01 May 2016
Text: A | A

Iswaran: Finance, law firms must embrace tech

Business Times
29 Apr 2016
Jacquelyn Cheok

Getting "comfortable" with innovation ecosystem will enable them to do well by properly appreciating new businesses and their risks

[Singapore] FINANCIAL institutions, as well as law and accountancy firms, must "get comfortable" with the technology and innovation ecosystem, Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said on Thursday at the launch of the S$500 million Venture Debt Programme (VDP) that supports high-growth enterprises.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to homegrown vessel-monitoring company Ascenz Solutions, he added that these professional services would do well only if they appreciate new businesses - whose assets are unconventional, and comprise mostly intellectual property (IP) - and their risks.

This way, banks can create relevant financing products to serve the new businesses, lawyers can understand how to value and protect new types of IP, and accountants can learn how to size them, he said.

VDP - led by Spring Singapore and supported by all three local banks DBS, OCBC and UOB - aims to catalyse about 100 venture debt loans over two years, under which Spring will provide 50 per cent risk-sharing to the financial institutions.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including startups, can apply for venture debt loans of up to S$5 million each for working capital, assets, projects or mergers and acquisitions for business expansion purposes.

Venture debt - a form of alternative financing for enterprises with high-growth potential but which may not have established revenue streams or assets to use as collateral - involves lending money in return for interest payments and the option to take equity at a later stage.

It is unlike venture capital (the more established form of startup financing), where the entrepreneur typically sells off a stake in the company.

"(Venture debt) addresses the gap between traditional bank loans and equity investments," said Chew Mok Lee, assistant chief executive of Spring Singapore.

VDP, announced in Budget 2015 as a complement to current government loan financing schemes, has since January backed four companies, among them Ascenz Solutions, digital media firm Conversant, and fashion manufacturer and retailer MDS.

Ascenz Solutions secured S$1 million in venture debt from Spring and OCBC to expand regionally and to enhance its solutions in fuel consumption measurement, as well as bunkering and vessel tracking.

Tan Chor Sen, head of international and global commercial banking at OCBC, said: "We recognise that not all high-growth companies are built around technology . . . that is why we are offering venture debt financing to high-growth companies from different industries instead of limiting it to high-tech companies."

Companies need not be backed by a venture capital firm to be eligible for VDP with OCBC, the latest bank to launch venture debt offerings.

DBS, which rolled out a commercial venture debt financing programme in February 2015, requires companies to be backed by a "reputable" venture capital firm.

UOB (the first bank to offer venture debt in October 2014) last August partnered Temasek Holdings to invest in venture debt company InnoVen Capital, and offer up to US$500 million in venture debt loans over the next five years to Internet startups in China, India and South-east Asia.

Companies already have a good option with InnoVen, said Vinnie Lauria, managing partner of Singapore-based venture capital firm Golden Gate Ventures. So VDP ought to "do something" to set itself apart.

There is a role for venture debt, he added. "Almost all companies - e-commerce ones, in particular - need debt between formal equity rounds due to high capital costs of their business."

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

HSBC Trustee (Singapore) Limited v Carolyn Fong Wai Lyn & 4 ors - [2016] SGHC 31

MinLaw and IPOS complete review of Singapore’s registered designs regime

Business
18 Apr 2016

2 people, not one, charged in Singapore's 1MDB probe

Business Times
29 Apr 2016
Anita Gabriel

[Singapore] SINGAPORE authorities have charged not one but two people - a former wealth manager at Swiss private bank BSI and someone allegedly involved in corrupt transactions in concert with the former private banker - in an ongoing investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that was described in court as the "most complex" probe ever undertaken by the white-collar crime buster here.

Yeo Jiawei, a former BSI Singapore employee (who appeared via video link, handcuffed and clad in a bright orange polo shirt) was slapped with two additional charges of cheating and obstructing investigations by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) by Singapore's prosecutors in the state court on Thursday.

The submissions in court made no mention of 1MDB but, based on the entity that was named (1MDB's wholly owned Brazen Sky Ltd emerged in relation to Yeo's fresh charges), it was apparent that the case stemmed from the ongoing probe into Malaysia's troubled state-backed firm.

On April 15, 33-year-old Yeo - who was described by Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck in Thursday's mention as having played a "central role" in the movement of large amounts of monies and concealing transactions - was charged with money-laundering offences.

Unknown to many, another Singaporean - Kelvin Ang Wee Keng, 34 - was charged on April 20 for corruptly giving a gratification sum of S$3,000 to research analyst Lee Chee Waiy to expedite preparation of a favourable valuation report to be issued by his equity research firm, according to a charge sheet.

This case is also believed to be an outcome of the 1MDB probe.

When queried by BT, a spokesman from the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said that the prosecution had told the court that Ang was "implicated in a number of illicit transactions" entered in concert with Yeo.

The AGC spokesman said that the court had granted the prosecution's request during mention on Wednesday for Ang to be further remanded.

The case against these two people by Singapore prosecutors marks the first charges in many months of a sweeping probe into 1MDB that involves multiple authorities in several territories including Switzerland, the United States, Hong Kong and, more recently, Seychelles.

It also underscores the complexity of the probe into the 1MDB money trail.

Under the new charge, Yeo is alleged to have cheated his employer BSI Bank sometime before September 2012 by concealing that he had received some US$1.6 million per year, which was a portion of the annual management fee paid by Brazen Sky Ltd to Bridge Partners Investment Management (Cayman) Ltd.

The court was told that Brazen Sky owned all the shares of Bridge Global Absolute Return Fund SPC (segregated portfolio company), a fund that was managed by Bridge Partners.

In his submission for Yeo to be further remanded and his access to counsel disallowed at this "sensitive juncture" of the investigations, Mr Kwek said that the probe was "very much alive" and involved "several jurisdictions, numerous corporate entities, multiple transactions spanning several years, and a staggering amount of monies". Multiple witnesses have also been interviewed.

"We have hundreds of thousands of documents to review that include communications between the accused and other persons of interest, as well as e-mails and transactional documents which the accused can also provide insight on," Mr Kwek argued, adding that Yeo's family members were also being investigated for money-laundering activities.

Yeo's lawyer, Philip Fong from Harry Elias Partnership, argued that the prosecution and CAD had been given "more than ample time" to investigate his client, hence there was no reason to hold him indefinitely.

"Two weeks have passed since Jiawei was arrested. Seven months have passed since he was called in for investigations. The enforcement authorities have had more than enough time to carry out their investigations," said Mr Fong.

He also stressed that Yeo was not a flight risk as he has a family and a three-year old daughter, and his passport has been impounded since Day One.

District Judge Christopher Goh granted prosecution's application to further remand Yeo and deny him access to lawyers.

READ MORE: Bank Negara orders 1MDB to repatriate money sent overseas

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Public Prosecutor v Chum Tat Suan - [2016] SGHC 27

Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements: Singapore tables bill in Parliament to make Singapore a more attractive dispute resolution venue

Legislation
15 Apr 2016

UK court blocks deportation of Singaporean transgender person due for reservist duties

TODAY
29 Apr 2016

SINGAPORE — Two British judges have blocked an effort by the UK Home Office to deport a Singaporean transgender person who is liable for reservist training, The Guardian newspaper has reported.

The British daily reported on Wednesday (April 27) that the Singaporean would be “granted sanctuary in the UK”, where the 33-year-old has been studying since September 2004, and added that this was the first case of its kind.

According to The Guardian, the Singaporean, who cannot be named due to legal reasons, has been accepted by the UK Home Office as a woman and possesses a Home Office ID card where the gender entry is female. But the Singaporean has not undergone a full sex change, and is said to have completed National Service as a man between December 2001 and June 2004.

Singapore’s Penal Code, however, states that a “person who has undergone a sex reassignment procedure shall be identified as being of the sex to which that person has been reassigned”.

According to The Guardian, the Singaporean said it would be “intolerable to be treated as a man” during reservist training after having lived as a woman for a decade. The newspaper also quoted the Singaporean’s lawyer as saying that if his client had been deported by the Home Office, it would be akin to “returning a woman to her home country to be punished as a man.”

TODAY has sent queries on this case to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF).

The 33-year-old’s case has been heard twice by the UK’s immigration tribunal, according to the Guardian. At the first hearing last November, the judge ruled in the Singaporean’s favour and said: “I find that the requirement of the appellant to essentially hide her gender and live as a man, even for two weeks a year, would be wholly unreasonable.”

The UK Home Office appealed, arguing that the Singaporean should be sent home and that any potential discrimination would not amount to serious harm.

A second judge who heard the case earlier this week rejected the Home Office’s appeal, and ruled in the Singaporean’s favour.

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Ser Kim Koi v GTMS Construction Pte Ltd - [2016] SGCA 07

Latest developments: Data protection

Business
15 Apr 2016

Enhancing the international enforceability of Singapore judgments

Singapore Law Watch
29 Apr 2016
Indranee Rajah

Isabel Redrup Agency Pte Ltd v A L Dakshnamoorthy and others and another suit - [2016] SGHC 30

SHC lays down new principles in defamation law

Judgments
15 Apr 2016

URA, estate agency body probing potential breach of minimum-stay rule

Business Times
29 Apr 2016
Lynette Khoo

They are looking into cases of short-term stays facilitated by clauses in tenancy agreements

[Singapore] WHILE the jury is still out on a review by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of the minimum rental period for private residential properties, cases of potential breaches are being looked into.

The URA and the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) said they are probing cases cited in recent articles published in The Business Times on potential short-term stays being offered in private residential units.

BT articles published on April 9 flagged that long before home sharing websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway became popular, many accommodation service providers have been operating for a long time, offering short-term stays of under six months in private homes.

Under URA's guideline, however, renting out the whole unit or individual rooms for residential purposes is allowed only for long-term stays of six months or more. Short-term stays here are allowed for serviced apartments, which are under residential zoning, and hotels with its own designated land use zoning.

"CEA and URA have been investigating the cases cited by The Business Times," said CEA acting deputy director (licensing) Chua Geck Siang in response to a BT query.

BT had flagged earlier this month that some accommodation service providers could have got around URA's minimum-stay requirement for residential properties by clever wording of their tenancy agreements.

Standard contracts seen by BT, such as those issued by Uncharted Homes on behalf of BS Shenton Pte Ltd, contain a minimum lease of six months but with a diplomatic clause allowing for early termination without penalty. Another accommodation service provider, LMB Housing Services, issues an open-ended contract that states a minimum lease of six months without indicating the last date of stay, and allows the tenant to terminate the lease without penalty by submitting a termination letter 30 days before departure date.

But URA has clarified that there is a breach as long as residential units are rented out for under six months.

Other accommodation service providers cited in the BT articles include International Service Apartments and Atas Residence, formerly known as OSPC (Overseas Students Placement Centre) Pte Ltd. Besides these, there are many other service providers that offer rental for less than six months in private residential units.

Since estate agency work includes introducing property owner or landlord to a tenant, assisting in the negotiation of a transaction between both parties, as well as subsequent work relating to the transaction, the operations of these managing agents raise the question of why they are not licensed by or regulated under the CEA since they provide some form of property leasing services.

In response to BT's query, the CEA said that under the Estate Agents Act, entities and individuals conducting estate agency work in Singapore must be licensed and registered with the CEA.

But entities managing serviced apartments, which are intended for short-term stays in a way similar to hotels, need not be licensed under the Estate Agents Act, said Ms Chua. "The key issue is that serviced apartments must have the requisite planning approval from URA to be used as such."

Atas Residence was managing short-term stays for entire developments Oxley Thanksgiving Residence, St Thomas Lodge and Devonshire Apartments near Somerset - projects that did not have planning permission to be run as serviced apartments as at April 9, the date when the BT articles were published.

Since then, Atas Residence has moved St Thomas Lodge and Devonshire Apartments - two strata-titled developments - to its long-term stay catalogue but kept Oxley Thanksgiving Residence under the short-term stay category.

BT understands that URA on Wednesday granted written permission for the proposed change of use of Oxley Thanksgiving Residence - a single strata development owned by Chinese temple Poh Ern Shih - to serviced apartments this week. The five-storey block at 328 River Valley Road has a total of 88 units with two levels of basement carparks, swimming pool and a roof terrace.

The Chinese temple had submitted a formal application on April 14 to URA for the conversion of use to serviced apartments.

Under URA's guidelines for serviced apartments, they have to be non-strata subdivided, self-contained apartments with provision for kitchenettes or kitchens and have support services such as concierge, housekeeping and/or laundry provided for the residents. They are rented out for lodging for a minimum of seven days or other longer periods.

Locations where serviced apartment use can be considered for approval are sites fronting major and arterial roads within predominantly residential areas, or sites located in mixed use areas, such as commercial centres and business parks; or abutting medical hubs.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Lim Koon Park v Yap Jin Meng Bryan and others - [2016] SGHC 29

Budget 2016 – Tax Updates

Business
14 Apr 2016

Ex-AIA agent's sixth lawyer discharges himself amid trial

Straits Times
28 Apr 2016
Lorna Tan

In a dramatic twist to the long-awaited criminal trial of ex-AIA insurance agent Sally Low, her lawyer discharged himself from representing Low yesterday.

Low is facing charges of duping Indonesian businessman Ong Han Ling, 77, into buying a fake US$5.06 million AIA Thank You insurance policy in 2002.

Mr Adrian Wee of Characterist LLC was Low's sixth lawyer. Low, who was made bankrupt by her previous lawyers, had five sets of lawyers acting for her before Mr Wee took up her case last year.

Yesterday, Mr Wee told State Court judge Michelle Yap that he was "compelled to apply for discharge" as Low has made "an allegation" against him.

It is not publicly known what the allegation was, as it was mentioned only in chambers.

On the witness stand, Low said she has every intention to fight the trial and has been trying since 2010 to do so. She added she has been under stress and she believes that people have been "following" her.

She said: "Given my IMH (Institute of Mental Health) report, it sounds like I am paranoid and I am crazy but I don't have the funds or the money to engage new counsel and on my own, I do not have the ability to fight this case.

"It's taken so many years of my life... I was age 34 when I was charged, now I am age 41. I am also mindful that I don't have the time to look for new counsel, not to mention the resources, and in all fairness, Mr Wee has been trying his best."

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi noted Low has made allegations against her former counsel on the witness stand during a related civil trial and, to his knowledge, these allegations were not well founded.

The State Court judge allowed Mr Wee's discharge and the criminal trial, which started on Monday, was adjourned yesterday. It is set to continue on May 5, whether or not Low engages another defence counsel.

The saga began in late 2002, when Mr Ong was allegedly sold a fake policy by Low, then an AIA agent. He claimed that after he remitted the premium, Low, without his knowledge or consent, used the funds to buy four AIA policies for him, his wife and their daughter.

He alleged that midway through the tenure of the AIA Thank You policy, Low deceived him into giving the insurance proceeds from three of the unauthorised policies to her by use of fabricated computer errors. Her scheme came to light in 2008 after Mr Ong learnt from AIA that the Thank You policy was bogus.

The insurer made a police report against Low and sacked her in December 2009. Mr Ong made a police report against Low in January 2010 for allegedly cheating him of money. He sued her for damages totalling US$2.25 million and $2.99 million.

In May 2011, she was charged with 19 criminal offences, including cheating the Ongs, using forged documents and money laundering.

In December 2013, Low pleaded guilty to two charges of cheating, one charge of fraudulent use of forged documents and one charge of moving crime proceeds to a bank account in Hong Kong, with the remaining 15 charges taken into consideration. She retracted her guilty plea six months later. Low also claimed she was a victim of a ploy with Mr Ong to cheat AIA instead.

She had previously admitted herself to IMH and her previous lawyers included Ms Engelin Teh and the late Mr Subhas Anandan. Meanwhile, the Ongs are suing AIA and Motion Insurance Agency for negligence and lack of care.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Management Corporation Strata Title Plan No 3322 v Mer Vue Developments Pte Ltd and others (King Wan Construction Pte Ltd and others, third parties) - [2016] SGHC 28

The Panama Papers leak: Implications for organisations and individuals in Singapore

Business
12 Apr 2016

Clifford Chance appoints new Singapore managing partner

Business Times
28 Apr 2016
Claire Huang

INTERNATIONAL law firm Clifford Chance on Wednesday announced the appointment of three Singapore-based partners to leadership positions.

Kai-Niklas Schneider will assume the role of office managing partner with effect from June 1, following Geraint Hughes's appointment to regional managing partner of Asia-Pacific.

Nish Shetty will take over the role of head of litigation and dispute resolution for Asia-Pacific from Aug 1.

Nicholas Wong will serve as co-head of the firm's finance practice for Asia-Pacific together with Anthony Wang in Hong Kong starting May 1.

In the past six years, the local practice has doubled its size, including entering into a successful formal law alliance with local firm Cavenagh Law in 2012.

The firm also established an association with Indonesian firm, Linda Widyati & Partners, in 2014.

Last month the firm said two new partners - Gervais Green and Kate Sherrard - will join its Singapore office to bolster its maritime, offshore and asset and project finance offering.

Global managing partner Matthew Layton said: "Singapore and Southeast Asia are increasingly important to our clients and form a key part of our firm's growth strategy. Kai assumes the position of office managing partner with a strong ambition shared by the entire team, and Kai, Nish and Nick are all successful partners and highly regarded professionals in their respective practice areas."

Mr Schneider, who joined Clifford Chance in 2005 and subsequently rejoined as partner in 2013, is also head of the funds and investment management group for South-east Asia.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

La Dolce Vita Fine Dining Co Ltd and another v Deutsche Bank AG and another and another matter - [2016] SGHCR 3

SHC grants plaintiff leave to bring s 216A derivative action

Judgments
12 Apr 2016

Take the twist out of 'death spiral' convertibles

Business Times
28 Apr 2016
Kenneth Lim

THE so-called "death spiral" convertible bonds that lie at the heart of the proxy battle at Magnus Energy may be a wake-up call for all stakeholders.

Regulators must ensure that the holders of such instruments are not skirting rules about control of a company; independent directors must ensure that disclosures to shareholders are explicit about the risks of such instruments and be transparent about why the bonds are necessary in the first place; and shareholders must learn to recognise death spiral convertibles as bad news.

What are death spiral convertibles? In a typical convertible, the conversion price is fixed, which means that the potential dilutive impact of the convertibles is known and limited. In death spiral convertibles, however, the conversion price is based on a formula that assures a discount to market. This not only protects the bondholder against a tanking stock price, but it also creates an increasingly dilutive effect with each round of conversion. When such convertibles are issued in large amounts by a company, or when the conversion prices are set at large discounts to market, the transactions can be devastating for the underlying stock price. Hence the "death spiral".

Magnus Energy entered into a deal in 2014 to issue up to S$35 million of such instruments to a little known investment firm called Value Capital Asset Management. In Magnus's case, Value Capital gets to turn the bonds into stock at a 10 per cent discount - the maximum allowable under Singapore rules when conversion prices are not fixed.

A group of Magnus minority shareholders want to stop Magnus from issuing any more of those convertibles. The company has an option to require Value Capital to buy the remaining S$15 million of convertibles not yet issued, and the shareholders want to make sure that the option is not exercised. So they have requisitioned an extraordinary general meeting to remove all of the current directors of Magnus and to appoint their own nominees. The shareholders' meeting takes place on Friday.

The grumbling about the convertibles is not without cause. Value Capital converts some of its bonds into shares many times a week and invariably sells them. The dilution from issuing new shares at a discount plus the selling pressure have weighed heavily on Magnus's share price. Before the convertible deal was announced on Sept 3, 2014, Magnus's shares were trading at the equivalent of 65 Singapore cents, adjusted for a 2015 consolidation. The shares were last traded at 0.2 Singapore cent on Wednesday.

Proceeds

Death spiral convertibles are fundamentally tilted against existing shareholders, but they exist for a reason. Typically, companies that issue such instruments are in urgent need of funds and have few better alternatives, so the convertibles do provide last-resort funds.

But it is not obvious that Magnus was in such dire straits when it agreed to the convertible deal, or even if it were, whether it is still in that position today.

In all of its disclosures since 2014, Magnus has consistently declared that it has sufficient working capital for "present requirements". Indeed, as at end-December 2015, the company had S$7.4 million of cash and bank deposits.

Magnus has instead used most of the proceeds from the convertible deal to make investments. As at Feb 3, 2016, about S$8.3 million of the S$14.5 million of convertibles issued had been used for strategic investments. The high cost of financing should be considered when analysing the returns on those investments. Magnus may want to reconsider whether it makes sense to use such expensive funds for those purposes. The company's directors should address this point with shareholders.

A new twist in the Magnus saga this week also raises questions about how much control a convertible holder like Value Capital can have over an underlying stock. On Monday, Magnus announced that Malaysian businessman and politician Lee Chin Cheh had bought a 22.14 per cent stake from Value Capital, making him the single largest shareholder of the company overnight from not even being a substantial shareholder previously. Magnus chief executive Luke Ho has said that Mr Lee supports the current board and management, which greatly raises the hurdle for the requisitioning shareholders to succeed in their bid to replace the board and to stop the issuance of further convertibles.

Impact

That just one transaction by Value Capital could have such a large impact on key shareholder decisions raises questions about whether Value Capital should have been considered a substantial shareholder in the first place. Although Value Capital and Mr Lee have been careful not to cross the 30 per cent trigger for a mandatory general offer for the rest of the company, the fact remains that the convertibles held by Value Capital give it an incredible amount of sway should it choose to exercise its well-in-the-money conversion options.

By law, option holders are not considered shareholders until they actually exercise their options, but regulators should consider whether existing rules provide enough safeguards for minority investors. The issue is not confined to Magnus. Value Capital has also entered into similar convertible deals with Annica Holdings, ISR Capital and LionGold Corp.

Another major player in the space, Advance Capital Partners, has offered similar financing deals with Attilan Group (the former Asiasons Capital) and Elektromotive Group. Many of these companies were involved in the 2013 penny stock crash.

SGX head of listing compliance June Sim told The Business Times that convertibles "are a source of funding available to companies depending on their needs".

The listing rules essentially provide protection by making sure that significant issuances receive shareholder approval and that companies provide enough information for shareholders to make an informed decision.

It may be worth seeing if more can be done. After all, Magnus's shareholders approved the deal two years ago.

Lawyer Adrian Chan of Lee & Lee said of such structures in general: "These 'death spiral' convertibles that force the issuer to take on share price risk rather than the bondholder may be so dilutive to minority shareholders that there may need to be some safeguards built into our regulatory framework to protect the interest of the minorities. Although shareholders have to approve the issuance of such convertibles in the first place, it is doubtful that the real effect and downside risk is completely appreciated by the investors."

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Koh Bak Kiang v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGHC 26

CCS accepts Singapore-specific commitments and clears proposed merger of airfield lighting suppliers

Business
12 Apr 2016

Fair competition 'key to making Asean region dynamic'

Straits Times
28 Apr 2016
Sheryl Lee

Minister says S'pore will lead new initiatives to align competition policy and law among Asean states

Fair competition is the key ingredient to making the Asean region competitive, innovative and dynamic, the Minister of Trade and Industry (Trade) said yesterday.

Mr Lim Hng Kiang told the International Competition Network (ICN) annual conference that the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) will contribute to efforts to align competition policy and law among Asean member states by leading new initiatives, including a regional programme.

The new Asean Competition Policy and Law programme will start this year and aims to foster fair competition by promoting collaboration among businesses, market authorities and government agencies in the region by organising various events, from networking conferences to training sessions.

Other CCS initiatives include a toolkit for Asean states carrying out their competition advocacy plans, including guidelines on which stakeholders to approach.

The ICN, which was launched in 2001 to promote competition law enforcement, started its three-day conference at Marina Bay Sands yesterday. Around 450 international delegates are here to discuss competition law and policy issues.

This is the first time the ICN has held the conference in South-east Asia, a "timely" move given that "competition policy and law is growing in importance in Asean, and is regarded as one of the pillars of the Asean single market", said CCS chairman Aubeck Kam.

Asean, which is the world's seventh largest economy with a market of over 600 million people, formed the Asean Economic Community (AEC) last year to tap the region's economic potential.

Nine out of 10 Asean member states have enacted competition laws under the AEC Blueprint 2015.

Mr Lim said competition policy ensures markets are open to new entrants while allowing businesses to compete on a level playing field. "Competition enables efficient functioning and openness of our markets, so that businesses thrive through productivity and innovation."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Chong Han Rui v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGHC 25

CCS penalises 10 financial advisory companies for pressuring the withdrawal of a competing life insurance offer

Business
11 Apr 2016

Jones the Grocer spat may play out in court

Straits Times
27 Apr 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Details of a business spat between the co-founder and the current majority shareholder of prominent gourmet food business Jones the Grocer may unfold in court instead of being settled through closed-door arbitration.

The High Court has refused a move by L Capital Jones, which has a 63 per cent stake in the main company that owns the Jones the Grocer business worldwide, for the dispute to be settled via arbitration.

Mr John Manos, whose company Maniach is the other shareholder, has taken L Capital to court to seek damages, claiming "minority oppression" under the Companies Act.

L Capital and Maniach are the two shareholders of the main company - Jones the Grocer Group Holdings - which is incorporated in Singapore and is the worldwide holding company for Jones the Grocer business.

It has a group of companies that operates and franchises gourmet cafes and grocery stores under the brand name, among other things.

Mr Manos co-founded the business in 2004 but became the sole owner in 2010.

Between 2012 and 2014, L Capital acquired shares in the company through US$21 milion (S$28 million) of capital injections, becoming the majority shareholder.

But in 2014, the relationship between the two shareholders soured. Maniach alleged L Capital was wrongfully trying to seize control of the business.

Among other things, Maniach claimed L Capital excluded Mr Manos from management of the main company and its subsidiaries and had abused its voting powers.

Maniach also claimed L Capital had managed the affairs of the group and it subsidiaries in a manner which was oppressive to Manaich and completely disregarded or was prejudicial to its interests.

L Capital's lawyer Koh Swee Yen argued Maniach's claims were about agreement breaches and not minority oppression and the subject matter fell squarely within the scope of the parties' arbitration agreement. She added the scope of the arbitration agreement was wide enough to deal with the claim.

Maniach's lawyer Chew Kei-Jin countered that its claim was a bona fide for relief from minority oppression and even if it fell within the agreement, a minority oppression claim was not open to arbitration.

Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy in judgment grounds released yesterday found the arbitration agreement was wide enough to cover the dispute. "Nevertheless, I decline to grant the stay sought by the defendants because I find the statutory claim (under the Companies Act) for relief from minority oppression is not arbitrable."

