Doing Business Across Asia: Legal Convergence in an Asian Century

This week I was back in Singapore again for work, an international conference and the launch of the Asian Business Law Institute (

I was also delighted to join Australian Bar Association President Patrick O'Sullivan QC in meeting with the Registrar of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre at Maxwell Chambers to discuss arbitrator appointments, as well as finalising my registration as a Foreign Lawyer with the new Singapore International Commercial Court.

A trend of rising economic integration amongst Asian countries has led to a homogenising effect upon many cross-border trade practices and regulatory mechanisms. Among the business community, it has led to a desire for increased convergence of cross-border business laws, improved legal infrastructure and harmonisation of regulatory standards across Asia.

The challenge now lies in determining how such convergence should be brought about. To what extent is convergence possible and feasible? How do we identify the inconsistencies which undermine cross-border business? What legal solutions are desirable and acceptable? How can the business community and legal fraternity assist the convergence process? How can law makers and judicial institutions play an effective role?

To discuss these vital and challenging issues, the Singapore Academy of Law brought together policy makers, regulators, members of the judiciary, and leaders from the business and legal communities in the region and beyond to debate and to provide critical insight to these discussions (see

The conference also witnessed the launch of the Asian Business Law Institute; an Institute based in Singapore that will initiate, conduct and facilitate research and produce authoritative texts with a view to providing practical guidance in the field of Asian legal development and promoting the convergence of Asian business laws. Its inaugural governors include High Court Chief Justice Robert French Victorian Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and former Federal Court Justice Kevin Lindgren.