Cavinder Bull, SC

Chief Executive Officer

Qualifications

  • B.A. (Hons), Oxford University (UK, 1992)
  • M.A. Oxford University (UK, 2001)
  • LL.M., Harvard Law School (USA, 1996)
  • Barrister of England & Wales (1993)
  • Advocate & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore (1994)
  • Attorney-at-Law of the state of New York (1996)
  • Appointed Senior Counsel (2008)

Cavinder is the Chief Executive Officer of Drew & Napier. He has an active practice in complex litigation and international arbitration. He is engaged in trial and appellate advocacy at all levels of the Singapore Courts and appears as counsel in international arbitration in various countries. He is also co-head of the Competition Law & Regulatory Practice.

Cavinder graduated with First Class Honours in law from Oxford University in 1992, winning the Bellot Prize for Public International Law from Trinity College. He was called to the Bar of England & Wales the following year, placing fourth in the Bar examinations. He returned to Singapore and passed the Singapore Bar exams, winning two prizes, including the prize for top candidates.

Cavinder worked for the Chief Justice of Singapore as a Justices' Law Clerk before joining Drew & Napier in 1994 as a litigation associate. In 1995, he was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship and left for Harvard Law School where he received an LL.M. He passed the New York Bar exams and was admitted to practice in New York. Cavinder practiced as a litigation associate with Sullivan & Cromwell in New York until late 1997 when he returned to Singapore and Drew & Napier. He was made a partner of Drew & Napier in 1998 and a Director of the firm in May 2002. He was appointed Senior Counsel by the Chief Justice of Singapore in 2008, one of a handful to have been accorded the honour before the age of 40.

Cavinder is on the Governing Board of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA), on the World Bank Sanctions Board, and on the Advisory Board of the AFSA International Arbitration Rules Drafting Committee. He is Vice-President of the Court of Arbitration of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, former Vice-President of the Asia Pacific Regional Arbitration Group, and served as Chairman of the Singapore Stock Exchange’s Disciplinary Committee from 2017 to 2023. He was also a member of the Securities and Industries Council from 2016 to 2022. Cavinder was a recent member on the inaugural Disciplinary Tribunal of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Cavinder is known among clients and peers as an extremely versatile litigator and arbitration specialist.  

Litigation

Cavinder has handled many high profile matters for clients ranging from the Governments of Laos, India and Djibouti to companies and financial institutions like UBS AG and Sharp Corporation, and even the central bank of Singapore. Here are just a few of these matters:

  • Securing a US$926 million judgment for a former Prime Minister of Georgia against Credit Suisse Trust
    Representing Bidzina Ivanishvili, a former Prime Minster of Georgia, and his family in successfully claiming US$926 million against Credit Suisse Trust Limited for breach of trust leading to losses in an investment portfolio worth over US$1 billion. The trustee had successfully obtained a stay of proceedings in favour of Switzerland in the High Court, following which the Ivanishvili family instructed Cavinder to take over the case. Cavinder implemented a change of strategy and succeeded in the appeal before the Court of Appeal which lifted the stay of proceedings. The matter was heard in Singapore as the Ivanishvili family had wanted and the trustee was ultimately ordered to pay US$926 million to Ivanishvili by the SICC in its latest ruling.
  • Largest trust case in Singapore with disputed assets worth up to US$800 million
    Successfully acted for members of the De La Sala family in the largest trust case ever heard in Singapore, involving disputed assets estimated to be worth between US$600 and US$800 million. The High Court’s judgment was a landmark decision setting out guidance on what constitutes impermissible witness coaching, an issue that arose during the trial pursuant to Cavinder’s cross-examination of several key witnesses.
  • First actions for civil penalties under the Securities and Futures Act
    First actions for civil penalties under the Securities and Futures Act Represented Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, in two actions for breaches of the Securities and Futures Act (SFA). The first action was for market manipulation while the second concerned insider trading. These were the first two civil penalty cases brought by the central bank and it was the first time the central bank had instructed external counsel to appear for it in Court. Cavinder was successful in both trials as well as in both the subsequent appeals. The Court of Appeal’s judgments in both cases are considered landmark decisions.
  • Billion-dollar fraudulent trading case in Singapore
    Acting as lead counsel for Hin Leong’s judicial managers in the largest reported fraudulent trading case in Singapore, seeking recovery of over US$3.5 billion from the directors of the company. The dispute includes claims of fabrication of gains, forgery of documents and manipulation of accounts to conceal massive losses sustained by the company over many years. This marks the collapse of one of the world's largest oil and commodities trading companies and has attracted significant media attention both locally and globally.
  • Minority Shareholder Disputes
    Acted in numerous minority shareholder cases including Thio Syn Kym Wendy and others v Thio Syn Pyn and others and other appeals [2018] 2 SLR 788 and a recent case involving an Indonesian based conglomerate worth more than US$4 billion. 