The judge dismissed the move by L Capital to stop the court case in favour of arbitration, but gave permission for L Capital to appeal.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Maniach Pte Ltd v L Capital Jones Ltd and another [2016] SGHC 65

Nava Bharat (Singapore) Pte Ltd v Straits Law Practice LLC and another and another appeal - [2016] SGCA 12

New initiatives for the growth of the Singapore fund management industry

Business
11 Apr 2016

SSC wins appeal to reclaim club funds used in lawsuit

Straits Times
27 Apr 2016
Selina Lum

Court rules club entitled to refund of $1.5m, as legal fees of ex-chief were paid under 'mistaken belief

In a twist to a long-running saga, the Singapore Swimming Club yesterday won an appeal to get back $1.5 million in club funds that former president Freddie Koh used to defend a defamation suit against him.

In a written judgment, the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court decision last year, which rejected the club's bid to recover the money. The apex court ruled that the club was entitled to a refund on grounds that it had paid Mr Koh's legal bills under a mistaken belief, and that Mr Koh had breached his fiduciary duties to the club.

Mr Koh, 70, became club president in May 2008 and was ousted at an extraordinary general meeting in March 2012.

The case stemmed from a defamation suit brought against him in 2009 by four members of the previous committee.

Shortly after Mr Koh was sued, the management committee headed by him passed a resolution, stating that the club will assume liability for legal actions brought against office bearers as a result of them discharging their duties to the club.

Following this resolution, the club bore his legal costs.

In 2011, Mr Koh lost the defamation suit. The Court of Appeal found that he had made the defamatory remarks with malice and that he had been on a "witch hunt" against the plaintiffs. After this ruling, the club continued to pay his legal bills.

In March 2012, club members voted to remove Mr Koh, to recover the legal costs paid for him and to stop further payment. He then sued the club, arguing that it has to indemnify him for the costs.

The club, represented by Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng, countersued him for the return of the money it had paid for his legal costs.

The High Court dismissed both claims in 2014. The club appealed.

In its 68-page judgment yesterday, the apex court accepted Mr Tan's arguments that, prior to the 2011 defamation judgment, the club had paid Mr Koh's bills under a mistaken belief that he was sued as a result of him discharging his duties to the club.The payments after the defamation judgment were not made under this mistake.

But the court noted that after the defamation ruling, Mr Koh continued to hand over invoices to the club's treasurer and financial controller for payments to be made.

This was despite the fact that the question of whether his legal costs were still covered under the resolution had arisen by then.

"In our view, no responsible president of a club, in such a situation, should have done so," said the court, finding that he had acted to further his own interests rather than that of the club.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Singapore Swimming Club v Koh Sin Chong Freddie [2016] SGCA 28

Abdul Kahar bin Othman v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGCA 11

SGX proposes mandatory minimum allocation of 10% of total offer size to public subscription tranche of IPOs

Business
06 Apr 2016

3 siblings sue their 2 brothers and mum over 'minority oppression'

Straits Times
27 Apr 2016
Selina Lum

Eight years ago, businessman Thio Keng Poon, founder of Malaysia Dairy Industries (MDI) - the company behind the Marigold and Vitagen brands - sued his wife and six children for ousting him from four family companies.

Now, three of his children are suing their two brothers and mother for alleged minority oppression.

In a case that opened in the High Court yesterday, the plaintiffs want their brothers and mother to buy them out of three family companies at a price to be determined by an independent valuer.

The plaintiffs, Wendy, 57, Michael, 54, and Serene, 54, are minority shareholders.

They allege that majority shareholders, Ernest, 58, and Patrick, 52, had abused their control of the companies and unfairly oppressed them.

They allege that the pair, with the support of their mother, Madam Kwik Poh Leng, 84, pursued a "personal vendetta" against their father using company resources.

The plaintiffs claim that this "persecution" extended to them when the defendants felt that they took their father's side.

They allege that the two brothers raised their own remuneration but cut their siblings' benefits; excluded them from management; and removed them as directors.

The trio had rejected an offer by Ernest and Patrick in 2012 to buy their stake at "undervalue" and these "unfair acts" were designed to compel the plaintiffs to sell their stake low, said their lawyer, Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo.

MDI was valued at $400 million using one methodology and $1.2 billion using an approach put forward by the plaintiffs, the court heard.

The eldest sibling, Vicki, 60, has sold her stake and is not involved in the dispute.

The two brothers, represented by Senior Counsel Ang Cheng Hock, have run the companies since the 1990s. They say there was never any expectation that the plaintiffs, who were issued shares in 2002, would be entitled to run the companies.

Madam Kwik, who is still married to Mr Thio, said through her lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, there was no reason for her to favour Ernest and Patrick and her only interest was the smooth and profitable running of the companies.

The companies - cash cow MDI, investment holding company Thio Holdings and United Realty - are nominal defendants. Represented by Mr Siraj Omar, they have a neutral stance.

Selina Lum

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Chong Chin Fook v Solomon Alliance Management Pte Ltd and others - [2016] SGHC 24

Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill 2016 passed

Legislation
06 Apr 2016

'Minority-only contest would send wrong signal': Constitutional Commission hearing on elected presidency

Straits Times
27 Apr 2016
Tham Yuen-C

Three object to presidential poll restriction, say society should be left to evolve on its own

Any move to occasionally restrict presidential polls to minority candidates would send the wrong signal that Singaporeans of minority races cannot be elected on their own merit, said three people yesterday at a hearing on the elected presidency.

Society is already moving towards race blindness in voting at elections, and should be left to evolve on its own, they added.

Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) deputy director of research Gillian Koh said: "We are in the process of working towards the idea that we should select someone for this office regardless of race, language or religion... If we stop this process now that would be a great pity."

Her view against having a legal provision to ensure a minority president is elected from time to time, was echoed by rights group Maruah and Singapore Management University law professor Jack Lee. They were speaking at the third hearing of the Constitutional Commission to review the elected presidency.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who chairs the commission, asked if it would be possible to achieve the twin aims of letting society evolve and yet nudging it along, by having a provision to reserve elections for particular ethnic groups when they have not been represented in the office of president for a prolonged period of time.

"The question is whether making any such a provision is going to hold us back or spur us on," he said.

Dr Koh, who had earlier submitted her views jointly with IPS research assistant Tan Min-Wei, warned it could result in minority presidents lacking gravitas and political legitimacy.

Citing a publication by Malay self-help group Mendaki, she said some in the community did not believe in affirmative action even if they aspire to have a Malay president. The last Malay president was Mr Yusof Ishak, who died in office in 1970.

But Public Service Commission chairman Eddie Teo, a member of the commission, said minority candidates too would be subject to the same stringent eligibility criteria applied to all candidates, and would have qualified based on merit.

Dr Koh said there would still be a perception problem.

CJ Menon noted that those who win elections in majoritarian systems are the most electable but not necessarily always the most meritorious candidates.

But there is no data, Dr Koh said, to show Singaporeans vote along racial lines at presidential elections, as the two polls that were contested, in 1993 and 2011, had only Chinese candidates.

She added that an IPS survey of over 2,000 Singaporean voters in 2011 found most were sanguine about a minority president being elected under the current system.

Later, Maruah president Braema Mathi said there are enough Singaporeans from minority groups who are qualified to stand and they just needed to be convinced to do so.

Dr Lee proposed that a committee be appointed to identify suitable minority candidates with the help of organisations such as civil society groups and unions, similar to how Nominated Members of Parliament are selected.

Ms Mathi questioned if the Government-led discussion had brought the issue of a minority president to the fore unnecessarily. She also said the commission should "watch the scene" for two or three more elections before deciding on any changes.

Professor Chan Heng Chee pointed out that countries that have avoided discussions on ethnicity have had to "scramble to address it in their own way'' as "the problem has come to hit them now".

In Singapore, the issue has been discussed all along, she noted.

Prof Chan, a commission member and chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, also said having minority presidents is a way of demonstrating inclusiveness, which is important in a multiracial society.

National University of Singapore law professors Jaclyn Neo and Swati Jhaveri suggested having a three- member council of presidents - with at least two members from different ethnicities - to achieve this.

They also proposed the institutions related to the presidency, such as the Council of Presidential Advisers, be required to have minority members. Dr Jhaveri said this is "part of a holistic view of safeguarding minority representation".

But CJ Menon asked if this would be "too interventionist".

It is important to have a minority president from time to time because of the president's special symbolic role, he said. But he questioned if there was a similar need in the institutions and cautioned against going down the path of entrenching group rights.


PRIVILEGED TO BE A SINGAPOREAN

I'm not sure we haven't done well. I think we've done extraordinarily well if we look at where we journeyed from in the last 50 years. I'm not sure I should be saying this, but as an individual and as a minority I feel greatly privileged to be a Singaporean. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be because I feel there is such an open and equal-opportunity society. So I don't think we should be harsh on ourselves, saying the vision of the first-generation founding leaders has not been realised. I don't think the first-generation founding leaders necessarily thought it was going to happen in a decade or two. I think if we look at how we've progressed over the last several decades we've done incredibly well.

CHIEF JUSTICE SUNDARESH MENON, in response to National University of Singapore Assistant Professor of Law Jaclyn Neo who felt that there was still a long way to go in Singapore's journey towards true multi-racialism.


PARAMOUNT CONSIDERATION

There's an intuitive sense on the part of many who have spoken that if you raise the criteria, that may reduce the pool of minorities... I just wonder whether we should separate the issues for a second and ask ourselves, first of all, whether the criteria we arrive at are adequate. Because that should be the paramount consideration... If the view is that the criteria should be updated, then surely we shouldn't resist doing so for the sake of the minorities. Because that would actually mean that we are, in a sense, lowering the criteria from what they ought to be, in order to accommodate the minorities and that gives me quite a lot of discomfort.

CJ MENON, in an exchange with Singapore Management University law don Jack Lee about eligibility criteria's effect on the number of qualifying minorities.


Law don wants to bar ministers, MPs from endorsing candidates

A law professor has called for the elected presidency to be depoliticised by prohibiting government office-holders and MPs from endorsing any candidate.

Such a ban will ensure that the Office of the President remains politically neutral, Assistant Professor Jack Lee, 45, of the Singapore Management University told the Constitutional Commission hearing on the elected presidency yesterday.

Statements made by government office-holders may also have a "distorting effect" and influence how people vote, he added.

His call reiterates a point made by several others at the last two public hearings on the elected presidency. They had argued that the president needs to be a unifying force and the election should not be divisive. Currently, there is no rule that forbids political parties or the Government from stating a preference for particular candidates during a presidential election.

Dr Lee said any statement that can be interpreted by the public as an endorsement should be disallowed, even if ministers and MPs speak in their personal capacity. "It is very hard for the public to distinguish between someone speaking in his political capacity as a member of government, and in his personal capacity," he said. "It would be difficult; it would probably be better to say nothing at all during the (campaigning) period."

The ban, however, does not have to extend to members of political parties who are not government office-holders or MPs, said Dr Lee.

But Justice Tay Yong Kwang, a commission member, noted: "The strange result (of the ban) is that we are practically, during the run-up to the presidential election, silencing a group of people who have the most to say about presidential elections."

He added: "These are political leaders. If in your view this amounts to political endorsement, then there will be a great silence from the political side of things."

Dr Lee also wants the work of the Presidential Elections Committee to be more transparent. It should, for instance, give detailed reasons to a candidate for his or her application for a certificate of eligibility being turned down.

"It is important that at least the candidates themselves know... why they have not qualified, otherwise it seems very non-transparent, and they have no idea why they are not seen to have sufficient financial ability to run," he said.

Lim Yan Liang


BETTER TO SAY NOTHING

It is very hard for the public to distinguish between someone speaking in his political capacity as a member of government, and in his personal capacity. It would be difficult; it would probably be better to say nothing at all during the (campaigning) period.

SMU ASSISTANT PROFESSOR JACK LEE, on ministers and MPs stating a preference for any presidential candidate


Emphasis sought for veto power on key posts

The elected president's power to block key public service appointments is more important and should get greater emphasis than the custodial role over the reserves, rights group Maruah said.

This is because the president is in the position to safeguard the integrity and incorruptibility of the entire public service, its representatives Braema Mathi, 58, and Ngiam Shih Tung, 49, said yesterday.

Under the Constitution, the president can veto the appointment or removal of key public service office- holders such as the auditor-general and the chief of defence force.

Mr Ngiam cited the example of Malaysia, where the attorney-general was removed from office last year when he was investigating possible corruption at the highest level of the government there.

"We certainly do not want to see such a situation in Singapore," he said at the third session of public hearings by the Constitutional Commission that is reviewing the elected presidency.

Ms Mathi, who is Maruah's president, said the elected president's function as a second key to protect the country's reserves has come across as the office's main responsibility.

But in its written submission, Maruah described this custodial role as a "red herring" and said the president's power over financial matters is extremely limited.

Mr Ngiam said it is undemocratic for the president to block Supply Bills, which determine the Government's Budget, as these are passed by Parliament - a body that reflects the will of the people.

But Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who chairs the commission, questioned this notion and noted that the president is also elected and so has a mandate to exercise his custodial powers.

"In fact, some have suggested the president has a unique, almost national mandate because he goes through a national election."

Mr Ngiam said his concern was also that candidates are picked from a small pool of people who qualify based on strict eligibility criteria. The review of the eligibility criteria would shrink this pool and further limit the choices for Singaporeans.

This led the Chief Justice to say the intention of the review is not to reduce the number of people who can qualify to run for president.

Instead, it is to ensure the president has the necessary expertise to deal with the different functions of the office, he said.

Chong Zi Liang

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

United Overseas Bank Ltd v Lippo Marina Collection Pte Ltd and others - [2016] SGHC 23

Key changes to Singapore employment landscape in 2016

Business
06 Apr 2016

Trek 2000's auditors lodge report with ACRA

Business Times
27 Apr 2016
Melissa Tan

Firms says it will convert its current trading halt into a voluntary suspension

[Singapore] THE auditors of thumb drive maker Trek 2000 International have lodged a report with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) that may be related to documentation deficiencies at Trek, the company said in a Singapore Exchange (SGX) filing on Tuesday.

It added that it had not seen the report and would convert its current trading halt into a voluntary suspension.

Trek 2000 had said in March that its auditors had found documentation deficiencies related to some sale transactions between one of its subsidiaries and a customer. The total value of those transactions was about US$3.2 million.

On Tuesday, it said its auditors, Ernst & Young (EY), informed it on April 21 that EY had made a report to ACRA on issues it found while auditing Trek 2000's financial statements for the year ended Dec 31, 2015.

Trek 2000 was "not privy" to the report and the report "was not made available" to it, it said.

But it added that EY told it that the report was "accompanied by correspondence" between EY and Trek 2000 that had been about the documentation deficiencies, further audit works in view of the deficiencies and an ongoing interested-party transaction (IPT) inquiry.

EY had found discrepancies in: the identity of a customer in a transaction between Trek 2000's sales system and its books; delivery orders acknowledged by the customer and the airway bill relating to the shipment of the goods; and the identity of the payer as stated on certain bank transfer notices showing payments of about US$2.65 million made by the customer to the group.

Trek 2000 said on Tuesday that "pending the release of such announcements, there is uncertainty as to the implications arising from the matters raised by the auditors in the correspondence", and it would convert its trading halt to a suspension.

It added that it would cooperate with the auditors and "provide all reasonable assistance required to complete the IPT inquiry", which is being carried out by TSMP Law Corp and scheduled to be completed around the end of May this year.

The auditors' report comes after two independent directors resigned from Trek 2000's board in late March. One, Francis Heng, resigned after bringing forward a "pre-planned board retirement" to facilitate personal work commitments and another, Ng Chong Khim, resigned due to personal reasons.

The company's shares last closed 0.2 Singapore cent down at S$0.186 on April 21.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Public Prosecutor v Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin - [2016] SGHC 08

When is a contract for the sale of goods not a contract for the sale of goods?

Business
31 Mar 2016

Legal eagles are fastest at Corporate Challenge

Straits Times
27 Apr 2016
Alvin Chia

The legal community had the fastest runners among 31 professional sectors at the past three years of the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, which drew close to 48,000 participants altogether.

They clocked a collective average time of 39min 11sec for the 5.6km route, ahead of the civil servants (39:56) and advertising and public relations professionals (40:04).

Said Olivia Chia, 27, a business development advisor at law firm Linklaters: "Maybe it's because in our line of work, we have built up a high level of mental stamina and tenacity, so when we run, we have that strength in us to push ourselves."

Chia and more than 30 of her colleagues will be among 14,198 participants from 337 companies who will be taking part in the 13th edition of the JP Morgan event tomorrow evening.

But the civil servants are eager to out-pace the lawyers this time.

Dr Foo Gen Lin, a 33-year-old resident of orthopaedic surgery at Tan Tock Seng Hospital who is representing the Ministry of Health, said with a laugh: "Oh dear, we cannot lose, definitely not to lawyers.

"Civil service are a fit group, we should show the public how it's done. And as a doctor, we need to 'run' the talk."

Healthy competition aside, the finding also revealed that men in their 40s, who average 37:59, ran seven seconds faster than their younger counterparts in their 20s.

In fact, running formed a big part of JP Morgan chief administrative officer Ong Wei Han's consideration when he changed residence from Novena to Amber Road four years ago, which allowed him to run more frequently at his favourite route at East Coast Park.

Said Ong, who used to represent Victoria School for cross-country schools national competitions: "In my 20s, the demands of work went up but I never had issues with my energy levels. But as I got older, I found that running gives me more energy as well as it helps to clear my mind."

Alvin Chia

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Seng You Morris v International Bank of Qatar - [2016] SGHC 22

[GBR] Predictive coding in the e-disclosure process

Commonwealth
31 Mar 2016

Singapore named arbitrator in time charter party

Business Times
26 Apr 2016
Tan Hwee Hwee

[Singapore] SINGAPORE has solidified its status as one of the world's top maritime arbitration centres by helping in the revision of the most widely used time charter party.

The New York Produce Exchange 2015 time charter party form (NYPE 2015) was issued last October. Representatives from the key bodies behind NYPE 2015 attended to enquiries from maritime players at a seminar held in conjunction with Singapore Maritime Week 2016. They expressed confidence that the document, which incorporated input from industry players worldwide, will gain traction in fixing charters in the dry cargo sector.

NYPE laid claim to a 70 per cent global share among time charter parties used in both 2014 and 2015. Singapore played an instrumental role over the last three years in the first major revision of the NYPE time charter form since 1993 and was named the third seat after New York and London for arbitration of any disputes associated with the use of NYPE 2015. This is the first time an NYPE charter party form has named a third seat of arbitration since its inception in 1913.

Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) board member Gina Lee-Wan, who was among the panellists at the NYPE 2015 seminar, told The Business Times

"We took the middle position as the Asian maritime hub between the Denmark-headquartered Bimco (Baltic and International Maritime Council) - representing shipowners' voices - and US-based Asba (Association of Shipbrokers and Agents)."

The revision leading to NYPE 2015 involved consultations with shipowners and charterers around the world. This has been touted as the first of its kind effort in developing a shipping document, resulting in a product - NYPE 2015 - that "can be used everywhere else in the world", according to Bimco chief officer, legal and contractual affairs, Grant Hunter. Mr Hunter described the process as "very helpful to us in getting a better hold of Asia's shipping community, particularly with Singapore as a maritime hub".

Asba board member Paul Hirtle shared a similar view. "We think we have been successful (and) now that we have done so with (NYPE 2015), with other documents that are producing or as we update them, we will consider incorporating (input from) SMF," he said.

SMF contributed extensive research collated from arbitration cases in the last 15 years, which was shared freely in the process of revising NYPE 2015 with one objective - to have the Asian voice and opinion heard and considered, Mrs Lee-Wan said.

SMF has weighed in among others, on the redefinition of the largely debated Douglas Sea State to Douglas Sea Scale in the time charter party, Mrs Lee-Wan, who is also a partner at Allen & Gledhill, said.

Douglas Sea Scale is a measurement of the height of waves and the swell of the sea. BT understands that the references of time charter parties to a particular Douglas scale without any mention of specific values is one of the most contested speed and consumption ship charter clauses between shipowners.

NYPE 2015 features an appendix under which the specific basis of the Douglas Scale agreed upon can be spelt out clearly by the shipowners and charterers. NYPE 2015 also brings the 103-year-old time charter form up to speed with the 21st century macro-environment by incorporating clauses on oil pollution and electronic bills of lading and ballast water exchange regulations.

The newly issued document was first used by a Danish charterer to fix time charters on five vessels. The most widely used NYPE form in the dry goods sector, however, is understood to be the 1946 version.

Shipowners told BT that the maritime industry is so steeped in traditions that it can be resistant to change. But there are signs of an early gravitation among some towards NYPE 2015, especially in fixing charters in Asia.

"We have made proposals to use NYPE 2015," said John Freybag, managing director, container and bulk chartering, of Germany-based Bernhard Schulte.

"A lot of maritime focus has shifted to Asia (and) it is very important for the industry to see the Asian view (including) the negotiation of contracts," Mr Freybag said.

Norwegian shipowner Torvald Klaveness is also thinking of using NYPE 2015 this year for fixing charters in its Singapore-based business unit, which is reportedly growing faster than its Oslo counterpart. Punit Oza, vice-president and head of Supramax Pacific, Klaveness Asia, sees new trades emerging under an environment of low shipping rates in the dry goods sector as opportunities for the use of a new time charter form. He also suggested that the starting point to use NYPE 2015 at Klaveness Asia could be "our commercial (shipping) pools".

Winning a seat on the world's most widely used time charter form represents a step closer to the goal of solidifying Singapore's standing beyond Asia as a global maritime arbitration hub.

Singapore had already scored an official seat of arbitration with Bimco back in 2012 to represent the Asia. That puts Singapore on 53 Bimco time charter forms and SMF is working towards getting Singapore included in 40 more time charter forms.

The number of maritime arbitration cases registered in Singapore have been steadily climbing, with Singapore Chambers of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) logging in about 37 cases in 2015, up from about 26 in 2014, and about 20 in 2013, SCMA director of business development Teo Hwee Ping told BT.

Maritime disputes make up 17 per cent of or over 40 cases registered with Singapore International Arbitration Centre in 2015, Ms Teo said. These numbers do not include ad hoc cases that have been heard in Singapore outside the two institutions.

The growing influence of Singapore as an arbitration centre in Asia stems partly from its neutral standing point among economic powerhouses in the region. Mr Freybag of Bernhard Schulte said that Singapore also draws on the strength of its infrastructure. He named the legal expertise here as among the advantages Singapore has over China.

With a multitude of regulatory changes on the horizon in the maritime space, Ms Teo said that the number of cases registered or heard in Singapore is likely to increase in the coming years.

The increase will also be boosted by efforts - including those of SMF - to promote Singapore as an arbitration hub, she said.

The NYPE 2015 seminar is the third in a global maritime roadshow to introduce the newly published time charter party. Members from the NYPE 2015 drafting team have set out to visit Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul this week to give their views on the key clauses and explain the benefits of using the new time charter party.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Hii Chii Kok v Ooi Peng Jin London Lucien and another - [2016] SGHC 21

The difference between a warranty and an indemnity

Business
30 Mar 2016

SembMarine shares slump as client files for bankruptcy

Straits Times
26 Apr 2016
Grace Leong

Major client Sete Brasil deep in arrears since Nov 2014; rig builder also in US$214m dispute with another client

Sembcorp Marine stock slumped nearly 4.9 per cent yesterday after news that one of its major clients got the nod to file for bankruptcy.

The move by Sete Brasil has sparked concerns over whether the rigbuilder may have to make further provisions for outstanding contracts.

The stock fell nine cents to $1.75, after rallying 19 per cent to a two-week high of $1.87 on Thursday.

Sete Brasil's shareholders agreed to a plan to file for judicial recovery last week, prompting SembMarine to commence arbitration proceedings against the Brazilian firm's various subsidiaries. Sete Brasil has not paid SembMarine for orders worth billions since November 2014.

"Given the complexity of the situation and the various stakeholders involved, we expect this to be a long-drawn-out process," OCBC Investment Research said.

The rig builder has seven drillships worth US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) on its order books for Sete Brasil. SembMarine has said the $329 million provisions it made in the fourth quarter last year for these contracts are sufficient.

DBS Group Research said it believes the recent rally in rig builders is "unwarranted amid all the uncertainties in Brazil and the oil market".

More bad news came yesterday when Marco Polo Marine (MPM), another SembMarine client, managed to obtain a stay of legal proceedings on a dispute over a US$214.3 million project. The case is going to arbitration.

The stay order means SembMarine unit PPL Shipyard cannot continue further with court proceedings to try to force MPM to fulfil its obligations as guarantor of the contract. PPL served a contract termination notice on MPM's unit, Marco Polo Drilling, after it failed to make a second payment of US$21.43 million by a Nov 30 deadline.

MPM said it and its unit are not under any obligation to make the payments claimed by PPL for a rig it had built that was allegedly riddled with defects.

DBS said it maintains a "cautious stance on rig orders, which will likely lag an oil price recovery. We need oil prices to recover to sustainable levels, pushing up rig demand, utilisation and charter rates to incentivise rig operators to place orders. Meanwhile, we may see more deferments and cancellations in 2016".

"New order wins for Singapore rig builders dwindled from $9 billion in 2014 to $5 billion last year. Keppel won its first new order this year while SembMarine has yet to secure any so far this year," it said.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Public Prosecutor v Hang Tuah bin Jumaat - [2016] SGHC 20

[GBR] “All’s well that ends well”: measure of damages and mitigation in the spotlight

Commonwealth
30 Mar 2016

Trademark tussle: Firm wins appeal against rival

Straits Times
26 Apr 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Defendant not entitled to defence that it was using its 'own name', Court of Appeal rules

An event management company has won its case on appeal against a rival which had used a similar acronym for its trademark.

The Audience Motivation Company Asia, which is based in Singapore, had sued AMC Live Group China over the use of two marks with the words "amc live" and "amc AMC Group China", which were alleged to have infringed its own "amc!" mark.

AMC Live, incorporated here in 2012, is part of a group of companies that provides events and concert management services in China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong. It started in Chengdu in 2007 and is said to have organised concerts in China involving singers such as Jay Chou.

Audience Motivation, which has been operating for nearly 20 years and has eight offices in the region, manages marketing events including prominent corporate sales and media launches, as well as corporate roadshows. Some of its events include the launch of the Audi Centre (Singapore), the HP Global Influencer Summit in China and the Tiger (Beer) Roadshow in Thailand.

Audience Motivation had lost its case against AMC Live in the High Court last year, which led to its appeal before the Court of Appeal comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang.

The apex court agreed with the High Court that there was a clear trademark infringement under the Trade Marks Act.

However, even if this was so, the relevant law held that there would be no infringement if a person uses his own name, or the name of his place of business or that of his predecessor, provided the use is in accordance with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters.

The Court of Appeal's judgment last week focused on the "own name" issue, making it a benchmark case for this area of the law.

Lawyers Dedar Singh Gill, Gabriel Ong and Michael Moey argued for Audience Motivation that the "own name" defence did not apply, while lawyers Max Ng, Amira Budiyano and Mitchel Chua countered that AMC Live's use of the "own name" defence was justified by evidence. The hearing was held last October.

