Toh Kian Sing, SC is a Senior Partner and, until recently, Head of the Shipping & International Trade practice of Rajah & Tann Singapore. He was appointed Senior Counsel by the Supreme Court of Singapore in January 2007. He has also been appointed as a Senior Accredited Specialist for Maritime and Shipping Law under the Singapore Academy of Law’s Specialist Accreditation Scheme.
He brings to his law practice a background of academic excellence and experience having taught full time and subsequently, as an Adjunct Associate Professor, carriage of goods by sea, admiralty practice and conflict of law with the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore. Chambers Asia Pacific 2022 ranks him as a “Band 1” lawyer (since 2015) and clients describe him as “a real expert in his field who cuts to the chase and grabs the key issues very quickly.” He is also recognised as a “Leading Lawyer” by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022 (since 2017) and has been described as an “master strategist”. Kian Sing is ranked by Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific 2021 as a “Litigation Star” and by Asialaw Profiles 2022 as an “Elite Practitioner”, as well as recommended as a “National Leader” by Who’s Who Legal: Southeast Asia – Litigation 2021. Kian Sing was also named “Singapore Maritime Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers 2021.
Apart from a busy court practice, he also acts as counsel in shipping and commodity arbitrations (in Singapore and elsewhere) and accepts appointments to act as arbitrator in these areas. He is on the panel of arbitrators of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, China Maritime Arbitration Commission, Shanghai International Arbitration Centre, Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration and has accepted appointments to act in ICC arbitrations.
Kian Sing’s scope of expertise includes bills of lading, charterparty, marine insurance and reinsurance, credit insurance (for commodity trading), shipbuilding, ship sale and purchase litigation as well as arbitration, oil and bunker trading, oil rigs and commodity disputes as well as letters of credit litigation. His practice also includes managing complex cross border litigation and arbitration in areas such as shipping, commodity, trade finance, international banking, insurance and reinsurance. He is the author of a book on admiralty law (now into its third edition), co-author of a book on bills of lading (published in December 2020) as well as numerous articles in the field of shipping and letters of credit.
Additionally, Kian Sing has nearly two decades of experience handling trade finance matters, both of a contentious and non-contentious nature. He has argued many of the recently reported Singapore decisions involving letters of credit as well as advised Singapore banks and commodity house in trade finance litigation in jurisdictions such as the UK, New York, Korea, China, India and even Iraq.
He also handles drafting and non-contentious work for banks and is responsible for preparing the complete set of letter of credit forms for several leading trade finance banks in Singapore.
He has conducted lengthy trials and interlocutory hearings before the Singapore International Commercial Court since its establishment.
Kian Sing is frequently consulted on sanction matters in international trade, having acted for financial institutions, commodity traders and carriers in disputes arising from North Korean, Venezuelan, and Russian sanctions.
In recent years, Kian Sing's practice has expanded into the field of joint venture disputes, particularly those involving Chinese parties, as he is fluent in both spoken and written Mandarin and has years of experience acting for Chinese state and privately owned entities. In this regard Kian Sing has handled many Sino-foreign joint venture disputes as counsel and arbitrator in Singapore, Hong Kong and China on non-maritime areas. Such joint venture disputes relate to diverse areas of business like hotel management, technology transfer, sub-sea projects, food production etc. He recently conducted a trial before the Singapore International Commercial Court on a US$1 billion joint venture claim on behalf of a Chinese client.
Having previously taught full time at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore and now a Visiting Professor at Dalian Maritime University, he continues to lecture on an adjunct basis in Singapore and China on the areas of shipping, international sale of goods and private international law.
