June 19, 2017

Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shares with The Business Times the different schemes RHTLaw Taylor Wessing adopts in taking in practice trainees following the glut of law graduates in Singapore

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat was quoted in The Business Times article titled “More local law firms willing to take in trainees, but without pay”. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 19 June 2017. More local law firms willing to take in trainees, but without pay Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 19 June 2017 Author: Claudia Chong FOLLOWING the glut of law graduates in Singapore, more local law firms are taking in practice trainees who are unable to secure placements elsewhere - on the condition that they do not receive an honorarium during their stint. Both foreign and local law graduates are required to complete a six-month practice training contract at a Singapore law practice before being called to the Bar. Senior partner Tan Chong Huat told The Business Times that his firm, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, typically has different schemes for the practice trainees that it takes in. Trainees in the first scheme are those that the firm intends to retain - "mature students" or those with a "very good track record". Trainees in the second scheme have their pay varied and have not been identified for retention. The last scheme comprises trainees who were unable to find a place at other law firms to complete their training. "They come around and say, 'Can you offer us a place here?' Mostly these will be business associates' referrals," said Mr Tan. "So we take them on and they might just have no pay." Honorariums for training contracts can range from S$800 to S$1,600 a month, according to a listing on the Law Society of Singapore website. Another senior partner practising at a large local law firm said that for the past two years, his firm has taken in one or two such trainees per year. But these arrangements are kept private between the trainee and the management to avoid stigmatisation, and the trainees perform the standard rotation work and are exposed to the same kinds of cases as ordinary trainees, he said. These unpaid trainees are often graduates who read law overseas; returning overseas graduates might face difficulties securing a training contract if they had not previously interned at law firms here. "How we, as a firm, hire trainees nowadays is nearly always through (structured) internships. We very seldom hire trainees through direct applications," said the senior partner, who spoke to BT on condition of anonymity. Students reading law at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore Management University (SMU) are encouraged to pursue internships during semester breaks. While NUS Law does not make internships mandatory for students, SMU requires undergraduates undergoing its bachelor of laws programme to complete 10 weeks of internship with either a law firm or a legal department, or a combination of both. The issue of the glut of lawyers here has become a hotly debated topic in recent years. While the number of students accepted yearly by NUS and SMU's law schools has remained fairly constant, the annual number of returning overseas law graduates rose from around 210 in 2011 to around 310 in 2015, said the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in response to queries from BT. The increase in students reading law overseas prompted MinLaw in 2015 to axe eight UK universities from the list of foreign universities approved for graduate admission to the Singapore Bar. The move was implemented from Academic Year 2016/17 onwards; there are now 11 UK universities on the list. In the meantime, it appears that returning graduates will continue to struggle to get a training contract placement. Statistics from MinLaw show that from 2011 to 2015, around 70 per cent of overseas-trained graduates secured training contracts, compared to around 90 per cent of local graduates. In response, the Singapore Institute of Legal Education in December 2015 made changes to the number of practice trainees that a senior practitioner can supervise, easing the quota from two to four. "There has been an influx of law graduates in the past few years and not enough training places to absorb them all," said Stefanie Yuen Thio, joint managing director of TSMP Law Corporation. "Firms that previously did not take in trainees have started doing so, partly to do their bit for law graduates who cannot otherwise get contracts." Small-sized firm Exodus Law Corporation typically has two to four trainees working with it at any given time, though the firm's managing director Daniel Xu said that it does not need more than two trainees. The firm gives its trainees an allowance of S$300 to S$500 a month to cover their basic expenses, depending on the applicant's previous work experience. "I am not paying the best allowance in town. I am one of the lowest among the rest, but I can't afford more," said Mr Xu. "As far as I'm concerned . . . I'm doing a form of National Service - providing these graduates with an opportunity to complete their training so that they can go on and become lawyers in the near future."
June 5, 2017

Head of Capital Markets Ch’ng Li-Ling gave her comments to The Straits Times on the addition of 29 companies to SGX watch-list after failing to meet the revised minimum trading price rule

