OVERVIEW Regulatory activity in various jurisdictions is hotting up as geopolitical turmoil shows no sign of abating, coupled with economic instability, which presents serious challenges for financial institutions. Businesses anticipate an increase in financial crime risks in the current environment. It’s an intricate mosaic of challenges where the forces of money laundering, corruption, fraud, and financial crime pose formidable threats and require compliance vigilance. The billion-dollar money laundering case in Singapore raises questions about how illicit activity could have slipped under radar but also underscores the critical importance of robust frameworks and continuous refinement of regulations to meet compliance challenges. AI offers exciting promises in this realm but has introduced novel forms of cyber threats, data privacy, financial fraud, and other regulatory challenges at a faster pace than ever before. Making a RegTech switch is always a challenge with legacy systems, data silos, and internal collaboration roadblocks that inflate compliance tasks and costs. Join us as we dissect the latest developments and equip you with the tools to thrive amidst uncertainty. The ALB Pan Asian Regulatory and Anti-Corruption Compliance Summit 2024 returns, bringing together distinguished anti-money laundering experts, chief compliance officers, regulators, and thought leaders for a day of profound discourse and networking in Singapore while navigating these challenges collectively. From exploring the interplay between automation and fraud to delving into the intricacies of sanctions compliance, the agenda encompasses a diverse array of topics designed to empower attendees on risk management, emerging trends, and real-world compliance issues, as striking the right balance between fostering innovation and safeguarding stability remains a conundrum. 26 – 27 SEPTEMBER 2024, GRAND COPTHORNE WATERFRONT HOTEL, SINGAPORE ALB Pan Asian Regulatory and Anti-Corruption Compliance Summit 2024 Photos from the live event that took place at the Pan-Asian Regulatory Summit on September 20, 2023, at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore, and on March 19, 2024, at Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong. FOR SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES, PLEASE CONTACT: Amantha Chia + (65) 6870 3917 FOR MORE INFORMATION, KINDLY VISIT FOR SPEAKING OPPORTUNITIES,PLEASE CONTACT: Mohd Fazlan Conference Producer, Asia & Emerging Markets - Legal / +65 9381 8370 PROUDLY PRESENTED BY SILVER SPONSOR BOOTH SPONSOR SESSION SPONSORS

1 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM COVER STORY 14 ALB IP Rankings 2024 The past year marked an important turning point in the development of the regulatory ecosystem for intellectual property (IP) across Asia. Strides have been made to better harmonise patent laws between countries, while discussions gained momentum around balancing copyright protections in the digital era. In this annual list, we highlight the best firms for IP work in the Asian region. By Asian Legal Business Plus: - Abe & Partners FEATURES 12 Level playing field Singapore is set to introduce a new anti-discrimination employment law later in the year, and while employers welcome the changes, lawyers say more needs to be done in terms of building capabilities to ensure compliance. 20 New data, new rules Thailand is one of the countries in Southeast Asia most prone to cyber vulnerabilities and data breaches. To combat that, the authorities in the past year released two subordinate regulations concerning the transfer of personal data across borders under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). Lawyers in Thailand unpack the new rules and outline what businesses are required to do. Plus: - Chandler MHM 22 ALB Top In-house Teams 2024 Traditionally, corporate legal departments have been asked to do much but given little. But, the era of heightened productivity has arrived with technology transforming how legal work gets done. 26 IPO oasis The Middle East’s regional IPO markets are flourishing despite a global slowdown and geopolitical instability owing to the region’s longterm structural and regulatory reforms, a maturing diversified market and strong investor confidence. 30 ALB Offshore Client Choice 2024 Continuing our annual tradition, Asian Legal Business is again recognising outstanding lawyers working for offshore law firms across the region. 36 Fraud alert Over the past few years, Singapore’s commodities trading scene has been fraught with scandals. Lawyers in the commodities space have thus found themselves with their hands full, assisting clients in spotting potentially fraudulent activity, and also helping mitigate the impact. Plus: - BlackStone & Gold BRI EFS 3 The Briefing 4 Forum 6 Explainer 7 Deals 8 Appointments 10 Q&A CONTENTS 30 New data, new rules Image: VideoFlow/

2 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM Asian Legal Business is available by subscription. Please visit for details. Asian Legal Business has an audited average circulation of 11,402 as of 30 September 2016.Copyright is reserved throughout. No part of this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the editor. Contributions are invited, but copies of work should be kept, as Asian Legal Business can accept no responsibility for loss. MCI (P) 004/02/2024 issn 0219 – 6875 KDN PPS 1867/10/2015(025605) Thomson Reuters Alice @ Mediapolis, 29 Media Circle, #09-05, Singapore 138565 / T (65) 6775 5088 10/F, Cityplaza 3, Taikoo Shing, Hong Kong / T (852) 3762 3269 GUARDIANS OF CREATIVITY Intellectual property is the fuel that powers the engine of innovation, and in this issue, we shine a spotlight on the legal titans navigating the complex IP landscape across Asia. Our cover story, the 2024 IP Rankings, celebrates the region’s top law firms in this critical domain. As the World Intellectual Property Organization’s report reveals, the patent battleground is ever-shifting. While China’s filings dipped slightly, its prowess remains undisputed, with a staggering 69,610 applications – a testament to its enduring dominance since 2002. Conversely, South Korea’s filings rose modestly, signalling its growing IP influence. But it’s India’s remarkable 44.6 percent surge that truly captures the imagination, hinting at the subcontinent’s vast untapped innovative potential. Amidst this dynamism, the role of elite IP law firms has never been more pivotal. The firms atop our rankings are those that don’t merely react to trends but anticipate them, crafting strategies as forward-thinking as the innovations they protect. These vanguards understand that IP strategy isn’t one-size-fits-all; it’s a bespoke blueprint tailored to each client’s aspirations and challenges. From securing patents for cutting-edge tech to defending against infringement, top-tier firms are the