Shaun Leong

Partner, Withers KhattarWong* | Singapore

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

Shaun is a partner in the litigation and arbitration team.

Shaun Leong, FCIArb, is an international arbitration specialist with more than a decade of experience in complex cross border commercial disputes across a myriad of sectors including technology, life sciences, infrastructure and energy sectors. He focuses on developing and employing successful strategies to achieve clients’ objectives in cross jurisdictional disputes. Shaun is ranked Singapore’s most influential, youngest international arbitration specialist from an international firm, by the Singapore Business Review, and has been recognised by AsiaLaw, a leading legal ranking directory focused on Asian markets, as a leading practitioner with an "extremely positive attitude, very responsive to requests, and has a good internal network for cross-border matters".

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 receives arbitrator appointments in Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) arbitrations, and is appointed Arbitrator on the panels of premier international arbitration centres in India, China and ASEAN:

  • Shaun is the first Singaporean to be appointed on the panel of Arbitrators with the Tashkent International Arbitration Centre (TIAC). Sitting in a strategic pivot of the ancient Silk Road as well as the modern Digital Silk Road, the TIAC is a prime centre to resolve cross border Belt & Road disputes, and is also proud to promote the resolution of technology disputes, where the lex arbitri has found disputes involving issues of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and artificial intelligence to be arbitrable.
  • He is appointed an Arbitrator (仲裁人) on the Panel of BeiHai Asia International Arbitration Centre (北海亚洲国际仲裁中心), with a focus on ASEAN Belt & Road Disputes. The Centre is the first ever International Arbitration Centre in Singapore established by a Chinese commission.
  • Shaun is appointed a Panel Arbitrator of the Thailand Arbitration Centre, a premier international arbitration centre in the ASEAN region.
  • In recognition of his work on international technology disputes, Shaun is also appointed an Arbitrator on the Panel of the Bangalore International Mediation, Arbitration and Conciliation Centre, styled the “Silicon Valley of South Asia”.

Shaun regularly advises and represents clients in technology related disputes, and acts as project manager to coordinate legal issues faced by tech companies:

  • Shaun’s clients include many technology companies: SenseTime (world’s most valuable A.I. company), Softbank Robotics, Glaxosmithkline, Telkomsel; Onchain Custodian, a cryptocurrency custodian company which won Singapore’s Fintech Awards in 2019; and Moaah, a company that develops software based on blockchain technology.
  • Shaun works with Horangi, the leading cybersecurity, data-security and crypto-security company in Asia trusted by industry leaders in the tech ecosystem such as GoJek, PropertyGuru and Ninjavan, to develop and customise digital security frameworks to suit an organisation’s needs.
  • He published the first written decisions issued by an Assistant Registrar of the High Court of Singapore on disclosure orders over electronic documents on the Cloud (Dirak Asia Pte Ltd v Chew Hua Kok), and in a separate decision, on compulsory orders to disclose data on mobile devices (Surface Stone Pte Ltd v Tay Seng Leon).

Shaun also helps organisations develop and implement effective crisis management programs. His defining experience in this area was in his representation of a global healthcare company in a crisis management case in South Korea, 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.

Secretary Iris CHIANG

Track record

Admissions

Publications

Memberships

Talks

Successfully represented a global energy client in an Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) Emergency Arbitration in obtaining emergency relief to protect and preserve the client’s assets in a multi-million dollar commodities dispute.

Successfully represented a global client engaged in supplying energy products for breaches committed by an Indonesian company of the client’s exclusive entitlement to energy goods in Indonesia in an SIAC arbitration.

Successfully represented one of the world’s largest Japanese car manufacturers in an alleged breach of a nation-wide distributorship agreement in an SIAC arbitration.

Singapore, 2012

Shaun, together with Singapore International Commercial Court Judge Justice Bernard Eder, co-wrote a chapter on “The Evolving Role of the Singapore International Commercial Court, Jurisdictional Issues and Enforcement Perspectives” in Singapore International Arbitration Law & Practice (2018, Second Edition, LexisNexis).

Shaun is a contributing author to the Singapore Civil Procedure ("The White Book”) for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 editions. In all editions, Shaun was in charge of the chapters relating to international arbitration, Singapore arbitration and the Singapore International Commercial Court.

Chitty on Contracts, Hong Kong Specific Contracts (2019, 6th Edition, Sweet & Maxwell)

Member, Singapore Academy of Law

Member, Singapore Law Society

Speaker on “Managing Contracts in a time of Crisis” on 17 June 2020, a webinar organised by Events4Sure

Speaker on “The Covid-19 International Arbitration Protocol – Making Arbitration Make Sense Again; the expedient and cost-effective resolution of your Cross-Border dispute”, a webinar organised by the BeiHai Asia International Arbitration Centre, in May 2020.

Speaker on “Flourishing in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: Essential Elements of being a New Age Digital Corporate Counsel”, a webinar organised by Shaun alongside friends from Amazon, SenseTime, and Telkomsel, in May 2020.

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.

Education


Languages


  • English
  • Mandarin

Dates


Joined

2020

Singapore

80 Raffles Place,

#25-01 UOB Plaza 1,

048624

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