Showing posts with label Finance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Finance. Show all posts
  • A Practical Approach to the Mandatory Use of Indonesian Language in Contracts

    A couple of months ago, the West Jakarta District Court annulled a contract between an Indonesian party and a foreign party made entirely in English on the ground that it contravenes the provisions of Law No. 24 of 2009. You can read the Court's decision here. The Court said that based on Article 31 (1) of Law No. 24 of 2009, the use of Indonesian language is mandatory in contracts involving an Indonesian party and therefore, the failure of having an Indonesian version of the contract caused the contract to be annulled by operation of law based on Article 1335 of the Indonesian Civil Code.

    I won't discuss in this article whether the Court's decision was correct since I have already made my analysis here. What I would like to analyze now is the practical issues relating to the case and my prediction on whether we will see a lot of similar cases in the future.

    First of all, this is generally a case about a debtor that was getting caught by a loan shark. If you read the case carefully, the interests attached to the debt was very huge. No wonder the debtor tried to annul the contract using various cheap tactics, including arguing that the failure of using Indonesian language in the contract can be used as a valid reason to annul such contract.        

    But should we treat this case as a disaster? That parties will no longer be able to enter into foreign language contracts? I don't think so. The issue can be mitigated easily if only the parties entered into a dual language contract. The Court only said that the main problem in this case is the fact that the Indonesian version of the contract was not available.

    In general, there are no prohibitions for Indonesian parties to enter into foreign language contracts, they just need to prepare the Indonesian version to be safe. Moreover, there are no clear rules on the governing language of contracts, so I will stick to my old opinion that parties are free to choose foreign language as the governing language of their contracts.

    The issue here is that having dual language contracts tends to be costly. Although it is good for the lawyers' business, it imposes unnecessary costs in contract drafting. I need to admit that in drafting contracts, I also prefer the use of English over Indonesian language.  This was not caused by lack of nationalism. It was simply because English can capture more terms needed in our contracts compared to Indonesian language. In addition, we have a lot of precedents in English, making it more efficient to draft the contracts in English compared to Indonesian language.

    If you think that I am wrong, try to translate the Indenture (the document generally used for issuing bonds under New York Law) into Indonesian language and see by yourself whether you can be satisfied with the result when you compare the Indonesian version with the English version. Monstrous.

    Finally, I do not think that we will see a lot of similar cases. In practice, creditors are very prepared nowadays. When dealing with first time debtors, they will insist on having the Indonesian version at the same time with the English version of the contract. With repeated debtors or debtors that have good reputation, the Indonesian version will be provided later on but as soon as possible.

    More importantly, no sane debtors will ever try to do the same thing with the debtor in our case above. You will simply be blacklisted by most of the creditors and you will never receive credits unless you replace all of your management and change your name. The stain stays with you forever.

    To give you an example: Indonesia was famous among investment bankers as a country where an ordinary SPV structure for global bonds issuance was annulled by the Supreme Court because it was deemed to breach the public policy of Indonesia. The case involved a US$500 million bonds and the debtor successfully run away from its obligations. Since 2006 until today, there are only two cases have ever reached the Supreme Court, both are from the same group company, and both have different results (one was annulled and one was enforced).

    I always describe the above case in the risk factors section of my client's offering documents but I have never seen similar case to occur despite the fact that Indonesian issuers are quite aggressive in getting foreign financing. Why? Because we all know what happen to the executives of the company described above. The company cannot get any new financing (at least from foreign banks) and even if the executives have moved to another company, if the banks know about this, they will simply cancel or break the deal so that the new company cannot get any financing.

    In conclusion, this crazy move to annul debts based on frivolous reasons can only be done by debtors rich enough so that they can sustain themselves without ever getting new financing or desperate enough so that they choose to abruptly end their adventure in the financing world. Apparently, most debtors are sane enough not to choose the above way.       

