September 20, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar addresses Singapore’s push towards a digital economy as timely, at the Firm’s 3rd ASEAN Summit as featured in TODAY

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar addresses Singapore’s push towards a digital economy as timely, at the Firm's 3rd ASEAN Summit as featured in TODAY. This article was first published in TODAY on 20 September 2017. E-commerce a top focus when S’pore chairs Asean Source: TODAY © Mediacorp Press Ltd. Date: 20 September 2017 SINGAPORE — E-commerce and the digital economy will be the key points of focus when Singapore takes over the chairmanship of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) next year, Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Education, said yesterday. Addressing the Asean Summit 2017 hosted by legal firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, Ms Low highlighted the importance of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and the Republic’s efforts to open up business opportunities for small and medium-sized companies in the region. “The AEC remains the cornerstone of Singapore’s foreign economic policy. Asean has consistently been Singapore’s largest trading partner, accounting for 25.7 per cent (S$217 billion) of Singapore’s world trade,” noted Ms Low. With an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between 4.5 and 6.1 per cent from 2012 to 2016, Asean is expected to grow at a yearly average of 5.2 per cent in the period 2017 to 2020. “Innovation and e-commerce present immense opportunities as new growth sectors and enablers that businesses can tap into,” said Ms Low. Highlighting the example of e-commerce start-up ShopBack, Ms Low noted how the local company successfully immersed itself in regional markets and established partnerships with merchants in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Singapore will work closely with Asean member states to promote innovation, build digital connectivity and facilitate e-commerce flows into the region to benefit businesses — especially the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises — Ms Low said. Mr Azman Jaafar, deputy managing partner and chairman of Asean Plus Group, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing said: “Singapore’s push towards prioritising the digital economy is timely, given that most Asean countries are now primed to jump onto the digital bandwagon given the rise of the Asian middle class and increasing Internet penetration rates.” The Republic will also work closely with other Asean member states towards the realisation of an Asean-wide self-certification regime and the Asean single window. Tariff concessions and expedited customs clearance via the electronic exchange of information across borders will lower administrative barriers and improve the movement of goods and services across the region, added Ms Low. Speaking at a panel discussion during the summit, Mr Ngurah Swajaya, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Singapore, noted the potential for a digital economy in Indonesia is huge. He cited the example of ride-hailing firm Go Jek as a new breed of businesses tapping into the digital economy. Operating in more than 25 cities in Indonesia, Go Jek’s motorcycle taxis transport people as well as goods and services, including the delivery of groceries and food. Mr Antonio Morales, the Philippines’ Ambassador to Singapore, said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, to be completed this year or next, is the most important trade agreement since the demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. When approved, the RCEP will cover 3.5 billion people, making it the world’s largest market in terms of population and third in the world in terms of GDP and total trade. Economists forecast that if the RCEP is concluded, it would boost regional GDP by close to 2 per cent, Mr Morales added.
September 20, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar expresses the importance of ASEAN to be a rules-based organisation as a coping strategy in response to the changing business environment, in The Jakarta Post

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar was featured in an article published by The Jakarta Post. The article was first published on 20 September 2017. Greater Integration Vital for Asean to Benefit Business More Source: The Jakarta Post © Date: 20 September 2017 Author: Linda Yulisman Greater integration vital for ASEAN to benefit business more With sound economic fundamentals, ASEAN appears to have a promising outlook ahead. Celebrating 50 years since it was founded this year, the group has become the world’s sixth-largest economy with a combined income of US$2.55 trillion and it is estimated to expand by 5.2 percent in the coming years. Deeper economic integration, which began with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015, is seen as a way for the 10-member bloc with a population of more than 500 million to further unlock its potential and better benefit business. Singapore’s senior parliamentary secretary for the ministry of education and ministry of trade an industry, Low Yen Ling, said that greater integration would provide enormous opportunities for business people across the region. “ASEAN’s journey into deepening economic integration is a continuous journey,” she said on the sidelines of ASEAN Summit 2017, organised by Singapore-based international law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing. “It will always be a work in progress, something to work on together, and that is also a reflection of the rapidly changing world, not just in ASEAN, but also outside of the region.” The Southeast Asian grouping has benefitted from the free flow of goods across its borders without tariffs in the past decade. It has also undertaken efforts to improve the ease of exporting in a wide range of sectors, such as automotive, cosmetics and medical equipment through reducing and simplifying regulations. In its latest move in August, ASEAN launched an online portal – ASEAN Solutions for Investment, Services and Trade (ASSIST) – to allow companies to voice their concerns over non-tariff measures that impede trading of good within the region. Low further said that when taking the ASEAN chairmanship next year, Singapore aimed to push for initiatives on e-commerce and the digital economyy in order to provide greater benefits for business, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises. Vice president for public sector and government practice at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, Richard Won, said that it would be crucial for ASEAN to bring a real impact to the private sector as a way to make the grouping more relevant to business. It would be, therefore, necessary for the grouping to address two critical issues faced by businesspeople, namely the cost of doing business and the regulatory environment, he added. “If we can help to reduce costs, make it easier to register business and increase trade and services, and also to have transparent rules within the bloc, that will be a dream come true for many businesses in the region,” he said. The group is working on the creation of ASEAN Single Window that will enable exporters across the region to expedite customs clearance through online exchange of information between the member countries. Since a few years ago, it has simplified the procedure for exporters seeking a certificate of origin for their products, a requirement to enjoy exemption of tariffs, through an online self-certification scheme. Deputy managing partner and chairman of ASEAN Plus Group at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Azman Jaafar acknowledged that it would be important for ASEAN to become a rules-based organisation, partly to cope with the changing business environment in the past two decades. “It is not good for us to rely on the old ways of allowing personal judgement to get in the way of decision-making for business,” he told The Jakarta Post. “If a business needs to be in a particular country, I think a rules-based economy would be very helpful instead of thinking about what we have to go to get the
September 11, 2017

