Engaging a Queen’s Counsel in Singapore

Last updated on June 10, 2013

Recently, City Harvest Church member Chew Eng Han’s application for representation by a Queen’s Counsel (an elite breed of English barristers) was dismissed by the Singapore High Court judge, V K Rajah JA.

In normal circumstances only advocates and solicitors of Singapore are able to represent litigants before the Singapore courts. The Legal Profession Act (‘LPA’) of Singapore permits ad-hoc admission of foreign senior counsels under exceptional circumstances, in order for them to represent a client before the court. Section 15 of the LPA sets out the conditions where this is permissible:

  1. The foreign lawyer is a Queen’s Counsel or holds any appointment of equivalent distinction of any jurisdiction;
  2. Does not ordinarily reside in Singapore or Malaysia, but intends to come to Singapore to appear in the case; and
  3. Has special qualifications or experience pertaining to the case

Additionally, if the application is made in a case involving constitutional and administrative law, criminal law, or family law, then by way of s 15(2) of the Act, the court will decline unless there is a special reason to do so. This is so because such areas of law are highly peculiar to Singapore, and it is questionable whether a foreign counsel is able to adequately contribute his expertise to the matter.

Finally, by way of s 15(6A), paragraph 3 of the Legal Profession (Ad Hoc Admissions) Notification 2012 also prescribes further matters that the court may consider in deciding whether to admit a foreign senior counsel. They include:

  1. the nature of the factual and legal issues involved in the case;
  2. the necessity for the services of a foreign senior counsel;
  3. the availability of any Senior Counsel or other advocate and solicitor with appropriate experience; and
  4. whether, having regard to the circumstances of the case, it is reasonable to admit a foreign senior counsel for the purpose of the case.
Before making a claim
  1. Differences between Criminal Law and Civil Law
  2. Effect of Limitation Periods on the Right to Sue in Singapore
  3. Mediation in Singapore
  4. Arbitration and Mediation: When They Can be Useful for Business Disputes
  5. 6 Things You Need to Know about Third-Party Funding in International Arbitration
  6. Can I Sue a Foreigner in Singapore?
  7. Should You Sue? 8 Things to Think About Before Suing
  8. What to Do If Someone Sues Your Singapore Business
  9. Arbitration: When and How to Arbitrate Business Disputes in Singapore
  10. How to Write a Cease and Desist Letter in Singapore
Making a claim - the beginning of a dispute
  1. Law on Writ of Summons in Singapore
  2. Engaging a Queen’s Counsel in Singapore
  3. Letters of Demand and Their Usages in Singapore
  4. Making a Small Claim in the Small Claims Tribunals in Singapore
  5. Security of Payment Act: Claiming Progress Payments for Construction Work Done
  6. Negotiating a Settlement in a Business Dispute
  7. What if I Cannot Find the Party I Want to Sue?
  8. First Meeting With Your Business Dispute Lawyer: What to Expect
  9. Received a "Without Prejudice" Letter? Here’s What It Means
The Litigation Process
  1. Admissibility of Evidence in the Singapore Courts
  2. Civil Litigation in Singapore
  3. Gag orders – the law in Singapore
  4. Default Judgments and Summary Judgments in Singapore
  5. Memorandum of Appearance in Singapore: What It is and How to File
  6. After the Lawsuit: Who Has to Pay Whom, and How Much?
  7. Affidavits in Singapore: What Are They and How to Prepare One
  8. How to Get a Writ of Seizure and Sale to Enforce a Judgment
  9. Subpoenaed to be a Court Witness in Singapore: What You Need to Do
  10. Who is an Expert Witness and How to Use Expert Evidence in Singapore
Remedies available
  1. Types of Injunctions in Singapore
  2. Specific Performance: Obtaining this Equitable Remedy in Singapore