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In-Conversation with Mr. Benjamin Szeto, Partner and Deputy Head of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Private Wealth Industry Group

By Keith Wong and Choo Qian Ke

As a regional hub, Singapore remains an attractive location for both home-grown and international law firms. It comes as no surprise that RHTLaw Taylor Wessing has carved out a noticeable niche for itself in the Singapore market. As a law firm that delivers international capabilities with a network of more than 3300 legal professionals across 27 jurisdictions in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States, the firm’s model is driven by its focus on helping clients succeed. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s ability to cater to the international needs of its clients is accentuated by its access to a wealth of international resources from the firm’s membership of the Interlex Group and the ASEAN Plus Group. For clients, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing provides a one-stop solution by operating as a single unit while delivering multi-jurisdictional and multi-disciplinary representation on complex transactions.

  From left to right: Mr Szeto, Keith Wong (Journal Executive Editor), Choo Qian Ke (Journal Executive Editor), and Mr Siow.

From left to right: Mr Szeto, Keith Wong (Journal Executive Editor), Choo Qian Ke (Journal Executive Editor), and Mr Siow.

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing offers a diverse range of tailor-made services. One example is the firm’s deep understanding of philanthropy as evidenced by its experience advising a suite of non-governmental organisations, international charitable organisations, charities and institutions of public character. In the same vein, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing is particularly established in the private-wealth sector, with particular expertise in advising entrepreneurs and business owners. The firm’s strong emphasis on issues of interest to clients, including an appreciation of art, reflects the firm’s commitment to understanding its client base. The result is a holistic Art Law Practice comprising lawyers who are passionate about the arts and armed with practical experience in dealing with the art world. With a suite of services in art financing, legacy planning and philanthropy, it comes as no surprise that RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s achievements were recognised at the WealthBriefingAsia Awards 2018.

To better understand this sector, the Singapore Law Review spoke with Mr. Benjamin Szeto, partner and Deputy Head of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s private wealth industry group.

As a Registered Trust and Estate Practitioner of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and an author for LexisNexis Practical Guidance Singapore on Trusts, Mr. Szeto has over 20 years of experience advising High Net Worth Individuals (“HNWIs”), entrepreneurs, financial institutions, listed entities and Fortune 500 corporations on a wide range of transactions. In the private wealth industry group, Mr. Szeto designs bespoke solutions, structures and strategies to assist clients with the key aim to separate business risks from family wealth.

The Secret Recipe Behind RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Impressive Achievements

At the Wealth Briefing Asia Awards 2018, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing was recognised as having demonstrated “innovation and excellence” in its business. As such, we started off our interview by seeking Mr Szeto’s views on what has set the firm’s work a tier above that of others to earn it its acolades.

Mr. Szeto highlighted RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s industry group approach as one of the factors that contributes to the firm’s uniqueness. Unlike most other law firms that are typically organised according to practice areas such as litigation, corporate, intellectual property and conveyancing, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing adopts an industry group organisational structure. The wide range of industry groups span from consumer brands to energy and environment. Mr. Szeto himself helps helm the private wealth industry group. The advantage of having this approach lies in the partners’ ability to better serve the needs of clients from within each industry group. Clients from different industry groups have different sets of problems and issues that they need to address. By being attuned to the issues pertinent to the respective industry groups, lawyers at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing possess perceptive knowledge of the key concerns and considerations of clients specific to every industry group. Such an approach thereby allows lawyers to better understand their clients’ industries and tailor solutions that meet the clients’ needs.

Mr. Szeto also highlighted RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s ASEAN-centric focus. Via the ASEAN Plus Group, which is a regional network of full-service and well-established law firms in ASEAN plus China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, RHT Law Taylor Wessing facilitates its clients' cross-border regional transactions, allowing them to navigate the region and its opportunities with confidence, providing an integrated suite of services across different practice areas and in different ASEAN jurisdictions. This is appropriate since the nature of private wealth is now very global, which alludes to the necessity to serve clients’ needs that may span across multiple jurisdictions. Being attuned to the nuances of working in Asia while also possessing the added perspective and expertise of an international firm has allowed RHTLaw Taylor Wessing to be very efficient in delivering bespoke and comprehensive legal services for clients and multi-disciplinary representation on complex cross-border transactions both in Singapore and on an international level.

Mr Szeto also shared that one of RHT Law Taylor Wessing’s strengths is in the areas of art and philanthropy. Art and philanthropy are very aspirational areas that a lot of private clients are most interested and passionate about. As such, having capabilities and expertise in these areas allow the firm to put together solutions that are not just about meeting legal needs but also about addressing the passions and aspirations of some of these private wealth clients.

Unravelling RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s International and Regional Practice

Apart from engaging in legal work, Mr. Szeto also looks at regional business development aspects for the private wealth industry group. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing is extremely regional in their private wealth industry outlook. For example, the firm has a strong Indonesian client base, a strong foothold in Hong Kong and good dealings with clients from China. Additionally, they are looking at expanding to other ASEAN countries, especially markets like the Philippines and Vietnam.

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing also has a strong regional focus in its other industry groups and practice areas. They have established regional clients ranging from listed entities to top tier Fortune 500 companies and international banks. To address the various needs of its clients, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing advises on a variety of matters directly from the Singapore office, or will work with its partners in the ASEAN Plus Group on international matters. For example, a client seeking to complete a cross-border M&A transaction can deal with the firm without the need to separately seek advice across multiple jurisdictions. This is one of the forms of cross border support that the firm can provide for its clients. As noted by Mr. Szeto, these days, lawyers have to go beyond just doing the legal work, and must instead provide clients with an experience that is as seamless and efficient as possible.

What Is Private Wealth?

To gain deeper insight into Mr. Szeto’s line of work, we asked him to share certain challenges and points to note when working with private wealth clients. In dissecting the term “private wealth”, we were directed to two sub-groups, namely, the private client and the intermediaries.

In the first group, the private client includes HNWIs, the families, and the family offices. Generally, such clients tend to be the businessowners themselves. As for the second group, intermediaries include corporate parties such as private banks, trust companies and insurance groups.

A key point during our conversation was the importance of context and understanding the values, position, and internal dynamics of each group. Mr. Szeto highlighted the importance of understanding each client’s unique needs, business model and their long-term concerns. In the process, rapport is also developed, strengthening the long-term partnership between the client and the firm.

For lawyers engaged in this field, business development is paramount. Outside of Singapore, Indonesia and the People’s Republic of China are still key drivers of growth. While demand for lawyers in the private wealth sector is strong, the competitive climate demands effective solutions delivered through a seamless network.

