02 Aug 2022

‘A dear colleague and steadfast friend’ – WongPartnership mourns loss of senior partner Alvin Yeo SC

Singapore firm leads tributes to co-founder whose career spanned law and politics

Alvin Yeo Image courtesy of WongPartnership

Singapore law firm WongPartnership has announced the death of co-founder and senior partner Alvin Yeo SC. 

Yeo passed away last Saturday (30 July) at home following a two-year battle with cancer. He was 60. 

WongPartnership described Yeo as ‘a dear colleague,an inspiring leader, mentor and a steadfast and loyal friend'. 

Yeo co-founded the firm in 1992 with Wong Meng Meng SC, Sundaresh Menon SC, Singapore's current chief justice, and others. He became the youngest senior counsel ever appointed to that rank, aged just 37, in 2000 and two years later became WongPartnership's managing partner. He was elected senior partner in 2007. 

The firm's current managing partner, Ng Wai King, said: "We are deeply saddened by Alvin's passing. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to have known him, no words can adequately describe the sense of loss we feel." 

Ng added: "He leaves behind an enduring legacy treasured by many and will be fondly remembered. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family." 

Yeo also served as an MP in Singapore's legislature from 2006 to 2015, chairing the home and legal affairs committee, and was consistently active in public life, including serving on the Monetary Authority of Singapore's appeals committee.

A lifelong Arsenal fan, he served as director of La Liga Spanish football club, Valencia CF, owned by Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim. 

An international arbitration lawyer, Yeo defended the first investor-state dispute in the Singapore International Commercial Court over a trade deal between India and Japan, acting for India. He also represented Papua New Guinea and Lesotho in separate ICSID claims in New York, alongside many other high-profile disputes. 

His role as an arbitrator also saw him serve on the court of Singapore's International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and the ICC's Commission on Arbitration and ADR. He was a panel member Malaysia's Asian International Arbitration Centre, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and the Korea Commercial Arbitration Board, among others. 

SIAC led tributes to Yeo, saying he was "a highly valued member of the SIAC court and made innumerable contributions to SIAC and the growth and development of international arbitration in Singapore." 

Under Yeo's leadership, WongPartnership achieved international recognition, with associated offices including Al Aidarous Advocates in the Middle East, Malaysia's Foong & Partners, Makes & Partners in Indonesia and ZGLaw in the Philippines, as well as in China. 

The firm celebrated its 30th anniversary in May, raising S$388,000 for local charities, which, matched by the Singaporean government, saw more $750,000 raised for good causes. 

The firm's partners paid collective tribute to Yeo, saying: "Alvin challenged and inspired us as only great leaders can. But there was more to Alvin than just a good lawyer. His love for his family and his compassion for others enriched the lives of many and his companionship often made any gathering that much better. It is hard to find the words to do justice to who Alvin was. He was indeed a great lawyer and an even better person. We will miss him dearly."

 News of Yeo's death has coincided with an announcement by Singapore law society president Adrian Tan that he is being treated for cancer after a diagnosis early on in his presidential term.

 

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