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Shining a light on the bigger picture

Welcome to the second issue of Asia Business Law Journal. We hope you enjoyed our inaugural issue and found useful items of interest within its pages. Many thanks, too, to all the well-wishers for their letters of support. We aim to continue as we have started, by providing our readers with credible insights and legal intelligence for in-house counsel, law firms and the wider legal community.

ablj-1609-leaderIn this issue, as our cover with its iconic shadow puppet suggests, our main feature Out of the Shadows focuses on Indonesia and its path to a more open legal framework that will encourage foreign investment. As the lawyers and counsel we visited testified, change has been slow in coming for the nation in the wake of economic doldrums brought about in part by a commodities slump, but also due to historical influences dating back to an antiquated civil law system inherited from Dutch colonialism.

Reforms are underway to encourage investment and the government has led the way by spending on infrastructure and providing a more agreeable environment. But problems remain, not least of which are the duplicitous and opaque national and local laws, as well as corruption. The views on reform from inside this nation are well worth reading.

Alternative dispute resolution has grown rapidly from a side order to a main course on the menu for corporate counsel and law firms alike. Arbitration Wars looks at the top performers and the pretenders in the region, and explores where and why the industry is successful. The major players are rapidly being joined by others in the region vying for a slice of the pie. We also look at crucial national regulatory developments that will influence future trends.

In our Spotlight section, Asia Business Law Journal asks João Ribeiro, head of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, for his views on legal reform in a region where countries and economies are often as diametrically opposed in some aspects as they are similar in others. Ribeiro offers opinions on legal convergence, sustainable development, arbitration, cross-border trade, contract law, e-commerce and many other issues confronting Asia. His RCAP project has been so successful that it has been extended for a further five years, until 2022, and his views make fascinating reading.

Deal Shields explores the risks posed in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and how these risks can be mitigated with M&A insurance. Both brokers and insurers have recognized significant upticks in deals of late in tandem with a greater awareness in the region of the types of products on offer and how they apply to advisers and their clients. And a rise in claims mirrors an increase in business, the experts say, across sectors including infrastructure, healthcare, agriculture and education. We look at the policies and the regional markets that are showing an interest.

A View to the East analyses India’s desire to expand and strengthen trade in the Asian neighbourhood. We look at prominent Indian enterprises and the inroads they have made in the region, as well as the increasing interest of Asia’s multinationals in Indian markets. Bilateral relationships are strong but changes in investment regulation in some jurisdictions require Indian investors and their legal advisers to be on their toes.

In addition, our regular sections – including In-house Agenda’s wrap-up of events for our corporate counsel association partners, Correspondents, Dispute Digest, and more – are full of intel to keep you up to date on regional legal issues.

And don’t forget to drop us a line and let us know your thoughts on Asia’s newest and finest regional business law magazine.

Best wishes,

John Church
Editor, Asia Business Law Journal
Editor-in-chief, Vantage Asia