The apex court ruled that AMC Live was not entitled to the "own name" defence, saying its use of "amc" did not follow "honest practices". Among other things, the court found no evident connection between "amc" and the Chengdu firm that first started the group. The court was not convinced that the name was an acronym for "A Music Company", as claimed by its group chief executive Leong Seng Chet.

The court also noted that the Chengdu firm had placed a job advertisement online as a Singapore company known as "amc" in 2010 well before it was incorporated in Singapore, at a time when Audience Motivation was the only Singapore firm going by the name "amc".

The Chengdu firm, in presenting itself as "amc", had organised corporate events for Singapore companies such as SilkAir in September 2009, in direct rivalry with similar services from Audience Motivation, said the court.

Separately, the court also held that the use of similar logos by AMC Live, on which the AMC Asia mark had built its goodwill, would lead a segment of the public to believe both were linked. The court further ordered damages payable by AMC Live to be assessed.


The trademark of Singapore-based event management firm The Audience Motivation Company Asia.

The two marks of AMC Live Group China that were alleged to have infringed The Audience Motivation Company Asia's "amc!" mark.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

The Audience Motivation Company Asia Pte Ltd v AMC Live Group China (S) Pte Ltd [2016] SGCA 25

Sim Yong Teng and another v Singapore Swimming Club - [2016] SGCA 10

SCA: Derivative actions by shareholders not available for companies in liquidation

Judgments
29 Mar 2016

Hearing starts in case against former AIA agent

Straits Times
26 Apr 2016
Lorna Tan

Sally Low faces 19 charges totalling $8.89m in claims after she retracts guilty plea in 2014

The long-awaited criminal trial involving former AIA agent Sally Low began yesterday.

Low, 38, had retracted her guilty plea in June 2014 to charges of duping Indonesian businessman Ong Han Ling, 77, into buying a bogus AIA Thank You insurance policy for US$5.06 million (S$6.8 million).

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said he is proceeding on all 19 charges totalling $8.89 million in claims against Low. Four of the charges are for cheating, 11 for fraudulent use of forged documents and four are under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

Mr Hon said in his opening statement that Low "perpetrated an elaborate and prolonged scheme of deception" on Mr Ong and his wife to make them part with their money, to Low's benefit.

The saga began in late 2002 when Mr Ong was allegedly sold a fake policy by Low, then an AIA agent. Mr Ong claimed that after he remitted the premium, Low, without his knowledge or consent, used the funds to buy four AIA policies for him, his wife and their daughter.

He alleged that midway through the tenure of the AIA Thank You policy, Low deceived him into giving the insurance proceeds from three of the unauthorised policies to her by use of fabricated computer errors. Her scheme came to light in 2008 after Mr Ong learnt from AIA that the Thank You policy was bogus.

The insurer made a police report against Low and sacked her in December 2009. Mr Ong also made a police report against Low in January 2010 for allegedly cheating him of money. He sued her for damages totalling US$2.25 million and $2.99 million.

In May 2011, she was charged with 19 criminal offences, including cheating the Ongs, using forged documents and money laundering.

In December 2013, Low pleaded guilty to two charges of cheating, one charge of fraudulent use of forged documents and one charge of moving crime proceeds to a bank account in Hong Kong.

The prosecution's offer to proceed with these four charges, with the remaining 15 charges taken into consideration, lapsed when she retracted her guilty plea six months later. Low also claimed she was a victim of a ploy with Mr Ong to cheat AIA instead.

Yesterday, Mr Hon cross-examined Mr Tan Wah Kiong, who was the previous investigating officer of the case when he was with the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).

The other witnesses in the trial include Health Sciences Authority handwriting expert Yap Bei Sing, former AIA manager Raymond Chew, the Ongs and former private banker Constance Lim.

Low's lawyer is Mr Adrian Wee of Characterist LLC. Low, who was made bankrupt by her previous set of lawyers, has had six sets of lawyers acting for her, and her sentencing date has been postponed several times.

She had previously admitted herself to the Institute of Mental Health, but was certified fit to plead and stand trial.

Meanwhile, the Ongs are suing AIA and Motion Insurance Agency for negligence and lack of care.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Chng Weng Wah v Goh Bak Heng - [2016] SGCA 09

Quistclose trusts – what they are and how to use them

Business
29 Mar 2016

Passengers of private-hire cars are covered by required insurance: Forum

Straits Times
26 Apr 2016

The report on April 16 ("Am I covered by insurance if I'm a Grab or Uber car passenger?") said that private-hire cars are "not required by law" to buy insurance that covers passengers.

The Land Transport Authority wishes to clarify that under the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act, all motor vehicles, including private-hire cars, are required to be insured against third-party liability risks, which include death and bodily injury to passengers.

This means that passengers in a private-hire car that is involved in a motor accident can claim compensation from the owner of the private-hire car or its insurer.

The statutory insurance requirement for private-hire cars is the same as the requirement for taxis.

Both are required to procure insurance which covers the use of the vehicle for hire and reward purposes.

Those convicted of using or permitting a person to use a vehicle in Singapore without the appropriate insurance are liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or both.

The driver will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for 12 months from the date of conviction.

As was stated in the Land Transport Authority's press release of April 12, under the intended vocational licensing regulatory framework, permanent residents and work permit holders who wish to become private-hire car drivers have to be employed by either car rental or limousine companies ("Some gaps in rules on private-hire cars"; April 14).

This is unlike for Singaporeans, who can be Uber or GrabCar drivers also if they are sole proprietors of a chauffeur services company.

Work permit holders are, furthermore, subject to the Ministry of Manpower's prevailing foreign worker quotas.

Helen Lim (Ms)

Group Director

Corporate Communications Group

Land Transport Authority

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

HT S.R.L. v Wee Shuo Woon - [2016] SGHC 15

Penalty clauses: The Singapore position vs the UKSC’s fine-tuned doctrine

Judgments
28 Mar 2016

Man, 82, jailed 8 years for killing daughter-in-law

Straits Times
26 Apr 2016
Selina Lum

Retiree who stabbed 54-year-old to death after argument found to be mentally ill

An 82-year-old mentally ill retiree who stabbed his 54-year-old daughter-in-law to death, following a quarrel over the washing of curtains, was yesterday jailed eight years.

Char Chin Fah pleaded guilty to culpable homicide for killing Madam Ong Guat Leng, a housewife who was married to his elder son Yeng Kong, 52, on Aug 21, 2014. He was found to have suffered an acute paranoid reaction, which reduced his mental responsibility for his actions.

In sentencing, Justice Woo Bih Li said the very serious offence would ordinarily attract a long jail term but he "experienced some hesitation" due to Char's advanced age.

The High Court heard that Char lived with his elder son's family in Tampines for two years, and had an acrimonious relationship with his son and daughter-in-law.

Char's personality made it easy for him to develop paranoid and abnormal suspicions about the intentions of others. This made him "a difficult subject to live with", said a psychiatric report.

He often complained to his two other children about Madam Ong, whom he felt was disrespectful as she called him by his full name and often nagged at him.

Char behaved in socially inappropriate ways, such as placing his dirty socks on the dining table and not closing the door when using the toilet. This annoyed Madam Ong, who was on medication for an anxiety disorder, which made her nag whenever she felt agitated.

Char was given a bed in the flat's living room and his living space was separated from the rest of the living room by a curtain.

The tension reached boiling point on the evening of Aug 20, 2014, when the couple argued with Char for not washing the curtains.

Feeling betrayed by his son for not speaking up for him, Char decided to kill Madam Ong. At about 5.30am the next day, Char left the flat for his daily exercise. Over breakfast, he wrote a "suicide note" to his daughter and drank beer to "gather more courage".

Char went back to the flat when Madam Ong was sleeping alone at home. He took the sharpest knife in the kitchen, went to the master bedroom and attacked her.

He grabbed her by the hair and repeatedly banged her head against the wall. She ran to another room but he caught up with her. She begged him for forgiveness, but he did not relent.

Madam Ong ran back to her room but was unable to close the door and Char stabbed her in the chest with the knife, which had a 20.4 cm blade. He left the knife in her body, washed up and called his daughter and younger son to confess.

The daughter, Madam Jenny Char, called Madam Ong's daughter, who called the police. Meanwhile, Char went to his daughter's home to hand her his belongings.

An autopsy on Madam Ong found four stab wounds in her chest, fractures on her skull, as well as bruises, abrasions and swellings on her face and body.

Dr Stephen Phang of the Institute of Mental Health said that though his "perceived villainess has been eliminated", it was possible for Char to develop paranoid reactions to family members in the future.

Prosecutors said 10 years' jail was fair but defence lawyer Ramesh Tiwary sought five. Char's daughter will house him after he is released, he said. Char's daughter and younger son were in court yesterday but not his elder son.

Madam Char, 53, said they do not keep in contact with their brother. She said her father - who worked as a tailor, bus driver and coffee shop attendant - had a "temper" and wanted to be respected, but denied that he was difficult to live with.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Tien Choon Kuan v Tien Chwan Hoa - [2016] SGHC 16

Protective trusts - How to protect your children from opportunists and gold diggers

Business
28 Mar 2016

Co-founder of TWG Tea loses case

Straits Times
25 Apr 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Claims against Osim, others dismissed; judge also calls defamation suit 'storm in a teacup'

A co-founder of luxury tea brand TWG Tea has lost his case against the chief of lifestyle company Osim International and others, with a judge calling one of his claims a storm in a tea cup.

TWG Tea co-founder Manoj Murjani had his claims against Osim International chief executive officer Ron Sim and five others dismissed by the High Court and failed to convince the court he was removed as chief executive of TWG Tea.

In judgment grounds released on Friday, Judicial Commissioner Chua Lee Ming also rejected his defamation suit against Osim and eight others as "nothing more than a very big storm in a tiny tea cup".

The dispute goes back to 2011, when Osim, which sells healthy lifestyle products such as massage chairs, invested in TWG Tea.

The gourmet beverage firm was launched in Singapore in 2007 as a subsidiary of The Wellness Group (TWG) - a company founded by Mr Murjani - which invests in and promotes spas and health and wellness products.

Osim bought an initial 35 per cent stake in TWG Tea in April 2011.

"Unfortunately, disagreements soon started brewing between the two men at the helm of TWG Tea and Osim," which "boiled over and spilled into this court", said the judge.

A key issue was Osim's subsequent share subscription in TWG Tea in January 2014, which increased its overall stake to 69.9 per cent of the shares in TWG Tea.

The lead plaintiff, The Wellness Group, had alleged that the share issue was an act of minority oppression and breached the terms of a shareholders' agreement on March 18, 2011, between Osim, Paris Investment, itself and TWG Tea.

Lawyers Prakash Pillai and Koh Junxiang from Clasis Law, who represented both plaintiffs, The Wellness Group and Mr Murjani, had sought a court order to set aside the shares issued to Osim and its wholly-owned Paris Investment.

They argued that Osim and five other defendants had acted "oppressively" against The Wellness Group's interests under the Companies Act.

The Wellness Group had accused them of conspiring to injure it and Mr Murjani, and breaching an implied term in the sale contract to maximise TWG Tea's profit before tax for 2013.

Mr Murjani alleged that Osim and others had acted to damage TWG Tea's profitability and acted wrongfully to enable Osim to take control of TWG Tea.

The Wellness Group alleged that they did this using several means, including acts by Mr Sim and Mr Taha Bouqdib, a director and chief executive of TWG Tea, to remove Mr Murjani as CEO of TWG Tea.

Drew & Napier Senior Counsel Davinder Singh and lawyer Jaikanth Shankar successfully countered the claims in defending Osim, Mr Sim and others.

They argued that the defendants acted properly and there was no intention to "dilute" Mr Murjani's shares when the share subscription was raised for TWG Tea, among other things.

After an 18-day hearing over three months last year, the judge ruled that The Wellness Group had "failed to prove all of its allegations".

The judge said while the appointment of directors Khor Peng Soon and Peter Lee to TWG Tea breached an implied term of the shareholders' agreement, it did not amount to unfair conduct within the meaning of the Companies Act.

He said there could not have been any prejudice to The Wellness Group as Osim had control of the TWG Tea board before the duo were appointed.

He also found "no commercial unfairness" in the share subscription issue.

The judge also found that Mr Murjani resigned on his own accord as CEO of TWG Tea in 2012 and was not removed as he alleged.

He noted that Mr Murjani had said in an e-mail to Mr Sim a day after he announced his resignation, that he supported the steps necessary to professionalise the company.

Mr Murjani had also taken issue with a statement released by the Osim board in 2014 in accordance with SGX Mainboard Rules. It had described the allegations as "unmeritorious and groundless".

But the judge said, to an ordinary, reasonable person, the words meant "nothing more than that the Osim board believed that the plaintiffs did not have a good case or that the plaintiff's case was unfounded".

Separately, he dismissed a counterclaim by Osim against The Wellness Group and Mr Murjani that two paragraphs in a February 2014 Straits Times report attributed to a press statement by TWG had defamed Osim and five others.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Independent State of Papua New Guinea v PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd - [2016] SGHC 19

Singapore ratifies Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters

Business
28 Mar 2016

Elected presidency scheme has several contradictions

Straits Times
24 Apr 2016
Han Fook Kwang

There were no queues to attend the public hearings last week to look into changes to the elected presidency (EP) scheme.

If the empty seats were a reflection of how interested Singaporeans were in the matter, you have to say not many were.

It isn't surprising.

Twenty-five years after the EP was mooted and debated, the experience so far has been largely uneventful, save for two occasions when questions arose about the role of the highest office in the land.

The first was when President Ong Teng Cheong, the inaugural EP, clashed with the Government over what information he was entitled to regarding national assets which made up the country's reserves.

That early conflict made the Government wary of a president who might have different ideas about his role; the first indication perhaps of trouble ahead.

The issue surfaced again in the 2011 presidential election when some among the four candidates saw the EP's role differently from the official view, and campaigned accordingly.

It alarmed enough people who called for more to be done to educate Singaporeans about the nature of the office.

Looking back now, these hiccups were not unexpected, given the novelty and inherent ambiguities of the office.

They might have seemed troublesome at the time but in reality the issues they raised helped the public understand better what was at stake and focused attention on areas which needed greater clarity.

There were quite a few:

What exactly is the role of the EP?

What powers did he have relative to the government of the day?

What sort of person would be most suited to play this role?

These questions surfaced again at the public hearings last Monday and Friday.

It was good the Constitutional Commission headed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon touched on them and probed the thinking behind the various submissions.

Reading accounts of the proceedings, especially transcripts of the exchange between law professor Eugene Tan and the panel, what stood out for me were the several contradictions and conflicting objectives that continue to bedevil the EP scheme

I counted at least three.

First, over who qualifies and how he or she is selected.

Candidates have to meet stringent requirements to ensure only those of the highest qualifications would be eligible, but they are then subjected to a national election where popularity might trump merit.

Chief Justice Menon, in fact, highlighted this when he said: "...merit in terms of who might in fact be the best president is not necessarily the same thing as the one who is most likely to win an election. There are two different points there that we might be in danger of conflicting by putting this considerable emphasis on merit."

He was spot on, and it left me wondering which of the two was more important: Having a president of impeccable professional qualification, or one with a strong mandate won through a popular poll?

In an ideal world, you want both.

But voters look at other qualities besides technical competence, and who is to say they are wrong.

The other problem with a national election is that voters expect to have a certain degree of choice available to them. Restrict those numbers too greatly by having overly stringent conditions, and you run the risk of having an election seen as not free or fair.

The second contradiction: The EP is supposed to be non-political and non-partisan but the process of selecting one through an election can be highly political.

Both the CJ and Associate Professor Tan made this point.

This was what the CJ said: "...while the elected president is selected through a political process... the office itself is meant to be non-partisan, non-political to the greatest extent it possibly can."

When candidates fight for election, when they want to differentiate themselves from other contestants, when they are trying to persuade voters to elect them, they have to reveal their political positions on issues.

In fact, going by precedents, quite a few of them were politicians before they became presidential candidates.

How to fight a presidential election without turning it into a political contest for an office that is non-political is a contradiction waiting to be resolved.

The third area of conflict has to do with this question: Which is the more important role of an EP - as a symbol of the country and ceremonial head of state, or as custodian of the national reserves?

I was particularly interested in how the panel viewed it, and, in fact, it stated its position clearly.

This was how the CJ put it: "It is actually, first and foremost, I speak I think for the Commission, it is first and foremost an office that serves to symbolise the unity of the nation.

"It is first and foremost the Head of State, and accompanying that, there are a range of important custodial powers that go with that."

If he is right - and I think he is - then it points the way to how we view who is best suited for the job.

A symbol of the country, a unifier as some have put it, should be a man or woman who has in abundance the values Singaporeans uphold, someone they can relate to and will be proud to identify with.

If the President is first and foremost this, then it is more important to find someone with these qualities than one who has all the right professional qualifications.

This would argue against making the requirements even more technically stringent, which might make it more difficult to find such a person.

On the other hand, it makes the case stronger for minority candidates to be given a chance of being selected, as a symbol of the country's commitment to multiracialism.

Even when it comes to exercising his custodial duties, technical ability might not matter the most.

A president who can say "no" to a government must have personal and political courage backed by sound judgment.

There may not be that many people who have this in them prepared to go against the entire government machinery, so why limit the numbers and the possibility of missing out on other outstanding candidates?

I hope the panel will help answer these questions, even as it recommends ways to change the office.


A symbol of the country, a unifier as some have put it, should be a man or woman who has in abundance the values Singaporeans uphold, someone they can relate to and will be proud to identify with. If the President is first and foremost this, then it is more important to find someone with these qualities than one who has all the right professional qualifications.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Public Prosecutor v Chow Chian Yow Joseph Brian - [2016] SGHC 18

SCMA Rules 3rd edition (October 2015) – A commentary on the recent amendments

Business
24 Mar 2016

Bahrain bank's appeal against Boustead gets thrown out

Business Times
23 Apr 2016
Melissa Tan

[Singapore] THE Singapore High Court has dismissed an appeal by a Bahrain bank, Arab Banking Corporation, against engineering firm Boustead Singapore, Boustead said in a Singapore Exchange (SGX) filing on Friday.

It added that the Court of Appeal's decision on Thursday to throw out the case "finally and conclusively discharges the company's liability to Arab Bank under the facility agreements".

Arab Bank's appeal was regarding an US$18.8 million dispute between it and Boustead that lasted four years. This started from a S$300 million contract Boustead entered into in 2007 through a joint venture to build a township in Libya.

Boustead had at that time provided two separate counter-guarantees, via Arab Bank, for advance payment and performance to Libya's Bank of Commerce and Development.

Libya's Bank of Commerce and Development was then supposed to pay these amounts - US$3.7 million for the advance payment guarantee and US$15 million for the performance guarantee - to a government entity, Organisation for Development of Administrative Centres (ODAC), which had awarded the contract to the joint venture.

But when civil war broke out in Libya in February 2011, Boustead pulled out of the country, halted the project and invoked a "force majeure" clause on its contract with ODAC.

Boustead also got a temporary injunction from the courts to stop Arab Bank from carrying out the guarantee payments.

Faced with pressure from Libya's Bank of Commerce and Development, Arab Bank demanded that Boustead cough up the sums under the facility agreement and sued Boustead.

However, the Singapore High Court ruled in March 2015 that Arab Bank was not to receive payment from Boustead, and was not to make payment to Bank of Commerce and Development. Arab Bank subsequently appealed.

But in its decision on Thursday, the Court of Appeal found that "Arab Bank acted fraudulently, in the reckless sense, in making the demand" for Boustead to pay, Boustead said in its statement.

The appellate court also said a "permanent injunction" was warranted on Arab Bank, Boustead pointed out. This indicates that Boustead does not and will not ever have to pay Arab Bank the sums demanded under the facility agreement.

Boustead shares slipped half a cent to finish at S$0.80 on Friday before the announcement.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Tan Poh Leng Stanley v UBS AG - [2016] SGHC 17

Some observations on the new model constitution for a private company limited by shares

Business
24 Mar 2016

Fashion retailer ordered to repay $2m

Straits Times
23 Apr 2016
Selina Lum

She breached fiduciary duties in transfer of cash, assets between firms

High-end fashion entrepreneur Tina Tan-Leo has been ordered to repay $2.09 million to one of the firms under her Link Group, after the High Court found that she had breached her fiduciary duties as a director.

The case centred on transfers of cash and assets that were made from lifestyle concept store Living the Link - in the two years leading up to its voluntary winding up in May 2010 - to two other companies in her stable, Link Boutique and Alldressedup International.

Mrs Tan-Leo is the sole shareholder of all three companies. Liquidators, represented by Mr Suresh Nair, sued her and the two companies to reverse the transfers as these were "undue preferences".

The suit was funded by Living the Link's former landlord, Cheong's Company. It had staked a claimon Living the Link for $1.3 million, mostly in rental arrears and damages arising from the store's premature termination of its lease in 2009. With the judgment, Cheong's will be able to recover the debt from Living the Link, but the landlord is unlikely to get the full sum as it is not the only creditor.

In a written judgment published yesterday, Justice Steven Chong ordered Link Boutique and Alldressedup to repay their sister company $1.25 million and about $800,000 respectively. These were for the transfers of inventory to Link Boutique and Alldressedup on Dec 31, 2008; the transfer of shares to Link Boutique in April 2009; and cash payments made to Link Boutique in December 2008.

If the companies do not pay, Mrs Tan-Leo has to personally repay the entire sum of $2.05 million.

Justice Chong concluded that Mrs Tan-Leo had breached her fiduciary duties as a director of Living the Link inallowing these transactions and is therefore jointly liable to repay the sum. The judge also ordered her to repay $41,700 that Living the Link had paid for her personal expenses and her husband's in 2009.

Rejecting her defence that she had acted honestly and reasonably, he found that she was "influenced by a desire to prefer the associate companies of which she is a director and the sole shareholder".

However, he accepted that cash transfers of $980,000 to Link Boutique were part of a legitimate series of mutual dealings between the two companies.

In a statement, Mrs Tan-Leo said she was relieved that the court case of three years was finally over. "The outcome is somewhat disappointing, but it is what it is, and we shall accept it and move on," she said.

She noted that the case had its origins in a dispute between Living the Link and its former landlord over the store's premises at One Nassim.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Living the Link Pte Ltd (in creditors’ voluntary liquidation) and others v Tan Lay Tin Tina and others [2016] SGHC 67

Yeo Sing San v Sanmugam Murali and another - [2016] SGHC 14

MAS consults on draft revised MAS Notice 643 on Related Party Transaction Requirements

Business
24 Mar 2016

Heroin trafficker escapes the gallows

Straits Times
23 Apr 2016
Selina Lum

He gets life term after arguing drug addiction, mental illness impaired 'mental responsibility'

A 30-year-old heroin trafficker, who failed to escape the death sentence in three previous attempts, yesterday succeeded in getting the High Court to sentence him to life imprisonment instead.

Justice Choo Han Teck accepted the defence's argument that Jeffery Phua Han Chuan's ketamine addiction, coupled with a persistent depressive disorder, impaired his mental responsibility when he smuggled more than 100g of heroin into Singapore at Woodlands Checkpoint.

Phua was convicted in September 2011 by the same judge and given the death penalty, which was then mandatory for those convicted of importing more than 15g of heroin. His appeal against the conviction was dismissed in July 2012.

After exhausting the avenues of appeal, Phua filed two criminal motions in a bid to get his convictions overturned. His applications were dismissed in March 2014 and September last year.

In 2013, law amendments kicked in, giving judges the discretion to sentence drug couriers to life imprisonment instead of death, if certain conditions are met.

This gave death row inmates like Phua a chance to be re-sentenced.

Phua, represented by Mr Michael Chia, applied to be re-sentenced on the basis that he suffered an abnormality of mind that impaired his mental responsibility for his acts.

The prosecution accepted that Phua was a courier but disagreed that he had diminished responsibility. A hearing was held to hear psychiatric opinions from both sides.

Dr Munidasa Winslow, for the defence, and Dr Kenneth Koh, for the prosecution, both agreed that Phua had a persistent depressive disorder and ketamine addiction.

Dr Winslow said this "substantially impaired his judgment, impulse control and decision-making in agreeing to be a courier, without seriously thinking through the possible consequences of his actions".

Dr Koh disagreed. He said Phua was able to plan and perform complex, organised actions in committing the offence. Phua also agreed to import the drugs two weeks before the actual offence, so his decision to go ahead cannot be said to have been made on impulse, he added.

But Justice Choo said, given that Phua was a chronic ketamine abuser, his decision-making ability and impulse control would be impaired during the two-week period. He concluded that Phua's mental illness and ketamine addiction did impair his mental responsibility for the act.

He said: "I am satisfied, from the facts and medical evidence... that the applicant was probably incapable of resisting any internal rationality that might have dissuaded him from committing the offence."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Sim Kim Seng (trading as Kim Seng Ship Building) v New West Coast Shipyard Pte Ltd - [2016] SGHCR 02

SHC clarifies the extent and scope of liability of the developer, architect and main contractor of a construction project in a claim for building defects

Judgments
23 Mar 2016

Tycoon 'removed' from S'pore, held in Indonesia

Straits Times
23 Apr 2016
Arlina Arshad

The Indonesian authorities are holding a securities tycoon in custody over a high-profile fraud case, after Singapore cancelled his entry permit and declared his presence in the country as "unlawful".

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement that Hartawan Aluwi had been "removed" from the city-state.

Hartawan, 54, had fled Indonesia for Singapore in 2008, after he was named a suspect along with several others for allegedly misusing the government's money amounting to 6.7 trillion rupiah (S$683 million) to bail out the now-defunct Bank Century during the 2008 global financial crisis. The controversial rescue was to prevent a systemic risk or collapse of Indonesia's financial services industry.

Hartawan had used a number of accounts in PT Antaboga Delta Sekuritas Indonesia, a securities firm where he was the president commissioner, to hide money sent by Bank Century founder Robert Tantular, local media reported.

He was also sentenced in absentia to 14 years' jail last July in a related case involving Bank Century.

On Thursday, the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority took Hartawan into custody, after "the Controller of Immigration cancelled his entry permit and declared his presence in Singapore to be unlawful", the MHA said.

"He was removed from Singapore on the same day," it added.

Indonesian police investigators flew together with him from Singapore to Jakarta on Thursday night, national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told reporters yesterday.

Indonesia and Singapore have signed an extradition treaty, but Indonesia has yet to ratify it.

Mr Boy said Hartawan's passport had expired in 2012 and his Singapore permanent residency status was revoked around February this year, providing "an opportunity for the local authorities to bring him back". He added: "This is really a coordination with support from the Singapore Government towards our search efforts."

Singapore Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had considered Hartawan to be an "undesirable immigrant... due to his involvement in fraudulent investment schemes and money laundering activities", MHA said.

