That German-Singapore Lawyer

Category: Law

From Munich with Law: My Way to a Doctorate

If you know me, you know that I don’t always do things in life in the ortho­dox order. After passing my first state exam­in­a­tion in law at the begin­ning of 2001, I wanted to do a doc­tor­ate. In fact, I had already made sev­er­al pre­par­a­tions for it. But then life inter­vened and took me from Ham­burg to Singa­pore. That was fine. I soon aban­doned the idea of becom­ing a Doc­tor of Law and con­cen­trated on my second state exam­in­a­tion, then my career, and whatever else was hap­pen­ing in my life (which, as life goes, wasn’t all smooth sail­ing). A while ago, how­ever, I picked up the idea again and pur­sued it fur­ther. Yes­ter­day I was in Munich for my oral doc­tor­al exam­in­a­tion at Lud­wig Max­imili­an Uni­ver­sity (LMU). I’m happy to report: I made it.

Me last night at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (symbolic picture).

Courts and Tribunals and the Amicable Settlement of Disputes in Singapore

May courts or arbit­ral tribunals engage in the amic­able set­tle­ment of dis­putes between parties? More spe­cific­ally, may a Singa­pore court or arbit­ral tribunal act­ively do so? What do the inquis­it­ori­al pro­cesses men­tioned in the law have to do with it?

I have set out my thoughts in an art­icle that the Ger­man Arbit­ra­tion Journ­al (Schieds­VZ) has just pub­lished in its September/October 2023 issue.

Sup­ple­ment­al: Kluwer Arbit­ra­tion Blog has pub­lished a sum­mary of the article.

The galley proofs of my article ‘On the Powers of Courts and Arbitral Tribunals in the Amicable Settlement of Disputes by the Parties: A Look at Singapore and Selected Other Countries’. Inquisitorial processes are the key.

Wirtschaftsverwaltungsrecht Singapur, Anyone?

A law­yer shall not live by arbit­ra­tion alone (at least not this one). As much as I enjoy arbit­ra­tion, I also enjoy advising cli­ents in an area of law that has, over time, become a pro­fes­sion­al hobby­horse: eco­nom­ic admin­is­trat­ive law. This is the area of law that empowers or requires gov­ern­ment agen­cies to mon­it­or or inter­vene in the private sec­tor. The eco­nom­ic admin­is­trat­ive law of Singa­pore, in Ger­man: das Wirtschafts­ver­wal­tung­s­recht von Singapur. Repeat after me.

dahm adr’s New Website

I’ve had the web­site of dahm adr over­hauled. This is where I arbit­rate and mediate.

Please have a look:

Singapore’s New Law on Electronic Bills of Lading

Peking, a steel-hulled four-masted barque, was one of the last generation of cargo-carrying iron-hulled sailing ships. She probably carried many bills of lading.
New tech­no­logy on the horizon

Singa­pore has adop­ted the UNCITRAL Mod­el Law on Elec­tron­ic Trans­fer­able Records, in a bid to get elec­tron­ic bills of lad­ing (eBOL) off the ground after pre­vi­ous efforts failed. The Singa­pore Cham­ber of Mari­time Arbit­ra­tion has pub­lished the ori­gin­al Eng­lish ver­sion of my art­icle on the new law. Trans­port­recht, the trans­port­a­tion law journ­al, has pub­lished the Ger­man ver­sion.

Enforceability of Foreign Emergency Awards in Singapore

An arbit­ral award made by an emer­gency arbit­rat­or sit­ting in Singa­pore is enforce­able in Singa­pore. The law is clear on this.

How­ever, the law is less clear on for­eign emer­gency awards. Are they enforce­able in Singapore?

Patrick Dahm (emergency arbitrator, among other things) caught by a CCTV camera taking a picture of himself on the CCTV screen

Facebook and Libra: The House of Medici on Speed

Face­book and Libra, that’s like the House of Medici on speed. The Medici fam­ily were mer­chants first. Dur­ing the Itali­an Renais­sance they became bankers, then princes. Then they pro­duced four popes of the Cath­ol­ic Church. It took them a few cen­tur­ies to do all that. But in announ­cing Libra, Face­book is claim­ing cyber prince­dom (cyber papacy even?) barely fif­teen years after its found­ing. No won­der the gov­ern­ments of today are stunned.

The moderator and panelists of The Dappers' event Introducing Libra: Facebook’s brainchild, on 16 July 2019.

Libra: A Sovereign Currency for Cyberspace?

