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.
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.