As our conversation developed, the world of private wealth seemed all the more attractive. Amid the glitz and glamor often associated with the private wealth sector however, Mr. Szeto quickly pointed out the inevitable overlap with corporate work which one should be prepared to face. This stems from having to assist clients in fulfilling various objectives. Take for example, mergers and acquisitions between companies, purchasing of property in various regions, and the incorporation of new entities. One must also be well-versed in trust structures.

Additionally, the nature of a family business may have implications not often found in other areas. From his experience, a common issue is the tendency to not draw a clear line between the family business and the family fortune. In the long-run, this leads to complications with wealth preservation, legacy planning, and asset protection. Ideally, the two should be kept distinct, given the cyclical nature of businesses and its potential impact on the family fortune.

In areas like these, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing offers solutions to address the needs of clients irrespective of the region or jurisdiction concerned, where necessary liaising with other foreign counsel.

Multiplying Experiences and Perspectives

Impressed by Mr. Szeto’s wide array of experiences ranging from a Master of Science (Real Estate) from the National University of Singapore to a Diploma in Financial Management from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, as well as being a Trust and Estate Practitioner of the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners, we had to ask him for his thoughts on the insights that his multitude of experiences have rendered to his practice.

Mr. Szeto wisely propounded that lawyers have to understand that they are working with clients in a context. Client advice is multi-disciplinary in nature. Lawyers cannot look at issues in a silo. Moreover, clients these days expect lawyers to not just give good legal advice, but also to understand, comprehend and have a good grasp of the other commercial issues. To quote Mr. Szeto, “Now as lawyers, we are expected to be a jack of all trades, and a master of one”. In short, lawyers have to be good at law, but conversant in other areas as well.

Mr. Szeto shared that his training in real estate and finance have really given him the ability to have a much more rounded conversation with his clients. The width and depth of knowledge that he possesses help him to understand issues much better. In addition, there is no excuse or reason for him to feel intimidated when people talk about foreign non-legal concepts such as balance sheets or income statements. Furthermore, the real estate background is very important especially in the area of private wealth and in dealing with Asian-based families as real estate is a favourite asset class among high net worth clients. To be able to connect with them on a non-legal level and discuss about their real estate investments really goes a long way. Thus, Mr. Szeto personally feels that having skills outside law will help one to become a more rounded person, allowing one to have a more holistic view of various fields. Having qualifications, whether at a rudimentary level or at a more formal level, will definitely help any lawyer in practice.

Parting Advice

In response to our request for his advice and recommendations to aspiring lawyers and students, the first piece of advice that Mr. Szeto gave is to read more widely. While acknowledging the pressure and stress in law school, Mr. Szeto stressed that it would be ideal if law students had the opportunity and time to read beyond our core competencies in law. For instance, students interested in the private wealth space can go a bit deeper into the industry. There are many issues such as common reporting standards, investments, and diverse asset classes. Developments are vast and rapid, and for any student keen on pursuing a career in any particular space, it is good to start to have a feel of what is happening in that space, to explore and to keep abreast of developments by reading widely.

Mr. Szeto’s second piece of advice is to sharpen one’s people skills. Mr. Szeto encourages young lawyers and students to hone client development skills, interaction skills and interview skills, given that people skills are definitely one aspect of practice that cannot be neglected. For example, in the private wealth space, people skills are especially important as clients may not be so direct in their communications, so lawyers would need to figure out what exactly clients are trying to convey.

As concluding remarks, Mr. Szeto recommends young lawyers in their early years of practice to seize every networking opportunity possible. Ultimately, there is value in having a wide network of people that you can turn to for support, as the nature of lawyering is very people-oriented.

Indeed, a timely reminder that as service providers, we as lawyers and lawyers-to-be must always keep abreast with the human aspect of law.

The Singapore Law Review would like to thank Mr. Benjamin Szeto and RHTLaw Taylor Wessing for accommodating our members, Keith Wong and Choo Qian Ke. We are very appreciative of the opportunity to engage and share in such an inspiring and insightful conversation with Mr. Benjamin Szeto.

Singapore Law Review Annual Lecture 2018 - The Obsolescent Judge

By Zhao Junning and Ng Wei Siang

Introduction

The 30th edition of the Singapore Law Review Annual Lecture titled ‘The Obsolescent Judge’ was delivered by the Honourable Justice Aedit Abdullah on 16 October 2018. In a move befitting of the 30th edition of the Lecture, Justice Abdullah departed from traditional black letter law topics to discuss technological advances and their impact on the legal profession. The particular focus in his Lecture was their impact on the role of a judge. While Justice Abdullah prefaced that the Lecture would not be definitive as a forecast, the Lecture certainly delivered on his expectations to provoke some thought and discussion among the audience.

  Justice Abdullah delivering the 30th Singapore Law Review Annual Lecture.

Justice Abdullah delivering the 30th Singapore Law Review Annual Lecture.

Justice Abdullah discussed four main points during his Lecture:

I. Technological disruptions are not something new;

II. Societal responses determine the impact of new technologies;

III. The impact technological developments have on the legal profession;

IV. The future of judging.

I. Technological disruptions are not something new

It is hard to imagine that many of the things that are available to us were once technological innovations that disrupted various professions. Using the example of electrical lighting, Justice Abdullah noted how its advent rendered the profession of lamplighters obsolete. Justice Abdullah further mentioned that just like the lamplighter, various other professions are no longer existent due to technological innovations. Knocker-uppers used to wake workers up. Pin-setters used to assist in resetting pins in bowling alleys. Lighthouse keepers used to maintain lighthouses dutifully. Yet these have all become jobs of yesteryear with the advent of technology.

Justice Abdullah then posed a question to the audience: could the vision of the immutable, distant, and all-knowing judge be sustained in light of technological innovations?

Building on the question posed to the audience, Justice Abdullah observed that much of the structure of the legal system was due to history and tradition. The adoption of English Common Law in Singapore had a huge influence on the many court processes and institutional structures in place, such as the forms that have to be filed, interlocutory judgments, and cross-examinations. Justice Abdullah queried the audience: if one could design a system from scratch, would he or she set it up in the way it currently is?

Justice Abdullah highlighted, inter alia, that several considerations that might be addressed in the future in lieu of technological innovations include:

• Whether asynchronous hearings would be possible;

• Whether parties have to be present in a courtroom;

• Whether lawyers will be needed in all cases.

Many often forget that changes to legal systems are not new. Justice Abdullah gave the example of the writ system in England. Under the writ system, it was essential that a claim was framed in a specific manner and pursued in the correct court. It was only until the courts in England underwent a massive restructuring in the 19th century that the rules were less rigid.

