SUSAN TAY TING LAN

st

Susan Tay is a Director at OTP Law Corporation, a firm of 6 lawyers and a staff that has been with her for the life of the practice itself.

With an experience spanning 30 over years, Susan has kept focused in the areas of family and matrimonial law, shareholders’ disputes and litigation, conveyancing and real property including trust law. She has made this firm that bears her name.

Called to the bar in 1989, Susan began her days in civil litigation. In 2 years, she called on a store of natural confidence and threw herself into the setting up of her own firm. She was intent on fulfilling a dream of creating a corner of the world where she would have the freedom to bring her beliefs to practice. This was Ong Tay & Partners with Ong Ying Ping.

Moving in step with a supportive client who was buying up conservation properties, Susan began in conveyancing, handling the spectrum of conveyancing work which included acting for sellers, buyers, mortgagors and mortgagees. Mortgagees included the following banks:

  • DBS Ltd
  • OUB Ltd (now merged with UOB Ltd)
  • UOB Ltd
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Malayan Banking Berhad
  • Sing Investments Pte Ltd

Susan also represented sellers involved in en bloc sales and in the purchases of properties comprising over 30 households.

In 1994, Susan invited Seng Siew to join as partner in Ong Tay & Partners in a decision that was very forward-looking for the practice.

In the year 2000, when the world was more concerned with the Millennium Bug than any other diseases, Susan together with the other partners of Ong Tay & Partners founded WWlegal Pte Ltd. It was to be a dream portal for lawyers to conduct their businesses online from start to finish. WWlegal was to handle all the non-law aspects of running a law practice using technology.

Even though WWlegal did not survive the volatile dotcom world, the vision remains the bedrock of how Susan manages the law firm. Technology plays a critical part in how OTP Law Corporation is run.

In 2009, the re-structured law practice of Ong Tay & Partners became OTP Law Corporation, and in 2013, OTP Law Corporation fully merged with Ong Tay & Partners; Susan became its managing partner.

Family and Matrimonial Law is an area where stress is especially multi-dimensional. In spite of this, Susan has found her calling here. To date, Susan has represented wives as well as husbands in the unfortunate dissolutions of their matrimony. Her more notable cases included:

  • acting for fathers in custody cases where the fathers were awarded not only custody but care and control of their children;
  • acting for a wife where she was able to negotiate a S$2m settlement without the matter turning contentious;
  • acting for an overseas wife where she was able to negotiate a trust for the children without resorting to litigation;
  • acting for a father who was denied access of 2 teenage boys but who is now able to see his children weekly;
  • acting for countless adoptive couples who are able to bring a meaning of happiness to children;
  • acting for a father who was compelled to bring the child away from a mother diagnosed as suffering from borderline personality disorder and was frequently violent

Although Susan is committed to relieving some pain in the already very painful process of divorce, she is a force in the face of contention when this becomes inevitable. By way of collateral support, Susan has worked to build the competitiveness of the firm, and has ensured that her team comprises the necessary expertise for research assistance, and for ascertaining and valuing matrimonial assets. The team is also able to assess the likelihood of outcome for clients in respect of their share in the matrimonial assets, and in maintenance and custody issues.

Calling on the amalgamation of her experience in both family and property law, Susan has also served clients in complex work in the area of Trust Law. In this aspect, Susan collaborates with other professional affiliates in the PracticeForte Advisory to provide counsel in the formation of family trusts. Susan has also assisted and led contentious litigation matters in the disentangling of family feuds for trust properties.

You may read Susan’s contributions/articles relating to family law and her experiences on the firm’s website as well as in The Law Gazette.

Part of Susan’s litigation experience involves Information Technology; the stronghold and passion of her longtime partner in the law firm and current fellow director, Seng Siew.

An early notable case is a matter in 1995 when Ong Tay & Partners represented a telecommunications company against a research institute (electrical appliance) and a telecommunication technology company in a claim for US16m.  Proceedings included an application for a Mareva injunction to stop dissipation of the Defendants’ assets of that same amount.

Susan has also assisted in a number of Anton Piller applications both in court for arguments as well as assisting supervisors at designated premises with digital experts to execute search orders. One such case involved a school for early education where clients’ claim was for inter alia, breach of confidentiality by ex-employees and the schools’ computers were seized.

Susan was also involved in negotiating a settlement in a claim between a technology company and a client for a project with a government agency.

Currently, Susan is passionately pursuing an initiative, on behalf of OTP Law Corporation, to develop a technology platform, heeding the authorities’ clarion call for small law firms to adopt legal technology in a big way in their practice.

August 2015 marked an important milestone for Susan when she co-founded PracticeForte Pte Ltd with Mylene. 6 months after, the 1st grouping of 3 small law firms, including OTP Law Corporation came together as PracticeForte Advisory. Today, the Advisory has 17 firms and counting from cross disciplines and 6 affiliate members cross continents, closing the ASEAN- EU connect. A daring pursuit for the banding of the small, to build both expertise and peace, around the world.

