Yong Seng acts as lead counsel in a broad spectrum of commercial disputes, in both litigation and arbitration. His clients include global financial institutions, leading multinational companies and government bodies.

Yong Seng is recognised as a leading litigator by various top-tier publications including Who’s Who Legal, Chambers, Legal 500 and Benchmark Litigation. He was shortlisted by Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific for Singapore Lawyer of the Year for 2023.

In the High Court, he has particular expertise in commercial, banking, real estate and employment litigation. He has acted for top-tier trading companies like BGC Partners, Itochu and Maersk in complex injunctions that pushed the boundaries of Singapore law. He has also successfully represented banks, real estate companies and engineering companies, in complex Court claims.

In the Court of Appeal (Singapore’s highest Court), his experience lies in arguing novel and difficult points of law. His successful cases as lead advocate include a landmark 5-Judge decision on defamation, and leading decisions on company/insolvency law and tort law. He successfully argued Singapore’s first civil action under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012. This was a ground-breaking decision that recognised emotional distress as being part of “loss or damage” actionable under the Act, and was recognised as an Impact Case by Benchmark Litigation in 2023.

Yong Seng has a busy international arbitration practice, representing heavy industries, power generators (both conventional and renewable), aerospace and media companies. He has acted for top-tier Japanese heavy engineering MNCs and trading companies (sogo sosha), as well as leading US and European companies in international arbitrations. In this regard, he has significant experience in handling large-scale industrial accidents and complex product liability cases, having defended leading companies in the heavy engineering, power-generation, renewable energy, automotive and chemical industries. He also has significant experience in defending arbitration awards in Court against setting-aside challenges.

Yong Seng is recognised by leading legal directories like Legal 500 (“Leading Individual”), Benchmark Litigation (“Litigation Star”) and Chambers (“Ranked Lawyer”) and Who’s Who Legal (“Recommended Lawyer”), who note as follows. “[He] has a very sharp and insightful mind and plans his court strategy like a chess grandmaster”, [is] “Oxford-educated and technically razor sharp”, “technically brilliant and makes difficult cases seem easy”, [an]excellent Court advocate, strong sense of the occasion and fast on his feet, [and] “combines an incisive and brilliant mind with tremendous energy and drive”.Tay Yong Seng is the best litigation partner I have worked with. A superbly outstanding legal strategist who relishes novel and difficult legal cases, many of which are landmark cases in Singapore…his arguments are powerful, clear, incisive and persuasive.” “A vigorous thoughtful advocate respected by courts and international arbitral tribunals whom he frequently appears before. He is Oxford-educated and combines academic rigour…with proven trial experience.”

Yong Seng has prior Government experience as an Assistant Director in the Ministry of Law. He is also active in academia. At Singapore Management University (SMU), he teaches as Adjunct Faculty on Commercial Remedies in Litigation. He also served on the Practice Advisory Committee of the School of Law at SMU. At the Singapore Academy Law (SAL), he serves as Subject Editor for SAL Practitioner (Employment Law), and Co-Editor of the SAL Annual Review of Singapore Cases (Equity and Trusts).

He was previously also a member of the Board of Governors of Nanyang Polytechnic and is presently Honorary Legal Adviser to the Singapore Table Tennis Association.

Yong Seng was educated at Oxford University. He took a B.A. (Hons) in Law in 2003 (converted to M.A. in 2013), and a B.C.L. in 2004. At Oxford, he was an Exhibitioner and a College Book Prize winner at Pembroke College.

