November 26, 2020

DivinaLaw senior partners Atty. Enrique V. Dela Cruz, Jr. (pictured) and Atty. Danny Bunyi (pictured, center of the group photo) recently shared their insights in the 3-day In-House Community e-Congress Philippines which was held online on November 18, November 24 and November 25, 2020.

Atty. Dela Cruz, Jr. spoke on the pitfalls of enforcing and rejecting an arbitral award in the Philippines during the first day of the eCongress.

Dealing with multinational companies usually means that contracts would include an arbitration clause. For the winner and the loser in an arbitration, the question is what to do with a foreign arbitral award?

“Are foreign arbitral awards immediately executory? Assuming that you are the prevailing party in an arbitration say, in Singapore (from the Singapore International Arbitration Centre) and you have a foreign arbitral award. Can you now go to the Philippines and immediately implement or execute this award? Well, the answer is no.” Atty. Dela Cruz shared that under Section 35 of the UNCITRAL model law adopted by the Philippines, foreign arbitral awards are not immediately enforceable.

“The rule of thumb is, you cannot implement a foreign arbitral award unless it has been recognized or enforced by a competent court in the Philippines, pursuant to the rules.”

Atty. Bunyi, on the other hand, took part in a panel discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on the legal practice in Southeast Asia. Moderated by In-House Community co-founder Patrick Dransfield, the international panel of speakers also included Dalvin Kaur (Regional Head of Legal, Maybank Investment Bank Berhad & Maybank Kim Eng Group), Manuel Alberto R. Colayco (SVP and Chief Legal and Compliance Officer, Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc.), Tananan Thammakiat (Partner, Chandler MHM Limited), Samata Masagee (Partner, DLA Piper Thailand), Peter Godwin (Partner and Head of Disputes – Asia, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP), Nick Edmondes (Partner, Trowers & Hamlins LLP), and Emerico O. De Guzman (Managing Partner, ACCRALAW).

The lively discussion looked at the impact of the pandemic on the working relationships of in-house counsels and external counsels, and talked about the representation of women in the legal profession and in senior roles, expectations on services and billing, and the importance of regular, two-way conversations between in-house counsels and external counsels. When asked how he managed the change of culture from previously being an in-house counsel (for major local and foreign banks) to now being in an external law firm, Atty. Bunyi shared these insights from his unique experience.

“When I was an in-house counsel, we would refer to an external counsel because we needed that additional support, we needed the resources, we needed the manpower, we needed the technical expertise of a specific firm or specific lawyer. So, knowing that they come to you because of that knowledge or experience, because of that particular requirement, then we have to make sure we deliver what they are expecting, in terms of cost and in terms of turnaround time.”

“As mentioned by Mickey (Colayco), productivity does increase for some lawyers because you don’t have to spend that time in traffic or you can take shorter lunch breaks. And last is, understanding the need of the client as Peter (Godwin) was saying, you really have to understand the business. It’s a very delicate balance between knowing the business and protecting their legal interest as well. You have to be well versed in both.”

DivinaLaw is a proud sponsor of the 7th annual Philippine forum organized by the In-House Community which is attended by in-house lawyers, company directors and compliance professionals from the Philippines as well as international counsels and executives with an interest in the jurisdiction.

To view Atty. Enrique Dela Cruz’s talk “The pitfalls of enforcing and rejecting an arbitral award in the Philippines” which was pre-recorded, visit this site: