SMU School of Law responds to COVID-19 with webinar series, community outreach and academic discourse

Singapore, 29 April 2020 (Wednesday) – Economies around the world have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Governments around the world have also had to respond with new legislation, and many in the community are being affected.  As the broader impact of the virus outbreak are beginning to be felt, the need for relevant legal information and advice becomes increasingly important for not just corporates, but also the man-in-the-street.

The Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Law aims to contribute to the community by sharing its knowledge and expertise with the law fraternity and the community-at-large, through multiple platforms and channels.  First, the School will run a webinar series targeted at the legal profession from 30 April, and raise funds to help its law students and their families who have been affected by the pandemic.  Second, it will set up an online law portal to enable affected individuals to obtain relevant information and answers.  Third, in the longer term, with the aim of addressing the impact of the outbreak on different segments of society by contributing its legal expertise, the School of Law will introduce a virtual academic series that will examine, in a scholarly fashion, the legal implications of COVID-19.

Professor Goh Yihan, Dean of SMU School of Law, said, “COVID-19 is an unprecedented event that has shaken the world and affected diverse groups in our community.  Many, including front-line workers, have contributed immensely to the community.  While we may not be able to contribute in as direct a manner, we at the SMU School of Law hope to play our part by leveraging our legal knowledge and sharing it with the legal profession, businesses and individuals impacted by the pandemic; and putting together initiatives to aid those affected.  We are thankful for the support we have received thus far in our endeavours.”

SMU Law Academy Covid-19 Seminar Series

SMU Law Academy will host a webinar series featuring expert speakers and targeted at the legal profession to address in a practical manner legal and commercial issues arising out of COVID-19.  This series will be accredited so that participants can obtain public Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.  The webinar series, which will deal with contractual, insolvency and legal technology-related issues arising from COVID-19, fills a gap in the market for a more deliberated and practical prognosis of what concrete steps commercial parties should consider as the global economy reels from the impact of COVID-19.

Scheduled to kick-off on 30 April 2020, the first webinar (which has 350 confirmed participants as of 29 April 2020) will feature a panel of experts who will discuss and examine a number of important contract law issues that have arisen in Singapore and English law as a result of the pandemic.  The panellists will address not only the application of fundamental doctrines and unprecedented legislation, such as the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 in contract law, but also offer their carefully deliberated prognoses and suggest concrete steps which commercial parties may consider taking in these uncertain times (Please see Annex 1 for more details).

Two more webinars have been scheduled for 12 and 28 May 2020 and will discuss insolvency issues arising from respectively technological ramifications attendant on the COVID-19 pandemic.  More information, when available, will be released here –  The registration fee for each two-hour webinar session is S$150.  Net proceeds raised will go towards SMU’s efforts in supporting its law students whose families have been affected by COVID, as well as ongoing and future initiatives to help the wider community impacted by the pandemic.

Community Outreach and Pro Bono Service

Leveraging the collective expertise of the School of Law’s faculty members, students and alumni, the SMU Pro Bono Centre will set up an online law portal to address legal issues that have arisen from the impact of the virus outbreak.  The portal will allow members of the public to learn about the regulations that have been introduced in response to the virus outbreak, through articles, FAQs, podcasts, short videos and even webinars on topical issues.

The portal will also provide virtual avenues for members of the public to seek specific legal advice. It is hoped that the access to free legal information will assist in the amicable settlement of employment and business disputes arising from the outbreak.

In addition, the Pro Bono Centre’s Legal Clinic continues to serve the community by providing free legal advice (subject to eligibility criteria) via an email format from 15 May 2020 onwards.  Applications for this sevice can be made by via email – [email protected].

Academic Conference

Apart from playing its part towards the broader community, the School of Law will convene scholarly discussions on the legal impact of COVID-19.  In this regard, the School will introduce a virtual academic series themed ‘Global Public-Private Law Approaches to COVID-19’ that will deal with the legal implications of COVID-19 in a scholarly fashion. The academic series will include research seminars and a flagship academic conference, with expert speakers hailing from Singapore and abroad.

The legal issues to be covered by researchers will include public and private laws from regional and global perspectives.  The findings will contribute to the research on the role of the courts in norm-setting and power-checking in public health emergencies, new challenges to international legal frameworks for global health, the termination of contracts by force majeure and frustration, and the future impact of COVID-19 on commercial law.

A call for papers will be issued to attract more emerging scholars and expanded abstracts of conference papers will be published on Singapore Law Blog. Research and conference papers will be included in the SSRN SMU School of Law Research Series.  The School will also explore publishing articles in a special issue or section of an academic journal or international law yearbook.