Work Highlights

High Court Litigation

  • Acted for GFI Group (now part of BGC Group, the leading global brokerage and financial technology company headquartered in London and New York) in enforcing a worldwide non-compete covenant in its employment contracts (Mahina Woon v GFI Group (OS 4 of 2015)).
  • Acted for Itochu (Japanese trading conglomerate (“sogo sosha”) ) in enforcing a ground breaking two year international non-compete (Tan Kok Yong Steve v Itochu Singapore [2018] SGHC 85).
  • Acted for Maersk Trade Finance (division of Maersk, the global shipping and logistics leader) in enforcing a worldwide “Mareva” freezing injunction in relation to the Agritrade commodity collapse (Maersk Trade Finance v Ng Xin Wei, (Suit 189 of 2020).
  • Acted for Wingcrown, a unit of Wing Tai (leading international real estate developer headquartered in Singapore), in successfully enforcing the developer’s contractual right to forfeit defaulting purchasers’ deposits under the Law Society Conditions of Sale 2012 (a novel test case on the scope of standard Law Society terms used in Singapore property transactions) (Li Jialin and Li Suinan v Wingcrown [2023] SGHC 256).
  • Acted for Arc Marine Engineering, the ship repair arm of the Executive Group (leading international maritime group headquartered in Singapore), in successfully defending a novel and complex claim alleging negligent ship engineering and repairs. Claim was dismissed in entirety, with costs: (Golden Pacific Shipping & Holdings Pte Ltd v Arc Marine Engineering Pte Ltd [2024] SGHC 15).

Appellate Advocacy (Court of Appeal)

  • Leading Court of Appeal decision on company and insolvency law (Seah Teong Kang v Seah Yong Chwan [2015] 5 SLR 792).
  • Landmark 5-Judge Court of Appeal decision on defamation law (Goh Lay Khim v Isabel Redrup [2017] 1 SLR 546).
  • Ground-breaking Court of Appeal decision on tort law and res ipsa locquitur (Grace Electrical v Te Duem Engineering [2018] 1 SLR 76).
  • Singapore’s first successful civil action under the Personal Data Protection Act, setting standards on the scope of actionable “loss or damage” under the Act (Michael Reed v Alex Bellingham [2022] 4 SLR 513).

International Arbitration

  • SIAC Arbitration (2021 to 2024) - Power Generation / Coal: Successfully defended claims originally quantified in excess of USD120 million, brought in relation to allegedly defective power generation equipment supplied to one of the biggest coal fired power stations in South East Asia. 
  • All claims were successfully defended, with substantial costs awarded in favour of the client (SIAC Arbitration, 2020 to 2024). Client is one of Japan’s biggest industrial and heavy engineering conglomerates (and also one of the world’s leading industrial groups, spanning shipbuilding, energy and power generation, industrial machinery, and aerospace). 
  • ICC Arbitration (2021 to 2024) - Renewable Energy / Solar Power: Successfully defended an extremely large-scale alleged product liability case involving solar panels. Allegedly defective solar panels were claimed to number in the hundreds of thousands, and allegedly deployed at thousands of sites across a continent-sized geographical area. Claims were valued at over USD24 million to USD30 million. 
  • All claims were successfully defended, with substantial costs awarded in favour of the client (ICC Arbitration, 2021 to 2024). Client is one of Japan and the world’s largest trading conglomerates, with businesses and investments globally.
  • SIAC Arbitration (2016 to 2017) – Healthcare: Successfully acted for a top Japanese healthcare company in one of the first Expedited Arbitrations in the SIAC under the 2016 Arbitration Rules in relation to a joint venture dispute, (SIAC Arbitration, 2016 to 2017), and subsequently defended the SIAC award in a setting aside application in the High Court (Mary Chia Beauty v Slim Beauty House, OS 849 of 2017).
  • Defence of SIAC Award from Setting Aside: Successfully acted for a leading Japanese MNC in defending an ICC arbitration award in the Singapore High Court, involving complex issues of sale of goods and quantification of claims: CNQ v CNR [2022] 4 SLR 1150.
  • Defence of SIAC Award from Setting Aside: Successfully acted for a leading Japanese MNC in defending an ICC arbitration award in the Singapore High Court, involving issues of alleged pre-judgment by the arbitration tribunal: CNQ v CNR [2023] 4 SLR 1031. This is a leading case on setting aside principles that has been featured in leading arbitration publications like Global Arbitration Review and Kluwer.