A law­yer shall not live by arbit­ra­tion alone (at least this one shan’t). As much as I prac­tise arbit­ra­tion, I enjoy advising cli­ents in an area of law that, over time, has developed into a pro­fes­sion­al hobby­horse: busi­ness-related admin­is­trat­ive law. The area of law that empowers, or obliges, state agen­cies to super­vise or inter­fere with the private eco­nomy. The busi­ness-related admin­is­trat­ive law of Singa­pore, in Ger­man: das Wirtschafts­ver­wal­tung­s­recht von Singapur. Repeat after me.

In gen­er­al, I enjoy this because there are cer­tain loc­al pecu­li­ar­it­ies which I believe 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. How­ever, when the author­it­ies ‘recom­mend’ a cer­tain beha­viour on their web­sites, they do so to the loc­al read­er. They pre­sup­pose a cer­tain men­tal­ity, and he who reads it too lib­er­ally may not get it. Often enough, there’s actu­ally a leg­al oblig­a­tion to do some­thing. For example, to register an activ­ity or obtain a per­mit, and viol­at­ing this duty will, well, com­prom­ise your mar­ket access. I believe after some­thing between four­teen to twenty-one years of per­son­al Singa­pore exper­i­ence I’ve got the hang of these things, and of a few others.

On Time for a Change

Apart from that, advising on busi­ness-related admin­is­trat­ive law allows me to meet cir­cum­stances that oth­er­wise I’d nev­er hear of. One of the priv­ileges of the leg­al pro­fes­sion, to be sure, but one that you eas­ily for­feit if you overspecialise.

Of course, you encounter inter­est­ing situ­ations in arbit­ra­tion pro­ceed­ings as well. Rep­res­ent­ing parties in dis­putes or decid­ing them as arbit­rat­or is excit­ing. But once there’s a dis­pute, it’s usu­ally all about fault and liab­il­ity. How very sat­is­fy­ing to work on pre­vent­ing things from going wrong in the first place for a change. If possible.

Food Law, Import Law, Road Licensing Law, or Hazardous Goods Law, and Such

For instance, advising the com­pany that wanted to know, bey­ond its cor­por­ate law needs, what the leg­al require­ments were for lub­ric­ants in the loc­al food industry. There you are, diving right into the shal­lows of Singa­por­ean food addit­ives law.

Or take the com­pany that needed to import heavy-duty trucks into Singa­pore, and register them for road use. Loc­al import law and traffic admin­is­trat­ive law tell you how that’s done.

Or the parties deal­ing with haz­ard­ous goods, who decided to enter into a con­sign­ment ware­house agree­ment. Soon they were ask­ing to what extent each of them will be respons­ible for the risks arising from the goods. They had a hunch that oper­at­ing the ware­house will require a per­mit. Envir­on­ment­al admin­is­trat­ive law knew the answer.

And That’s Why…

I’m pleased com­pan­ies from Ger­many, Aus­tria and Switzer­land are increas­ingly find­ing me for their mat­ters relat­ing to Wirtschafts­ver­wal­tung­s­recht in Singapore.

This is the Eng­lish ver­sion of a Ger­man Linked­In post from the oth­er day.