Mahesh Rai

Deputy Head, Construction & Engineering
Director, Dispute Resolution


  • LL.B. (Hons), National University of Singapore (2008), Shaw Foundation Scholar
  • LL.M. International Arbitration & Litigation, University College London (2009)
  • B.Sc. (1st Class Hons) Politics & International Relations, London School of Economics, External (2006)
  • Advocate & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore (2011)
  • Attorney-at-law of the state of New York (2011)
  • Solicitor of England & Wales (2013)
  • International Lawyer, Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (2013)

Mahesh has an active litigation and arbitration practice with a particular focus on complex, high-value and cross-border disputes across a range of industries (construction, infrastructure, telecommunications, IT, shipping, energy and commodities). He is also the Deputy Head of Drew & Napier’s Construction & Engineering practice and advises on front-end construction matters.

Mahesh commands praise for being “a first-rate litigator”, “an excellent disputes lawyer and a master strategist with a deserved reputation for solving complex issues” and a lawyer who “is quick on his feet, pays attention to detail and is clear and concise in his explanations”. He is consistently ranked in several publications. The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific recommends Mahesh for Dispute Resolution, International Arbitration, and Projects & Energy (2020 edition). He won the Young Lawyer of the Year Award at the Asian Legal Business (ALB) SE Asia Law Awards 2019. He is ranked as a Future Leader in Arbitration by Who’s Who Legal in 2021 and 2020 and a Future Leader in Investigations from 2018 to 2020, and by the Global Arbitration Review in 2016. Asialaw ranked him as a Leading Lawyer in Dispute Resolution & Litigation in 2017 and 2018. ALB identified Mahesh as an outstanding young lawyer in the “40 under 40” survey in 2018.

For his pro bono work, Mahesh was ranked an Innovative Lawyer at The Financial Times’ FT Innovative Lawyers Asia-Pacific 2018 awards. He was shortlisted for the 2018 IBA Outstanding Young Lawyer Award for his pro bono representation of individuals facing the death penalty in Singapore and civil party victims before the United Nations Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Mahesh graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) as a Shaw Foundation Scholar. He earned an LL.M. in International Arbitration & Litigation from University College London (UCL) where he represented the United Kingdom as an oralist in the UCL team that was the runner-up in the prestigious Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. In 2014, Mahesh was selected by the Supreme Court to be placed in the Young Amicus Curiae list and he appeared as amicus curiae in a High Court matter involving money laundering.

Mahesh has handled various high profile matters. Here are just a few:

  • Construction dispute over Asia’s largest petrochemical plant – Representing a Korean multinational conglomerate in an UNCITRAL arbitration against an Indian state-owned company over claims amounting to US$210 million arising out of the construction of a petrochemical plant.
  • Arbitration against the Government of Maldives – Represented an international contractor in two UNCITRAL arbitrations against the Government of Maldives for claims amounting to over US$155 million relating to expropriation of land and delays to a project to construct public housing over 10 islands.
  • Maritime accident in the South China Sea – Represented a €6 billion Norwegian company in a US$20 million maritime arbitration, where Swiss law and Chinese law applied, against a Chinese public-listed company for project delays arising from a tug and tow accident in the South China Sea. The dispute nvolved issues of seaworthiness of vessels, obligations under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 and gross negligence.
  • Disputes over the design, installation and operation of a nationwide telecommunications network – Represented a leading multinational information technology and telecommunication company in two SIAC arbitrations against the telecommunication of a Malaysian conglomerate over contractual disputes relating to the design, commissioning and operation of a telecommunication network, and the supply of hardware and software.
  • Litigation involving SEA’s largest pipe trading company – Representing the Managing Director and a shareholder of Southeast Asia’s largest oil pipe trading company in a complex S$100 million dispute resulting in 5 suits involving 7 sets of solicitors.

The Asia-Pacific Legal 500

Dispute Resolution 2020 – Next Generation Partner

International Arbitration 2020 – Recommended Lawyer for 2 consecutive years

Projects & Energy 2020 – Recommended Lawyer for 2 consecutive years

“Mahesh Rai is highly regarded for construction and engineering disputes”

Sources say “Mahesh Rai was always on top of every aspect of the dispute, nothing could slip away from him. His strategic advice and sound reasoning were key in developing and framing claim.”

“wonderfully engaging to deal with and has an incredibly relaxed manner”

Asian Legal Business SE Asia Law Awards

Young Lawyer of the Year 2019

Asian Legal Business

“40 Under 40” 2018 – Identified as one of 40 bright legal minds in the region under the age of 40

Financial Times Innovative Lawyers APAC 2018 awards

Mahesh was commended for his commitment to pro bono advocacy, highlighting his work with HOME (Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics) and AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research) that led him to challenge laws that disadvantage migrant and refugee workers.

Who’s Who Legal: Future Leaders

Arbitration 2020-2021 – Eminent Lawyer under 45 for 2 consecutive years

Investigations 2018-2020 – Eminent Lawyer under 45 for 3 consecutive years

Mahesh "is always keen to think out of the box” applaud sources who commend his “great industry knowledge and level of responsiveness”.

Mahesh Rai is "truly a leader in this area"…He provides specialist insight into disputes in the telecommunications and energy sectors.

“Mahesh is quick on his feet, pays attention to detail and is clear and concise in his explanations.”

Asialaw Leading Lawyers

Dispute Resolution & Litigation 2017-2018 – Leading Lawyer for 2 consecutive years

Global Arbitration Review 9th edition (2016)

A client said Mahesh “expressed a commendable level of personal engagement and was always available to provide support, guidance and direction from start to end.”

Global Investigations Review 100 (GIR 100)

Investigations 2019 – Leading Individual

Asia Business Law Journal

Identified as one of Singapore’s Top 100 lawyers in 2019

Singapore Business Review

Singapore’s 70 most influential lawyers aged 40 and under in 2016 – Listed lawyer

Excellence in Advocacy Award

Awarded by the Singapore International Arbitration Academy in 2012

Singapore Academy of Law Moot Competition for Singapore lawyers

Winner of Essex Court Chambers in 2012

  • Director, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Singapore Branch
  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Fellow, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators
  • Panel Arbitrator, Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Reserve Panel
  • Arbitrator, Asian International Arbitration Centre Panel
  • Panel of Arbitrators, Thailand Arbitration Centre (THAC)
  • Assessor, Panel of Assessors for COVID-19 Temporary Relief, Ministry of Law
  • Accredited Specialist (Building and Construction), Singapore Academy of Law
  • Chairman, CIArb Young Members Group
  • Former Regional Representative, ICC Young Arbitrators Forum 2017-2019
  • Member, Young International Arbitration Group
  • Member, Young International Council for Commercial Arbitration
  • Member, Inter-Pacific Bar Association
  • Member, International Bar Association
  • Member, Law Society of Singapore
  • Committee Member, International Relations Committee of Law Society of Singapore
  • Member, Singapore Academy of Law
  • Lead Counsel, Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences
  • Expert author, Commonwealth Study on International Commercial Arbitration 2019
  • Co-author, Chambers and Partners Global Practice Guides – Litigation 2019 (Singapore chapter)
  • Contributing author, Global Investigations Review, The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Investigations 2017 and 2018 (1st and 2nd edition)
  • Contributing author, Global Investigations Review’s Practitioner’s Guide to Global Investigations (Edition 2) newsletter (2018)
  • Contributing author, ‘FIDIC around the world – Singapore’, appeared in the 2017 Construction Law International Vol.12 Issue 3; published by the International Bar Association.
  • Contributor to Singapore Civil Procedure (2014 (Supplement) & 2015)