The Young Lawyer

Business Law for the Night Entertainment Entrepreneur

I have always wanted to be two things: a lawyer AND a night entertainment entrepreneur. Of course, I wished that I had two lives to accomplish both, but alas, there is no such thing. Initially, I was young and naive enough to believe that the next best thing to having two lives was to juggle both legal practice and my business. My legal training was (and still remains) a valuable asset to the business. Not only did my legal knowledge contribute to the business, the way in which legal training and practice teaches the mind to think strategically, also proved to be very useful. However, years later, it became obvious to me that when you are a jack of two trades, you can never truly be a master of one. I, therefore, chose to give up legal practice in order to focus on my business. Today, all I hope to do is to contribute my legal know-how, acquired in the course of my business, to the vast library of knowledge out there.
It can be said that I started my research for this book more or less the moment I decided to incorporate The Butter Factory Pte Ltd without external legal help. As a start-up, we could not afford to spend more than was absolutely necessary. Among many other luxuries, legal fees belonged to the category of unnecessary. It, therefore, fell to me, as the lawyer in the pack, to figure out “the legal side of things”.
As all lawyers would know, the law is a vast and varied creature. Law school teaches us how to think, learn and acquire legal knowledge; it does not give lawyers all the answers for all time (contrary to popular and lawyer-exasperating belief). Business Law for the Night Entertainment Entrepreneurrepresents a good part of the knowledge that I have acquired throughout the years; knowledge on how the law applies to and affectsthe night entertainment business.
With every step of the way, therefore, I had to learn the law relevant to every question posed in the course of running my business. I could not find a book that provided me with the practical guidance necessary to run a business, much less one that could teach me the ropes of the night entertainment business. Books replete with legal theory and academic discussion were easy to find, of course. But where was the one that told an entrepreneur what to door which website to go to in order to get things sorted? Without that elusive book, I had to figure things out the hard way: trawling websites, calling help lines, and obtaining unadulterated experience in the night entertainment business. I am still learning more and more each day, of course, as new problems arise and new technology unfolds.
The day I put pen to paper (or rather, typed font to Microsoft document) was when I discovered forgotten folders of legal research while re-organising my Dropbox files. Without knowing it, through the years of figuring out what to do and how to do it, I had accumulated tons of practical knowledge on the different areas of law governing the night entertainment business.
I had specific folders with material on incorporation of a company, on operating licences, on collective management organisations, on exemption clauses, and so on. All folders contained soft copy statutes, subsidiary legislation, case law, useful links and even screenshots of useful government webpages to remind myself how to navigate those websites if ever again necessary. Simply put, I had, over time, compiled a horde of legal material and practical experience, which was now just waiting to be shared. I decided at that point that I simply had to write that very book that I had so long ago given up the search for – and the idea for Business Law for the Night Entertainment Entrepreneur was thus born.
Business Law for the Night Entertainment Entrepreneur, which was officially launched on 7 September 2012, aims primarily to educate those in the night entertainment industry on the basic laws that demand some attention in the course of business. I illustrate the law with realistic examples that any night entertainment entrepreneur can identify with, so as to facilitate a better understanding of the legal principles I expound. Having said that, many legal principles covered in this book apply to all businesses in general. To that extent, entrepreneurs involved in any other business will also find it educational.
It is also my objective to share with lawyers what I have learnt. Since this article is for the Law Gazette, it would make sense for me to elaborate more on how Business Law for the Night Entertainment Entrepreneurcan be helpful to lawyers.
First, this book serves as a concise reference with respect to the fundamental legal principles that govern businesses, companies, intellectual property and contracts. It is particularly useful to lawyers who wish to cite the Singapore, as opposed to the English, position on those principles. As a legal practitioner, I am well-aware that citing Singapore cases to the Courts or in advice to clients, is preferred to citing English cases, even if the law is trite. After all, English cases are only persuasive authorities and the Singapore Court is no longer bound by English law. I have, therefore, taken unique pains to ensure that this book provides the Singapore position on all legal principles that I explore.
Second, as the night entertainment industry grows in Singapore, lawyers may find themselves advising or acting for clients who operate a night entertainment business. As an entrepreneur, I value practical advice the most. I do not just want to know what the law says, I want to know what to do. Although this book does not impart business management know-how, it gives lawyers practical insight as to the workings of a night entertainment business and the things that matter most to those running such businesses. Lawyers will also find that Business Law for the Night Entertainment Entrepreneurincludes discussions on operating licences, music copyright, the effect of specific contractual terms on the night entertainment business and corruption; topics that do not normally feature in traditional business law or company law books.
The journey to completing this book was both long and, to the extent I had never originally planned to write it, unexpected. In hindsight, the experience was thoroughly fulfilling and has given me a great sense of contribution. If there are any young lawyers out there who are looking for an enormous (but immensely rewarding) challenge – might I suggest writing a textbook!

►    Tay Eu-Yen*
* Tay Eu-Yen is the Executive Chairman of The Butter Factory group. She is a former litigation lawyer, who practised with Drew & Napier LLC, and a former Assistant Professor of Law with the School of Law, Singapore Management University.
** Business Law for the Night Entertainment Entrepreneueris published by Sweet & Maxwell. It retails at SGD 120, before GST. To order,  e-mail [email protected] or call (65) 6333 0800