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 24, 2017

Senior Partner Tan Chong Huat invited to speak at The Law Society of Singapore’s Future Lawyering Conference

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Senior Partner Tan Chong Huat was invited to speak at The Law Society of Singapore’s Future Lawyering Conference 2017. The two-day conference was held from 20-21 July 2017 at The Joyden Hall, Bugis+. Chong Huat was part of the panel discussing the topic “New Practice Models – Regionalisation and ‘Uberisation’ and Legal Services”. ‘Uberisation’ refers to the displacement of traditional retainers by more efficient system that matches supply and demand. He gave insights on how the traditional way of providing legal services is no longer able to meet the demands of the increasingly sophisticated and demanding clientele, as legal services become even more accessible and affordable. Chong Huat’s view on ‘uberisation’ is that technology must work for us and that we not allow it to commoditise service. Technology should be leveraged and when properly applied to our specialty, show ostensibly our intellect, creativity and judgment. On regionalisation, Chong Huat shared that for a law firm to succeed, there must be a group of regionally-minded Partners and lawyers who are ready to invest time and commitment to look beyond Singapore to build their clientele, network and relationship. Chong Huat added that RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s ASEAN Plus Group (APG) strategy, which the Firm launched in 2014, was a forward-thinking initiative as the Firm saw the necessity to gain a foothold in ASEAN. APG is a membership of top 10 law firms in ASEAN and North Asia, with offices spanning 12 jurisdictions in Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The other panellist comprised Matthew Glynn, Managing Director of Global Legal Solutions Group; Chris Woo, Head of Tax at PwC Singapore; and Alex Wong, Co-Chairperson of the event’s organising committee was the moderator. Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah, SC gave the keynote address. This conference is timely, especially as the Committee on the Future Economy was established to develop economic strategies for Singapore for the next decade.
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 13, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing contributes an article to Singapore infocomm Technology Federation on digital transformation disrupting the legal sector

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing submitted a response to Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) on “Digital Transformation”. The article was first published on Singapore infocomm Technology Federation’s (SiTF) website on 8 June 2017. Digital Transformation Source: Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) ©  Date: 8 June 2017 Digital transformation is a process that involves the accelerated evolution of our business model that leverages on digital technology. In today’s world, digital transformation helps us remain relevant, competitive and profitable. In our context, digital transformation is a strategy that will cover four main areas of our business: (a) enhanced engagement within the client ecosystem (b) stream-lining the internal processes (c) innovation (d) scalability 1.  Can you describe RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP and how is the firm embracing digital transformation? Legal services are a segment of the professional services sector and it is primed for major disruption.  Advances in technology have made the client or customer a central feature in business. The clutter is no more as clients can now engage and interact directly with businesses and services.  Company incorporation and government services are now available online. Transparency and efficiency is a given and the layering of the various touchpoints has become a matter of history.  The legal services sector faces considerable challenges.  The pressure on fees, the commoditisation of work product and external disruption by law and non-law service providers are some of the growing challenges law firms face in the region. Legal practitioners must adapt to the changing circumstances and embrace technology to bring about disruption to their own practice.  It is no longer true that “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”.  Self-disruption is the only way to ensure a law firm’s continued survival. We have long recognised these challenges and embarked on a long-term strategy to force the evolution of our business models and processes.  Being clued in on new technology is essential for this transformation process.  Digital transformation is enabled by new technology.  However, technology isn’t the endgame.  People are. Client insight is an interesting aspect of this transformation process.  Cutting edge technology that will benefit clients counts for nothing if our people are not motivated to change the way we work.   On the other hand, rolling out a fantastic online client engagement tool will fail if we do not understand client behaviour, preferences and needs.  There are reasons why some apps succeed and why some fail miserably. The analysis of data must precede the change.  We cannot undertake the transformation process without an analysis of client behaviour, preferences and needs.  2.  Could you describe your strategy for digital transformation Our strategy for digital transformation encompasses four pillars of execution: enhancing the client experience internal processes continual innovation scalability Enhancing the Client Experience: Client insight is an interesting aspect of this transformation process.  Cutting edge technology that will benefit clients counts for nothing if our people are not motivated to change the way we work.   On the other hand, rolling out a fantastic online client engagement tool will fail if we do not understand client behaviour, preferences and needs.  There are reasons why some apps succeed and why some fail miserably.  What we think should be the client experience can be very different from what the client is inclined to prefer.  The analysis of data must precede this. We cannot undertake the transformation process without an analysis of client behaviour, preferences and needs.  Internal Processes: The internal process is invisible to the client.  For every shift in the client experience transformation, the internal processes will experience change.  Automating processes from submission of expense claims to document generation are the in thing today.  They make processes more efficient and seamless.  Filing systems and document management systems are also made flat to facilitate collaboration across departments.  Changes must be based on the analysis of real data and strategic decisions are made more quickly and in greater detail as a result.  Invariably, the redesign of the operational processes will impact our ability to provide our clients with not only good service but also a great experience. Continual Innovation and Scalability: In today’s world, it is not enough to undertake this exercise on a piecemeal or one-off basis.  There will have to be a cultural revolution to change mindsets.  Innovation must be a continual process with owners constantly thinking of the next best thing.  The business model of the firm will have to evolve; with new service offerings being constantly rolled out using new technology.  New technology must also be scalable in order to have economies of scale.  In the end, there must be the ability to do more with less.  It is key to understand that this is about efficiency, not productivity.  Productivity is about doing more with the same. Recent changes in the legal landscape show that the Singapore government is keen to see law firms evolve to change with the times. This is a move in the right direction. In fact, the legal industry is not the only sector set to embark on a digital transformation; other industries including transport, transportation, hospitality and education are affected as well, from the likes of Uber, Deliveroo, Airbnb and Coursera. 3.  How far ahead is RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP in implementing these changes? We’re collecting data.  A customer relationship management system is being put into place to collect client and prospect information into a common database.  Together with our practice management system, we will be able to analyse client trends and behaviours.  We are streamlining our internal processes: from the management of human resources, to expense claims and financial management, to digitising the entire workflow.: We already have in place a document management system and have begun studying our options for document assembly.  We are closely watching the artificial intelligence space for the latest developments. Replacing paper and manual processes with apps and software is the easier part.  It is more challenging dealing with the client ecosystem and understanding how clients want to be engaged.  There is unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all situation.  More sophisticated clients will want a bespoke client experience. To do this, we need to personalise the enhanced client experience to allow us this flexibility.  This aspect of the transformation is still underway. 4. What has been the  impact of Digital Transformation on your organisation? The jury is still out there but we are confident that the strategy that we have developed is the correct one for us.  We hope that the completion of the digital transformation will lead to increased efficiency and will give us a competitive edge in the crowded marketplace.  An enhanced client experience is a unique differentiator in the digital business world.  This transformation will continue over time as technology evolves. Contributed by Arcis Communications (SiTF PR Agency) Courtesy of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP  Published date: 8 Jun 2017