LL.B (Hons), National University of Singapore
Advocate and Solicitor, Supreme Court of Singapore
Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK)
Accredited Mediator, Singapore Mediation Centre
Area of Expertise
Abraham is an experienced Singapore court advocate and counsel in international arbitrations across Asia. He is also a trained mediator and an accredited arbitrator. Abraham is on the panel of various arbitration institutions across Asia. He is lead counsel in 3 Singapore International Commercial Court cases and is the first in Singapore to secure third party funding for the enforcement of an arbitral award against a sovereign state.
Abraham established Providence Law Asia LLC as a boutique international arbitration and litigation practice in 2012 and has 20 years of extensive experience in contentious work in Asia. He works closely with leading lawyers from other jurisdictions and is regularly instructed as counsel by International law firms.
Abraham was named “Singapore Managing Partner of the Year” and shortlisted for “Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year” at the Asian Legal Business SE Asia Awards 2019. Abraham was a finalist for “Asia’s Disputes Star of the Year” in 2017 and 2018 at the AsiaLaw and Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution Awards.
Chambers and Partners has consistently ranked Abraham amongst the top twenty litigators in Singapore since 2016. Legal 500 recognises Providence Law Asia as a “Leading Firm” and Abraham as a “Leading Lawyer” in the dispute resolution arena. Providence Law Asia is listed as a Benchmark Litigation Recommended Firm since 2017.
Abraham has been commended by the Singapore Court judgements on being “very competent”, “impressed by the quality of Mr Vergis’ advocacy, and certainly more than capable of advancing his client’s position.”
Under Abraham’s leadership, Providence Law Asia has attained multiple accolades, including being awarded “Best Dispute Resolution Boutique Practice of the Year in Southeast Asia” in 2017, “Rising Law Firm of the Year” in 2018, and finalist for “Singapore Litigation Law Firm of the Year in 2019”, at the annual Asian Legal Business SE Asia Awards.
Main Areas of Practice
- Construction Litigation and Arbitration
- International Commercial Arbitration
- Corporate and Commercial Litigation
- Corporate Insolvency and Restructuring
- Private Wealth Litigation
- Crime, Compliance and Internal Investigations
- Special Interest Cases
REPRESENTATIVE CASE EXPERIENCE
- Construction Litigation and Arbitration
- International Commercial Arbitration
- Corporate & Commercial Litigation
- Private Wealth Litigation
- Crime, compliance & Internal Investigations
- Special Interest Cases
Abraham and his specialist team at Providence Law Asia act as counsel in complex, value-added construction and engineering disputes in the infrastructure, energy and transport space. They are regularly called upon to represent international and local contractors, developers and consultants in various settings: contract management, adjudications, arbitration proceedings and court litigation. Abraham’s past experience include:
- Acted in an 80-day multi-party construction arbitration in Singapore concerning the partial collapse of Southeast Asia’s tallest multi-cell cement silo. Abraham acted for the main contractors, who were being sued alongside the silo designer and the accredited checker. A technically challenging case involving complex civil and structural engineering issues addressed by an international panel of 14 expert witnesses. Abraham and his team successfully argued the novel defence of novus actus interveniens by establishing that the immediate cause of the structure collapsing was the supervening negligence of a professional engineer who had ordered the visibly distressed silo to be load-tested in the course of apprising the extent of its structural defects.
- Acting for a Malaysian national telecommunications company in an SIAC arbitration against a Singapore IPTV provider, with respect to a dispute worth over USD 34 million arising out of a collaboration agreement for the sale and distribution of IPTV units.
- Acted in a 25-day construction arbitration under ICC Rules in Bangkok, between a Malaysian boilermaker and a prominent Thai mill owner, concerning construction defects in a palm oil refinery in Thailand. This matter involved complex technical issues, Thai law and accounting evidence concerning loss of profits as well as earning capacity claims.
- Represented the main contractors in termination claims against the concessionaire of a multi-billion-dollar airport reconstruction project for an Indian Ocean republic. The client is a prominent South-Asian infrastructure conglomerate with a track record of airport construction projects in India, Philippines and Turkey. The claims were settled two years after the commencement of arbitration proceedings.
- Representing a BVI company in an SIAC arbitration in respect of claims exceeding USD150 million against a sovereign government for repudiating a 50-year joint venture agreement for the development of a lagoon, with claims for aborted reclamation and infrastructure development works, and loss of profits. This will be amongst the first few international arbitration cases in Singapore that will deploy third party funding to finance the arbitration costs following recent changes in Singapore law that now allows for external funding in the context of international arbitrations seated in Singapore.
- Succeeded on a USD70 million claim on behalf of an Australian client against a sovereign government for prematurely terminating a 20-year concession agreement for the development of a comprehensive immigration and border control system at all airports and seaports in the nation’s archipelago. The arbitration was presided over by the former Chief Justice of Singapore. The respondent government had sought to impugn the competitive tender process that led to the client being awarded the concession, made spurious allegations of bribery and corruption, and had resorted to having the local parliament declare the concession agreement illegal for contravention of local laws.