Face­book, unar­gu­ably one of the biggest over­lords of cyber­space, has pro­posed a crypto­cur­rency: Libra.

That’s inter­est­ing. Why Face­book? What’s happening?

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook and proponent of cryptocurrency Libra, to be managed by the Libra Association.

Law, Lies, and Videotape

I was work­ing for Samuel Seow Law Cor­por­a­tion when its founder and man­aging dir­ect­or assaul­ted female staff mem­bers in his office last year. When videos of the incid­ent sur­faced a few days ago, my phone was on fire. A few sen­sa­tion­al­ists were fish­ing for gos­sip (wrong num­ber, guys), but the major­ity had an actu­al desire to talk. For the first time, I couldn’t answer every­one who con­tac­ted me in time. That’s why I wrote this post.

On Arbitration, Football and Vacuum-Cleaning Robots

The Singa­pore Insti­tute of Arbit­rat­ors invited me to debate the fol­low­ing motion: ‘This House Believes That Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Will Have Replaced Arbit­rat­ors with­in Twenty-Five Years’. In short: can – will – algorithms replace arbit­rat­ors with­in a generation?

We were debat­ing this last night. Here are my open­ing and clos­ing statements.

Group picture of the debaters, the judges and the moderator, all arbitration practitioners

BeA – Insecure Professional Communication for German Lawyers

As of this week, Ger­man law­yers are required to use an elec­tron­ic com­mu­nic­a­tion tool designed espe­cially for them: the spe­cial elec­tron­ic law­yers’ mail­box (beson­deres elektron­isches Anwalt­s­post­fach or beA). The prob­lem is that the beA is inher­ently insec­ure, so it seems bet­ter to avoid using it. This would include, if pos­sible, not lit­ig­at­ing before a Ger­man court if there’s a chance that the oppon­ent or the court might use the beA in the pro­ceed­ings. This seems all the more appro­pri­ate where there is a risk of snoop­ing or foul play by the oppon­ent or third parties, or where the stakes are high – and when aren’t they?

My beA card
One card to bring them all and in the dark­ness bind them

Guerrilla Tactics in Arbitration

I don’t like how we use the term guer­rilla tac­tics in inter­na­tion­al arbit­ra­tion. Refer­ring to guer­rilla dis­ap­prov­ingly implies meth­ods of tra­di­tion­al war­fare are alright. Artil­lery or old-school tac­tic­al form­a­tions – okay. Sneaky ambushes or hit-and-run attacks – not okay.

Japanese premises at night, approached by ninjas
The place of the hear­ing at night
Priyageetha Dia's golden flags

Gilded with Law

Priy­ageetha Dia has gil­ded Singa­pore with gold foil, again. And a lot of people have called her urb­an art inter­ven­tion illeg­al, again. But what if she and her art had been on safe leg­al ground all along? What if it wasn’t so clear wheth­er the remov­al of her golden flags was leg­al or not?

Initial Coin Offering: an Inaccurate Term and an Imperfect Regulator

Patrick Dahm flaunting his Aviato t-shirt

This is my speech at the first Com­pu­ta­tion­al Law & Block­chain Fest­iv­al – Singa­pore Node on 17 March 2018. In it, I tried to explain what ini­tial coin offer­ings are, why gov­ern­ments all over the world eye them curi­ously, and how gov­ern­ments reg­u­late them – if they reg­u­late them. I also ques­tioned why brick and mor­tar gov­ern­ments reg­u­late some­thing so digital.

No, I Won’t Help You Whitewash Your Token Sale Scam

Over lunch the in-house coun­sel of a tech com­pany asked me wheth­er I ever decline work. We were mak­ing small talk, but funny she should ask. Because I have indeed chosen not to work on one or the oth­er ini­tial coin offer­ing or token sale lately.

I do what I do for a liv­ing, so I’m not prone to decline work by default. But these pro­jects didn’t smell right.

The Efficient Breach of Smart Contracts

Smart con­tracts are described as self-execut­ing: how they are formed is how they will be per­formed. This is why some of us see no (or at least less) room for leg­al dis­pute over them.

It shouldn’t be this way. Where it’s effi­cient, it should be pos­sible to breach a smart con­tract. Even though this may lead to a leg­al dispute.

The Arts and the Law in Singapore

Last Fri­day we were cel­eb­rat­ing the offi­cial open­ing of our new office, arts and enter­tain­ment law firm that we are. This is the speech I gave before the party took off.

