Rajah & Tann litigation partners exit to launch Singapore boutique

Danny Ong and Wern-Jhien Yam leave Singapore Big Four firm to open shop focused on dispute resolution, financial crime and insolvency

A pair of former partners at Singapore Big Four firm Rajah & Tann have left to launch their own boutique. 

Danny Ong and Wern-Jhien Yam have exited Rajah & Tann along with a team of six lawyers to open Setia Law, which will focus on complex cross-border cases including financial disputes, commercial fraud, international enforcement and corporate distress situations, as well as cryptocurrency disputes. 

Ong will serve as managing partner of the firm, which officially launched today, while Yam will serve as director. 

Ong commented: “Having established a leading disputes and crisis management practice in one of the major law firms in Asia, the time was right to drive this focus further by establishing Setia Law.

“In what’s expected to be another geopolitically and economically challenging year, we’ve observed a desire in clients for localised legal knowledge and technical specialty that’s applicable across multiple jurisdictions. We hope to be able to leverage our mix of specialism and our close relationships with professional services firms across the globe to develop winning strategies for our clients,” he added. 

Ong has founded Setia Law after more than 15 years at Rajah & Tann, where he was a partner in the dispute resolution practice and a member of the firm’s executive committee. He specialises in complex international investigations and commercial disputes and on the banking and finance front has led investigations involving cryptocurrencies, commodities, insider trading and market manipulation, among other matters. In his role as counsel to liquidators he has overseen cross-border investigations into banks and businesses including Lehman Brothers, MF Global Singapore and Dynamic Oil Trading. 

Ong also has broad experience in cross-border fraud and asset recovery, and in 2019 successfully prosecuted the first cryptocurrency claim before the Singapore International Commercial Court. 

Meantime Yam spent almost 15 years at Rajah & Tann, where he was a partner in the commercial litigation group. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and arbitration across industries including finance, construction, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, electronics and hospitality. He is also experienced in cross-border fraud and asset recovery, particularly fraudulent e-commerce transactions, having obtained a number of freezing injunctions and pre-action disclosure orders in aid of recovery actions against fraudulent e-commerce operators in Singapore and in foreign jurisdictions. 

The duo’s timing for Setia’s launch may well prove to be prescient, as Singapore continues to cement itself as a jurisdiction of choice for resolving cross-border financial disputes and debt restructuring against a background of global economic turbulence. 

“As a boutique firm, we believe we will be nimble and swift to respond to the expanding market for our services and with Singapore as our headquarters, we are well placed to support the country’s ambition in becoming a hub for international disputes and restructuring,” the firm said. 

Singapore, which shared joint billing with with London as the world’s favourite arbitration centre in a 2021 survey, has taken a number of steps in the past few years to reinforce that status, including the launch of a sector list to speed resolution of complex disputes and allowing no-win, no-fee agreements in certain proceedings. 

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