vanguard, ensuring their clients’ innovations are shielded and capitalised upon. But their role transcends legal counsel – they are strategic partners, guiding businesses through the labyrinth of international IP law, marrying legal acumen with sector-specific insights. As Asia claims a larger share of global IP filings, the correlation between innovative legal strategies and business success is indisputable. Our rankings celebrate those who’ve mastered this symbiosis, providing a resource to help businesses find the ideal partners to safeguard their most precious assets – their ideas and innovations. RANAJIT DAM Managing Editor, Asian Legal Business, Thomson Reuters HEAD OF LEGAL MEDIA BUSINESS, ASIA & EMERGING MARKETS Amantha Chia MANAGING EDITOR Ranajit Dam ASIA JOURNALIST Sarah Wong ASIA WRITER Nimitt Dixit RANKINGS AND SPECIAL PROJECTS EDITOR Wang Bingqing COPY & WEB EDITOR Rowena Muniz SENIOR DESIGNER John Agra TRAFFIC/CIRCULATION MANAGER Rozidah Jambari SALES MANAGERS Hiroshi Kaneko Japan, Korea (81) 3 4520 1192 Jonathan Yap Indonesia, Singapore (65) 6973 8914 Krupa Dalal India, Middle East, Singapore (91) 22 6189 7087 Romulus Tham Southeast Asia (65) 6973 8248 Simon Wan Hong Kong (852) 3462 7730 Steffi Yang South and West China (86) 010 5669 2041 Steven Zhao China Key Accounts (86) 10 6627 1360 Yvonne Cheung China Key Accounts, Hong Kong and Korea (852) 2847 2003 SENIOR EVENTS MANAGER Julian Chiew SENIOR EVENTS MANAGER, AWARDS Tracy Li

3 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM THE BRIEFING: YOUR MONTHLY NEED-TO-KNOW U.S. LAW FIRMS KICKED OFF 2024 (Reuters) U.S. law firms are off to a strong start in 2024 after a lacklustre 2023 that saw weak client demand and declining collections on billed work, new financial data shows. Demand for legal services was up 1.9 percent in the first quarter of the year over the first three months of 2023, according to Thomson Reuters Institute’s Law Firm Financial Index, which tracks key financial metrics across 186 large and midsize law firms. Billing rates, which were a consistent bright spot for firms in 2023, continued to rise with a 6.6 percent increase in the first quarter compared with a year ago, according to the index. Much of that rate growth was driven by midsize law firms. Revenue was up 5.7 percent, and firm profits rose 5.8 percent, increases that were helped by firms holding direct expense growth to just 5.4 percent. “There’s lots of positivity,” said William Josten, manager for enterprise legal content at the Thomson Reuters Institute, which shares the same parent company as Reuters. The Wells Fargo Legal Specialty Group also identified promising signs for firms, with demand up 2 percent and revenue up 9.5 percent. WITH STRONG DEMAND AND PROFITS In a recent survey by executive search firm Native, nearly half of the Indian general counsels or legal heads surveyed expressed an interest in pursuing career opportunities at law firms. The survey, which included responses from approximately 300 participants, revealed that 43 percent are considering such moves, particularly as they approach retirement or face a scarcity of suitable in-house roles that fully utilise their expertise. The findings suggest a trend where stability is valued highly among these legal professionals, even above the competitive compensation offered by technology platforms. Despite the lucrative pay at startups, many general counsels prefer the security of established companies or law firms. The survey highlights the shortage of in-house positions that allow general counsels to effectively apply their extensive knowledge as a key factor driving the shift towards law firm employment. 45% IN THE NEWS U.S. law firms Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders and Locke Lord have said they are in talks to merge, in what would be the largest law firm combination to emerge so far this year. The firms said their priority is “delivering exceptional legal services to our clients.” “I EARN ABOUT 5,000 YUAN FROM MY JOB AS A LAWYER, BUT 20,000 YUAN FROM LIVESTREAMING. I CANNOT SURVIVE IN SHANGHAI WITHOUT DOING LIVESTREAMS.” QUOTE UNQUOTE Technology company Litera Microsystems is collaborating with Microsoft to integrate its technology with Microsoft Copilot. The two companies said the collaboration will give lawyers using Copilot access to Litera’s document and data management solutions. In a comment on video platform Douyin, Chinese lawyer “Xiaobingxin” defends performing titillating dances in livestreaming videos. IN THE NEWS Percentage of U.S. junior associates who believe their law school education did not adequately prepare them for firm life, according to a recent survey by Major, Lindsey & Africa and Leopard Solutions. INDIAN GCs INCREASINGLY SEEKING LAW FIRM ROLES Proportion of global general counsel who now prefer to delegate operational decisions to specialised legal operations teams, according to a report released by FTI and Relativity. 63 PERCENT

4 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS FRANCIS XAVIER, regional head, dispute resolution group, Rajah & Tann Legal practice demands pounds of your flesh. Battling to stay sane is a career-long journey. We learn much from those who have gone ahead of us. First, fill your heart. Ask yourself daily: What really matters to you? This is the heart of the battleground. And it is the battle for your heart. If you had only months to live, what would you do? What do you really want to do, to experience or to fill your life with? Of course, there would be a myriad of obstacles. Life does not give up its bliss easily. As the Nike ad reminds us, just do it. With time, we learn that most of our fears and insecurities are fiction, not fact. Also, find a niche in your career that brings a joyous thrum to your heart. Seek it until you find it. If the very fabric of legal thinking makes you shudder, it may be time to deploy the parachute. Most of us, however, would have chosen law for a good reason. Take no prisoners on this front; brook no compromise. Do pay deep attention to the other spokes in the wheel of your life. They really matter – your family, meaningful others, friends, God. Life is synergistic, after all. Bring gladness and light to each spoke. You are the rim of the wheel – and only as joyful as the spokes are. Sounds like too tall an order? Filling up your heart and every spoke plus getting done all that needs to be done in your life. Remember, none of this is easy. It is a battle, after all. You do need to be armed with your armour and stratagems. Become a better warrior. Seek out, then sit and learn at the feet of previous masters. Learn and effectively unleash age-old strategies, such as Vilfredo’s Pareto principle, Kaizen, and the like. Never forget that it is people who populate your career: Your mentors, colleagues, juniors, clients, judges, and, of course, your learned