Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Christopher Tan is a Partner in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department. Christopher graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1995 with an LLB (Hons) degree and was placed on the Dean’s List. He was admitted to the Singapore Bar in 1996, after finishing the Postgraduate Practice Law Course in the top ten of his cohort.
Christopher has more than 20 years’ experience in a broad range of commercial and corporate litigation (including banking litigation, shareholders’ disputes and employment disputes), as well as having acted in substantial international arbitrations. He was a partner in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution department of another major local law firm and subsequently served as counsel in the Asian dispute resolution teams in the Singapore offices of two premier U.S. law firms. With a keen interest in alternative dispute resolution, Christopher is an Associate Mediator on the panel of the Singapore Mediation Centre.
Christopher also regularly writes about developments in Singapore law, with an emphasis on international commercial arbitration. Christopher is also a Fellow in the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators. He is part of the Education Committee and Publications & Website Committee of the Institute.
Christopher regularly advises clients on issues concerning directors’ duties and general meetings. Christopher was quoted in the Business Times (23 Oct 2018), in the article “Keeping to the spirit of AGMs”; he gave his views on how the laws of defamation, in particularly the possible defence of qualified privilege, might operate in discussions which take place at Annual General Meeting.
Christopher also has extensive experience in advising clients on franchise agreements, particularly in the retail and food & beverage sectors.
Christopher served as part of the judging panel for several editions of the Lawasia International Moot Competition.
Christopher also served the Serangoon Gardens Country Club in the General Committee, and as part of the Projects and Tenders Sub-Committee, Disciplinary Sub-Committee and Security Sub-Committee.
Some of his arbitration engagements include:
- advising a diverse multi-business conglomerate established in Laos PDR against an investment company incorporated in Macau, PRC in an appeal to refuse enforcement of an arbitration award for sums in excess of US$200 million. The dispute raised questions on the validity of the arbitration agreement and involved extensive arguments on the choice of seat and tribunal composition.
- advising a sub-contractor, a large multi-national company, in construction arbitration disputes, in relation to against the main contractor and owner of a ferro alloy project in South East Asia. The amounts in dispute exceeded USD 20 million. We client on issues of novation, insolvency risks, consolidation, and complex settlement structures, among other things. We assisted the client in reaching an amicable resolution of both its substantial disputes against the main contractor and the owner.
- acting for a local company against an renown American fashion retailer in an SIAC arbitration in relation to a franchise dispute, together with US lawyers. The total quantum of the claims and counterclaims were in the region of USD 9 million. The dispute was amicably settled between the parties after negotiations.
- acting for a prominent Malaysian investment company against an Australian listed company in a cross-border shareholders’ dispute over complex security documentation, under the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) 2016 Rules. The dispute involved shares asserted to be worth above S$30 million, and required input from share valuation experts and foreign law experts. We were successful in an early application for expedited procedure. The dispute was amicably settled at mediation.
- acting for a Canadian Company against a Chinese corporation in an SIAC arbitration in connection with a joint venture in the People’s Republic of China in a claim in excess of USD 300 million. We successfully obtained an injunction against a Chinese corporation in proceedings before an Emergency Arbitrator under the SIAC Rules, to prevent the Chinese corporation from pursuing proceedings in China to dissolve the joint venture corporation. We also assisted the client to successfully navigate complex jurisdictional challenges and request for production of documents.
- advising our client (a Hong Kong entity) as Singapore counsel in an SIAC arbitration against a large PRC corporation, over consultancy fees owing in connection with the award of a multi-billion clean power project in the Middle East.
- providing expert opinion on Singapore law issues of contractual interpretation in an arbitration between Japanese and Korean corporations, conducted under the auspices of the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association.
- successfully assisting a client to enforce a CIETAC award in Singapore when the opposite party resisted enforcement by alleging the award was tainted by fraud and corruption. The decision is reported in Beijing Sinozonto Mining Investment Co Ltd v Goldenray Consortium (Singapore) Pte Ltd  SGHC 248.
- representing the Cayman subsidiary of a listed P.R.C. company in an international arbitration in Singapore which related to iron and manganese mines in South Africa.
- representing a Canadian multinational company in an arbitration held in the Singapore International Arbitration Center against a Chinese State-owned company. The disputes related to a joint venture formed under Chinese law for the establishment of a US$200 million copper strip manufacturing plant in China;
- representing a listed P.R.C. company in an international arbitration with a European multinational company in relation to a license agreement for the licensing of clean technology. The amount in dispute was more than US$100 million.
- representing one of the largest online game companies in the P.R.C. in an ICC arbitration in Singapore concerning an IT and licensing dispute with Korean parties. The issues raised in the arbitration include the extent a licensor has to provide software support for an online computer game for issues such as third party pirated emulators and cheat programs.