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Capital Markets Ch'ng Li-Ling was quoted in The Straits Times article titled "29 companies added to SGX watch-list". The article was first published in The Straits Times on 5 June 2017. 29 companies added to SGX watch-list Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 5 June 2017 Author: Marissa Lee Twenty-seven companies were added to the Singapore Exchange's (SGX) watch-list on Monday (June 5) for failing to meet the revised minimum trading price (MTP) rule - making it 78 mainboard-listed firms in all on that list. Altogether, 29 companies entered the watch-list on Monday, including two firms that failed to meet financial entry criteria based on profitability requirements. But the revised MTP criteria was also a boon for two companies, which exited the watch-list under the latest assessment. Drilling rig owner Jasper Investments and petroleum exploration and production firm Interra Resources said they had been removed from the watch-list, as each of them had achieved an average daily market cap of more than S$40 million over the last six months. Companies on the watch-list must provide quarterly updates on their financial situation, and have 36 months to meet the MTP or financial criteria. Otherwise, they will face a delisting. The MTP framework, which took effect on March 1 last year, is intended to highlight to investors the issuers that may be more susceptible to excessive speculation and potential manipulation. But it drew fierce criticism from investors and traders, who saw the rules as damaging to stock values because many companies had been forced to conduct share consolidations only to see prices plunge again. In response to feedback last year, the SGX relaxed the entry criteria in December so that a mainboard-listed firm that maintains a six-month average daily market capitalisation of over S$40 million will not be watch-listed even if it misses the 20-cent minimum trading price requirement. But the number of firms on the watch list has not fallen. When the MTP was introduced last March, 57 companies failed to meet the rule. Now, it is 66. (The other 12 making up the total 78 on the watchlist are there for failing to meet the financial criteria.) Mr Leon Yee, a lawyer and independent director of Federal International, which was one of over 100 issuers that previously resorted to share consolidations to meet the MTP, said: "There is a mismatch between financial performance and share price performance in Singapore, because of the low liquidity of our markets. "As the years go buy, more companies will go on the watchlist, because there is only so much liquidity to go around. Until now, the regulator is still stuck on this. The fact of the matter is it is not working out for issuers." Ms Ch'ng Li-Ling, head of the capital markets practice at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, observed that "the rules are there for a reason." But she noted that the SGX had exercised discretion once, last June, when it gave 13 companies affected by "recent market volatility" more time to meet the MTP so none were added to the Watchlist then. Firms on the watch list have three years to meet the MTP or financial criteria. Otherwise, they face a delisting. Perhaps, more tweaks to the MTP rule are not out of the question. In April, Professor Tan Cheng Han, the new chairman of RegCo, which is taking over all of SGX's regulatory functions, declared that he would not be afraid to reassess sacred cows in the rules framework.
May 29, 2017

RHT Rajan Menon Foundation raises $264,000 for beneficiaries at its third annual Charity Golf event 2017

RHT Rajan Menon Foundation Charity Golf 2017 was featured in The Straits Times article titled “Charity Golf tournament raises $264,000 for beneficiaries”. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 26 May 2017. Charity golf tournament raises $264,000 for beneficiaries Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 26 May 2017 Author: Aaron Chan SINGAPORE - Over a quarter of a million dollars was raised on Friday (May 26), at RHT Rajan Menon Foundation's third annual golf charity event held at the Singapore Island Country Club. A total of 40 companies and individuals donated $264,000, which will go towards two primary beneficiaries - The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and Singapore Management University Pro Bono Centre - as well as two selected organisations, namely the Singapore Red Cross Society and National Gallery Singapore. Over three years, the foundation has raised more than $600,000. One of its key donors is Qilin World Capital, who has been a supporter since 2015. Qilin's co-managing partner, Mr Raymond Lau, said: "Both the primary beneficiaries were set up to support children and youth from less fortunate circumstances. (Our company) believes that the right financing tools can help cultivate a culture of socially responsible individuals and provide educational development to the next generation." RHT Holdings's chief executive Mr Jayaprakash Jagateesan, who was speaking at the event's gala dinner on Friday said:"As leaders of the corporate world, we have the influence to inculcate the spirit of giving within our organisations, encouraging fellow colleagues and friends to behave in a socially responsible manner." The RHT Rajan Menon Foundation was established in 2015 and supports a variety of causes.
May 2, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution Nandakumar Renganathan interviewed by The Sunday Times on fraudulent investment schemes related to land-banking and gold buy-backs