"In accordance with the law, Mr Hartawan appealed to the Minister for Home Affairs against the controller's decision. After due and careful consideration of the representations and documents submitted by Mr Hartawan Aluwi, the minister rejected the appeal," it added.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Mok Kah Hong v Zheng Zhuan Yao - [2016] SGCA 08

Share buybacks – secret weapon?

Business
23 Mar 2016

Ex-banker charged in likely twist to 1MDB saga

Straits Times
23 Apr 2016
Chong Koh Ping

A former Singaporean private banker has been charged with receiving benefits from criminal conduct, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said yesterday.

Yeo Jiawei, 33, a former wealth planner with the Singapore unit of Swiss private bank BSI, was charged on April 16 with an offence under the the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

"As investigations are ongoing, no further details are available at this time," said a statement released by the AGC yesterday.

According to the charge sheet obtained by The Straits Times, Yeo was charged for receiving $200,000 in his Bank of China account on or around Jan 30, 2013.

This amount represented his benefits from cheating, said the charge sheet. While the charge sheet made no mention of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) or any related entities or individuals, Bloomberg reported earlier yesterday that Yeo was charged with money laundering following investigations into 1MDB's money flows.

Yeo could be jailed up to 10 years or fined as much as $500,000, or both if convicted.

This appears to be another twist in the 1MDB saga. The authorities in Malaysia, Switzerland, the US and Luxembourg are also probing claims 1MDB was used to funnel money to politically connected individuals.

BSI handled accounts for 1MDB and related parties, including Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments PJSC, an entity the fund did business with, and Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, according to documents entered into Singapore's High Court as part of an effort by another former BSI private banker to unfreeze assets.

Mr Yak Yew Chee had attempted to sue the Singapore Government in order to gain access to a portion of about $10 million in his bank accounts frozen by the authorities as part of their 1MDB probe.

The authorities said in February that they had seized a "large number" of bank accounts over possible money laundering and other offences linked to 1MDB.

The Commercial Affairs Department and the Monetary Authority of Singapore have been investigating possible offences relating to 1MDB since the middle of last year.

Mr Yak has since left BSI and the bank announced last month that its head of Asian operations Hanspeter Brunner had retired. They are among several senior employees who have left, or are said to be leaving BSI Singapore in recent months.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Chau Thi Thanh Lang and another v Lo Lai Heng - [2016] SGHC 13

SHC: When challenging an arbitral award becomes a challenge

Judgments
22 Mar 2016

Banking & finance body rolls out revised standards for financial planners

Business Times
23 Apr 2016
Claire Huang

[Singapore] AS PART of a wider move to inject uniformity and greater professionalism into the financial advisory industry, the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF) has rolled out a revised set of competency standards for financial planning, together with stakeholders.

The IBF Standards for Financial Planning, which took 15 months to develop, is aimed at providing a clear professional development roadmap and certification pathway for the 18,000 to 20,000 financial planners here.

Besides the usual core skills relating to cash management plus insurance and investment and retirement planning, the new IBF standards have introduced new competency areas such as financial planning for high net worth individuals and business owners, as well as ethical principles in the financial advisory process.

Merlyn Ee, executive director at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), on Friday said at the launch of the new standards that new and senior practitioners would be able to stay relevant by taking up the IBF courses to develop the required skills at various stages of their careers.

Currently, the curriculum of the widely recognised Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Consultant/

Singapore (ChFC/S) qualifications awarded by the Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) and Singapore College of Insurance (SCI) respectively, have been updated to meet IBF standards. From 2016, these practitioners would be eligible to apply for the advanced certification.

The cost of taking a ChFC/S programme comprising 130 training hours is about S$4,000 before a government subsidy, while the cost of a CFP programme that comprises 160 to 180 training hours is estimated to be between S$4,000 and S$5,000 before the subsidy.

IBF said financial institutions such as AIA Singapore, AXA Life Insurance, Great Eastern Life, Great Eastern Financial Advisers, IPP Financial Advisers, NTUC Income and Prudential Singapore are either looking to have their in-house programmes IBF accredited or sending their agents for the CFP or ChFC/S training. The institute expects most of the tied agents who are trained in-house to join the IBF-accredited curriculum in the second half of 2016.

Ong Puay See, IBF's chief executive, said: "What this IBF accreditation does is it brings it up to a common language.

"Instead of us counting how many are CFPs and ChFC/S holders and not knowing whether they are mapped against each other, we now have a common lingo where we can track year on year, what per cent of the industry is IBF-certified by way of the different pathways."

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Seagate Technology International v Vikas Goel - [2016] SGHC 12

SHC: There are two tracks to getting paid so be sure of the timelines under the adjudication track

Judgments
22 Mar 2016

Call for campaign rules to avoid politicising presidential polls

Straits Times
23 Apr 2016
Chong Zi Liang

Lawyer says candidates must declare they understand role before getting eligibility cert; not make 'grandiose promises'

A 49-year-old lawyer wants rules introduced for campaigning during the presidential election because the last polls were politicised to the point that unrealistic promises were made.

Mr Rey Foo proposed that before candidates are issued certificates of eligibility, they must make a declaration that they understand the role of the president.

Candidates must also not make what he called "grandiose promises" that are outside the scope of the presidency to fulfil, he said yesterday at the second public hearing of the Constitutional Commission to review the elected presidency.

But he did not cite any instance of politicising that he said occurred in the presidential polls in 2011, when four candidates contested and President Tony Tan Keng Yam won by a slim margin.

In making his suggestion, Mr Foo said: "The election process for the elected president should be of an entirely different flavour compared with the normal general election for Parliament seats.

"The style... in the past election was very similar to the political type of election. I don't think that should be the case."

To enforce the proposed rules for campaigning, a tribunal can be set up to look into complaints of breaches, he said. Candidates should be disqualified from running if they break the rules twice, he added.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who chairs the commission, said the tribunal's role would be similar to that of an election judge who looks into wrongdoing during parliamentary and presidential elections.

Mr Foo said it could be adapted from the existing institution.

But former Parliament Speaker Abdullah Tarmugi, a member of the commission, raised the issue of who should be allowed to report a possible infringement.

If members of the public could do so, the tribunal could be inundated by cases. But if only candidates could file complaints, the process could become a source of conflict among candidates seeking the office.

Mr Foo replied that a candidate who makes a false allegation would risk his reputation, but acknowledged that the procedure needs to be fine-tuned.

When asked if he felt Singaporeans were clear about the elected presidency, he said that based on his experience, people did not have a full understanding of the role, responsibilities and powers of the office.

Schools should teach the younger generation about it, he added.

CJ Menon noted that others at the first hearing had also emphasised the need for public education.

It was a point he raised again when a group of Singapore Management University law students gave their views on the six-man Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA).

They suggested the CPA's advice to the president be published with the presidential decision for reasons of transparency, adding that it would help people better understand the role of the office.

CJ Menon said that implicit in this suggestion was the need for greater education. "One of the points implicit about this thing is that there is a need for people in Singapore to have an appreciation not only in the role of the president, the nature of the functions he has, but as well with the CPA, what the CPA can and cannot do."

In an earlier exchange with the Eurasian Association's representatives, CJ Menon said members of the public tend to focus on the president's custodial role over the country's reserves.

But the president performs other important functions as well, such as approving key public service appointments, he said.


THE CRUCIAL POINT

Your point is that candidates who come out and make promises in seeking election, in the presidential elections, are putting forward things that they ultimately can't deliver. Because they can't come forward and say, 'I'm going to drive for better healthcare', 'I'm going to drive for better trains' or whatever the issue may be.

All their concern in that office, apart from the critically important national symbolic and ceremonial roles, all they are able to do is to check, serve as a check and balance on the Government's powers in relation to finance, appointments...

And that's the crucial point you're making... that you have to recognise the distinction and therefore try to curb the electoral process so it doesn't unnecessarily fuel expectations that can't be met and doesn't give people a misunderstanding of the office of the presidency. That's really the critical point you're making.

CHIEF JUSTICE SUNDARESH MENON, summing up the reason underpinning lawyer Rey Foo's proposal that rules be introduced for campaigning during the presidential election.


Eurasian Association calls for GRC-style presidential elections

The Eurasian Association yesterday said restricted presidential elections, in which only minority candidates can run, are not the best way to ensure Singapore gets a minority president from time to time.

It proposed having GRC-style presidential polls instead to achieve this aim.

"We're not in favour of the restricted election where... we have a minority candidate stand (after a few terms)," its president Benett Theseira said at the second Constitutional Commission hearing on the elected presidency.

"We feel it goes against the grain of our multiracial philosophy and it may create unhappiness, forcing people to vote for a single individual who is of an ethnic minority."

Mr Theseira was at the hearing with the association's vice-president Alexius Pereira, honorary treasurer Martin Marini and trustee Timothy de Souza.

He also said stipulating that only minority candidates can run could create keen competition among minority communities and divide them.

Under the GRC-style election, two or three people will contest the election on one ticket, with at least one member in the group belonging to a minority race.

The group will then pick one person as a "front runner", who will be president if it wins the election.

The other two members will be appointed to the Council of Presidential Advisers.

But a requirement should be put in place that a minority candidate be designated the front runner when this method does not throw up a minority president after a few terms, said Mr Theseira.

He added that this way of electing presidents is similar to how teams are elected for group representation constituencies in parliamentary elections.

He said it would give minorities a fair chance of being elected to the highest office of the land, adding that it would affirm all races are treated equally.

Professor Chan Heng Chee, a commission member and chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, said such requirements would make it a "restricted election" as well.

But Mr Theseira said the GRC-style election "dilutes the impact slightly" as the slate will be multiracial.

"As a society, we've had experience doing that in the parliamentary elections with the GRCs, and I think that is something that people are used to," he added.

Responding, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, the commission's chairman, said: "It's really a question of palatability, right? Because in substance, it comes down to the same thing.


"Students propose three-wing council of advisers

Two proposed changes to the role and structure of a council that advises the president were made yesterday.

One came from a group of law students, which wants the six-member Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) to be reconfigured into three wings that the president can turn to for specialised advice.

These are: financial, legal and appointment, which will advise on key public service appointments, such as the chief justice and auditor-general.

But each CPA member can serve in more than one category, they told the nine-member Constitutional Commission reviewing the elected presidency framework.

The second and more radical proposal was made by 28-year-old lawyer Ronald Wong.

He wants two of the six CPA members to be elected by Singaporeans. The six would then get together and vote for one of them to be the president.

But such a system could frustrate Singaporeans as there is a chance that neither of the two whom people elected could be picked as the president, said Mr Philip Ng, a member of the commission and the chief executive officer of property developer Far East Organization.

Mr Wong replied that in his proposal, the president would play a ceremonial role while all decisions the president is required to make would be collectively taken by the six-member CPA, with a majority vote.

This effectively transfers some of the president's powers to the CPA and gives it more teeth, he added.

"The CPA and president have to be seen as a unitary institution," said Mr Wong, who argued that his proposal will ensure the president's custodial powers are subject to the CPA's own veto powers, and will bring a consensus to the office.

Asked by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, the commission chairman, if he was proposing a fundamental redesign to the elected presidency, essentially situating the office within the CPA, Mr Wong agreed.

He also said his system is a "halfway house" that seeks to bridge the old system, in which the president is appointed, and the current one of popular election.

The law students' proposal largely focused on improving the CPA's effectiveness and transparency.

One of them, Mr Alexander Lee, 23, said the three specialised wings for the president to consult would improve the quality of the CPA's advice and make it more efficient.

Justice Tay Yong Kwang, a commission member, pointed out that the decisions before the president may not be so "clean cut" as to fall neatly into the three categories.

CJ Menon agreed, and added that there is value in the way the present CPA considers all issues as a group, bringing their diverse expertise and perspectives to the discussion.

But while it may not be wise to "compartmentalise the CPA into specific areas of expertise", CJ Menon said there is value to having guidelines that ensure the CPA members together bring a range of experience to the table, which would not be "unbalanced".

The extent of the president's veto powers was also raised.

Currently, the president's decision is final when he acts with the CPA's support. When the CPA disagrees, he may exercise his veto powers, but Parliament may override it with a two-third majority.

But CJ Menon said a third option worth exploring is when a minority in the CPA disagrees with the president's veto, and that veto can be overturned by a parliamentary "super-majority''.

Lim Yan Liang


Eligibility criteria should stand the test of time: CJ

The question of how much to alter the eligibility criteria for presidential poll candidates came up for discussion yesterday, with the chairman of the Constitutional Commission reviewing the elected presidency giving his view on the issue.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said at his commission's second hearing: "What we're trying to do is to examine whether the constitutional provision can be drafted in such a way that it can withstand the test of time, and for that to happen, what we're dealing with is trying to define (the) criteria."

In doing so, the search is for a configuration of criteria that will yield "a pool that's likely to throw up a sufficient number of suitable candidates", he added.

Many who took part in the first two hearings, held on Monday and yesterday, had said the criteria should be made more stringent.

But they also expressed concerns that this could shrink the pool of potential candidates, and urged the commission not to go overboard in raising the bar. They were referring to a requirement that private sector candidates have experience running a company with a paid-up capital of at least $100 million to qualify.

CJ Menon said: "You can't set the criteria by looking at the individuals and say I think at this level we will have so many suitable candidates, it's because we know exactly who the candidates are. I don't think that's the way to go about it."

Yesterday, lawyer Ranvir Kumar Singh, 57, suggested that the amount be raised to $500 million, using Singtel as a benchmark. He said the company's value had increased five times since the elected presidency was implemented in 1991.

CJ Menon said the $500 million threshold would capture the top 0.2 per cent of firms here - the same proportion captured in 1991 when the threshold was $100 million.

Mr Singh also proposed looking at the net assets, governance record and profitability of companies, to determine if a potential candidate had done a good job.

Commission member Wong Ngit Liong, chairman and chief executive of Venture Corporation, noting it would involve a qualitative change to the criteria, asked if the Presidential Elections Committee would be making more subjective judgments when deciding who qualifies to run.

Mr Singh said the committee's members must be of a high calibre to be in a position to judge.

Another commission member, Mr Philip Ng, chief executive of Far East Organisation, said an issue it was tasked to examine is how to phase in new criteria, if any. Mr Singh said he had not thought about that.

Tham Yuen-C

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Mohamed Shariff Valibhoy and others v Arif Valibhoy - [2016] SGHC 11

Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016: Changes to GST policies and administration

Legislation
22 Mar 2016

Can dad sell flat after mum's death?

Straits Times
23 Apr 2016
Janice Heng

Unfortunately, if the daughter is not a co-owner of the flat, she has no legal right to stop the flat from being sold, said the HDB.

As a legal owner of the flat, the widowed father can decide to sell the flat if he has met the Minimum Occupation Period of five years.

"If she is experiencing hardship or family dispute, the daughter could seek assistance from the Family Service Centre or the Legal Aid Bureau," suggested the HDB.

When a joint owner of a flat dies, the remaining joint owner can take ownership as the sole lessee, if he or she satisfies the eligibility conditions, such as being a Singapore citizen or permanent resident.

In such a situation, the remaining joint owner will have to lodge a Notice of Death with the Singapore Land Authority.

He may appoint his own solicitor to act for him, or engage the HDB's legal services.

If using the HDB's services, he should go to the relevant HDB branch, taking along his identity card, the original death certificate of the deceased joint owner, and a duplicate lease, if there is one.

He will have to pay registration and conveyancing fees at the point of application.

HDB's legal group will then prepare the Notice of Death and inform him to sign the documents.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Foo Jong Long Dennis v Ang Yee Lim Lawrence and another - [2016] SGHC 10

Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016: Implementing Budget 2015 changes

Legislation
21 Mar 2016

Ex-director jailed 22 months for CBT involving $130,000

Straits Times
23 Apr 2016
Elena Chong

A former businesswoman who committed forgery and pocketed $130,000 from a jewellery company by encashing two cheques was jailed for 22 months yesterday.

Chinese national Gou Linnan, 36,was a director at W & G Jewellery, which operates a retail outlet named Chow Tai Fook Jewellery at Marina Bay Sands (MBS).

As one of the two authorised signatories of the company's bank account, she could sign and make a cheque withdrawal.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said between July 14 and 18 in 2011, Gou issued two cash cheques amounting to $130,000.

She wrote in the cheque book summary page that the cheques were payments to Chow Tai Fook, a Hong Kong-based jewellery supplier of W & G Jewellery.

But she encashed the cheques and spent the money on gambling.

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery confirmed that it did not receive the payments of $100,000 and $30,000 from W & G Jewellery.

She then forged a bank telegraphic transfer form in a bid to conceal her misappropriation of the $100,000.

She wrote her name as the applicant remitting $100,000 from her UOB personal account to Chow Tai Fook Jewellery's bank account in Hong Kong.

She then forged the signature of a bank employee under the "For Bank Use Only'' section to make it appear that the transaction had been carried out.

Police reports were subsequently made and she was arrested.

A second forgery charge was taken into consideration.

Gou has made partial restitution of 500,000 yuan (about $104,000) to Mr Wang Kaizhong, a director of W&G Jewellery.

Her lawyer, Mr Josephus Tan, said his client had been in a seven-year relationship with Mr Wang and went through four abortions. When the relationship went downhill, she gambled. She had hoped to win, and return the money to the company.

Mr Tan told the court that Gou married a Singaporean in 2014 and wants to start a family.

Gou could have been jailed for life or up to 20 years and fined for criminal breach of trust. The maximum penalty for forgery is 10 years' jail and a fine.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Global Yellow Pages Ltd v Promedia Directories Pte Ltd - [2016] SGHC 09

Changes to the Banking Act passed

Legislation
18 Mar 2016

TV shows to push data privacy message

Straits Times
23 Apr 2016
Irene Tham

Singapore's privacy watchdog is planning its first marketing blitz to drum into organisations the need to secure consumers' data.

This is following its recent crackdown on breaches of the law, its first since new data protection rules took full effect in July 2014.

The Personal Data Protection Commission plans to widen its reach by launching its first TV infotainment programmes featuring how Singapore companies comply with the law.

It said lax security procedures were behind most of the recent breaches of the law.

While spending and launch details were not available, Commission chairman Leong Keng Thai told The Straits Times: "We understand that some businesses might still need time and more help to comply with their obligations.

"The key to using personal data is to use it in a responsible manner just as you would treat other commercial sensitive or valuable data."

So far, the Commission has reached out to more than 8,000 organisations and 66 trade associations via free quarterly briefings conducted with the Workforce Development Agency and e-learning programmes, among others.

On Thursday, the Commission rapped 11 organisations - among them household names K Box Entertainment Group, Challenger Technologies, Metro and the Singapore Computer Society - for failing to protect customers' personal data.

Under the Personal Data Protection Act, organisations that fail to protect personal data can be fined up to $1 million per breach.

The heaviest fine of $50,000 went to K Box for a data breach involving 317,000 customers in September 2014. K Box declined to comment when contacted.

Metro department store chain, on the other hand, was warned for not securing its website and content management system properly, leading to a data leak involving 445 customers.

Metro said it had hired auditor KPMG to assess the security of its systems and that it has since taken steps - such as to encrypt its data and update its system software - to better mitigate risks.

IT retail chain Challenger Technologies was also warned over an error that resulted in members receiving an e-mail meant for another member.

It said it has since hired local data protection consultancy firm Straits Interactive to audit and review its business processes and policies, and trained staff on the proper way to handle personal data.

The Singapore Computer Society was also warned for mistakenly sending a document containing the personal details of 214 individuals to these 214 individuals without proper checks.

Its president Howie Lau said it has taken steps and will consider strengthening existing encryption methods on data files to prevent this from happening again.

Meanwhile, lawyers said the recent crackdown serves as a wake-up call.

"More organisations will review even the most basic processes such as password setting and e-mail attachments - things that they do not normally take notice of due to a lack of time, resource or the know-how," said lawyer Gilbert Leong, a partner at Rodyk & Davidson.

Even data management services and IT system providers will sit up and review their security process, said lawyer Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay.

"They must also hire a data protection officer, as required by law, not only to protect customers' data, but also to ensure they do not retain the data longer than necessary," said Mr Tan.


Enforcement and breach details

K BOX ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

The karaoke chain received the heaviest fine of $50,000 and was directed to appoint a data protection officer, a must-have under the law. The enforcement was for a data breach involving 317,000 customers, resulting in their names, contact numbers and home addresses being posted on file-sharing website pastebin.com in September 2014.

Lax security measures caused the breach. For instance, access to its computers was protected by weak passwords comprising only one letter of the alphabet.

FINANTECH HOLDING

K Box's IT vendor was fined $10,000 for failing to update K Box's systems with the latest, most secure software and for lax security procedures. For instance, the system administrator's account password was simply "admin".

INSTITUTION OF ENGINEERS SINGAPORE

The Institution of Engineers Singapore was fined $10,000 for failing to put in place adequate security measures, resulting in the wrongful disclosure of the names, and e-mail and residential addresses of 4,000 members on pastebin.com.

FEI FAH MEDICAL MANUFACTURING

The health supplements supplier was fined $5,000 for failing to secure its online databases, resulting in the wrongful disclosure of the usernames, passwords, contact numbers and e-mail addresses of more than 900 customers on pastebin.com.

UNIVERSAL TRAVEL CORPORATION

The tour agency was directed to strengthen its data protection policy and send staff to be educated on the requirements of the law, although the tour agency was not fined. Its staff had shared the names, nationalities, dates of birth and passport numbers of 37 customers with four individuals within this tour group.

CHALLENGER TECHNOLOGIES

The IT retail chain was warned for not checking that its IT vendor had sent e-mail updates about the membership details of 165,000 people to the right recipients, resulting in the wrongful disclosure of members' names, membership numbers and points.

XIRLYNX INNOVATIONS

Challenger's IT vendor Xirlynx Innovations was warned for not having the proper checks in place for e-mail communications.

FULL HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS

The home exhibition organiser was warned for not ensuring that its computer system for registering individuals in a lucky draw properly secured the names and details of people who had entered their information.

METRO

Metro megastore was warned for not securing its website and content management system properly, leading to a data leak involving 445 customers.

SINGAPORE COMPUTER SOCIETY

The society was warned for mistakenly sending a document containing the names, identity card numbers and business contact numbers of 214 individuals to these 214 individuals without proper checks.

YESTUITION AGENCY

Yestuition Agency was warned for mistakenly publishing on its website the identity card numbers of 30 tutors, without their consent.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

National Environment Agency (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2016 (Act 4 of 2016)

SGX consultation paper on sustainability reporting

Business
18 Mar 2016

Man fails to take possession of flat due to legal issue

Straits Times
22 Apr 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Late daughter of dementia-ridden seller not empowered to act for dad in property sale

A High Court case has shown up problems that can arise when a person appointed to act for someone lacking mental capacity dies and is not automatically replaced.

"There appears to be nothing in the Mental Capacity Act (MCA)... that allows for any agency, such as the Office of the Public Guardian or the Insolvency and Public Trustee's Office , to act in the place of the deceased deputy, " said Judicial Commissioner Aedit Abdullah.

His remarks came in judgment grounds released yesterday in the case of a man who bought a $270,000 HDB flat from a dementia-ridden owner, whose daughter acted on his behalf.

The seller's daughter, Ms Millicent Ruby De Silva, had obtained a court order in 2009 under the then Mental Disorders and Treatment Act, later replaced by the MCA. This authorised her to represent her father at court hearings but did not empower her to execute documents in relation to his properties.

Ms De Silva acted for her father in completing the sale of the unit in 2010 to Mr Peter Nathan, who was in a relationship with her. He moved in with them, but after she died in April 2012, his relationship with her father soured and he could not live with him any more.

Mr Nathan said the two surviving children of Mr Arthur De Silva Petiyaga, 75, who had dementia and other medical conditions, had declined to take care of him when approached.

He then took legal action to possess the house in 2014 but learnt he was not the registered owner of the flat as the late Ms De Silva's signatures on the documents on her father's behalf were invalid.

Mr Nathan then applied to the High Court for an order to "perfect" the sale of the flat to him. His lawyers from Vision Law LLC argued that all parties had consented to the sale then and it was appropriate for the court to intervene.

JC Abdullah disagreed and rejected the move, but not before exploring several avenues to try to resolve the case in the interest of all.

He noted that Mr Nathan had to live in the open at times.

The best course was to appoint a a new deputy to look after the interests of Mr De Silva, but family members were unable or unwilling and neither was the Public Trustee or Public Guardian able to take up the task, noted the judge.

Noting that the late Ms De Silva had no powers to authorise the sale on her dad's behalf in the first place, the judge said the court cannnot intervene in this case. While it could under the MCA, this case was not started under the MCA, he said.

He said the significant issue was that there was no mechanism to allow the Public Guardian or other agencies to act for Mr De Silva immediately after his daughter died.

He suggested if the courts had the flexibility for such cases, it could initiate MCA proceedings to appoint a deputy and give directions to resolve the case even if there was no such application.

He said such a "judge-led approach" would be a departure from the current adversarial-style arrangements. "This may be a matter for the relevant agencies to consider," he added. Mr Nathan is appealingagainst the judgment.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Peter Edward Nathan v De Silva Petiyaga Arther Bernard and another [2016] SGHC 70

National Environment Agency (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2016 - National Environment Agency (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2016 (Commencement) Notification 2016 (S 178 of 2016)

SGX revises calculation methodology for MTP requirement and extends time for issuers with securities price falling below S$0.20 to comply with MTP requirement

Business
18 Mar 2016

MAS, CAD raid broking firms in probe into possible violations

Business Times
22 Apr 2016
Kenneth Lim

Those hauled in for questioning said to be remisiers; MAS says documents and other items also seized

[Singapore] THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the police's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) raided at least four broking houses in Singapore on Monday, market sources said.

White-collar crime investigators visited the trading floors of DBS Vickers, Maybank Kim Eng, OCBC Securities and Phillip Securities on Monday to take some people in for questioning. They also took away certain items. Representatives for the broking houses declined to comment, in line with the usual policy of staying mum on official investigations.

The specific nature of the investigations is not known, but sources said that the people taken for questioning were believed to be remisiers.

An MAS spokesman said: "The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force are jointly investigating possible contraventions of the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289) and have obtained documents and items from several broking firms and trading representatives. As investigations are ongoing, we are not able to provide further information."

The Securities and Futures Act governs the activities and institutions involved in the capital markets.

Simultaneous raids on so many broking firms are unusual.

Trading floors were abuzz on Tuesday, with many wondering what may have led to the raids. The prevailing bet appears to be that it's not related to the activities surrounding the October 2013 penny stock crash, which was the last time a major raid took place.

That investigation, which is the largest securities fraud probe ever conducted in Singapore, is ongoing, although government lawyers have indicated that charges could be filed this year.

One trader said: "There are many stocks that have crashed over the past year and many of them could be candidates."

