On 28 November 2022, FICL hosted Roundtable Discussions on “Role of Legal Dispute Resolution Services in growing World Economy” followed by Dinner Reception at Taj Palace, New Delhi with the Hon'ble Second Minister for Law and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Mr Edwin Tong SC, which was attended by 40+ Senior General Counsels/In-House Lawyers, Senior Advocates and other stakeholders from India during his official visit to Delhi, India.
The Hon'ble Minister was accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Law: Ellis See, Director-Legal Industry Division, Angeline Ang-Deputy Director (International Partnerships), Legal Industry Division, Deepa Selvaraj-Senior Executive, Legal Industry Division; Gloria Lim, CEO-Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC); Laurence Wong-Senior Director (Business Development), Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC); Siddharth Jha-Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and Katherine Yap-COO, Maxwell Chambers. Toby Landu KC, Vice President SIAC and Rajiv Luthra, Board of Directors SIAC were also present.
From FICL, Dr. Ashok Sharma FCIArb ,Founder & CEO, Dr. SB Mitra, Hon. President and Rohan Sharma FCIArb Director were present. Along with them Rajbeer Sachdeva, President (Group) Legal at JK Organisation and Mahesh Sreenivasan, General Manager (Legal and Comapny Secretary) at Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) from the National Advisory Council of FICL were also in attendance.
The Roundtable Discussions were kicked off by welcoming the Hon'ble Minister, the delegation from Singapore and distinguished guests by Rohan Sharma FCIArb, Director FICL, who acted as the master of ceremonies. Dr SB Mitra, Hon. President FICL gave his welcome address and took the opportunity to express his sincere thanks to the Hon'ble Minster for taking time out from his busy schedule to attend the Roundtable Discussions.
Dr Lalit Bhasin, Patron FICL & President SILF, highlighted the importance of greater interaction between the General Counsels/In-House Lawyers and Advocates. He quoted the Indian Economist & NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy "To develop India as a global hub for international arbitration, it needs to adopt global best practices" He further stressed that the rights and privileges of Advocates should be extended to General Counsels/In-House Lawyers. Dr. Bhasin, on behalf of the Indian legal fraternity, SILF, CIARB- India Chapter, assured to extend full cooperation and support to the Minister because the success of arbitration or mediation will depend upon cooperation between the professionals, not only the external lawyers but mainly on the General Counsels/In-House Lawyers both in Singapore and India as well. Dr. Bhasin reminisced that he had known Dr. Ashok Sharma for the last three/four decades when he himself was a General Counsel, and complimented him for bringing up FICL to its present stature, which is recognized not only in India but globally.
Dr Anju Rathi Rana, Additional Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Government of India, shared the perspective of the Indian Government with the gathering. She stated that the Government is actively promoting means to reduce the burden of the courts, and this is why it has introduced various measures such as mandatory pre-litigation mediation, the establishment of the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre and the promotion of various modes of ADR mechanisms. She further highlighted that the Government is very keen to promote a business-friendly arbitration regime in India.
Minister Edwin Tong, in his Keynote address, said that his first official trip outside of Singapore is to India, and they are here because it is important to take a sounding from the Indian stakeholders as to what is working and what they need from them and therefore asked the audience to be candid with their suggestions and views as to what they can do, and how they can work better to deepen Singapore and India partnership. He acknowledged that he is here with a large delegation because they do truly understand that this Singapore-India partnership is something that they treasure and they wish to nurture and develop and make it much stronger in the years to come.
The Minister said that Singapore is very open to any organisation that brings 'thought leadership' to Singapore that can help them advance the interest of end users. He pointed out that for this purpose, ICC is present in Maxwell Chambers, INSOL, WIPO, AAA are also there, along with several others. So he gave a broad sketch of how they developed the principles and vision of the development of ADR Institutions in Singapore and some of the excellant facilities that we now see.
He highlighted that General Counsels are key drivers of business and have an important role in resolving complex business disputes using the best ADR facilities available, to which Singapore has contributed significantly. Further, he added that fundamentally it is important for him to underscore the point that the relations between Singapore and India have grown tremendously over the last 15-20 years or so, not only in terms of trade but in other areas too. The level of bilateral investments on both sides has gone up substantially. Therefore, trust is the most important between people of both countries, and that depends on companies and certainly between members of our respective legal markets. He hoped that these excellent relations between the two countries would continue to grow in times to come.
After the completion of the formal ceremony, vibrant discussions continued over drinks and dinner between Minister Tong , his Singapore delegation and GCs and other stakeholders present.
Some glimpses from the Roundtable :