II. Societal responses determine the impact of new technologies

While acknowledging that we are constrained by our history, Justice Abdullah suggested that we are at the cusp of a new era of development in the legal system. Nevertheless, societal acceptance guides technological developments and the impact they have.

Justice Abdullah highlighted four factors that affect the implementation of new technologies: cost, efficiency, access to justice, and autonomy.

With regard to cost, Justice Abdullah gave the example of the Concorde planes that used to fly between London and Singapore. While such technology was innovative for its time, high costs meant that such flights were uneconomical leading to their cessation.

Moving on to the factor of efficiency, Justice Abdullah indicated that efficiency affects whether a technological innovation will be successful. A technological innovation that allows one to save time is more likely to be successful.

As access to justice is an important aim in the legal profession, Justice Abdullah opined that technological innovations that increase access to justice are likely to find acceptance.

Lastly, Justice Abdullah noted that there is a strong desire for personal autonomy in contemporary societies: the modern person wants to be able to make decisions for himself or herself. The learned judge shared that he would check his symptoms on the internet before going to the doctor. The reason for doing so was not cost, but because he wanted to take charge of his own health. Justice Abdullah observed that there is a similar trend in the legal profession. Litigants-in-Person have demonstrated an increased willingness to file their own claims and affidavits.

These four societal factors exhibit a degree of pressure on the legal system and determine whether the technology is adopted.

III. The impact technological developments have on the legal profession

Justice Abdullah moved on to provide a quick survey of the various technologies that are in use in legal systems around the globe.

Turning first to the legal technologies present today, the first technology discussed by the learned judge was artificial intelligence: some law firms have adopted technology that helps them to analyse documents, draft contracts, aid in the discovery process, and predict outcomes. Beyond law firms, Justice Abdullah noted that the People’s Republic of China’s legal system has been very open to adopting artificial intelligence with predictive technology for litigants, and adopting technology to help their judges research and find relevant or similar cases. The learned judge further noted that the same could be said for the United States of America, with prediction systems that rival the Chinese in accuracy as well as programmes to help with, inter alia, bail and sentencing. The Americans also rely on artificial intelligence to assist in dispute resolution for online commerce, with programmes suggesting solutions for human controllers.

Justice Abdullah then discussed data mining, which he observed is generally used in conjunction with artificial intelligence to analyse data and provide solutions. The more data available, the higher the likelihood that the programme will provide an appropriate solution.

Lastly, the learned judge gave his views on blockchains. Justice Abdullah considered the possibility that with a trusted system, the need for human verification may be removed in many cases. The system would be able to get a result on its own once the process is initiated.

IV. The future of judging

With such technologies mind, Justice Abdullah considered their impact on the role of judges in the future.

Firstly, Justice Abdullah opined that where parties had something to prove as a matter of principle, they would still want to come to court.

Secondly, the learned judge noted that for commercial cases such as those pertaining to insurance, systems with a high level of predictive accuracy would result in a decrease in litigation. In such cases, the judge would only be required to act as a reviewer of the initial decision where parties are dissatisfied with the outcome the system provides. Additionally, Justice Abdullah noted a category of cases which are largely administrative which artificial intelligence has a greater role to play.

Thirdly, Justice Abdullah suggested that for a category cases where a balancing of various factors is required, the impact of predictive systems may be more limited. Situations mentioned by Justice Abdullah include: forum non conveniens applications; sentencing outcomes; bail applications; and an assessment of damages. As various factors often pull in different directions, finding the right solution is an art and the role judges play is still essential. In Family Law cases, while there are systems that attempt to predict the division of matrimonial property, there is a personal dimension to such cases which a machine may not be suited to deal with. Additionally, Justice Abdullah noted that with regard to sentencing outcomes, most people would not want their liberty to be at the hands of a machine, or even to be assisted by one.

Lastly, Justice Abdullah opined that the area of developing new rules will be closed off to artificial intelligence. While the learned judge noted that it is theoretically not out of the realm of possibility, it would take a long time before humans would be willing to hand over such decisions to machines.

Ultimately, Justice Abdullah suggested that trial judges in particular may have to evolve. A possible scenario is that role of the trial judge may have to be expanded to become more like a counsellor and assist the parties in achieving a lasting solution.

Conclusion

Justice Abdullah emphasised that the point of the lecture was not to predict what the future held, but to suggest that there will be technological disruptions to the legal system. The learned judge noted that no aspect of the legal system is immune from changes, judges included. Justice Abdullah also mentioned that the system of justice is about achieving justice for the individual citizen and it does not owe a living to anyone in the legal profession.

There is little doubt that Justice Abdullah’s message was well-received. The authors spoke to members of the audience at the conclusion of the Lecture during the dinner reception. A member of the audience noted that: “The Lecture was very timely, and it covered big issues. It was a great introduction to the issues covered.” Another attending professional from the technological sector said: “Justice Abdullah knows a lot about legal technology. The topic was relevant and is good to know areas in legal technology that Justice Abdullah considers more promising in the future.”

  Associate Professor Eleanor Wong presenting a token of appreciation to Justice Abdullah.

Associate Professor Eleanor Wong presenting a token of appreciation to Justice Abdullah.

Justice Abdullah ended the Lecture with a message to the students in the audience. While no one could be certain whether technological disruption to the legal system would ultimately occur, even if the legal system in the future was different, with the right effort, right thinking, and right energy, Justice Abdullah remained optimistic that the legal system would continue to serve the needs of the citizen.

On the subject of technology’s impact on the law, the Singapore Law Review is currently organizing a call for papers on law and technology with the region’s leading specialist in the field, LawTech.Asia. Full-length essay submissions can be made to journal@singaporelawreview.com by 29 October 2018, while shorter articles below 2,0000 will be received any time at hello@lawtech.asia.

Joint Call for Papers Law x Technology: Transforming the Face of the Law

Technology disrupts for the better of those prepared. Legal practice is hardly impervious to the implications that technology brings. The advent of blockchain and machine learning technologies is an opportunity, and a potential cost if not pursued. Conversely, the use of technology is equally subject to legal regimes and institutions. Developing a sensitivity to the mutual interaction of the two forces is of utmost urgency as governments and peoples search for a firm footing.

The Singapore Law Review (“SLR”), Asia’s oldest student-run legal publication, and LawTech.Asia, Southeast Asia’s foremost law and technology review, are collaborating on a special issue of the Singapore Law Review journal and LawTech.Asia online publication on the theme “Law x Technology: Transforming the face of the Law”.

Singapore Law Review Journal

We will be accepting articles that are between 5,000 and 11,000 words in length. The topics can cover a wide range from the study of jurisprudence, to cutting-edge empirical research on legal matters, to discussions about recent legal developments, both locally and internationally.