Since March 2015, MAS and CAD have been jointly investigating market misconduct in an effort to streamline and strengthen enforcement.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Air Navigation Act - Air Navigation (Protected Areas) (Amendment) Order 2016

IPOS Case Summary: Christie Manson & Woods v Chritrs Auction [2016] SGIPOS 01 (application mark registered in bad faith)

Judgments
16 Mar 2016

Notable names among firms rapped for lapses in data security

Straits Times
22 Apr 2016
Irene Tham

Singapore's privacy watchdog has cracked down on organisations that collected personal data from their customers and members, but failed to take adequate steps to protect such information.

It is the first time the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) has revealed action taken against rule-breakers since the law took full effect in July 2014.

Four organisations were fined and seven warned for failing to secure the personal data of consumers, the watchdog said yesterday.

The heaviest fine of $50,000 was slapped on karaoke chain K Box for a data breach involving 317,000 customers, resulting in their details being posted on file-sharing website pastebin.com in September 2014. Its IT vendor, Finantech Holdings, was fined $10,000.

PDPC chairman Leong Keng Thai said that organisations were free to use consumers' personal data to deliver better customer service.

"The key is to use it responsibly and take appropriate actions to protect it," said Mr Leong.

Industry body Institution of Engineers Singapore and health supplements supplier Fei Fah Medical Manufacturing were fined after the personal data of their members and customers was wrongfully disclosed.

Organisations warned for lapses in securing data include IT retail chain Challenger Technologies, the Singapore Computer Society and Metro.

Lawyer Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay said that organisations were either ignorant or plain careless.

The enforcement followed 667 complaints to the PDPC - mostly that data had been wrongfully collected or used.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Town Councils Act - Town Council of Jalan Besar (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2016 (S 176 of 2016)

SGX revises forms of directors’ and executive officers’ undertakings to comply with Listing Rules

Business
16 Mar 2016

S'pore taking action against firms behind forest fires

Straits Times
22 Apr 2016
Zakir Hussain & Audrey Tan

Singapore is taking action under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act against companies that started fires or let their concessions burn, and contributed to last year's haze, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli has said.

It has given notices to six of these Indonesia-based firms, asking them to explain steps they are taking to put out and prevent fires on their land. Two have replied. A director of one of the four firms that have yet to reply has also been served with a notice to give information on his firm's move to mitigate fires on its land and prevent a repeat of last year's haze.

"He has left (Singapore), but is required to return," Mr Masagos told reporters on Tuesday night.

"Should he not return, he would have violated our laws," he said, adding that Singapore can arrest him if he returns later than the date stipulated in the notice.

Mr Masagos declined to disclose the name of the director or his firm, but said he can be detained in Singapore if he fails to give the required information. "We must not let companies get away with their most egregious acts," Mr Masagos added.

He made these points when asked by Singapore reporters about his Indonesian counterpart's remarks that asked what Singapore had done to combat forest fires. Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar had told news site Foresthints.news last week that her country had been trying to prevent the recurrence of land and forest fires, and consistently enforcing the law. "My question is - what has the Singaporean Government done? I feel they should focus on their own role," she was quoted as saying.

Singapore experts, like Dr Mustafa Izzuddin of the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, said her comments, made "in that spirit of national pride", seemed directed at her home audience.

Dr Jonatan Lassa, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said that while Indonesia has committed to map hot spots, it needs to build structures like incident command systems on the ground to follow up and take action where needed.

Mr Masagos, in his media interview, also noted Singapore's good ties with Indonesia on many fronts, saying both are working together.

But the haze is a complex issue that has to be tackled not just bilaterally, but also at the Asean and regional level. For instance, Singapore led an Asean programme to make people more aware of what they can do to manage and restore peatland, on which most forest fires take place.

The six companies given notice by the National Environment Agency include Singapore-listed Asia Pulp and Paper, which has been asked about steps its subsidiaries and Indonesian suppliers are taking to put out fires in their concessions.

"We are now looking at them to see how we are going to move forward," Mr Masagos said. He declined to say more as investigations are ongoing. "The message to everybody is: Whether you are Singaporean, whether you are a foreigner, if you violate our laws, we will apply the law to its full extent."

Mr Chris Cheng of volunteer group People's Movement to Stop Haze called on firms to produce or buy palm oil and paper that are verified "haze-free". He added: "Our financial institutions can also ensure they do not lend to or invest in potential haze-causing companies."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Maintenance of Parents Act - Maintenance of Parents (Amendment) Rules 2016 (S 175 of 2016)

[GBR] Investing in the UK: New rules require public disclosure of ultimate owners of unlisted UK companies

Commonwealth
16 Mar 2016

Teen who slashed another has sentence amended after appeal

TODAY
22 Apr 2016

SINGAPORE — The youth behind last year’s slashing incident at Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West was given a second chance after an appeal and re-sentenced in the High Court on Thursday (April 21) to reformative training instead of imprisonment.

For his “vicious and gratuitous attack” on a teenager last year, Muhammad Zuhairie Adely Zulkifli, 17, was initially sentenced by a district court judge last November to 18 months’ jail and six strokes of the cane.

He had pleaded guilty to voluntarily causing grievous hurt using a deadly weapon, as well as a separate charge of being part of an unlawful assembly that punched and kicked another victim in April last year.

Justice Chan Seng Onn, who presided over the hearing, said he was willing to give Zuhairie a second chance given his young age, noting that he would have to serve the same period of time in reformative training as he would have in jail.

“You better make full use of this time, you’re still young,” he told the youth after the re-sentencing.

In March last year, Zuhairie had slashed Ahmad Nurthaqif at ITE College West with a 35cm-long bread knife over a dispute involving the latter’s girlfriend. The incident happened in front of other students and was caught on video.

Apart from having knife wounds across his back, the 18-year-old victim, a part-time cook, also suffered fractures on his forearm and three fingers, and a cut behind his ear.

In the appeal on Thursday, Zuhairie’s lawyer highlighted his troubled background: He had grown up in an unstable home witnessing domestic violence between his parents, who were in and out of jail numerous times for various drug and property offences.

By age 12, the courts had placed him in the Muhammadiyah Welfare Home after deciding that he needed better supervision.

Defence lawyer Benny Tan further pointed out that Zuhairie had excelled in his studies at Northlight School and took part actively in activities at the home, such as being involved in leadership camps. He also showed genuine remorse and is willing to change, with hopes of having a career in the Singapore Armed Forces and joining the national sepak tekraw team. He is now studying to retake his N Levels.

There are two paths ahead for Zuhairie, the lawyer added. Should he be sent to jail, it would send a message that the system is giving up on his reform, but reformative training would give him the “best of both worlds”.

The prosecution, however, argued that reformative training — aimed as a rehabilitative sentencing option for youth offenders lasting from 18 months to three years — was not sufficient. Zuhairie had shown a disregard for law and his actions were premeditated.

Furthermore, his victim had suffered such severe injuries that he was placed on medical leave for three months to undergo hand therapy, Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Kok Weng said.

Justice Chan, in telling Zuhairie to make good use of the second chance given to him, asked him to learn how to control his temper: “There’s plenty of room and time to improve yourself... You can’t stop people from talking bad about you. Live your own life. Don’t live your life according to others.”

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Housing and Development Act - Housing and Development (Precincts for Lift Upgrading Works) (No. 3) Order 2016 (S 174 of 2016)

SHC opines on without notice termination clauses in equity accumulator contracts

Judgments
15 Mar 2016

Are class actions good for investors and Singapore markets?

Business Times
21 Apr 2016
Michelle Quah

INVESTOR lobby group Securities Investors Association (Singapore), or SIAS, announced this week that it will not hesitate to take errant companies to court - representing minority investors in class-action suits more commonly seen in jurisdictions like the United States.

The association's announcement begs the question: is such an action a viable alternative for minority investors here seeking to bring recalcitrant companies to heel? To answer that, we need to examine if such an action can be successfully brought about, if it will yield the outcome that investors desire, and if this will impact positively on Singapore's capital markets.

To begin with, class-action suits - or representative actions, which include class actions - are not often seen in our courts. Singapore is, by nature, not a litigious society; and it is even less common to have large groups of people pursuing similar legal redress against the same party.

As one litigation lawyer pointed out, there have been "only a handful" of such cases in the last decade.

But, while rare, representative actions have been pursued successfully in Singapore.

The best known would be the Raffles Town Club case. In 2000, some 5,000 members sued the club's shareholders for misrepresentation and breach of contract; they claimed it misrepresented to them that it was the most "prestigious private city club" in Singapore and demanded a refund of their $28,000 membership fees.

After a lengthy court battle, the members won the suit in 2005. The Court of Appeal awarded the claimants a total of $45 million in damages.

Perhaps less well known, but of greater importance, was the Treasure Resort case. In 2009, 202 ex-members of the Sijori Resort Club - represented by seven plaintiffs - sued the club's owner, Treasure Resort. They alleged they had been denied membership privileges after the club was sold by Sijori to Treasure in 2006.

The case was important because it laid out a comprehensive roadmap for representative actions in Singapore. Among various things, the Court of Appeal ruled in 2013 that:

• the case brought forth in a representative action will determine the rights of, and be binding on all claimants;
• not all interests of the claimants must be identical before the "same interest" requirement is met, but the claimants must share some common interests in relation to a substantial question of fact or law, and that this is to be determined on a case-by-case basis;
• the trial judge will have the discretion to refuse to permit a representative action from going forward, even after the "same interest" condition is met.

It is important for investors to note that no shareholder representative action has ever been undertaken here - so any such suit would be a test case. There will be procedural hurdles to overcome.

Benefits and downsides

There are benefits to undertaking a representative action - especially under the auspices of SIAS - as opposed to going it alone.

For one, because one would be banding together with other similarly aggrieved investors, legal costs are shared.

For another, having an investor lobby group like SIAS be the representative in such an action means SIAS will act as the leader in such an effort, helping to galvanise the others, liaise with the lawyers and coordinate other details.

SIAS's access to a reputable legal team and the association's experience in dealing with minority shareholder issues could also offer a considerable advantage over most retail investors' solitary efforts.

The downsides? Having to depend on others to move the process ahead. And, as in the case with any lawsuit, being involved in a possibly very time-consuming, unpleasant and long-drawn-out affair.

In terms of legal costs, SIAS has said that it is thinking of setting up a litigation fund, which members and minority investors - whether or not they are involved in the action - could contribute too. Depending on how padded this war chest gets, one could conceivably still be shelling out a substantial sum in legal fees.

And what if the outcome isn't as desired? As with all lawsuits, the end result of a representative action cannot be determined beforehand - no matter how good a legal team one has, or how deep one's pockets are, though these could help with the fight.

"Strength in numbers" does not necessarily mean a stronger case.

So, as with any lawsuit, minority shareholders intending to take action against a company or its board need to first determine the merits of their case. They should either seek independent legal advice, or work with SIAS and its lawyers to understand their case.

They will need to familiarise themselves with the legal process, and be prepared for how long it might take and how much it could cost. They should also build in contingencies and back-up plans, in the event the case does not unfold as they expect or hope.

There is also the broader impact to consider. Would a growing prevalence of representative actions - should investors increasingly favour them as a means of resolving shareholder disputes and other perceived cases of wrongdoing - be a good or bad development for capital markets here?

SIAS president and CEO David Gerald is not in favour of lawsuits becoming the preferred course of action for aggrieved minority shareholders. He's in favour of a more conciliatory approach - having investors meet the company's management and board, along with market regulators, to work out an acceptable solution in the interests of all parties. Mr Gerald believes that, "when you have acrimony in the capital markets, people will think twice about investing in our country".

There is some truth in that. Also of concern is the risk of payouts from such class actions ballooning into billions of dollars, as is not uncommon in the US.

To address such concerns, Singapore could take a leaf from the United Kingdom's book. The UK is gradually allowing its courts to hear class-action-style claims from groups of consumers seeking compensation from companies alleged to have practised anti-competitive behaviour, under its Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Safeguards

But, concerned that these claims could result in damages awards of the quantum seen in the US, "the regime has built in a number of safeguards against what are perceived to be the 'excesses' of the US system," competition law specialist Anna Morfey told the BBC recently.

Among these, is the fact that the losing party will typically be required to pay the winner's costs (acting as a deterrent to frivolous claims), that there will be no trebling of or "exemplary" damages, and no jury trials of these claims as there are in the US. This should ensure that damages awards really are compensatory and not windfalls for claimants, she said.

Managed carefully, having access to and a growing preference for representative actions might not be a bad thing. Some would even argue that it provides another check and balance for listed companies here.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 23) Notification 2016 (S 173 of 2016)

[GBR] Without prejudice privilege may apply to communications with regulator

Commonwealth
15 Mar 2016

Views sought on debt restructuring role

Straits Times
21 Apr 2016
Lee Xin En

A committee set up to look into strengthening Singapore as an international centre for debt restructuring has made a slew of recommendations and is asking the public for their views on these proposals.

These recommendations focus on three main areas: enhancing Singapore's legal framework for debt restructuring, creating a restructuring-friendly ecosystem and addressing a perception gap of Singapore's debt restructuring services.

Some of the specific recommendations include creating bespoke rules and procedures for restructuring and increasing the use of alternative dispute resolution solutions such as mediation or arbitration.

The committee also suggested strengthening the quality of insolvency professionals and deepening the bench with specialist insolvency judges.

To raise Singapore's profile internationally, the committee proposed that Singapore-based professionals, judges and academics increase their involvement in international insolvency organisations, conferences and research.

These recommendations will mainly impact lawyers, accountants, insolvency practitioners, banks and funds, said the Ministry of Law in a statement yesterday.

The 17-member committee co-chaired by Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Law and Ministry of Finance, and Judicial Commissioner Kannan Ramesh, was formed in May last year, building on the work of the Insolvency Law Review Committee (ILRC).

The ILRC's recommendations for reforming Singapore's bankruptcy and corporate insolvency frameworks were broadly accepted by the Government in May 2014.

Top lawyers here have long called for Singapore to strengthen its legal framework in debt restructuring so as to boost the nation's attractiveness as a global business hub.

The committee's recommendations come amid a backdrop of rising global corporate defaults, which hit its highest level in seven years this year.

While law firms here may be facing headwinds, they have also reported more work in regional cross-border debt restructurings as companies face tough times.

The ministry is conducting a six- week public consultation, which began yesterday, to seek feedback on the committee's recommendations. The consultation period is scheduled to end on May 31.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Public Order Act - Public Order (Unrestricted Area) (Revocation) Order 2016 (S 172 of 2016)

SHC holds that jurisdiction to remove and appoint trustees of a Muslim charitable trust resides solely with MUIS

Judgments
11 Mar 2016

Intellectual property office designs future strategy as filings surge

TODAY
21 Apr 2016
Rumi Hardasmalani

SINGAPORE — With the Republic pursuing a knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has embarked on a multi-pronged strategy to further develop the intellectual property (IP) ecosystem here, amid a rapid growth in filings powered by increased business opportunities from China and other emerging global markets.

A record number of patents and trademarks were filed in Singapore last year, said IPOS.

Patent filings in the Republic grew 4.9 per cent last year with 10,814 applications, while trademark applications rose 9 per cent to 44,203 filings.

“IP filings internationally as well as in Singapore are at the highest-ever mark,” said Mr Daren Tang, chief executive of IPOS.

“Governments are looking at IP as critical to economic growth and development and it is becoming an integral part of an economy’s overall strategy,” he added.

International patent filing applications in 2014 stood at 2.68 million, up 4.5 per cent against the previous year, while trademark filings at 7.44 million were up 6 per cent.

Global IP filings growth, said Mr Tang, was largely driven by Asia, particularly in China, Japan, Korea and even Singapore.

The IPOS over the next two years will enhance focus on making it easier for businesses here to file for IP protection, and place greater emphasis on law enforcement.

Initiatives are under way to ease and take the entire process of patent filings online.

IPOS, with an aim to further develop the IP landscape in Singapore, is encouraging Singaporean businesses to have an IP strategy embedded in their business models in a way that they are able to create value and monetise their IP assets, be it in the form of technology, brands or content.

In the process, IPOS will also help build expertise with dedicated academic courses to support the nation’s push towards innovation-led value creation.

“IP is not about just protection any more. If you want to take your products and services to the world, you need to integrate IP as a part of your business strategy.

“Most companies and start-ups understand that. Over the next few years we will share awareness on this, create a conducive environment where IP is understood and practised.

“We will also encourage manpower and skills development to support this drive,” said Mr Tang, at an appreciation event organised by IPOS yesterday to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day.

The resurgence of investment interest in the region, with the Association of South-east Asian Nations set to be the world’s fourth-largest economy, will translate into big business opportunities for Singaporean companies, said Mr Tang.

With an integrated IP strategy in their business models, firms here will be better poised to cash in, he added.

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Public Entertainments and Meetings Act - Public Entertainments and Meetings (Speakers’ Corner) (Exemption) (Revocation) Order 2016 (S 171 of 2016)

SIAC announces public consultation on draft Investment Arbitration Rules

Business
11 Mar 2016

Secret society man jailed 10 years for fatal attack in 2000

Straits Times
21 Apr 2016
Selina Lum

He was jailed in Cambodia for drug offence after fleeing S'pore

After fatally stabbing a man in a fight 16 years ago, secret society member See Chee Keong fled Singapore and ended up spending 13 years in a Cambodian jail for drug trafficking.

He was released on a royal pardon in 2013 and deported to Singapore, where he was arrested for killing Leong Fook Weng, 36, an odd-job labourer.

Yesterday, See, now aged 50, was sentenced to 10 years' jail after he pleaded guilty to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. He was 34 years old when he stabbed the victim in the heart.

See is the second assailant to be jailed over the death of Mr Leong, who was attacked for nearly 15 minutes at a vacant plot near a cemetery in Kheam Hock Road in the early hours of May 17, 2000.

The first, Robson Tay Teik Chai, was given nine years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane in 2003 for culpable homicide. Tay had also fled Singapore and spent two years in prison in France for drug trafficking before he was deported.

Two other alleged assailants, Ong Chin Huat and Lim Hin Teck, are still at large. A fifth man, William Ho Kah Wei, who was part of the group, was jailed six months in 2003 for not reporting the crime. All were secret society members.

The High Court heard that shortly before Mr Leong was stabbed, the five men were having supper at a River Valley Road coffee shop.

Lim, who owed money to Mr Leong, complained about him to the others and said he wanted a fight with Mr Leong.

See then drove the group to Upper Boon Keng Road after finding out that Mr Leong was attending a funeral wake there. See confronted Mr Leong and assaulted him together with Tay.

After Mr Leong claimed that he was from a particular secret society, the group drove to the Tanjong Katong area to verify his affiliations with the head of the gang. When they learnt that Mr Leong was not a member of that secret society, the group dragged him into See's car and continued beating him.

They alighted at a vacant plot in Kheam Hock Road, where three of them continued assaulting Mr Leong. See used a blade that was concealed in a lighter and stabbed the victim in the neck and chest.

Mr Leong was then stripped to his underwear and his wallet taken from his motionless body before the group left the scene.

See's lawyer, Mr James Masih, said in mitigation that his client had merely wanted to teach Mr Leong a lesson for switching gang loyalties.

The lawyer, noting that See had done time in Cambodia, sought eight years' jail so that the twice-married man could spend his last years being a good father and grandfather.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Parks and Trees Act - Parks and Trees (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S 170 of 2016)

CCS clears proposed acquisition relating to digital storage solutions

Judgments
10 Mar 2016

'Right of way' dispute back in court - for sixth time

Straits Times
20 Apr 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Land owner seeks damages from Grange Heights, claims lost opportunity cost of $32m

A landmark case that began 42 years ago and went through five courts of appeal is still unfolding.

The owners of Grange Heights condominium must now face off against a bid by adjacent land owner Lee Tat Development for damages in their longstanding row over a right of way to Grange Road.

The tussle - one of the longest-running sagas in Singapore's legal history - began in the High Court before Judicial Commissioner Kannan Ramesh last week and is due to resume tomorrow.

In 1974, residents of Grange Heights first fought for the right of way across the 883 sq m strip of land owned by Lee Tat's predecessor. Their access was recognised then by the Court of Appeal.

Several more actions followed until a Court of Appeal in 2008 ruled that they no longer had right of way through the path as the area had changed and access to the main road was no more an issue.

The 2008 decision was a landmark as it showed the Court of Appeal could reopen civil cases it had heard and decided on before.

But Grange Heights pursued the matter again, leading to a fifth case in 2010. Now, the sixth is under way. This time, Lee Tat has filed suit for the alleged wrongful use of the land until 2008. Represented by Senior Counsel C. R. Rajah and lawyer Ernest Balasubramaniam, it seeks damages for the trespass, abuse of the court process and malicious prosecution by Grange Heights. It said decades of litigation meant the land in subject remained frozen, causing Lee Tat to suffer a heavy loss in opportunity cost which an expert had placed at $32,207,415.

Lee Tat said not getting the land back earlier had also cost it some $31 million paid in property tax and legal and consultant fees.

The Grange Road area is a high-end residential site near Orchard Road.

Grange Heights, defended by Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng and lawyers Sngeeta Rai and Jocelyn Ngiam, urged that the claims be thrown out, describing Lee Tat's bid as "clutching at straws" to get a windfall through this court action.

They noted there were a total of 11 judicial pronouncements in the High Court and Court of Appeal that affirmed the residents' right of way until December 2008, when access was reversed, after which they stopped using the road.

The plaintiffs could not apply that decision retroactively, they argued. Grange Heights also accused Lee Tat of starting this action because it had the financial muscle to do so.

In January last year, in rejecting a move by Grange Heights to strike out the suit, Justice Choo Han Teck remarked: "If there is such a thing as an indomitable spirit of litigation, it is exemplified in this action."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act - Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S 169 of 2016)

[INT] Technology, media and telecommunications quarterly regional update: A snapshot of the past year & a look ahead

Commonwealth
10 Mar 2016

IVAS, NTU launch business valuation course

Business Times
20 Apr 2016
Gladys Yeo

[Singapore] THE Institute of Valuers and Appraisers of Singapore (IVAS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have jointly launched the Chartered Valuer and Appraisal programme amid rising demand for professionals with strong competencies and experience in business valuation, they said in a joint press release on Tuesday.

This will be Asia's first programme in business valuation, they added, saying that the aim of the course is for participants to gain "deep insights and exposure to diverse perspectives and approaches in business valuation" that are easily applicable.

Eric Teo, chairman of IVAS, noted the growing importance of business valuation. "Professionals and corporate executives who perform business valuation need to be equipped with specialised knowledge and skills; strong values and ethics; and substantial practical experience in order to do the work well."

At the launch of the programme, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law, Indranee Rajah, who delivered the keynote speech, said the increased need for qualified professionals in business valuation was due to four key trends: increase in merger & acquisition activities in Singapore and the region, Singapore's growth as an arbitration centre and centre for litigation proceedings, the emphasis on fair value measurement in financial reporting framework, and the importance of intellectual property in business.

The inaugural class will be held in August this year and the course will be delivered and facilitated by NTU's Nanyang Business School.

Participants in the 18-month course can choose to either attend classes or self-study. The flexibility caters to professionals from Asia who wish to take up the programme, IVAS and NTU said. Upon completion, participants may apply to IVAS for certification, provided they have accumulated sufficient experience. The exact criteria for certification will be announced later this year.

The programme is supported by the SkillsFuture Study Awards, which will offer participants S$5,000 to defray the costs of the programme.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Pioneer Generation Fund (Amendment) Act 2016 - Pioneer Generation Fund (Amendment) Act 2016 (Commencement) Notification 2016 (S 168 of 2016)

Latest developments: International arbitration; employment law; real estate

Judgments
09 Mar 2016

Two Cordlife shareholders seeking board seats

Business Times
20 Apr 2016
Anita Gabriel

Long-time stakeholders Bonvests and Tai Tak Estates plan to call for shareholder meeting following the sudden resignation of CEO Jeremy Yee

[Singapore] DISPLEASED by the sudden departure of Cordlife Group's chief executive last month, two key long-time shareholders of the cord-blood banking firm plan to call for a shareholder meeting to secure board seats in the firm.

The Business Times understands that the shareholders - Bonvests Holdings Ltd and Tai Tak Estates Sdn Bhd - who collectively own 22.5 per cent of Cordlife and have been invested in the firm since its listing on the Singapore Exchange in 2012 - have hired legal firm Rajah & Tann to assist in calling for a shareholder meeting.

The latest move is deemed quite rare for corporate Singapore, and even more uncommon as the parties have picked the route of Section 177 of the Companies Act to directly call for the meeting versus requisitioning the board to call for an extraordinary general meeting under Section 176.

It also signals disenchantment among pockets of Cordlife's shareholders since the firm's key figure Jeremy Yee abruptly stepped down last month.

Prior to this, Bonvests and Tai Tak, which own 11.2 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively in the mainboard-listed company, had not sought board representation.

This underscored the trust they placed in Mr Yee, who was the only executive director in the six-member board up until he resigned and until last week, when Cordlife announced the appointment of Tan Poh Lan as executive director and group chief operating officer.

The shareholders, according to sources, are seeking to appoint two non-executive nominee directors to the board.

No one is clear why Mr Yee resigned - his contract was due for renewal at the same time - although it is believed that a boardroom clash in relation to his weak showing in growing the firm's actual business in core markets may have been one of few factors.

Mr Yee's proponents - and there appears to be lots too where they come from - say granted, cord-blood storage is a slow-growth business but he has been scouring for new growth drivers such as the firm's advanced cord-lining services.

There is one other thing that has piqued curiosity - the emergence of LH Capital I Limited this year as the single largest shareholder of Cordlife with a 21.4 per cent stake.

This came about after a string of acquisitions by related units between November last year and early February, mostly by a wholly-owned firm called Kunlum Investment Holding Limited; KunLum's ultimate owner is Hong Kong-listed China Huarong, the largest state-owned asset management company in China.

"Why has Kunlum been forking out a premium of S$1.70 per Cordlife share to pick up a sizeable chunk over such a short period?" asked a market watcher, pointing out that timing wise, Mr Yee's departure followed not too long after the emergence of this new shareholder.

The imminent move by the two Cordlife shareholders to get shareholders' nod for board seats could steal the thunder from Cordlife, which is expected to announce Mr Yee's successor very soon.

Cordlife board is also expected to clear the air over Mr Yee's departure at a yet-to-be arranged dialogue session with shareholders soon, to be organised by the Securities Investors Association of Singapore (SIAS).

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Executive Condominium Housing Scheme Act - Executive Condominium Housing Scheme (Appointment of Developers) Notification 2016 (S 167 of 2016)

SHC: Breaches of fiduciary duties and employment duties do not necessary constitute “serious misconduct”

Judgments
09 Mar 2016

Participants at hearing agree on need for minority president

Straits Times
19 Apr 2016
Chong Zi Liang

But they offer different proposals on how to ensure that one is elected from time to time

The issue of race dominated the first public hearing of the Constitutional Commission to review the elected presidency yesterday.

The people who gave their views agreed Singapore should have a minority-race president from time to time to reflect its status as a multiracial society.