opponents. Each and everyone matters more than anything else. You owe much to many of them. Honour them, cherish them – even the ones that appear inconsiderate at first. They may become your best treasures. It is the quality of these relationships that will determine if you have much to cheer about. And they are in your life for a good reason. And don’t forget too to spend quality time with yourself. Give yourself time to pause, to reflect, to just be. Instil and guard your blank spaces that only your heart is allowed to fill up. In time, they will be your reservoirs of rebirth. SUSHEELA RIVERS, Hong Kong managing partner and head of real estate in Asia Pacific, DLA Piper I am proud to hold a number of different roles in my capacity as a legal professional. As well as being the managing partner for DLA Piper Hong Kong and running an office of 200+ people, I am also the head of real estate for Asia-Pacific, and I head up the firm’s global gender-balance people network called LAW (Leadership Alliance for Women). Outside of DLA Piper, I am the chair of ULI Hong Kong (Urban Land Institute), a non-profit membership organisation with a mission to shape the future of the built environment in Hong Kong. I am also a wife and a mother of four. Stress is inevitably a part of my day-to-day life; however, it is something that I accept and have learnt to manage over the years. We all need some level of stress in our lives – it means we are alive! The danger to mental health comes when that stress becomes too frequent or extreme. Having a creative outlet definitely helps, and in my spare time, I paint, sew, am a voracious reader and I also design my own shoes. This entails sketching out my designs to sourcing the materials and working with a cobbler to make them. I am also searching for the best mix of elegance, practicality, comfort, and anything that elongates the legs. FORUM FINDING A BALANCE Recently, the tragic passing of a Big Law partner in the UK has shed a renewed light on the difficult working conditions in the legal industry, with its brutal hours and high-stress work. We ask senior lawyers juggling client relationships, business goals, and team management, along with other aspects of their lives, about how they keep calm and carry on with the practice of law. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THESE RESPONSIBILITIES POSE TO YOUR MENTAL WELL-BEING, AND IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU REGULATE AND HANDLE STRESS IN THE PROFESSION? FRANCIS XAVIER SUSHEELA RIVERS AKILA AGRAWAL

5 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS A healthy mind starts with a healthy body, so I exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. I also believe that our thoughts are our reality, so be careful how we allow them to be influenced. Maintaining strong relationships outside of work is also key. My family and friends help me to keep everything in perspective. I live by three motos: — Look for the silver lining, especially in times of difficulty; — Make things matter less; — Have a love affair with yourself. Finally, anyone who knows me, knows that I love to have fun! I think it’s really important to play games, laugh and find joy in the everyday. AKILA AGRAWAL, head of mergers and acquisitions, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas Transaction lawyers are expected to deliver consistent, high-quality advice and work products in a timely manner. It is a high-pressure job that could adversely affect your mental and physical well-being. Over the years, I have realised that work-life balance essentially revolves around two things – (a) effective delegation, at home and at work; and (b) time management. Effective delegation is an art which all lawyers should develop. At home, I get all the help and support I can get from family, friends, and staff. This way, I get to spend time on things that matter. At work, I am grateful to my capable team, which does a lot of the heavy lifting. Time spent in mentoring juniors is an investment that is bound to give good returns in the long run. As regards time management, I multitask and try to complete my work on the weekdays. It may not happen every week, but I am conscious about not working over the weekends. It also helps to pursue a hobby seriously – it enriches your life – reading and writing fiction and speed chess are my hobbies. Singapore law firm Shook Lin & Bok was hit by a cyberattack in April and the matter is currently under investigation by local authorities. The incident was discovered on Apr. 9, the firm confirmed. “SLB immediately engaged a cyber security team and our systems were contained as of 0200 hours on Apr. 10, 2024,” it said in a statement. “There is thus far no evidence that the firm’s core document management systems which contain client data were affected.” the statement added. The Straits Times, citing SuspectFile—a website that tracks cybersecurity incidents—reported that Shook Lin & Bok paid 21.07 bitcoins ($1.4 million) to Akira ransomware group spread across three transactions. The law firm said it is working closely with cyber security teams and other specialists to do all that it can to minimise impact on its clients and stakeholders. “The matter has been reported to the relevant authorities as we are obliged to do so under Singapore law. It is now under investigation, and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment on the investigations,” Shook Lin & Bok added. Authorities investigating the matter include the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), and the Personal Data Protection Commission Singapore. Law firms have been the victims of increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks as they look to build protective capabilities while negotiating increasingly vigilant incident-disclosure norms. The Law Society of England and Wales reported in December that 65 percent of law firms in the country had been hit by cyberattacks. Despite this, 35 percent of law firms do not have a cyber mitigation plan, the report said. In Singapore, the Law Society itself was ordered to plug security gaps last year after a ransomware attack compromised the information of 16,009 members, the Straits Times reported. In a written judgment, Singapore’s privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission, said the Law Society had “negligently breached” its obligation to protect personal information by “using an easily guessable password” for its IT administrator account, which was hacked due to another vulnerability. Singapore has stringent reporting requirements when it comes to cyber incident reporting. The Personal Data Protection Act requires organisations to notify the PDPC and affected persons as soon as possible if there is a data breach that is likely to significantly harm or impact the individuals concerned. Fines for non-compliance can go up to S$1 million ($749,000) or 10 percent of the organisation’s annual turnover in Singapore, whichever is higher. SINGAPORE: SHOOK LIN HIT BY CYBERATTACK, SAYS NO EVIDENCE OF CLIENT DATA THEFT Image: PV productions/

