Professional practice

Mr V K Rajah SC was born in Singapore in 1957. He graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1982 with several prizes for academic merit and obtained an LLM (First Class) from the University of Cambridge in 1986.

Upon admission as an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore in 1983, he began legal practice with Rajah & Tann where he served as Managing Partner from 1987 to 2003 until his elevation to the Bench. In 1997, he was appointed Senior Counsel in the pioneer batch of appointments in Singapore.

He was appointed a Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Singapore on 2 January 2004, a Judge on 1 November 2004 and a Judge of Appeal on 11 April 2007. He assumed office as the Attorney-General of Singapore on 25 June 2014, declined re-appointment and retired from public service on 13 January 2017.

He was appointed an Honorary Bencher of the Honorable Society of the Middle Temple (United Kingdom) on 11 November 2014, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Singapore Management University from 15 November 2017.

He is currently a Board Member of Singapore’s Central Bank – the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and Chairman of Singapore’s Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence and Data.

He is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Asian Business Law Institute.

Although sitting as an international arbitrator constitutes the bulk of his current practice, he also accepts a limited amount of commercial dispute resolution and mediation work.

 

 

Commercial dispute resolution, mediation and expert advice

While in practice, VK was acknowledged as a leading practitioner in Singapore/Asia in a number of legal journals: Asia Pacific Legal 500 (1998/1999, 1999/2000, 2000/2001, 2001/2002, 2002/2003), Global Counsel (2002/2003), Asian Legal Business, Legal Who’s Who Singapore (2003), AsiaLaw Profiles (1998 – 2003), Asia Law Leading Lawyers (1997 – 2003), Euromoney World’s Leading Lawyers on Insolvency (2000/2001), International Financial Law Review 1000 (2001) and IFLR’s Guide to the World’s Leading Insolvency and Restructuring Lawyers (2003).

On the Bench, he authored more than 200 reported judgments. His judgements in diverse areas of law have been cited by Courts in several common law jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Malaysia and Hong Kong, while also featured in leading legal treatises and journals. Recently, in the domain of maritime law, the English Court of Appeal in Nat West Markets plc (formerly known as The Royal Bank of Scotland plc) v Stallion Eight Shipping Co SA (The “Alkyon”) [2019] 2 WLR 1135 at [62] to [69], [87] and [95] cited a maritime law judgment (The Vasiliy Golovnin [2008] 4 SLR(R) 994, on wrongful arrest) which he authored about a decade ago (Joint Judgment of Sir Terence Etherton MR, Gross, Flaux LJJ):

  • 62 … Against the background that The Evangelismos had previously been authoritatively approved in that jurisdiction, the Singapore Court of Appeal has more recently given detailed consideration to the question of damages for wrongful arrest in The Vasiliy Golovnin [2008] SGCA 39; [2008] 4 SLR(R) 994, esp., at [113] and following, in the judgment of the Court delivered by Rajah JA. This is a most valuable judgment, both for its depth of analysis and the width of its comparative law survey. That, on the facts, The Evangelismos test was in any event held to be satisfied, does not at all detract from the helpfulness of the judgment.

  • 69 … In the event, Rajah JA’s conclusion is of great interest: a reconsideration of The Evangelismos was open to the court but on a properly informed basis, with the benefit of views from the maritime community.

  • 95 … [W]e are respectfully much attracted to the approach of the Singapore Court of Appeal in the The Vasiliy Golovnin [2008] SGCA 39; [2008] 4 SLR(R) 994, para 134 (set out above).

 

Arbitration experience

VK authored the following appellate judgments on Arbitration issues:

  • Motor Image Enterprises Pte Ltd v SCDA Architects Pte Ltd [2012] 1 SLR 258
  • CRW Joint Operation v PT Perusahaan Gas Negara (Persero) TBK [2011] 4 SLR 305
  • Larsen Oil and Gas Pte Ltd v Petroprod Ltd (in official liquidation in the Cayman Islands and in compulsory liquidation in Singapore) [2011] 3 SLR 414
  • Tjong Very Sumito and others v Antig Investments Pte Ltd [2009] 4 SLR(R) 732
  • Carona Holdings Pte Ltd and others v Go Go Delicacy Pte Ltd [2008] 4 SLR(R) 460
  • NCC International AB v Alliance Concrete Singapore Pte Ltd [2008] 2 SLR(R) 565
  • Ng Chin Siau and others v How Kim Chuan [2007] 4 SLR(R) 809
  • Soh Beng Tee & Co Pte Ltd v Fairmount Development Pte Ltd [2007] 3 SLR(R) 86
  • Progen Engineering Pte Ltd v Winter Engineering (S) Pte Ltd [2006] SGHC 224

In private practice prior to his appointment to the Bench, VK was involved in numerous SIAC, AAA, ICC and ad hoc arbitrations, both as counsel and as arbitrator.

Since returning to private practice in 2017, he has presided over as chair or sat as an arbitrator in numerous substantial matters, in the domains of both institutional and ad hoc arbitration (including UNCITRAL). Parties involved have included Governments, multi-national companies, statutory entities and major international commercial houses.

