Leslie Chew

Consultant, Withers KhattarWong* | Singapore

Withers KhattarWong LLP is a Singapore law practice, affiliated with Withers LLP.

Leslie is a consultant in the litigation and arbitration team.

He is a senior counsel who practises primarily at the Commercial Bar. From time to time he acts for clients in commercial crime or white collar cases. Leslie has practised for 26 years at the Bar. He was appointed Senior Counsel by the Supreme Court – Singapore’s equivalent of the Queen’s Counsel in England – in 2000.

In the course of his private practice of over 26 years, Leslie has acted as counsel for all the major banks in Singapore and a number of private banks, including DBS Bank, HSBC and UOB Bank. He has also acted in medical cases on behalf of all the restructured hospitals as well as private hospitals including Thomson Hospital. In international arbitration he has acted for clients in multimillion dollar disputes in the Asia Pacific Region. As arbitrator he has sat as presiding arbitrator and co-arbitrator in SIAC, ICC and UNCITRAL arbitrations in several jurisdictions including India, Nepal and South Korea.

As a commercial lawyer, over the years Leslie has advised clients and negotiated deals on their behalf, around the world including in Europe and the Asia Pacific Region.

Leslie has also had an active insolvency law practice where he was counsel to both financial institutions and liquidators. He was involved as counsel, in the failure of Emporium Holdings, Pan El, Barings, and Elyamani Khamis, the Britannia Group of companies to name a few. In 2000, in the case of ‘The Liquidators of Barings Plc v Coopers and Lybrand others’, he was the only local counsel appearing in the case in Singapore, the other 6 counsel being Queens Counsel.

He is an established commercial arbitrator who has practised as an arbitrator and arbitration counsel since 1993. As an arbitrator he has been Presiding Arbitrator and Co-Arbitrator in ICC, SIAC and UNCITRAL arbitrations and has arbitrated international commercial disputes in the Asia Pacific and South Asia.

As Counsel he has acted in multi-million dollar international disputes in arbitration as well as in commercial cases both in courts in Singapore and abroad.

After practising at the Bar for 26 years, Leslie was appointed a District Judge in April of 2007. After almost 7 years in the judiciary, he retired from the State Courts on 13 March 2014 and returned to private practice on 1 April 2014.

During his tenure as a district judge, he held the appointment of Senior District Judge (SDJ) since 2009, where he headed the Civil Justice Division, leading some 23 Judges and was responsible for the civil cases list. During this time too, Leslie was a key member of the Senior Management of the Subordinate Courts (now the State Courts) which led the organization when it was awarded the prestigious Singapore Quality Award (Special Commendation), the highest Business Excellence award in Singapore.

As a district judge presiding in civil cases, Leslie wrote a number of important decisions which influenced law reform or led to changes in the law. During his tenure as a senior district judge, Leslie continued to teach arbitration law. In 2010 he was appointed a professorial fellow by the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (SILE). He was invited to design an arbitration course as an elective in the Part B of the Bar Examinations and the result was the introduction of an Elective in the Bar examinations – The Law and Practice of Arbitration. Leslie has been teaching the course since 2011 and is also the principal examiner for the subject.

He is the founding dean of Singapore’s third law school - School of Law, SIM University and is also a regular teacher at professional arbitration courses organized by the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators and the NUS Faculty of Law (the Graduate Certificate in International Arbitration). He has also been a visiting professor at the Ateneo de Manila Law School, Philippines where he taught international arbitration.

Track record





Acting for the Barings group in the action against Price Waterhouse Coopers. When Barings Bank collapsed, a multi-billion pound action against its auditors was started in London and part of the trial took place in Singapore.

In the case of Redwood Tree Pte Ltd v CPL Trading Pte [2009] SGDC 204 decided, Leslie wrote that the District Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear cases for ‘money had and received’. This decision was later referred to with approval by the High Court in MCST No 2911 v Tham Keng Mun & Ors [2011] 1 SLR 1263. As a result of Redwood Tree, in 2010, the Subordinate Courts Act was amended, among other things, to address this lacuna in the District Court’s jurisdiction.

Supreme Court of Singapore, 1981

England & Wales

‘Arbitration Handbook’, LexisNexis

‘Introduction to the law and practice of arbitration in Singapore’, LexisNexis - 2010

Singapore Academy of Law

Past President of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators

Australia Centre of International Commercial Arbitration, Singapore Mediation Centre, Principal Mediator

Third Criminal Law Conference, Singapore - 2016

‘Frontline’, Channel 8 News, Singapore - 12 Oct 2016

Me in a minute

Nothing excites me more than solving problems for my clients

I love the pursuit of law both intellectually and in action. Nothing excites me more than being able to solve problems for my clients. I am curious and enjoying learning new things.



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