6 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS The United States has extended its sprawling trade and technology control regime to cover the biotechnology sector as it is determined to “de-risk” from China. In a bid to slow China’s advance to sophisticated biotechnology while bolstering domestic drug manufacturing capacity, the U.S. Congress is considering a proposed legislation known as the BIOSECURE Act with clear bipartisan backing. The legislation targets any “biotechnology company of concern” that is subject to the control of a “foreign adversary,” most likely China - a major supplier of drugs to the EU and the U.S. A few PRC biotech companies were singled out in the bill, namely WuXi AppTec, BGI Genomics, MGI, Complete Genomics, and their affiliates including WuXi Biologics. The bill will go into effect 120 days after its enactment. Despite apparent consensus across the aisle, it is unlikely the Act will passed until after the U.S. presidential election in November. Regulatory uncertainty and potential compliance burdens, however, have prompted companies to seek legal advice on their contractual obligations and eligibility for federal grants. WHAT RESTRICTIONS DOES THE DRAFT BILL IMPOSE? Primarily, the proposed BIOSECURE Act would ban U.S. companies receiving federal grant money from working with the four named Chinese biotech service providers. But it does not propose a blanket prohibition on U.S. biotech and pharmaceutical companies from partnering or transacting with the listed Chinese entities. The U.S. has been a profitable market for the WuXi companies. According to the Financial Times, WuXi AppTec, which provides research and development services and a well-known partner to large pharmaceutical and emerging biotech companies, earned 66 per cent of its $2.6 billion in revenues last year from the U.S. Meanwhile, its sister firm WuXi Biologics generated 46 per cent of its revenue from the U.S. Lawyers from Ropes & Gray believe that if enacted in its existing form, the Act would have a dramatic impact on biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies that are reliant on biotechnology companies of concern for the manufacture of their pharmaceutical products, especially given the scale of the manufacturing operations of WuXi AppTec and WuXi Biologics in particular. “The bill could result in some pharmaceutical products being temporarily unavailable in the U.S. or the delayed launch of certain new products, as companies scramble to get alternative manufacturers up and running,” say Ropes & Gray’s David McIntosh, a life sciences and intellectual property transactions partner, and Lauren Kimmel, a life sciences licensing associate. HOW ARE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES REACTING? Since the bill’s introduction, many U.S. life sciences companies have spared no time negotiating technology transfer and termination provisions in their contracts with those “biotech companies of concern” to give themselves a clear contractual path to move their business to alternative vendors, according to lawyers. And for those life sciences companies which have or are contemplating strategic arrangements with such a company of concern, McIntosh and Kimmel believe they will likely seek to avoid exclusivity or other commitments that require them to use the equipment or services of the concerned company or prevent them from engaging alternative service or equipment providers. In a bid to alleviate the financial pressure confronting U.S. biotech companies in finding alternative vendors, the U.S. Senate has added a “grandfathering clause” to the draft bill. As a result, existing contract manufacturers will be exempted from the bill’s restrictions before the Act takes effect. But lawyers raise concerns that such grandfathering clause could be subject to interpretation. “For instance, will a grandfathered contract’s subsequent amendments or new statements of work under an existing agreement also be exempted under the clause?” ask McIntosh and Kimmel. “If amendments to agreements benefit from the grandfathering Image: Nenov Brothers Images/ AS U.S. TARGETS CHINESE BIOTECH GIANTS, LAWYERS WARN OF ‘DRAMATIC IMPACT’ EXPLAINER

7 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS clause, one might expect parties to take advantage of that feature by amending existing agreements rather than entering into new ones, lessening the law’s impact.” WHAT DOES THE BILL SAY ABOUT THE FUTURE U.S. REGULATORY APPROACH? According to co-sponsors of the bill, the BIOSECURE Act aims at addressing concerns stemming from “foreign adversaries’ hostile biotech pursuits”. The act is also meant to stop the PRC government from acquiring American genomic data, as the Chinese military has allegedly invested in advancing their biotech and AI capabilities through joint business ventures with U.S. companies. As a result, lawyers expect Chinese pharmaceutical companies to be targeted with growing oversight around bulk data transfers from the U.S. On the other hand, U.S. pharmaceutical companies will also want to ensure that their arrangements with Chinese contract parties do not require them to transfer sensitive personal information or biometric data. In addition, McIntosh and Kimmel believe the White House will DEALS $2.4 BLN Ono Pharmaceutical’s acquisition of Deciphera Deal Type: M&A Firms: Goodwin Procter; Greenberg Traurig Jurisdictions: Japan, U.S. $2.3 BLN DoubleDragon’s merger with JVSPAC Acquisition Corporation Deal Type: M&A Firms: Allen & Gledhill; Dahui Lawyers; Loeb & Loeb; Milbank Jurisdictions: Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, U.S. $2.15 BLN Vodafone Idea’s further public offering Deal Type: ECM Firms: AZB & Partners; Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas; S&R Associates; Sidley Austin Jurisdiction: India $2 BLN China TCM’s take-private Deal Type: M&A Firms: Clifford Chance; Haiwen & Partners Jurisdictions: China, Hong Kong $1.25 BLN Mapletree Investments’ acquisition of student housing from Cuscaden Peak Investments Deal Type: M&A Firms: Carey Olsen; CMS; Dentons; Eng and Co Jurisdictions: Germany, Singapore, UK $1.13 BLN SciClone Pharmaceuticals’ take-private Deal Type: M&A Firms: Clifford Chance; Slaughter and May Jurisdictions: China, Hong Kong $1 BLN GIC and Sterlite Power’s JV Deal Type: JV Firms: AZB & Partners; Khaitan & Co; Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co Jurisdictions: India, Singapore $595 MLN Consortium’s purchase of stake in Eu Yan Sang International Deal Type: M&A Firms: Christopher & Lee Ong; Lee & Lee; Rajah & Tann; WongPartnership Jurisdictions: China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore continue to pursue a data-oriented regulatory approach restricting foreign adversaries’ potential access to American data. “Looking ahead, one could imagine future legislative and regulatory attention focusing on any industry that both has access to sensitive personal or genomic information of U.S. citizens (such as healthcare, health insurance, life sciences, social media and technology, telecom, and financial services) and is characterized by interdependencies with Chinese companies,” say McIntosh and Kimmel.

