Shaun Leong

Partner | Singapore

Secretary Iris Chiang

Operating as Withers KhattarWong LLP in Singapore.


Shaun is a partner in the litigation and arbitration team.

Shaun Leong, FCIArb, is an international arbitration specialist with close to fifteen years of experience in complex cross border commercial disputes. He focuses on developing successful strategies to achieve clients' objectives in cross jurisdictional disputes, and often works with clients to design disputes prevention processes prior to the occurrence of any disputes. Shaun is an internationally recognised leading practitioner at the forefront of emerging and revolutionary technologies including Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), Blockchain and digital assets. Awards and accolades include:

  • Digital Assets Lawyer of the Year nominee in International's Asia Legal Awards 2023
  • International Arbitration Lawyer of the Year nominee in International's Asia Legal Awards 2024
  • Recognised for "particular expertise in cryptocurrency, A.I. and blockchain disputes" (Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2024)
  • International Arbitration Lawyer of the Year nominee (Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific Awards 2022)
  • Shortlisted as Leading Practitioner in Blockchain (Who's Who Legal 2024, 2023 and 2022)
  • Shortlisted for Client Choice Awards 2022 in Blockchain
  • Ranked "Future Star" in International Arbitration (Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2022 and 2023)
  • A "key lawyer" and "international arbitration specialist" (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific 2022 and 2023)
  • “Shaun Leong is one of the brightest, if not the brightest star of his generation. A standout arbitration practitioner with a strategic mind, he is adept at finding practical solutions to complex cross-border issues. He is very dedicated to clients' needs.” (Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2022)
  • “Shaun Leong is extremely astute, commercial and has the excellent ability to develop and implement a customised strategy to effectively resolve complex cross border issues. As a top rate, results-oriented counsel, Shaun is a standout star among peers.” (Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2022)
  • “Shaun Leong is a masterclass in commercial litigation and international arbitration. He is able to break down the issues and focus on the key points that we need to establish our case." (Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2022)
  • "Shaun Leong is a renowned name for cryptoassets disputes…the top name in the Asia-Pacific region as the go-to disputes lawyer for complex digital assets disputes…He is particularly well-versed in blockchain matters." (Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2023)
  • "Shaun is an absolute superstar in the cryptoassets sector. He has achieved remarkable successes for some of the biggest names in the digital assets market and has in a very short time created a reputation as the go-to dispute resolution lawyer in Asia for all things blockchain and Web3. He is a formidable lawyer and cross-border strategist." (Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2023)

Shaun is actively involved in artificial intelligence matters. He was recently successful in representing a prominent digital assets company in a USD 36 million dispute involving novel and complex issues around legal liability arising from purported errors made by trading systems powered by artificial intelligence models and algorithms. He also advised a leading global A.I. powerhouse on cross border disputes and acted as its relationship Partner for projects in Asia and the Middle East. He regularly engages in involved considerations around A.I. matters and hosted seminars on topics such as "Don’t Sue Me, Sue The Robot!”: Arbitrating Artificial Intelligence Liability Disputes" and "Crisis management in the age of artificial intelligence". He recently advocated against pausing the development of A.I. in his article here which is published by the Singapore Business Times, and was invited by the SIAC in the SIAC Symposium and KCAB in South Korea's ADR Festival to speak on A.I. disputes.

His experiences in digital assets, blockchain and "Web 3.0" related disputes include:

  • Shaun recently became the first lawyer in the world to successfully obtain a worldwide proprietary injunction to freeze a non-fungible token on the blockchain in a commercial dispute.
  • Shaun represented investors in all three major collapses in the 2023 crypto winter, in particular the Terraform Luna involving the collapse of one of the world's largest algorithmic stablecoins, the collapse of Three Arrows Capital and the world's second largest crypto exchange, FTX.
  • Shaun sat as arbitrator in a landmark dispute involving the characterisation of digital assets as property and complex issues around the international enforceability of an arbitral award against digital assets.
  • Shaun successfully represented a prominent cryptocurrency exchange in an SIAC international arbitration in a dispute arising from a joint investment where incentive milestone payments were paid in a digital token. The dispute involves complex considerations around the proper valuation of and enforcement against cryptocurrencies.
  • Shaun successfully represented a global cryptocurrency exchange in a dispute which involves complex considerations around the obligations of an exchange in being an innocent third party to the movement of digital assets arising from alleged fraudulent activities.
  • Shaun advised a cryptocurrency exchange on cross border strategies in an international arbitration over cryptocurrency-based structured financial products.
  • Shaun regularly helps clients develop and deploy effective cross border strategies when disputes arise relating to cryptocurrencies and/or NFTs, representing clients in international arbitrations including enforcement work across a myriad of jurisdictions, and advising clients on investments in digitals assets.

