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.
In general, I enjoy this because there are certain local idiosyncrasies that I think I’m familiar with, but which may seem alien to a businessman used to the fundamental freedoms of the EU. Yes, Singapore is one of the most business-friendly countries in the world. But when the authorities ‘recommend’ a certain behaviour on their websites, they are doing so to the local reader. They are assuming a certain mentality, and those who read it too liberally may not understand. Often enough, there’s actually a legal obligation to do something. For example, to register an activity or to get a permit, and if you fail to do that, well, your access to the market is jeopardised. I think after something like fourteen to twenty-one years of personal experience in Singapore, I’ve got the hang of these things and a few others.
On Time for a Change
Having said that, advising on commercial administrative law allows me to encounter situations that I’d otherwise never hear of. One of the privileges of being a lawyer, but one that can easily be lost if you become too specialised.
Of course, in arbitration you will also encounter interesting situations. Representing parties in disputes or deciding them as an arbitrator is exciting. But once there’s a dispute, it’s usually about fault and liability. How satisfying to work on preventing things from going wrong in the first place. If possible.
Food Law, Import Law, Road Licensing Law, or Hazardous Goods Law, and Such
For example, advising the company that wanted to know, beyond its corporate law needs, what the legal requirements were for lubricants in the local food industry. So there you are, diving into the depths of Singapore’s food additives law.
Or take the company that needed to import heavy trucks into Singapore and register them for road use. Local import and traffic laws will tell you how it’s done.
Or the parties dealing with dangerous goods who decided to enter into a consignment warehouse agreement. Soon they were wondering to what extent each of them would be responsible for the risks arising from the goods. They suspected that the operation of the warehouse would require a permit. Environmental administrative law had the answer.
And That’s Why…
I’m delighted that companies from Germany, Austria and Switzerland are increasingly turning to me for their matters relating to Wirtschaftsverwaltungsrecht in Singapore.
This is the English version of a German LinkedIn post from the other day.