为了保障基本的食品安全，尤其是在今年新冠疫情肆虐时保障民生供给的同时严格控制平台食品安全，让百姓吃得放心、吃得安心，美团大法务体系助力集团自主研发并迭代内部的“天网”系统，即“入网经营商户电子档案系统”，通过“入网审核、在网监管、退网追踪” 三大环节，对入网餐饮商户建立电子档案 , 进行全生命周期管理，确保平台商户信息真实可靠。
2020 ALB China Top 15 New Economy In-House Teams
With the advent of the new economic era, more and more enterprises are bursting out with strong vitality, driving the development of new industries, new technologies and new business forms. The legal teams of these enterprises comply with the trend of new economic development, and provides comprehensive and super-efficient legal support in line with business requirements with rapid adaptability, forward-looking thinking and advanced technical tools. In this new ranking, ALB for the first time focuses on the top new economy legal teams in China.
What's new about the new economy?
With the information technology as the driving force for innovation and in the context of economic globalisation, the age of new economy with innovative knowledge as the leading factor and high-tech industry as the leader has begun.
The emerging industry driven by technology and content is a main result of the new economy, while JOYY Group is the one that stands out in the industry.
"As a global social media platform, our business covers a wide range, namely live streaming, short video, social networking, e-commerce, education and finance. We are a typical company in the technology-and-content-driven emerging industry," Zhang Ning says. Zhang is the head of investment and finance projects of the legal department of JOYY Group. "Innovation is in JOYY's DNA. Since its establishment, the Group has been making efforts to incubate and expand new lines of business and new business models."
With rapid technological development and diversified content, it means that such an industry is constantly changing, posing great challenges to in-house counsels.
"For Internet companies, the only thing constant is change, which requires the in-house counsels to have a wider range of knowledge and faster learning capabilities," Zhang says. Taking outdoor live streaming as an example, although it is only a part of the whole YY live streaming, when the live streaming content involves outdoor and wild animals, the legal team needs to gain knowledge of the relevant laws and regulations on wildlife protection, and then formulate feasible operation guidelines and risk control recommendations.
"Our legal team must have a wide range of knowledge to cover all aspects of the company's business. Meanwhile, we need to be forward thinkers and have strong adaptability to support and promote the rapid development of the business," Zhang says.
New technologies and new models
New technology is the driving force of the new economy. "The new energy vehicle industry thrives. With the integration of new energy, new materials, the Internet, big data, autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and other transformative technologies, NIO endeavours to promote the transformation of automobiles from a means of transportation to mobile smart terminals and energy storage, thus bringing people with a whole different driving experience," Liu Fang, general counsel and Chief compliance officer of NIO, tells ALB.
To protect the company's new technologies, the legal department of NIO has deployed its global intellectual property strategic plan when the company was established five years ago, and has steadily rolled out the strategic plan along with the development of the company. "NIO has filed thousands of applications for patents and trademarks in nearly 200 countries and regions worldwide, and its technology and intellectual property rights in some areas are among the top in the industry. The core technology and competitiveness of the company are effectively protected," Liu shares with ALB the achievements of NIO's legal team in IPR protection.
New technologies are as the catalyst for change. NIO has developed and adopted new business models, including retail direct sales, cooperative manufacturing, and the Battery as a Service Program (BaaS). NIO's legal team provides corresponding supports to meet the needs of the new business models.
"The legal department has done plenty of prudent and forward-looking feasibility studies, assisting the company's business departments in completing the construction of the legal framework of the new business model, the preparation of the contract text, and the design of the risk response mechanism to ensure the safe and steady progress of the new business models," Liu says.
With the rapid development of information technology, data privacy protection has been a hot topic discussed by all sectors of society. The European Union promulgated the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018; and almost at the same time, China promulgated the Information Security Technology – Personal Information Security Specifications, which will be put into effect in October this year.
In addition to complying with the legislative trend under the background of the new economy, the legal team of Meituan also participates in the process of promoting the construction of the legal system. Wang says that in terms of food safety, the Meituan's legal team actively follows up the process of national and local food safety legal system construction to jointly enhance the rule of law in the food industry. In 29 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities including Shanghai, Zhejiang, Hubei, Henan, Guangdong and Heilongjiang, efforts have been made to promote the registration, record-filing and management of small restaurants by means of formulating local food safety regulations and regulatory policies.