International Arbitration

Cavinder has acted as counsel in both commercial and investor-state cases; and has experience acting for States and investors. He has also sat as an arbitrator in ICSID, NAFTA, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), International Court of Arbitration (ICC), Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), and Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB) arbitrations.

  • Sharp v Hisense
    Acted as lead counsel for Sharp Corporation in an international arbitration relating to a US$3 billion contractual relationship relating to the sale of Sharp televisions in various territories. The dispute involved emergency arbitrator proceedings and related Court litigation in multiple jurisdictions. This case was reported in Global Arbitration Review and in various media publications in the United States.
  • Billion-dollar Indian Premier League dispute
    Acted for an international sports marketing and media right management group in three separate arbitrations arising from broadcasting and media rights to the Indian Premier League, a major cricket event. The agreements involved in the arbitrations were worth over US$1.2 billion. The dispute also involved multiple legal proceedings in India, USA, UK and in Singapore, and required intensive work with various foreign counsel in those jurisdictions.
  • Billion dollar mining arbitration
    Acted for a major Australian mining corporation in arbitration against a major global engineering and construction company relating to a multi-billion dollar mining, rail and port project in Australia. The quantum of damages sought in this case was about one billion dollars.
  • Represented the Government of Laos in a jurisdictional challenge in respect of an investor state arbitration
    Represented the Government of Laos in its challenge to the jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal constituted under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules before the High Court and Court of Appeal of Singapore. This was the first time a jurisdictional challenge had been brought in Singapore in respect of an investor-state arbitration. The Court proceedings resulted in a subsequent SIAC international arbitration where the Government of Laos prevailed by a majority decision.
  • Investor-State arbitrations
    Cavinder has acted as counsel in investor state arbitrations; and has experience acting for States and investors.  He has also sat as an arbitrator in investor-state arbitrations under the auspices of ICSID, NAFTA and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), including the following non-confidential cases: City-State NV, Praktyka Asset Management Company LLC, Crystal-Invest LLC and Prodiz LLC v Ukraine (ICSID Case No. ARB/14/9); Tennant Energy v Canada (PCA Case No 2018-54), a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) case; Rizzani de Eccher SpA, Obrascón Huarte Lain SA and Trevi SpA v State of Kuwait (ICSID Case No. ARB/17/8), the first ICSID claim against Kuwait; ConocoPhillips UK, Perenco UK and others v Vietnam (PCA Case No. 2018-5); and Richard N. Westbury, Paul D. Hinks and Symbion Power Tanzania Limited v United Republic of Tanzania (ICSID Case No. ARB/19/17); Marko Mihaljević v. Republic of Croatia (ICSID Case No. ARB/19/35); UAB Pavilniu saules slenis 14 and UAB Modus grupe v. Republic of Belarus (ICSID Case No. ARB/21/2), to name just a few.

Asian Legal Business
Southeast Asia's Top 15 Litigators 2023 – Named as one of Asia's top 15 Litigators for 2 consecutive years                                                                                                                  Asia’s Top 15 Litigators 2022 – Named as one of Southeast Asia's top 15 Litigators

ALB’s research team handpicked Cavinder based on the following criteria: significant cases in his entire career and the last 12 months; key and new clients attained; accolades and awards won; and client recommendations.

Asia Legal Business SE Asia Law Awards
Singapore Managing Partner of the Year 2023, 2022 and 2020                                        Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year 2023, 2021 and 2019 
Regional Managing Partner of the Year 2020 

Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific Awards
Hall of Fame award 2022 – Winner
Impact Case 2022 – Winners
Hin Leong Trading Insolvency 
Prudential Assurance Company Singapore v former Group Financial Services Director/ PTMOC

asialaw & Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution Awards 
Disputes Star of the Year 2018, Singapore

The Legal 500 Asia Pacific

Dispute Resolution 2024 – Listed Lawyer in Hall of Fame for 4 consecutive years

International Arbitration 2024 – Listed Lawyer in Hall of Fame for 4 consecutive years