8 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS APPOINTMENTS BRANDON BANG LEAVING Bae, Kim & Lee JOINING Shin & Kim PRACTICE International Arbitration LOCATION Seoul JOANNE COLLETT LEAVING Walkers JOINING Ogier PRACTICE Restructuring & Insolvency LOCATION Hong Kong JUNE LIM LEAVING Eden Law Corporation JOINING Focus Law Asia PRACTICE Matrimonial Law LOCATION Singapore TROY DOYLE LEAVING Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher JOINING Rimon PRACTICE Restructuring & Insolvency LOCATION Singapore PARIYAPOL KAMOLSILP LEAVING Kudun & Partners JOINING Herbert Smith Freehills PRACTICE Disputes LOCATION Bangkok SAYAK MAITY LEAVING White & Case JOINING Linklaters PRACTICE Corporate LOCATION Singapore ALLEN (YILUN) ZHANG LEAVING A&O Shearman JOINING Han Kun Law Offices PRACTICE Capital Markets LOCATION Hong Kong Chicago-headquartered Sidley Austin will close its office in Shanghai, making it the most recent law firm to scale back its operations in China. In an email, the firm confirmed to ALB that it will not renew its lease for the Shanghai office due to “review of office space and attorney requests to relocate or retire.” “We will consolidate our China operations in September 2024 with relocations to Beijing, Hong Kong, and other Sidley offices,” the firm said. “We remain committed to offering a full range of services in the China market and our clients will not be impacted.” Sidley’s move to downsize its China operations follows similar announcements by other U.S. law firms like Perkins Coie, Orrick, and Weil. Established in 1999, Sidley’s Shanghai office primarily provided legal services related to foreign direct investment, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, funds, and capital markets to multinational and Chinese corporate clients. The office currently has 11 lawyers, including partners Tang Zhengyu and Ji Ruchun, counsel Chen Ling, and Chinese advisors Yao Jiefei and Pan Cheng. Tang, the chief representative of Sidley Shanghai, leads the firm’s inbound investment, M&A and regulatory compliance practice in China. He joined Sidley in 2002. Ji advises investors, strategic and private equity buyers, and high-growth companies globally in life sciences, healthcare, and technology. He also represents clients on regulatory matters involving CFIUS. Ji joined Sidley in 2015 and splits his time between Shanghai and the firm’s Palo Alto office. DOUNGPORN PRASERTSOMSUK LEAVING A&O Shearman JOINING Chandler MHM PRACTICE Capital Markets LOCATION Bangkok ERIKO SAKATA LEAVING Linklaters JOINING White & Case PRACTICE Investment Funds LOCATION Tokyo SIDLEY JOINS RANKS OF U.S. FIRMS SCALING BACK IN CHINA Image: MAKSIM ANKUDA/

9 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS Australia has doubled down on its focus on Southeast Asia after ties with China, previously one of its largest two-way trading partners, soured under geopolitical tensions. The amount of investment received by ASEAN from Australia has been climbing steadily in the past two decades, increasing by an average of 11.5 per cent a year (around $33 billion overall) between 2003 and 2022. Seeking to expand its economic footprint in Southeast Asia and reduce its reliance on China, Australia recently announced the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040. This long-term plan features a comprehensive array of initiatives designed to boost trade and investment flows between Australia and the ASEAN nations, which, as a bloc, is likely to be the world’s fourth-largest economy in two decades. Amongst the initiatives, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission is going to spend $70.2 million on a four-year initiative to boost Australian investment in Southeast Asia, with particular focus on strategic sectors. The government will also lead a $19.2 million program to support increased two-way trade between the two regions. Nicola Yeomans, a Singaporebased partner at King & Wood Mallesons who worked on the Economic Strategy to 2040 report, notes a rise in Australia’s outbound investment in ASEAN countries in recent years preceding the government’s latest push into the region. The trend has been largely driven by active trade agreements with ASEAN countries, including the ASEANAustralian-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which have enabled huge trade and investment flows between Australia and ASEAN countries, according to Yeomans. The Australian government has highlighted ten strategic sectors as it turbocharges business exchanges with ASEAN, including agriculture and food, resources, infrastructure, and healthcare. Most notable of them all is the green energy transition, as both coaldependent Australia and Southeast Asian countries are eager to decarbonise their power sources and supply chains. A Canberra-backed $2 billion finance facility is expected to fund green energy and infrastructure investment from Australia to Southeast Asia to capitalise on spiralling demand for renewable power in the region. Infrastructure, on the other hand, is also a strong focus in the government’s plan. “Infrastructure is a big sector, as evidenced by AustralianSuper’s $1 billion investment in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). The NIIF is currently India’s largest infrastructure fund and has a huge growth mandate in renewable energy, roads, logistics and digital infrastructure,” explains Yeomans. However, as Australian investors pile into the new hot territory, Yeomans cautions against potential legal risks and challenges in the diverse region prompted by regulatory complexities. “The Australian pension funds and sovereign wealth LPs we advise, which have successfully invested in North America and Europe, are concerned about the risk of direct investment or co-investment in Southeast Asia,” says Yeomans. “The reason for this is the complexity of the various regulations in this region, and it is particularly challenging to navigate the different frameworks, legal systems, and business practises. If we enter into a local partnership with a local entity that may be state-owned, there is also the possibility of falling out of favour after a change of government,” she adds. Apart from regulatory hurdles, cultural barriers, language proficiencies, and political risk can also curtail commercial potential due to unstable governments