Sarjit Singh Gill, SCSenior Partner at Shook Lin & Bok LLP
Sarjit Singh Gill has extensive experience in a broad range of litigation and arbitration matters, with a special focus on corporate and commercial disputes, banking-related disputes, shareholders’ disputes, professional negligence and fraud. He also has an active international arbitration practice, having been involved in a significant number of complex arbitrations in Singapore and abroad. Notably, Sarjit has acted both for and against Indian parties in international arbitration matters.
With more than 39 years of experience, Sarjit is also involved in many domestic and cross-border restructuring and insolvency matters, some of which are significant and high profile in nature. His clients include insolvency practitioners (liquidators, judicial managers, administrators, etc), accounting firms, financial institutions and non-bank creditors.
Sarjit is a board member of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and has served on the Board of the Central Provident Fund from 2012 to 2018. He is a member of the Life Imprisonment Review Board, The President's Pleasure Review Board and Long Imprisonment Review Board. He has, more recently, also been appointed to be a member of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) Panel of Arbitrators.
- Acted for DB Trustee (Hong Kong) Ltd (DB Trustee), the trustee of an issuance of US$42 million notes by Consult Asia Pte Ltd (Consult Asia). The notes issue was secured by a charge over the company and mortgages over the company’s property. Upon Consult Asia’s default under the loan, DB Trustee sought repayment. Two of the company’s key properties were sized and sold, recovering about S$40.8 million. Consult Asia was later ordered to wind up;
- Acting for Indian clients, including a high net worth individual involved in the Indian film industry, in an action commenced in the High Court by a multinational commodities conglomerate. The Plaintiffs claims against the clients stem from structured trade, or merchanting trade, in India. The Plaintiffs obtained, ex parte, a worldwide Mareva injunction against the high net worth individual for US$280 million. We successfully argued for the Mareva injunction to be set aside. The matter is currently on appeal to the Court of Appeal;
- Acting for an international bank in relation to proceedings commenced in Indonesia by an Indonesian company. The proceedings in Indonesia were commenced not only against the bank, but also the bank’s executives and employees. Successfully obtained an interim anti-suit injunction against the Indonesian company on the basis of an arbitration agreement between the bank and the Indonesian company. Successfully argued that the anti-suit injunction should be granted in respect of the bank’s executives and employees, despite such individuals not being party to the arbitration agreement;
- Acting for the Singapore branch of an international bank in proceedings before the Singapore High Court in respect of unpaid invoices assigned to the Bank pursuant to trade receivables financing facilities offered by the Bank to its customer. The claims total over S$3 million. The matter involves issues of assignment of receivables and fraud, and is presently before the Singapore High Court;
- Acted for an Indian bank, in a High Court suit commenced by the plaintiff company, against the client and another Indian bank, for alleged failure to comply with their duties under a letter of credit. The claim amounted to approximately US$10 million. The High Court dismissed all claims against the client. The High Court’s decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2016;
- Defending an international bank against claims with respect to fraudulent withdrawals from the liquidation accounts of five separate companies by the companies' liquidator;
- Acting for and advising a member of a Confidential High Net Worth Client in respect of cross-border tracing and investigations into a multi-million (close to a billion) dollar commercial fraud spanning numerous jurisdictions in the Caribbean, Europe and Asia, with worldwide freezing and disclosure orders obtained;
- Acting for a major Indian cooperative in an arbitration involving a claim against a US-listed company and one of its major shareholders, both domiciled in Australia. The dispute related to a joint venture between the parties and contracts for the long term supply of a raw material required by the Indian cooperative. The arbitral tribunal made an Award in favour of our clients for US$40 million. We have continued to coordinate the cross-border efforts to ensure recovery of the judgment debt for the clients. This has involved the winding up of the US-listed company and the bankruptcy of the major shareholder, both in Australia;
- Acting for and advising a major local bank in an arbitration claim against a prominent insurance company for approximately US$35.9 million in insurance pay-outs pursuant to a trade credit insurance policy. The claim related to a trade credit insurance policy which the bank had entered into to insure itself against the default of buyers on payments due under certain contracts the bank had purchased through a receivables purchase facility. The matter is presently before an arbitration Tribunal constituted under the auspices of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre;
- Acting for and advising a major Malaysian bank in an arbitration claim against an insurance company for approximately S$5 million in insurance pay-outs pursuant to a non-payment insurance policy. The claim relates to a non-payment insurance policy under which the bank was insured against the default on banking facilities extended to a Singapore company. The matter is presently before an arbitration Tribunal constituted under the auspices of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre;
- Advising an international investor embroiled in arbitration proceedings against a director of an investment vehicle incorporated in Singapore. The arbitration proceedings involve issues relating to oppression and derivative action under Section 216 and 216A of the Companies Act, and breaches of directors’ duties. Also acting for the same international investor in related proceedings in the Singapore High Court relating to the investor’s claims under Section 216 and 216A of the Companies Act. The matter also involve coordinating with the international investor’s US counsel;
- Acted for a Claimant in an international arbitration involving a claim against an Indian mining company for breach of two Contracts of Affreightment. The Claimant was awarded approximately US$77 million in damages;
- Acting for the Receivers, FTI, of a number of related companies in resisting an effort to set aside an arbitration award and successfully enforcing the same. In a related action, successfully applying for an anti-suit injunction to restrain proceedings in Thailand commenced by the same counter-parties;
Insolvency & Restructuring
