Response by the Chief Justice at the Opening of the Legal Year 2021

In his Response to mark the opening of the 2021 legal year on 11 January, The Honourable the Chief Justice of Singapore Sundaresh Menon touched on three main aspects:

First, a fair criminal justice system where His Honour gave his first public comments on the Parti Liyani case;

Second, the post-pandemic legal landscape where opportunities abound to leverage technology to optimise process and upskill the profession; and

Third, initiatives to advance rule of law in both the domestic and international space, where the new Appellate division of the High Court and measures by the Family Justice Courts to allow litigants-in-person to submit court documents online were cited, among others, as domestic initiatives.

ABLI is grateful to see itself mentioned prominently as one of the players in advancing rule of law in the international space, together with the likes of the Singapore International Commercial Court and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.

At para 46 of the Response,

Perhaps the best manifestation of these points can be seen in the work and achievements of the Asian Business Law Institute (“ABLI”), established just five years ago with the weighty mission of promoting the convergence of commercial laws in Asia. ABLI has punched well beyond its weight in that time. This past year, it partnered the International Insolvency Institute (“III”), in April and launched “Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency in Asia 2020”, a compendium of reports examining the corporate restructuring and insolvency regimes in 16 jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific region. Looking ahead, the ABLI-III project aims to make recommendations as to how jurisdictions may collaborate more effectively on in-court and out-of-court workouts. In September, ABLI released the “Asian Principles for the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Asia”, the first such publication anywhere in the world. The Asian Principles seek to promote convergence in this area and so to advance the portability of judgments within ASEAN and its major trading partners. In November, the ABLI Data Privacy Project was selected from 850 submissions coming from 115 countries to be presented at 23 the Paris Peace Forum, an annual conference where heads of State, international organisations, top industry leaders and NGOs meet to construct new forms of collective action regarding global governance issues. And just a couple of days ago, we learnt that ABLI’s Comparative Analytical Review on Data Transfers Regulations in Asia, that was published last May, has been honoured with the Privacy Papers for Policymakers Award, by the Future of Privacy Forum, the leading privacy think tank in the US. ABLI’s publication has been selected from among dozens of applications as a “must-read” for policymakers on privacy issues. This is the first time in the 10-year history of the award that a paper focused on Asian laws has been selected and the team will be presenting its work at an event to be attended by policymakers, privacy professionals and academics in February. I highlight these achievements because they validate our long-held belief that we do have a significant role to play in advancing multilateralism and the Rule of Law even beyond our shores; and that it is well worth expending the effort to do anything we can in the law’s effort to make things better.”

ABLI is humbled by the support from all contributors and stakeholders and looks forward to continuing our mission to promote convergence in the areas of business laws.

The Full Response by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon can be read here. With the Opening of the Legal Year 2021 held online for the first time ever, a recording can be viewed here.

Chief Justice Menon chairs ABLI’s Board of Governors.

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