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.
I worked for Samuel Seow Law Corporation when its founder and managing director assaulted female staff members at his office last year. When videos of this surfaced a few days ago, my mobile phone ran hot. A few sensationalists were fishing for gossip (wrong number, guys), but the majority had an actual desire to talk. For the first time ever I couldn’t respond timely to everyone who contacted me. That’s why I’ve written this post.
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.
After eight years of living in the Orchard area, and two years in Novena before that, I’ve moved to a more down-to-earth part of Singapore: Bugis. That once infamous district, which to this day retains its gruff character. I guess I was drawn to it to compensate for all these years in Atasland.
Starting this week German lawyers have to have available a means of electronic communication developed just for them: the special electronic lawyers’ mailbox (besonderes elektronisches Anwaltspostfach or beA). The problem is, the beA is inherently insecure, which is why it seems better to avoid using it. This would include not litigating in a German court, if possible, if there’s a chance the opponent or the court will use the beA in the proceedings. This seems to be all the more indicated where there’s a risk of snoopery and foul play by opponents or third parties, or where the stakes are high – and when aren’t they?
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.
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 sure legal ground all along? What if it wasn’t so clear whether removing her golden flags was lawful or not?
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.
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.
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 good people of Asia Law Network have published this little piece of mine on conflicts within small businesses. It’s here.
It was time for me to go diving again, so I betook myself to Christmas Island, this external territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean. Under water I encountered sharks, dolphins and other creatures of the sea. Above water I went hiking, climbing and birdwatching in honour of the words of someone very dear to me: ‘Take many pictures, do many things you don’t get to do in Singapore and remember each and every one of them.’
As an object of my fan adoration. Ah, the entertainment. You have to love Suits, the TV series, and the parallel universe it creates. Someone on the internet called it shallow. Well, yeah, it isn’t Dostoyevsky, but who wants to read Russian literature all the time!?
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.
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’.
I’ve 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.
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.
Here’s my piece on Singapore’s ratification of this Convention on Peter Bert’s dispute resolution blog.
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?
Anfang 2015 ist der Singapurische Internationale Handelsgerichtshof (Singapore International Commercial Court oder SICC) eröffnet worden. 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.
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.
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.