Singapore, 17 January 2020 — Earlier today, lawyers from France and Singapore were introduced to new opportunities brought on by increased bilateral trade between their two nations. The first-ever France-Singapore Legal Symposium highlighted these opportunities to the 250 senior government officials, members of the judiciary, legal professionals and industry experts present. The day-long affair was jointly organised by the Singapore Academy of Law and the Embassy of France in Singapore, with the support of the French Ministry of Justice.
Foremost legal and business thought leaders served as moderators and panellists at the Symposium’s four panel discussions. These examined the following:
- The role of France and Singapore’s legal hubs as gateways to Europe and Asia
- Alternative mechanisms for resolving commercial disputes
- Collaborations on strategic legal aspects to achieve greater legal convergence
In his opening remarks, the Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, said, “We … hoped that by bringing together the leading legal and business thought leaders in Singapore and France, we might jumpstart a conversation about the ways in which we could more closely collaborate and inject greater vibrancy into our respective legal sectors.”
His Excellency Marc Abensour, the Ambassador of France to Singapore, said, “This inaugural France-Singapore Law Symposium paves the way for new collaborations between our two countries. It has brought our legal hubs closer thanks to the signing of new agreements between Singapore Law Society and Paris Bar as well as Singapore Academy of Law and Sorbonne-Assas International Law School. We also look forward to deepening the exchanges between our innovation ecosystems in the area of legal tech as both countries have a lot to share and learn from each other’s judicial systems.”
A French delegation comprising members of the Paris Bar Association and Paris City of Law attended the Symposium. Mr Jacques Bouyssou, General Secretary of Paris Place de Droit and representative of Paris Bar Association, delivered the keynote address, highlighting the strong economic ties between France and Singapore as well as the complementarities of both countries' judicial systems.
Bilateral trade between France and Singapore is growing, climbing 19% in 2018. Singapore is France's main trading partner in the region: it receives two-thirds of French investments into Southeast Asia and at least 1,000 French companies have their regional headquarters in Singapore. These companies represent diverse sectors, among them finance, construction and maritime transport. Meanwhile, Singapore’s investments into the European Union’s second-largest economy are also increasing, notably in the technology, chemical and hospitality sectors. Such economic exchanges are set to grow further following the recent ratification of the European Union - Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) and the European Union - Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (IPA).
The Symposium’s panel discussions helped attendees better understand the substantive trade rules contained in the new agreements, as well as the dispute resolution procedures for investment dispute settlements. A session on trends in alternative dispute resolution was also relevant, given Paris and Singapore’s status as hubs for arbitration and mediation.
The Symposium also proved that having different legal systems—civil law in France and common law in Singapore—does not hinder greater convergence. A panel discussion demonstrated this, exploring how France and Singapore could build synergies and common strategies to facilitate regional and global business, with a focus on contracts, intellectual property and data protection.
FORGING CLOSER TIES WITH NEW COLLABORATIONS
Two agreements were signed on the sidelines of the Symposium. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked by SAL and Sorbonne-Assas International Law School, will see the launch of a series of executive seminars on Civil Law and the setting-up of a new diploma on International Finance and Business Law. Singapore Law Society and Paris Bar Association also signed a MoU in order to facilitate exchanges of information between France and Singapore on the practice of legal profession, especially in the fields of ethics and vocational training. This agreement will lay the ground for future collaborations including the exchange of student lawyers and junior lawyers from both countries. The signings were witnessed by His Excellency Marc Abensour, the Ambassador of France to Singapore.
 Source: Department for Treasury and Economic Affairs of the French Embassy in Singapore