in some of the ASEAN member states. To successfully guide their clients in navigating the ASEAN investment landscape, Yeomans suggests that Australian lawyers need to be knowledgeable and experienced in this region to bridge the gap between expectations in Australia and those in the region. “Australian firms, including those with international partnerships, have a limited presence in the region and are constrained by regulatory hurdles and limited investment. The lawyers representing these firms are therefore looking for lawyers who can manage the higher risk associated with operating in the region,” says Yeomans. Hence, the key to managing this risk is to have a close relationship with a local partner. Yeomans says Australian law firms also need to raise and address important questions. “Is the partner thinking about what happens if the government changes? And how much does the partner focus on the agreement or simply gloss over the legal terms?” she asks. “The combination of understanding Australian legal standards and the regional position is where the magic lies in being able to support Australian companies looking to invest in ASEAN markets,” adds Yeomans. LAWYERS FORESEE REGULATORY CHALLENGES AS AUSSIE BUSINESSES VENTURE INTO ASEAN Image: hyotographics/

10 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS Q&A ‘I’M A FIRM BELIEVER IN A TOP-DOWN COMPLIANCE CULTURE’ Hong Kong is stepping up to combat financial crimes and enhancing its reputation as a reliable global business centre. Christopher Wilson, the executive director of enforcement at the Securities and Futures Commissions (SFC), articulates the organisation’s goals in upholding regulatory standards and offers guidance for general counsel to champion a culture of compliance. ALB: What are some of the important trends you are foreseeing in the regulatory realm against financial fraud and investigations? WILSON: Our recent enforcement actions have highlighted our focus on holding senior executives accountable for corporate misconduct, tackling syndicate market manipulation activities and disrupting virtual asset-related frauds. There is no doubt that fraudsters are getting better at exploiting jurisdictional arbitrage and leveraging technology to expand their reach, avoid detection and appear more authentic. Fortunately, we are also getting better: we are adapting our enforcement strategies to counter these new threats, through enhanced collaboration and prioritising on technological innovation. Collaboration with other regulatory bodies, both at home and abroad, is key. We are stepping up collaboration with our regulatory counterparts locally to leverage each other’s most effective disciplinary and sanction powers to better protect investors and expedite enforcement outcomes. Outside of Hong Kong, we have significantly strengthened our relationship with Mainland and overseas regulators to step up intelligence exchange and enforcement cooperation. We have an enormous amount of data. We are using these data sets to spot novel market abuse patterns, highlight areas requiring intervention and track the impact of regulatory policy changes. To combat online scams, we are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) for monitoring social media platforms and identifying risk content. We are also exploring AI-assisted solutions to automate repetitive tasks, freeing up staff to focus on high-impact cases that deliver the strongest deterrence. ALB: What steps should corporations be taking to prioritise compliance, and what role should general counsel play in the process? WILSON: I’m a firm believer in a topdown compliance culture with strong leadership commitment. Compliance, legal and other risk functions should not be seen as a cost centre. They are the best investments a company can make to protect itself and its management. The role of the general counsel in promoting a “compliance culture” is vital. As a trusted advisor to the board and senior management, the general counsel must be fully informed of the company’s businesses in order to ensure that the board and management comply with applicable rules such as timely disclosure of inside information for listed corporations. When the SFC requests documentary evidence, the general counsel should encourage clients to retrieve the necessary documents and avoid delay. General counsel advising licensed corporations should remind business units that adequate internal controls and risk management procedures are critical in mitigating risks. Compliance specialists should proactively identify and escalate red flags and seek explanations when things seem awry. Compliance is a collective effort, and general counsel play a pivotal role in helping to “set the tone” to help ensure that the management team and other key business line managers are operating the company within the boundaries of the law at all times. ALB: What are the effective ways for financial regulators to engage institutional players and private sectors to enhance the enforcement of whitecollar crimes? WILSON: As regulators, we keep a close eye on the regulatory landscape and keep up with market developments. We’re constantly engaging with stakeholders and seeking feedback from market participants. This helps us stay nimble and ensure that we’re effective and responsive to changes in the market. On top of everything else, we want to create an environment of openness and transparency to minimise uncertainty for market participants. That’s why we issue guidelines, conduct consultations and publish reports. By keeping stakeholders well-informed, they can adjust their operations accordingly and navigate any changes with confidence. We urge licensed corporations to do the same, by establishing clear and accessible channels for employees to report misconduct promptly. The SFC has implemented a series of measures to reinforce information dissemination and investor education through dedicated alert lists, press releases, social media posts and publicity campaigns to warn the public about the common tactics of financial fraudsters. CHRISTOPHER WILSON