Authors may expect a review of the articles by leading academics in the field of legal technology. Selected submissions will be published in the upcoming Volume 37 of the SLR next year.

Submission deadline: 29 October 2018

For submission guidelines, please visit: http://www.singaporelawreview.com/submissions/

Questions? Email us at journal@singaporelawreview.com

LawTech.Asia online publication

For contributors keen on more concise and insightful articles, we will be accepting submissions below 5,000 words long for online publication. We welcome work which brings a unique perspective to the discourse surrounding law, technology and policy issues, and aim to enrich the community here and globally by re-centering existing discussions around Southeast Asia.

Articles published on LawTech.Asia will also be published on the SLR’s online publication Juris Illuminae.

Submissions can be made any time, and selected articles will be published on a rolling basis.

Guidelines for submission are based on the SLR's Juris Illuminae format, and are available here at: http://www.singaporelawreview.com/submissions-juris/

Questions? Email us at hello@lawtech.asia

About the Singapore Law Review

The SLR is an independent legal publication run exclusively by students of the NUS Faculty of Law. We provide a platform for legal scholarship, with the aim of raising awareness of current legal issues and promoting critical legal thinking, writing, and discussion amongst students, academics and members of the legal fraternity.

About LawTech.Asia

LawTech.Asia is an online publication that brings a unique perspective to the discourse surrounding law, technology and policy issues with a focus on Southeast Asia. The march of technological advancements is unrelenting. Yet, there is a paucity of understanding about how these developments will influence – and are influenced by – underrepresented regions such as Southeast Asia (SEA). Expect the latest on legal innovation, policy reactions or recommendations, thoughts on larger conceptual themes, and feature pieces of individuals on the forefront of these changes.

Maxwell Chambers - The Intelligent Design by Habitap and Mr. Franklin Tang

By Perry Peh Bing Xian

In April 2018, the Ministry of Law announced that Maxwell Chambers, the world’s first integrated dispute resolution complex, will soon also become the world’s first smart hearing facility upon adoption of smart technology. Habitap was the Company responsible for the successful development of an intelligent Smartphone Application to facilitate all-in-one access to services and facilities within Maxwell Chambers. Its application has now become a centrepiece of Maxwell Chamber’s efforts to become an integrated smart hearing facility. The Singapore Law Review (“SLR”) is privileged to share the insights of Mr. Franklin Tang, the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and Founder of Habitap, who kindly invited its members to sit and speak with him.

Maxwell Chambers Interview_Mr Tang_1

Background about Habitap

Habitap is Asia’s first fully integrated software platform that combines smart controls, community management and lifestyle offerings into a single platform on one Smartphone Application. It harnesses the technology behind the Internet of Things (“IoT”) and aims to create better living, greater convenience and efficiency for commercial and residential and various spaces.

Mr Tang shared with the SLR that Habitap integrates Smart Technology and the IoT as it is developed and used elsewhere (such as in the US) back into the Singapore market. Owing to differing lifestyles and habits of consumers, Smart Technologies originating from elsewhere (such as Smart Home Devices) may not necessarily be directly suitable for use by Singaporean consumers.

There were three unique features about the Singapore market and its consumers that Mr Tang thought led to the birth of the idea which became what Habitap is today. First and foremost were the different lifestyle habits of the Singapore consumer. Singaporeans are keener to leverage technology to fix problems or improve the efficiency or productivity of their lifestyle. Singaporeans were concerned with a seamless user experience rather than with the specific brand of smart controls or IoT. Hence, Habitap moved in to fill the gap by aggregating all smart controls – from various reputable applications – into a single Smartphone Application.

The second and third reasons were that Singaporeans live in large communities, and that technology is meant to serve and facilitate Singaporeans’ lifestyles. Singaporean consumers are not picky about brands but adopt services that best facilitate their lifestyle and provide convenience. That is also why Habitap works with the best service providers in the market in seeking to provide the required services through its Smartphone Applications, which are designed to support Singaporeans’ lifestyle habits.

With that vision in mind, Habitap was first rolled out for commercial projects in the mixed residential-commercial development DUO, and subsequently in the commercial development Marina One. In those cases, the Smartphone Application integrated both retail and lifestyle options and experiences into one, allowing for centralised control using Habitap’s MySphere Application. This application served as the basis for the specialized Smartphone Application now used in Maxwell Chambers.

The Smart Maxwell Initiative

The philosophy at the heart of Habitap is to “marry” and “integrate” software and technology to the brick-and-mortar experience. Concordantly, Habitap’s strength lies in software customisation – a high degree of personalisation to allow the underlying software to suit the specific needs of its users. This strength provided it with the required expertise to customise its underlying technology to facilitate the underlying processes and specific service requirements of Maxwell Chambers as an arbitration destination. Among the variety of concerns addressed, Habitap’s capacity to customize its software allowed the company to answer to the paramount importance of security and privacy to Maxwell Chambers, as well as the desire of the latter’s users for the whole process to be as efficient and seamless as possible.

Smart Maxwell is also a unique first step for Habitap as it is the first project where the front- and back-end aspects of Maxwell Chamber’s operations are managed through software alone. The Smartphone Application is meant to integrate the entire user experience from start to finish – from the day the room is booked, throughout the use of the room, and until the user experience is complete.

The Smartphone Application controls everything.

Unique challenges of the Smart Maxwell Initiative

Mr Tang shared two challenges which his team faced with the Smart Maxwell project. The first was the technical difficulties posed by the legacy of a pre-existing complex. The challenge here lay in adapting and customising Habitap to an existing building and its present facilities, especially since the venue for Maxwell Chambers had been slated for conservation by the State. The next was the need for specific software customisation, with respect to the highly specialised operating procedures and workflows of Maxwell Chambers as an arbitral destination. There were many differences that required adaptation for, such as the processes of registration, billing and usage of facilities in Maxwell Chambers which differed from those atypical in other commercial transactions. The Application therefore had to be developed and applied in the specific environment unique to Maxwell Chambers.        

More importantly, Mr Tang shared invaluable lessons which his team has acquired for this project. The Smart Maxwell initiative provided Habitap with an opportunity to explore the integration of new technology to existing infrastructure, along with customised workflows and operating procedures. While there was an initial learning curve, lessons learnt will allow Habitap to deploy the acquired knowledge on a wider scale in an analogous situation in the future should it arise. Habitap’s involvement in the Smart Maxwell initiative further strengthens its core expertise, which is that of software customisation. 

