a natural fit for international businesses to seek arbitration in Singapore for legal cases involving Indian firms.

Also, there is speculation that the opening up of the legal field in India to foreign competition is inevitable. In anticipation, many international law firms want to be ready to move in once New Delhi allows foreign law firms to operate in India.

This is the likely logic driving the move by Clifford Chance as well. In the past, its lawyers have said that the firm is preparing to offer services in India as soon as regulations allow. A number of other legal firms in Singapore also have in-house groups dealing exclusively with India.

Many of the lawyers attached to Clifford Chance’s India group already have extensive dealings with India and are familiar with the country’s legal and business environment, Bradley said. Its India group currently has over 195 members spread across more than 16 offices in 12 countries.

Clifford Chance will offer their experience and understanding of Indian companies, securities and capital markets, and international standards, a press release from the firm said. It would also provide clients with access to the firm’s expertise in India-related mergers and acquisitions, finance and dispute resolution.

A prime force behind the new team will be Rahul Guptan, a former senior partner at the leading Indian law firm, Amarchand and Mangaldas and Suresh A. Shroff Co., who joined Clifford Chance in August and has relocated to Singapore.

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