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International law: UK firm announces office in Singapore to win arbitration business

UK law firm Addleshaw Goddard has announced that it is to open an office in Singapore, in a bid to win more arbitration business in the booming international trade hub.

The office will be the firm's first outside the UK, and is set to open for business in May 2012.

Although the firm admit the initial focus will be on winning arbitration business, they have said that the office could expand later to offer a fuller range of legal services. The office will be run by Jamie Harrison, who joined Addleshaws from US firm Winston & Strawn in 2009.

Monica Burch is a senior partner.

"In terms of targets, we will see where our clients take us," she said.

"We need to be in the region to take the offering to the next level. The new office will give us proximity to clients in Asia, so it feels like a very natural move," she added.

The office will employ a local manager, and the firm are coy about the prospective headcount for the new venture, saying that any expansion will be demand driven.

The firm has shown strong growth in recent years, and the announcement of the Singapore office comes in advance of an expected announcement that the business will also open an office in Dubai in 2013. This second international office will also focus on arbitration opportunities.

Addleshaw Goddard is the latest of a number of UK law firms to announce offices in Singapore. LG, Withers and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have all announced plans to open, or reopen offices in the country. Another major international player, Linklaters, confirmed recently that it will apply for a licence to practice local law in Singapore, after ending its partnership with Singapore firm Allen & Gledhill.

Arbitration contracts tend to focus on industries which are currently booming in Singapore, including energy, infrastructure and business joint ventures.

"It's a neutral, easy and cost-effective venue in which to resolve disputes; the natural choice in Asia, if not the world," said Mr Harrison.

Related links:

Read more on the story (Legal Week)

Arbitration overview (FindLaw)