July 28, 2017

Intellectual Property & Technology Partner Jack Ow quoted in TODAY on how the “standard of harm” could be interpreted differently with reference to the recent changes to the Personal Data Protection Act

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing's Intellectual Property & Technology Partner Jack Ow was quoted in TODAY on how the “standard of harm” could be interpreted differently with reference to the recent changes to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).   This article was first published in TODAY on 28 July 2017. Informing customers of breaches among proposed PDPA changes Source: TODAY © Mediacorp Press Ltd. Date: 28 July 2017 Author: Tan Weizhen SINGAPORE — Under a slew of proposed changes to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), companies would have to notify customers as soon as possible if their data — such as NRIC numbers, credit card information or passwords — had been compromised. Businesses would have to inform the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) within 72 hours if they were hit by significant data breaches — when personal data of 500 or more consumers has been compromised. In the first major review of the Act, which came into effect in 2014, they could also be allowed to use consumers’ personal data without getting their consent in certain cases. This and other proposals were put up for public consultation on Thursday (July 27). The PDPA currently requires an individual’s consent if an organisation wants to collect their personal data. Announcing the review at the Personal Data Protection Seminar on Thursday, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said the PDPA was crafted in an era when “the majority of data was provided by users who fill in their personal particulars via physical and online forms”.  “Today, data can be generated and mined through online activities and transactions,” he told the seminar at Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Under the proposals, if companies wish to use customer data for legal or business purposes in situations where it is not appropriate to get their consent, they can do so provided it will be of “larger benefit to the public”. For example, bicycle-sharing services may want to share, among themselves, data of customers with a track record of misusing or damaging bikes. In cases when it is impractical to get consent, firms could use customer data provided it caused no “harm” to them, such as leading to calls or spam.  For example, a developer of web-connected devices, like a smartwatch, may want to analyse users’ data to improve its services, but might not be able to get consent through the smartwatch interface. Under the proposals, it would be allowed to do so as long as it did not harm the consumers. The proposed rules would just require the businesses to notify customers in any manner of their choosing, such as via their websites. Mr Bryan Tan, of law firm Pinsent Masons, said the proposals offer “a more graduated approach”, adding: “It is a more refined way of giving businesses more options.” On whether the criteria that businesses would have to meet before doing away with customers’ consent are sufficiently watertight, Mr Tan said the onus would lie on businesses to make that judgment — for example, whether customers would suffer harm as a result. However, Mr Jack Ow, intellectual property & technology partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, believes that “harm” may be interpreted differently by different organisations: “It remains open as to how the standard of harm should be assessed, and if objectively assessed, on whose or what standards, principles and/or morality.” The proposals are up for public consultation until Sept 21. The PDPC hopes to implement them by 2019.
July 25, 2017

Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth’s comments in The Straits Times shows she is supportive of the proposed changes to the Criminal Procedure Code aimed at protecting vulnerable persons

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth’s comments in The Straits Times shows she is supportive of the proposed changes to the Criminal Procedure Code aimed at protecting vulnerable persons. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 25 July 2017. Greater protection may encourage more victims to report crime Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 25 July 2017 Author: Ng Huiwen The proposed legal changes that are aimed at protecting vulnerable persons could help more to come forward and minimise further damage to them, said lawyers, law academics and advocacy groups. Criminal lawyer Hamidul Haq said the automatic issuing of gag orders and in-camera hearing will give victims greater confidence in reporting a crime. Currently, "gag orders need to be applied for in court and before this can be done, there may be a risk of the information going public", said Mr Haq, a partner at Rajah & Tann Singapore. He added that social media, in particular, has made it easier to track a person down and may be a platform for "many nasty reactions", causing embarrassment to the victim. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing family lawyer Michelle Woodworth lauded the move to allow victims to be shielded from the view of the accused person, through a physical screen, while they provide testimony in court. This would go a long way in reducing stress on the victim, empowering the person to speak without fear and secure redress without reliving the abuse by coming into contact with, or within sight of, the aggressor during the court process, she said. Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) executive director Corinna Lim said that the recovery process for survivors of sexual assault can be adversely affected if they have to recount their experiences multiple times. EASIER ON THE VICTIM Further, taping a victim interview provides a more reliable method of documentation than written notes. In other words, it provides the 'best record' of the interview. MS CORINNA LIM, executive director of Aware, on the advantage of video-recorded statements. BETTER SYSTEM This allows for a more mature system, where some psychiatrists can focus on treatment, while others give expert opinion. DR LIM BOON LENG, a psychiatrist in private practice, on the proposal to pick psychiatrists from a court-administered panel. This can be minimised with the introduction of video-recorded statements, which can be used in place of a victim's testimony in court. Ms Lim said: "Further, taping a victim interview provides a more reliable method of documentation than written notes. In other words, it provides the 'best record' of the interview." However, she said there is a chance that victims could get confused or block out parts of the incident while giving the video- recorded statement. A possible option would be for judges to be trained to properly understand victims' behaviour and psychology before the scheme begins, she said. Other changes in the area of enhancing court procedures include allowing only psychiatrists from a court-administered panel to give evidence on criminal cases. The courts, in some past cases, have noted that psychiatric expert evidence lacked objectivity and competence. The panel will admit qualified psychiatrists for a term of two years. Welcoming the move, Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist in private practice, said: "This allows for a more mature system, where some psychiatrists can focus on treatment, while others give expert opinion." Correction note: The story was edited to correct the spelling of the name of family lawyer Michelle Woodworth. We are sorry for the error. SPH Digital
July 24, 2017

“A well-crafted apology law will help to strengthen Singapore’s position as an international dispute resolution services hub in Asia” said Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat in the Business Times’ Views from the Top

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shared his views in this week’s topic in the Business Times’ weekly column, Views from the Top. This article was first published in The Business Times on 24 July 2017. "Sorry" - the magic word? Monday, July 24, 2017 THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: Should Singapore consider introducing an apology law? What would be the pros and cons? Tan Chong Huat Managing Partner RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP INTRODUCING an apology law in Singapore has its merits as it is likely to facilitate settlements and is consistent with Singapore's policy, as seen by the recently introduced Mediation Act, to promote the use of mediation. Moreover, apology legislation has been enacted in a number of leading common law jurisdictions, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Hong Kong also conducted a comprehensive study before enacting its own apology law. We will therefore have a good base on which to formulate our own apology law. Some issues that will need to be addressed include the definition of an apology, the types of proceedings that the apology law should apply to and the extent of the immunity that will be granted. Ultimately, a well-crafted apology law will help to strengthen Singapore's position as an international dispute resolution services hub in Asia.
July 24, 2017

Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth shares options on handling family disputes, on Channel 5 News segment Talking Point

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth was interviewed by Channel 5 on the topic of family dispute resolution. The interview was featured on Channel 5 News segment Talking Point on 20 July 2017. This interview makes relation to the rise in the number of family disputes and cases handled by the Family Justice Courts in Singapore over the years. Michelle, a certified IMI Mediator and Collaborative Family Practitioner, pointed out that many come to her thinking that court is the only option, unaware of other alternatives such as Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) and Mediation. She elaborated how CFP is “an interest-based process and is non-tactical” and is “meant to bring parties to the table to talk about each other’s needs, their own needs, and then come up with solutions for themselves”. She added that families ended up in court when “they could not put themselves through an alternative process”, including Mediation and Negotiation; or when one does not find the right kind of support to accommodate their needs, for instance if a party involved has a mental health issue.  Please watch the video for the full interview.