11 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS A new bill will give the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) more authority to supervise and investigate the financial sector, including the power to enter the premises of financial institutions without a warrant or prior notice in some situations. The Financial Institutions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2024, which was proposed by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan, aims to “harmonise and enhance” the investigative powers of the MAS across six legislation acts governing various aspects of Singapore’s financial industry. They include financial services and markets, insurance, payment services, financial advisers, the securities and derivatives industry, and trust companies. “As our financial industry grows in size and complexity, MAS must continually review and enhance its regulatory powers to ensure that it can effectively supervise financial institutions, as well as investigate and punish serious misconduct in our financial sector,” said Tan. The new bill will also extend the MAS’s existing ability to compel interviews, request written statements and access premises without a warrant. Benedict Teo, director at Singapore law firm Drew & Napier, notes that such power can be exercised if an investigation relates to a suspected breach of MAS-administered statutes, and the investigator has reasonable grounds to suspect an entity occupies the premises under investigation. Given little advance notice of onsite investigations and staff interviews, financial institutions are urged to formulate and implement sound compliance policies. “Firms should update their compliance policies and processes, and conduct training to familiarise their staff,” says Teo. He advises designating officers to promptly assist the MAS, making sure they understand relevant obligations, compliance processes, privilege issues, record storage and retention policies. “Financial institutions should ensure that any staff member interviewed by the MAS would know how to react and be able to provide clear and accurate information to the MAS,” he says. Financial institutions should be aware of key changes under the new bill, according to Teo. For locally incorporated recognised market operators, recognised clearing houses, and approved trustees, the MAS approval is now mandatory before appointing both chief executive officers and directors. Approval must also be obtained annually for appointing external auditors of approved exchanges, clearing houses, trade repositories and holding companies. MAS will have the ability to “direct these entities to remove or replace their appointed auditors, where the appointed auditors are unable to discharge their duties satisfactorily.” The bill also introduces a single “fit and proper” standard for assessing the removal of key personnel rather than separate criteria. Nevertheless, some members of Parliament have voiced concern about the expanded powers of regulators to potentially enter private premises without oversight. Supporters counter that sufficient safeguards are in place and parallel powers exist in other jurisdictions – such as Australia, Canada and the UK – to allow for effective investigation of serious misconduct. Teo sought to reassure that the act will not be used where cooperation is expected, and warrants can still be sought afterwards to seize evidence. While MAS officers may require any person on the premises to produce information, or state where such information can be found, and can also require any person on the premises to preserve evidence, Teo says that MAS officers cannot search and seize evidence on the premises and their powers do not require disclosing legally privileged information. In a broader context, the bill is part of the MAS’ ongoing efforts to review and update the regulatory framework as new risks emerge. As Minister Alvin Tan says in his speech, the changes grant the MAS legally binding powers over previously unregulated business lines of licensed entities that could still pose contagion threats, such as cryptocurrency trading. Overall, though, the major expectation is that financial institutions develop a culture of awareness and compliance with all regulatory requirements, says Teo. “It is only when all staff members and management buy into the need to conduct their daily activities in compliance with the financial institutions’ statutory and regulatory obligations, making compliance part of their everyday routine as opposed to something to be concerned about only when things go wrong, that financial institutions can best prevent and address serious misconduct allegations,” he notes. SG BILL TO ARM FINANCIAL WATCHDOG WITH MORE INVESTIGATIVE AUTHORITY Image: mimisim/

12 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM EMPLOYMENT In August last year, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower announced its acceptance of the final set of recommendations by the Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness (Tripartite Committee) for the Workplace Fairness Legislation (WFL). The WFL, which is slated to be passed in the second half of 2024, prescribes measures that employers in the country must follow to prevent discrimination in employment decisions at all stages of employment, put in place processes for resolving workplace grievances and ensure fair outcomes for victims of workplace discrimination, and prohibit retaliation against those who report cases of workplace discrimination. There are five protected characteristics under the WFL on which employers may not discriminate: age, nationality, sex, marital status, pregnancy status, caregiving responsibilities, race, religion, language, and disability and mental health conditions. Employers are prohibited from referencing protected characteristics in job advertisements, recruitment, inemployment (e.g. promotion, performance appraisal, training selection), and end-employment (e.g. dismissal) stages. The law also requires employers to put in place grievance handling processes. This includes protecting confidentiality of the complainant, building infrastructure for compulsory mediation and taking claims for adjudication before the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) as a last resort. Small firms with less than 25 employees will be exempted from the This ensures that the job advertisement avoids the perception of discrimination and enables employers to reach the widest pool of qualified candidates, the Tripartite Committee’s final report states. It is important to note that many of these regulations are already in place under the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP), which will not stop being in effect once the WFL is passed. “The proposed WFL is not intended to replace TGFEP, but to complement it. The existing TGFEP continue to apply, and employers are expected to continue to observe them,” says Toh Wei Yi, employment partner at Harry Elias Partnership. BUILDING COMPLIANCE For the requirements in the proposed WFL, which are already contained in the Tripartite Guidelines, many employers in Singapore are already familiar with and in compliance with these requirements. WFL for a start, but this will be reviewed in five years. “This approach recognises that smaller firms may not have the expertise and resources to fully implement the legislated requirements at the start,” says Wong Pei-Ling, employment partner at CNPLaw. Exemptions are also available to a tightly scoped group of religious organisations that may make employment decisions based on religious considerations. The law also allows employers to consider a protected characteristic in employment decisions if it is a genuine and reasonable job requirement. For example, explains Wong, language teachers should be proficient in the language that they are teaching and the employer can state language proficiency as a job requirement in advertisements. “However, the employer must state the job requirement (e.g. ‘Tamil-speaking’) instead of the protected characteristic that is not the job requirement (e.g. ‘Indian teacher’).” LEVEL PLAYING FIELD Singapore is set to introduce a new anti-discrimination employment law later in the year, and while employers welcome the changes, lawyers say more needs to be done in terms of building capabilities to ensure compliance. BY NIMITT DIXIT Image: Andrey_Popov/