What others say

In a Valedictory Letter dated 14 January 2017 addressed to him on his retirement as Attorney-General of Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked VK for his outstanding contributions to Singapore over the past 13 years, and said:

You left a mark during your decade on the Supreme Court Bench, contributing prolifically to Singapore’s jurisprudence. Many of your judgments have shaped the development of Singapore law. 

Beyond the courtroom, you helmed committees which have enhanced the administration of justice and the vibrancy of our legal profession. ...

In every appointment, you have carried out your duties with dynamism and commitment. You have improved our legal system, and made a difference to future generations of lawyers.

Last year, when I asked you to continue as Attorney-General beyond the current term, you told me that you had decided to retire from public service and pursue a more active role in the arbitration sector. I respect your decision, and look forward to your contributing in this new capacity to promote Singapore as an international arbitration hub.

 

Publications

Articles

  1. Article on The Case For Singapore To Take The Lead In International Arbitration Ethics, (2018) 14 Asian International Arbitration Journal, Issue 1, pp 37-54
  2. Article on Prosecution of financial crimes and its relationship to a culture of compliance in Comp. Law. 2016, 37(4), 122-129
  3. Article on W(h)ither Adversarial Commercial Dispute Resolution? in Arbitr Int (2016) aiv075, published on 19 January 2016
  4. Opinion Editorial on Financial crime: Leaders can instil spirit of compliance in The Business Times, 4 November 2015 at p25
  5. Paper on The Incorporation of Technology in Court Advocacy in International Conference on Electronic Litigation, Academy Publishing, 2012 at p34
  6. Article on Redrawing The Boundaries of Contractual Interpretation – From Text to Context to Pre-Text and Beyond, (2010) 22 SAcLJ 513
  7. Article on Judicial Dynamism in International Trade in Hong Kong and Singapore – An Indivisible Link [comments], 40 Hong Kong L.J. 815 (2010)
  8. Paper on Judicial Education in Singapore – Beyond The Horizon, Asia Pacific Courts Conference (3 October 2010)
  9. Co-author of an article entitled: The current Status Of Corporate Governance In ASEAN and Challenges In Connection Therewith (18th Biennial Conference of LAWASIA 2003)
  10. Paper delivered to Chairmen of Temasek Linked Companies on “Managing Shareholder Activism in Annual General Meetings – A Chairman’s Guide” (2002)
  11. Co-author of an article entitled: Telecommunications Regulations in Singapore: Will the tortoise beat the hare? (4th LawAsia Business Law Conference 2000)
  12. Co-author of an article entitled: Civil Consequences of Economic Crimes – Present & Future (International Economic Crime Conference 2000)
  13. Article on “The Evolving Asian Legal Practice” [1999] 23 ABLR 42
  14. Co-author of an article entitled: Choice of Law Clauses and the Limits on Party Autonomy (Current Legal Issues in International Commercial Litigation 1997)
  15. Co-author of an article entitled: Re Charge Card, Problems, Practice and Statutory Reversal (1993) ABLR 87
  16. Article entitled Reflections on the Impetus for Change and Some Observations on the Internal Tensions Vexing Medium Sized Firms, [1991] 2 S.AC. L.J. 177
  17. Co-author of a series of articles: The case for a Reappraisal and Restatement of the Doctrine of Stare Decisis in Singapore [1990] 2 MLJ 1 1xxxi
  18. Article on Extra judicial power of sale of an equitable mortgagee of registered land in Singapore: Judicial Recognition [1984] 1 MLJ cxxxii
  19. Article on Conflict of Laws; Civil jurisdiction: a brief examination of the English and Singapore positions Law Times, 1982

Books

  1. Contributor to Singapore Civil Procedure 2003
  2. Co-author of ‘Judicial Management in Singapore’ published by Butterworths in 1990
  3. Subject advisor to Butterworths on Statutory Interpretation for the 4th edition of Mallal’s Digest (Vol. 11)
  4. Chapter on Judicial Management: Implications for Bankers (Published by Butterworths in Current Developments in International Banking and Corporate Financial Operations [1989])
  5. Contributor to first chapter, Interpreting the Singapore Constitution, of Constitutional Interpretation in Singapore: Theory and Practice published by Rouledge in 2016

Speeches

  1. Speech at Opening of Legal Year 2015, Singapore 
  2. Speech at Opening of Legal Year 2016, Singapore
  3. Speech at Opening of Legal Year 2017, Singapore
  4. Commencement Speech at 2017 National University of Singapore, Law faculty Commencement, 8 July 2017

Committee Reports

  1. Co-Chairperson of the Recommendations of the Committee for Family Justice on the framework of the family Justice system, 4 July 2014
  2. Co-Chairperson of the Report of The Singapore International Commercial Court Committee , November 2013
  3. Chairperson of the Report of the 4th Committee on The Supply of Lawyers, May 2013
  4. Chairperson of the Report of the Committee to Develop The Singapore Legal Sector, September 2007
V K Rajah SC is practising from V K Rajah LLC (UEN No. 201909531E), a limited liability law corporation.