The year 2015 kicked off with KLRCA successfully organising a flurry of international talks and seminars. A hugely eventful January was brought to a close with yet another intriguing KLRCA Talk titled, ‘Arbitration of Trust Disputes: A New Frontier’.
Taking centre stage for this session was Professor Tang Hang Wu, Director of the Centre for Cross-Border Commercial Law In Asia at the School of Law, Singapore Management University. Hang Wu has published widely and his work has been relied on by all levels of the Singapore courts, the Federal Court of Malaysia, the Royal Court of Jersey, the Caribbean Court of Appeal, law reform committees in the Commonwealth, major textbooks and law journals.
Joining Professor Hang on stage to moderate this session was prominent Malaysian lawyer, Lim Chee Wee. Professor Hang who has built a reputation of being a leading expert in the area of unjust enrichment and equity; began proceedings for the evening by sharing with the audience, ‘The Main Drivers to Settling A Trust’. Illustrations given included; ‘Confidentiality’, ‘Divorce’, ‘Flexibility’, ‘Asset Protection’, ‘Succession Planning’, ‘Forced Heirship’, and ‘Minimisation of Tax’.
Numerous attendees with minimal prior exposure to the fixed trust scene were not left behind as Professor Hang took a few minutes off to define and explain the relationships between a settlor, trustee and beneficiary. Additional terms such as; ‘ discretionary trust’, ‘power to veto’ and ‘discretion to choose’ were also touched upon. Professor Hang then briefly dwelled onto the topic – ‘Offshore Companies and Trust’, before presenting the audience with a noteworthy international case study on family dispute. Professor Hang continued to interact with the audience as he dissected the case. A Malaysian family dispute case was then projected on screen as a comparison with regards to the slightly different approaches taken across the globe.
Professor Hang’s articulate and in-depth understanding of the matter at hand continued to captivate the crowd’s attention, as he followed through by touching on the potential issues plaguing the arbitration of trusts. The speaker then shared with the audience several potential solutions that could be taken to address the issues faced, before suggesting ‘The Bahamas Solution: Trustee (Amendment Act) 2011’ – as an example of a comprehensive solution mechanism that could be used.
Professor Hang concluded his final slide by sparking a discussion; whether Malaysia should consider changing its laws to allow for arbitration of trust disputes to strengthen Malaysia’s standing as a major Asian wealth management centre. With numerous local trust law experts in the audience beginning to express and share their specialised views and opinions – Lim Chee Wee stepped in to moderate the remaining half and hour of the evening’s session before calling it to a highly satisfactory close.