“What is more important than possessing a moral compass is having the will and courage to use it.”
“Building” is a word you will hear a lot when it comes to describing Derek. With Building and Construction Law as the foundation of his practice, he has built a towering resume that encompasses almost the entire spectrum of construction legal practice, ranging from drafting construction contracts to dispute resolution and arbitrations in construction projects (including complex petrochemical plant projects). This love for construction also translates to the strong relationships he builds with his clients. Derek immerses himself in their worlds, deconstructing their businesses and commercial culture to build sound, tactical strategies and advice.
Derek’s building doesn’t stop outside the firm. Involved in the work of Lasallian schools, particularly the St Joseph’s Institution family, he helps develop schools in Singapore, KL and the region, literally helping to break new ground for the Singaporean brand of education overseas.
“Attentive, engaging, experienced and capable. Doesn't overdo things.”
“He will always try and find a negotiated solution for any serious problem before going for litigation.”
Practice heads Derek Loh and Melvin Chan have “extensive experience in dealing with construction and engineering disputes”
“Very good commercial and strategic sense”
“Derek Loh is highlighted for his depth of expertise regarding construction and engineering”
“An excellent legal mind...”
“Derek Loh and Thio Shen Yi are very able lawyers”
You’ve always been known as the chap to chat up for advice on vintage wine, good food and luxury cars. But these days it seems that your passion has turned towards education?
I still enjoy the occasional distractions of indulgence, but I am a firm believer that knowledge is fundamental to human development and progress and nowhere is this more important than the education of our young.
Any thoughts on your appointment as High Commissioner to Bangladesh?
First, I was absolutely honoured and thrilled to be appointed. I have always had a strong interest in global and macro issues as well as history in general and this appointment will allow me to engage and immerse myself even further is such issues. With the advent of technology and social media, the received wisdoms can no longer be taken as cast in stone and this means that how nations and blocs interact and deal with each other must be carefully crafted to ensure that tail does not wag the dog.
And we hear from clients that you are fiercely loyal, building relationships for life…
Well, I try my best. Apart from my duty to the Courts and the profession, clients have been central to my practice and I believe that without a sense of loyalty to your clients you will not develop a real connection that will help you grow your relationship with the client. It is easy to do work, keep timesheets and submit bills to clients. However, the relationship is then superficial and unlikely to survive the first gust. The first obligation is for the lawyer to be loyal to the client – only then can she/he expect reciprocity.