Understanding commercial contracts and dispute management
The Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) held a webinar on Understanding Commercial Contracts and Dispute Management on Monday, 12 July 2021.
The session was beneficial for those who wanted to understand how to negotiate commercial contracts, common pitfalls in contracting and managing the disputes in case.
The speakers for the event were Ms. Archana Balasubramanian Partner, Agama Law Associates, Mr Nitin Jain, Partner, Agama Law Associates, Mr Sumit Rai, Counsel & International Arbitration Expert and Mr Punit Oza, Executive Director, Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration.
The session was chaired by Mr Muralli R Rajaram, Director, SICCI and Partner, K&L Gates Straits Law.
The session was steered and coordinated by Mr Kishore Daryanani, Vice Chairman, SICCI and MD, Ganga Jamuna Electronics Pte Ltd.
Mr Nitin said, “It was enriching to interact with high calibre professional speakers as well as an enthusiastic global audience.”
His session in the webinar revolved around common pitfalls in cross-berder commercial contracts and how to address them. Battle of forms is one of the common challenges which people do face in their day-to-day trade. However, it is not difficult to mitigate the risk by way of proper checks and balances. He discussed “do’s and dont’s” when executing multiple forms of agreements & documents for a single transaction. Besides, parties should be vigilant with local laws of the State, where they are entering into the trade, to avoid financial and non-financial risks and exposure. The approach of being proactive rather than reactive is always better while executing contracts, keeping in mind constant legal and trade changes globally.
Mr Sumit said, “Don’t we often wonder how amazing it would be if we could apply tomorrow’s wisdom yesterday? We may not, yet, have discovered a time machine, but we do have the ability – more than ever before – to learn from other’s experiences.”
The session on Commercial Dispute Management focused on sharing some experiences from the standpoint of having seen many disputes from start to finish. Businesses could apply them today to prevent or redress disputes efficiently in the future. Early legal advice from a dispute’s lawyer is key – in long term EPC (Engineering Procurement Construction) or BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) contracts, to have a project based engagement and in simpler trade contracts, an advisor based engagement.
Speakers called for advice before adopting a factual stance is taken in adversarial communication with the other party can be critical. In Indian mythology, even the Gods in both Ramayana and Mahabharata needed 14 years effort to avoid and/or prepare for war – how can we be any different? If despite efforts, a dispute persists and needs resolution, it must be tackled carefully. In international trade and business, the user is spoilt for choices available in dispute resolution.
Arbitration is not the only game. Arbitration itself needs careful customization to be most efficient for a given transaction. Institutional mediation is cost-effective and relationship saving. Singapore International Commercial Court is a new option on the block. “No international dispute needs to be compromised owing to costs, as it is possible to engage a cost- efficient legal team comprising largely of your home jurisdiction lawyers. Consult before compromise should be the mantra!”
Ms Archana said, “It was wonderful speaking with distinguished speakers before a global business and legal audience in the Workshop on Understanding Commercial Contracts and Dispute Management for Cross Border Trade conducted by SICCI. The topic covered by me was Drafting Commercial Contracts – in the International Scenario. A stitch in time saves nine.” She provided a few tips for businesses on how to simply and effectively draft complete contracts, focusing on the substance while not ignoring the form. She also touched on the issues surrounding electronic contracts and its acceptability