April 28, 2022
Global businesses are forecast to spend $10 trillion on digital transformation in the five years to 2025, capitalizing on rapid technological developments that are reshaping every corner of the corporate world. While digitalization is game-changing, it comes with risks, challenges and obligations that must be understood and navigated to succeed. Globally, complex laws and regulations are leading to significant legal obligations around digital responsibility for companies – which often diverge, rather than converge, across various jurisdictions. These laws extend significant duties and expectations to boards and senior leadership to ensure adequate oversight and governance in this area. In 2022, it is a business imperative to employ the right strategy to deal with these risks and obligations. ‘Going Digital’ Versus Digitalization There is often confusion between a company ‘going digital’ and digitalization. Implementing new technologies in a siloed manner, without consideration of the business-wide implications, can lead to major negative repercussions for the most senior leadership of an organization. Digitalization – the application of digital technologies to transform business activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage the opportunities from technology and data – encompasses companies’ procurement, deployment and use of such technologies. It also includes businesses developing, selling or licensing out these technologies. This could be for internal use or customer-facing purposes, making it relevant to all companies, regardless of sector. Businesses in Asia, and globally, are seeking a competitive edge and digitalizing at breakneck speed, a trend that has been accelerated by the global pandemic. Fifty-five per cent of products and services are at least partly digitalized today, compared with only 35 per cent in 2019, prior to...
April 21, 2022
While most people might think of funny, pricey pieces of digital art when they hear the term ‘NFT’ (non fungible token), NFTs are being employed in an increasing number of applications, including games, music and even automobiles – Alfa Romeo announced its subcompact Tonale SUV will include an NFT that will record vehicle data, generating a certificate that can be used to assure the car has been properly maintained. In addition, NFT arts are used as collateral for financing where lenders could foreclose and own the NFT of a defaulted loan “at a darn good price”. New beneficial applications of NFTs are emerging. For instance, NFTs linked to physical art made by traditional indigenous artists can be listed on online marketplaces, offering these artists a global audience that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. The Need For NFT Risk Assessment But, as the transaction value and usage of NFTs increase, so too do the needs for the owner to fulfil obligations in, inter alia, the reporting for auditing, tax and regulatory compliance purposes, due diligence (e.g. where NFT assets are part of acquisition or merger negotiations), the avoidance of fraud, and ensuring transactional confidence. These risks became all the more tangible when the UK’s tax department, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), seized NFTs as part of a £1.4 million fraud case. Identifying these risks is obviously beneficial – the riskiness of an asset affects its validity which, in turn, impacts its value. Yet, it is far more challenging to map such risks than it would appear upon first glance. Complexities Of NFT Risk Assessment To start, a proper...
April 21, 2022
From barrister to offshore law – and the lessons learned in between   Q: You head up the litigation team in the Hong Kong office of Carey Olsen, one of the leading offshore law firms, having started your legal career and practiced for many years as a barrister. In what ways is leading a practice in an offshore law firm different from being a barrister, and how has your background helped you in your work now? It is a real positive that there are now many different routes to progress a legal career and the professions have benefited from having a greater range of backgrounds and experiences: we all bring something slightly different and my team at Carey Olsen is all the stronger for it. As you mentioned, my own practice started with a decade as a barrister, which often focused on the end-point of a case, being the trial, judgment, order or appeal. This reinforced for me the value of the outcome. There is no point having an elaborate strategy to achieve various “successes” if at the end of it your client is no better off, the most poignant example being a hard-won judgment which cannot be enforced against an impecunious defendant. I have continued to focus on truly understanding the client’s objectives, asking what success looks like and then working backwards to find a strategy. As to differences, whilst there are practical and structural differences between the role of a self-employed barrister and the wider role at an offshore law firm, at the core I find there’s a great deal of commonality. The role continues to turn...
February 28, 2022
Demand for flexible legal resourcing has risen sharply during the pandemic. The Peerpoint team reflects on the drivers behind this rise and explain why 2022 is a great time for lawyers to explore legal consulting as a career option. What Impact Has The Pandemic Had On Lawyers’ Attitudes To Legal Consulting? Initially, the pandemic resulted in a slowdown in the flexible resourcing market. However, it has been buoyant again, particularly over the last 10 months. One reason is that many more lawyers switched to consulting over this period as part of a trend that some economists are dubbing “the great resignation”. Millions of people are now using the unprecedented disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic as an opportunity to re-evaluate what they want from life and assess how their careers can make those goals happen. “A lot of people are rethinking their careers and looking for the variety, control and new learning opportunities that legal consulting brings,” says Marie Kirby, Head of Talent at Peerpoint. “In-house lawyers, for example, can sometimes hit a career ceiling and see fewer options to progress, so legal consulting offers different challenges and opportunities in new environments. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest, and this change can give their career the boost it needs.” In terms of client demand, Peerpoint has seen a very sharp rise in clients seeking out resourcing solutions as in-house legal teams experience budget constraints and resourcing challenges. “There is a clear talent shortage for permanent hires, which is where the flexible and short-term solutions that Peerpoint and similar providers offer is key,” says Helen Libson,...
January 25, 2022
The question of what to do with data was a major theme at Relativity Fest 2021 – from how to safely gather data to the necessity for legal professionals to upskill about dealing with data. Given that the conference was held virtually for the second year in a row, Covid-19 was top of mind for every speaker as well. Most panelists had something to say about the pandemic which has radically altered how businesses and the wider legal profession must now operate. In the popular eighth annual Judicial Panel session, judges from across the US and the UK unpacked the results of switching to virtual court proceedings during Covid-19. Nora Barry Fischer, senior US District Judge of the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said hearings conducted on Zoom were surprisingly popular with defendants. “People often think of Zoom as impersonal, but that’s not true at all. Defendants say they enjoy seeing the judge more clearly and family and friends can also join the sessions. Also, Zoom makes it much easier for the press to attend our hearings. Judges can also make judgments available to a larger mix of people, since the public can dial in,” Fischer said. William Matthewman, federal magistrate judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, said the general success of virtual hearings was a “real eye opener” for him and he intends to use the technology even when the pandemic is over. “It has been an excellent tool for all types of cases and proceedings. Zoom has been a silver lining to the pandemic. It has forced the...
January 18, 2022
One clear sign that the Covid-19 crisis may have been both less impactful than first feared and also now ending is that mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity is returning to normal in the Asia Pacific. A year ago, most businesses were contemplating the frighteningly uncertain prospect of what to do if the pandemic continued in 2021. Many Asia Pacific companies simply decided to push on as normal and either begin new M&A deals or finalize those that were set on pause. According to EY, in the first half of 2021 M&A values in the region increased to US$535 billion, up from US$284b in the same period in 2020, The region has counted more than 50 deals valued over US$1b so far this year, an increase of almost five times year-on-year. The EY report pointed to the technology sector as the leader of M&A deal activity, accounting for a third (28%) of the cumulative deal value in the first half of 2021, with deal value increasing by 88% year-on-year. The advanced manufacturing and mobility sectors were also active this year. According to a Mergermarket report, in 2020 Asia Pacific M&A deal volume decreased by a nominal 4%, compared to the global decline of 14%. The report said rising consumer confidence led these trends and the region retains a positive GDP outlook. Eversheds Sutherland Head of International M&A Asia Charles Butcher said the pandemic in 2020 had an obvious activity-suppressing impact early on with many investors adopting a precautionary, “wait and see” approach regarding M&A activity. “By the second half of 2020 we were already seeing the market adapting in terms...