First for Disputes Conference in Singapore


On 15 November 2016, the Dispute Resolution Group of Bird & Bird ATMD LLP organized its inaugural First for Disputes Conference in Singapore. This followed on from successful conferences held in London, Paris and Sydney, and was organised in tandem with the Hong Kong office's own First for Disputes Conference on 17 November 2016.

The conference was held at the iconic Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, and was a one-day affair intended to provide in-house lawyers and other client representatives (both existing and prospective) with a practitioner's insight into some of the more commonly encountered dispute resolution issues.

The conference was organized such that participants gathered for 3 presentation-style plenary sessions on "hot topics" in dispute resolution, with 2 concurrent pairs of breakout sessions dealing with different topics between the plenary sessions for a more intimate small group discussion. Participants could choose to attend their preferred breakout sessions of choice.

The 3 plenary sessions covered the following issues:

  • Mr Navin Joseph Lobo (Partner, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) presented on issues of legal advice and litigation privilege concerned whether documents or communications which were disclosed by a client to its solicitors could be required to be disclosed.
  • Mr Jonathan Choo (Partner, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) and Mr Boey Swee Siang (Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) gave a primer on how to settle disputes effectively as well as pointers to look out for when negotiating a settlement such as how to protecting a party's position on costs.
  • Mr Simon Phippard (Of Counsel, Bird & Bird UK) gave an informative overview as to compliance with anti-bribery and anti-corruption regulations in a commercial context, and our guest speaker Mr Darren Cerasi (Partner, Deloitte Forensic SEA) presented on forensic technologies and investigations methodologies that were relevant to potential anti-bribery and anti-corruption investigations.

The presentations given at the plenary sessions also covered key developments in Singapore case law and offered participants a unique insight into the inner workings of the thought process of a Bird & Bird lawyer tackling a dispute.

The 2 pairs of concurrent breakout sessions covered the following topics:

Morning Breakout Sessions

  • Ms Goh Seow Hui (Partner, Employment Group, Singapore) and Ms Chye Shu Yi (Associate, Employment Group, Singapore) touched on several key issues of employment law, in particular on the use of restrictive covenants in employment contracts.
  • Mr Jonathan Choo (Partner, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) and Mr Lin Yuankai (Senior Associate, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) provided a key update as to the arbitration landscape in Singapore with a focus on the updated Singapore International Arbitration Centre Rules 2016 and possible changes to the rules on third-party funding. Ms. Annet van Hooft from our Paris office also briefed participants on the European experience of arbitration.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

  • Ms Sandra Seah (Joint Managing Partner, Corporate and Commercial Services Group, Singapore) and Mr Jonathan Kao (Senior Associate, Corporate and Commercial Services Group, Singapore) shed light on various issues relating to competition law and anti-competitive agreements.
  • Mr Alban Kang (Partner, Intellectual Property Group, Singapore) and Ms Oh Pin-ping (Counsel, Intellectual Property Group, Singapore) shared their experiences relating to intellectual property litigation and the use of expert witnesses in patent litigation.

As stated above, the breakout sessions were more targeted in their coverage, with participants given the option of attending sessions dealing specifically with either employment law or arbitration law for the morning breakout session, and competition law or intellectual property law for the afternoon breakout session.

The conference was closed by Ms. Van Hooft with a speech thanking the participants for attending the event and noting that as the topics covered by the speakers showed that dispute resolution often requires parties to consider a wide scope of issues, she was optimistic that the conference would give participants plenty of food for thought.

The First for Disputes Conference was overall very well received, with the event being oversubscribed. More than 100 in-house lawyers and client representatives turned up for the event and many stayed for the full day of presentations right up till the very end. Feedback from the participants was positive, with some participants informing our lawyers that the sessions were very informative and provided them with a fresh perspective on approaching a dispute.

If you would like to know more about the First for Disputes Conference, or would like a soft copy of any of the presentation materials, please contact Boey Swee Siang, Head of Dispute Resolution Group Singapore at

Ang Kai Wen
Associate, Singapore
Tel: +65 6534 5266

This article is part of the Asia-Pacific Data Protection update for January 2017. View the next article here.