Compliance and risk control
Although the compliance and risk control systems of different enterprises might not be the same, in the context of the new economy, they share something in common, which is "keeping in line with business development and covering all aspects."
"The legal department must establish a comprehensive compliance and legal risk control system to cover all aspects of business terminals. Horizontally, the legal department of JOYY Group is divided into several teams (sections), namely comprehensive legal affairs, litigation and dispute resolution, intellectual property rights, investment and financing, and operation safety, to cover all aspects of the Group's business. Vertically, the legal department participates in the whole process of each product and project in order to immediately identify or even predict legal risks," Zhang says.
In addition, the legal department of JOYY Group will engage external law firms to check the businesses of the whole company to see if there are any risks, and conduct a comprehensive compliance assessment to supplement and strengthen the company’s risk control system from an external perspective.
After NIO completed its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, its legal department started to lead the building of a comprehensive compliance system for the company. The specific work includes: (1) setting up the company's compliance committee composed of the heads of five major departments, which is fully responsible for and supervise the implementation of the company's compliance work; (2) releasing a series of company compliance policies and rules, covering anti-corruption, anti-insider trading, anti-monopoly, anti-money laundering, and employee conflicts of interest; (3) establishing a reporting system and case investigation, feedback and conclusion mechanism based on the company's compliance policies and rules; (4) establishing an online approval process that meets the governance and compliance requirements for the U.S. listed companies; and (5) providing all employees with various channels and comprehensive compliance training to enhance their compliance awareness.
"The rules, systems and procedures we've built meet the basic requirements for listed companies in the U.S. Our case investigation, feedback and handling mechanism is very efficient and effective, and our training is oriented toward extensive audiences. Our compliance work has been highly efficient and carried out in an orderly manner," Liu of NIO says proudly.
In May of this year, Meituan upgraded the company's safety committee to a safety and risk management committee (referred to as risk management committee). The member units of the risk management committee include all functional and business departments, and the risk management committee secretariat is composed of various risk management functional departments. The committee sets up and implements the overall deployment of "maintaining bottom line of ensuring safety, dynamically managing risks, and supporting business innovation and development," to vigorously support making innovations and breakthroughs in the development of new businesses and new products under the premises of ensuring safety. At the same time, a special project team has been set up to carry out dynamic risk management in a coordinated and comprehensive way. And by implementing mechanisms such as online handling of risk events, risk scanning, and hierarchical reporting of risks, Meituan applied the closed-loop management in business practice and improved dynamic risk management capabilities.
"This system enables Meituan to quickly identify risks and conduct targeted assessments and responses during the rapid business development, forming a closed-loop risk control system," Liu tells ALB.
In order to ensure basic food safety, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic this year, and to ensure that the food supplied or delivered to people through Meituan 's platforms is safe, the Group' large legal system helps it to independently develop and upgrade an internal "Tian Wang" (sky net) system, the "electronic file system for catering entities operating on Meituan 's platforms", including three major links, namely "registration review, online (in-platform) supervision, and follow-up check on catering entities after they withdraw from the platforms”. The legal department of Meituan also carries out the electronic management of catering entities doing business on the platforms to ensure the authenticity and reliability of the information of the entities doing business on the platforms.
That is only a very small part of the technological work in which Meituan 's legal department has been involved. Meituan has a team of nearly 10,000 top engineers, and has become a first-class R&D team in the industry. It's not surprising that the legal department applies technical means in many aspects of work:
- adopting a work order system to facilitate daily legal consultation work with business departments and a hierarchical handling system to effectively handle emergencies. These two systems can help the legal department improve communication efficiency and carry out hierarchical management of legal matters and take effective control of various emergencies;
- building a case management system with the company's characteristics, which enables the legal department to manage case based on case risk level, regions, business units (BU) and types, to improve the efficiency of litigation, fully tap the value of litigation data, and conduct scientific management;
- strengthening the construction of the contract management system to realise the online management of the entire process, including application, review, printing and archiving. At the same time, Meituan has further deployed electronic contract signatures on a large scale in several its main lines of business, with over 100 million contracts signed.; and
- launching of the intellectual property rights protection systems on Meituan.com, .com, and merchant client terminals. All merchants doing business on the platforms can, through the said IPR protection systems, seek support and protection from Meituan's large legal department if their intellectual property rights are infringed upon, to ensure intellectual property related complaints are traceable, effectively improve work efficiency and user satisfaction in terms of the handling of complaints and disputes, and protection of intellectual property rights.
