24 Jan 2020

Taylor Wessing splits with long-term Singapore ally RHTLaw

Strategic differences bring Taylor Wessing's branded association in Singapore to an end as RHTLaw goes it alone


Taylor Wessing has lost its on-the-ground presence in Singapore after splitting with its long-term ally RHTLaw. In a joint statement, the two sides put the move down to strategic differences, although they said they would continue “to work closely where our offerings are complementary and beneficial for clients”.

The two sides originally announced their association in March 2012 under the terms of which RHT Law formally allied with Taylor Wessing, assuming the brand RHT Law Taylor Wessing.

At the time, Taylor Wessing heralded the move as key building block of its Asia strategy; and the deal subsequently allowed it to build a presence in Vietnam through the same RHT Law Taylor Wessing branding

In today’s statement the two sides said they were now pursuing different long-term objectives.

"After eight years, we have decided to move towards a collaborative relationship in place of our formal links to enable both businesses to pursue longer term objectives in accordance with their respective strategies,” the statement said. 

“We both have clear strategies - Taylor Wessing is focused on developing its sector strength in the region's tech and financial hubs; and RHTLaw is building its Asia-focused network in new jurisdictions beyond Singapore, together with a suite of complementary businesses.”

Taylor Wessing pointed to the alliance it struck in February 2019 with Silicon Valley firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, in which the two firms work exclusively in the US in the fields of tech and life sciences, as a key example of its international strategy.

The split leaves Taylor Wessing with two offices in mainland China: in Beijing and Shanghai; plus an arm in Hong Kong, where it operates in association with H.M.Chan & Co, and another in South Korea, where it has an association with DR & AJU International Law Group.

Meanwhile, RHTLaw emerges from the relationship as a leading independent Singapore firm – the city state’s sixth-largest – working with a network of allied firms across the Asia region.

The split takes place against the background of a dampened market in Singapore for international law firms, according to research by Beacon Legal.

Meanwhile, the nine international firms, including Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Latham & Watkins, that operate under the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) regime are awaiting a decision by the Singapore government on whether their licences will be renewed.