May 5, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Intellectual Property and Technology Practice Jonathan Kok quoted in The Straits Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Head of Intellectual Property and Technology Practice, Jonathan Kok, was quoted in The Straits Times article titled “No 'fast lane' fees to Singapore telcos: Netflix” The article was first published in The Straits Times on 4 May 2016.      No 'fast lane' fees to Singapore telcos: Netflix Netflix did not pay fees to Singtel or StarHub for faster access to their broadband customers despite paying ISPs in the United States Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Date: 4 May 2016 Author: Irene Tham Netflix has said that it did not pay any fees to local telcos for smoother streaming to Internet users here, marking a prominent victory for proponents of a democratic Internet in Singapore and globally. In an interview with The Straits Times last week, Netflix chief Reed Hastings was asked if the United States video-streaming giant had paid fees to Singtel or StarHub. His reply: "No." This is despite two calls made by Singtel chief executive officer Chua Sock Koong over the past two years that telcos should be allowed to charge major Internet content providers - like WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube - for consumers to have faster access to their content. "We are big believers in Net neutrality and the open Internet," said Mr Hastings, who was here to meet local employees. In the United States, however, Netflix signed a multi-year deal paying Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and AT&T for faster access to their broadband customers. The deals were cited by Ms Chua to justify her argument. Ms Chua's call stemmed from telcos losing voice and messaging business to Internet services like WhatsApp, which get away with not paying for using telcos' infrastructure. These deals go against the idea of a democratic or neutral Internet where every online content provider is treated equally by ISPs. This means no "fast lanes" for content providers that pay extra for prioritisation, or the blocking and "throttling" - or slowing down - of lawful content and services. Without neutrality, it is feared that consumers could end up having to pay more to access the Internet. ISPs could, say, package services sold to consumers and charge different fees. A basic service would give access to just e-mail and social networks. "Premium" might let consumers stream videos and music, while "Super Premium" would allow downloads. While the Federal Communications Commission in the US last year approved rules in favour of protecting Net neutrality, carriers in Singapore are allowed to sell fast lanes to content providers. The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) also does not ban throttling outright, but requires ISPs to ensure that user access to legitimate websites does not slow down to the point where online services become "unusable". Proponents of a neutral Internet are urging the local authorities to regulate the space to prevent small companies from being penalised when ISPs sell fast lanes. "When telcos are allowed to create fast lanes, it creates an unlevel playing field. Smaller players will not be able to negotiate and will end up paying," said Mr Benjamin Tan, managing director of SuperInternet. If the local authorities don't step in, "gangsters will rule", he said. Technology lawyer Jonathan Kok, partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, said that even if various charging schemes are allowed, there must be regulatory oversight to prevent discrimination. "Telcos should not be allowed to charge WhatsApp a high fee as it is deemed to be a competitor," he said. Separately, Netflix also said it has struck "peering" agreements with both Singtel and StarHub for the free exchange of Internet traffic between their servers. But peering is not the norm here, with local toll charges costing two to three times more than international ones. Industry regulator IDA had proposed in a consultation paper - released in February last year (2015) but now closed - that regulation was not necessary as there had been "no evidence" of market failure, such as the abuse of dominance by Singtel or StarHub. Consumers also do not suffer due to these payment arrangements. IDA has yet to issue its decision.
May 4, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Private Wealth Practice Tan Choon Leng featured in The Edge Singapore article titled “Spotlight on Shadowy Money”

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Private Wealth Practice Tan Choon Leng was featured in The Edge Singapore article titled “Spotlight on Shadowy Money”. The article discussed about the Panama Papers leak which involved many country leaders and well known celebrities. It also highlighted the current trend of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and offshore tax havens. Such cases have garnered a strong public interest and have made many headlines in the media. Choon Leng gave his opinion on how to overcome and manage the risks involved in investments made with offshore companies. He commented that, “For some transactions, good planning can make the difference between a profitable and non-profitable investment.” The full article dated Monday 2 May 2016, can be found in The Edge Singapore.
April 21, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing participating in Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce Breakfast Briefing – ‘Legal Action and Enforcement in Singapore for Debt Recovery Claims’

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Partners Vernon Voon and Patrick Dahm will be speaking at a Breakfast Briefing organised by the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SGC) titled 'Legal Action and Enforcement in Singapore for Debt Recovery Claims' on 24 May 2016 at Orchard Hotel. The SGC is one of the largest National Business Chambers of Europe in Singapore. This briefing will cover issues regarding the legal enforcement regime in Singapore to recover debts and what you can do to protect yourself from recalcitrant debtors. Given today’s slowing global economic conditions and political uncertainties, companies need to keep abreast of their cashflow situation and know what systems there are to put in place to recover their account receivables. To find out more about the event and to register, please click here.
April 6, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Partner Vernon Voon and Legal Manager Ian Li featured in World Golf article titled “Addressing legal issues at Business Management Institute Course”

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Litigation & Dispute Resolution Partner Vernon Voon and Corporate Legal Manager Ian Li were featured in a World Golf article titled “Addressing legal issues at Business Management Institute Course”. The article highlighted the Firm’s participation in an educational event organised by the Asian Golf Industry Federation titled “BMI Asia Pacific”. Held in conjunction with Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), the event focused on various management competency areas defined by the CMAA's Certification and Club Management Institute Committees that are required in club managers across the Asian region. Both Vernon and Ian addressed legal issues that club managers needed to know such as the Tripartite Alliance on Fair Employment Practices, sexual harassment and workplace bullying, and legal employment matters in China. Other notable speakers included Jeffrey Kreafle, General Manager of America’s Congressional Country Club and Dr Larry Ross PHD, Professor of Florida Southern University. The full article dated Monday, 4 April 2016 can be found on