In-house agenda



Hong Kong events showcase best legal minds

The Hong Kong Corporate Counsel Association (HKCCA) ended the year with some topshelf functions attracting some of the best legal minds in the city.

On 8 December, the HKCCA’s executive committee held a breakfast discussion at the office of Withers, in Central, about the legal issues surrounding a recent and controversial National People’s Congress Standing Committee interpretation.

HKCCA members enjoy a tour of Hong Kong’s historic Court of Final Appeal building.
HKCCA members enjoy a tour of Hong Kong’s historic Court of Final Appeal building.

The NPCSC endorsed an interpretation of article 104 of the Basic Law in November, stating that lawmakers must swear allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China, with a description of how this should be done and outlining the consequences of not following this procedure. The interpretation effectively barred two elected politicians for their controversial actions while being sworn in last October.

The discussion recognized that Hong Kong’s legal community is living on an unknown interface of a common law system and a civil law system not seen before. The constitutional issues that Hong Kong faces are going to continue for some time as the ramifications of the NPCSC interpretation are uncertain and long lasting. Both the Bar Council and the Law Society have made statements on the issue and the HKCCA saw the topic as one of great interest to members.

Guests at November’s real estate round table
Guests at November’s real estate round table (left to right): Gordon Chan, session chair and vice president of Asia-Pacific legal department of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts; Kieren Berry, group counsel at the Mandarin Oriental; and Iain Seow, senior legal counsel with Shangri-La Asia.

Attendees included Margaret Ng, barrister and former Hong Kong legislative councillor for the legal functional constituency, Lo Pui Yin, a barrister at Gilt Chambers and teacher of constitution law at the University of Hong Kong, and Amirali Nasri, the vice president of the Law Society of Hong Kong. In late November, Justice Joseph Fok, the association’s patron and Court of Final Appeal Permanent Judge, hosted a cocktail reception and tour at the Court of Final Appeal exclusively for HKCCA members. Guests enjoyed a guided tour inside the neo-classical Court of Appeal building, which once housed the former colonial Supreme Court and Legislative Council.

The evening saw a unique confluence of Hong Kong’s most prominent members of the judiciary and in-house legal community, where in-house counsel, permanent judges of the Court of Final Appeal, as well as Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, met and mingled over cocktails and canapes.

On 4 November, the inaugural real estate round table session kicked off with a candid discussion concerning the legal and practical issues related to hotel management and development contracts. Gordon Chan, from Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, chaired the session and was joined by Kieren Berry, group counsel at the Mandarin Oriental, and Iain Seow, senior legal counsel with Shangri-La Asia Limited.

On 25 October, the association’s financial services industry group met for dinner and discussion about issues affecting the industry. Fintech emerged as the hot topic with the most discussion, focusing on challenges and impacts on the workplace and regulators throughout Asia. The discussion also moved to the joint consultation paper of the Securities and Futures Commission and HKEx on listing regulation.


Sun, sand and networking for GCS

More than 40 in-house lawyers, including heads of legal teams, attended a four-day conclave from 2-5 February, organized by the Indian Corporate Counsel Association (ICCA). They included Mohit Shukla, manging director and head of legal in India at Barclays Bank, Shukla Wassan, executive director of legal and corporate affairs for South Asia at Hindustan CocaCola Beverages, and Amba Prasad, general manager legal at Larsen & Toubro Construction.

Sun, sand and networking for GCS“The conclave provides us with networking opportunities and a forum to discuss common issues,” said Cheriachen Akkatt, vice president, legal, at Accenture Services. The ICCA General Counsel Conclave 2017 was held at a seaside resort in Goa. In addition to a packed agenda of panel discussions and keynote addresses, the conclave offered ample opportunities for networking, albeit within the confines of a three-day alcohol ban, which was in force due to state elections in Goa on 4 February.

ICCA president Ashok Sharma; General counsel guests at the Goa resort retreat.
LEFT: ICCA president Ashok Sharma addresses the conference; ABOVE: General counsel guests at the Goa resort retreat.

Several private-practice lawyers and other professionals, including Shashank Karnad, partner and COO of forensic services at KPMG India, also attended. Topics discussed included maintaining the independence of in-house counsel; anti-corruption and bribery; and creating value through M&A.

Addressing the conference, Erik Wulff, a partner at DLA Piper, spoke of the effect of the new US administration on India-US relations. Meanwhile, P K Malhotra, a former law secretary of the government of India, told the conference that “the need of the hour is to simplify the law”. The ICCA’s next conference will be in Bali.


