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Working to elevate maritime Singapore

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  • International Maritime Centre Award (Individual) 2019 winner: Gina Lee-Wan, partner and co-head, Maritime & Aviation Practice, Allen & Gledhill LLP

Lawyer Gina Lee-Wan is an active member of the Singapore maritime community, investing time and effort in elevating Singapore's reputation as a leading maritime hub, especially in the legal and marine insurance sphere. She is serving her fourth term on the Singapore Shipping Association Council and is chairman of the body's Legal & Insurance Committee.

Ms Lee-Wan was recognised as one of the top 10 maritime lawyers globally by Lloyd's List 2018. This year, she was among the inaugural batch of practitioners to be recognised as a Senior Accredited Specialist in Maritime and Shipping Law by the Singapore Academy of Law. Ms Lee-Wan shared her views on her contributions to Singapore's development as an international maritime centre.

What do you feel are some of your key contributions to Singapore's maritime sector?

I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity and privilege to contribute to Singapore's aspirations as an international maritime centre and to play an active role in promoting Singapore as a key arbitration centre, through various initiatives such as the conception of the Singapore Ship Sale Form 2011, the revision of the New York Produce Exchange Time Charter 2015, the establishment of the Singapore War Risks Mutual and the development of the Singapore War Risks Insurance Conditions in 2019.

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As a board member of the Singapore Maritime Foundation, I was part of the foundation's focus group and was intimately involved in the drafting of the Singapore Ship Sale Form 2011 (SSF 2011) from conception to finish. It is my hope that all these initiatives will further enhance Singapore's position as a leading international maritime centre. I also helped with the Singapore chapter of the Women's International Shipping & Trading Association, which was originally founded in Norway.

How has the industry, as well as the role of lawyers in it, changed over the course of your career?

The industry has changed in that the speed at which business is being concluded is accelerating. The world has become a much smaller and more complex place with the consequence that the cost to shipping is ever increasing. International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) 2020 Fuel Sulphur Regulation is around the corner and for an industry which has not yet come out of a prolonged downturn, this will further increase the costs of doing business.

As such, shipping lawyers have to be concerned with the compliance by our clients of the many rules and regulations which are being introduced constantly, and be more in tune with our clients' business and be on the front foot.

What more do you think needs to be done to reinforce Singapore's position as a maritime hub?

The shipping industry as we know it is being disrupted. To stay ahead of the curve we cannot stand still and have to move with the times. We, too, have to embrace technology with a sense of emergency.

The development and implementation of a national trade platform which will enable electronic data sharing between the relevant stakeholders including legal recognition to electronic negotiable documents such as electronic Bills of Lading, developing internationally accepted standards, establishing governance and accreditation frameworks will pave the way for digital transformation of the maritime sector. This would be Shipping 4.0.