Upon graduating with First Class Honours from the National University of Singapore, Shaun served in a judicial capacity as a Magistrate and Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court for five years, where he published several notable written judgments on international arbitration law. The decisions include Firstlink Investments v GT Payment on the applicable law governing an arbitration agreement as endorsed by the English Court of Appeal, and Titan Unity, endorsed by the Singapore Court of Appeal, on the threshold to determine the existence of a valid arbitration agreement. He was the Head of the Court of Appeal Section of the Supreme Court Registry, and was involved in the establishment of the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) as Secretariat of the SICC committee.

Shaun serves on the Inquiry Panel of the Law Society of Singapore.

He is a panel arbitrator with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), and with premier international arbitration centres across Asia-Pacific:

  • Shaun is the Head of the Academy of the Thailand Arbitration Centre (THAC), a premier international arbitration centre in the ASEAN region, and is also a panel arbitrator with the THAC.
  • Arbitrator with the Court of Arbitration of the Blockchain Arbitration Society.
  • Arbitrator with the Bali International Arbitration and Mediation Center.
  • Arbitrator with the Center for International Investment and Commercial Arbitration, a key institution to resolve energy, infrastructure, and Belt & Road disputes.
  • Arbitrator with the Tashkent International Arbitration Centre (TIAC).
  • Arbitrator (仲裁人) with the BeiHai Asia International Arbitration Centre (北海亚洲国际仲裁中心)
  • Arbitrator with the Bangalore International Mediation, Arbitration and Conciliation Centre.

Shaun is a member of the International Arbitration Institute Working Group on international arbitration rules, led by Yas Banifatemi and chaired by French Supreme Court Judge Dominique Hascher.

Shaun is a specialist mediator with the Singapore International Mediation Centre.

Shaun has substantial experience in crisis management including financial disputes. He advised investors in the FTX, Terraform Luna and Three Arrows Capital collapses, and is acting for over a hundred Singapore and foreign based investors in the Credit Suisse AT1 bond crisis in claims worth over SGD 200 million. His defining experience in crisis management was in his representation of a global healthcare company in a crisis management case in a North Asian country, where he was substantially engaged in all aspects of legal and strategic work around the case; including work on mass class action civil claims filed by victims, mediation, settlement and compensation, forensic investigations work in cooperation with Korean authorities, criminal defence work in relation to charged individuals, and strategic, legal advice regarding communications with media and political stakeholders. Shaun also helps organisations develop and implement effective crisis management programs during "peacetime" that are designed to cater for all sorts of unforeseen crises.

Headshot of Shaun Leong

Me in a minute

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I’ve selected law as my career really, and I suppose the genesis of it all would probably be due to my love for reading cultivated since young.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I've selected law as my career really, and I suppose the genesis of it all would probably be due to my love for reading cultivated since young. My mum would bring my sister and I to the old MPH bookstore at Parkway Parade, and we would spend half a day reading books and she would then “force” to buy a few books each time. I went on to do literature at high school and that's when my passion for knowledge & books really accelerated. I started reading widely.

I think at the end of it all, a key essence to being a good advocate is to tell a good story, your client's version of the story. A good book (or movie, for that matter) is often open to multiple interpretations. It's really the same for the best kind of disputes, where top jurists are asked not so much as to interpret what the law says, but to interpret what the law ought to say, when the express legislation, rules and contracts have gaps that need to be filled in.I couldn't have asked for a better start to a legal career. It was an immense honour and privilege to be a Magistrate and Registrar of the Supreme Court at a young age, but with that comes an understanding of responsibility and duty. I learnt a lot - primarily, it was significant to understand the decision-making process of a Judge (or arbitrator), and know how the Judge would view different perspectives and balance different arguments.

I suppose in terms of most memorable judgments, one of it would probably be Titan Unity, where I felt very proud when the Court of Appeal endorsed the decision. Another memorable judgment would be Firstlink Investments v GT payment on the law governing an international arbitration agreement, which was recently endorsed by the English Court of Appeal.What I enjoy doing the most for my clients would be to develop an effective cross border strategy for my clients faced with a dispute. Most clients come to me with a binary mindset, obviously obsessing on the merits of the case and desperate to know if they can win, or if they would lose. More often than not, however, it is important to apply your mind to all relevant jurisdictions at hand, with focus on where the assets are. Developing and employing the correct strategy could achieve a fast, cost efficient, and decisive outcome that would be more important than anything else to achieve their objectives. I get a tremendous satisfaction doing that for my clients.