Quentin graduated with LL.B. (Hons) (2nd Upper) from the National University of Singapore in 1974 and was called to the Singapore Bar in January 1975. He started practice in the admiralty and shipping department of Rodyk & Davidson. He left to set up Cooma, Lau & Loh in January 1979 where his practice developed to cover the full commercial spectrum. Quentin became Managing Partner of Cooma Lau & Loh in 1990 and was made Senior Counsel in January 1999. In 2001, he joined Rajah & Tann, initially as part of the Management Team and from December 2003 to August 2009, as Deputy Managing Partner. He concurrently was the Head of the Construction & Infrastructure Projects and the Insurance and Reinsurance practice groups and a key member of the International Arbitration group.
Quentin was made an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple in 2017.
Relevant Arbitration Experience
Quentin has appeared as counsel, in numerous arbitration disputes, both domestic and international, including, SIAC, HKIAC, ICC and ad hoc arbitrations, in various jurisdictions including Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris and London. These arbitration disputes included Contractors All Risks liability disputes, general liability insurance and reinsurance disputes, building and construction claims, joint venture disputes, disputes over sales of major business ventures, disputes over sale and installation of major machinery like turbines and generators, large paper printing machinery, geothermal power generators, shipping and shipbuilding disputes.
Prior to joining Rajah & Tann, he was also appointed as sole arbitrator in a number of ad hoc building and construction as well as shipping and commercial disputes.
Appointments held whilst in private practice include:
- Member of the Law Society Compulsory Professional Indemnity Scheme for lawyers (from May 1991), and then Chairman from 1998 to 2007.
- Founding director of Maxwell Chambers, a dedicated building for the holding of international arbitrations and was involved, with the Chairman and a few other directors, on the design and layout of the arbitration hearing rooms.
- Patron of the Singapore Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (from 1 July 2018 to date).
- Member of the Judicial Committee of The Academy of Experts, (from 2020 to date).
- Author on Singapore Chapter for the First Edition of International Insurance Law and Regulation (Dennis Campbell, General Editor, Centre of International Legal Studies, Salzburg, Austria, Thomson Reuters).
- Co-author: Confidentiality in Arbitration: How Far Does it Extend? (2007 Academy Publishing, with a foreword by Lord Michael Mustill).
- Chapter 9 on Insurance Law in Law Relating to Specific Contracts in Singapore (editor-in-Chief Michael Hwang SC, Gen Editor Prof Yeo Tiong Min, 2008 Sweet & Maxwell).
- Chapter 14 (Advocacy in Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution) in Modern Advocacy (Academy Publishing 2008)
- Chapter 5 (Dispute Resolution, the Belt and Road Initiative and Potential Role of the Singapore International Commercial Court) in ASEAN and the Belt and Road Initiative, Connectivity through Law and Commerce (Gen Ed Basil C Bitas, SAL Academy Publishing 2021).
Quentin was appointed as a Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Singapore on 1 September 2009 and a Supreme Court Judge on 1 June 2010. He was appointed Judge-in-charge of the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) when it was established in January 2015. The SICC, a separate division of the Singapore High Court, is a foundational project for Singapore to develop its full potential as a dispute resolution hub serving not only Asia but the world. With the steady growth of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the number of international arbitrations being seated in Singapore, the Government felt it was time to establish an international commercial court to complement international commercial dispute resolution through arbitration. The SICC is novel in having eminent foreign judges from both Common Law Countries (like the United Kingdom, Australia, Delaware, USA, India and Hong Kong) as well as Civil Law Countries (like France, Japan and China) sitting with Singapore Judges to hear international commercial disputes. Foreign counsel can conduct cases where the dispute does not involve Singapore law. Today, the SICC is a well-established Commercial Court. It has issued over 100 judgments at first instance and some 31 judgments by the Court of Appeal.
To break free from domestic, (and mainly common law court rules), Quentin headed a committee of 12 international and local judges to draft a completely new and innovative set of SICC court rules incorporating elements of both common law and civil law traditions. The SICC Rules of Court came into force in April 2022.
