Engaging a Queen’s Counsel or King’s Counsel in Singapore

Last updated on December 13, 2023

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 section 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.

In 2021, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) had engaged a Queen’s Counsel to conduct litigation cases, train AGC officers in advocacy, and share expertise in handling international disputes, arbitration and mediation.

Finally, by way of section 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.

Note: Since the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2022, all Queen’s Counsel became King’s Counsel in Commonwealth countries such as the UK, Australia, etc. 

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Remedies Available for Civil Litigation
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After the Lawsuit
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