A recap of First for Disputes Singapore 2018 and looking ahead to being In Your Corner in 2019

By Swee Siang Boey, Selina Toh


The annual First for Disputes ("FFD") Conference organised by the Dispute Resolution Group of Bird & Bird ATMD LLP was yet again a resounding success in 2018. The FFD Conference 2018 was held on 9 October 2018 at the iconic Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, and was a full-day event comprising various technical workshops aimed at providing in-house lawyers and client delegates with a practitioner's insight into some of the more commonly encountered dispute resolution issues. 

The technical workshops were provided in the form of plenary and breakout sessions throughout the day. All participants were gathered for three plenary sessions, each comprising presentations by our experienced practitioners on the latest "hot topics" in local and global dispute resolution. In between each plenary session, two breakout sessions were organised in the form of intimate small group discussions with enhanced speaker-audience interaction. Participants had two different topics to choose from for each breakout session depending on their preferred area of law.

The three plenary sessions covered the following topics:

  • Sandra Seah (Joint Managing Partner, Corporate and Commercial Services Group, Singapore) and Mr. Eef Gerard Van Emmerik (Associate, Corporate and Commercial Services Group, Singapore) evaluated the legal risks implicit in terminating or varying contracts and provided essential tips and strategies to negotiate for termination of contracts, or re-negotiate existing contractual terms.

  • Jonathan Choo (Partner, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) and Mr. Shaun Lee (Counsel, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) examined how parties can go about seeking strategic urgent relief in arbitration proceedings, what steps are involved and how to avoid common pitfalls. The speakers also shared tips on how parties can best make use of discovery applications to advance their cases.

  • Teo Yihui (Associate, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) and Selina Toh (Associate, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) presented on settlement negotiations and agreements, and offers to settle. The session also included an update on without prejudice communications following the framework of what is without prejudice and when does it apply. 

The morning breakout session covered the following topics: 

  • Goh Seow Hui (Partner, Employment Group, Singapore) provided insight into the utility and relevance of restrictive covenants in practice to better protect businesses, and the latest case law on the subject.  
  • Alban Kang (Partner, Intellectual Property & Technology Group, Singapore) and Anan Sivananthan (Partner, Intellectual Property & Technology Group, Singapore) outlined some of the legal and practical issues involved in IP litigation in the region. The session also included takeaways from recent Singapore trade mark and patent cases and some IP cases in the region, as well as insights as to US IP litigation from the perspective of a Singapore company.

The afternoon breakout session covered the following topics: 

  • Loong Seng Onn (Executive Director, Singapore Mediation Centre) and Associate Professor Lim-Lum Kit Wye (Division of Business Law, Nanyang Technological University), with Lin Yuankai (Counsel, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) as moderator, held an informative panel discussion which examined the potential pitfalls and obstacles encountered by parties in settlement and negotiation processes, and provided handy tips to prepare yourself psychologically before and during such processes. The panel also explored ways to overcome impasse when the parties are unwilling to budge from their entrenched positions.
  • Shaun Lee (Counsel, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore) examined the situations and conditions in which obtaining injunctive relief is the optimum strategy in a commercial dispute. The session also included a discussion on the tactical and legal considerations involved in seeking an injunction, how to react if an injunction is issued against you, how to aside an injunction that has been improperly obtained, as well as how to deal with the practical issues of managing a Anton Piller search/dawn raid.

The conference concluded with a closing address by Lorraine Tay (Joint Managing Partner, Intellectual Property & Technology Group, Singapore), thanking our esteemed participants for attending the event. The FFD Conference 2018 was a resounding success with more than 140 in-house lawyers and client delegates participating in the event. Feedback from the participants was positive, with comments that the speakers were "very experienced" and "captivating", and that the workshops were "insightful" and "informative". We are also pleased to share that 2018 was the first year in which the younger lawyers of Bird & Bird ATMD LLP were given the opportunity to participate as speakers in our FFD Conference, a move which was well received by our participants. 

Looking ahead to the "In Your Corner" disputes conference in Singapore

This year, the FFD Conference has been rebranded as the "In Your Corner" Conference. If you would like to know more about the "In Your Corner" Conference, please click here. Alternatively, you may contact Boey Swee Siang, Head of Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore, or Selina Toh, Associate, Dispute Resolution Group, Singapore.