- representing P.R.C. parties in an international arbitration under the UNCITRAL Rules administered by HKIAC in Hong Kong against a U.S. company and a BVI company in relation to a complex web of investment-related agreements.
- representing several investment funds company in an arbitration administered by the HKIAC involving a PRC national.
Some of the litigation cases he has been involved in include:
- acting for a prominent Malaysian company listed on the Bursa Malaysia Berhad in a dispute relating to a Power Project in Myanmar. The client had claims in excess of US$16 million against various defendants. The dispute involved arbitration and court proceedings, and issues of alleged force majeure events. We were successful in obtaining summary judgment against the defendants for the full amount of the claims in the Singapore High Court.
- acting for financial holding company in a dispute against its former director. The dispute resulted in the commencement of several High Court litigation suits, as well as the filing of a caveat in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The dispute involved securing the return of title deeds to a property, the rightful ownership of several substantial properties in Singapore and Malaysia, and the repayment of substantial debts (in excess of SGD 1 million) from the former director. The dispute was resolved amicably, to the client’s satisfaction, at mediation.
- acting for a prominent Malaysian investment company against an Australian listed company in a cross-border shareholders’ dispute over complex security documentation. The dispute involved shares asserted to be worth above S$30 million, and required input from share valuation experts and foreign law experts. We assisted the client in obtaining a stay of the court proceedings in favour of arbitration, and successfully applied to set aside an interim injunction that had prevented the client from exercising its security rights. The substantive dispute was eventually amicably settled at mediation.
- acting for a real estate investment company (landlord) in High Court proceedings concerning a tenancy dispute. The dispute also involved the developer and the tenant (both represented by respective Senior Counsel), and concerned (among other things) the interpretation and application of a restrictive covenant in relation to clinical premises. The proceedings involved medical expert opinion, and also raised legal issues relating to alleged misrepresentation and estoppel. The matter was amicably resolved after mediation and extensive negotiations on the first day of the hearing.
- acting for an Indonesian company (a subsidiary of a Singapore listed company), a Defendant in Singapore High Court proceedings. The dispute raised questions of BVI law, and on a substantive level involved determining the validity of a series of complex agreements (among them alleged assignment agreements and fundraising agreements relating to a reverse take-over) as well as difficult legal issues (equitable assignment, agency and variation, inter alia).
- acting for a large distributor and retailer of household equipment in Singapore against a competitor concerning the tort of malicious falsehood (among other claims) in a High Court claim in excess of S$5 million. The matter was amicably settled after mediation on the basis that compensation was paid to the client and the competitor published a notice in the newspapers (among other terms).
- acting for a shareholder, in a shareholders’ dispute, in a multi-national technology company that was valued at more than USD 50 million. The dispute required a detailed review of the corporate affairs of the company and its subsidiaries in the United States, India and Asia, and also required coordinated work with US, HK and Indian lawyers. The dispute was amicably resolved after lengthy negotiations.
- successfully defended a creditor by striking out a claim by the debtor against the creditor for alleged harassment and intimidation.
- successfully obtaining a declaration for a client, in a shareholders’ dispute, that shares issued by the company on the instructions of the directors and majority shareholders, were invalid, on the basis that the requirements of the Companies Act had not been complied with, and that the provisions of a shareholders’ agreement had been breached.
- acting for a purchaser of a business facing claims in relation to a substantial rental deposit held by the landlord. There were issues of oral representations and illegality, among other things. The matter was amicably, and successfully, settled at mediation, at less than 10% of the original claims asserted against the purchaser.
- successfully defending a major insurance company in Singapore against claims brought by their former corporate manager. The issues raised included whether the continuation of an agreement would have contravened the provisions of the Financial Adviser’s Act. This decision is reported in GYC Financial Planning Pte Ltd v Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Ltd  2 SLR 865.
- acting for shareholders who were alleged to have transferred their shares with an intent to defraud creditors. The shareholders’ defence was successful and the claim against them dismissed. This decision is reported in Soh Lai Chan v Kuah Peng Hock  SGHC 144.
- acting for shareholders in a foreign investment project in a dispute with investors who were foreign banks in relation to an allegation that the investors mismanaged the project. The project was worth A$80 million. This decision is reported in CDIB Venture Investment (Asia) Ltd v Soeryadjaya Edwin  SGHC 209;
- representing developers of a construction project in a dispute as to the identity of the borrower when the developer made loans to the main contractor, although the monies were physically made to a sub-contractor. The developers were successful in their claim for the repayment of the loans from the main contractor. This decision is reported in Capital Realty Pte Ltd v Chip Thye Enterprises (Pte) Ltd  4 SLR 548.
- successfully defending a shipping construction company against claims for alleged unpaid salaries and bonuses made by a former project manager. The claims against the company were all dismissed.