- Representing the Singapore subsidiary of a prominent Malaysian infrastructure conglomerate in a S$10 million construction dispute. Succeeded in respect of all arguments in a partial award on liability, and eventually obtained a favourable settlement for the client.
- Represented the subsidiary of a leading Malaysian construction conglomerate in an adjudication under the Security of Payment Act concerning a single payment claim raised against them of over $7 million involving over 60 heads of claim. Successfully mounted a comprehensive response within very compressed timelines that resulted in 90% of the payment claim being disallowed at the first instance, and on further review, produced a final adjudication determination allowing only $250,000 of the original claim.
- Persuaded the Singapore High Court in a rare landmark decision to set aside an adjudication determination. The Singapore High Court accepted that the underlying payment claim did not comply with the strict requirements under the Security of Payment Act, and held that as such non-compliance goes to the root of the adjudicator’s jurisdiction, they could not be waived and the adjudication determination should therefore be set aside.
- Represented the Respondent before the Singapore Court of Appeal, to uphold a High Court judgment disallowing defects and delay claims relating to condominium development in Singapore.
International Commercial Arbitration
- Representing a BVI company in its claims against a sovereign government for a breach of a joint venture agreement involving claims valued at US$125 million.
- Acting in a multi-party SIAC arbitration with a claim value of over A$400 million involving claims of breach of contract, misrepresentation and breaches of fiduciary duties in respect of the forced sale of shares in an Australian listed company to institutional lenders.
Acting for the claimants in an SIAC arbitration which has been commenced against more than 20 institutional lenders from Singapore, United States, Australia, BVI and the Cayman Islands. The claim pertains to the forced sale of more than 200 million shares in a company listed on the ASX indices, and the claim value is estimated to be in the substantial sum of more than A$400 million. The case concerns novel issues of, among other things, (a) whether lenders owe duties of trust and confidence to the borrowers; and (b) whether fiduciary duties can arise from such a relationship of trust and confidence.
- Acted in an SIAC arbitration in Singapore, in which Abraham successfully secured damages of approximately US$17 million for losses of profits and the costs of arbitration for his client in a US$70 million claim against a sovereign government for prematurely terminating a 20-year concession agreement between the government and our client.
- Acted in an arbitration placed to be resolved in London under the London Metals Exchange Rules, representing of one of Indonesia’s largest tin metal traders, Uni Bros Metal Pte Ltd, in the setting aside of a Freezing Order obtained in the High Court of Singapore which restrained the client and its affiliates from the disposition of assets up to a value of about US$5.7 million.
- Represented a well-known Malaysian hotel group and its subsidiary in SIAC arbitration proceedings against a foreign party for the wrongful termination of a joint venture agreement, resulting in the client’s losses of profits estimated to be approximately US$4.5 million. Successfully obtained a favourable settlement for the client.
- Represented a Thai satellite company in ad hoc arbitration proceedings against an Indian television broadcaster for unpaid fees.
- Represented a Singapore company and its director in an SIAC arbitration brought by an offshore company in respect of claims arising from a Loan Agreement.
Corporate & Commercial Litigation
- Successfully defended a Russian businessman in a RMB 3 billion suit brought against him by a Hong Kong entity in the newly established Singapore International Commercial Court and the Court of Appeal. The matter concerned serious allegations of conspiracy and breaches of fiduciary duties, involving a failed joint venture with Singapore and PRC entities to develop a Winter Theme Park in Shanghai.
- Represented an Executive Director of Macquarie Bank Limited, Mr Stephen Wolfe, in the Singapore International Commercial Court for the resolution of a dispute governed by English law, between the Singapore subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned entity and Macquarie Bank, arising from a commodity swap transaction.
- Represented local holding companies for a multi-million dollar group of Jordanian companies against a claim for US$2.6 billion brought against them by Motorola Credit Solutions, as part of its worldwide effort to enforce a judgement obtained in USA in 2003 against Turkish political dissident Cem Uzan and family.
- Acted in 65-day Singapore High Court trial, involving 3 consolidated Suits, 14 parties and 5 sets of Counsel, and concerning claims for misrepresentation and market manipulation in relation to a US$40 million take-over of a Malaysian public-listed company. The other parties included German and Singapore banks and prominent Malaysian business and political elites
- Instructed in several related High Court Suits involving liquidation of S$200 million company and competing derivative action and minority oppression claims
- Instructed in a widely-reported real estate dispute worth over S$50 million involving a Singapore statutory board and a number of sizeable Singapore companies
- Acted in a multi-million dollar joint venture dispute before the Singapore High Court for a Singapore-headquartered multinational against an Australian public-listed company over oil & gas industry services contracts in the Caspian.
- Successfully struck out an AUD 43 million claim brought by an Australian casino against a Singapore high-roller in the Singapore International Commercial Court for the recovery of gaming debts.
Acting for the defendant, a Myanmar national, to set aside default judgments which had been obtained against him before the Singapore High Court amounting to more than US$66 million. The case concerns the novel issue of whether a defendant’s delay of several years in applying to set aside a default judgment could be excused in circumstances where the default judgment was based on an oppressive action, which had already been the subject of litigation before the Myanmar courts for more than 16 years. Abraham succeeded in setting aside parts of the default judgment before the Singapore High Court.
