Philippine law firm ACCRALAW has elected senior partners Patricia-Ann Prodigalidad and Leland Villadolid Jr as managing partner and co-managing partner, respectively. Prodigalidad, who was co-managing partner, succeeded Emerico de Guzman, who had been at the helm of the firm for almost eight years, since 2014, and now is of counsel.
Prodigalidad is a leading litigator and arbitration practitioner, specialising in commercial litigation, white-collar crime, and international commercial and construction arbitration. Her new role makes her the first female managing partner of the firm, a testament to its commitment to gender equality and diversity.
A dispute resolution practitioner, Villadolid is experienced in IT and handles cases that require technical expertise such as cybercrimes and cybersecurity. He previously headed the litigation and dispute resolution department of the firm.
Villadolid told Asia Business Law Journal that one of his and Prodigalidad’s responsibilities would be to identify issues and practice areas that will trend in the coming year.
“There will be much work involving fintech, IT and cybersecurity,” he said. “In resolving disputes, we continue to see a high demand for arbitration. And because of the presidential election in May, we could also see a lot of election-related cases in the second and third quarter of this year.”
In terms of fintech and cybersecurity, Villadolid noted that many relevant aspects such as data privacy and security issues would become more crucial, driving the regulators to be more responsive.
“More people have been going into online transactions during this pandemic,” he said. “This will make the central bank and related government agencies come out with additional regulations or requirements for these businesses to comply with. So, there will be a lot of work there in advising companies to comply with these regulations.”
The interconnection complexity between banks, platforms and customers would also bring potential disputes between parties. As arbitral institutions in the country and region had already been able to modernise their way of conducting hearings even before the pandemic, Villadolid saw the rising popularity of this method, especially for international disputes.
“People now see that arbitration is the faster way of resolving disputes, so they will continue to rely on arbitration to resolve their disputes,” he said.
This trend is supported by many channels and seats for parties to choose. For example, domestic parties normally resort to the Philippine Dispute Resolution Centre to arbitrate, and construction disputes can be handled by a special body called the construction industry arbitration commission.
“If there is an international flavour or element, then the parties could resort to many international arbitration centres in the region,” said Villadolid.