29 March 2017
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Help for law firms to become tech-ready

Straits Times
28 Mar 2017
Ng Huiwen

Subsidy for online knowledge database; logo for companies that adopt productivity tools

Law firms will not only have access to funds to adopt technology, but also get to carry a logo on their websites and marketing materials to show they are technology-ready.

The SmartLaw Assist and SmartLaw schemes were officially launched yesterday by the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) at the start of its two-day Legal Technology Roadshow.

In his speech, LawSoc president Gregory Vijayendran said the SmartLaw Assist scheme will provide law firms with a 70 per cent subsidy on first-year subscription costs for an online knowledge database. The $300,000 scheme is being funded by the LawSoc Education Fund on a first-come, first- served basis.

The scheme will provide databases from the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL), Lexis Nexis or Thomson Reuters.

Such platforms could help cut the time for legal research by up to 20 per cent, Mr Vijayendran said, citing a recent study commissioned by LawSoc on the sector's needs.

The move comes amid a greater push by the Government and the judiciary in recent months to transform the legal sector.

In his speech at the same event, Justice Lee Seiu Kin said the world is faced with "more frequent and unpredictable disruptions".

"Technology holds the promise of greater productivity and effectiveness. We must seize the opportunity to leverage this to higher quality legal services and cost savings for law firms, and ultimately, for the clients and society at large," he added.

He noted that the roadshow is an encouraging start to realising the SAL's Legal Technology Vision, which is a five-year blueprint unveiled earlier this year to chart the legal sector's use of technology.

Justice Lee, who heads the One Judiciary IT Steering Committee to lead technology initiatives in the courts, said the judiciary is open to working with service providers to test-bed technologies for court processes.

Held over two days at the NTUC Business Centre, the roadshow is the LawSoc's largest event promoting technology to date. It features 15 vendors, and about 600 people are expected to turn up over the two days.

Ten law firms were among the first to be accredited for their SmartLaw practices yesterday.

The SmartLaw initiative allows law firms that have practice management or accounting software, an online knowledge management database and an online presence to use the SmartLaw logo on their websites and marketing collaterals.

Fortis Law Corporation founder and chief executive Patrick Tan, whose firm was recognised yesterday, said technology has enabled him to grow from a one-man law firm in 2004 to 24 lawyers today.

Since the firm's early days, he has been using client management software to keep proper time sheets for billing, manage accounts and retrieve data on clients.

He said: "I thought technology could give me a head start and it did."


Technology holds the promise of greater productivity and effectiveness. We must seize the opportunity to leverage this to higher quality legal services and cost savings for law firms, and ultimately, for the clients and society at large.



SmartLaw Assist

Eligible firms will enjoy a 70 per cent subsidy on first-year subscription costs for an online knowledge database

Approved databases are from the Singapore Academy of Law, Lexis Nexis or Thomson Reuters

Up to $300,000 in funding available from LawSoc for the scheme on a first-come, first-served basis

Applications are open from now to June 30, 2017


To recognise tech-savvy law firms that have adopted these key productivity tools:

Practice management or accounting software;

Online knowledge management database;

An online presence, whether through a marketing portal or a dedicated website

SmartLaw logo can be used on the firm's website or in marketing collaterals

For more information, go to www.lawsociety.org.sg

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Ang Cheng Guan Construction Pte Ltd v Corporate Residence Pte Ltd - [2017] SGHC 09

Bus Services Industry Act 2015 - Bus Services Industry (Bus Service Licence) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2016 (S 675 of 2016)

‘Smart’ law firms lauded for adopting tech solutions

28 Mar 2017
Kelly Ng

A legal document-management software that helped a court hearing go almost paperless was what allowed Via Law Corporation, then a two-men team, to take on a landmark dispute in 2014 between its client Global Yellow Pages, a directory publisher, and its rival Promedia Directories.

The cloud-based service, dubbed Magnum, allowed parties in a case such as witnesses and the judge to access court documents online, and this helped the firm’s director Wang Yingyu to shave the number of printed sheets from 252,000 to about 3,000 pages. Lawyers could also annotate and collaborate on relevant material using the platform.

The firm, now named Taylor Vinters Via following its partnership with a UK law firm last month, was one of 10 small- and medium-sized legal practices here recognised yesterday at the launch of the SmartLaw scheme.

Launched by the Law Society (LawSoc), it recognises such “smart” firms for using technology to improve their work processes. These include adopting a practice management or accounting software; having an online knowledge-management database; and having an online presence.

These firms will be allowed to display a logo to help give clients more confidence about their efficiency.

Taylor Vinters Via, for instance, enhances its online presence through the Asia Law Network, an online portal that helps prospective clients find suitable lawyers and to ask for “quick” quotations.

