Meritas, a global alliance of law firms worldwide, held a forum last 14 November 2019 at Shangri-la Hotel at the Fort in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. It was participated in by its member law firms in Asia, Australia, US and Europe, including ACCRALAW, and the Firm’s clients.

The relevant topics of data privacy and protection and anti-trust and competition laws were covered.

Commissioner Leandro A. Aguirre of the National Privacy Commission delivered a talk entitled “Data Protection & Privacy and Its effects on Businesses Worldwide”. Commissioner Aguirre emphasized the importance of providing a safe technical infrastructure in light of the government’s vision of providing connectivity to more Filipinos. Digital connectivity promotes efficiency in financial services. However, based on a survey of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, 46% of Filipino internet users are still wary are of using online payment platforms due to data security concerns. Thus, to capitalize on technological innovations, businesses must ensure that services, as well as their customers’ data, are safe and secure.

The talk was followed by a panel discussion moderated by John Paul M. Gaba, a Partner of ACCRALAW. Among the panelists on this data privacy and protection session were: Elaine Harwell of Procopio (United States), Dr. Toni Ostler of Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein (Germany), Yao Rao of Hao Attorneys-At-Law (China), Jeffrey Lim of Joyce A. tan & Partners (Singapore) and Chakrapani Misra of Khaitan & Co. (India).

On competition law, it was Chairman Arsenio Balisacan of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) who delivered a talk entitled “The Impact of Anti-Trust & Competition Law on Doing Business in Asia.” Dr.  Balisacan shared that despite the significant economic growth Asia is experiencing, as evidenced by its 40% contribution to world’s GDP (at PPP) and being the largest recipient of foreign deposit investment (FDI), competition law is still fairly new in most parts of the region. The Philippines is in fact the last to implement a competition law. From an enforcement perspective, the PCC is on the lookout for cartels on goods and services since these are most susceptible to unfair market practices. The PCC is also on the lookout for abuse of dominance in the following sectors: telecoms, retail, energy, electricity, transportation, construction and health and pharmaceuticals.  Dr. Balisacan also shared that that the PCC is vigilant in ensuring an efficient competition policy and its fair enforcement because this is integral to the nation’s development strategy.

Francisco Ed. Lim, ACCRALAW’s Senior Partner and former President of the Philippine Stock Exchange, shared his insights on this developing field of law and moderated the panel discussion.  Liu Hongchuan of Broad & Bright (China), Fathan Nautika of HHR Lawyers (Indonesia) and Hiromasa Ogawa of Kojima Law (Japan) also shared their views during the panel discussion.