Notable Cases & Transactions
- Straits (Singapore) v ED&F (2020) (warehouse financing; restraint on use of documents in foreign proceedings)
- Prestige Marine Services Pte Ltd v Marubeni International Petroleum (S) Pte Ltd (2012) (enforcement of arbitration award)
- Alliance Concrete Singapore Pte Ltd v Comfort Resources Pte Ltd (2009) (sale of goods dispute)
- Swift-Fortune Ltd v Magnifica Marine SA (2006) (Mareva injunction in favour of foreign arbitration)
- Sinogreat International Trading Ltd v Hin Leong Trading (Pte) Ltd (2004) (sale of goods dispute)
- Banque CantonaleVaudoise v Fujitrans (Singapore) Pte Ltd (2003) (discovery; warehouse finance fraud)
Letter of Credit / Commodity Fraud
- Sinopec v Bank of Communications, China (2021) (stay of proceedings, letter of credit dispute)
- Abani Trading Pte Ltd v BNP Paribas (2014) (letters of credit claim)
- Banque CantonaleVaudoise v Fujitrans (Singapore) Pte Ltd (2007) (discovery; warehouse finance fraud)
- Standard Chartered Bank v Korea Exchange Bank (2005) (letters of credit claim)
- Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd v Cho Hung Bank (2004) (letters of credit claim)
- Mizuho Corporate Bank Limited v Woori Bank (2004) (letters of credit claim)
- Beam Technology Pte Ltd v Standard Chartered Bank (2002) (rights and liability of confirming bank under letter of credit)
- TapematicSpA v Wirana Pte Ltd (2002) (letter of credit dispute)
- PSA v Korea Exchange Bank (2001) (banking secrecy)
- Credit Agricole Indosuez v Banque Nationale de Paris (2001) (letter of credit dispute)
Offshore; Oil and Gas
- Hai Jiang Ltd v Singapore Technology (2020) (anti-suit injunction on foreign arrest of vessels)
- Hai Jiao Ltd v Yaw Chee Siew (2020) (SICC hearing; maritime insolvency; best endeavours obligation)
- Transocean Offshore International Ventures Ltd v Burgundy Global Exploration Corporation (2010), (2014) (dichotomy between arbitration and jurisdiction clauses)
- Hanwha Non-Life Insurance Co Ltd v Alba Pte Ltd (2012) (successful defence of re-insurance claim in Singapore)
- The Luna (2021) (bunker bills of lading; misdelivery)
- The Yue You (2019) (rights of suit under bills of lading; misdelivery)
- The “Xin Chang Shu” (2016) (wrongful arrest of vessels, setting aside of vessels)
- The “Nasco Gem” (2014) (leave to appeal on setting aside of arrest of vessels)
- Zweite Ms “Philippa Schulte” Shipping GmbH & Co KG v PSA Corp Ltd (2012) (port liability for damage to vessel)
- The “Makassar Caraka Jaya Niaga III-39” (2011) (setting aside of arrest of vessel)
- UCO Bank v Golden Shore Transportation Pte Ltd (2005) (rights of suit under bills of lading)
- Keppel TatLee Bank Ltd v Bandung Shipping Pte Ltd (2003) (rights of suit under bills of lading)
- The “Rainbow Spring” (2003) (setting aside of arrest of vessel)
- UCO Bank v Golden View Maritime Pte Ltd (2003) (stay of proceedings)
- The “An Ji Jiang” (2003) (charterparty dispute)
- PSA v Korea Exchange Bank (2001) (banking secrecy)
- Everbright Commercial Enterprises Pte Ltd v AXA Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd (2001) (marine insurance claim)
Chinese Joint Venture Disputes
- Senda International Capital Ltd v Kiri Industries Ltd and others (2020, 2021) (valuation of shares in joint venture company)
- Shanghai Turbo Ltd v Liu Ming (2018) (service out of jurisdiction; submission to jurisdiction; floating choice of law and jurisdiction clauses)
- Member, Regional Panel of Arbitrators appointed by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (since 2003)
- Panel of Arbitrators in the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (since 2010)
- Panel of Arbitrators of Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (since 2018)
- Panel of Arbitrators of Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (since 2004)
- Panel of Arbitrators in London Court of International Arbitration (since 2016)
- Supporting Member, London Maritime Arbitrators Association
- Arbitrator on Panel, China Maritime Arbitration Commission (since 2005)
- Arbitrator on Panel of Shanghai International Arbitration Centre
- Fellow, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (since 2006)
- Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (since 2007)
- Admiralty Law and Practice, 633 pages (Butterworths, 1998); 2nd Edition of Admiralty Law and Practice published in 2007; 3rd Edition in 2017 (cited in various Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Hong Kong judgments).
