Welcome to Herbert Smith Freehills’ new monthly private wealth industry updates in Asia.

Every month we survey ten Asian jurisdictions for legal developments concerning trust and estate planning which are of interest to the private wealth industry, and provide a succinct summary in a table format. The jurisdictions covered in the update are Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. We hope that these updates will prove to be a useful resource to keep private clients, business people, and lawyers abreast of legal updates in the region.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Court of Appeal upholds anti-Bartlett clause

In Zhang Hong Li v DBS Bank and others the Court of Final Appeal ruled that the anti-Bartlett clause contained in the trust deed effectively excluded any “high level supervisory duty” with any purported residual obligation on the part of the former trustee in relation losses to a trust resulting from risky investment decisions made by an investment advisor on behalf of the trust’s underlying private investment company. See our summary and detailed blogs for further information.


FATF releases follow-up report on Singapore’s AML regime

Following Singapore’s mutual evaluation in 2016, it has been in an enhanced follow-up process with FATF and has been reporting back to FATF on the measures taken to improve its AML regime. In the follow-up report, FATF gave Singapore improved ratings in four areas including in relation to transparency and beneficial ownership of companies and trusts. Singapore is now compliant on 20 of the 40 Recommendations and largely compliant on 17 of them. It remains partially compliant on 3 of the 40 Recommendations and Singapore is to continue to report back to FATF on its progress.


Withholding property tax to be introduced

The Finance Act that is due to be passed in Malaysia will introduce withholding tax of 7% on people who purchase property from non-Malaysian resident companies in cash (wholly or partly). Following the purchase and within 60 days, the tax must be remitted to the tax authorities.

Companies Commission of Malaysia concludes consultation on beneficial ownership reporting

The Companies Commission of Malaysia issued on 8 November 2019 a Consultative Document on the Guidelines for the Reporting Framework of Beneficial Ownership of Legal Persons. The deadline for submission of feedback was 4 December 2019, so there is likely to be developments on this front in the near future.


The contents of this document are for reference purposes only. Some of the information comes from public sources and this may not be comprehensive, accurate or up to date; where we have relied on third party information and sources, this has not been verified by us. The document does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication, and any facts in this document should be checked for your specific circumstances at the time you wish to use or refer to them.



Richard Norridge
Richard Norridge
+44 20 7466 2686
William Cheung
William Cheung
Senior Associate
+852 21014183


Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is licensed to operate as a foreign law practice in Singapore. Where advice on Singapore law is required, we will refer the matter to and work with licensed Singapore law practices where necessary.