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V Bala

Deputy Head, Shipping & International Trade
Partner, Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP

Practice Area:

Shipping & International Trade

LLB (Hons),(Bristol)
Diploma in Marine Engineering, Singapore Maritime Academy
Advocate & Solicitor, Singapore
Registered Practitioner, DIFC Court
Accredited Specialist (Maritime and Shipping), Singapore Academy of Law

T +65 6232 0383
E bala@rajahtann.com

As a trained marine engineer with sailing experience, V Bala is regularly instructed by leading shipping companies and terminals as Counsel in a wide range of matters.

His contentious practice has seen him appear before all levels of the Singapore courts and arbitral tribunals on a wide range of commercial disputes, with particular focus on shipping, energy and offshore and international trade / commodities sectors. Being adept in dealing with engineering disputes and matters of a technical nature, he has acted for ship builders, repairers and equipment suppliers. He also has a strong non-contentious practice advising and drafting of documents pertaining to ship finance, ship sale and purchase, charterparties, contracts of affreightment, pooling arrangements, tankage, pilotage bunkering, trade finance and port documentation. Given the breadth of his practice and experience, he is consistently invited to speak in conferences and seminar around the world on cross-border litigation, arbitration and transactions.

Most recently, Bala has been recognised by Best Lawyers 2024 for his Shipping & Maritime Law expertise. He has also been identified as a notable practitioner by Asialaw Leading Lawyers 2023 and Chambers Asia Pacific 2023, and is praised for having "vast experience" in shipping litigation and arbitration matters.

Bala is amongst the distinguished and select group of experts to be named as an Accredited Specialist for Maritime and Shipping Law by the Singapore Academy of Law’s Specialist Accreditation Scheme.

Notable Cases & Transactions
  • Leading bunker supplier before the Singapore Court of Appeal (full bench of 5 judges) on a landmark decision on the application of the doctrine of repudiatory breach to executed contracts
  • One of the largest container terminal operators in a claim for hatch cover damage in the High Court of Singapore and the Court of Appeal
  • FORTUNE 500 company in mis-delivery claims against a string of vessels
  • Leading timber supplier in connection claims arising from a commodity financing arrangement
  • Ship-builder in a claim against an engine supplier in relation to defective engines
  • Ship-owners in a leading forum non conveniens case
  • Banks and commodity houses in connection with injunctions against payment under documentary credit facilities
  • Numerous arrest, security-taking and enforcement proceedings
International Arbitration
  • Leading fisheries company in an arbitration administered by the SIAC in connection with a dispute arising from promissory notes
  • Leading iron ore importer in an arbitration administered by HKIAC
  • Leading Bangladeshi importer in a GAFTA arbitration
  • Numerous shipping / bills of lading / charterparty disputes in arbitrations administered by the LMAA / SCMA
  • An SIAC arbitration in respect of a Chinese joint venture dispute
  • Leading European bank in ad hoc Singapore arbitration in a trade finance dispute
  • An ad hoc Singapore arbitration for a Norwegian marine bearing manufacturer in a dispute involving the supply of a FPSO turret bearing systems
  • The ICC arbitration in connection with the dispute in APC AUSSIE 1 [2009] FCA 872 following a tow parting incident in Australia
  • A LCIA arbitration in hotel related disputes in Africa  

Advised and represented ship-owners, charterers, P&I clubs and submarine cable owners in maritime casualties including groundings, collisions, allisions, cable severance, shipboard fatalities and oil pollution incidents:

  • Accidents in the High Seas, Straits of Malacca, Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Australia, Middle East etc.
  • Various berth contact cases
  • Various submarine cable operators in cable damage and severance cases
  • Injuries and fatalities on ships and in terminals
  • Prosecution actions taken by regulatory agencies such as the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore and the Ministry of Manpower
Non-Contentious work
  • Advised bunker suppliers on standard terms and conditions
  • Advised a leading terminal on pilotage terms and conditions
  • Drafting charterparties – both standard and bespoke forms
  • Advised on various ship finance documentation, including sale-and lease-back and where non-traditional financiers such as fund houses and individuals are involved
  • Advised on ship building contracts including highly specialized vessels
  • Advised on registration of vessels in Singapore and other registries
  • Advised on vessel pooling arrangements in the European offshore wind farm sector
  • Advised a leading bank on its warehousing documentation relating to the Qingdao Port scandal
  • Advised on contracts of affreightment
Other Professional Activities
  • Adjunct advocacy tutor, Law Society of Singapore
  • Adjunct lecturer, Shipping Law, Singapore Shipping Association