Ms Wang said: “Time is money … Technology has freed up our lawyers’ time for other matters, and our time savings translate to cost savings for our clients.”

Agreeing, Mr Michael Chia from MSC Law Corporation — also one of the pioneer SmartLaw firms named yesterday — said that relying on old-fashioned, “ad-hoc” methods to keep track of cases sometimes land lawyers into conflicting situations, such as when they unknowingly take on a case against previous clients.

Mr Chia, who has been a lawyer for almost two decades and started his own practice one-and-a-half years ago, said: “For smaller firms, you may know all your clients, but firms that want to (expand operations) need to have reliable management systems that can quickly search and pull up past records … to avoid awkward and potentially conflicting situations.”

A third awardee, Clifford Law LLP, which has seven lawyers and invests about S$3,000 a month in tech solutions, aims to go “completely paperless” in the near future and is looking at developing a software that would give clients direct access to certain documents.

The other seven firms awarded the SmartLaw accreditation include Fortis Law Corporation, Colin Ng & Partners LLP, Covenant Chambers LLC, Eden Law Corporation, Mathew Chew & Chelliah, Chan Neo LLP and fsLAW LLC.

The move follows a study of industry needs among small- and medium-sized law practices, which found that legal research platforms could cut the time lawyers take to visit the library by up to 20 per cent. It also found that firms could reap up to a 66 per cent reduction in operating costs if they run a virtual office.

However, the findings showed that fewer than one in 10 such firms use any kind of tech productivity software, with most citing cost as a barrier.

To help small- and medium-sized law firms defray costs when adopting tech solutions that improve productivity, a S$2.8 million grant scheme called Tech Start for Law was launched last month that will pay up to 70 per cent of the firm’s costs for selected tech products in the first year.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Cher Ting Ting v Public Prosecutor - [2017] SGHC 13

Broadcasting Act - Broadcasting (Class Licence) (Amendment) Notification 2016 (S 674 of 2016)

Law society disagrees with findings of US judge: Forum

Straits Times
28 Mar 2017

The Law Society of Singapore (the Society) disagrees with the findings about Singapore's criminal justice system by US judge Samuel Cole, in allowing asylum for Mr Amos Yee in the United States (US judge grants Amos Yee's asylum request; March 26).

We note the 30-day period for the US Department of Homeland Security to appeal against the immigration judge's ruling.

The Society will consider issuing a fuller statement after an appeal is made, or the appeal period is spent.

The judge's opinion in the judgment appears to gloss over the critical fact that Mr Yee was lawfully prosecuted in a court of law.

In his 2016 prosecution, he pleaded guilty to charges of wounding the religious feelings of Christians and Muslims.

He was ultimately convicted, and sentenced, by competent courts in Singapore for criminal offences.

At all times, Mr Yee had been legally represented and was afforded all due process in law.

Allowing immunity for hate speech only encourages the undermining of values in a functional democracy.

That may be the new normal elsewhere. But law and order in Singapore trumps any individual's desire to shoot his mouth off with social virulence and venom.

Gregory Vijayendran


The Law Society of Singapore

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Yong Thiam Look Peter v Singapore Medical Council - [2017] SGHC 10

SGX: Factors SGX considers in deciding whether to take action against false trading


CMA CGM strengthens presence in S'pore with more berths

Straits Times
28 Mar 2017
Jacqueline Woo

Upgrade in Pasir Panjang will boost JV, with centres sited here to support operations

French shipping giant CMA CGM has further anchored its presence in Singapore by officially unveiling an upgrade that has doubled the capacity of the terminal it jointly runs with PSA at Pasir Panjang.

The second phase of the PSA joint venture brings total operating capacity at the CMA CGM-PSA Lion Terminal to four million standard-sized containers - double the initial capacity when the terminal started operations in July last year.

The terminal has been expanded to four mega container berths instead of two.

"It will now be able to receive not just the largest ships of the CMA CGM group but also the ships of other companies," Mr Jean-Yves Duval, senior vice-president of Asia at the CMA CGM regional office, said at the launch.

His comments came as the group's Ocean Alliance - which includes the newly-formed China Cosco Shipping, Evergreen Line and Orient Overseas Container Line - prepares to go into operations next month.

"The terminal demonstrates the commitment of the CMA CGM group to contribute to the international influence of Singapore - a strong commitment cast in stone after the acquisition of NOL."

The world's No. 3 container shipping line completed its $3.38 billion buyout of Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) last year, in one of the largest acquisitions in the industry.

The group said then that it would route more container volumes through Singapore and relocate its regional office from Hong Kong to the Republic.