Asia-Pacific: Regional International Arbitration 2024 – Recommended lawyer

Antitrust and Competition 2024 - Recommended lawyer for 8 consecutive years

Construction 2024 – Recommended lawyer for 3 consecutive years

White-Collar Crime 2024 – Recommended Lawyer

“Cavinder Bull SC is simply superb as a legal adviser, advocate and person. He dominates the courtroom and is very effective and persuasive while also remaining collegiate and agreeable.” – Legal 500 APAC 2024

“Cavinder Bull is a true market-leader. He has excellent presence and sound commercial judgment. Clients love him!” – Legal 500 APAC 2023

“Cavinder Bull SC is perhaps the leading counsel in Singapore today. He is a powerful advocate and skilled lawyer.” – Legal 500 APAC 2022

“Cavinder Bull SC’s reputation is well deserved.” – Legal 500 APAC 2022

Sources say, ”I have worked with the following individuals in international arbitration: Cavinder Bull SC is outstanding...” – Legal 500 APAC 2021

'Cavinder Bull SC’s advocacy is outstanding and he is quite simply in a league of his own.’ – Legal 500 APAC 2020

'a great advocate in arbitration-related court proceedings', 'is smart, reasonable and fair', 'is a lethal examiner of witnesses' and 'makes a very good arbitrator' – Legal 500 APAC 2019

‘fabulous lawyer’, ‘a big name’, a ‘very astute lawyer on strategy and law’, ‘[his] experience is invaluable’ – Legal 500 APAC 2018

The Legal 500 Arbitration Powerlist: Southeast Asia 
Recognised as a leading arbitrator in the Southeast Asia region in 2023 for 2 consecutive years

Chambers Asia-Pacific and Chambers Global (Dispute Resolution: Litigation) 

Singapore 2024 – Band 1 for 14 consecutive years

"Cavinder is at the top of his game. He's very persuasive on his feet and is no-nonsense. He has a brilliant manner about him. If I was an advocate, I'd like to be him." – Chambers APAC 2024

"Cavinder has a good ability to handle complex and sophisticated matters, as well as to understand the commercial realities." – Chambers APAC 2023

"An excellent litigator and a real gentleman. He is very intelligent and tenacious in court" Chambers APAC 2023

One market source praises Cavinder Bull SC as a "very strong litigator" while a client describes him as someone who is "very laser-like and goes for the target." – Chambers APAC 2022

a very experienced litigator” with “sharp intellect and surgical precision against opposing counsel.” – Chambers APAC 2021

A pre-eminent dispute resolution practitioner with a long and successful track record. One client says he “knows exactly where he is going and gets there," while another notes he is "far-sighted and has got a very good mind.”’ – Chambers APAC 2020

‘ability to “see the issues quickly and beyond simply locating the legal problem, look at it from the point of providing the solution to the organisation concerned.”’ – Chambers APAC 2019

"He is a very rare talent in disputes." "excellent presence in court" and "unflappable manner."  – Chambers APAC 2017

“A terrific cross-examiner who can really perform in court.” – Chambers APAC 2015

"He is very polite with the judge but is ruthless when it comes to examining the other side's argument." – Chambers APAC 2014

Chambers Asia-Pacific and Chambers Global (Dispute Resolution: Arbitration) 
Singapore 2024 – Band 1 for 12 consecutive years
Singapore 2024: Most in Demand Arbitrators – Band 1
Global-wide 2023: Arbitration (International) – Band 3

"Cavinder Bull SC is sharp, quick and gives clear advice. He inspires confidence." – Chambers APAC 2024

"Arbitrators like him because he is clear and will not over-reach or go over the top. He is a very good counsel" – Chambers APAC 2023

"We love Cavinder's insights and respect his judgement" – Chambers APAC 2023

“Cavinder Bull SC is one of the top Singapore arbitration counsel and arbitrators." – Chambers Global 2022

A source emphasises that "Cavinder Bull SC is an absolutely superb advocate." – Chambers Global 2022

Market commentators hold Cavinder Bull SC to be one of the "standout practitioners as advocate, lawyer and arbitrator." – Chambers APAC 2022

One source lauds him as "the smartest guy in the room, a great lawyer." – Chambers APAC 2022

an excellent oral advocate’ – Chambers Global 2021

Cavinder Bull SC is an esteemed arbitration specialist with particular expertise in energy matters before SIAC. Market commentators hold him to be one of the “clear standouts in this area” and “obviously very impressive as an arbitrator as well as counsel.’ – Chambers APAC 2021