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution Nandakumar Renganathan interviewed by The Sunday Times on fraudulent investment schemes related to land-banking and gold buy-backs The article was first published in The Sunday Times on 30 April 2017. Title: A legal expert's views on investments Source: The Sunday Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Date: 30 April 2017 Here are some FAQs on fraudulent investment schemes posed by The Sunday Times to Mr Nandakumar Renganathan, deputy head of litigation and dispute resolution practice, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing. Q How can retail investors protect themselves when investing in gold and land-banking schemes? A The strongest power that investors have is in deciding whether to invest in a product. People generally associate investments in gold and property as safe investments and, no doubt, companies which sell dubious products take advantage of this. Often, investors are led to the investment by friends. They come into contact with agents of the company selling these products and are enticed to refer other friends to the investment through some benefits. Investors gain confidence when their friends say: "I have put money into this investment and it gives me a 20 per cent return." The focus must be on the investment product, not the anticipated return. In my experience, things just go awry when investors focus on the return rather than what they are investing in.   Q What should investors consider when assessing such investments? What are the typical red flags? A Investors should ask certain critical questions - what am I getting when I buy into this product? For example, if I am informed this is a property in Brazil, the questions to be asked before one invests are: •When was this company that sells this product incorporated? •Who owns this company? •Who are you entering into a contract with? Often, investors are misled into thinking they have invested with a Singapore company when, in actual fact, they have entered into a contract with a company overseas with the same name. •What am I getting for my investment? This is a critical question. If you are getting some share in a property, is that property going to be registered in your name? If it is merely that the company is collecting the money and the property is not vested in your name, you have a right only to receive payment from the company. There is no interest in the property. •Who owns the property? There have been occasions when companies that sell the products do not own the property. •How much debt does the company have? If you are investing into a company, you should know the risks associated with the business. •When you have a "guaranteed return", who is promising it? If the return is promised by the company, then the financial strength of the firm is critical. •Is the intermediary offering the investment product regulated in its home country by a competent regulator? If the investment product is regulated in Singapore, it would need a prospectus registered with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). If there is no prospectus and someone offers an investment product, that is a criminal offence in itself. •Is there a Singapore-based distributor of the investment product, and is the distributor regulated by the MAS? •Look out for the MAS Investor Alert List for instances of offers of investment products that are unlicensed. After investors have made their inquiries, they should have an idea of risks involved in making the investment.   Q What is the impact of the new regulation on firms offering land-banking schemes? A The MAS has closed a gap in the law by introducing new regulations relating to land-banking here. These products will be dealt with as collective investment schemes. This means that the managers of such schemes will need to be licensed by the MAS. These products need to be accompanied by prospectuses approved by the MAS. These measures seek to ensure that there is robust regulatory oversight on the managers (who have to be fit and proper persons). They also ensure that investors have access to all material facts to help them make informed decisions. In short, these ensure transparency and accountability in relation to the products being offered, as well as on the intermediaries offering the products.   Q Will aggrieved investors have any recourse against the company? A Investors can claim against the company and its officers if there has been fraud involved. They should approach their legal advisers and the authorities as soon as possible. If the investors are quick enough, they may even be able to secure an injunction from the court to freeze the assets of the company. If the company has the money with it, chances of recovery are better. One reality that investors should be aware of is that people who set up companies with a fraudulent purpose in mind plan ahead to move the money out as soon as they receive them. It becomes challenging to trace the money much later.   Q Any other tips? A The final question to be asked is "Is this too good to be true?" Investors should be wary of anyone saying you can double your money in three to four years. If they feel it is too good to be true, they should decline to invest.