Mr Duval added in an interview yesterday that, starting next month, some 28 CMA CGM services will call here each week - of which more than two-thirds are being diverted from other ports, including Port Klang in Malaysia.

"The environment (today) is much more challenging and the margins less than they used to be," he added, noting this is why the group has to work on raising productivity and servicing its customers efficiently.

"What we realised is we may have some cost in Singapore - slightly more expensive than the other countries - but those costs can easily be offset by the efficiency."

In terms of integrating NOL into its fold, Mr Duval said the group has retained all customers within NOL's APL brand, and launched 24 maritime services that saw transported volumes grow by 5 per cent in the fourth quarter last year.

"What we want to make sure whenever we acquire a company is that one plus one makes at least two, and not 1.5," he added, noting that the group's strategy is to maintain APL as a separate brand and capitalise on its customer base.

Besides relocating the regional HQ here - completed in January - CMA CGM has also set up a regional navigation and port operations centre here.

It is one of three centres supporting its fleet of more than 500 container vessels. The other centres are in Marseille in France and Miami in the United States.

Mr Duval said CMA CGM will also set up a training centre here for its Asia staff in May, in partnership with a French business school.


This is another exciting milestone for CMA CGM as part of the group's continuing efforts to make Singapore our main hub in the region, while reiterating the importance of Singapore to our global strategy.

MR JEAN-YVES DUVAL, senior vice-president of Asia at CMA CGM Asia regional office.

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Dewi Sukowati v Public Prosecutor - [2017] SGCA 08

State Ct RC No 1 of 2017: Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals

State Courts

Bunching up of AGMs in April getting worse, says report

Business Times
28 Mar 2017
Michelle Quah

Nearly 100 held on each of the last two business days of April last year, worse than in 2015; this will worsen in 2017 as new requirements kick in

Listed companies are continuing to cluster their annual general meetings (AGMs) around the same handful of days a year - in particular, the last two business days of April.

And the situation is very likely going to get worse going forward, with new requirements - which could involve more board deliberations pushing back the AGM dates - kicking in.

However, there have also been positive developments in the holding of shareholder meetings. Regulators seem to be getting stricter in granting companies waivers from holding their AGMs within the stipulated time, and there is evidence of growing shareholder activism.

These were among the key findings of "The Singapore Report on Shareholder Meetings: Dawn of Activism", authored by corporate-governance advocate Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen of the National University of Singapore Business School and MBA graduate and active investor Chew Yi Hong.

Released on Monday, the report covered 893 meetings conducted last year by 703 issuers with a primary listing on the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Of the 893 meetings, 694 were AGMs and 199, extraordinary general meetings (EGMs).

The report, the third such report in three years, continues to be supported by the SGX.

It throws the spotlight on the continued clustering of AGMs and EGMs around the traditionally popular period of April.

Most companies have Dec 31 as their financial year-end, and the Companies Act requires listed companies to hold their AGMs within four months of their year-end.

The report noted that of the 433 shareholder meetings held last April, 428 were AGMs and five were EGMs. These accounted for 62 per cent of all AGMs and nearly half of all shareholder meetings.

There were actually eight fewer AGMs and six fewer EGMs held in April 2016 than in April 2015.

However, the number of meetings held in the last two business days of April 2016 was significantly higher than in the last two years. There were 97 meetings held on April 28 (a Thursday) and 95 on April 29 (Friday), the report noted.

This compares to about 80 AGMs on each of the last two days of April 2015.

"It is disappointing that, though there is a slight improvement in the clustering of AGMs in the last week of April last year, the last two business days of that month were significantly worse," said Prof Mak.

"Clustering of meetings prevents shareholders from attending meetings and can affect the voting of shares. This results in reduced accountability of directors to shareholders and may affect access to information from AGMs."

Mr Chew added: "There are simple solutions available that can ameliorate the problems caused by clustering. We hope to see the Exchange encourage issuers to webcast their AGMs, to adopt online voting and to make the posting of detailed minutes of meetings available on SGXNet if the issuer chooses to hold its AGM on a peak day."

But the report also named some listed companies which had held their shareholder meetings earlier and so avoided the AGM crush.

Ascendas Reit, Ascendas Hospitality Trust, Ascendas India Trust, Chemical Industries (Far East), Qian Hu Corporation and the SGX were cited as having held their AGMs within three months of their financial year-end.

Prof Mak warned that the clustering of shareholder meetings is likely to worsen this year, with the enhanced auditor's report requirements kicking in for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after Dec 15, 2016 (for Singapore-listed companies with Singapore-registered auditors).