Busy events calendar for Indonesian counsel

The Indonesian Corporate Counsel Association (ICCA) ended 2016 with a series of successful events and seminars that were attended mostly by registered members.

Throughout the past year, via its events, the ICCA board successfully provided valuable information to its members, including compiling a practical guide to specific legal topics, as well as insights and different perspectives based on the views of experts in various industries. The events used a combination of presentations by guest speakers and panel discussions among members, with speakers focusing on key information related to industry hot topics.

In early December 2016, to enhance anti-corruption compliance standards in Indonesia, the ICCA supported a professional certificate in Ethics and Anti-Corruption Compliance provided by Ethixbase. On 8 December 2016, the association held a focus group discussion on topics related to cloud computing in the financial sector. The purpose of this meeting was to give in-house counsel input and insight into the Indonesian Financial Services Authority/Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) regarding the preparation of regulations to support the digital transformation in the financial sector.

In November, the ICCA, together with Hiswara Bunjamin & Tandjung, held an event on “Things that you should note when reviewing a distributor agreement”. Earlier, on 31 October, the ICCA and Lontoh & Partners held a workshop entitled Managing Cross-Border Shareholder Disputes: Making Up or Breaking Up.

This year, as part of its ongoing commitment, the ICCA is planning a programme of various discussions and training initiatives in association with law firms in Jakarta.


Countering workplace harassment in Singapore

The Singapore Corporate Counsel Association (SCCA) held a seminar on Countering Workplace Harassment and Discrimination to top off its final agenda last year.

Guests and panel members discuss workplace harassment and discrimination.
Guests and panel members discuss workplace harassment and discrimination.

The 11 November seminar, jointly presented by Bird & Bird, Catalyst Consulting and LMA Recruitment, discussed differences among groups of people and individuals based on ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, gender, exceptionalities, language, religion, sexual orientation, and geographical area.

Harassment, discrimination and bullying are significant workplace issues that can cause untold misery and humiliation. The seminar looked at the implications for a third-party bystander or manager in a mediator position, considered the legal implications and reviewed comprehensive policies for organizations.

Speakers provided valuable guidance on best behaviour and tackled issues including: policy definitions and examples; harassment, bullying and discrimination, and the law; procedures for responding to harassment, discrimination and bullying; external sources of assistance; and mediations and investigations.


Benchmark report targets Australian, NZ counsel

ACC Australia is preparing to launch its 2017, in-house counsel Benchmarking and Leading Practices Report. The newest instalment in this biannual publication will provide a range of essential data and case studies to improve the performance of small and large in-house legal teams.

The report was compiled after extensive research and interviews with general counsel from Australia and New Zealand, guided by an editorial panel of in-house counsel with contributions from general counsel across all industries. The report contains:

• A range of trends data analyzing the evolving role and operating environment for in-house counsel;

• Practical tips to improve your department’s output and work practices; and

• Case studies and examples of industry best practice.

The 2017 in-house counsel Benchmarking and Leading Practices Report is aimed at in-house teams, as well as legal service providers engaging with the in-house sector. The report is now available with a pre-order discount from the ACC Australia website:


SCCA takes a long line on strategy for next decade

Given current and future legal challenges, and the rapid speed of technology in the legal space, the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association (SCCA) in 2017 has adopted a positive approach to encompass developments in the next decade.

President Wong Taur-Jiun said the SCCA believed in a bright future for all in-house counsel, in particular in the new world of legal tech. “The decade to come is going to be inspirational, evolving and challenging for all us,” he said. “There will be crucial intersections between generations and we hope the SCCA’s support system will be beneficial.

“The difference would be how we can harness the power of big data in our daily jobs, filter to our specific research areas, and use the results to provide accurate and timely advice to our companies.”

Addressing digital disruptions affecting in-house counsel, ranging from the positive (harnessing technology to be more efficient) to the negative (replacement by artificial intelligence), the SCCA is taking a holistic approach of curating several programmes, seminars, conferences and discussions for its members, in partnership with leading service providers that will include:

• WILL (Women In-House Living Life), a Women’s International Day event; and

• SCCA Corporate Counsel Conference 2017, focusing on legal tech trends and opportunities / challenges.

The SCCA’s chapter leaders are also busy formulating meetings and gatherings for the coming year, using feedback from the past to move forward with creative programmes.