The government of Singapore has said it will delay the renewal process for five international firms’ licences to practice local law in the city-state, instead deciding to extend their licences by a year.
A notice published by the Ministry of Law last month said magic circle firms Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance, US firms Latham & Watkins and White & Case and international firm Norton Rose Fulbright will have their licences extended to 2020 while the government decides whether to renew them and how long they will last.
The ministry said it will assess the ’performance and contribution’ of each firm to Singapore and their respective proposals.
The firms all operate in Singapore under the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) scheme. The QFLP programme, which has been in operation for a decade, enables foreign practices to hire Singapore-qualified lawyers and give Singaporean law advice.
The five firms were awarded their licences in 2009 and they were renewed in 2014. Their current licences are due to expire in 2019.
Another batch of firms, US outfits Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Jones Day and Sidley Austin plus magic circle firm Linklaters, were awarded licences in 2013. Their licences were due to expire in 2018 but the ministry also decided to defer the decision on renewal until 2020.
The ministry said: ‘To decide whether to renew a firm’s QFLP licence, the ministry will consider the firm’s quantitative and qualitative performance, such as the value of work that the Singapore office will generate and the extent to which the Singapore office will function as the firm’s headquarters for the region, during the licence period relative to its earlier commitments, the firm’s proposal for the new licence period.’