Empathising with the human factor as the key to successful adoption of technology

Finally, Mr Tang emphasised the importance of empathising with the human user for any implementation of Smart Technology to be successful. The primary impediment to wholesale adoption of technology in our lifestyles is the fear of change by a user. To ensure smooth implementation, technology must empathise with its users. In particular, it ought to notify users in advance of changes they can expect and convince them that these changes will be an improvement or useful addition to their lifestyles.

Consistent with that philosophy is the importance which Habitap places on training staff or users of technology throughout all of its projects and collaborations. This ensures that all projects can be executed effectively, and that users can adopt the Smart Technology to improve their lifestyles or enhance their operating efficiencies. Technology is after all not only about hardware and code, but that of a relationship. To convince people that technology can improve their lifestyles, there is a need to first build confidence and establish a relationship with the human user. The technology can then be implemented in stages at a pace comfortable for the user. It is with this same philosophy that Habitap approaches the Smart Maxwell initiative, and which undergirds confidence that it will be a resounding success.


The Singapore Law Review would like to thank Mr. Franklin Tang and the staff of Habitap, who have warmly extended an invitation to our members Perry Peh and Darren Teoh to speak with them. It was an opportune moment for students to learn of the insights and intricacies underpinning designs for the next step in arbitral hearings.  

For readers who would like to keep a local copy of this article, a PDF version of is also provided here.

Maxwell Chambers - a dialogue with Chief Executive, Ms Katherine Yap

By Darren Teoh

When the Singapore Law Review caught wind that Maxwell Chambers was entering a phase of expansion, we were interested in finding out what the future holds for one of the world’s leading Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) facilities. The Chief Executive of Maxwell Chambers, Ms Katherine Yap, kindly agreed to a sit-down conversation about both the road travelled, and the way ahead for Maxwell Chambers.

  Ms Katherine Yap, the Chief Executive of Maxwell Chambers.

Ms Katherine Yap, the Chief Executive of Maxwell Chambers.

When Ms Yap first began work at Maxwell Chambers as the head of communications & customer relations, the complex was still in its infancy. She joined four other colleagues in fostering the growth of the complex, when the idea of a specialised location for ADR was still relatively novel in Asia. Ms Yap recalled that the team faced issues getting manpower and improving work processes to ensure that operations ran smoothly in preparation for the complex’s opening.

As there were no seasoned members from the ADR scene on the pioneering team, ideas were borrowed from the hotel context and adapted for Maxwell Chambers, such as a lounge where clients can have coffee and relax on comfortable couches. In 2010, Maxwell Chambers was officially established as the world’s first one-stop dispute resolution hub, offering both hearing facilities as well as international dispute resolution institutions for the convenience of visiting legal practitioners.

Nine years on, Ms Yap has ascended to the position of Chief Executive, bringing with her the same vision she had from the start: for Maxwell Chambers to be the world’s top dispute resolution hub. Maxwell Chambers has received rave reviews despite its relatively short history, with the Guide to Regional Arbitration 2017 having specifically described the facilities at Maxwell Chambers as “incredible”. The Chambers have also registered a steady growth in the number of ADR cases held on the premises over the years.

  Ms Yap introduces the Lounge - a favourite feature of Maxwell Chambers among Clients .

Ms Yap introduces the Lounge - a favourite feature of Maxwell Chambers among Clients.

The Secrets of Success – how and why Maxwell Chambers shines

Ms Yap is of the view that Maxwell Chambers’ present achievements are due to a combination of factors. Chiefly, both management and staff are meticulous in rendering services to clients. For instance, although all hearing rooms in Maxwell Chambers are acoustically-treated, the customer relations staff taken further care to arrange rooms for breakout sessions. These sessions allow parties to meet their respective lawyers for discussions in physically distant locations, so as to provide an assurance of the confidentiality of each session.

Moreover, Ms Yap believes that the personalisation of services rendered can explain why clients have become Maxwell Chambers’ repeat customers. She mentioned that customer relations staff will go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service, such as catering to special requests for food and beverage. Another example which Ms Yap raised was Maxwell Chambers’ cultivation of strong relationships with hotels in the vicinity so that its foreign clients could enjoy preferential accommodation rates when they visit Singapore for ADR proceedings.

Additionally, Ms Yap feels that the team is diligent in keeping up with the latest technology and corporate knowledge to tailor its facilities for legal professionals. Her own personal decision to obtain certification as a mediator clearly reflects the critical value placed on industry knowledge, and the role that it plays in Maxwell Chambers’ business. Ms Yap also highlighted that she also embraces fresh ideas from younger employees, as they are often more in-tune with changing expectations around customer service than she is.

Finally, Maxwell Chambers is the first ADR complex which has taken a decisive step towards the technologization of various services provided to its clients, otherwise known as the “Smart Maxwell” initiative. Their aim is to boost productivity, meet the growing demand for hearings, and incur significant time and cost savings with the adoption of smart technology. She also predicted that other ADR complexes are likely to follow suit given the publicity given to “Smart Maxwell”, and thus technologization in particular ought not be seen as a panacea to all of the complex’s business challenges.

We probed Ms Yap further on what the technologization of Maxwell Chambers would look like, which she had earlier mentioned as one of the factors explaining the Chambers’ success.

Ms Yap shared that Maxwell Chambers is still on its journey towards becoming a “smart” hearing complex and that she is excited to roll out the upcoming developments by the end of this year. Maxwell Chambers’ destination in this regard is clear: through a mobile application, clients will be able to make room bookings, view amenities in the vicinity, and request for secretariat services including sending orders for printing. With a touch on their mobile devices, clients will even be able to control the room settings through their handphones, such as changing the brightness and temperature of the rooms.

Looking ahead, the most charming technological addition to Maxwell Chambers is arguably “Max”, a robot that will bring documents and food orders to individual rooms in place of customer relations staff. “Max” is fully-integrated with the aforementioned mobile application, which seamlessly communicates to the client's mobile device and application when "Max" arrives with a delivery.

Technologization brings about multiple benefits to Maxwell Chambers. Ms Yap readily brought three examples to mind. First, as the mobile application will substitute key cards in maintaining access control to rooms, the frequent occurrence of the loss of key cards would cease. This would obviate the need for ad-hoc replacements. Second, customer relations staff can minimise travelling to and from hearing rooms as they can take instructions remotely upon a client’s request for services through the mobile application. Thirdly, real-time billing through the mobile application will cut down the time required to tabulate the total charges incurred by the client during their time at the facility.

Although technology improves both the efficiency and effectiveness of the services that Maxwell Chambers provides to its clients, Ms Yap observes that there is a need to ensure that technologization does not result in a loss of the “personal touch” that she attributes the success of Maxwell Chambers to. That is why even after the mobile application’s deployment, Maxwell Chambers will seek to uphold the high standards of professionalism of its customer service. 