But they differed on how to achieve this outcome, and proposed a variety of solutions.

Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan, 46, said that installing a legal framework to ensure a minority president would undermine the president's legitimacy and amount to affirmative action, which he said "is not in our DNA".

"Maybe I'm idealistic, I'm just very uncomfortable with institution design that engineers certain outcomes," he added. Instead, candidates should be required to show a track record of championing multiracialism, he said.

Associate Professor Tan also suggested candidates must garner a specified percentage of minority votes to win the presidential election. Ballots can be colour-coded according to the voter's race, he said, but conceded such a system may compromise voting secrecy.

The Association of Women for Action and Research, represented by its officials Corinna Lim and Jolene Tan, also did not favour measures to ensure the election of a minority president.

Ms Lim argued that the eligibility criteria to run for the office should be made less stringent, so that a bigger pool of people would qualify and naturally include more people of minority races and women as well.

The other four individuals who appeared before the commission suggested specific courses of action.

Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Mathew Mathews, 41, said if Singapore did not have a minority president for a number of terms, the next election should be reserved for minority candidates.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who chairs the commission, said the provision had a "natural sunset" as it would not be invoked if Singapore progressed towards a race-blind society and elected a minority president of its own accord.

Dr Mathews acknowledged some might criticise the move as tokenism, but pointed out that it was up to the minority president to win people over by doing a good job.

In-house legal officer Edwin Yeo, 42, proposed what he called a hybrid system that combined aspects of appointing and electing a president.

A presidential council could be set up to identify one candidate in consultation with the prime minister.

The candidate must then be approved by Parliament and face a nationwide election, in which Singaporeans would simply vote "yes" or "no" on the ballot. Such a framework allows the presidential council to put up a minority candidate, who, if elected, will have the people's mandate to fulfil his custodial role.

It also avoids the divisiveness of pitting candidates against one another, which Mr Yeo said happened in the 2011 Presidential Election.

But a commission member, Justice Tay Yong Kwang, said the process could repeat indefinitely should a candidate fail to get elected. "It's going to be very wearisome for the public. They will go, 'Oh no, another election? This is the 10th time'," he said to illustrate his point.

Academic Loke Hoe Yeong, 31, and law firm intern Brian Chang, 26, suggested a two-person ticket in which one of the candidates would have to be from a minority race.

Mr Loke said the second candidate could become the Speaker of Parliament, while Mr Chang said he or she could be chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers.


PRESIDENT'S AND PM'S ROLES ARE NOT COMPARABLE

The prime minister needs a team of people who are going to put forward an active agenda for the nation and it is the role of the PM and his colleagues, and with the support of his party in Parliament, to carry through that agenda...

The office of the president, on the other hand, is a custodial office. It is actually first and foremost an office that serves to symbolise the unity of the nation... Accompanying that, there are a range of important custodial powers.

But at the end of the day, the way the constitutional balance has been established, you have a Government that seeks to get its agenda accepted by the electorate at large.

The question is whether one person who is elected the president needs particular skills or qualifications to entrust him with the power to say 'no' to certain of these items.

And that's why I think there may not be a directly comparable set of criteria at all.

The second point I would make is the prime minister is essentially a politician and it is necessarily a political office, and the elected president, although... selected through a political process, the office itself is meant to be non-partisan, non-political to the greatest extent it possibly can.

CHIEF JUSTICE SUNDARESH MENON, noting that the criteria for president and prime minister are not comparable because of the different roles and responsibilities of each post.


Raising the bar 'could shrink the pool of candidates'

The experience of running a large and complex company with a paid-up capital of at least $100 million makes a person eligible to run for president under current laws.

Whether this amount should be raised or reduced was the focus yesterday, as the issue of who qualifies to stand in a presidential election was discussed at the first hearing by the Constitutional Commission set up to review the office.

Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan and Association of Women for Action and Research executive director Corinna Lim said raising the bar could shrink the pool of potential candidates.

They were concerned this could lead to fewer members of minority races and women meeting the requirements to run for president.

The issue of eligibility is among three aspects of the elected presidency being studied in the review.

In January this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the opening of Parliament that the qualifying criteria are due for an update with the increasing complexities of the president's job as a custodian of Singapore's reserves.

Currently, a person from the private sector must have experience in running a company with at least $100 million in paid-up capital to qualify.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who chairs the commission, noted yesterday that there were more than 2,000 such companies last year. This is about 20 times more than when the first presidential election was held in 1993.

He added that many who had written to the commission on the matter had raised concerns about the pool of candidates being reduced if the amount was raised.

He asked: "If we were to adjust the criteria or update the criteria in order to have a proxy indicator of the qualifications of the candidates, would it really have the concern of squeezing us into a situation where we don't have enough candidates?"

Responding, Associate Professor Tan said it was not about the absolute number of people who would make the cut. But rather, how many in the group will be from a minority race, and how many will want to run for the office.

"I would say many of you (on the commission) are eligible for the office. The question of whether you would want to run for the office is a separate question altogether."

He added the office requires "people with a certain temperament, people who believe they want to serve in that bigger capacity and who believe they can do the job".

Still, he agreed the criteria should be made more stringent. As Singapore's reserves have grown over the years, "we need a person who has knowledge and ability commensurate with what he or she has to safekeep", he said.

Ms Lim, however, proposed the criteria be relaxed to consider people who run organisations with a net asset value of $50 million, so that more can contest the election.

The fact that former president S R Nathan won in walkovers in 1999 and 2005 indicates "the gate is too narrow", she said.

Aware official Jolene Tan said that a president should be a person who best represents the electorate's vision and values.

Tham Yuen-C


Other issues discussed at Constitutional Commission hearing on elected presidency

These related issues and suggestions were also raised by those who appeared at the first hearing of the Constitutional Commission yesterday:

CHECKS AND BALANCES

Law professor Eugene Tan said adequate checks and balances are important for Singapore particularly in the context of a one-party dominant system.

Acknowledging that the role of the elected president was akin to an "intra-branch check" on the executive branch that is the Government, he said: "Until we have a very secure and stable two-party system at the very least, I think to take away the unique office of the elected president... could mean that we are weakening the safeguards that we have."

But Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said he was not sure if a one-party dominant system is necessary to explain the need for an elected president. He said that even in a more "balanced political situation", the elected president could play a significant role in keeping that balance.

ROLE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS COMMITTEE

Prof Tan also suggested that the clause for a candidate's "good character and reputation" be removed from the qualifying criteria as it was a matter best left to the electorate to decide.

Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) executive director Corinna Lim also said that having a small group - the members of the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) - decide on who qualifies to contest the presidential election is "problematic". She added that it would also be ideal if the PEC's decisions on candidates be more transparent.

CJ Menon raised the possibilities of expanding the size of the three-man PEC, and strengthening the selection process by having aspiring candidates sign a self-disclosure form.

CJ Menon also raised the possibility that if the issue of character was left to the electorate, there would be a risk of the election becoming divisive and personal - and hence discouraging qualified individuals from coming forward in the first place.

"If we end up making character an electoral issue, squarely putting it front and centre, I have concerns that we'll end up with a system that is more divisive than less," he said.

EDUCATING PUBLIC ON PRESIDENT'S ROLE

Aware's representatives said there is a need to educate the public about the elected presidency because its complex nature may not be fully understood. Said Ms Lim: "It is an elected office but yet it's not something that is so easy to understand ."

Aware's senior manager of programmes and communications Jolene Tan said areas like how the president interacts with the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) and the PEC could be explained. Professor Chan Heng Chee acknowledged this was worth thinking about.

TWO-PERSON TICKET

There were suggestions of a two-person presidential ticket in which one candidate would have to be of a minority race.

Law firm intern Brian Chang, 26, said the second candidate could be a co-president or vice-president and serve as chairman of the CPA. He would switch roles with the president after three years, or halfway through a six-year term.

DBS Group Holdings chairman Peter Seah noted that the CPA is an independent body whose independence may be diluted if its chairman ran on the same ticket as the president. Mr Chang acknowledged this but said it will introduce democratic accountability to the council.

Political science academic Loke Hoe Yeong, 31, wanted a similar system. In his version, the vice-president would also be the Speaker of Parliament.

OTHER COUNTRIES

Mr Chang and Mr Loke cited Cyprus, Lebanon, and Bosnia and Herzegovina as countries with systems reserving particular political positions for certain ethnicities. Both said they were not models for Singapore, but were cases that should be studied.

Mr Chang said such approaches ended up giving rise to race-based politics and parties. He added that if there were conditions to ensure a minority member becomes president, it may lead to calls for the same approach to be applied to other key offices such as the prime minister and Speaker of Parliament.

But CJ Menon said the presidency is unique as the president is the "physical embodiment of the state", unlike other officials. Hence, it might merit special consideration that does not apply to other institutions. "This slippery slope argument may be more frightening than it needs to be."

Yeo Sam Jo

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Final Supply (FY 2015) Act 2016 (Act 13 of 2016)

SHC: Unravelling the unwind of accumulator contracts

Judgments
09 Mar 2016

Sexual assault: Appeal against acquittal over gender

Straits Times
19 Apr 2016
Selina Lum

The prosecution has filed an appeal against the High Court's decision last week to acquit a 39-year- old transgender individual of sexual penetration of a minor.

In the unusual case, Zunika Ahmad, who is biologically female but lived as a man, had pleaded guilty last year to six counts of sexual penetration of a minor and one count of sexual exploitation under the Children and Young Persons Act.

However, in an unexpected twist last Tuesday, Senior Judge Kan Ting Chiu cleared her of the sexual penetration charges after ruling that only a man can be found guilty of the offence under Section 376A(1)(b) of the Penal Code.

In a statement yesterday, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) reiterated the prosecution's position that the provision in question was "clearly intended by Parliament to be gender-neutral".

It said that after reviewing Justice Kan's written grounds of decision, the prosecution has concluded that "an appeal is merited" against his finding that the provision does not apply to women.

The prosecution is also appealing against his decision to set aside Zunika's guilty plea and to acquit her, as well as the eight-month jail term imposed for the remaining charge of sexual exploitation.

Zunika, who passed herself off as an Indonesian man and even "married" two wives, had pleaded guilty last December to sexually abusing a girl who lived in the neighbourhood.

The girl, who cannot be identified, was aged 13 to 14 when Zunika violated her using external aids.

Justice Kan said in his grounds of decision that after accepting Zunika's plea of guilt, a doubt arose as to whether a woman can be charged with sexual penetration of a minor. Notwithstanding arguments from both prosecution and defence that the offence can apply to women, he decided to reject Zunika's plea of guilt on the six charges and acquitted her.

Section 376A(1)(b) states that "any person (A) who sexually penetrates, with a part of A's body (other than A's penis) or anything else," a person under the age of 16 was guilty of an offence.

In his interpretation, Justice Kan said A must be a person with a penis and, therefore, cannot be a woman. He said it was beyond the court's power to interpret A to include a woman. It was up to the legislature to amend the law to make it clear that A includes a woman, if that was its intention, he said.

The AGC said the ruling on Section 376A(1)(b) is a "matter of public interest". Prosecutors had set out the legislative history of the provision and relevant legislative materials in arguing that Section 376A was clearly intended to be gender-neutral.

The prosecution had argued that an analysis of the wording of the provision in the context of the Penal Code as a whole showed it was "clearly intended to apply to both male and female accused persons".

When contacted, lawyer N. Sudha Nair said she will still represent Zunika but declined further comment.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Supply Act 2016 (Act 12 of 2016)

[EU-[USA] EU-US Privacy Shield – New framework for personal data transfers from the EU to the US

Commonwealth
08 Mar 2016

Ex-tour guide's appeal over widow's new will dismissed

Straits Times
19 Apr 2016
Carolyn Khew

The High Court has dismissed an appeal by a former China tour guide to set aside a decision to recognise a new will made by a wealthy widow, which would result in her assets going mainly to charity instead of to him.

Yang Yin, 42, had argued that there was a procedural failure in the proceedings as the judge had denied his lawyers the chance to cross-examine witnesses who had given evidence to support the application for the new will.

Yang failed to get the application reheard.

In April last year, the Family Justice Courts had recognised a new will made by 89-year-old widow Chung Khin Chun, under which most of her assets - estimated to be worth $40 million - would go to charity.

The new will replaced an earlier one made in 2010, in which Yang stood to inherit everything.

The new will was recognised based on evidence given by several witnesses that Madam Chung had made the 2010 will under the undue influence of Yang, among other factors.

In his appeal, Yang said he wanted a "retrial" so that these witnesses could be cross-examined before the court decides whether undue influence had been exercised in the making of the 2010 will.

He also wanted to call on two key witnesses - the lawyer who had prepared the 2010 will and a prior one in 2009, as well as the doctor who had examined Madam Chung before she executed either will.

However, in her judgment, Justice Judith Prakash pointed out that Yang had been given opportunities to indicate if he wanted to call, cross-examine or subpoena witnesses, but chose to leave that decision to the courts.

Justice Prakash also noted that Yang did not rebut "serious" allegations that the earlier will was made under undue influence and fraud.

"Nowhere in his affidavit did the appellant (Yang) actually assert, for instance, that he had allowed (Madam Chung) free choice in her decisions," said Justice Prakash.

"This was a surprising position to adopt, at any stage in the proceedings, in response to allegations which were both serious and specific," she added.

The high-profile case involving Yang and the wealthy widow unfolded in 2014 after Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, evicted Yang's wife, who had been living in her aunt's house for about a year with her two young children.

Yang is currently in remand after being denied bail in October 2014.

Yang faces more than 300 charges for allegedly falsifying receipts at his company and allegedly misappropriating $1.1 million from the estate of Madam Chung.

His criminal trial is scheduled to start next month.

Contacted yesterday, Yang's lawyer Irving Choh said he would be getting instructions from his client on whether to appeal against the latest High Court decision.

Madam Mok told The Straits Times that her aunt is "happy" that there is progress in her case.

"We should respect her wishes," she said, referring to her new will.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Economic Expansion Incentives (Relief from Income Tax) (Amendment) Act 2016 (Act 11 of 2016)

Singapore take-over code revised

Business
04 Mar 2016

SIAS says it will take errant companies to court if need be

Business Times
19 Apr 2016
Michelle Quah

[Singapore] INVESTOR lobby group Securities Investors Association (Singapore), or SIAS, will not hesitate to take errant companies to court on behalf of their minority shareholders if the situation warrants it.

SIAS president and chief executive David Gerald told The Business Times: "We will take legal action if the company doesn't want to come to the table, refuses to see reason and continues to do wrong."

He added that SIAS is willing - and able - to defend itself against legal action taken against it by companies or boards; it has lawyers from big-name firms here advising it on a pro bono basis.

"Companies should not take us and the minorities for granted," he said.

This is the first time Mr Gerald has unveiled SIAS's deadlier weapon in its arsenal, after having built a reputation for his kinder, gentler mediation efforts between listed companies and their minority shareholders.

His comments come in the wake of recent market and corporate governance lapses involving listed companies such as OSIM International and SingPost.

On April 12, Mr Gerald called on takeover regulator Securities Industry Council (SIC) to further examine OSIM founder Ron Sim's unintentional purchases of shares above his revised and final offer price two weeks before, to examine whether a false market had been created and whether shareholders had incurred losses. Mr Sim promptly agreed to compensate the shareholders who had suffered losses as a result of this.

Mr Gerald has also been vocal about the recent controversy surrounding SingPost. BT reported last month that the company had sent a lawyer's letter in February to Mr Gerald over an anonymous letter that was sent to the association last year, seeking confirmation from SIAS that the letter had not been distributed to any other party.

Mr Gerald has refused to comment on this, but it is believed that the letter was penned by SingPost staff and touched on the company's acquisitions, some of which are the subject of a special audit now being conducted by PwC and Drew & Napier.

When asked whether his comments on legal action pertained to either OSIM or SingPost, Mr Gerald insisted that he was not referring to any particular company or individual.

Rather, the SIAS chief said he felt it was important to let SIAS members and retail investors know that they have the option of joining the association in a representative action - similar in vein to class-action suits filed in other jurisdictions - as not many investors are aware that such actions can be pursued here.

"Investors must know they are protected," he said. "And I have been advised by our lawyers that SIAS can represent aggrieved shareholders. We can even set up a litigation fund, which minorities contribute to, even if they may not be involved in the legal action, to support the principle."

SIAS, registered as a charity under Singapore's Charities Act, cannot contribute to this fund itself.

A lawyer who advises SIAS on a pro bono basis and asked to remain unnamed for client-confidentiality reasons, explained how a representative action would work in this case: "SIAS may be involved in representative actions in a number of ways. For example, SIAS may itself become a shareholder of the company in question, giving it the right to sue. Another way would be for SIAS to organise members who are already shareholders."

He added: "There are some procedural hurdles to be crossed, so the first shareholder representative action will be closely watched."

There are precedents for other forms of representative actions here, the most well-known being the case involving some 5,000 Raffles Town Club members, who banded together to demand a refund of their S$28,000 fee, after finding out that the "exclusive" club they had joined had a whopping 19,000 members.

Mr Gerald took pains to stress, however, that while a representative action is an option for minorities, it should be their last one.

"I sincerely hope we do not see the day when we launch a class-action suit against a company. I believe in resolving things in the boardroom, not the courtroom, in the interest of all parties."

Legal cases take up a lot of time and money, for both investors and companies, he acknowledged. He should know from his three-decade-long legal career before he set up SIAS.

"This is time which the company should be using to manage its business, in the interests of its stakeholders. Since the inception of SIAS (in 1999), we have adopted a conciliatory approach as our first stance, to avoid unnecessary adverse publicity for the board and the company, because it has serious consequences for share value.

"When shareholders read negative reports on companies, they tend to dump the shares. Even highly sophisticated, savvy investors, like high-net-worth investors and institutional investors, get nervous."

Mr Gerald believes in meeting the various parties involved to work out the issues together. It is a lesson he learned in the 1970s, when he was the first legal adviser to Singapore's Labour Ministry. "There, I saw the wisdom of the government in promoting tripartism between employees, the unions and the ministry, to maintain industrial-relations harmony."

And so, in many of the cases SIAS has handled - NatSteel, China Aviation Oil, Isetan and between Olam International and Muddy Waters, to name a few - Mr Gerald has asked the company, its shareholders and regulators to sit down with him to work out a solution.

"That sort of tripartism should be the way in which Singapore capital markets operate. Because when you have acrimony in the capital markets, people will think twice about investing in our country.

"What is foremost in my mind is that the interests of Singapore must come first, before the rights of shareholders and the rights of directors."

He added: "My phone line is always available for any corporate leader to call. And if I have done anything wrong, please tell me and we can correct it.

"Court should not be the first forum, and please don't go to lawyers first. Where the company is reluctant to engage SIAS, it will find SIAS pursuing it tenaciously to do the right thing for its shareholders until it succeeds."

He added that SIAS is well-advised, legally: "We do not write or say things to the press without advice. We are careful in what we say and do.

"I don't play the legs, I play the ball. So, the referee never blows the whistle on me," he said, using a football analogy to indicate that he goes for the issues, not the people.

"But if any company or any board wants to send us a legal letter or wants to challenge us, be advised that we are prepared to take it to the hilt and defend our rights."

As for SingPost, Mr Gerald would only say: "My hope is that all issues will be amicably resolved in the boardroom. And I know that, going forward, that will be the case."

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Central Provident Fund (Amendment) Act 2016 (Act 6 of 2016)

Basel Committee on Bank Supervision - General Guide to Account Opening

Business
04 Mar 2016

More mediated disputes resolved, says Case

Straits Times
19 Apr 2016
Alexis Ong

More consumers are settling monetary disputes with businesses through mediation, said the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case).

Case's mediation centre handled more of such disputes last year. It mediated 190 cases last year, up from 125 in 2014, 146 in 2013 and 147 in 2012.

The number of resolved cases also rose from 94 in 2014 to 145 last year, with the resolution rate for mediated cases rising from 75.2 to 76.3 per cent over the same period, said the consumer watchdog.

Case president Lim Biow Chuan said this was encouraging as it shows that more consumers and businesses are willing to explore alternative ways to solve disputes instead of going to court.

With mediation by Case, "each party is able to have a greater say in the negotiations and more control over the outcome of the mediation", said Mr Lim.

He added: "Furthermore, all mediation cases and settlements will be kept confidential at the end of each session and are out of the public eye."

The amount Case helped to recoup for consumers dipped by 0.4 per cent to $438,121 last year, from $439,701 in 2014.

Case executive director Seah Seng Choon attributed this to possibly more prudent consumer spending habits after numerous business closures over the past few years.

The sector with the most cases mediated last year was the contractor industry, followed by the beauty and car sectors. In 2014, the car sector was No.1.

Complaints against the beauty industry were mainly about aggressive selling tactics and ineffective treatments, while the top grouse against the car sector was about defects in cars purchased.

Complaints related to the contractor industry were generally about delays in work completion and poor workmanship.

Mr Edward Tan, executive director of the Renovation and Decoration Advisory Centre, which was set up by Case in 1986, said such disputes could arise due to a "mismanagement of expectations".

He encouraged homeowners to do the necessary research before hiring contractors.

Mr Tan said mediation is preferred to legal action in renovation disputes, primarily because it is cheaper and less time consuming.

He said legal fees could be around $3,000 to $10,000, and court proceedings could take up to a year, while mediation costs less than $1,000 and takes a month to six weeks. "Mediation is more amiable. There's no judgment being placed on anyone," he added.

The electronics industry had the largest increase in mediated cases, from seven in 2014 to 18 last year.

A mediated dispute that saw the highest amount of money recovered involved a woman who bought an electrolysis health machine for $25,600. She agreed to pay a deposit and the rest in instalments over the next two years.

A month later, she was diagnosed with diabetes and became unsuited to use the machine. But the full sum for the machine had already been deducted from her credit card.

The woman went to Case for mediation after she failed to negotiate with the seller. She was eventually refunded $22,000.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Banking Act - Banking (Exemption from Sections 15A and 15B) Order 2016 (S 166 of 2016)

[GBR] UK Supreme Court Press Summary: Mr A M Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets [2016] UKSC 11 (whether employer was vicariously liable for employee's actions)

Commonwealth
04 Mar 2016

Drone laws in Singapore

Straits Times
19 Apr 2016

In Singapore, new laws took effect in June last year specifying, among various things, that permits have to be sought to fly a drone of more than 7kg, or within 5km of any airport.

The Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Act provides clear guidelines for the safe use of unmanned aircraft.

It stipulates that even drones that weigh less than 7kg need a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to fly within 5km of an aerodrome, or at altitudes above 200ft (61m) above mean sea level when they are 5km or more outside of an aerodrome.

Permits are also required for specialised services, such as surveying, aerial advertising, flying display performances or if the operator plans to discharge any substance from the drone.

Users of these drones will also have to apply for a permit to fly over or near certain security-sensitive areas, and to take photos in them. Similar regulations will apply for "special event areas", or venues designated for major events. Those who breach these regulations could be fined up to $20,000, jailed for up to 12 months, or both.

The carrying of dangerous materials, such as weapons, or bio-chemical or radioactive material by drones is forbidden.

Hobbyists who use drones for recreational and private purposes can do so without a permit, provided their drones weigh less than 7kg and are not used in any of the above ways.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Qualifying Mediation and Qualifying Mediator) Rules 2016 (S 165 of 2016)

Banking Amendment Bill 2016

Legislation
03 Mar 2016

Wanted: creative local lawyers

Business Times
18 Apr 2016
Claire Huang

Creative client solutions more important now as business owners look to maximise their money's worth, says Hogan Lovells partner

CURRENCY woes may have been singled out earlier this year as the key culprit behind international law firm Hogan Lovells' modest growth for its financial year 2015, but in Singapore, it faces a more fundamental problem: talent.

Industry players agree that attracting a good team of lawyers - the DNA makeup of a firm - defines, to a large extent, how well the practice performs.

Currently, Singapore has an employer's market in the legal sector, thanks to an oversupply of young lawyers, that has resulted in lower starting pay and fiercer competition among peers.

That should be a happy problem for Washington, DC-based Hogan Lovells, which set foot here in 1998. But Stephanie Keen, partner at the Singapore office, says it is difficult to recruit the kind of lawyers she is looking for, specifically from the local talent pool.

"The real issue for us is that when we look at local talent, we tend to look at those who have been in the market for four or five years, who have got, one, the training; and, two, the experience."

So the firm often finds itself looking at lawyers trained internationally, as "they have a different perspective of how law firms work", she tells The Business Times in an interview.

"My sense is that the training for Singapore lawyers is very much about reading the legislation, reporting about the legislation, working very hard, working very long hours. I think they're incredibly diligent. (But) what I see is that they often are not asked to think outside the box at an earlier age and not interact with clients at the junior end."

Industry players BT spoke with echoed similar views, adding that young local lawyers are very exam-oriented. Some noted that many of these young lawyers leave the industry after about three years of practice as they become burnt out.

The ability to come up with what Ms Keen describes as "creative solutions" for clients becomes even more important now as business owners tighten their belts and look to maximise their money's worth.

She cites an example of creative solutions in Australia, where the banks went through a period some years ago bundling up loan portfolios. They were selling off some of the distressed portfolios but had packaged those with one or two positive ones that were interesting to investors.

"I think being a lawyer nowadays . . . is no longer about just being able to say 'the statutes say this' and 'this is what the law is'. It's much more 'okay, there's an opportunity out here, how can we help clients understand this is an opportunity where they can make money because we've seen it happening in the United States, we've seen it happening in Europe' and we draw on that sort of global knowledge. That is how I think we will stay ahead."

To pave the way for junior lawyers to interact with clients on a pro bono basis, Hogan Lovells has a global programme run at the regional level. Initiated last February, the sessions are run in the US, United Kingdom, and Asia Pacific and Middle East regions, on a semi-annual or bi-annual basis.

It gives lawyers the chance to meet with clients to help them understand what ticks in the business, what drives revenue and "how does what I do as a lawyer, in terms of looking at some of their documentation, help clients understand their business and help their business grow", Ms Keen says, adding that she is not sure that the local firms look at this aspect as much.

She points out that the problem with international hires, unfortunately, is that many tend to return to their home countries after a stint here, resulting in higher turnover at the Singapore office, compared to the firm's other offices. It may explain why she is supportive of taking in Singapore trainees and grooming them with an international perspective.

In order to stay ahead of the curve, it is also vital for the lawyers to have "particularly strong industry sector knowledge because that's what clients really need", notes Ms Keen. This translates to "commercial awareness of what's going on in the region and an understanding of how it impacts on clients' businesses", which will give the firm an edge over rivals.

Despite volatile financial markets and slowing economies, the business of law is still profitable. Led by chief executive Stephen J Immelt, the firm reported a 2.3 per cent year-on-year rise in revenue in FY2015 to US$1.82 billion. Excluding effects of currency, its revenue rose 8.2 per cent. Profit per equity partner rose 2.7 per cent to US$1.25 million from a year ago, although revenue per lawyer fell 4 per cent to US$724,000.

