Financial Times

Bar Association - SAARC conference to promote South Asian business connectivity


The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL)’s annual conference will focus on South Asian regional connectivity this year, with emphasis on ICT and legal developments relevant to the business sector. ‘The BASL - SAARC Information and Communication Technology Law Conference 2009,’ will be held at the Hotel Galadari, Colombo, from January 28 to 30.

The Information Communication Technology (ICT) Committee of the BASL says the SAARC region needs to improve legal and ICT connectivity to speed up regional integration.

“This year the conference will focus on the SAARC region. We hope to use the conference as a platform to promote a common programme for regional ICT and legal cooperation,” said the Chairman of the ICT and IT committee of the BASL and the Deputy Solicitor General at the Attorney General’s Office of Sri Lanka, S. Thurairajah.

Although South Asian countries have formed the SAARC group, integration between the individual countries is seen as unbalanced. While some countries have legally linked up with more countries in the region, some have fewer legal treaties.

ICT developments are also at different levels among the different SAARC countries. While India is far ahead of the rest of the region in ICT capabilities, most other countries in the region are at a much lower level of development. SAARC countries also experience a mismatch between domestic ICT developments and domestic legal changes.

As a result, compared to regional groupings like the European Union (EU), the SAARC region as a whole, is seen as “primitive” in legal and ICT integration. The BASL says the conference is not just for legal professionals and government officials, but is particularly relevant for businesses.

“We will focus on current topics like mobile commerce. It is only now that courts in Sri Lanka accept SMS as a legal document, but mobile-commerce is far ahead of this stage. But we need to understand what this is. We will also look at topics like electronic banking transactions. So the conference is very relevant for businesses for their operations,” said Mr Thurairajah.

Experts at the conference will speak on a number of topics directly relevant to Sri Lankan businesses.
Jayantha Fernando will speak on ‘The growing Intellectual Property and IT nexus,’ Mano Sekeram will speak on ‘Some issues in outsourcing software development contracts to Sri Lanka,’ Thusantha Wijemanne will speak on ‘Internet banking – the legal position in Sri Lanka,’ Sunil Abeyaratne will speak on ‘The law of evidence and the internet,’ Ms. R. Amarasiri will speak on ‘Telecom in the information age – where next?,’ Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya will speak on ‘Legal implications of mobile commerce,’ . Nirmalan will speak on ‘Security and control of information in the IT age,’ Nishan Muthukrishna will speak on ‘E Governance – a model for Sri Lanka.’

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