August 30, 2017

Head of Intellectual Property & Technology Jonathan Kok shares insights on IP commercialisation and protection at IP Week @ SG organised by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Head of Intellectual Property & Technology Jonathan Kok was invited as part of a team of IP thought leaders, legal experts as well as innovative companies to offer a series of pre-arranged one to one consultations at IP Week @ SG organised by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS). The event marks the sixth run of IP Week @ SG and carried the theme “Ideas to Assets: Driving the future economy with IP”. Jonathan, a market-leading IP lawyer endorsed by Asialaw Leading Lawyer 2017, shared insights on IP commercialisation and protection. He shares his experience at IP Week, “The future economy will be driven by technology that can be accessed not only in Singapore but in any part of the world. Increasingly, companies are adopting technology as a necessity to expand their businesses into the region. As part of growth strategies, companies need to understand how to protect their intellectual property in foreign territories so that they can effectively leverage on their intellectual property for growth. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing participated in the consultation sessions to help companies better understand these issues when they are planning to expand abroad.” The two-day conference from 29-30 August 2017 was held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. It brought together the innovation community to celebrate, network and collaborate on the latest developments in IP. Signature to this year’s IP Week, the event connects IP service providers, businesses, agencies and individuals to explore opportunities to create business growth through IP. The event saw a turnout of over 1,700 attendees from more than 30 countries, with over 40 major supporting organisations and partners, including Google and PatSnap. Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam was the Guest-of-Honour.
August 29, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing strengthens regulatory and compliance capabilities with new Partner hire

Mr Sundaram Subramaniam’s extensive experience in commercial insurance, compliance and civil litigation will significantly enhance the Firm’s service offering to clients in the diverse and complex regulatory and compliance environment Leading international law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing bolsters its Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice with the appointment of Mr Sundaram Subramaniam as a Partner, effective 7 August 2017. Sundaram has extensive experience in the regulatory and compliance environment. He acts for various notable institutional clients, primarily insurers, on matters relating to corporate policy liabilities, fraud, commercial advisory work, breach of policy implications, and conflicts of interests. Many of his litigation cases involve technical assessments, mediation and dispute resolution. His legal expertise also includes advising insurers on a broad range of compliance matters arising from regulatory and distribution compliance. Sundaram has also dealt in foreign law matters, having acted in multiple high value cross-border matters relating to injury claims and industrial accidents. Azman Jaafar, Deputy Managing Partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing commented, “We are delighted to welcome Sundaram to the Firm. Increasingly, a portion of our work is from clients in the regulatory and compliance sector and Sundaram’s wealth of experience will greatly enhance the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice’s capabilities. Seen as an expert by insurers, he trains others on a wide range of legal and compliance topics. I look forward to Sundaram sharing his expertise with his new team and know this will further elevate the Firm’s position in the insurance scene.” Sundaram is dual qualified both in Singapore and Australia with more than 15 years of legal experience. Sundaram attained his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in 1991 and successfully completed the English Bar Exams with the Council of Legal Education Inns of Court School of Laws UK in 1993. He was called to the English Bar in 1993 and admitted to the Singapore Bar in 1995. In 2013, he attained his Master of Laws (LLM) with the University of Western Australia. The appointment of Sundaram follows the hiring of Mr Wee Jee Kin, who joined the Firm’s Corporate Practice as Partner in July 2017. --- This press release is featured in the following news reports: "RHTLaw lands regulatory partner from SG boutique Bogaars & Din" - Asian Legal Business, 30 August 2017 "RHTLaw Taylor Wessing brings on partner from Singapore boutique firm" - BigLaw, 30 August 2017 "Corporate Moves" - The Edge Singapore, 15 September 2017 "Appointments" - Asian Legal Business, October 2017, Asia Edition
August 21, 2017