Private Wealth Litigation
- Represented a high net worth US Permanent Resident against a claim by one of the wealthiest men in Singapore, in respect of a dispute relating to the shares in an Indian company worth around US$40 million. This litigation raised complex and novel legal issues involving, among other things, Indian law relating to regulated agricultural land in India and the enforceability of agreements relating to the transfer of property held by, and to be transferred to, third parties.
- Instructed to resolve the deadlocked administration of a S$320 million estate that had remained unresolved for 15 years.
- Instructed in several related Singapore High Court Suits relating to S$200 million estate (held through a network of corporate structures and nominees) that became the subject of controversy among the testator’s family members and his business associates.
- Represented a member of royalty in South East Asia in a number of Singapore court proceedings relating to a private equity investment.
Crime, compliance & Internal Investigations
- Acted in a multi-jurisdictional fraud case involving misappropriation of several million dollars by two senior executives in a Kazakhstan subsidiary of a Singapore company, and diversion of proceeds to Hong Kong, Ahmedabad and Liechtenstein. Abraham directed the fraud investigations in Almaty and Singapore, which culminated in worldwide freezing orders and legal action in the Singapore High Court
- Directed and coordinated multi-disciplinary investigations for a leading airport operator in India against a former director in respect of suspected conflict of interest and other serious irregularities, which led to Singapore High Court proceedings, which were subsequently settled favourably
- Instructed by a foreign Government to investigate substantial hospital bills rendered by a South East Asian hospital in respect of treatment rendered to a group of foreign patients. Investigations revealed that the hospital had systematically overcharged the foreign government millions of dollars, which directly resulted in an amicable settlement based on substantial discounting of all outstanding hospital bills
- Secured two acquittals for a Singapore lawyer in two separate trials on serious charges of perjury and corruption, allegedly committed in the course of his practice as an advocate & solicitor
- Secured an acquittal in the High Court for a client who had been charged with 5 counts of sexual offences against a teenage girl.
- Secured an acquittal for a client who had been charged with overclaiming GST tax refunds from IRAS.
Special Interest Cases
- Representing Mrs Lee Suet Fern, sister-in-law of Singapore’s Prime Minister, in Disciplinary Tribunal proceedings against her for her alleged role in the drafting of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s last will and testament.
- Represented Li Shengwu, nephew of Singapore’s Prime Minister, in criminal contempt proceedings brought against him by the Attorney-General of Singapore in respect of a statement he made in a private Facebook post.
- Representation of Mr Deepak Sharma, the retired global chairman of Citi Private Bank in judicial review proceedings against the Law Society of Singapore. Although the review was ultimately dismissed, Abraham succeeded in establishing precedent on novel legal issues on public interest.
- Advised the Air Line Pilots Association Singapore (ALPA-S), a union representing SIA pilots, on its collective agreement negotiations with SIA, particularly in relation to various issues involving the salary and training contracts of SIA pilots.
- Instructed to represent a plaintiff in a 30-day medical negligence suit in the High Court involving neurosurgical and neuroradiological expert evidence.
- Instructed by the Law Society of Singapore to prosecute a veteran lawyer charged with failure to supervise his conveyancing clerk.
- Represented a junior lawyer convicted of forgery in disciplinary proceedings before the Court of Three Judges.
The International Academy of Financial Litigator
- Singapore sole representative
Singapore Academy of Law
- International Promotion of Singapore Law Committee: Appointed by Justice VK Rajah to promote the use of Singapore law and Singapore as a venue for arbitration in cross-border disputes in South Asia
- Law Reform Committee: Appointed by Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy, and Judith Prakash to consider law reforms in the area of arbitration law
- Professional Affairs Committee under: Appointed by Solicitor-General Lionel Yee to contribute to the Professional Values Chapter
SAL Practitioner Journal: Appointed to be Subject Editor of Advocacy & Procedure chapter
Law Society of Singapore
- Chairman, Law Society’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme
- Served as Chairman of the Law Society’s Investigative Tribunal for Inadequate Professional Services Subordinate Courts
- Principal Mediator, Primary Dispute Resolution Centre
Singapore Institute of Legal Education
- Member, Accreditation Committee under the Continuing Professional Development Scheme
School of Law, Singapore Management University
- Member, Practice Advisory Committee
Asian Legal Business South East Asia Law Awards 2019 Winner - Managing Partner of the Year
Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2018 - Disputes Star in Commercial Disputes, Bankruptcy & Insolvency and International Arbitration
Asian Legal Business SE Asia Law Awards 2018
Asialaw Leading Lawyers 2018 & 2017 – Market Leading Lawyer in Singapore
Chambers & Partners – Top 20 litigators in Singapore
Chambers & Partners Asia Pacific 2016 – Dispute Resolution Litigation –Singapore
Finance Monthly – International Arbitration Lawyer of the Year – 2016
The Best Lawyers in Singapore – International Arbitration – 2016
ICC Singapore Arbitration Group