The legal team of JOYY Group has also introduced an online electronic contract system to solve the problem of signing contracts between live streaming platforms and live streamers. The system has helped significantly reduce management costs while ensuring the effectiveness of the contract through reliable technical means. Zhang points out that in recent years, JOYY Group has successively launched its internal contract management system, intellectual property management system, and legal matter related case management system, to standardise the processing procedures of various affairs and carry out refined management of review and approval nodes, event reminders, document archiving, case retrieval, legal fees, and supplier assessment, which has helped the legal team to significantly improve the work efficiency.
NIO's legal team worked together with the company's digital operations department to create an online office system and process with comprehensive functions such as email communication, online process, mobile online tools, database, legal document database and compliance review process, aiming to meet some special needs of legal work. In addition to realising the remote, simultaneous and efficient work, the system also embeds the relevant legal affairs review and approval process into the company's overall review and approval procedures to facilitate communication and collaboration between the legal department and all business departments, and achieve seamless linking-up between corporate governance and business management.
"We'll also use some management service software provided by external service suppliers to comprehensively manage company documents, cases, intellectual property procedures and global intellectual property monitoring, so as to realise online and digital legal work. At present, we're in the process of finding the best possible practice," Liu of NIO adds.
Looking to the future, Zhang believes that there will be more transformative innovations in the Internet area, which means that the legal teams will face more challenges as well as opportunities.
"Our legal team has practical experience in almost every segment of the Internet. We hope that through the summary and review of experience, we can improve our capabilities and create an expert legal team; and meanwhile, we'll continue to improve the legal risk prevention and control system, so that our legal team will tackle new challenges more confidently. In addition, as JOYY Group continues to explore the overseas market, the legal team will be committed to achieving the Group's international strategic goals and globalisation of legal affairs management, addressing issues such as the cultivation of employees' legal awareness, intellectual property compliance, content compliance and data protection, establishing a stronger overseas legal support team and relationship network chain, and cooperating with overseas law firms to jointly address challenges and seize opportunities," Zhang says.
Liu of NIO believes that in the next three to five years, the new energy automobile industry will continue to be in the transition stage, from a "policy-driven" industry to a "market-led" industry. NIO will make active adjustments to be in line with the trend of policy reform, which is to enhance competitiveness with high-quality products and best services. NIO will focus on research and development activities to improve battery technology, autonomous driving, Intelligent Connected Vehicle (ICV) and other related technologies. Meanwhile, they will work together with the public sector to actively promote integrated development of new energy vehicles and energy grid, public transportation and information and communication networks.
To support this endeavour, NIO's legal team has made relevant deployments and plans. "The legal department currently has about 20 legal personnel fully responsible for the company's global legal affairs, including intellectual property, strategic investment and financing, mergers and acquisitions, dispute resolution, general corporate legal affairs, and compliance. In order to facilitate the company's business development, we will further improve the team structure, improve the team's overall industry knowledge and professional skills, and enrich the team culture," Liu shares with ALB. "First, we'll recruit new legal staff to meet the needs of the company's business development, who should have global vision, innovation awareness, and efficient problem-solving capabilities, so that we can give more support to the company in expanding the global market and implementing the next-step business plan. Secondly, we'll continue to help our team members to gain more industry knowledge, and keep abreast of the update and development of the relevant industrial laws and regulations. In addition, gaining basic knowledge and professional skills in emerging areas is also our top priority while working efficiently in high demand and fast-paced environment. And thirdly, we'll strengthen the cultural construction in the legal team, and help the team members to enhance their sense of social responsibility and sense of belonging to the company, so that we can better adapt to the high demand work environment and requirements, better serve the company and better serve the society."
To contact the editorial team, please email ALBEditor@thomsonreuters.com.