KOH Swee Yen is a Partner in the Commercial & Corporate Disputes and International Arbitration Practices.
She has an active practice as counsel, with a particular focus on complex, high-value and cross-border disputes across a wide spectrum of matters from commercial, energy, international sales, trade to investment. She regularly appears before the High Court and Court of Appeal and in international arbitrations under the major institutional rules, including ICSID, ICC, ICDR, SIAC and UNCITRAL.
Swee Yen’s investment arbitration practice includes successfully acting for the Independent State of Papua Guinea in defeating an ICSID claim brought against the State for expropriation of mining assets, acting for foreign investors against Laos PDR in investment treaty claims arising from the misappropriation of gaming investments, including securing a ground-breaking victory on the applicability of PRC bilateral investment treaties to Macau SAR based on state succession principles, and acting for investors against the Kingdom of Lesotho’s application to set aside an investment treaty award finding the State liable for denial of justice in relation to its role in the shuttering of the Southern African Development Community Tribunal. As part of her commercial arbitration practice, she has also acted as counsel in energy disputes, including for an affiliate of a leading Nigerian oil and gas conglomerate against a PRC state-owned oil entity for breach of an international sales contract for crude oil valued at over US$60 million and for investors in a dispute concerning a US$80 million petroleum exploration and production project.
The litigation matters that Swee Yen has been involved in include acting for a State in ongoing proceedings concerning the management of US$1.5 billion of assets, defending the shareholders of an oil trading company against the international arm of Yukos Oil in a US$55 million fraud and asset-tracing multi-jurisdictional claim, acting for a family office in proceedings concerning investments in private equity funds and hotel development valued at over US$127 million, acting for various corporate entities against their former management and employees for breach of non-compete and non-solicitation clauses, breach of fiduciary duties and confidence and obtaining and executing search orders against these individuals, and successfully arguing a landmark decision which laid down the guidelines for representative actions in Singapore before the Court of Appeal.
Swee Yen graduated with First Class Honours from the National University of Singapore (NUS). She was awarded the Singapore Academy of Law prize for being the top student in her final year, and won subject prizes for Evidence and Procedure and Intellectual Property Law. Swee Yen served as a Justices' Law Clerk to the Chief Justice of Singapore before entering private practice. She also received appointments as Law Clerk to assist the Competition Appeal Board in the first and subsequent appeals lodged against the Competition Commission of Singapore’s Infringement Decisions relating to price fixing matters.
Swee Yen is the co-chair of YSIAC Committee, formed under the auspices of the SIAC, and the co-chair of IBA Arb40, a sub-committee of the IBA Arbitration Committee. She is also a council member of International Law Association – Singapore Branch and member of the Editorial Board of the ICC Dispute Resolution Bulletin and the ICCA-ASIL Task Force on Damages. She currently sits on the Panel of Arbitrators in the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration.
She has been a member of the Rules of Court Working Party since 2005, and was appointed as a member of the Civil Justice Commission, whose mandate is to consider transformative changes to the litigation process aimed at reducing the costs of litigation, enhancing efficiency and effecting modernisation. She is also appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs as a member of the Public Entertainment Appeal Board.
Swee Yen was selected to be placed on the Supreme Court's Young Amicus Curiae 2009/2010 list, and was appointed as amicus curiae in Huang Danmin v Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board  SGHC 152, and was commended for her "clear and crisp thoughts on the issue assigned to her".
Swee Yen is recommended in various legal publications, including The Legal 500: Asia Pacific – The Client's Guide to the Asia Pacific Legal Profession for Dispute Resolution and Chambers Asia-Pacific Guide – Asia Pacific's Leading Lawyers for Business for Arbitration, with one source declaring "she's in a league of her own, she's very impressive and she'll go very far". She is the only Singapore law firm lawyer to make the Chambers Outstanding Young Partners list for Singapore (2017), is described as a "marvel" in Global Arbitration Review (GAR) 100 – 9th edition (2016), and regarded as one of the "outstanding members of the next generation" under the age of 45 in Who's Who Legal: Arbitration – Future Leaders 2017. She is also recognised in Best Lawyers for International Arbitration.
Having also been identified by Asian Legal Business in their inaugural 40 Under 40 List, which showcases 40 of the brightest young legal minds across Asia, Swee Yen was praised for her "keen sense of strategy" and "great ability to quickly grasp her clients’ perspective and understand their commercial issues".
- National University of Singapore (LL.B., Hons.)
- Singapore Bar
- Roll of Solicitors of England & Wales
- WongPartnership in Who's Who Legal: Arbitration 2017
- Investor wins case in first Court of Appeal decision on investor-state arbitration
- The Investment Treaty Arbitration Review, 2nd Edition - Objections of Manifest Lack of Legal Merit Claims Chapter
- The Asia-Pacific Investigations Review 2017 - Singapore Chapter
- ICSID Review - The Use of Emergency Arbitrators in Investment Treaty Arbitration Chapter
- The Investment Treaty Arbitration Review, 1st Edition - Objections of Manifest Lack of Legal Merit Claims Chapter
- The Asia-Pacific Investigations Review 2016 - Singapore Chapter
- The International Investigations Review, 5th Edition - Singapore Chapter
- Third-Party Funding: Snapshots from around the globe
- The Practice of Law