13 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MAY 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM EMPLOYMENT “There, however, are some new areas in the proposed WFL which employers will have to consider what needs to be done in order to be able to comply with the legislation, especially where what is to be implemented is not explicitly stated,” Toh says. “Employers may need to consider how its decisions made even in the inemployment stage (e.g. when giving a promotion) are properly documented and can withstand scrutiny in the event of a challenge by an employee,” explains Toh. Generally, larger and multi-national companies are more well-prepared to comply with the proposed WFL as they already have in place procedures which appear to be largely sufficient to comply with many aspects of the proposed WFL. “It is expected that the smaller companies may have to do more to bridge the gulf between their current practices and the proposed legislative requirements,” Toh adds. Leaders of trade associations and chambers representing small and medium enterprises requested for more time to build their corporate human resource capabilities and put in place proper grievance handling procedures, the Tripartite Committee’s final report noted. Wong at CNPLaw explains that employers can start by reviewing their policies and practices in two key areas: ensuring fair recruitment practices and building clear grievance-handling procedures. Fair recruitment practices include “ensuring that listed selection criteria are related to the job requirements, ensuring all personnel involved in writing the job advertisement (including staff outside of your HR team) are aware of the need to adhere to the TGFEP, and having a comprehensive vetting process in place to check for words or phrases that could be perceived as discriminatory before posting it online,” she says. Building a grievance mechanism involves “putting in place a proper inquiry and documentation process, informing employees of the firm’s grievance handling procedures, communicating the outcome of the inquiry to the affected employee; and protecting the confidentiality of the identity of persons who report workplace discrimination and harassment, where possible,” Wong adds. Toh at Harry Elias adds that creating internal policy on discrimination and building documentation for all employment decisions is also a crucial aspect employers can start working on immediately. “Employers can start by drawing up or improving their internal policies addressing what is appropriate workplace conduct. Employers can look to refine their processes for record keeping, to determine what is the most efficient, yet sufficient, method of documenting its employment decisions (at all stages of employment),” she says. EMPLOYER CONCERNS As employers scramble to build capabilities to comply with the WFL, some are concerned the law may incentivise frivolous litigation by disgruntled employees. “The primary concern that we have heard from employers is the potential for frivolous and baseless complaints of discrimination by disgruntled employees, which the employer will then have to expend significant time and effort to address,” explains Toh. Wong explains that companies are also seeking more clarity on the definition of discrimination and the evidence required to lodge such claims. “There is a common view that eliminating workplace discrimination requires a change in mindset which could not be legislated,” she adds. Wong also notes that while a handful of employers suggested that indirect discrimination be covered under the WFL, most are quite pleased with its exclusion from the WFL by the Tripartite Committee. Indirect discrimination typically involves an apparently neutral company practice that has the effect of putting persons with a particular protected characteristic at a disadvantage. Its exclusion is “likely to be welcomed by employers generally as prohibiting indirect discrimination in WFL would impose very wide legal obligations on employers, resulting in uncertainty for both employers and employees, the final report noted. This concern may be addressed by introducing a proportionality requirement, notes Wong. “For instance, section 19 of the UK’s Equality Act 2010 prohibits indirect discrimination unless the employer can ‘show it to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.’ Hence, it remains to be seen whether Singapore would eventually align with other jurisdictions to include a prohibition on indirect discrimination,” Wong says. “This may also increase the cost of hiring as employers may tend to adopt defensive hiring practices, which may then limit flexibility in hiring,” she says. “Some employers were also concerned with the omission of sexual orientation, gender identity, and criminal history (SGC) as protected characteristics under the WFL,” Wong adds. Wong explains that the exclusion of these characteristics from WFL protection is because the Tripartite Committee found that complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and criminal history comprised less than 5 percent of the total number of complaints received by the TAFEP and the Ministry of Manpower from 2018 to 2022. “This was a factor in the Tripartite Committee’s decision not to include the SGC characteristics as protected characteristics under the WFL as the objective was to keep the WFL tightly scoped to protect against the more common and familiar forms of discrimination,” Wong explains. While SCH characteristics remain protected under the TGFEP, these may be included in the WFL in the future, along with discrimination based on flexible work arrangements, says Toh. “There may be an extension of the protection against discrimination to SGC characteristics which is already present in other countries,” she notes. “Recently, the Report on the Tripartite Workgroup on the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests was published. It is possible that the future workplace discrimination law may develop to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on an employee’s requested work arrangement.”