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Leong Kah Wah

Head, Dispute Resolution
Partner, Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP

Practice Area:

Shipping & International Trade

LLB (Hons), National University of Singapore
Advocate & Solicitor, Singapore
Snr. Acc. Spec. (Maritime and Shipping), Singapore Academy of Law

T +65 6232 0504

Leong Kah Wah is the Head of Disputes’ Practices, and a Partner of the Shipping & International Trade Practice Group and he has extensive experience in shipping, trading and commercial dispute resolution. He has also been named as a Senior Accredited Specialist for Maritime and Shipping Law by the Singapore Academy of Law’s Specialist Accreditation Scheme.

He is ranked in Band 1 in Chambers and is described as “a likeable and impressive lawyer...a pragmatic person, and commercially aware, which makes his advice more realistic.” Other legal publications acknowledging his expertise include The Legal 500 Asia Pacific, Who's Who Legal, The Legal Media Group Guides to the World’s Leading Lawyers, Asialaw Profiles and he was named Singapore Maritime Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers 2015.


He appears regularly as counsel in the Singapore Courts. His landmark decision was the STX Mumbai, where the Singapore Court of Appeal (with a full bench of 5 Judges), held that an arrest for a bunker claim brought 2 days before the invoice was due, may well be an anticipatory breach, justifiably brought on by the insolvency of the shipowners. The Court of Appeal allowed the claim to proceed to trial as it involved novel points of law and evidence that deserved to be tried.

He was also the successful lead counsel in the Bunga Melati 5, where the Court of Appeal clarified the requirements for invocation of admiralty jurisdiction and is now seen as the leading case on the subject matter.

Most recently, he successfully argued a significant decision in The Eurohope, where the Court agreed that a Singapore arrest could not be effected to secure a foreign court action.

His other significant cases are the Patraikos II, a major casualty where the ship ran aground at the South Ledge rocks, off Horsburgh lighthouse, resulting in substantial damage to the ship and her cargo; the Pacific Vigorous, where he argued a novel point on election in a misdelivery dispute; Regalindo Resources v Seatrek, where he acted successfully in resisting an anti-suit injunction against a Rule B attachment; UMCi v Tokio Marine, where he acted successfully for an assured in a claim on a marine insurance policy; Arktis Sky, where he acted for shipowners sued for misdelivery against forged bills of lading; Feng Hang, where he acted successfully for shipowners in another misdelivery dispute; Er Joo Nguang v PP, where he successfully appealed against the conviction of a freight forwarder charged with criminal breach of trust for his role in effecting delivery without production of bills of lading.

He has also acted as counsel in maritime and trade arbitrations before tribunals, both adhoc and institutional (namely, SIAC, SCMA, LMAA, New York SMA, GAFTA, FOSFA and PORAM).
He also does wet work. Owners, clubs, hull underwriters from Singapore and other parts of Asia (namely, Japan, Vietnam and Hong Kong) regularly instruct him to investigate and manage claims arising out of casualties.

Notable Cases & Transactions
  • The Eurohope [2017] SGHC 218
  • Best Soar Ltd v Praxis Energy Agents Pte Ltd [2017] SGHC 158
  • The STX Mumbai [2015] SGCA 35
  • PT Sariwiguna Binasentosa v Sindo Damai Shipping Ltd and Others [2015] SGHC 195
  • The Makassar Caraka Jaya Niaga III–39 [2012] SGHC 175
  • The Pontianak Caraka Jaya Niaga III-34 [2012] SGHC 176
  • The Bunga Melati 5 [2012] 4 SLR 546
  • Regalindo Resources Pte Ltd v Seatrek Trans Pte Ltd [2008] 3 SLR 930
  • UMCI Ltd v Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co Pte Ltd [2008] SGHC 188
  • Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd v Samudera Shipping Line Ltd [2007] SGHC 41
  • The Pacific Vigorous [2006] 3 SLR 374
  • The Patraikos 2 [2002] 4 SLR 232
  • The Feng Hang [2002] 2 SLR 205
  • The Ching Ho [2001] 3 SLR 84
  • The Virgo I [2001] 1 SLR 748
  • The Kay [2001] 1 SLR 756
  • Er Joo Nguang v PP [2000] 2 SLR 645
  • The Arktis Sky No. 1 [2000] 1 SLR 57
  • The Arktis Sky No. 2 [2000] 1 SLR 80
  • The Bonvoy I [1999] SGHC 195
  • Ningxia Yinchuan Import/ Export Corp v AJ Brendon Shipping Pte Ltd [1998] 3 SLR 154
  • Hong Lam Marine Pte Ltd v Koh Chye Heng [1998] SGHC 65
  • Marine Accomm Pte Ltd v Western Tug and Barge Pty Ltd [1995] SGHC 13
  • The Nagasaki Spirit [1994] 1 SLR 562
  • The Atlas Pride [1993] 2 SLR 169
  • Director, Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration
  • Vice-President, Maritime Law of Association of Singapore
  • Principal Mediator, Singapore Mediation Centre
  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb)
  • Fellow, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (FSIArb)
  • Principal Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator, Admiralty Practice, Singapore Institute of Legal Education
  • Member, Promotions Committee, Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration
  • Panel of Arbitrators, Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration
  • Panel of Arbitrators, Singapore International Arbitration Centre
  • Member, Income Tax Board of Review
  • Member, Advisory Board, Centre for Maritime Law, National University of Singapore
  • Trainer, Law Society Advocacy Committee
  • Counsel, Law Society of Singapore (disciplinary matters)
  • Senior Mediator, Law Society Mediation Scheme