In 2016, Susan trained and successfully completed the requisite courses and became an accredited mediator of Singapore Mediation Centre and a certified mediator with Singapore International Mediation Institute.  As a continuing effort to shape the practice, Susan is looking to actively present mediation as a viable option in dispute resolution to her clients and to the wider community together with outreach partners.

Susan currently mediates with the following organisations:

  1. associate mediator with the Law Society Mediation Scheme;
  2. associate mediator with the Family Panel of the Law Society Mediation Scheme;
  3. associate mediator with the Singapore Mediation Centre;
  4. associate mediator with the Family Panel of Singapore Mediation Centre;
  5. mediator with MiKK e.V International Mediation Centre for Family Conflict and Child Abduction;
  6. mediator with the Thailand Arbitration Centre and
  7. mediator with the PracticeForte Mediation.

The effectiveness of Susan as a mediator, especially in the resolutions of family disputes, need be seen only from the success rate of her cases. Two thirds of the cases that Susan has mediated or co-mediated involved cross border marriages. As at the end of 2019, all her cases resulted in a settlement of terms culminating in Consent Orders before the Courts. Those mediations went on for no more than a day.

4 examples of the mediated settlements include:

  • Divorced couples who could not enforce terms relating to the disposal of their matrimonial flat that were already recorded as Order of Court with the Family Courts of Singapore 6 months before mediation. Settlement was reached after a 9.5 hour co-mediation session on the same day.
  • Asian couple in a hotly contested case for assets in divorce proceedings with allegations of criminal acts. This matter was settled after a co-mediation session of 14 hours on the same day.
  • Bi-national couple in a contested case for access to child, assets and maintenance where injunction was taken out in the divorce proceedings. This matter was settled after a 10 hour mediation on the same day. Susan was the sole mediator.
  • Multi-national parents trying to work out access to a child who is the subject matter of a Hague Convention (International Child Abduction) application. This co-mediation was conducted with the Thailand Arbitration Centre in Bangkok and after years of litigation, parties managed to agree on the access arrangements in that 7 hour session over just one set of fees. 

In 2016, Susan also participated as part of a pioneering group of senior family law practitioners who were trained as parenting coordinators through a program run by the Family Justice Courts, Singapore. Susan was assigned one of Singapore’s 1st 3 parenting coordinating cases from the Family Justice Courts.  The work of these parenting coordinators is worthy as going forward, they serve to manage ongoing issues in high conflict custody and access cases.

February 2017, Susan was appointed to the Community Justice Centre’s panel of Primary Justice Lawyers for a term of 2 years.

Susan believes in doing what she can where she can and has been volunteering since the 1990s.

She was a member of the Singapore Association of Women Lawyers for a term in the late 90’s and also volunteered the services of Ong Tay & Partners as one of four pioneer law firms with Project Law Help, a 2004 Law Society of Singapore initiative. She now regularly counsels at AWARE in their free legal clinics. Her dedication and commitment to bringing some help to those in need of it was rewarded when in 2013 she was presented, together with many others, with the honour of being an “Outstanding Volunteer of the Year”. Between 2018-2019, Susan held talks with the Law Society Pro Bono Office every other month on “Divorce and You”.

This is an article she wrote in 2008 and published in The Law Gazette about her experience with pro bono work which she hopes will in some small way serve as a call to action for kindred spirits

Her firm has also made it a point to train and mentor interns as they start their journey in the law and you can read their reflections on this website.

A little whirlwind blows about her as Susan tries to find time for her passion in sports. A creator of many worlds, she dreams to build her miniature Maharajah’s Palace and to hold an exhibition of all her miniature pieces. She has completed 3.

To quote Susan Tay, “If we don’t make our own worlds, who will?”

===============================================================

Conferences/ Seminars/ Papers

  • 27 April 2017:Moderator at the Seminar on Financial Manipulation in Matrimonial Cases jointly organised by The Law Society of Singapore and PracticeForte Pte Ltd.
  • 27 July 2017:Speaker at the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) along with Eden Law Corporation and PracticeForte Pte Ltd to talk about issues arising from Hague Convention and also to introduce an initiative called Project Relocation
  • 1 March 2018: Speaker at the PracticeForte Advisory Community Law Series of Training.
  • 13 August 2018– Speaker at the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines on Project Relocation
  • 13 November 2018-Speaker at SCWO for Project Relocation
  • 2018-2019– Bi-monthly “Divorce and You” Talks with Law Society Pro Bono Services
  • 10 October 2019 – Family and Estate Law with the TProject and Law Society Pro Bono Services
  • 20 May 2020 (TBC)– Upcoming webinar sharing experiences as a mediator for parental child abduction cases