“Always do the right thing.”
Melvin is extremely quick of mind, constantly looking for innovative ways to solve disputes and set new precedents as Head of Disputes at TSMP. He brings an inventive spirit to his practice, which encompasses civil and commercial litigation and dispute resolution work, with a particular focus on complex corporate disputes, continually breaking new ground in construction and engineering disputes. His innovation is ever present, evident in the novel legal arguments he puts forth concerning the role of an adjudicator appointed under Security of Payment legislation, as well as in arguing complex engineering claims involving a cracking plant on Jurong Island.
Melvin is also fleet of foot, frequently competing in gruelling marathons. He brings his runner’s competitiveness, commitment and dedicated preparation into the courtroom, which he pairs with an intellectual rigour and thorough appreciation of the law. As testaments to his passions, his marathon finisher medals sit alongside an impressive collection of prizes for academic excellence while reading law at King’s College, London. Melvin’s love of building spans luxury condominiums for work, his stamina for marathons, and his 4,000 piece Lego Death Star for fun.
While Melvin may be a legal shark, his heart is anything but cold. Perhaps it is all that cardio. As TSMP’s pro bono director, he has overseen TSMP’s pro bono services reach out to various charitable and non-governmental organisations including the Law Society Pro Bono Services Office, Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, Transient Workers Count 2, and One Hope Centre – all efforts that still continue today.
“He is perfect at analysing the strengths and weaknesses of our case.”
“He thought about our best interests and closely discussed options with us, giving fantastic advice on what to do and how to do it before we pulled the trigger.”
“Constantly impresses in trusts disputes, corporate cases and arbitration enforcement proceedings”
“Technically very competent…He is commercially minded, detailed and meticulous in the work he does and I would recommend him to any company looking for construction advice.”
“Confident, concise and precise…Melvin Chan has the ability to frame things in the right way and understand technical matters. He also has a reassuring manner which lends confidence”
“Very responsive, intelligent, and diligent attorney”
London, Chicago, Berlin, next on the list is New York City. What made you decide to do one international marathon a year?
When I turned 40, I decided to challenge myself – I always wanted to run the London Marathon but never managed to get on the ballot. So I got a marathon spot running for a charity, it was certainly a more meaningful way to avert a mid-life crisis than getting a sports car. None more so than in a marathon, the rewards are as much in the journey as in reaching the final destination. The discipline and rigour of marathon training allows me to clear my mind after a long day at work – you’ll be amazed what novel legal arguments one can come up with when faced with the banality of a 30km training run.
You have earned a reputation among your clients for being focused, determined, wily and strategic…
In litigation, you have got to stay ahead of your competition. A lot of people tell me that I appear to be mild mannered and that is my secret weapon, making others let their guard down. But truth be told, there is no secret: just lots of hard work and attention to detail. Whenever I am on a case, I am 100 per cent focused on the strategy. Then I go over them over and over again. It’s like a chess game. You have to always think one step ahead.
Would you consider yourself ruthless, then?
I’m ruthless when I need to be. Whether it’s in arguing complex multi-million dollar engineering claims or appealing a Labour Court decision on behalf of a migrant construction worker who has not been paid his basic monthly salary, I bring the same focus and commitment to pursuing each claim. In fact, there is no greater professional gratification than knowing that you have assisted a pro bono litigant in pursuing or defending a legal case, when he would otherwise not have been able to afford legal services.