  • Ketchup Economics and The Problem of Valuation

    Here is a long and nice article on the current macroeconomics issue by Paul Krugman. I must admit that I share the same view for some of his thoughts, particularly with respect to the misuse of economic models to explain the world and the argument that the market is perfectly efficient and can always maintain that condition. For further discussion, you can see my post here on the issues of Capitalism. To cut it short, I never believe that someone can explain how the market works through some sophisticated mathematical equations and models. Of course you need to make some calculation in economics, but don't expect that everything will work perfectly in accordance with the calculation, there are too many factors which are affecting the economics performance. Now, let us move to today's main theme. What exactly is Ketchup Economics? According to Mr. Krugman, this is related to the assets valuation method use by finance economists in determining whether asset prices are reasonable, i.e. they don't ask whether asset prices made sense because of its real-world fundamentals like earnings, but whether asset prices made sense given other asset prices. Using Larry Summers' parable, the simplified version would be as follows: The "ketchup economists" have shown that two-quart bottles of ketchup invariably sell for exactly twice as much as one-quart bottles of ketchup, therefore they conclude from this fact that the ketchup market is perfectly efficient. Got the message? Using the Ketchup Economists logic of thinking, the fact that the prices of certain assets are going considerably up or down in certain periods should not be questioned as long as the prices of other similar assets are going up or down together. Without a doubt, this is dangerous. But how can we blame them for making this kind of assessment? If we take the assumption that the market is truly efficient, it is useless to make a price valuation based on the fundamental aspects of the assets, since it is the market force, the supply and demand mechanism, that will determine the exact value of those assets. Let me clarify first, while I do believe the concept of Invisible Hand, i.e. the best way to let the economy moves is by letting the force of supply and demand works automatically, I also believe that the market is not always efficient, there would always be a case where the amount of the supply or demand is too high or too low. There are many factors that can affect such amount of supply and demand, and I can assure you that not all of those reasons were made on a reasonable basis. Sometimes people are being in a state of high optimism and are willing to take more risks and then the economy moves forward, in other times people are being too pessimistic and then we're going through a recession. Then, what could be done? To be honest, I don't know yet. Many professional economists have tried to solve the problem, but no one has ever succeeded, so I don't think that I can provide the perfect solution. However, since most victims of the current crisis are major financial institutions, I would suggest that a better supervision mechanism should be implemented by the Government in the near future. We would also need certain regulations that will encourage financial institutions to have a better assessment on their business and investment risks and to ensure that they can always maintain a prudent approach with their risk management. I was quite surprised with the collapse of some major financial institutions back in 2008, it is just ridiculous that from all the possible companies to collapse, those who should actually be the most prudent companies are the ones who were proven not prudent and therefore collapsed firstly. In addition, since most of the major financial institutions are relying on rating companies in determining their risk of investment, it would also be helpful if the Government can start to have a meaningful discussion with major rating companies concerning their rating standards in order to create a better and more prudent rating mechanism. Further elaboration on this idea will surely be needed in the future.

  • The Protection of Criminal Suspects in Law and Economics Perspective

    Forthcoming in Jurnal Teropong Edisi RUU KUHAP 2015 | 23 Pages | Posted: 10 May 2015 | Date Written: April 28, 2015

    Public Choice Theory and its Application in Indonesian Legislation System

    24 Pages | Posted: 8 Oct 2012 | Last revised: 8 Nov 2014 | Date Written: October 8, 2012

    Special Purpose Vehicle in Law and Economics Perspective

    Forthcoming in Journal of Indonesia Corruption Watch, 'Pemberantasan Kejahatan Korupsi dan Pencucian Uang yang Dilakukan Korporasi di Sektor Kehutanan', 2013 | 15 Pages | Posted: 22 Aug 2013 | Date Written: August 18, 2013

    Legal Positivism and Law and Economics -- A Defense

    Third Indonesian National Conference of Legal Philosophy, 27-28 August 2013 | 17 Pages | Posted: 22 Aug 2013 | Last revised: 3 Sep 2013 | Date Written: August 22, 2013

    Economic Analysis of Rape Crime: An Introduction

    Jurnal Hukum Jentera Vol 22, No 7 (2012) Januari-April | 14 Pages | Posted: 12 Nov 2011 | Last revised: 8 Oct 2012 | Date Written: May 7, 2012


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