Cavinder Bull SC is highly sought after for his expertise in both commercial disputes and investment treaty arbitration. He adeptly advises sovereign states and private entities in complex international proceedings, and is a particularly respected figure within ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Singapore, he is regarded as “an excellent lawyer,” while another source describes him as being “extremely knowledgeable and a very good advocate.” – Chambers Global 2020

‘Cavinder Bull SC is “one of Singapore’s best legal minds,” according to interviewees. Market sources say: “He is a very capable lawyer and does standout work.” He is well versed in handling high-stakes commercial and investment treaty arbitrations.’ – Chambers APAC 2020

‘a highly regarded advocate with a strong track record representing investors and sovereign states in commercial and investment treaty arbitrations’ – Chambers APAC 2019

“exceptionally bright and engaging and prepared to tailor advice to our specific needs, rather than simply produce generic opinions." – Chambers APAC 2018

"World-class" – Chambers APAC and Global 2017

"Even, very reassuring manner" and "brilliant ability to grasp business issues." – Chambers APAC 2015

 “[He] enjoys a formidable reputation in Asian arbitration circles and is respected across the region for his skilled handling of sizeable disputes in such areas as infrastructure and media.” – Chambers Global 2014

Chambers Asia-Pacific (Dispute Resolution: International Firms)
India 2024 – Singapore expertise based abroad – Band 1

"I rate Cavinder as one of the best lawyers I have worked with globally. I was extremely impressed with Cavinder's ability to grasp and present complex issues with ease." – Chambers APAC 2024

The Asian Lawyer Emerging Markets Awards 
Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year 2015

Global Arbitration Review 
The Global Arbitration Review 16th edition (2023) says “Cavinder Bull is the best known name internationally”. A client commented that he is “one of the finest advocates, clear, precise, and extraordinarily well prepared. His knowledge of the record and the law is unsurpassed”.

India Business Law Journal
In the August 2020 issue of India Business Law Journal (IBLJ), Cavinder is recommended as counsel for Indian legal matters. He is described by a peer as “spectacular and in a very elite league”.

In IBLJ’s July 2017 issue, Cavinder received praise from a client, who said, “I would unhesitatingly recommend Cavinder Bull as counsel. His understanding and assessment of strategic, practical and legal issues is one of the best I have seen. Despite his obviously very heavy schedule, he has been extremely responsive…and has given significant thought and advice and various issues on an urgent basis”.

Who’s Who Legal

Global Guide: Arbitration 2024 – Recommended Lawyer for 10 consecutive years

Thought Leaders Global Elite Guide: Arbitration 2024 – Global Elite Thought Leader for 5 consecutive years

Thought Leaders Global Elite Guide: Commercial Litigation 2023 – Global Elite Thought Leader for 3 consecutive years

Thought Leaders Guide: Arbitration 2023 – Thought Leader for 7 consecutive years

Thought Leaders Guide: Commercial Litigation 2023 Thought Leader for 5 consecutive years

Global Guide: Commercial Litigation 2022 Recommended Lawyer for 13 consecutive years

Global Guide: Hospitality 2022 – Recommended Lawyer for 2 consecutive years

National Guide: Southeast Asia - Arbitration 2023 – Recommended Lawyer 3 consecutive years

National Guide: Southeast Asia - Litigation 2023 – Recommended Lawyer 3 consecutive years

Global Guide: Telecommunications Media & Technology 2016 – Leading Lawyer

Global Guide: Competition 2014 – Recommended Lawyer for 3 consecutive years

Global Guide: Construction 2014 – Recommended Lawyer

Cavinder Bull SC is a favourite among peers and clients alike, who appreciate the fact that “his work is always thorough, well-considered and clear”.

“Cavinder Bull SC has a leading reputation for his market-leading international track record assisting hospitality clients in disputes.”

Cavinder Bull SC is “without doubt one of the best practitioners I have worked with worldwide.”

He possesses “clarity of thought and the ability to pick up with ease various strands of a complex dispute”.

Cavinder Bull SC is “very sharp and tactically astute”, and regularly acts for large companies and individual on complex international disputes.

Cavinder Bull, SC is "one of the leading lights in Singapore” and "the star at Drew & Napier".

He wins particular praise for his advocacy, with sources calling him "skilful and adaptable in his arguments and totally prepared on facts and law".

Cavinder Bull, SC has “outstanding grasp of the law”.