“HDB flat buyers – owners or lessees?” Deputy Head of Real Estate Sandra Han shares her views on The Straits Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Deputy Head of Real Estate Sandra Han shares her views in The Straits Times on the differences between the terms lessee, tenant, and owner and how it applies to HDB flat owners. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 21 August 2017. HDB flat buyers - owners or lessees? Debate goes beyond semantics Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 21 August 2017 Author: Ng Jun Sen Lessee. Tenant. Owner. When it comes to Housing Board flats, these plain terms seem to befuddle many. What exactly should an HDB flat buyer be known as? Over the past two months, this discussion has been playing out in The Straits Times' Forum pages and online. Clearly, flat buyers are flat owners, with the right to sell, rent and renovate, within guidelines and for the tenure of their lease, said the HDB. But some people seized on the qualifiers - for the length of the lease. Does that not mean that a more accurate term for HDB flat owners is "lessees", they wonder. It also did not help that some HDB webpages and documents refer to flat buyers as "lessees" and the HDB as "lessor". This is not just a tussle over semantics. It goes to the heart of a longstanding debate over whether HDB flat owners can be called that when they have to return their homes to the state when their leases expire, and when rules over what they can or cannot do with their homes are generally more circumscribed than those for owners of private leasehold property. The question first arose on June 24 when a reader, Mr Larry Leong, wrote in to query the HDB on the terms it apparently used to refer to him. "While applying to rent out my HDB flat, I noticed that the Housing Board referred to me as a 'tenant', and my potential tenant as a 'sub-tenant'," said Mr Leong, adding that he had paid for his flat fully. "Can we have some clarity on whether HDB dwellers are tenants or real home owners for 99 years?" In its reply three weeks later, the HDB clarified that the term "tenants" refers only to those who rent public rental flats from it. Purchasers of HDB flats are owners of their property, its director of branch operations Lim Lea Lea stated categorically. She said: "Flat owners enjoy rights to exclusive possession of the flat during the tenure of the flat lease. They can sell, let out and renovate their flats, within the guidelines specified in the lease and Housing and Development Act." The board also said "the name of each HDB flat owner is reflected in the title deed, the original of which is kept with the Singapore Land Authority, as part of the central and comprehensive record for all properties in Singapore. This confirms his or her ownership of the property." But others remained unsure. Mr Andrew Seow Chwee Guan wrote in a letter dated July 20 that a duplicate lease of an HDB flat he holds "was executed by me and my spouse many years ago as a lessee in the presence of a lessor - an HDB representative". He added: "My understanding is that HDB purchasers are lessees and the HDB is the lessor. "There is a distinct difference between owners and lessees." In its latest reply published on Aug 14, the HDB said the leasehold system allows the land to be recycled and redeveloped, and is common around the world. It reiterated that leasehold property buyers are owners too, albeit for the length of the lease they hold. "During this period of ownership, they can decide to live in the flat, renovate it, rent it out or even sell it once they meet the eligibility conditions. They can decide on the selling price or rental rate of the flat, and they get to keep the proceeds from these transactions. "These are rights and benefits that only a flat owner can enjoy." However, experts have also pointed out that, unlike private property owners, HDB flat buyers cannot initiate collective sales of their homes, unless picked under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme. On the flip side, HDB flat buyers are entitled to more benefits, including subsidised prices. Given the way the terms owner and lessee seem to be used interchangeably at times, should HDB then change its nomenclature for a buyer to "lessee" to avoid misunderstandings? Some argue that the term "owner" implies a person has possession of the property in perpetuity. They are in favour of the term "lessee", which they say states clearly that there is a lifespan to the possession of the property. "Lessee" is a more precise term, say property lawyers such as Ms Sandra Han of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, though the word "owner" is still accurate. Acknowledging that the topic is "quite tricky", she added: "The term 'owner' is quite nebulous and is used very generally." Ms Tay Huey Ying, head of research and consultancy at property consultancy JLL Singapore, said ownership is typically implied for long-term leases of, say, more than 60 years. At any rate, the Government will likely not be keen to give up the use of the term, say real estate watchers like Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ZACD Group. The word "owner" connotes rootedness and identity, unlike "lessee", and this is why the authorities would prefer to stick to the earlier term, he said. "In referring to buyers as owners, it is a case of HDB trying to have its cake and eat it too," he said. Ms Tay said it is more fruitful for the debate to focus on raising awareness of lease expiry. In fact, she said "ownership" has the advantage of allowing residents to feel that they have a stake in society and want to contribute actively to the country. "With some leases running down, what is more important is to educate purchasers on what leasehold means," she said.
August 15, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing receives prestigious “Friends of School Award” by Tanjong Katong Girls’ School

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing was presented the prestigious “Friends of School Award” by Tanjong Katong Girls’ School (TKGS) in view of the Firm’s significant contributions to the school. Deputy Managing Partner Azman Jaafar was also given a special mention by the school. The award is given to partners of TKGS who have made outstanding contributions to the school and its programmes for at least four years in one or more of the following areas – student learning, student well-being, leadership, character development, research and development in teaching and learning, staff well-being and/or school learning environment. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing has been TKGS’ partner since 2012. Ms Nur Ashikin bte Sapri, teacher in-charge of TKGS’ Work Attachment Programme for Secondary 3 students, highlighted how RHTLaw Taylor Wessing has been instrumental in providing opportunities for students such as being attached to legal aids and lawyers, administration and attending court hearings, where they get to learn beyond the classrooms. She further commented, “Through this partnership, our girls are given exposure on how a legal firm is run efficiently to offer the best legal services. We also give special thanks to Mr Azman, who has worked closely with our staff and students on an attachment programme that is meaningful for students. We value his feedback and continuous effort to work closely with the school in making the work attachment at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing a great learning experience about careers, aspirations and working life in the legal sector.” The award ceremony took place at TKGS on 8 August 2017.