External counselling services are accessible to lawyers to cope with the stress of the legal profession, shares Deputy Managing Partner Azman Jaafar with The Sunday Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner Azman Jaafar shares with The Sunday Times that external counselling services are accessible to lawyers to cope with the stress of the legal profession. The article was first published in The Sunday Times on 10 September 2017. Law and accounting firms taking steps to tackle stress Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Date: 10 September 2017 Author: Ng Huiwen The hours can be long but there must be a purpose to their work, say young lawyers. Mr Lee Yi Liang, 28, who practised for about a year before becoming an in-house counsel, said that young lawyers like him were made to feel like they were just moneymakers for the firm. "It is not about the hours (you put in). It must be fulfilling too, otherwise there's no impetus to continue," he said. And it is not just in the legal profession. Young accountants are also feeling the heat, and leaving the industry for the same reasons. Law and accounting firms contacted by The Sunday Times said they are aware of the stress and work-life challenges impacting the young professionals, and have processes to help them. Law firm Withers KhattarWong, for instance, has an informal "buddy system" that allows junior lawyers to consult their seniors when faced with issues, said partner Sharon Lin. The firm has 88 lawyers, of which about 30 per cent have less than five years of experience. Some of its international offices have tie-ups with independent healthcare consultants to run a confidential helpline, and this could be extended here too, she said. Employees at Big Four accounting firm PwC Singapore have access to one-on-one counselling with certified psychologists to help with work and personal problems. These sessions, which can be carried out face to face or over the phone, are free and confidential, said human capital leader Trillion So. Similarly, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing deputy managing partner Azman Jaafar stressed that lawyers have access to external counselling services. "As senior lawyers, we understand that lawyers can feel overworked and under-appreciated at times," he said. Accounting firms Ernst & Young and Deloitte Singapore have focused on creating social and sporting activities, while at mid-sized firm Straits Law Practice, ad hoc lunches and drinks allow lawyers to interact in an informal setting. And at Fortis Law Corporation, founder Patrick Tan said young lawyers, who make up about half of the firm's strength of 29, are not made to do just the "grunt work". "Our motivation is simple: If the young lawyers enjoy legal practice, acquire new skills and feel involved in the business, they will probably stay longer in the firm and in the profession," he said. Mr Z.K. Lim, who previously worked for a large local law firm, said he did have help when he was practising for a year. "I was quite lucky to have partners who would be around to guide me and help manage the stress. But much of it also came from wanting to do our best for our clients," he said. But that meant being on his toes all the time. He said: "After a year or so in practice, I was tired of not being able to 'switch off' even when I was not at work."
September 6, 2017

“A common misconception is that women are automatically entitled to spousal maintenance”, shares Family and Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth in her article written for theAsianparent

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth contributed an article published in theAsianparent titled “Post-divorce formalities in Singapore: What you should know about spousal support”. The article was first published on theAsianparent on 6 September 2017. Post-divorce formalities in Singapore: What you should know about spousal support Source: Copyright © theAsianparent 2017 Date: 6 September August 2017 Post-divorce formalities in Singapore: Understanding one's rights and obligations when a marriage breaks down... Once a decision has been made to dissolve a marriage, it is normal for both parties to experience uncertainty, denial, grief, and oftentimes anger. Parties wonder what went wrong. However, once the maelstrom of emotions subside, considerations such as spousal or child support, the division of matrimonial assets and child care arrangements surface. Though divorce is not a decision to be taken lightly, it need not be a painful protracted process for the separating couple. Understanding one’s rights and obligations when a marriage breaks down can help transition parties during the divorce process. Making sense of spousal maintenance A common misconception is that women are automatically entitled to spousal maintenance. This is not the case. Both men and women can apply for maintenance and the court looks at certain factors to determine whether the party seeking maintenance has such a need and if so, then the quantum of a maintenance award. Factors the court takes into consideration include the age of the couple, how long have they been married, their lifestyle, contributions made by each party to the family and the financial needs and responsibilities of both parties in the future. As the adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Enter into these considerations fully prepared. List expenses in detail and support why you have these claims. For example, if you have a medical condition or you are on long-term or ongoing medication and need financial support to assist, I recommend submitting a medical report specifying what the condition is, the medication needed, and the cost of such medication each month. Another query I typically get is whether spousal maintenance lasts forever. It does not. Spousal support ceases when the wife or husband receiving maintenance remarries, or when either party passes away. Dealing with maintenance defaults and what can be done For many, non-payment of maintenance is a real problem which persists. Common reasons are that the payor is in financial difficulty, or that the divorce was simply bitter and contentious. In cases where there is a default on maintenance payments, the onus is on the receiving party to file a complaint for the recovery of maintenance arrears. That process has recently been made easier with the introduction of Integrated Family Application Management System (iFAMS) since July 2017. It allows claimants to file their maintenance applications online at their own convenience.   Restructuring your family No one enters a marriage expecting to part ways down the road, but breakdowns in relationships and marriages do happen. Although issues like spousal or child maintenance can strain the relationship between ex-spouses, my advice for both parties is to appreciate that they both have needs and interests. It is worthwhile remembering that the couple is still a family unit if children are involved. The main focus for the couple going forward would be how they can restructure their family to ensure that they do what is best for their children.