Entering the Second Phase of Development – Maxwell Chambers Suites and Beyond

Ms Yap explained that the increase in the number of foreign practitioners seeking to conduct ADR hearings at Maxwell Chambers, as well as the desire of current institutional partners to expand, drove the management team to search for additional space. 

Eventually, the building at 28 Maxwell Road where the Red Dot Traffic Building used to be situated, was selected. This was because the Red Dot Traffic Building’s lease was running out, and the location was sufficiently proximate such that a link-bridge could be. The link bridge is, in fact, currently being built to connect Maxwell Chambers’ main building to the new Maxwell Chambers Suites. As our curiosity about the link bridge was evident to Ms Yap, she offered us a glimpse of the “work-in-progress”.

  Construction works are currently undergoing to install a link bridge between the main building of Maxwell Chambers and the new wing within the complex, Maxwell Chamber Suites.

Construction works are currently undergoing to install a link bridge between the main building of Maxwell Chambers and the new wing within the complex, Maxwell Chamber Suites.

Ms Yap elaborated that on top of the link-bridge built between the main building and Maxwell Chamber Suites, the construction of a sheltered walkway from Tanjong Pagar MRT to the main building is work-in-progress. The completion of both construction projects will fully weather-proof access to the entire complex.

When it opens in 2019, Maxwell Chambers Suites will house 50 office spaces for dispute resolution institutions, law firms and chambers. All hearing rooms will be situated in the main Maxwell Chambers building.

Concluding Thoughts

Ms Yap is pleased that Maxwell Chambers had not received any complaints regarding customer service since Maxwell Chambers opened its doors. She hopes that Maxwell Chambers never stagnates, and that both management and staff will continue to set their sights high as Maxwell Chambers competes to emerge at the forefront of the business.

  Ms Yap, poised and confident in the future development of Maxwell Chambers.

Ms Yap, poised and confident in the future development of Maxwell Chambers.


The Singapore Law Review would like to thank Ms Katherine Yap and the staff of Maxwell Chambers, who have kindly invited our members, Perry Peh and Darren Teoh. It has been a wondrous opportunity to speak with them and immerse in the growth of the Chambers as the cornerstone of Singapore's arbitration scene.

Singapore Law Review Annual Lecture 2017 - Prosecution in the Public Interest

by Tan Ming Ren and Liew Jin Xuan

The Singapore Law Review Annual Lecture 2017 was delivered by Attorney-General, Mr Lucien Wong SC (“AG Wong”). Notably, AG Wong recently took office as Singapore’s 9th Attorney-General on 14 January 2017, succeeding Mr V K Rajah SC. AG Wong’s lecture, which was entitled “Prosecution in the Public Interest”, covered issues such as what the public interest is, and how prosecutorial discretion interacts with it.

AG Lucien Wong giving his speech.

Interestingly, AG Wong highlighted that the public interest permeates all the decisions that are made by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (“AGC”), and determining what is in the public interest is something which AGC officers engage in on a daily basis. Nevertheless, AG Wong opined that it is impossible to lay down a definitive statement as to what the public interest is because this has to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

The bulk of AG Wong’s speech was focused on the 4 guidelines related to prosecuting in the public interest:

  1. Prosecutions are conducted in the name of the public;
  2. Offences are prosecuted for the good of the public;
  3. Proceedings are conducted according to values expected by the public; and
  4. Action is taken in the eye of the public.

Prosecutions are conducted in the name of the public

While it is widely known that every prosecution initiated by the AGC is named Public Prosecutor v [name of accused], AG Wong emphasised that this is not merely a naming convention. In other words, the fact that cases are brought by the Public Prosecutor means that decisions to prosecute are made independently.

As the Attorney-General, AG Wong wears 2 hats. Firstly, art 35(7) of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (“Constitution”) provides that AG Wong is to act as the Government’s chief legal advisor. Secondly, art 35(8) of the Constitution vests in AG Wong the power to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for any offence. These two functions are separate and distinct. In particular, AG Wong stressed that prosecutorial decisions are made by himself and his Deputies.

The second point is that criminal prosecutions are initiated by the AGC not to further the private interests of the victim, but to further the larger public interest. While AGC does take into consideration the views of the victim, AG Wong emphasised that they are not determinative.

Offences are prosecuted for the good of the public

AG Wong mentioned that various factors are considered when it comes to determining what is for the good of the public, and it is impossible to give all-encompassing factors. However, there are largely 4 objectives they often aim to achieve via prosecution.

Maintain a safe and secure environment in Singapore

The AGC maintains a non-negotiable policy to prosecute crimes that affect the public safety in Singapore. Instances of such crimes include corruption, serious financial crime, drugs and violent crimes. AG Wong highlighted that Singapore today is deemed as one of the safest cities in the world, and is heartened to note that in 2016, Singapore reached 30-year lows in violent crimes, housebreaking, theft and robbery.

In particular, safeguarding social harmony is also part of maintaining the safety and security of Singapore. Situations around the world shows that damaging social relations can result in serious consequences.

Promote a culture where rights are respected

By promoting a culture where rights are respected, it provides for a conducive environment for business. Business may be competitive, even cutthroat, but they must adhere to the rules. There is a zero-tolerance policy against money laundering and corruption. Should corruption be tolerated in Singapore, our reputation as a safe and honest place to do business would be irreparably damaged.

Promote strong public institutions

The promotion of strong public institutions is essential for the peace, harmony and prosperity of Singapore. AG Wong went on to explain the seriousness of the crime of contempt of court. Though it may not fit with layperson’s view of a crime, it is in fact viewed as the one of the most serious offences a person can commit. There is a need for strong public confidence in judiciary to be maintained (both locally and abroad).

Serve larger objectives that may not be immediately apparent to most (e.g. promoting environmental sustainability)

AG Wong introduced the fourth objective with an example Singaporeans are all too familiar with - the haze. The haze not only has an impact on climate change, but also on human health. With recent changes in the law, Singapore is now in a position to prosecute companies within Singapore who contribute to pollution overseas. AG Wong also noted the rise in fake news and offences against some of the most vulnerable members of society, such as domestic workers and the elderly. On the topic of offences against elderly persons, AG Wong explained that as the elderly have worked hard their entire lives, they often have substantial savings, making them potential bribe targets for fraudsters. There is hence a need to provide protection of law by severely prosecuting offenders, achieving the ultimate objective of deterrence.