- Advised a group of banks on the Singapore law aspects of the US$2.2 billion restructuring of Drydocks World LLC, the ship-repair unit of state-controlled Dubai World. Drydocks World owns the Middle East’s largest shipyard in Dubai and has yards operating in Singapore and Indonesia;
- Advised a number of banks on the Singapore law aspects of the US$1.87 billion restructuring of a Danish shipping company that is one of the world’s leading carriers of refined oil products and has five international subsidiaries located in Brazil, India, Philippines, the United States of America and Singapore;
- Acting for the judicial managers in relation to the US$895 million to US$1 billion insolvency and restructuring of a shipping conglomerate;
- Acting for the largest creditor bank in the judicial management of Swiber Holdings Ltd and Swiber Offshore Construction Pte Ltd, the Firm has been at the forefront of many of the issues faced by the judicial managers and creditors alike. This is one of the largest corporate insolvencies in Singapore;
- Acting for and advising a major local bank in relation to the bank’s exposure to a group of companies engaged in the chartering of vessels and rigs for the oil and gas industry. Interim Judicial Managers were appointed for Swissco Holdings Limited in late 2016, in the aftermath of the downturn in the oil and gas sector. It was reported in November 2016 that the Group owed about US$273.4 million to 7 financial institutions, including the bank. The Firm advised the bank on a broad range of matters, including advising and representing the bank in its position as a creditor in the Judicial Management;
- Acting for and advising a major local bank in relation to the bank’s exposure to a group of companies (the “Group”) providing offshore services to the oil and gas sector. In light of the downturn in the oil and gas sector, which began in or around mid-2016, there arose a need for restructuring in relation to the Group. The Firm advised the bank on a broad range of matters pertaining to the restructuring, including (i) advising on vessel arrest where vessels belonging to the Group were arrested by creditors; (ii) advising in relation to the restructuring of a Malaysian subsidiary; and (iii) advising in relation to Chapter 11 restructuring of subsidiary companies of the Group in the USA;
- Acting for a major local bank in respect of the bank’s exposure to a group of companies involved in owning and providing offshore support vessels. Receivers were appointed over a number of the companies’ vessels and were subsequently sold. The Firm also acted for the bank in commencing a Suit in the High Court against the directors of the companies, and the parent holding company, pursuant to guarantees provided by these parties;
- Advising an international consultancy firm on a potential rescue financing deal worth approximately S$380 million with a beleaguered Singapore listed company. The advice involved issues relating to the amendments to the Singapore insolvency regime and enforcement. The advice also involved coordinating with US counsel, as well as other legal departments within the firm to provide advice on corporate real estate, financing documentation, corporate finance issues and legal due diligence; and
Probate & Administration
- Acting for the Appellants in legal proceedings under the Mental Capacity Act before the Family Court, High Court and, ultimately, the Court of Appeal. The Appellants were seeking a declaration that their sister, the Third Respondent, did not have the requisite mental capacity to make decisions in relation to her assets (estimated to be worth in excess of S$200 million) and that deputies should be appointed to make such decisions on her behalf. The Court of Appeal granted such a declaration and appointed deputies for the Third Respondent.
- Asian Development Bank’s Symposium on Insolvency Law Reform in Asia as the Singapore consultant (1999)
AccoladesSarjit is widely recognised as a leading lawyer for dispute resolution, international arbitration and restructuring and insolvency by a number of legal directories including Chambers Global/Asia-Pacific, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific, IFLR1000, Best Lawyers Singapore, The International Who’s Who of Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers and PLC Which Lawyer. He is noted as a Distinguished practitioner in dispute resolution and restructuring and insolvency in Asialaw Leading Lawyers and is recognised as a ‘local dispute resolution star’ in Singapore by Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific. He is also listed as an India foreign expert for Dispute Resolution: Arbitration (Singapore), an expert based abroad in Singapore for Dispute Resolution (India) in Chambers Global 2012 to 2017 and as one of the top 100 India-focused lawyers at international law firms in India Business Law Journal’s The International A List 2019. He is further noted as one of Singapore’s top 100 lawyers in Asia Business Law Journal’s A List 2019.
Chambers Asia-Pacific 2019 noted that Sarjit is respected by market sources as a “strong litigator”. The 2018 edition described him as one who “has a wealth of experience and is widely respected in the market, one source commenting ‘In the insolvency litigation space, Sarjit would be amongst the top’.” The 2017 edition quoted market commentators who regard Sarjit as a “very senior and well-respected lawyer”. In the 2016 edition, he is praised by sources as a “very strong” and “very experienced” practitioner. He is also noted in the 2015 edition as “a dual-qualified practitioner who specialises in litigation and arbitration” who “has been working in this field for three decades and has plenty of experience representing both domestic and international clients.” Chambers Global 2015 further notes his “long-established reputation for effective advocacy, built up over more than 30 years” and “substantial experience in handling cross-jurisdictional issues, particularly those with an Indian dimension.”
The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020 notes that Sarjit is a “highly experienced and aggressive advocate” who is “very hands on and a street fighter”. The 2019 edition quotes Sarjit as one who is ‘very experienced’ and ‘has a very good rapport with clients’. The 2018 edition also noted that he is recommended for insolvency cases and is ‘knowledgeable on issues affecting banks’, ‘providing legal advice that is legally sound and commercial’ and is ‘a big name in arbitration’.
Asialaw Profiles 2019 quoted clients commenting that he “is one of the best legal minds in Singapore. He frequently gives practical and workable solutions to a difficult problem. He does not beat around the bush, and goes straight to tackle the key issues. I have known Sarjit for more than 20 years, and have benefitted greatly from his advice over the years. The firm, Shook Lin & Bok, punches above its weight.”; “He is a very good advocate with practical common sense and an eye for detail.”