He has the “ability to provide practical advice tailored to needs of clients’ business”, and his “analysis and advocacy skills are off the charts”.

“The outstanding Cavinder Bull, SC is a highly esteemed practitioner who earns praise for his substantial experience in complex litigation and arbitration proceedings.”

A “persuasive and intelligent” practitioner who is a “highly respected figure” that “ought to be on the list” due to his “excellent practice”.

He has “excellent knowledge of the law” according to sources who commend his “rapid response and clarity of advice” when handling complex commercial disputes.

Global Investigations Review 100 (GIR 100) 
Recognised as a leading individual for investigations in GIR 5th edition (2019). The GIR 100 identifies top 100 firms worldwide that handle complex cross-border government-led and internal investigations.

Asia Business Law Journal 
Identified as one of Singapore's Top 100 lawyers 2019

Best Lawyers International: Singapore 
Bet-the-Company Litigation 2024 – Endorsed individual for 7 consecutive years (named Lawyer of the Year 2021 edition)
Litigation 2024 – Endorsed individual for 14 consecutive years
Arbitration/Mediation 2024 – Endorsed individual for 11 consecutive years
Competition/Antitrust Law 2024 – Endorsed individual for 7 consecutive years
Construction Law 2024 - Endorsed individual
International Arbitration – Endorsed individual for 3 consecutive years (2018-2020 edition)

asialaw Leading Lawyers
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 2023/2024 – Elite Practitioner for 7 consecutive years

“An outstanding lawyer; thorough understanding of client's needs.”

Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 
Litigation Star 2023 – Commercial and Transactions, International Arbitration (6 consecutive years)

“Cavinder is one of the best lawyers I have worked with internationally. He is clear, articulate and a pleasure to brief. His team is also fully engaged and top-quality. We managed to conduct an intense, heavily fought arbitration by video-conferencing seamlessly. Drew & Napier would definitely be my firm of choice for future work in Singapore (or even commercial arbitrations outside Singapore).”

Bull is an extremely able advocate with deep knowledge of international arbitration.”

Great counsel and an asset to the team. He has great practical and strategical input.”

Legal Media Group Expert Guides
Identified as an Expert in Commercial Arbitration, Competition & Antitrust, and Litigation in 2021

asialaw Profiles
Dispute Resolution 2016 – Leading individual

Asia IP Experts
Leading individual in IP Litigation 2016

Judgments: In one case, the High Court expressed its thanks to Cavinder for his assistance in a protracted trial, describing him in the written judgment as a 'persuasive advocate' who 'ably prosecuted a factually complex and somewhat emotively charged case with conspicuous fairness.'

  • Director, Singapore Technologies Electronics Limited (2009 to 2012)
  • Director, National Healthcare Group (2009 to 2012)
  • Director, Singapore University of Technology and Design (2009 to 2015)
  • Director, Ascendas Property Fund Trustee Pte Ltd (2010 to 2013)
  • Director, Agri‑Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (2004 to 2010)
  • Vice-President, Court of Arbitration - Singapore International Arbitration Centre
  • Former Vice-President, Asia Pacific Regional Arbitration Group
  • Chairman, Singapore Exchange disciplinary committee (2017 to 2023)
  • Member, Governing Board of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA)
  • Member, World Bank Sanctions Board
  • Advisory Board, AFSA International Rules Drafting Committee
  • Panel, International Arbitrators of the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB)
  • ICSID Panel of Arbitrators
  • Former Deputy Chairman, Board of Directors - Singapore International Arbitration Centre (2010 to 2017)
  • Member, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) inaugural Disciplinary Tribunal in Monaco (2017 to 2019)
  • Member, Securities and Industries Council (2016 to 2022)
  • Advisory Council, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore
  • Member, Law Reform Committee of the Singapore Academy of Law (2000 to 2010)
  • Appointed by the Deputy Prime Minister to the Legal Services Review Committee (2007)
  • Board Member, Singapore Institute of Legal Education
  • Member, Pro-tem Committee of the Institute of Legal Education (2009)
  • Appointed as a Referee under the Industrial Arbitration Act
  • Member, Public and International Law Committee of the Law Society (2009)
  • Member, Singapore Law Committee (India Team leader)
  • Member, Sub-Committee of Remaking Singapore Committee (2002)
  • Delegate, 8th Asia‑Europe Young Leaders' Symposium
  • Member of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn
  • Fellow, Singapore Academy of Law
  • Member, Law Society of Singapore