October 30, 2017

Mild market exuberance in the equity and property sectors along with Prime Minister Lee’s recent announcement on GDP growth spell good news for Singapore’s economy, Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shares more with The Business Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shared his views on "The bull charges on" in this week’s The Business Times’ weekly column, Views from the Top. This article was first published in The Business Times on 30 October 2017. The bull charges on Monday, October 30, 2017 THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: Is the current market 'exuberance' rational and sustainable? Tan Chong Huat Managing Partner RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP The latest announcement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that Singapore's GDP growth for 2017 could reach the upper end of the projected 2 per cent to 3 per cent range is probably the harbinger of more good news coming our way. There are signs of mild market exuberance, particularly in the equity and property sectors. This could have been prompted by the turnaround in Singapore's economy which has shown sustainable and moderate growth since the fourth quarter of 2016. If this trend continues into 2018, the mild exuberance could turn into a little celebration as Singapore's economy continues on its recovery path, growing at a sustainable rate of 2 per cent to 4 per cent. It will also be good news for Singaporeans, especially on the employment front. A growing economy will mean a higher employment rate which spells better spending power. This will bode well for the services industries which form about 70 per cent of Singapore's GDP in 2016. However, the stronger GDP numbers and exuberance seen in the equity and property sectors over the past few quarters have yet to spill over into the general economy. There are still challenges ahead as we are definitely not completely out of the woods just yet.
October 19, 2017

Senior Partner Mr Roderick Martin SC is on the Disciplinary Tribunal appointed for a case of breach of confidentiality, as published in The Straits Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Senior Partner Mr Roderick Martin SC was featured in The Straits Times article titled "Lawyer faces fine for leaking client data to lover". The article was first published in The Straits Times on 19 October 2017. Lawyer faces fine for leaking client data to lover Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 19 October 2017 Author: K.C. Vijayan A lawyer who leaked confidential client information to his then lover admitted to professional misconduct before a disciplinary tribunal, which has called for him to be fined. Mr Ryan Lin, an associate director at Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC at the time, had communicated with the woman via WhatsApp from October 2015 over two months, which formed the subject of 14 charges against him. The Disciplinary Tribunal (DT), comprising Senior Counsel Roderick Martin and lawyer Tan Gee Tuan, noted in its report issued in August that this appeared to be the first case involving breach of confidentiality to have reached the tribunal. It recommended that Mr Lin pay a penalty of between $15,000 and $20,000 for all the charges. The amount is to be decided by the Law Society's governing council. According to the DT report, the pair entered into an intimate relationship after they met through Tinder, an online dating mobile application, in October 2015. The woman complained to the Law Society in February last year about his disclosures after the tryst ended. A few months later, Mr Lin's employer, Morgan Lewis Stamford, followed suit. Given that the two complaints arose from the same facts, the Law Society pressed charges against Mr Lin, who is in his 30s, based on the woman's complaint. The DT said Mr Lin was fortunate there was no evidence that any of the clients whose confidential information was passed had suffered loss or damage. It found that the disclosures were restricted to personal communication, which meant negligible likelihood of damage or loss, and that there was no fraudulent or dishonest conduct by Mr Lin. "(He) was a foolish young man who has, in the pursuit of a woman, forgotten his duty to keep matters of his professional engagements confidential," said the DT. Among other breaches, Mr Lin sent to the woman a photograph of a draft circular to shareholders on Nov 13, 2015, in relation to the proposed disposal of companies to an entity. The proposed disposal by a client of the law firm had not then been made public. Like the other charges, the disclosure of the draft circular amounted to misconduct unbefitting of a lawyer, said the tribunal. Lawyer Sanjiv Kumar Rajan, in prosecuting for the Law Society, did "not seek the harshest of determinations but measuredly" argued that Mr Lin should be punished with a substantial fine and pay legal costs. Defending Mr Lin, lawyer Sim Chong pointed out at the hearing in June that the woman was "his closest confidante" when they were in a relationship and the information, being part of ongoing text messages, was not data that either could profit from or meant for such purpose. He argued that references by Mr Lin to his clients were made in the context of him sharing his day with the woman or to justify to her why he could not see her. Said the DT: "(It was) something which a solicitor would do without batting an eyelid when informing his wife that he is not able to go back for dinner because of some client or other... "Alas, (the woman) was not (Mr Lin's) wife and what could happen has happened when the falling out occurred." It ordered Mr Lin to pay $7,000 in costs to the Law Society. A spokesman for parent firm Morgan Lewis, which is based in the United States, declined comment when contacted via e-mail last week. Mr Lin, who began practising in 2008, is understood to be no longer with the law firm.
October 9, 2017

Litigation and Dispute Resolution Partner Eugene Quah is representing an entrepreneur for the return of $6.5 million meant to be invested in China