Proceedings are conducted according to values expected by the public

AG Wong explained that prosecution is also done according to values of the public. Prosecution does not aim to win at all costs, but rather, to obtain a just outcome. Neither is it a policy of the AGC to always automatically prefer the most serious charge. AG Wong emphasised that every defendant has the right to claim trial, and the AGC will not push for overly excessive and punitive sentences just because the defendant has decided to claim trial. However, it is important to note that the way the defendant pleads his case may affect the sentencing outcome.

Where a serious offence has been committed, but the evidence may not be as compelling, the AGC will still likewise pursue a conviction.

Action is taken in the eye of the public

AG Wong stressed that prosecutions were open to valid public scrutiny, and rightly so. Nonetheless, he maintained that scrutiny would not detract from the Prosecutorial drive toward justice, and hopes that the public may scrutinise fairly. Whilst there is no hesitation to respond to public interest for a tougher sentence, they will similarly not compromise on procedural fairness for the offender. He noted that this must be so, even if ultimately it undermines the Prosecution’s case. An “even-handed approach” is hence taken by the Prosecution when prosecuting offenders. He noted, “The public, and the public interest, expects no less from us”.

Sentencing in the Public Interest

On sentencing, AG Wong highlighted that the prosecutors also submit on sentencing with the public interest in mind, on top of prosecuting in the public interest. While this may seem odd at first blush, it is indeed not surprising that all parties (i.e. prosecutors and defence counsel) have a duty to help the Court arrive at a just sentence. In this regard, AG Wong clarified that it is not AGC’s practice to always ask for the highest sentence possible. This would depend on the individual case at hand and takes into account larger societal objectives.

A point which is noteworthy is AG Wong’s firm stance on 2 particular types of offences, namely, sexual offences against minors and offences against foreign domestic workers. As regards such offences, AG Wong made it clear that the prosecution would press for deterrent sentences in the interest of the public.

AG Wong also cited another recent example where the AGC disagreed with the original benchmarks laid down in the case of PP v Chow Chien Yow Joseph Brian [2016] 2 SLR 335, which involved national service defaulters. As the AGC was of the view that the existing benchmarks did not fully reflect the seriousness of the offence, the prosecutors made submissions to the court to increase the benchmark sentences in order to highlight the importance of the national service obligation. These submissions were subsequently accepted by the High Court in PP v Sakthikanesh s/o Chidambaram [2017] SGHC 178.

In contrast, pursuing even-handed justice means that a just sentence is one that is also fair to the accused. In that regard, the prosecutors will consider mitigating factors carefully and may even take active sentencing positions that favour the offender. For instance, in PP v Lim Choon Teck [2015] 5 SLR 1395, the prosecution appealed against the 8-week sentence imposed on a cyclist who had injured a 69-year-old woman on the ground that it was manifestly excessive. This was certainly unconventional as it was “the first time the Prosecution had appealed against a sentence on this ground” (at [1]). Eventually, the sentence was reduced to 2 weeks by the High Court.

In sum, these examples clearly reflect AGC’s commitment towards sentencing in the public interest, and it is indeed encouraging to know that AGC does not view accused persons as their “adversaries” although the criminal justice system is adversarial in nature.

Conclusion

In sum, AG Wong highlighted that prosecutorial discretion is a multifaceted and complicated task which requires a balance of various competing factors. Reaffirming the AGC’s commitment towards prosecuting in the public interest and for the good of Singapore, AG Wong noted that no single person in the AGC unilaterally “determines” the public interest in the AGC. Ultimately, a fully considered decision can only be reached through the process of open engagement.



For a more personal take on the lecture, here is an article by Justified: http://justified.nuslawclub.com/slr-annual-lecture-2017-prosecution-in-the-public-interest/

The SLR Annual Lecture 2017 has been featured in The Straits Times: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/prosecution-to-keep-apace-with-evolving-public-interest-attorney-general-lucien-wong

The SLR at the 3rd Asia Conference on International Arbitration

By Fabian Chiang

On the 28th of June 2017, the SLR was honoured to be invited to the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) 3rd Asia Conference on International Arbitration where the ICC conducted talks and training programmes on the arbitration and its impact on international business. The conference featured an illustrious register of senior lawyers, corporate counsels, arbitrators, and eminent academics, with the opening Keynote delivered by Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law, Ms. Indranee Rajah. The SLR sent two of its members to the conference. 

The talks covered topics such as developments in third party funding, expedited arbitration mechanisms and investment arbitration. Of particular interest was the talk on third party funding, given Singapore’s recent changes under the Civil Law (Amendment) Bill 2016 which introduced third party funding in Singapore. The changes also apply to international arbitration proceedings, thereby abolishing the common law tort of maintenance and champerty. No doubt, the passing of the amendments would strengthen Singapore's ongoing pursuit of becoming an international arbitration hub since third party funding is a common practice in other major arbitration centres. These changes are also closely watched, with Hong Kong having just passed a similar amendment bill in June 2017 to allow the practice. The discussion was led by a distinguished panel of international lawyers from France, Hong Kong and Singapore. With the changes having only recently taken effect in Januarythis year, one can see the adaptability and dynamism required of lawyers and arbitrators in this rapidly expanding field.

Arbitration aside, we note too that amendments were also made to the Legal Profession Act such that lawyers are now allowed to introduce or refer third party funding to their clients so long as they do not receive any direct financial benefit in the process. The practical ramifications of these changes across jurisdictions, along with other sea changes in arbitration, were tabled and discussed by practitioners and guests. Convening to share their insights, the discussants brought together a plethora of experiences from across the globe.

The significance of recent developments and innovations in arbitration cannot be understated; arbitration’s importance has grown beyond merely being an alternative for dispute resolution to being a competitive and viable one. While we were regrettably unable to attend the talks themselves, the SLR’s members anchored on the opportunity at the conference to speak and learn from various legal and business professionals, including a Deputy Solicitor General of Hong Kong. These interactions have certainly been fruitful to us, and we similarly hope that the guests have become more familiar with the SLR’s work and our Singaporean legal landscape.

 Our SLR Editors, Fabian Terh and Fabian Chiang, at their conference booth.

Our SLR Editors, Fabian Terh and Fabian Chiang, at their conference booth.

The 4th ICC Asia Conference on International Arbitration will be held on 26-28 June 2018 in Hong Kong. Do click on this link (or on the preview below) to find out more, and mark down the upcoming Conference on your agenda.

The SLR would once again like to thank the ICC for inviting us to the conference. We look forward to expanding our working partnership in the future if possible and hope to publish more arbitration related papers in our publication in the future.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-09 at 00.09.30.jpeg

Writer: Fabian Chiang

Photo Credits: ICC


More photos of the event can be found here.

