Toby Landau becomes first Queen’s Counsel to be admitted to the Singapore Bar

Mr Toby Landau was part of the team that represented Singapore in the Railway Land Arbitration against Malaysia in 2014.
Mr Toby Landau was part of the team that represented Singapore in the Railway Land Arbitration against Malaysia in 2014.PHOTO: ESSEX COURT CHAMBERS

Prominent English lawyer Toby Landau has become the first Queen's Counsel to be admitted to the Singapore Bar - a move that reflects Singapore's growing stature as a global legal hub.

High Court Justice Quentin Loh, in welcoming Mr Landau and other new lawyers on behalf of the Chief Justice and the Bench on Thursday, described his admission as a "historic occasion in the legal history of Singapore".

"He is an advocate who has already made his mark on the world stage. An advocate of great renown, a great reputation and with forensic skills that are acknowledged by many professional directories," added Justice Loh.

The judge noted that while QCs have been admitted on an ad hoc basis to argue particular cases, "Mr Landau has chosen to throw in his lot, so to speak, with us".

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English QCs are an elite and eminent group of lawyers appointed by the Queen based on merit and are largely made up of barristers.

Justice Loh's address was highlighted by Essex Court Chambers where Mr Landau has an independent practice.

Mr Landau, 49, will be based in Singapore and has met the pre-conditions for general admission to the Bar here, including residency requirements.

Justice Loh said the move showed that "Singapore is not going to be a small little pond where we practise" and the country was "open more and more to international pressures and international work".

He looked forward to Mr Landau imparting some of his "very considerable knowledge and skills and values" to younger members of the Bar.

QC Landau has previously been admitted to the Singapore Bar on an ad hoc basis to argue in the high-stakes Astro v First Media and Lippo litigation before both the Singapore High Court and Court of Appeal, among other matters.

He has also appeared in arbitrations in Singapore alongside local lawyers. Mr Landau has been on the Panel of Advisers of the Attorney-General since 2012, and was part of the team that represented Singapore in the Railway Land Arbitration against Malaysia in 2014.

He will not be joining or establishing a full-service law firm in Singapore, said Essex Court Chambers.

But he will work alongside other Singapore lawyers as part of his existing international practice.

Mr Landau said he was "deeply appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to Singapore and its legal fraternity".

Rajah & Tann partner Paul Tan says that Mr Landau played the role of his mentor when he spent two years working in London in 2011.

"Of all his qualities, Toby's willingness to engage and debate with his juniors in cutting-edge cases was inspiring and formative in my earlier days. Till today, I still count on him as an invaluable source of advice. I have no doubt that especially the younger members of our Bar will benefit immensely from his work in Singapore," he said.

Welcoming his admission , a Law Society spokesman said the society "considers this one-off, sui generis admission as a boost to Singapore's growing stature as a legal hub with world-class lawyers".

The chairman and Senior Partner of WongPartnership, Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo, added: " The admission of Toby Landau, coming on the heels of the arrival on our shores of other prominent practitioners such as Lucy Reed and Judith Gill QC, is testament to the growing prominence of Singapore as an international centre for arbitration and dispute resolution."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2017, with the headline 'First QC to be admitted to the S'pore Bar'. Print Edition | Subscribe