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing's Litigation and Dispute Resolution  Partner Eugene Quah was featured in The Straits Times article titled, “Bankrupt, 4 others sued for return of $6.5m”. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 9 October 2017. Bankrupt, 4 others sued for return of $6.5m Entrepreneur wants ex-banker and 4 others to return sum meant to be invested in China Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 9 October 2017 Author: K.C. Vijayan A wealthy entrepreneur is suing a bankrupt and four others for the return of $6.5 million meant to have been invested in China but which allegedly went missing instead. Singaporean Alan Zhou, who set up a profitable ship chartering and brokering business, claims former private banker Karl Liew breached personal guarantees and made misrepresentations that induced him into the $6 million investments. Mr Liew was made a bankrupt early this year. It precluded him from defending himself or being represented by lawyers in the case. In September 2015, he was the victim of harassment by debt collectors who visited his Chancery Lane home seeking to recover alleged debts owed to Mr Zhou. The five debt collectors were subsequently dealt with in court for their aggressive behaviour and insulting words. The other four defendants in the suit include Realm Capital, a British Virgin Islands company Mr Liew set up. A court default judgment has been entered for the $6.5 million sought - the amount of $6 million plus interest - as the company did not enter an appearance. Mr Zhou is seeking damages of up to $5.3 million against the firm System Impact, Ms Mah Mei Sin and Mr Gobindram Harjani. In 2011, Mr Zhou, a former client of Mr Liew, made the four investment agreements worth $6 million for a residential project and bridging loans to companies in Wenzhou, China. A portion of the sums invested belonged to Mr Pu Dawei, a mutual acquaintance. The investments were introduced to Mr Liew by Ms Chen Jie, a Chinese national who was the contact point for the recipients of the investments in China. Under the investment pacts, Mr Zhou was required to transfer the funds to the account of System Impact, and at times to Ms Mah, its shareholder, according to court papers filed. But by the second half of 2012, Mr Zhou stopped receiving the investment updates and interest payments. He pursued the case with Mr Liew and learnt the investments were allegedly not used for the intended purposes. When the investment terms expired and the total of $6.53 million was unpaid, he called upon the alleged personal guarantees given by Mr Liew. In denying the claims, Mr Liew, who in court documents was identified as the son of prominent businessman and founding president and former chief executive officer of CapitaLand Group Liew Mun Leong, is challenging the enforceability of the investment pacts and personal guarantees. He was subpoenaed to testify in the High Court last week by Mr Zhou's lawyer Eugene Quah from RHTLaw Taylor Wessing. In the run-up to the trial, Mr Zhou found that Ms Mah and System Impact had allegedly transferred the investment funds to Mr Gobindram, owner of Silk Rose, who was seen as a further intermediary. Mr Gobindram, represented by lawyer Lim Kim Hong, denied the claims, calling them baseless and unsubstantiated, and affirmed all monies received were remitted to China. In his opening statement in court on Tuesday, Mr Quah said the defendants have all conveniently accused Ms Chen - who is absent from the case - of running away with the funds. The High Court hearing before Judicial Commissioner Audrey Lim continues next week.
October 9, 2017

Chairman of RHT Rajan Menon Foundation and Senior Partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Tan Chong Huat comments that the donation to SMU Pro Bono Centre goes beyond monetary support as it includes a commitment for lawyers to be involved in legal clinics

Chairman of RHT Rajan Menon Foundation and Senior Partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Tan Chong Huat comments that the donation to SMU Pro Bono Centre goes beyond monetary support as it includes a commitment for lawyers to be involved in legal clinics and train students. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 6 October 2017. Over 50% of SMU law students volunteer at its pro bono centre Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 6 October 2017 Author: Cheow Sue-Ann SINGAPORE - More than half of the Singapore Management University (SMU) law students volunteer at its pro bono centre. The centre, located within the new School of Law building, has seen more than 500 cases since 2013 and relies on the students to help run it. The 554 students take turns to man the centre's hotline and help-desk services from 8.30am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays, and perform administrative tasks to aid the lawyers at SMU's free legal clinics, held every Friday evening.   Associate Professor Rathna N. Koman, the centre's director, said the students currently perform an average of 37 hours of pro bono work a student, based on the 2013 graduating batch. This is a 60 per cent increase from 2009. The free legal clinic sees around six to 12 clients at each of its Friday evening sessions. Prof Rathna said that most of the cases they handle involve a crime, or are related to employment and family disputes. The centre has also assisted clients who have legal issues with organisations, including government agencies. On Friday (Oct 6), RHT Rajan Menon Foundation signed a commitment of $300,000 to the SMU Pro Bono Centre, to be delivered over five years. Mr Tan Chong Huat, chairman of the foundation and senior partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, said the monetary contribution combines with the law firm's commitment to provide the centre with lawyers and expertise to improve the pro bono work done by the centre as well as train the students. This is to ensure that the centre can provide better services in future.