Abraham Vergis SC
Providence Law Asia LLC
One Raffles Place, #29-62 Tower 2
Abraham Vergis is distinguished by market sources for his top-tier practice representing clients in private wealth litigation, with one source stating he “is a definite inclusion on the list”.
Abraham Vergis, S.C. is a Senior Counsel and the founder/managing director of Providence Law Asia, one of Singapore’s top-flight commercial disputes boutiques. Global Restructuring Review lists his practice as a Global 100 law firm.
Abraham has been handling complex and high-stakes contentious work across Asia over the past 25 years. He works closely with global law firms and leading lawyers from many jurisdictions.
Abraham is recognised as one of the top litigators by Chambers and Partners, a “Leading Practitioner in Dispute Resolution” in Legal 500, a “Distinguished Practitioner” in Asialaw Profile 2023 and “Top 15 Southeast Asia Litigators” in Asian Legal Business 2023. He was also named “Leading Individual in Commercial Litigation” in Who’s Who Legal 2022 and “Recommended Litigation Star in Commercial & Transactions and International Arbitration” in Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific Awards 2022.
You established Providence Law Asia in 2012, and now lead a team of 20 lawyers with a thriving practice. What are the qualities essential for growing a firm specialising in international disputes?
Being clear to ourselves about what our natural strengths are and the kind of work we are passionate about has turned out to be the single most important determinator of our success. Being prepared to turn away work that did not fit into the practice we were building was another potent factor. Investing in our people and their growth trajectory has made us an attractive option for bright legal talents from Singapore and further afield. Finally, a strong sense of ethics and integrity is the cornerstone upon which all else is built on. The past decade has proven to be an exciting journey and I am grateful to have a talented team at Providence to go shoulder-to-shoulder with in some of the most complex and challenging international disputes.
What are the high-growth practice areas in the disputes space in Singapore?
The landscape is constantly evolving as new industries emerge and existing ones develop but in my view, the current high growth areas are international arbitration, technology, fraud and asset recovery and construction.
Could you comment on the future of financial crimes and asset recovery as a standalone practice area in Singapore?
I expect to see tremendous growth in the field of financial crimes and asset recovery in the coming years. As a global financial hub, we are seeing an increasing number of cases where assets either flow through or are parked in Singapore. This has led to an exponential increase in fraud and asset recovery cases in Singapore, which include the enforcement of foreign judgements and arbitral awards as well as the seeking of interim orders for the preservation and tracing of assets. This growth is further accelerated by Singapore’s push towards being a hub for digital assets, which has seen many cryptocurrency exchanges being headquartered or having a presence in Singapore.
In recent years, the Singapore government has introduced a range of measures to combat financial crimes, including the establishment of a dedicated Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Industry Partnership, which aims to promote greater collaboration between the government and the financial industry. The government has also introduced new legislation, such as the Payment Services Act and the Precious Stones and Precious Metals (Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing) Act, to strengthen the regulatory framework and enhance enforcement efforts.
As financial crimes become more sophisticated and cross-border in nature, the demand for legal services in the area of financial crimes and asset recovery is likely to increase. In addition to the traditional areas of asset tracing, recovery and forfeiture, there is also likely to be greater demand for expertise in areas such as cyber fraud, data privacy breaches, and cryptocurrency fraud.
It is for this reason that fraud and asset recovery is a standalone practice area at Providence Law, and we have built a team with the expertise and experience in this increasingly specialised area of law. I anticipate that more firms in Singapore will similarly begin to view this practice area as a standalone specialisation in years to come.
You have appeared as counsel in six cases before the relatively nascent Singapore International Commercial Courts (SICC). How would you rate your experience appearing before this special court?
My experience in the SICC has been enriching and professionally satisfying. The SICC is a great complement to international arbitration proceedings and to the Singapore High Court, and its novel rules of procedures offer parties the best of both worlds. Parties have the advantage of more procedural and evidentiary flexibility, and have the benefit of having their cases heard by some of the most eminent judges in the world. We have found that the option of having counsel address the court on issues of foreign law by way of submissions instead of having to adduce expert evidence to be particularly useful. I would also highlight that SICC cases have generally been resolved very quickly, which is due in no small part to the experienced judges managing the cases.
You have significant experience acting as counsel in high-value SIAC arbitrations involving multinational companies and have secured a number of international arbitration awards against sovereign governments. What is the key to success in such disputes?
Knowing what to expect. Always thinking ahead and being aware of the bigger picture. Keep it simple - most complex cases can be boiled down to a few decisive issues and it is easier to convince the tribunal of your client’s case when your arguments are as simple and focused as possible.
How does Providence Law Asia differentiate and distinguish itself in a hyper-competitive and saturated legal market like Singapore?
We attract clients with specific legal needs by establishing a reputation for domain expertise and specialist skills, and providing personalised and tailored services to become our client’s champion.
Technology and innovation play a role in providing efficient and effective legal services, and we leverage digital tools and platforms to streamline legal processes. Today, we operate in a completely paperless office, and prepare for and conduct all trials and hearings with the aid of iPads and Macbooks.