- acting for a foreign bank in a US$15 million claim on standby letters of credit which were alleged to have been fraudulently issued.
- advising a registered society on the misconduct of certain members and successfully applied to Court for an injunction against the errant members.
- representing a patient in an action against an obstetrician and a hospital for medical negligence relating to childbirth. The claim was amicably settled after legal proceedings were commenced.
- acting for two directors of a major oil and soap manufacturing group valued at more than S$100 million in a petition for just and equitable winding-up. The matter was amicably settled before trial.
Selected Seminars and Publications
- Co-author, “Recent Developments in Singapore Relating to Directors’ Duties”, Lee & Lee, 19 September 2018.
- Co-author, “The High Court Considers the Status and Scope of an Arbitration Agreement in the Context of a Termination of the Main Contract”, Lee & Lee update, 6 June 2018.
- Co-author, “Parties Who Freely Enter Into Contracts Are Expected To Read And Understand The Contracts They Choose To Enter Into”, Lee & Lee update, 21 May 2018.
- Co-author, “Singapore Court of Appeal confirms that claimants in adjudication only need to establish a prima facie case and that a respondent can show that there are patent errors which the adjudicator has failed to recognize in order to set aside the determination”, Lee & Lee update, 19 April 2018.
- Speaker, “Common Pitfalls when Concluding a Deal – and How to Avoid Them”, seminars for clients, on 16 October 2017 and 8 May 2018.
- Speaker, “Shareholders’ Disputes and Directors’ Duties”, Seminar on Shareholder Requisitions: A Rise in Shareholder Activism, organized by APIC Corporate Solutions, 29 September 2017.
- Co-author, “The Court’s Power to Restore A Company That Has Been Struck Off”, Lee & Lee update, 25 August 2017.
- Author, “Update: Third-Party Funding of International Arbitrations in Singapore”, Lee & Lee update, 8 August 2017.
- Speaker, “Mediation in Practice”, Seminar on Developments in Mediation : A Practical View, jointly organized by Lee & Lee and the Singapore Mediation Centre, 27 April 2017.
- Co-author, “The Ministry of Law’s Responses to Feedback Received from Public Consultation on the Draft Mediation Bill”, Lee & Lee update, 17 November 2016.
- Co-author, “Validity of a dispute resolution clause which grants one party the right to elect to arbitrate”, Lee & Lee update, 9 November 2016.
- Author, “Singapore High Court Clarifies Impact of Arbitration Agreements on Assignments and Bills of Exchange”, Lee & Lee update, 22 October 2015.
- Author, “Court of Appeal provides clarification on the concept of Reserve Management Powers of Shareholders”, Lee & Lee update, 4 September 2015.
- Presenter, “Developments relating to the Ministry of Manpower”, Lee & Lee Seminar on Recent Developments in the Employment Landscape and the Companies Act, July 2015.
- Presenter, “Dispute Resolution Aspects”, presentation for a client “Distribution Agreements – A Primer on Legal Aspects”, May 2015.
- Presenter, “Recent Developments in International Arbitration in Singapore 2014”, April 2015.
- Author, “Singapore Court Upholds Arbitral Award Issued 19 Months After Parties’ Final Closing Submissions”, Lee & Lee update, 17 March 2015.
- Author, “Singapore Court Rules on Threshold to be Applied to Determine Existence of Arbitration Agreement”, Lee & Lee update, 8 January 2014.
- Author, “Claims on Dishonoured Cheques within the Scope of Arbitration Clause”, Lee & Lee update, 3 January 2014.
- Co-author, “Singapore High Court Rejects Challenge to Arbitral Award Premised on Fraud and Corruption”, Lee & Lee update, 26 November 2013.
- Co-author, “Court of Appeal Decides Tribunal has No Jurisdiction”, Lee & Lee update, 25 October 2013.
- Co-author, “No binding contract where essential terms not agreed upon”, Lee & Lee update, 18 October 2013.
- Co-author, “Arbitral Awards – Curial Scrutiny and Natural Justice”, Lee & Lee update, 3 October 2013.
- Co-author, “Implications of Change of Share Ownership on Joint Venture Agreement”, Lee & Lee update, 30 August 2013.
- Co-author, “Restraint of Trade Doctrine and Sporting Associations”, Lee & Lee Update, 14 December 2012.
- Co-author, “Application of Multi-Tiered Dispute Resolution Clauses to Supplemental Agreements and Legal Consequences of Mediation Provisions”, Lee & Lee Update, 20 November 2012.
- Co-author, “Recent Developments in Singapore on Employee Restrictive Covenants – Cascading Clauses, Duty of Good Faith and Fidelity”, Lee & Lee Update, 25 October 2012.