Saeed Hasan Khan has vast experience of advising clients on various issues like taxation, corporate, regulatory compliance, contractual obligations etc. and representing them before the authorities. Over the past 20 years’, he is practicing direct and indirect taxes, which encompasses all three practice tiers: Advisory-Execution-Litigation. He advises on cross-border transactions, international tax treaties and matters related to tax due diligence, corporate structures, shareholder agreements, contractual stipulations between the companies. He has developed keen professional interest in emerging laws about personal data protection and have gained understanding of underlying concepts and principles governing the global data protection laws including General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union. He has contributed professional articles concerning data protection and cyber security published by Global Legal Group’s International Comparative Legal Guide, Mondaq, One Trust and Lexology. He was one of the speakers in a webinar on Pakistan cyber security co-organized by his firm and Legal 500 United Kingdom. He has presented detailed comments on Pakistan’s draft law on personal data protection to the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication, Government of Pakistan.
Host: Please brief us about your firm and your practice areas?
Saeed: S.U.Khan Associates Corporate & Legal Consultants is a pioneering and leading firm practicing trade remedy laws in Pakistan, with local and international clients.
Apart from trade remedy laws, our other practice areas include customs & taxation, corporate, competition law, information technology, e-commerce, privacy & data protection and cyber security etc.
When it comes to sectors that we serve, these include multinationals, big listed companies, public sector entities in various industrial sectors including steel, paper & paperboard, pharma & chemical, technology companies, educational institutes and not-for-profit entities.
We have served clients in various jurisdictions like China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, UK, USA, Singapore, Switzerland etc
We do advise government on various policy making issues and on drafting of laws. Our firm also participates in global events organized by international organizations like United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) etc.
With regards to dissemination of professional knowledge our articles are regularly published in reputed international publications and online platforms like ICLG, Mondaq, Lexology, Chambers & Partners, OneTrust, Financier Worldwide etc.
We also have a consultancy practice based out of Dubai namely Bizilance Consultants. Bizilance Consultants offers professional services including anti-dumping, taxation, due diligence, mergers & acquisitions, corporate restructuring etc
Host: The pandemic saw some courts begin moving towards more remote proceedings and availability. Is this sustainable, and a possible way to increase access to justice, in your opinion?
Saeed: During Pandemic the whole world has passed through unprecedented times. The Pandemic has posed a never-imagined challenge to every sector of the economy and every activity of the nation. When we see Pandemic related challenge in the context of proceedings before the courts, the challenge is much significant so as to ensure the “access to justice” during such difficult times.
The initiation of remote proceedings by the courts is a right step towards the “access to justice” as the remote or virtual hearings went a long way to facilitate the litigant parties to have easy and simple access to justice.
I would say that introduction of virtual or remote hearings has not impeded the access to justice but has further this very cause.
Remote proceedings can be sustainable, more efficient and potentially providing better access. The impediment, in this regard, however is digital divide that is to say technology and other means (like internet) is not equally available to masses. So, in order to make this option as sustainable required technological access is a pre requisite alongside proper training and capacity building of the judges, practitioners and court staff.
An important element that I would like to highlight about remote or virtual hearing is threat to privacy and loss of personal data. As going e-means would always enhance the risks for privacy compromise and in particular when laws on personal data protection are getting momentum all across the globe.
Host: You have mentioned about Personal Data Protection law, would you please briefly tell us what Personal Data Protection law is all about?
Saeed: This is very interesting and emerging topic. You must have heard about General Data Protection Regulation (commonly known as GDPR) which was implemented across the Europe in 2018. The GDPR and the proposed law in Pakistan are on the same lines, where Personally Identifiable Information of a natural person has got intensive rights and whereas the persons processing that Personally Identifiable Information of a natural person are obliged to take many steps for the protection and safe custody of that information of a natural person.
Therefore, the persons processing Personally Identifiable Information of natural person (called as data controllers) are to fulfill their obligations in order to protect that very personal information. These obligations include, to have a free and informed consent of the natural person, not to process the information without any lawful basis, not to disclose the information with any unauthorized party, taking measures to keep secure that information etc. Non compliance of the provisions of the law entails heavy fines.
The data controllers (who are users of personal data) do include all sectors and industries like telecom companies, banks and financial institutions, hospitality & travel industry, educational institutions, even law firms as they all do handle and use personal information of the individuals.
Considering the current times when use of IT and IT enabled services is too common (B2B, B2G, G2B, B2C), it’s the need of time that we have proper law on this subject, in order that businesses and individuals should know precisely their respective rights and obligations. The proposed law in Pakistan, in this perspective, is right action in right direction.
Host: What are the most challenging areas concerning Personal Data Protection?
Saeed: The legal framework, globally, concerning personal data protection has a unique characteristic with respect to its extra-territorial applicability. This means that law of EU (which is GDPR) may be applicable on a EU natural personal for the time being located in Pakistan and vice versa. This extra-territorial applicability is a big challenge with respect not only to compliance but with enforcement perspective as well.
Another great challenge is concerning cross-border transfer of personal data. In cases, where personal data of an individual needs to be transferred outside say Pakistan to EU or from EU to China (for instance) then the first and far most principle under which personal data may be so transferred is “adequate protection”. It means that personal data of an individual may only be transferred to another country which offers the same or adequate protection as is available to that individual in his or her country of presence. This principal gives rise to firstly having force of law about the subject matter in all the countries and secondly availability of means and mechanism to ensure the personal data protection.
There are certain other permissible modes under which personal data may be transferred to another country (other than adequate protection principle) however these modes attract more obligations on the persons transferring personal data.
So, in nutshell extra-territorial scope and cross-border transfer of personal data are challenging issues in data space.
Host: What would be your Advice to new aspiring persons wishing to join legal profession.
Saeed: I would answer this question in a very simple way.
Firstly, hard work there is no doubt about the need of hard work in any field.
Secondly, to read and study, I mean to have extensive study of laws, professional journals and judgments of the higher judicial forums of both your own jurisdiction and that of foreign jurisdictions.
Thirdly, always seek guidance from your seniors.
Follow LexTalk World for more news and updates from International Legal Industry.