Lionel LEO is a Partner in the Restructuring & Insolvency and Special Situations Advisory Practice.

His main areas of practice involve commercial litigation, international arbitration and restructuring and insolvency. Lionel routinely acts as lead counsel for a variety of clients, including financial institutions and multi-national companies, in court and arbitral proceedings, with a particular focus on complex, high-value and cross-border matters that involve restructuring, insolvency, banking and finance. He is the inaugural winner of the prestigious Joseph Grimberg Outstanding Young Advocate Award, and has been recognised for his expertise in commercial litigation, as well as in restructuring and insolvency, in publications such as Who’s Who Legal.

Lionel graduated with First Class Honours from the National University of Singapore, and obtained his BCL Master's degree with Distinction from the University of Oxford. He has been awarded various scholarships and academic prizes, including the British Chevening Scholarship, the Crewe Graduate Scholarship and the subject prize for the Law of Evidence. Prior to joining private practice, Lionel served as a Justices' Law Clerk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Singapore and as an Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court of Singapore.

Lionel is a member of the Singapore Academy of Law’s Commissioning Advisory Panel, and has published various books, book chapters and academic articles, including one of Singapore’s leading textbooks on evidence law, which has been cited by Singapore’s highest court and which is currently in its third edition. He was placed on the Supreme Court’s Young Amicus Curiae roll from 2012-2014 and was appointed by the High Court as amicus curiae in two cases.

He is one of the co-founders of the Singapore Management University’s mooting program, and has coached the university’s Vis Moot teams. He has also been teaching various courses at the Singapore Management University since 2009, including the Law of Evidence, Pre-Trial Practice in Civil Litigation and Legal Research & Writing.

Matters of significance in which Lionel has been involved in include acting/ advising for the following:

  • The joint liquidators of Three Arrows Capital Limited, the US$10 billion cryptocurrency hedge fund that went bankrupt, in various proceedings and applications, including successfully obtaining provisional relief and recognition of the BVI liquidation proceedings as foreign main proceedings in Singapore.
  • The interim judicial managers of Hodlnaut Pte Ltd, one of Singapore’s leading crypto asset borrowing and lending platforms that collapsed, in various proceedings and applications, including successfully defending the interim judicial managers from an application by the directors to remove them.
  • The representative of 58 customers against the estate of MF Global Singapore, and in successfully arguing that a statutory trust arose under the Securities and Futures Act and the Commodity Trading Act over profits arising from customers’ transactions that had been closed out prior to liquidation.
  • EFG Bank in successfully obtaining summary judgment in relation to an indemnity given by the former Chairman of a Taiwanese insurance company for repayment of a US$200 million loan.
  • DBS Bank in relation to its letter of credit exposure arising from the collapse of Hin Leong Trading, including in complex interpleader proceedings in relation to cargo on board on the Ocean Voyager.
  • A company listed on the London AIM in an SIAC arbitration against an international oil and gas company in a dispute arising out of coalbed gas methane projects in China, with claims totalling US$500 million.

Related Practices

  • Restructuring & Insolvency
  • Special Situations Advisory
  • Co-author of The Law of Evidence in Singapore (1st, 2nd and 3rd Edition), one of the leading textbooks in Singapore on evidence law that has been cited by the Singapore High Court, Singapore International Commercial Court and the Singapore Court of Appeal in various cases including ARX v Comptroller of Income Tax [2016] 5 SLR 590, Phosagro Asia v Piattchanine, Iouri [2016] 5 SLR 1052 and Arovin Ltd v Hadiran Sridjaja [2019] SGHC(I) 13 
  • Co-author of the leading textbook on family procedure in Singapore, Family Procedure in Singapore (2018) 
  • Co-author of chapters in the Singapore White Book, Singapore Civil Procedure since 2016 
  • Author of various chapters in Halsbury’s Law of Singapore, Civil Procedure (2016) 
  • Co-author of the Singapore chapter in Transnational Litigation Guide since 2018 
  • Co-author of the chapter on civil procedure in Singapore Law: 50 Years in the Making (2015) 
  • Author of “Recent Developments on the Protection of Customers’ Moneys through Segregation and Trust Obligations” (2017) 29 SAcLJ 518 
  • Author of “High Court Clarifies Law on Applications to Set Aside Arbitral Award for Lack of Jurisdiction”, Singapore Law Blog, 30 April 2014 
  • Author of “Examination orders against foreign officers of a judgment debtor”, Singapore Law Blog, 4 September 2014 
  • Author of “Allegations of failure to deal with an essential issue and the utility of Articles 33(3) and 34(4) of the Model Law in such cases”, SLW Commentary, Issue 1/August 2014 
  • Author of “Case Management: Drawing from the Singapore Experience” (2011) 30(2) CJQ 143 
  • Co-author of “Reasonable Suspicion or Real Likelihood: A Question of Semantics?” (2008) SJLS 446, cited with approval by the Court of Appeal in BOI v BOJ [2018] SGCA 61 
  • Co-author of “Natural Justice: A Case for Uniform Rigour” (2008) 20 SAcLJ 820

Lionel is the inaugural winner of the prestigious Joseph Grimberg Outstanding Young Advocate Award, awarded by the Singapore Academy of Law every two years to one young lawyer who has shown excellence in his work and achievements, while also displaying outstanding professional excellence and ethical standards.

He has been ranked as a Future Leader in Commercial Litigation in Who’s Who Legal in 2021 and 2022, for his expertise in insolvency and reorganisation law in Best Lawyers – 2022 Edition, and has been noted in IFLR1000 for being “able to put himself in the client's perspective and offer solutions which make commercial sense.

Lionel was also awarded the Excellence in Advocacy Award by the Singapore International Arbitration Academy 2019.