Group picture with Patrick Dahm and party guests

Ten Common Causes of Conflicts within Small Businesses (And How to Fix Them)

The good people of Asia Law Net­work have pub­lished this little piece of mine on con­flicts with­in small busi­nesses. It’s here.

Orchard Road night scenery
Close-up of Priyageetha Dia's golden staircase at Jalan Rajah

The Art of Walking a Fine and Golden Line

Was Priy­ageetha Dia’s golden stair­case art or van­dal­ism? Wrong ques­tion, in my view. Some­thing can be both. Just that this art wasn’t.

Smartifying Blockchains, Legally

Yes, block­chain tech­no­logy can do things which con­ven­tion­al ledgers or registers can­not do. A few days ago I argued that this didn’t mean block­chain should replace tra­di­tion­al ways of record­ing leg­al trans­ac­tions whole­sale. Tra­di­tion­al ways of record­ing leg­al trans­ac­tions embed func­tions which block­chains don’t embed yet. Where the law demands it or wherever else it makes sense we should think about imple­ment­ing them.

Here’s in more detail what I had in mind.

Blockchain: The Roll of Deeds of the Internet

After read­ing Caitlin Moon’s instruct­ive blog Block­chain 101 for Law­yers I com­men­ted that we should think of it as a cybernot­ary who can authen­tic­ate — everything.

Ive changed my mind.

For the avoid­ance of doubt, I’m all for catchy ana­lo­gies. They help under­stand much of what’s going on in cyber­space. Even bet­ter than a catchy ana­logy, though, is an ana­logy that’s catchy and apt.

Two birds in a dispute

How Do We Resolve Disputes? What’s with Those Algorithms?

This really very long and quasi-aca­dem­ic post is based on a speech I gave to MBA stu­dents of the Man­age­ment Devel­op­ment Insti­tute of Singa­pore some­time in 2016. Sub­ject: how do we resolve dis­putes and what bor­ders, geo­graph­ic­al or oth­er­wise, do we cross in doing so? Bor­ders and oth­er­wise, ged­dit, I was talk­ing about dis­pute res­ol­u­tion in cyber­space and algorithms.

Singapore to Ratify Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements

Here’s my piece on Singa­pore’s rat­i­fic­a­tion of this Con­ven­tion on Peter Ber­t’s dis­pute res­ol­u­tion blog.

The National Coat of Arms of Singapore
Dark forest scene. Insecure

Security in Cyberspace, Fifty Years into Its Colonisation

The space where all data exchange and com­mu­nic­a­tion of the Inter­net hap­pens, cyber­space, is neut­ral. Noth­ing insec­ure adheres to it in and of itself. Insec­ur­ity is brought in by man who pop­u­lates cyber­space, and by the tools that he has brought along. So how to regain secur­ity in this space – cybersecurity?

The Supreme Court of Singapore

Singapurischer Internationaler Handelsgerichtshof eröffnet

Anfang 2015 wurde der Singapur­ische Inter­na­tionale Han­dels­gericht­shof (Singa­pore Inter­na­tion­al Com­mer­cial Court oder SICC) eröffnet. Das Gericht ist als Teil des singapur­ischen Supreme Court für inter­na­tionale Han­dels­sachen zuständig und ver­eint schiedsgericht­liche und gericht­liche Ele­mente. Singapur will dam­it seine Pos­i­tion als inter­na­tionales Streit­sch­lich­tung­szen­trum ausbauen.

Language’ Difficulties between Civil Law and Common Law

Parties to a leg­al dis­pute may believe they under­stand each other’s legalese or the leg­al ‘etiquette’ applic­able. When really they don’t. This may hap­pen when a party from a civil law jur­is­dic­tion sets foot in a com­mon law envir­on­ment, or vice versa. In inter­na­tion­al arbit­ra­tion pro­ceed­ings, for example.

Appar­ently the High Court of Singa­pore had to decide a case just like this.

Court scene: a barrister (cross-)examining a witness

A Grain of Civil Law – Some (Not So) New Chords for the International Arbitration Jazz

Scene in Italy: group of children free-riding the tram
Faster, cheap­er

Inter­na­tion­al arbit­ra­tion has a prob­lem: pro­ceed­ings that take too long and are too expens­ive. To help solve this we should com­bine the best aspects of civil law and com­mon law pro­ced­ure better.

The Midnight Clause in International Arbitration

This is my speech at the In-house Con­gress in Jakarta, Indone­sia, on 23 April 2014. It was on why it’s import­ant your com­mer­cial con­tracts con­tain an arbit­ra­tion clause that works well.

Full moon at midnight

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