Fountain Court’s Matthew Gearing KC becomes first former solicitor called to Singapore Bar

The former A&O partner joins KCs Toby Landau, Sapna Jhangiani and Jern-Fei Ng as UK appointments to the Law Society of Singapore

Matthew Gearing KC

Fountain Court barrister Matthew Gearing KC has been called to the Singapore Bar, making him one of the few English silks to be called in that country, and the first former solicitor to receive that honour.

Gearing, who practises in London, Singapore and Hong Kong, was previously co-head of legacy Allen & Overy’s arbitration practice, leaving the firm in 2021 to take up a career at the Bar as both counsel and independent arbitrator, joining Fountain Court as a barrister in May 2021.

Gearing is a renowned international arbitration lawyer, with a wealth of experience across Asia. He was primarily based in Hong Kong for several years before relocating to the UK in 2020. He has held significant positions, including chair of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre between 2017 and 2020, the vice-president of the LCIA Court since 2022, and editor of the seminal practitioner textbook Russell on Arbitration.  

Having qualified as a solicitor in 1997, he became a solicitor advocate in England and Wales in 2005 and was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 2014. He was admitted to the Law Society of Hong Kong in 2001 and became one of a relatively few solicitor advocates with higher rights in that jurisdiction in 2013.

His Hong Kong credentials were further burnished when he became an arbitrator member of Temple Chambers last year. His arrival there reunited him with the current co-chair of HKIAC and former Hong Kong secretary of justice Rimsky Yuen SC, as well as fellow arbitrator member former chief justice Geoffrey Ma, who is a door tenant at Brick Court Chambers, and fellow Singapore silk Jern-Fei Ng KC, who subsequently joined Duxton Hill Chambers.

Along with his Asian connections, Gearing became a barrister and solicitor in Western Australia, practising as a door tenant at Quayside Chambers in that state in 2023.

In a statement, Gearing, like Ng before him, said he was seeking final regulatory approvals before being able to practise Singapore law. He wrote on LinkedIn: “It was my great pleasure and honour to be admitted as an advocate and solicitor in Singapore this morning. Many thanks to Wen Juin Lim, who kindly moved my admission, and to Judith Gill KC, who has been a constant friend and support throughout my career and was present.”

Gill – now an independent arbitrator, having practised as such at Twenty Essex from 2018 to 2022 – previously led A&O’s arbitration practice for much of the past two decades, working closely with Gearing.    

Gearing’s admission follows an announcement by Singapore’s chief justice in January 2024 that the city-state’s criteria for admission to Senior Counsel status – equivalent to KC – were being revised and that no appointments were being made this year.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said: “We will place greater emphasis on the applicants’ work that has tangibly contributed to the development of Singapore law and on their contributions to the profession.”

The aim was to elevate future appointments to the same standards as international counterparts. 

The other English KCs to be called to the Singapore Bar alongside Ng are Toby Landau, of Duxton Hill Chambers, and Sapna Jhangiani, of Attorney-General's Chambers. 

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