December 22, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Partner Eugene Quah featured in Singapore Business Review

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Partner Eugene Quah was quoted in an article published in Singapore Business Review titled “Third-party funding for arbitrations”. The article was first published in the December 2016-January 2017 edition of Singapore Business Review. Third-party funding for arbitrations New legislation is seen to raise Singapore’s profile as an international arbitration hub. Source: Singapore Business Review © 2016 Charlton Media Group Date: December 2016-January 2017 Edition The Ministry of Law has submitted for its First Reading in the Parliament the Civil Law (Amendment) Bill 2016 and Civil Law (Third Party Funding) regulation. The bill states that third-party funding (TPF), which had previously been restricted for disputes, will be permitted for international commercial arbitration proceedings. TPF gives the means for a party to litigate or arbitrate without having to spend money for it. The Ministry of Law says introducing TPF in Singapore, which the body notes is a leading centre for international commercial arbitration, will enable international businesses to use funding tools available to them in other centres. It also says this will promote Singapore’s growth as a leading international arbitration venue. The legal experts interviewed for this article also note how TPF can prove to be beneficial to Singapore’s standing in the world as an arbitration hub. What are your thoughts on the proposed changes under the Civil Law (Amendment) Bill 2016 enacting a framework for third-party funding in Singapore, which will give businesses an additional financing option for international commercial arbitration? Eugene Quah, litigation & dispute resolution partner, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP, welcomes the development. “Litigation or arbitration costs are big ticket extraordinary expenses that many businesses are not sufficiently well-resourced to bear,” says Quah. “The changes will open up access to a source of capital previously unavailable in this jurisdiction.” Quah also notes that third-party funding can inject a greater degree of objectivity into the assessment of the merits of a party’s claim: “The claimant may have unrealistic expectations of his chances of success, but the third-party funder is a calculated risk-taker and will not fund an unmeritorious claim.” The proposed changes can be seen as a positive development for businesses, says Deborah Barker, managing partner, Withers KhattarWong. “For end users of the arbitration process, the changes will reduce (or even eliminate) the risk that third-party funding arrangements will be relied on as a basis for judicial intervention on the ground of public policy, or as a premise for an application to set aside the award.” Marina Chin, joint managing partner, Tan Kok Quan Partnership, says the bill is part of Singapore’s natural progression as a dispute resolution hub alongside others. It is said that law firms and lawyers will benefit from the increase in international dispute resolution activity in Singapore. What is your reaction to this? Opening the door to third-party funding is likely to benefit law firms and lawyers in Singapore, according to Barker. “Third-party funding is already permitted in the United Kingdom and the United States, and being considered in Hong Kong. Singapore law firms which have alliances with foreign law firms in these jurisdictions will be able to tap into the experience acquired by colleagues and overseas offices in relation to third-party funding arrangements.” Chin agrees: “That this would be a boon to the legal industry cannot be overstated. Cases which may not otherwise see the light of day can now have a real chance of being heard. That such cases are typically for fairly significant claims underscores the impact that funding can have.” For Quah, however, the development will be a challenge Singapore’s local firms will have to rise up to: “Whilst an increase in international dispute resolution activity in Singapore will certainly enlarge the overall pie, domestic law firms will stand to benefit only if they are perceived to be able to fight a case on an equal footing with the large Western offshore firms.” The Ministry of Law says, “Singapore has excelled in the area of arbitration and ranks among the world’s top seats for international arbitration, alongside London, Paris, Geneva, and Hong Kong.” How will the changes, if enacted, impact Singapore’s role in arbitration? The new legislation will make Singapore even more attractive as a seat for international arbitration, notes Barker, whilst allowing it to compete for a larger share of the growing volume of international arbitration cases. Singapore should go ahead with third-party funding for international commercial arbitration or lose parties that choose it for arbitration, says Quah. “If Singapore does not, parties relying on third-party funding may shy away from using Singapore as the seat of arbitration, as funders do not want to be exposed to the risks of not being able to enforce funding agreements.” “The liberalisation demonstrates that Singapore is open to new and novel ideas and willing to introduce and embrace what is progressive to keep up with an evolving business landscape,” says Chin. “Such dynamism is key to what makes a successful dispute resolution hub in the international arena.” Further, Chin notes: “This is not about Singapore alone: strengthening Singapore’s position increases the attractiveness of doing business in this region.”