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A Law Student's Guide to the National Gallery

by Agnes Lo

“For I suppose there is no institution more ancient and going back further back into the past, than our British conception of justice and rule of law – the government of the people through the law of the land, administered in open courts under the eyes of all, so that impartiality may be apparent and so that any defects in the law may become manifest and reformed.” - Chief Justice Percy McElwaine (as he then was), at the Supreme Court foundation stone ceremony, 1 April 1937.1

The time capsule containing six Singapore newspapers dated 31 March 1937 and a handful of Strait Settlement coins were buried beneath the foundation stone, only to be retrieved in the year 3000. The foundation stone can be located at the Supreme Court Wing, Level 1 (exactly under the centre of the dome).

The Foundation Stone at Supreme Court

The former Supreme Court Building is perhaps the most handsome and majestic of the historic buildings in Singapore, rivalling the best of the classical buildings built by the British in the Commonwealth. Constructed between 1937 and 1939, this iconic building topped by a distinctive big oxidised green copper dome, housed Singapore’s highest Court for more than 60 years until 2005. The former Supreme Court was gazetted a National Monument of Singapore on 14 February 1992.2

A. The Tympanum

Many would agree that the most professionally meaningful symbol of the building is the triangular feature - tympanum - on the pediment visible below the cupola. Designed by Milanese sculptor Cavelieri Rudolfo Nolli, the tympanum constituted an eloquent allegory of justice, which as officers of the Court, we are committed to uphold - the legal principle that “all are equal before the law”. In the tympanum, there is the central figure of Justice holding scales and a sword; two legislators holding books in their hands representing the Law are on one side of Justice and figures representing the People, are on the other side.

The Tympanum at National Gallery Singapore

B. National Gallery Singapore

Following from an ambitious ten-year renovation process, the former Supreme Court Building is now united with the former City Hall as a house of Southeast Asian Art and renamed the National Gallery Singapore. Aspiring architects would be thrilled to witness the intricately re-created architectural model of the gallery (Concourse, Level B1). It shows a fascinating cross-section of the two neo-classical monuments and showcases the complexity of the gallery’s extensive design to gain insights into the challenges of integrating old and new architectural elements and explore the seemingly labyrinth corridors at a single glance.

Take this opportunity to walk through the newly opened ArchiGallery (City Hall Wing, Level 4) to relive the momentous events that took place within these walls: the Japanese surrender ceremony in 1945, the inauguration of Yusof bin Ishak as Yang-di Pertuan Negara (Head of State) in 1959 and the Singapore’s Proclamation of Independence in 1965.3

C. Listening to Architecture: The gallery’s histories and transformation

Listening to Architecture is the first exhibition to be housed at the ArchiGallery. It features two galleries and a walkway, and invites you to think of architecture as a conversation between different generations that develop over time.

Archigallery 1

Explore ArchiGallery 1 to learn about the enduring histories of the site and the architectural plans of the two buildings which once represented the power of the British colonial government.

Many famous cases were heard in this building, and perhaps the most historic of all is the war crime trials of members of the Japanese military in 1946. While you are here, do browse through the two journal articles written by our home-grown academic, Dr Cheah Wui Ling and Professor David J Cohen, on how the Singapore War Crime Trials present legal issues that are of particular relevance for the lower- level prosecutions and its relevance in today’s international criminal law debates. You may locate bound copies of these articles in the drawers underneath the reading table (ArchiGallery 1) Archaeological artefacts from the Yuan Dynasty can also be found in this gallery.

The linkway between the galleries provides an interactive 360 degree virtual tour of the main dome and the prisoner’s passage way, which are public-restricted areas of the buildings.

ArchiGallery 2

ArchiGallery 2 brings you through a timeline of the building’s historic moments: from the idea of a national gallery of the art was first mooted in 1957 to the making of the National Gallery Singapore we see today as part of the government’s Renaissance City Plan in 2000.

Law of Land: Highlights of Singapore’s Constitutional Documents

D. Law of the Land: Highlights of Singapore’s Constitutional Documents

While at the gallery, do visit the Law of the Land: Highlights of Singapore’s Constitutional Documents exhibition (Supreme Court Wing, Level 3, Chief Justice’s Chamber & Office) to indulge yourself in the rich history of Singapore’s constitutional development from its founding as a British settlement in 1819 to its emergence as a sovereign republic in 1965.

Discover rare documents from the collections from the National Archives including the original copy of the Third Charter of Justice, 1855. This document affirmed the reception of English law in Singapore and provided the settlement with its own professional judge (then known as a recorder). You will also find printed on paper and parchment, with gold leaf accents and brightly coloured flower motifs, the documents proclaiming Singapore’s merger with Malaya embodied the hope in the air in 1963, as well as the draft agreement relating to the separation of Singapore from Malaysia as an independent and sovereign state, dated 7 August 1965.4

E. What else?

It is highly recommended that you cap the evening with a visit to the rooftop bar at the City Hall Wing (via the link bridges at levels 3 and 4) to enjoy magnificent panoramic views over the Padang and Marina Bay, while taking in the majestic presence of the dome over some drinks.

Opening Hours

Sun – Thu, Public Holidays: 10am – 7pm

Fri- Sat, Eve of Public Holidays: 10am – 10pm

Admission

Free entry for Singaporean & PRs

Standard ticket for non-Singaporean: $20 (Concessions available)


[1] Sir Percy Alexander McElwaine was the Chief Justice of the Strait Settlements for 1936 – 1946.
[2] William Wan, “Down Memory Lane: Memories of the Old Supreme Court”
<http://www.lawgazette.com.sg/2015-08/1367.htm> (accessed 14 July 2017)

[3] National Gallery, “The Gallery Guide Apr- June 2017”
<https://www.nationalgallery.sg/sites/default/files/2017-GALLERY_QUARTERLY_APR_JUN_2017-Digital.pdf> (accessed 14 July 2017).

[4] “In Pictures: Singapore’s constitutional documents at the National Gallery”
<http://www.straitstimes.com/multimedia/photos/in-pictures-singapores-constitutional- documents-at- the-national-gallery> (accessed 14 July 2017).


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War Crimes Trials Articles exhibited at National Gallery Singapore

War Crimes Trials Articles exhibited at National Gallery Singapore

Two of the Singapore Law Review’s articles are being displayed at Listening to Architecture: The Gallery’s Histories and Transformations, an ongoing exhibition at National Gallery Singapore. These articles discuss the Singapore War Crimes Trials at length. The trials were an epochal moment in Singapore’s history, where justice and accountability was served following the numerous atrocities committed during the Second World War. This special feature will provide essential information for anyone who wishes to familiarise himself with the war crimes trials and their continued relevance today.