Celeste is a Principal in our Dispute Resolution and Employment Practice Groups. Her practice encompasses corporate and commercial dispute resolution, compliance and investigations. She has significant experience acting for global clients in cross-border disputes and advising clients on compliance and regulatory issues in the context of cross-border investigations. Celeste also has a particular focus in employment, particularly contentious employment work and employee investigations, and currently heads Baker McKenzie's Asia Pacific Employment & Compensation Practice.
Celeste has been recognised as a 'Litigation Star' in the Labor and Employment space by Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, 2021 and has been ranked Band 1 in Employment in Singapore by Chambers Asia-Pacific since 2019 to date. She is recognised as "highly regarded in Singapore for her employment law advice, handling unfair dismissal claims and retrenchments"; a "source praises her 'very responsive and practical advice'" and that "Celeste is a brilliant lawyer and is able to provide effective advice to clients in a timely manner." Celeste is also ranked as a Leading Individual in Labour and employment in Singapore by Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022 and noted as "a litigator with a strong record in employment disputes" and in the foreign firms section as "a dispute resolution specialist with an extensive record in contentious employment matters".
With over 20 years of experience, Celeste has represented a broad range of multinational clients across various industries in domestic and international arbitrations administered under major institutional arbitral rules, and in court proceedings, before the High Court, Appellate Division of the High Court and the Court of Appeal in Singapore. She has also advised clients from various industries, such as financial/financial services, healthcare & life sciences, energy, oil and gas and technology, on compliance and regulatory issues, and assisted clients in internal and external investigations (including cross-border investigations) on anti-bribery/anti-corruption, anti-trust, tax, customs/export control and fraud issues and incidents.
Celeste advises clients on a wide range of employment and employment-related issues, with a focus on contentious or potentially contentious issues, including termination of employment, dismissal, retrenchment, breach of fiduciary duties, enforcement of restrictive covenants and confidentiality obligations and protection of trade secret, and employee investigations. She has successfully represented employers on employment and employment-related disputes in the Singapore courts as well as in arbitrations and mediations.
Representative Legal Matters
- Representation of an Asian financial multinational company in a series of Singapore court proceedings before the Singapore High Court and Court of Appeal against multiple defendants in complex claims for conspiracy and deceit relating to investments over USD200 million and involving fraudulent misuse of funds and misrepresentations of financial performance. These proceedings are also related to multijurisdictional proceedings in Thailand, the British Virgin Islands, Cambodia, Cyprus, Japan (amongst others).
- Representation of an international construction company in a Singapore-seated arbitration with the Singapore International Arbitration Centre in relation to disputes covering a wide range of issues, including issues of breach of a Thai law-governed contract and issues arising under the Thai civil code and accounting principles.
- Representation of a global healthcare company in emergency arbitrator proceedings under the SIAC Rules with an Indian engineering company in relation to disputes between parties over a development services agreement arising against the background of a multibillion divestment. The matter involved amongst other things complex intellectual property rights owned in a new and energy-efficient manufacturing technology.
- Representation of an owner and operator of a power plant in Central Asia in ICC arbitration proceedings against a statutory authority for sums due under a power purchase agreement, among other concerns.
- Representation of one of the world's largest interdealer broking firms in relation to multiple Court proceedings against over 30 of its employees and one of its competitors in connection with the en masse departure of the employees seeking reliefs for breach of employment contracts, inducement of breach of contract and conspiracy.
- Representation of a financial institution in a wrongful dismissal suit from a former employee dismissed for actions in seeking to influence interest rates on behalf of the client; advising the financial institution on disciplinary and other employment-related issues/proceedings which arose from regulatory investigations around conduct affecting rates.
- Representation of one of the world's largest global inter-dealer broking firms in a Singapore High Court action involving forward start contracts offered to its brokers by its competitor, alleged breaches thereof and alleged inducement of breach of contract.
- Representation of a leading global healthcare company in defence of Singapore High Court proceedings brought by its former employee for amongst other things alleged wrongful termination and breach of employment terms following a significant divestment of one of its key businesses and restructuring and strategic review of its workforce, which resulted in redundancy of certain individuals include the claimant.
Compliance & Investigations
- Advised and assisted a financial institution in investigations involving one of its investment companies and its senior employees, following allegations of inappropriate payments, improper financial reporting and improper revenue recognition, and interactions with regulatory authorities in various jurisdictions, including Singapore, Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
- Advised and assisted a multinational leading food-processing machinery in a multijurisdictional investigation in Asia (including Singapore, Thailand, China, Indonesia) following a whistleblower tip-off alleging inappropriate payments to a senior representative of customer key customer via a scheme involving a third-party intermediary.
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Law Society of Singapore - Member
- Civil Practice Committee
- Women in Practice Committee
- Law Society of England & Wales - Member
- Singapore Institute of Arbitrators - Member
- England & Wales~United Kingdom (2001)
- Singapore (1999)
- National University of Singapore (LL.B., Honors) (1998)