- Co-author, Bills of Lading (3rd Edition) published in December 2020 (Lloyd’s Shipping Law Library). Other authors include Sir Richard Aikens, Richard Lord QC, Michael Bools QC, Michael Bolding and Miriam Goldby.
- Contributing Author, The Law and Practice of Documentary Letters of Credit (2010).
- Contributor to Singapore Civil Procedure (2003) and Annual Review of Singapore Cases (Admiralty and Shipping) (since 2005).
- Contributor to Singapore Civil Procedure.
- Wrongful Arrest of Ships,  The Arrest Conventions: International Enforcement of Maritime Claims at page –
- Admiralty and Shipping Law, (2020) 21 SAL Ann Rev 59.
- Admiralty and Shipping Law, (2019) 20 SAL Ann Rev 29.
- Admiralty Law, (2018) 19 SAL Ann Rev 32.
- Admiralty and Shipping Law, (2017) 18 SAL Ann Rev 37.
- Admiralty and Shipping Law, (2016) 17 SAL Ann Rev 51.
- Admiralty, Shipping and Aviation Law, (2006) 7 SAL Ann Rev 39, (2007) 8 SAL Ann Rev 23, (2008) 9 SAL Ann Rev 54, (2009) 10 SAL Ann Rev 38, (2010) 11 SAL Ann Rev 44, (2011) 12 SAL Ann Rev 26, (2012) 13 SAL Ann Rev 46, (2013) 14 SAL Ann Rev 56, (2014) 15 SAL Ann Rev 25 and (2015) 16 SAL Ann Rev 62.
- Admiralty, Shipping and Aviation Law, (2003) 4 SAL Ann Rev 13, (2004) 5 SAL Ann Rev 22 and (2005) 6 SAL Ann Rev 39.
- Admiralty and Shipping Law, (2000) 1 SAL Ann Rev 1, (2001) 2 SAL Ann Rev 11 and (2002) 3 SAL Ann Rev 8.
- The Possessory Lien in Admiralty Actions in Rem published in  Singapore Journal of Legal Studies at page 291.
- Of Himalaya Clauses, Bailment, Choice of Law and Jurisdiction – Recent Privy Council Perspectives from The Makhutai  Vol. 10 Journal of Contract Law at page 212 (co-authored with Associate Professor Andrew Phang, as he then was). Citied in Burrows, Sinn and Todd, Law of Contract in New Zealand (a successor to Cheshire & Fifoot’s Law of Contract, 8th NZ Edition), at page 473.
- Of Straight and Switch Bills of Lading,  Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly at page 416. (Cited in Yates Contracts of Carriage, Vol. 1 at p.522/4.)
- Jurisdiction Clauses in Bills of Lading,  Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly at page 183. Cited in Dicey & Morris, Conflict of Laws, 12th Edition, 4th Supplement (1997) at page 68.
- Obtaining Jurisdiction over Foreign Companies,  Singapore Academy Journal of Law at page 171. (Cited in Tao Commodity Trader Inc V Fortis Bank (Nederland) N.V.  SGHC 30.)
- Conflict of Laws Implication of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992,  Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly at page 280. (Cited in Jackson, Enforcement of Maritime Claims, 2nd Edition (1996), at pages 243, 573 and 599; Benjamin’s Sale of Goods, 5th Edition (1997) Page 1833; cited with approval in Primetrade AG v Ythan Ltd  1 All ER 367).
- Re Charged Card: Problems, Practice and Statutory Reversal published in the July 1993 volume of the Asia Business Law Review at page 82 (co-authored with Mr V.K. Rajah, SC, as he then was).
- Illegal Contracts in the Conflict of Laws: Some Recent Developments in Singapore published in the 1993 Volume of the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, page 214. (Cited in Singapore Court of Appeal decision of Peh Teck Quee v BayerischeLandesbankGirozentrale  1 SLR 148).
- Stay of Actions based on Exclusive Jurisdiction Clauses under English and Singapore Law, published in the 1991 Volume of the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies at page 103. Cited in Briggs and Rees, Civil Jurisdiction and Judgment, (1992) at pages 184 and 185.