Of the total global revenue, about half comes from the Americas, 43 per cent from Europe, and 7 per cent from Asia.

Asia remains a key focus for the firm, which previously said it hopes to grow Asia's revenue to 10 per cent of the global sum. Almost a third of the 35 lateral hires last year were in the region. It has also said it will be making further significant regional investments in 2016.

In 2001, Lovells set up a joint venture with Singapore law firm Lee & Lee. Nine years later, the transatlantic merger of Hogan & Hartson and Lovells took place to create a global firm with more than 40 offices, including associated offices. The firm now comprises more than 2,500 lawyers, of whom more than 800 are partners.

It currently has 10 offices across Asia-Pacific in cities including Hanoi, Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney. The Singapore office employs 80 staff, of whom 50 are lawyers, including 11 partners.

Ms Keen says corporate work, energy projects and infrastructure, as well as banking, are the top three drivers of growth here. In the next three years, the firm will focus on some of the industry sectors.

Says Ms Keen: "I was in Singapore as a trainee in 1997 and back in those days, in most of the international firms that were just coming here, they were focusing much more on project finance because that's kind of what the market wanted."

Over time, the market became more sophisticated and clients wanted not only corporate lawyers but also private equity or merger- and-acquisition (M&A) lawyers. Besides specialists within the practice, they now want specialists within industries, she adds.

"TMT (telecommunications, media and technology) is one industry we are focusing a lot on here. We have a partner in Hong Kong who is very strong in TMT and we're looking at enhancing the offering we have here and that's because I think we see fintech (financial technology), and the type of disruption that fintech brings, being very important in this region."

Asia, deemed a backwater by some, has gradually grown to be a priority in the global legal sphere. This trend favours Singapore.

In recent times, tie-ups between international and local law firms have come under the spotlight.

Last year alone, Singapore's legal realm was energised by several unions, such as that between US firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP and Singapore's Stamford Law Corporation to create Morgan Lewis Stamford. The Republic's oldest law firm, Rodyk & Davidson, also struck a mammoth tie-up with the world's largest law firm, Dentons of the US, and Australian outfit Gadens, to create a powerhouse with collective revenue of over US$2 billion. KhattarWong partnered international law firm Withers as the two seek to expand in the region.

But hopes about whether the magic circle law firms - London's most profitable international law firms - will eventually tie up with Singapore practices were gently laid to rest.

"The magic circle, the silver circle, I suspect, will less likely see tie-ups here because I think the people they want to tie up with wouldn't necessarily want to tie up with them," says Ms Keen.

Instead, she believes that firms in the tier below the silver circle are the ones who are more likely to set foot in the region as they expand their global footprint and are able to offer more competitive rates.

Even as the legal sector grapples with expansion and cost issues, technology will inevitably transform the way legal firms provide services - something that has started happening in the financial services sector, making industry players nervous.

There are now computers that are able "to negotiate certain sorts of divorce proceedings" and it will not be long before computers can create the first draft of an agreement - seen as commoditised and simple work that lawyers do, Ms Keen says. She added that this "high-volume, low-revenue work" will eventually be dealt with by technology.

On the other hand, work that requires creativity or the more complex high-end work will continue to require lawyers' expertise, and the shift will come in the next 5-10 years.

"What you will see is that the days of very, very large law firms with lots of people running big deal teams will go; and over time, it will be lots more very talented, very specialised individuals who can't be done away with by technology."


Snapshot of Hogan Lovells

• FY2015 revenue rose 2.3 per cent to US$1.82 billion
• Profit per equity partner up 2.7 per cent to US$1.25 million
• Global revenue breakdown: the Americas (50 per cent), Europe (43 per cent), Asia (7 per cent)
• 41 offices plus five associated offices worldwide
• Over 2,500 lawyers, of which more than 800 are partners
• Strength in financial services, energy, and pharmaceuticals

1899 - John Spencer Lovell sets up practice in the UK

1904 - Frank Hogan opens law office in Washington DC

1924 - John Spencer Lovell and Reginald White are joined by Charles King, forming Lovell, White & King

1925 - Nelson Hartson, former solicitor of Internal Revenue, joins Frank Hogan's law firm

1938 - Firm converts to partnership and adopts new name, Hogan & Hartson

1966 - Lovell, White & King merges with Haslewoods

1988 - Lovell White & King and Durrant Piesse merge to form Lovell White Durrant

1990 - Hogan & Hartson opens first international office in London

2000 - Merger between Lovells and German firm Boesebeck Droste; merger between Lovells and the Dutch firm Ekelmans Den Hollander

2001 - Lovells launches joint venture with Lee & Lee in Singapore; merger between Lovells and French firm Sim�on & Associ�s

2009 - Hogan & Hartson and Lovells announce their respective partnerships have approved merging firms to create a top-10 global law firm known as Hogan Lovells

2010 - Hogan Lovells was formed via a transatlantic merger

2015 - Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee named Asia Legal Business South-east Asia Law Awards' Corporate Citizenship Firm of the Year, opened offices in Perth and Sydney in September

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Government Contracts Act - Government Contracts (Authorisation) Notification 2016 (S 164 of 2016)

Consultation on the establishment of an employment claims tribunal to address salary-related claims

Business
03 Mar 2016

David v Goliath tussle in 'lease v licence' dispute

Straits Times
18 Apr 2016
Toh Yong Chuan

SME says ex-landlord delayed extension; latter says firm was granted licence, not lease

A home-grown logistics company is taking to court its fight with a landlord many times its size.

Local supply chain services provider iHub Solutions has sued its former landlord, Freight Links Express Logisticentre (FLEL), in the High Court over a rental dispute that happened in 2013.

iHub, a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) set up in 2000, has a paid-up capital of $100,000, according to company records.

FLEL is owned by Singapore Exchange-listed Vibrant Group, which has a market capitalisation of about $40 million. At the centre of the spat is about 40,000 sq ft of office and warehouse space that iHub rented from July 2005 to October 2013 in a warehouse owned by FLEL in Penjuru Road, in Jurong.

When iHub wanted to extend the lease after October 2013, it pointed to a clause in its agreement with the landlord that gave it an option to extend for three years, with the rental hike capped at 10 per cent. It said in court papers it approached the landlord six months before the term was up, but the landlord dragged its feet because it wanted to raise rent by more than 50 per cent.

As negotiations stalled, iHub charged that FLEL took steps to hinder its business. These included "unjustifiable restrictions on carparking spaces" and the "improper parking of containers which obstructed access and/or made it unsafe". It said FLEL even dragged in land owner JTC Corp by sending the extension to JTC for approval when it was unnecessary to do so.

The SME said the landlord had "misrepresented to JTC" that FLEL was managing the space and providing logistics services to iHub when it was not. "The motivation for doing so appears to be an attempt to circumvent the JTC 50-50 rule - that is, at least 50 per cent of the building must be operated by the defendants," said iHub in its court papers.

Without the extension, iHub had to move to another warehouse and said it suffered losses of $805,000, which it is suing to recover.

The landlord denies the charges.

It said in court papers that the SME was not granted a lease but a "licence" to operate at the premises, paying a "monthly service charge", not a "rent".

It said it "had not failed, refused or neglected to confirm the extension", noting that it had e-mailed the SME about two months before the end of the term to confirm the renewal. The SME was aware that the continued use of the premises was subject to JTC's approval, it added.

FLEL said the suggestion of its misrepresentation to JTC was "a baseless attempt by the plaintiff to impute bad faith on the part of the defendant".

It argued that it did not give any impression it would evict the company and, in fact, JTC subsequently approved in December for the firm to continue to use the premises as a sub-tenant and not a licensee.

The landlord also denied that it hindered iHub's business. It said the company had asked for two parking spaces and was given one. As for using containers to block access to the company, the landlord said it was "a complete fabrication".

It accuses iHub of being "mischievous" in bringing the suit to "falsely gain a windfall" at its expense.

iHub is represented by Mr Dominic Chan and Mr Daniel Goh of Characterist LLC, while Ari, Goh & Partners is representing FLEL. The case is scheduled to be heard in October.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Restriction of Speed on Roads) (Amendment No. 2) Notification 2016 (S 163 of 2016)

[INT] Foreign traders and their hunt for goodwill in passing off

Commonwealth
03 Mar 2016

Engineer's 'unfair' penalty reduced on appeal

Straits Times
18 Apr 2016
K.C. Vijayan

A professional engineer, whose registration was cancelled after he lied to the immigration authorities to help his Chinese national girlfriend get a visit pass, has had his punishment reduced to a suspension by the High Court.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin said the punishment was "unfair" as the offence had nothing to do with Fong Chee Keong's work as an engineer, unlike previous cases cited by the Professional Engineers Board (PEB).

"Fong had not, in committing the offence, transgressed the bounds of professional duty," he said in judgment grounds released earlier this month.

"It would therefore be unfair to punish Fong with the cancellation of his registration in circumstances where even cases involving direct breaches of professional duty by corruptly receiving gratification do not necessarily attract this punishment."

In July 2013, Fong, then 41, was convicted of making false statements to the immigration authorities in a bid to obtain a visit pass for his girlfriend, Tang Qiuxia, 36, and sentenced to four weeks' jail. Three other charges were also taken into consideration.

The PEB subsequently took disciplinary action against him in relation to the criminal conviction, which breached the board's professional and ethical conduct rules.

He was found guilty last June and the PEB cancelled his registration as a professional engineer and ordered him to pay $10,000 in costs.

Fong appealed against the decision to the High Court, arguing among other things that the offence was not one which made him unfit for his profession.

Fong, who represented himself, further said the PEB's sentence was manifestly excessive.

Justice Lee found the charge was justified, given that he was convicted of an offence that involved fraud , dishonesty or moral turpitude.

Lawyers Ian Lim and Gordon Lim, representing the PEB, argued that cancellation of registration was the benchmark sentence in such cases, pointing out that the offence was a serious one which led to a jail term instead of a mere fine.

They pointed out that nine out of 11 past cases of engineers who had been convicted on disciplinary charges had their registrations cancelled.

Justice Lee found that all the cases cited by the PEB involved offences directly related to the carrying out of the engineer's professional duties, "and the PEB rightly took a stern line in imposing a sufficiently heavy punishment to reflect the gravity of the offence".

But Fong's "transgressions" were not related to the carrying out of his professional duties as an engineer, said Justice Lee.

"It was a moral shortcoming driven by emotional forces in his personal life that may or may not have affected his professional life."

The judge said the maximum suspension of two years was appropriate given the serious nature of the offence.

He added that Fong's conduct in trying to delay the disciplinary proceedings was a serious aggravating factor, noting he not only sought multiple adjournments "at short notice and on tenuous bases", but also "falsified an excuse for his non-attendance at one point".

"The PEB is entitled to expect professional engineers to comply dutifully with all respects of the Professional Engineers Act and to cooperate fully with the PEB particularly in the areas of discipline," he added.

"Any dishonest manipulation of the process by an engineer would be taken seriously and I am of the view that Fong's conduct in this regard is highly aggravating."

Fong was ordered to pay a further $9,000 in costs to the PEB.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Fong Chee Keong v Professional Engineers Board, Singapore [2016] SGHC 54

Sale of Commercial Properties Act - Sale of Commercial Properties (Exemption) Notification 2016 (S 162 of 2016)

Wilful blindness and presumption of knowledge under s 18(2) Misuse of Drugs Act – Putting the puzzle pieces together

Legislation
01 Mar 2016

First hearing today on changes to elected presidency

Straits Times
18 Apr 2016
Tham Yuen-C

The hearings on proposed changes to the elected presidency will start today, with at least four academics and a researcher set to speak on the matter.

They are Singapore Management University law dons Eugene Tan and Jack Lee, Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Mathew Mathews, academic Loke Hoe Yeong from the European Union Centre in Singapore, and human rights researcher Brian Chang.

The five are among 19 individuals and groups who will give their views at four hearings on the elected presidency, instituted in 1991.

They were selected by the Constitutional Commission - formed to review the elected presidency - out of more than 100 individuals and groups who had sent in their views during a public consultation.

Only the Workers' Party declined to participate among those invited. It had called for presidential elections to be abolished in its submissions and said its MPs would speak about the issue in Parliament.

The commission, led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, was appointed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in February to review three aspects of the elected presidency.

The three areas are: the eligibility criteria for candidates; provisions for minority candidates to have a chance of being elected from time to time; and changes to ensure members of the Council of Presidential Advisers have experience in the public and private sectors.

Associate Professor Tan said in his submissions that he agreed qualifying criteria should be made more stringent, given the increase in reserves that the president has to safeguard. But he said any changes should kick in only after the next presidential election due by August next year. "Changing the rules of the game so late in the presidential electoral cycle would upset legitimate expectations. This would also unnecessarily politicise the election for a non-partisan office," he wrote.

Mr Chang and Mr Loke both suggested the creation of a vice-president post to ensure minority candidates get a chance to be elected. The vice-president would have to be of a different race from the president, and must contest the election on the same ticket. Mr Chang said it would ensure anyone of any race will be able to stand in the election.

Dr Lee suggested that a committee be appointed to identify suitable minority candidates with the help of relevant organisations such as civil society groups and unions.

He said this would be similar to how Nominated MPs are chosen by a parliamentary select committee.

The public hearing will be held at the Supreme Court auditorium from 9.30am to 5pm today. The other hearings will be on Friday, and April 26 and May 6.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Requisition of Resources Act - Requisition of Resources Order 2016 (S 161 of 2016)

[INT] OW Bunkers – Is there an end in sight?

Commonwealth
01 Mar 2016

Business valuation becoming vital in financial reporting

Straits Times
18 Apr 2016
Wong Wei han

Business valuation is becoming a more vital part of corporate accounting and driving the need to enhance the skills and standards around this speciality.

An ongoing focus on this front is now bearing fruit through initiatives such as a new programme being launched this week to nurture chartered valuers and appraisers, KPMG managing partner Tham Sai Choy told The Straits Times.

Business valuation is an aspect of accounting and auditing that establishes the value of an asset. This is becoming an increasingly significant part of financial reporting, said Mr Tham, who is also a board member of the Singapore Accountancy Commission.

"A recent survey by us found that some 80 per cent of the balance sheets now comprise estimates of fair value. The more objective, cost-based accounting of my generation is giving way to the more complex world of financial instruments, multiple currencies and cross-border businesses," he noted.

"It is also a relatively new trend where we see more companies seeking growth through mergers and acquisitions. And this finds its way into financial reporting, where we have to break down the asset into multiple lines of different valuation to account for things ranging from buildings to brand and intellectual property."

A third area that requires better valuation services is litigation, particularly in bankruptcy cases and shareholder disputes.

The financial industry has so far relied on services scattered across providers offering different types of valuations.

"So it's quite unsustainable. It doesn't help that some of the rules are still ambiguous, and there is often a lack of understanding on how (valuations) should be used. The industry and international standard setters are still working on enhancing these rules," Mr Tham added.

The complexity of business valuation has come to the fore in recent months as public scrutiny centres on the fair value model of companies such as Noble Group.

In response to the challenge, the industry has long hoped to create a common set of competencies and standards for valuation. The launch of the Chartered Valuer and Appraiser Programme is part of the answer to that call, Mr Tham said.

The programme, by the Institute of Valuers and Appraisers of Singapore, will offer structured training and national certification to those in the valuation services, in a bid to improve consistency and quality.

Nanyang Technological University Business School will conduct the training courses, which will begin in August. KPMG is one the programme's industry partners.

The programme is part of the industry's multi-year push to build a leading accountancy hub for Asia-Pacific by 2020. As early as 2010, the Committee to Develop the Accountancy Sector (CDAS) - set up by the Ministry of Finance - noted in its report that Singapore should develop a centre of excellence in business valuation, internal audit, risk management and tax.

Another key industry initiative arising from the CDAS recommendations was the launch of the Singapore Qualification Programme in 2013, which also provides training and certification, allowing participants to be recognised as chartered accountants.

Mr Tham stressed that these industry programmes are not launched to raise the job barrier for existing professionals.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Child Development Co-Savings (Amendment) Bill (Bill 17 of 2016)

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank opens: Early indications for the construction industry

Business
29 Feb 2016

Sex abuse: Greater clarity urged in law

Straits Times
17 Apr 2016
Seow Bei Yi

Experts say Penal Code section must be amended if intent was to cover male and female offenders

Criminal lawyers and professionals who deal with victims of sexual abuse have called for greater clarity in the law after the High Court last week ruled that a woman cannot be found guilty of sexual penetration of a minor.

But lawyers also agreed that the judge was right to decide the way he did, and that it is up to Parliament to amend Section 376A(1)(b) of the Penal Code if the intent was to cover both male and female offenders.

Zunika Ahmad, 39, had pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual penetration of a minor, and one count of sexual exploitation under the Children and Young Persons Act.

Over a period of around 22 months, she regularly had sex with a girl using a dildo. The abuse started in 2012, when the victim was 13.

Zunika lived as man, and no one suspected otherwise until the girl went to the police.

But last Tuesday, Senior Judge Kan Ting Chiu rejected her guilty pleas to the charges of sexual penetration and ruled that Section 376A(1)(b) did not apply to women. He sentenced her to eight months in jail for the other charge.

Section 376A(1)(b) was enacted in 2007 after a review of the Penal Code. It states that "any person (A) who sexually penetrates, with a part of A's body (other than A's penis) or anything else", a person under the age of 16, is guilty of an offence.

A person found guilty of an offence under the section could be punished with up to 10 years' imprisonment, a fine, or with both.

If the minor is below 14 years old, the perpetrator could receive up to 20 years' imprisonment and may be liable to a fine or caning as well.

But the judge reasoned that the reference to a person who has a penis meant that A could not, therefore, be a woman.

He did refer to the parliamentary debate that took place before the law was passed. Then Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee had highlighted public concerns over female sexual abuse of male minors.

But the judge ruled that his hands were tied given the clear phrasing of the law.

The decision led the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) to question the seeming inconsistency between the intention of Singapore's policymakers and the way the provision was interpreted.

Ms Jolene Tan, senior manager for programmes and communications at Aware, wrote in a letter to the Forum page published last Friday that "it is unjust to treat the sexual assault of a minor differently based on the gender or anatomy of the perpetrator".

She argued that the words "other than A's penis" in Section 376A(1)(b) seems to be targeted at catching female abusers.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, she said that if the precedent set last week is followed, even clear cases of sexual assault could fall through the cracks. And this could lead to victims being denied justice.

Aware runs a sexual assault care centre that caters to both male and female victims, although it mostly works with women.

Last year, of the 267 cases handled by the centre, 15 per cent involved child sexual abuse. Out of these, more than half involved penetrative assault.

Ms Lena Teo, assistant director for counselling at the Children-at-Risk Empowerment Association, said while a child may not fully understand or be affected by the sentence the perpetrator receives, this may not be the same for older victims.

What is more, sexual assault on a child will cause him or her to grow up with some form of trauma, she added. Whether the perpetrator is a man or a woman, she said, "at the end of the day, the hurt to the victim is the same".

The victim, now 18, had told this paper last week that she still suffers nightmares and can hardly sleep. "She took advantage of my family situation, betrayed my trust and destroyed our lives," she said of Zunika.

She said she was saddened that Zunika was acquitted of nearly every charge. "I thought she was a man when she took my virginity, so why can't she be charged like a man?" she asked.

Criminal lawyer Sunil Sudheesan agreed there could be more clarity in Section 376A, but "if there is a benefit of doubt, it should be given to the accused, as was done in this case".

"The solution is to relook this section, and other sections involving person A, B, or C," he said, and make clear the sexes involved.

On concerns that this ruling may lead to harsher punishment for men, veteran lawyer Amolat Singh said this is why it is especially important in criminal law that sections set out the precise boundaries of conduct for offenders. "There are some rules of interpretation when you look at statutes. The basic principle is to give the words their ordinary, literal reading."

If it was Parliament's intention for the section to be gender neutral, he added, it is up to Parliament to make the necessary amendments.

Criminal lawyer Rajan Supramaniam said there is a lacuna, or lexical gap, in addressing such a situation. The accused got off lightly because she is a woman, he said, and the ambiguity in wording is an issue that has to be addressed.

He added: "Judges cannot make or amend the laws. It is for the legislature to review."


ROOM FOR REVIEW

The solution is to relook this section, and other sections involving person A, B, or C.

CRIMINAL LAWYER SUNIL SUDHEESAN, referring to Section 376A(1)(b). He said the sexes involved could be made clear.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

 

Income Tax (Amendment No. 2) Bill (Bill 16 of 2016)

[INT] Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements: Courting the freedom of choice

Commonwealth
29 Feb 2016

Report details 'root causes' of AHTC lapses

Straits Times
17 Apr 2016
Charissa Yong

KPMG cites shortcomings in WP town council's governance framework, accounting practices

The independent accountants hired by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) have pinpointed several issues that lie at the root of the town council's governance and financial lapses.

They have to do with the town council's governance framework and policy management, accounting practices, accounting system and capability of its finance department, said KPMG in its first report on the town council's accounts.

The shortcomings in these areas are the "root causes" of the lapses flagged by the town council's own auditors and the Auditor-General's Office in a special audit report in February last year.

Of the 17 lapses which were still outstanding, the town council has fixed two, said the firm.

These and other findings were in the KPMG's report which was submitted on Friday to the Housing Board.

  • Some weaknesses identified by KPMG

  • FINANCE DEPARTMENT

    The Aljunied Hougang Town Council's (AHTC) finance department was weakened by a high turnover of staff. It also did not have a finance manager, and had only a deputy finance manager.

    This led to the loss of institutional knowledge and inconsistencies in accounting practices.

    AHTC told the firm it had difficulties recruiting and retaining managerial staff, but has since appointed two consultants to help with book-keeping matters, and also hired a second deputy finance manager.

    ACCOUNTING PRACTICES

    The town council had not closed its accounts every month, making it hard to ensure the accuracy of its accounting data. AHTC is coming up with procedures to do so, and plans to implement them by the 2017 financial year.

    It is also using a dated accounting system, which is no longer supported by vendors and cannot provide reports in the formats needed.

    This has made it hard for the town council to get an accurate picture of its service and conservancy charges arrears.

    The town council has issued a tender for a new system to replace it. It is also improving its system so that it can generate reports on service and conservancy arrears without the need for manual entry. This should be ready by the month's end.

    RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

    The town council has a conflict of interest policy that did not extend to councillors. The policy also did not explicitly cover payments made to related parties.

    AHTC will come up with a policy and establish procedures for such transactions that comply with the law, by next month. It had also informed KPMG that there had not been any transactions with related parties since the town council's contract with its former managing agent, FM Solutions and Services, ended last July.

    Four of the town council's senior officers had stakes in FMSS, and had approved payments on behalf of the town council to their own company.

The Workers' Party-run town council released the report yesterday, saying that it has been progressively implementing measures to address the outstanding issues flagged.

AHTC hired a team of accountants from KPMG last month to look into its books.

This followed a Court of Appeal order in January for the town council to appoint a Big Four accounting firm to establish whether any past payments it made were improper and ensure it complies with the laws.

The apex court also directed the accountants to submit monthly progress reports to HDB.

In the 42-page report, KPMG noted that the "root causes" "are fundamental to... systemic difficulties for AHTC in effectively and efficiently discharging its obligations" under the Town Councils Act and financial rules.

It pointed out that the town council's inability to keep its finance department staff had led to the loss of institutional knowledge and inconsistencies in accounting practices, for instance.

AHTC's use of a dated accounting system, which is no longer supported by vendors, had resulted in its inability to produce reports in the format required for accounting processes, it added.

And due to weaknesses in how related party transactions were approved, work on projects had sometimes started before the go-ahead was given.

The firm also said that the town council had sometimes transferred too little or too much money to its sinking fund, because it did not correctly compute the amounts due.

It recommended measures, such as developing an accounting manual and code of business conduct, to address these "root causes".

But it said: "As our review is still ongoing, these recommendations are preliminary in nature and may be refined in the course of this engagement."

In a statement posted on the town council's website yesterday, AHTC chairman Pritam Singh said that the town council has agreed, after discussions with KPMG, to implement several measures by July.

They include a policy management process, a governance and internal control framework, guidelines for staff in its finance department and an accounting manual.

The town council also transferred $9.1 million to its sinking funds on Friday, fulfilling its obligations under the court judgment that had set specific deadlines for the transfers to be made, said Mr Singh.

KPMG said the town council had fixed two lapses to do with internal controls and procurement.

It had done so by ensuring that it conducts surprise checks on the cash held at its offices, and by appointing different people to hold the keys to its strongroom and safe.

Of the remaining 15 lapses that range from the incorrect use of sinking funds to incomplete disclosure of related party transactions, AHTC has started to put in place measures to remedy 12 of them.

Another three lapses are still pending review by KPMG.

The Ministry of National Development said on Thursday it would give the town council $12.9 million in grants that it had earlier withheld, as it is satisfied that safeguards are in place to ensure the money is properly used.

The HDB said on Friday that it is reviewing KPMG's report.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill (Bill 15 of 2016)

[INT] Iranian sanctions update

Commonwealth
26 Feb 2016

President Tony Tan gives his assent to Supply Bill

Business Times
16 Apr 2016
Lee U-Wen

[Singapore] THIS year's Budget is a "responsible, prudent and balanced" one, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Friday after he gave his assent to the Supply Bill.

This Bill, which was passed in Parliament on Thursday at the end of the Committee of Supply Debate, authorises the government expenditures proposed in the Budget for the new financial year starting April 1.

The government expects an overall budget surplus of S$3.4 billion this year, and Dr Tan noted that the Budget is one that prepares Singapore for the future while taking care of the country's current needs.

These were his first comments on the landmark Budget, the first for the 13th Parliament that was formed after last September's general election. It was also the first Budget for Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who spent close to two hours delivering the Budget statement in Parliament on March 24.

"Budget 2016 has been debated extensively in Parliament. The Ministry of Finance has also separately given the Council of Presidential Advisers and me a detailed briefing on the Budget," said Dr Tan in remarks posted on his Facebook page.

As required by the Constitution, he said that the Council had considered the proposed Budget and recommended that he assent to the Supply Bill on the basis that the Budget is unlikely to draw on the government's past reserves.

"I concur with the Council's recommendation and have exercised the President's discretionary power provided for under the Constitution to give my assent to the Supply Bill," said Dr Tan.

He described Budget 2016 as a reflection of the government's ongoing commitment to "build a better future" for Singapore.

"The initiatives to transform our economy through enterprise and innovation, and prepare our people for new and better jobs through skills development, are forward- looking," he said. "These are thoughtfully designed to involve the community, companies and industry associations in supporting Singapore's longer-term goals."

He added that the sector-based approach adopted in the initiatives would enable Singapore to make further progress by building on the broad-based schemes that were put in place over the last few years.

The Budget also aims to build a caring and resilient society with a focus on both the young and seniors, said Dr Tan.