December 22, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail featured in Thomson Reuters

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail was featured in an article published in Thomson Reuters titled “MAS's new accredited investor definition will require documentation and system change”. The article was first published on Thomson Reuters Accelus Regulatory Intelligence and Compliance Complete. MAS's new accredited investor definition will require documentation and system change Source: Copyright © Thomson Reuters 2016 Date: 22 December 2016 Author: Patricia Lee Singapore-based financial institutions can expect a degree of change to their documentation, systems, and policy and procedures following recent refinements to the definition of accredited investors at the first reading in parliament last month. The refinements to the definitions of accredited investors (AIs) and institutional investors (IIs) were part of the Monetary Authority of Singapore's proposed changes to its capital markets regulatory framework and followed a consultation paper issued on July 21, 2014. The second reading in parliament is expected to take place sometime this month or January 2017. The Securities and Futures (Amendment) Bill 2016 seeks to better reflect categories of non-retail investors identified based on their wealth or income and financial knowledge. Under MAS's existing capital markets regulatory framework, regulatory safeguards have sought to protect primarily retail investors. Intermediaries have so far been exempted from certain requirements if their customers are non-retail investors considered to be investment-savvy. Shift in regulatory thinking Under the proposed definition of AIs, the wealth criteria has been tightened such that the net equity of the individual’s primary residence can only contribute up to S$1 million of the current S$2 million net personal assets threshold. Alternatively, individuals will be able to qualify as AIs if they have S$1 million of financial assets (net of any related liabilities). Individuals whose wealth is largely based on their primary residence with little liquid assets will no longer qualify as accredited investors. Nizam Ismail, head of regulatory practice at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing in Singapore, said the regulatory thinking is that AIs were previously considered to be able to look after their interests by virtue of their wealth but such thinking has now shifted. Even if an investor meets the net asset or income test, he or she will no longer be automatically treated as an accredited investor unless they actively opt in to be one, in which case, they will lose protection from the regulatory safeguards accorded to retail investors. Reassessing customers, reviewing processes, policy and procedures What is most striking about the new accredited investors opt-out regime is that financial institutions, in particular, private banks, fund managers and wealth managers, can expect a good amount of work to be done, including re-assessing existing customers who are accredited investors and reviewing internal processes, policy and procedures to align them with the new requirements, said Hemali Mehta, senior consultant at Bovill in Singapore. Accredited investor reassessments will cover a number of areas including product suitability, risk profile and financial conditions. "For these financial institutions, they have to re-assess their existing AI clients to find out whether these clients want to be considered AIs and they have to notify them that they have the option to opt out of the accredited investor status. Full disclosure will have to be made to these investors that certain safeguards may not be available to them if they remain accredited investors," she said. Retail investor status as a baseline for new customers Mehta also pointed out that some financial institutions which are only licensed to deal with accredited and institutional investors may face the prospect of having to exit the relationship if some existing customers chose to opt out of becoming accredited investors. New AI-eligible customers whom financial institutions are onboarding for the first time will be treated as retail investors as a baseline unless they want to be treated as accredited investors, in which case they will have to opt in, she said. Mehta said MAS has been considerate and will not expect financial institutions to unwind past transactions involving products previously offered to customers when they were treated as accredited investors. MAS' proposals to introduce the enhanced safeguards under the new AI regime, she said, was a good move and was in line with similar regimes adopted in Europe and Hong Kong. AIs investing in Singapore dollar bonds MAS' proposed changes to the definition of accredited investors also took into consideration past instances where Singapore dollar bonds were sold to such accredited investors, said Lim Sin Teck, director, Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC in Singapore. While there have been no major issues so far, a number of bond issuers from the shipping and oil and gas sectors were known, in recent months, to be having difficulty making principal and interest repayments to their bondholders or otherwise in breach of certain covenants. "A substantial number of the accredited investor bondholders in the Singapore dollar bond market are individuals who find themselves stuck with defaulted bonds and are having difficulty recouping their investment. Accredited investors are meant to be investors with the ability to understand and, if acceptable to them, withstand and take on the investment risk, but in many cases, their investment evaluation process is at the level of retail investors and so they may not have the investment appetite nor investment sophistication that expected of such high-risk bonds," he said. Lim said some retirees, who may not necessarily be wealthy but own high value property, may seek high returns from their investment, but they may not be able to appreciate the risk in such bonds. MAS has therefore proposed to refine the definition of accredited investors and to limit the value of the primary residence of investors when financial institutions determine whether the former falls within the scope of accredited investors. ·  Patricia Lee is South-East Asia editor at Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence in Singapore. She also has responsibility for covering wider G20 regulatory policy initiatives as they affect Asia.