As a Supreme Court Judge, Quentin dealt mainly with commercial matters, including complex litigation, insurance litigation, professional indemnity, admiralty and shipping, corporate litigation, joint venture disputes, disputes relating to domestic and international arbitration, investment treaty disputes and urgent interim measures and lead judge for the building and construction list - all of which included sitting at first instance and at appellate level.
Quentin was concurrently appointed a non-permanent Judge of the Supreme Court of Fiji in August 2018 for a three-year term; this was later extended until his retirement from the Supreme Court in December 2022.
In January 2021, was appointed Judge of the new Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Singapore and President of the SICC.
Quentin retired from the Supreme Court of Singapore in December 2022. He was appointed a Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore on 6 January 2023 and sits on a part-time basis.
Some judgments where Quentin was part of the coram in the High Court of Singapore or the Singapore International Commercial Court or the Court of Appeal include:
- Lao People’s Democratic Republic v Sanum Investments Ltd & Anor and Another Matter  4 SLR 947
- BCBC Singapore Pte Ltd and Others v PT Bayan Resources and Others  SGHC(I) 01; (the first SICC case involving a dispute between listed Australian and Indonesian entities; subsequent judgements were issued for the various tranches).
- BQP v BQQ  4 SLR 1364
- Lao Holdings NV v Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic & Anor. Matter  5 SLR 228 (in the Singapore International Commercial Court)
- PT Perusahaan Gas Negara (Persero) TBK v CRW Joint Operation  4 SLR 364
- Sanum Investments Ltd v Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic  5 SLR 536
- ST Group Co Ltd & Others v Sanum Investments Ltd & Another Appeal  1 SLR 695
- China Machine New Energy Corp v Jaguar Energy Guatemala LLC & Anor 1 SLR 695
- PUBG Corp v Garena International I Pte Ltd & Ors  2 SLR 379
- BBA & Ors v BAZ & Another Appeal  2 SLR 453
- Hai Jiang 1401 Pte Ltd v Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd  4 SLR 1014
- CBS v CBP  1 SLR 276
- National Oilwell Varco Norway AS (formerly known as Hydralift AS) v Keppel FELS Ltd (formerly known as Far East Levingston Shipbuilding Ltd)  2 SLR 115
- Lao Holdings NV v The Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic  SGHC(I) 6 (principles upon which costs are awarded in the SICC)
Some relevant speeches and talks include:
- Annual Construction Law Conference 2012: The Role of the Court in Construction Disputes.
- Inaugural Singapore Institute of Arbitrators National Arbitration Conference 2013: The Golden Age of Arbitration – a Multi-Stakeholder perspective.
- In-house Counsel World Summit 2014: The Future of Law and its Demands on In-house Counsel.
- Represented Singapore and delivered a speech at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) at the High-Level Panel during the 48th Session of UNCITAL (Thirty-five Years of Uniform Sales Law: Trends and Perspectives), in Vienna; he spoke on: Perspectives on Harmonising Transnational Trade Law (6th July 2015)
- International Arbitration Institute (Paris Arbitration Week) 14 April 2019: The Influence of French Legal Thinking in the Development of Arbitration Law.
- Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Australia, Annual Lecture 2022, Melbourne: International Arbitration in a World of Sanctions (8 November 2022).
Since his retirement in December 2022, Quentin has been appointed to Tribunals (as both Chair and party-appointed arbitrator) in a number of arbitrations involving infrastructure, insurance and reinsurance, intellectual property and technology as well as joint venture disputes. He was appointed Presiding Arbitrator in an SIAC Arbitration, Singapore seated, insurance dispute with Singapore law as the governing law. He was also appointed Presiding Arbitrator in another SIAC Arbitration, Singapore seated, joint venture dispute between companies in multiple jurisdictions, Singapore law is the governing law.
Quentin Loh Sze On SC sits as an arbitrator through the sole proprietorship Quentin Loh (UEN 53464153M), which is affiliated with but is not a member of Duxton Hill Chambers (Singapore Group Practice)