"The measures announced under this thrust of the Budget will support community efforts to look after the vulnerable among us and complement the ongoing endeavours to transform our economy and develop new capabilities," he said.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Allied Health Professions Act - Allied Health Professions Act (Amendment of Second Schedule) Order 2016 (S 160 of 2016)

SHC grants interim order for sale of cargo on board a vessel in international waters in aid of international arbitration

Judgments
25 Feb 2016

1MDB: Missing cash may derail plan to write off debt

Straits Times
16 Apr 2016
Shannon Teoh

Fund says it could have been scammed after it handed $4.8b to fake offshore company

Troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) might not just have been cheated of US$3.5 billion (S$4.8 billion) by transferring it to a phoney offshore company, but the missing cash is threatening a plan by the state investor to retire a third of its RM51 billion (S$18 billion) debt pile, observers say.

1MDB has claimed that in making the deposits, it dealt with the former managing director of Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), who was also the chairman of subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS, and the latter's chief executive.

But it has emerged that the series of payments was instead made to similarly named Aabar Investments PJS Limited, which was registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). IPIC said in a London Stock Exchange filing Monday that it does not own this company, which is referred to as Aabar BVI. IPIC said it has not received any payments from Aabar BVI.

The BVI company was wound up in June last year, IPIC said. The situation jeopardises 1MDB's debt-asset swap with IPIC which must be completed by end-June. The deal was to help 1MDB retire some US$4.5 billion in debt.

In May last year, 1MDB signed a deal with IPIC to surrender some of the US$3.5 billion deposit and investment units, worth US$940 million, in exchange for US$1 billion cash and the transferring of all liabilities from US$3.5 billion in bonds.

"If the money is missing, then what was a done deal is now headed towards a dispute," Mr Lim Chee Wee, of law firm Skrine, told The Straits Times.

The complicated 1MDB deals are closely watched by government critics, but are lost on others still trying to figure out who took what and who's to blame. Prime Minister Najib Razak, who also heads 1MDB's advisory board, has said he did not take any funds and that huge sums found in his personal bank accounts were Saudi donations. His critics say he was 1MDB's main driver.

1MDB, in defending why it transferred US$3.5 billion to Aabar BVI, based in the offshore tax haven, has claimed that this was on the instruction of IPIC's former managing director Khadem Al-Qubaisi and Aabar Investments' then chief executive, Mr Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny. 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy said on national television on Wednesday that IPIC and Aabar "cannot run from their responsibilities" as the sums were paid through the Aabar duo.

The US$3.5 billion was paid out by 1MDB as security deposits and fees to cancel share options as part of a deal involving IPIC's guarantee of bonds issued by 1MDB.

Having first insisted that its audited records show "documentary evidence of the ownership of Aabar BVI", 1MDB now accepts that it could have been scammed after "the recent denial by IPIC and the announcement by the Office of the Attorney-General of Switzerland" that two former Emirati public officials are being probed for fraud.

Mr Khadem left IPIC in April last year, while Mr Badawy exited in August. Although not named by Swiss authorities, they are the duo under investigation, according to media reports citing unnamed sources.

According to the Public Accounts Committee report and transcripts of its 1MDB inquiry released last week, 1MDB claims that "the counterparty has sign(ed) off that they have received their funds" including an "acknowledgement from a former CEO of Aabar that funds were received" in an initial US$1.4 billion tranche.

But "the National Audit Department found that Aabar Ltd (or BVI) was not listed in the IPIC group based on its 2013 and 2014 financial statements", the report said.

Litigation lawyer Andrew Yong of AmerBon said that if 1MDB has the documents to back its claim, then IPIC would have to honour deals struck by officials who had the authority to do so. But given the narrow time frame for the swap to be executed, "it will likely go into a dispute that will take years to resolve".

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Allied Health Professions Act - Allied Health Professions (Registration and Practising Certificates) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S 159 of 2016)

Developments in international arbitration, construction & projects in 2015

Judgments
24 Feb 2016

Suspended doc in false death cert case guilty of 3 charges

Straits Times
16 Apr 2016
Amir Hussain

A 65-year-old general practitioner barred from practice for wrongly stating two patients' causes of death was yesterday convicted of criminal charges in a district court.

Kwan Kah Yee, a former medical director of Ren Ci Hospital, pleaded guilty to three charges: signing a false death certificate, fabricating evidence for a Singapore Medical Council (SMC) probe, and furnishing false information to police.

The former president of the Singapore Society for Clinical Hypnosis admitted to two other similar charges. These will be taken into consideration in sentencing on April 29.

The court heard that on March 29, 2011, Kwan went to Ms Siti Mariam Mohd Salleh's home in Teck Whye Lane at the request of the Singapore Casket Company, which had been informed of her death by her husband Sariffudin Mazlan.

Kwan was then practising at Superbcity Hospice in Peninsula Plaza and was paid about $250 for each certificate of death he issued.

He issued one to state that 32-year-old Ms Siti's cause of death was "ischaemic heart disease", when he knew this was false. There were no electrocardiogram (ECG) reports, or other evidence of this.

On Dec 10 that same year, after the SMC started investigations based on a complaint by Ms Siti's foster sister, which was not elaborated on in court, Kwan asked Mr Sariffudin to sign a letter, to be used for the probe. Among other things, it said Ms Siti had been treated for ischaemic heart disease since May 2007, and Mr Sariffudin wanted the probe to end to prevent his wife's confidential information from being disclosed.

Although he did not agree with the letter, Mr Sariffudin signed it as he trusted Kwan, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi told the court.

But in October 2014, the SMC's disciplinary tribunal suspended Kwan for three months, after he pleaded guilty to two charges of professional negligence relating to the wrong death certificates of Ms Siti and Mr Gareth Tan Soon Poh, 26.

Kwan had issued a death certificate in Mr Tan's Dublin Road home on March 29, 2010, stating his causes of death as "bronchiectasis" and "chronic obstructive airway disease", without any proof of this.

The SMC appealed to the Court of Three Judges, which in July last year raised Kwan's suspension to three years. He was also ordered to pay $6,000 in legal costs to the SMC.

The three judges - Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang - also said they were "deeply disturbed" by the case, and, in a rare move, had asked the Attorney-General to consider investigating it.

Among the issues that should have been raised: Kwan's incentive in falsely certifying the deaths.

Police began investigations last July, and asked Kwan to produce his medical records and case notes. But he gave false case notes which recorded, among other things, that Ms Siti's ECG reports and abnormal blood test results had been shown to him by Mr Sariffudin. He also falsely recorded Mr Sarifuddin as saying Ms Siti had complained of chest pain in 2007, and that she was treated in hospital several times.

In an earlier case, Kwan had been suspended for three months, fined $5,000 and censured by the SMC for wrongly stating a patient's cause of death in 2009 as "congestive cardiac failure", which is not an acceptable cause of death.

The patient's daughter had filed a complaint against Kwan, as the family was making an insurance claim.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 22) Notification 2016 (S 158 of 2016)

SHC declares that properties bequeathed by testator vested in MUIS

Judgments
24 Feb 2016

Law boosts global enforceability for rulings on civil, commercial matters

Straits Times
15 Apr 2016
Lim Yan Liang

Enabling court judgments here on civil and commercial matters to have greater international enforceability is at the heart of a new law passed by Parliament yesterday.

Approval of the Choice of Court Agreements Act also makes Singapore courts a more attractive forum for deciding cross-border disputes, Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah explained during the debate on the legislation.

Its approval now paves the way for Singapore to ratify an international pact that 28 countries have adopted: the Hague Convention.

Under the convention, if a Singapore court has been chosen to preside over a dispute, under what is known as an "exclusive choice of court agreement", the hearing must be held in Singapore. The court's judgment must thus also be recognised and enforced by courts of all other parties to the convention. Singapore signed it in March last year.

"The implementation of the convention demonstrates Singapore's commitment to be a global player in facilitating international commerce," said Ms Indranee.

"Drawing more complex cross-border commercial cases to our courts will allow us to develop and shape commercial law, as well as international jurisprudence relating to the convention."

This latest step comes as Singapore moves to establish itself as an international arbitration hub. The Singapore International Commercial Court heard its first case in November last year.

Responding to questions from Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan and Mr Vikram Nair (Sembawang GRC), Ms Indranee said the Hague Convention is "very promising" despite the relatively small number of countries that have adopted it so far.

She said 27 of the 28 European Union states are party to the convention, and the United States and Ukraine have also signed it. Singapore will do its part to encourage fellow Asean members to adopt the convention, she added.

As for Mr Nair's question on whether courts would be obliged to recognise judgments made by convention nations with "less robust" legal systems, she said there are built-in safeguards in the convention and the Act that provide grounds for the courts here to refuse to recognise or enforce foreign judgments.

These include instances where the judgment was obtained by fraud, or where enforcement would be against Singapore's public policy. The courts also have some discretion in the matter, said Ms Indranee.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Pioneer Generation Fund (Amendment) Act 2016 (Act 3 of 2016)

Appealing to the Singapore Court of Appeal: Beware the procedural pitfalls

Judgments
23 Feb 2016

Perennial turns to court amid rift with Pontiac over Capitol Singapore

Business Times
15 Apr 2016
Lee Meixian

It is seeking wind-up of three associates, citing deadlock with co-owner over key issues

[Singapore] DISAGREEMENT between the co-owners of Capitol Singapore - an integrated development located at the junction of Stamford Road and North Bridge Road - over some key issues relating to the project have resulted in Perennial Real Estate Holdings Ltd (Perennial) seeking court action to wind up three associated companies.

The three associated companies - Capitol Investment Holdings, Capitol Retail Management and Capitol Hotel Management - are equally owned by Perennial (through Perennial Capitol and New Capitol) and Pontiac Land (through Chesham Properties).

These Capitol entities hold the assets of Capitol Singapore, which includes a luxury hotel, mostly high-end retail shops, residential units, and the refurbished landmark Capitol Theatre.

Explaining the move to have the associated firms wound up, Perennial said in an announcement on Thursday that both sides are "in deadlock" and "their relationship has been adversely affected such that the shareholders (of the three Capitol entities) cannot realistically continue to work together constructively".

"As such, it is just and equitable that the Capitol entities be wound up," Perennial added.

All components of the integrated development - retail, theatre, hotel and residences - have received their temporary occupancy permits.

Perennial said: "The Perennial entities and Chesham have been unable to agree on a number of key issues relating to the Capitol project. As a result, in the last few months, the Capitol project has become increasingly deadlocked at both the board and shareholder levels."

When asked what will happen to the day-to-day operations at the development, a Perennial spokesperson said: "The making of a winding-up application will protect and preserve Capitol Singapore's assets until such time as the applications are determined by the court.

"The relevant Capitol entities will also continue to be managed in accordance with the current practice. The retail tenants will be able to continue their business as usual and tenancy agreements entered into by Capitol Singapore with the retail tenants will continue to be observed."

Representing Perennial is TSMP Law Corp's Thio Shen Yi; Pontiac is understood to be represented by Drew & Napier's Davinder Singh.

Perennial (through its entities) is prepared to either (i) buy Chesnam's 50 per cent shareholding in the Capitol project, (ii) sell its effective 50 per cent shareholding to Chesham, or (iii) have all shares in the project sold to a third party.

When asked what course of action it will pursue, a Pontiac Land spokesperson said: "Chesham Properties Pte Ltd regrets that Perennial Real Estate Holdings Limited has chosen to commence proceedings in court. We are reviewing the options and we will respond appropriately in the interests of the company."

Pontiac Land is a privately-held luxury property developer owned by the billionaire Kwee brothers.

Property consultants declined to estimate how much the development would be worth if liquidated, but one analyst said Perennial could make a small profit if it cashes out, as the current market value of the development is slightly greater than its gross development value of S$1.1 billion.

DBS Group Research equity analyst Derek Tan, who has a "buy" rating on Perennial, does not intend to change his rating, given the uncertainty of the outcome.

Asked which seems the most favourable option for Perennial, the analyst said: "I believe it would be for Perennial to sell its stake to either Pontiac or a third party, subject to pricing. This is because Perennial does not enjoy much scale in Singapore, which makes it hard to pit itself against other landlords with scale."

Perennial's focus remains largely in building integrated developments in China. In Singapore, it owns stakes in TripleOne Somerset, Chinatown Point, AXA Tower and CHIJMES.

Mr Tan said: "There has been some delays to the opening of the hotel, and the retail component seems to be still a little quiet. Probably familiarity has yet to really set in with consumers yet. Residential sales have also been slow." Close to half the 39 residential units have been sold.

On Thursday, Perennial shares closed trading at S$0.91, down 1.1 per cent.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2016 (Act 2 of 2016)

SCA: When is it appropriate to order nominal maintenance?

Judgments
23 Feb 2016

Govt rebuts lawyer's comments on scheme

Straits Times
15 Apr 2016
Grace Leong

Ministry defends 2008 scheme which lawyer Lee Suet Fern says has not benefited S'pore lawyers enough

The Law Ministry has rebutted comments by a prominent Singapore lawyer who said a scheme unveiled in 2008 to open up the local legal sector to foreign law firms has not benefited local lawyers enough.

The ministry was responding to comments on internationalisation by Mrs Lee Suet Fern, managing partner of Morgan Lewis Stamford, at a lecture organised by the Law Society last month.

Mrs Lee had cited the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) scheme, which allows foreign law firms to practise in permitted areas of local law through Singapore qualified lawyers.

She noted that the six original QFLP firms, despite generating $1.2 billion in revenue between 2009 and 2014, had hired "only about 100 out of thousands of Singapore-qualified lawyers", and wondered if this was a good enough outcome. Foreign law firms, she said, had given local ones a run for their money.

In its response, MinLaw defended the scheme, noting that it had opened up new opportunities for Singaporean lawyers who were keen to do transnational commercial work. The scheme allowed them to gain exposure to niche areas not previously easily available and gave opportunities to young local lawyers.

The ministry noted that for 2014/2015, the nine foreign firms granted QFLP status generated $340 million in revenue, with 80 per cent coming from offshore work, or work that could have been done elsewhere.

Exports of legal services in 2014 were worth $700 million - $400 million contributed by foreign law firms.

The ministry added that more than a third of lawyers in QFLPs were Singapore-qualified and more than a quarter of partners in the QFLPs were Singapore-qualified.

It added that the scheme had received the backing of many of Singapore's larger law firms, some of which would be most directly impacted, as well as those in the financial services industry. "In other words, the introduction of the QFLP, and its role in making Singapore a regional legal centre, has implications beyond the legal sector, and benefits beyond the economy."

Pointing out that Mrs Lee's arguments appeared at odds with her previous positions, the ministry disclosed that she had sought to join the scheme in 2014.

But her proposal to do so was turned down as the ministry "had specific periods when it invited applications from everyone, then considered the best applicants".

"It would not be possible to give a licence to one firm, at that firm's request," MinLaw said.

Mrs Lee, however, appealed for an exception to be made for her firm and "strongly made the case for a QFLP licence to be given", said the ministry, noting that she had "extolled the virtues of the QFLP scheme" at the time.

"However, her request was rejected because no exceptions could be made for her. The QFLP licence is awarded only when an application cycle is called, and on a competitive basis."

Asked about this by The Straits Times, Mrs Lee said: "When we were exploring a merger with Morgan Lewis in 2014, we looked at the various existing options, including a QFLP. But as another round of invitations for QFLP licences was not likely, we searched for another avenue to achieve internationalisation."

Stamford Law merged with Morgan Lewis & Bockius last year. Mrs Lee was Stamford's senior director and founder.

Last night, Mrs Lee said she acknowledged the benefits of the QFLP scheme, but added that it is only one of the ways for the legal sector to grow. "Singapore lawyers need to go regional, with or without QFLPs. And there are many opportunities for Singapore lawyers to tap overseas opportunities, as more local and international firms tie up. This calls for a mindset change. Singapore lawyers need to leave their comfort zone and think regional, think international and venture beyond the shores of Singapore."

Pointing out that Mrs Lee's arguments appeared at odds with her previous positions, the ministry disclosed that she had sought to join the scheme in 2014.

But her proposal to do so was turned down as the ministry "had specific periods when it invited applications from everyone, then considered the best applicants".

"It would not be possible to give a licence to one firm, at that firm's request," MinLaw said.

Mrs Lee, however, appealed for an exception to be made for her firm and "strongly made the case for a QFLP licence to be given", said the ministry, noting that she had "extolled the virtues of the QFLP scheme" at the time.

"However, her request was rejected because no exceptions could be made for her. The QFLP licence is awarded only when an application cycle is called, and on a competitive basis."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Newspaper and Printing Presses Act - Newspaper and Printing Presses (Exemption from Part III of Act) (Amendment) Order 2016 (S 157 of 2016)

MAS issues asset freeze regulations against certain individuals/entities that may be a threat to South Sudan

Business
23 Feb 2016

Law meant to cover female sex abusers: Forum

Straits Times
15 Apr 2016

The Association of Women for Action and Research is deeply dismayed by the recent High Court decision on the sexual penetration of minors under Section 376A(1)(b) of the Penal Code ("Woman acquitted of sexual penetration of a minor"; Wednesday).

According to reports, the court decided that Section 376A(1)(b) covers only perpetrators with penises, a category it conflates with "men".

There are three major issues with this approach.

First, in terms of substantive outcome, it is unjust to treat the sexual assault of a minor differently based on the gender or anatomy of the perpetrator.

The impact on the victim and the culpability of the perpetrator are not affected by whether the perpetrator has a penis.

Anyone who commits sexual abuse should be held accountable, regardless of their body parts.

Second, the idea that Section 376A(1)(b) does not cover female perpetrators or perpetrators without penises is inconsistent with the intention of the policymakers who introduced it.

In describing Section 376A in Parliament in 2007, then Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee began by noting that "female sexual abuse of male minors" was a key concern.

He went on to state that the amendment to the Act was intended to cover female perpetrators.

Third, proper interpretation of the statutory language does not require the perpetrator to have a penis.

The words "other than A's penis" in Section 376A(1)(b) are there to distinguish penetration with a non-penile body part from penetration with a penis, which comes under Section 376A(1)(a).

A person without a penis can clearly perform penetration with some other body part.

The contrast between Section 376A(1)(c) and other parts of Section 376A is also notable.

Section 376A(1)(c) refers to "(causing) a man under 16 years of age" to engage in penile penetration. By contrast, Section 376A(1)(d) refers to penetration by a person under 16 years of age with an object or a body part "other than (that person's) penis".

The legal drafters' clear, deliberate distinction between "man" and "person" strongly indicates that "person" should not be limited to mean "any man" or "any person with a penis".

Jolene Tan (Ms)

Senior Manager

Programmes and Communications

Association of Women for Action and Research

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Housing and Development Act - Housing and Development (Precincts for Upgrading Works) (Home Improvement Programme) (No. 2) Order 2016 (S 156 of 2016)

SHC: No complaining later: Parties must address new issues of law and fact that arise during the arbitration when they arise, and not later

Judgments
22 Feb 2016

More legal woes for Art Heritage S'pore

Straits Times
15 Apr 2016
Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh & Lee Jian Xuan

The legal troubles facing Art Heritage Singapore, the firm behind the private museum Singapore Pinacotheque de Paris which closed on Monday after barely a year in business, are piling up.

The Straits Times has learnt that two more lawsuits were filed against the company, by a security company and a media house, bringing the number of reported lawsuits to four so far.

The total sums claimed come up to almost $900,000.

The Ministry of Manpower also told ST that eight employees have lodged salary claims against Art Heritage Singapore.

A former employee said he was asked to go on "half-time contract" on reduced pay between April and August last year.

He quit last August, nine months after joining the museum in November 2014. "Visitor attendance was a concern among the staff members, as we noticed it was low," he added.

Art Heritage Singapore chairman Marc Restellini told ST in an e-mail interview from Paris that he will "do my best to convince all the partners to pay the salaries as soon as possible".

The firm's shareholders include KOP Properties, entrepreneur Alain Vandenborre, a Singapore-registered investment holding company Art Museum Diffusion Group, of which Swiss businessman Yves Bouvier is the sole shareholder, and a Netherlands-registered organisation called The Art Heritage Group N.V.

Mr Restellini said the museum attracted between 250 and 400 visitors on weekends following the museum's opening last May. But in the last six months, daily visitor numbers were "usually around 25 to 40" people.

The two new lawsuits were filed in the weeks leading up to the museum's sudden closure on April 11. Security company Jasa Investigation and Security Services is seeking a sum of about $89,000 in a suit filed on March 29.

Media house Burda Singapore, whose magazines include Prestige and August Man, filed a claim for just over $14,000 on April 4. The case involves advertisements placed with it.

Last week, The Straits Times reported two ongoing lawsuits against Art Heritage Singapore. One was filed by media and digital agency Mediatropy over a sum of about $110,000 and another by Italian company Arthemisia Group over about €435,000 (S$668,000).

Housed in Fort Canning Arts Centre, Pinacotheque Singapore was the only overseas outpost of the Pinacotheque de Paris in France, which closed on Feb 15 due to falling visitor numbers.

The museums focused on showing Western masterpieces from private collectors around the world and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) facilitated the setting up of the museum in Singapore.

A 2014 New York Times report said that Singapore Pinacotheque cost US$24 million (S$32 million). Both museums were set up by Mr Restellini, who is a French curator and art historian.

STB's executive director of arts, entertainment and integrated resorts Carrie Kwik said the board provided funding that was used solely for the redevelopment of the Fort Canning Arts Centre, and that STB would work with relevant agencies, such as NParks, to "identify other meaningful concepts that could add value to the centre".

• With additional reporting by Huang Lijie

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) Act - International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) (ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office) (Amendment) Order 2016 (S 155 of 2016)

Singapore to get new cyber security legislation

Legislation
19 Feb 2016

Panama Papers will cement global resolve for tax compliance

Business Times
15 Apr 2016

THE massive leak of offshore account documents - as many as 11.5 million files - from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca is a signal warning to clients, bankers and any so-called tax haven that the days of discreet "don't ask, don't tell" variant of banking is well and truly over, particularly when it comes to the shielding of illicit wealth.

Already, the fallout from the debacle - dubbed Panama Papers - is significant and wide ranging. Iceland's Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was forced to step down as prime minister. In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron has had to explain his late father's offshore holdings. Included in the files are 33 companies blacklisted by the US, and alleged terrorism and nuclear weapons financiers from the Middle East and North Korea, says the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which analysed the documents.

Illicit financial flows and capital flight to offshore jurisdictions wreak serious economic impact particularly on developing nations, depressing tax revenues and funds available for infrastructure, for instance, and further widening the wealth disparity. According to the Tax Justice Network, there is an estimated US$1-1.6 trillion in illicit cross border flows a year, dwarfing the US$135 billion in global foreign aid. ICIJ's analyses highlight several "power players" as holders of offshore accounts, comprising leaders or public officials of emerging countries such as Azerbaijan and Iraq. The relative dearth of American names does not mean that Americans are more tax compliant. The US hosts its own tax haven in Delaware, which is why the Tax Justice Network has put the US in third place in its 2015 Financial Secrecy Index, after Switzerland and Hong Kong. This is ironic; the US has been vociferous in its crackdown on tax cheats but in Delaware it is said to be easy to set up anonymous shell companies. Singapore ranked fourth on the index.

To be sure, the establishment of offshore accounts is not illegal in itself. There are legitimate uses of offshore vehicles, and the Panama Papers tar all these with a negative brush. Companies, for instance, may set up offshore units to shield assets from litigation, or to minimise tax on investment income, or to take advantage of double taxation agreements. Individuals may use them to diversify the political risk of their home country or for estate planning. Still, there is a silver lining in the revelations. One is that the incorporation of offshore companies has been on the decline since its peak around 2005. ICIJ says Mossack Fonseca clients have been rapidly deactivating companies since 2009. Two, the crackdown on bearer shares - where ownership is determined by whoever holds share certificates - also appears to be working. ICIJ data shows a sharp drop across a number of jurisdiction including Panama.

Major banks named in the Panama Papers have claimed that the dealings revealed in the files date back to the 1990s, predating a slew of regulations to stem the flow of illicit and non-tax compliant wealth. The "common reporting standard", an effort by the OECD to introduce an international system of automatic exchange of financial information, is in the works. This will be rolled out in 96 jurisdictions including Singapore within the next two years. The writing is clear: Banking systems should not be conduits for ill-gotten wealth or tax dodgers, particularly in a jurisdiction such as Singapore. But banks and clients will still have to brace themselves. There will be more whistleblowers, which will only strengthen the global resolve to enforce compliance.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Diplomatic and Consular Relations Act - Diplomatic and Consular Relations (ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office) (Amendment) Order 2016 (S 154 of 2016)

SHC delivers first decision on the new buy-out remedy in winding up applications

Judgments
19 Feb 2016

19 groups and individuals to speak on elected presidency

Straits Times
15 Apr 2016
Tham Yuen-C

They will offer views at four public hearings starting next week; WP declined invitation

A total of 19 groups and individuals, including former Cabinet minister S. Dhanabalan, will give their views on the proposed changes to the elected presidency at four public hearings that will start next week.

The Workers' Party (WP), which was invited to speak, declined to do so. The Constitutional Commission, formed to review the elected presidency, had invited 20 groups and individuals, who had contributed written submissions on the matter, to speak at the hearings. In a statement yesterday, the commission's secretariat said 19 of them said yes.

Those slated to speak include law academics Kevin Tan, Eugene Tan and Jack Lee, researchers Gillian Koh, Mathew Mathews and Loke Hoe Yeong, and former Nominated MP Loo Choon Yong. There are also groups like the Eurasian Association, Maruah and the Association of Women for Action and Research.

The WP said yesterday on its Facebook page that party chairman Sylvia Lim had written to inform the commission that the party will "debate the matter fully when the Constitutional Amendment Bill is presented in Parliament. This is in keeping with our role as a political party with Members of Parliament".

The WP added that the commission had said it would "consider our written submission nonetheless".

In a two-page submission sent last month, the party had reiterated its call for the elected presidency to be abolished, saying it could be a source of gridlock that could potentially cripple a non-People's Action Party government in its first year.

It added: "WP's view is that the office of the elected president should not be retained, let alone refined."

The commission, led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, was appointed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in February to review three aspects of the elected presidency that was instituted in 1991.

In February, it made a public call for submissions on the three areas being studied. These are: the eligibility criteria for candidates; provisions for minority candidates to have a chance of being elected from time to time; and changes to ensure members of the Council of Presidential Advisers have experience in the public and private sectors.

The commission received a little over 100 submissions. It expects to submit its recommendations by the third quarter of this year.

The hearings, to be held at the Supreme Court auditorium, are scheduled for next Monday and Friday, April 26 and May 6, from 9.30am to 5pm. They are open to the public. Those attending must be properly dressed, and should not wear singlets, shorts, bermudas, slippers or any clothing with controversial messages. Photo, video and audio recordings are also not allowed.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.