December 20, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Partners ranked as most influential lawyers aged 40 and under by Singapore Business Review in 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing is pleased to announce that its Partners, Napolean Koh, Jack Ow, Suleen Ding and Dennis Tan have been ranked in the 2016 edition of Singapore’s 70 most influential lawyers aged 40 and under list published by Singapore Business Review (SBR). RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Partner Napolean Koh, Intellectual Property & Technology Partner Jack Ow as well as Corporate Partners Suleen Ding and Dennis Tan and have been selected amongst a list of hundred nominees based on thought leadership, influence and success. Currently in its third year running, the list recognises 70 young lawyers who have the competency of not only representing themselves, but also Singapore. Napolean is a Partner at the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice. He specialises in Building Construction, Infrastructure and Engineering Disputes. His main areas of practice encompass both front-end advisory work for various construction, infrastructure and energy-related projects, as well as contentious work involving owner-developers, consultants and contractors at various stages of proceedings and forums. In addition to having an active court presence, Napolean has also dealt with disputes employing and/or involving alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as arbitration, mediation and adjudication under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (Cap 30B). Jack is an Intellectual Property & Technology Partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing. He handles a broad spectrum of transactional and contentious matters in the areas of intellectual property (IP) and technology. He regularly advises on technology transactions, data protection and licensing, especially in the info-communication and technology (ICT) industries. As a Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT) accredited by IAPP and having a keen interest in ICT developments, Jack believes in seeking customised legal solutions that take into account the challenges in design, deployment and auditing of IT products and services, while balancing the role that technology companies increasingly fill as arbiters of trust in today’s data-driven global economy. Suleen is a Corporate Practitioner who specialises in cross-border mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and foreign direct investments across the ASEAN region. She has assisted clients in putting together various legal documentation such as investment agreements, subscription agreements, shareholders’ agreements, joint venture agreements and sale and purchase agreements. Suleen has also led legal due diligence teams and coordinated cross-border transactions with professional advisors located in other jurisdictions. Clients she has skilfully and successfully advised include multinational corporations, regional listed companies and shareholders of some of the largest private companies in ASEAN. Dennis is a Corporate Partner who specialises in Tax Planning & Advisory, Private Wealth and Corporate Technology. He has advised multinational corporate groups, sovereign wealth funds, PE firms, investment funds and financial institutions on international taxation issues. Dennis leverages on his international tax expertise in Private Wealth work, and advises ultra-high net worth families and their family offices on critical issues including private investments, governance, succession planning and wealth preservation. He also has an active US practice, and provides on-the-ground support to both US clients looking to grow internationally as well as international clients looking to further their US strategies. The full rankings can be found online in the 19 December 2016 edition of Singapore Business Review Exclusives - 40 and Under Section.
December 15, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing participated in the 21st ASEAN Banking Conference in November 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat and Deputy Head of Banking & Finance Ow Kim Kit participated in the 21st ASEAN Banking Conference held on 27 and 28 November 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand. Lawyers from various law firms in the ASEAN Plus Group, namely, Hanafiah Ponggawa & Partners, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Vietnam, Siam City Law Offices and VDB Loi, also participated in the conference, which was organised by the Thai Bankers’ Assocation. Chong Huat was a speaker in one of the conference panel discussions titled “How can banks help to develop regional infrastructure?”. One of the issues discussed concerned the key impediments to private and commercial bank lending for public infrastructure projects.”