First woman lawyer in S'pore to be made QC

K.C. VIJAYAN

Senior Law Correspondent, The Straits Times

A permanent resident has become the first woman lawyer in Singapore to be appointed Queen's Counsel (QC) in England.

Ms Sapna Jhangiani, 44, a partner at law firm Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore, is believed to be only the third QC in Singapore's legal history. The earlier two are Dr Colin Ong and Mr Toby Landau.

All three are Singapore-qualified lawyers who have been admitted to the Singapore Bar and can practise here like local lawyers.

The centuries-old award of QC, also known as a silk, is bestowed on the most capable English lawyers with proven mastery in law and great ability in courtcraft.

They also have the right to appear and present cases in the higher courts of England and Wales.

Ms Sapna formally became a silk on March 16 at a ceremony before England's Lord Chancellor at Westminster Hall in London.

An Oxford University graduate, she passed the Part A exams here as part of the requirements for being admitted to the Singapore Bar last year.

She said: "To receive silk is a huge honour for me and a landmark moment in my career. To be the first female practitioner in Singapore to be bestowed this honour makes this moment even more special.

"I am immensely proud of my Singapore qualification, and the Singapore legal community have been wonderfully welcoming, supportive and encouraging since I moved here."

Ms Sapna, a British national who is married with two sons aged nine and 12, added that she looked forward "to making a contribution to Singapore's legal ecosystem". Among other cases, she represented one of China's largest offshore service providers recently in a US$200 million ($290 million) arbitration over the construction of two offshore oil rigs.

The global legal directory Who's Who Legal recognised her as "a top name for international arbitration in Singapore" and "a charming advocate, who is well respected within the arbitration fraternity".

Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran, hailing her historic feat, said Ms Sapna, an ethnic Indian, "has shattered several glass ceilings along the way to the top, including that of gender and ethnicity".

"She is one of us, having been based in Singapore for the last nine years. We look forward to her mentoring and being a role model to juniors (including young women litigators) in courtcraft in our courts."

WongPartnership partner Koh Swee Yen said: "Sapna is truly deserving of her QC appointment, which is a testament to her legal abilities.

"She has a real passion for advocacy, and this passion shines through in her work. A great role model for female lawyers, Sapna is no doubt a valuable addition to the Singapore Bar."

vijayan@sph.com.sg

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