The Year In Review 2020

While Covid-19 may be the defining phrase for the world in 2020, milestone is certainly a more apt word to describe what ABLI has achieved in the past 12 months. 

In April, we published Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency in Asia 2020, the phase-1 output of our joint project with the International Insolvency Institute in business reorganisation, right at a time when business struggles and corporate failures were starting to make global headlines. Less than two months later, we released Transferring Personal Data in Asia: A path to legal certainty and regional convergence, a Comparative Review and Table on the laws and regulations on cross-border data transfers in 14 Asia-Pacific jurisdictions, which we updated in November and continue to make available for free download. The climax of this year’s publication work is no doubt the launch in September of the Asian Principles for the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, the first set of Principles we published under our mandate to promote convergence of business laws in Asia.

As to events, we were quick to adapt to the new normal of online gatherings, having organised four webinars on dispute resolution and restructuring throughout the year. ABLI was also invited to speak at many external live and recorded webinar sessions, the pinnacle of which is the selection and showcase of our Data Privacy Project at the 3rd edition of the Paris Peace Forum to a worldwide audience in November. These activities have enabled us to connect to the wider world outside of our home base in Singapore, a much-welcomed boost during these trying times when the need to stay connected is greater than ever.

Foreign Judgments Project

We started off the year with a panel on cross-border dispute resolution in the first ever France-Singapore legal symposium in January. In April, Project Lead Associate Professor Adeline Chong published Moving towards Harmonisation in the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments on the Journal of Private International Law, which foreshadowed the release of the Asian Principles for the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, ABLI’s first set of Principles, in September. We followed up with a mini-series of concise handbooks called “Where in Asia” in November to cater to different reader profiles. Further, the month of June saw our webinar A View from the International Bench – Current Topics in Cross-border Dispute Resolution being held, and the Chinese edition of the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Asia officially published in Mainland China.

Restructuring Project

The Restructuring Project completed its first phase with the publication of the Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency in Asia 2020 in April, a colossal piece of work of over 800 pages that has, for the first time, discussed the corporate restructuring and insolvency regimes in all ten ASEAN member states, in addition to six of their major trading partners. With corporate restructuring and insolvency attracting unprecedented attention globally during this period, we held three webinars to discuss, respectively, restructuring practices in India, Japan and Singapore as well as the restructuring of airlines using specific regimes. We are grateful for the warm reception of our webinars. This year, we also more closely partnered INSOL’s regional hub in Singapore to raise awareness of our work, and contributed to LexisNexis Blog on topics of Asian restructuring developments. We look forward to kicking off the second phase of the project in the New Year.

Data Privacy Project

Despite Covid-19 disruptions, the Data Privacy Project achieved significant results in 2020, in line with its strategic objective to become the “centre of reference for data privacy and legal convergence in Asia”.

The domain of data protection and privacy laws in Asia expanded vastly this year, and with it the need for even greater efforts to promote regulatory convergence in this complex area. Data protection bills are about to be adopted in India and Indonesia, and a draft law was released for comments in China. Vietnam is doing preparations to adopt its own framework, and Thailand’s PDPA will come into force on 31 May 2021. Laws which have been in place for several years, or even decades, are in the process of receiving a general upgrade, for instance in Hong Kong SAR, Malaysia and the Philippines, while law reform has recently taken place in Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. Meanwhile, major policy developments on data privacy and data flows are happening in multiple forums including APEC, ASEAN, GPA, OECD, WEF and WTO.

Throughout 2020, ABLI’s multiple engagements at the national level have therefore become associated with increased collaboration through supra-national cooperation channels on data privacy and data flows. The intensification of these different engagements has been served in particular by the publication of our Comparative Table and Analytical review on data transfers in Asia in the middle of the year. The selection of the Project to be showcased at the 3rd Paris Peace Forum further illustrates ABLI’s thought leadership in respect of digital economy issues. We look forward to capitalising on these developments to deliver more positive outcomes in 2021.

Thank you

At ABLI, we sincerely thank all the people, of which there are too many, who generously volunteered their expertise, time and effort to assist us in making the above achievements possible. We could not have done it without each and every one of you.

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