Viral enemies

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Challenges both biological and digital

The world is in the grip of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, with both the number of infected and the death toll continuing to rise, presenting unprecedented challenges to businesses and governments. Companies are faced with the twin test of business and productivity losses as work-from-home arrangements continue.

Companies must also stay abreast of their rights and obligations as they take measures to both stay operational and protect their employees.

COVID-19In our Cover story, labour law experts at Simmons & Simmons, Wendy Wong and Fiona Loughrey, explain the legal challenges posed by working in the shadow of the COVID-19 outbreak and provide practical advice on dealing with these extraordinary circumstances.

The article reminds us that while employers consider legally viable solutions to tackle the operational difficulties arising from the coronavirus outbreak, they should be mindful of being compassionate, give due consideration to individual employees’ circumstances and permit flexible work arrangements. A fair balance needs to be struck between the legitimate interests of employers and employees to achieve the best possible outcome for all parties.

In C-suite sanction, we look at former Nissan chairman and chief executive Carlos Ghosn’s arrest in Japan and subsequent abscondment and ask what it means for other companies with senior executives on posting in Asia. How can companies protect and prepare their executives for working in Japan, or elsewhere in Asia?

Multinational corporations must face the reality that not all legal jurisdictions are the same, and across Asia there are many complex types of legislation at play, from shariah law in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia to lèse majesté laws in Thailand, or the rigid social and workplace etiquette in places like Japan.

Our feature, Dollars in the details? explores one of the most important legislative changes in China in nearly three decades. The Chinese government has finally moved closer to opening its markets to international businesses through the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law and the issue of its Implementing Regulations of the Foreign Investment Law. But not all is rosy, with some lawyers warning of a lack of detail and definition with crucial parts of the new law.

In Intelligence report, we head to India, where we map the evolution of the country’s personal data protection legislation – from the landmark Justice KS Puttaswamy case, where the right to privacy was declared as a fundamental right, to the latest Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.

The bill strengthens the rights of individuals to give them control over their personal data based on principles of autonomy, self-determination, transparency and accountability. However, there are some worrying exemptions for the government and its agencies, which strike at the very core of the guidance provided by the Supreme Court in the Puttaswamy judgment.

Make sure you read our Head 2 Head series, where we bring to you the latest in data protection regimes in India, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand. Countries across the world are hurrying to regulate the collection, processing and use of personal data, but the trick for governments is balancing the rights of their citizens with national security concerns and legitimate business needs.

This issue also brings to you the Malaysia A-list and profiles of the country’s top 100 lawyers. Following in-depth editorial research and extensive industry surveys, we help you find the best professionals to navigate Malaysia’s dynamic, complex and varied legal landscape.

Best wishes,

Mithun Varkey
Editor, Asia Business Law Journal

Managing Editor, Vantage Asia