Q. What makes One Asia Lawyers Global Whistle-Blowing System different from others?

A. One Asia Lawyers Group with its global network of offices and member firms can support our clients as an external whistleblowing hotline not only in Japan but globally. Communication can be done through phone, fax, email and other methods, and we can conduct an interview in Asian and other countries around the world right after we receive a report. We provide support in not only Japanese and English but also other local languages to help establish a highly effective global whistleblowing system.
For a whistleblowing report, the initial response is very important. When a report of high importance and urgency is received, our lawyers with extensive experience in this field will set up a meeting with the client to determine the initial response to the issue. Our lawyers together with the lawyers in our partner firms can continuously and promptly respond to any issues (if any legal action is required after the first meeting, a separate quotation will be provided).

Q. If GWS receives a whistleblowing report, which department in the company should act as a contact point?

A. It depends on the company. In many cases, legal and compliance departments of a head office serve as a contact point with us. In a case of global whistleblowing system, representatives of overseas subsidiaries may serve as a contact point. However, in order to avoid a risk that such representative might not report a problem to their head office, a head office and department with management functions are more likely to be appointed as a contact point.

Q. In general, how often can we expect to receive a whistleblowing report? Will it affect the business operations if too many reports are received? What if no report is received and the system doesn’t work?

A. While we do not expect to receive such high volume of reports that would affect business operations, it is less likely that we receive no reports. Wen introducing a whistleblowing system, it is important to inform employees of the system and provide training on how to utilize it on a regular basis.
By educating the employees and encouraging them to use the system, we can ensure that the employees make only a relevant report.

Q. Can a whistleblowing report be made anonymously?

A. Yes.
We recommend drafting a whistleblowing policy which clarifies that an anonymous report can be made and, when a report is made, asking the whistleblower if they want to remain anonymous before moving to the following steps (such as interview).

Q. What if we receive many false or harassing reports? Will it affect business operations?

A. We can prevent such false or harassing reports from being made by clarifying the purpose of the whistleblowing system in the policy, setting requirements for acceptance of reports and providing information and training to employees.
In particular, when providing seminars and webinars on the introduction of a whistleblowing system, it is important to provide employees with information on what they should and shouldn’t report so that they understand the purpose of the system. It is also necessary to incorporate in the policy a provision that anyone who make a report that is significantly against the purpose of the system, is intended to disturb the business, or is clearly false information may face a penalty.

Q. How should we handle personal information contained in a whistleblowing report? For example, can a whistleblowing report received in Singapore be shared with a head office in Japan?

A. It is necessary to draft a whistleblowing policy in compliance with personal information protection laws in each jurisdiction and ensure the policy is disseminated to all employees.
Also, when a report is made, it is important to handle personal information properly by obtaining consent of the whistleblower on the handling of such information. For example, when a whistleblowing report received in Singapore is shared to a head office in Japan, it is necessary for the company to have a whistleblowing policy which clarifies that a report may be shared to its head office and also to obtain a separate consent from a whistleblower (by email etc.) for an individual report.

Q. Is it possible to establish a global whistleblowing system that also includes jurisdictions other than Asia (US, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, etc.), where One Asia Lawyers Group does not have offices?

A. Yes. We can support the establishment of a global whistleblowing system in jurisdictions beyond Asia. In the jurisdictions where we do not have offices (US, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, etc.), we can work with our partner firms to support our client.
We can also provide supports with the implementation and operation of a whistleblowing policy and system in compliance with laws in each jurisdiction through these law firms in each country.