"The enhanced auditor's report will include a section on 'key audit matters'. Given the sensitivity of these key audit matters, more time may be required for the audit and for discussions among auditors, audit committees and management. Issuers may therefore delay their AGMs to allow the maximum time possible for the audit and preparation of the auditor's report."

Prof Mak and Mr Chew recommended in their report that regulators consider allowing issuers to hold their AGMs within five months of the end of their financial year-end, but to limit the number of AGMs that can be held on any single day.

Their report also took note of the more positive developments. One of these was that regulators appeared to have been stricter last year about approving applications by companies to waive the requirement that they hold their AGMs within the stipulated four months.

Forty-three issuers applied for a waiver last year; the most commonly cited reasons were accounting and audit issues and financial-related issues.

In some cases, applications for a waiver or a further waiver were rejected by the SGX; in other cases, the Exchange directed the issuer to convene its AGM as soon as possible.

In at least six cases, the issuer disclosed that the SGX had granted approval for a waiver or further waiver, subject to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) also giving approval, and that Acra had subsequently rejected the application.

But the report added that listed companies were inconsistent in their disclosure of waivers. Some disclosed at the time of application and also when SGX informed them of its decision. Others disclosed only when they were informed by SGX.

Prof Mak and Mr Chew are recommending that issuers be required to make an announcement at the time of application for a waiver to delay the announcement of results or the holding of the AGM, in addition to making an announcement when they receive the decision from the regulators.

Regarding the growth in shareholder activism, a trend reflected in the title of the report, the authors cited last year's rise in number of shareholder-initiated meetings as an indicator of this.

There were eight issuers whose shareholders requisitioned or called for meetings, as provided for by the Companies Act, up from six in 2015.

The authors pointed out that requisitioning meetings should be used only as a last resort when other means of engagement fail. It is preferable for boards to actively engage with shareholders to understand their concerns as early as possible, they said.

Tan Boon Gin, SGX's chief regulatory officer, said in his foreword to the report: "There is always room for improvement and we welcome this report and any recommendations that will make the relationship between shareholders and listed companies even stronger."

The full report can be found at www.shareholdermeetings.asia and at Prof Mak's website at www.governanceforstakeholders.com.

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

iHub Solutions Pte Ltd v Freight Links Express Logisticentre Pte Ltd - [2017] SGHC 06

Family Justice Court PD Amendment No. 1 of 2017 - New paras 78, 170 and Form 195

Couple jailed, fined for starving maid, who lost 20kg

28 Mar 2017
Faris Mokhtar

For starving their Filipino domestic helper, which caused her weight to plummet by almost 20kg over a 15-month period, a Singaporean couple was sentenced to jail and a fine by a district court on Monday (March 27).

Freelance trader Lim Choon Hong, 48 — who was convicted last March under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act for failing to provide adequate food to his domestic helper — was jailed three weeks and fined a maximum S$10,000.

His wife Chong Sui Foon, 48, who was found guilty of abetting him, was jailed three months.

The prosecutors, who sought a maximum jail term of 12 months for each of them, will appeal against the sentence.

In reply to a query from TODAY, a spokesperson from the Attorney-General’s Chambers said that the prosecution is appealing “on the grounds that both sentences imposed are manifestly inadequate”.

Pending the appeal, the couple are out on a bail of S$3,000 each.

During the trial, which started in December 2015, the court heard that Ms Thelma Oyasan Gawidan — who worked for the couple from January 2013 to April 2014 at a condominium unit near Orchard Boulevard — was given just two meals a day, usually plain bread and instant noodles.

Sometimes, when she asked for more food, Chong would reject her request.

In slightly more than a year, her weight dropped from 49kg to 29kg, and she had to be admitted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital in April 2014.

The prosecution noted that Ms Gawidan, now 41 years old, lost 40 per cent of her body mass, stopped menstruating, and suffered emotionally and psychologically.

She also had to ask for permission before drinking water and was not allowed to use the bathrooms in the couple’s home.

Instead, she had to use the toilet meant for visitors in the estate’s common areas.

Apart from that, she was allowed to shower just once or twice a week, with Chong watching over her inside the toilet.

On the morning of April 19, 2014, Ms Gawidan fled from her employer’s home and was later taken to a shelter run by non-governmental organisation Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, which filed her complaints with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

During the trial, Lim tried to distance himself from what happened, saying that it was his wife who took care of the daily activities of the household including managing the domestic helper, while he took charge of the finances. He told the court then that his wife “didn’t do this to hurt anyone” and her obsessive-compulsive disorder led to one of their four children running away from home in 2010.

In the submissions by the defence, lawyer Raymond Lye asked the court to call for a mandatory treatment order or probation report for Chong, who suffers from the disorder.

District Judge Low Wee Ping disagreed, saying that Chong’s preoccupation with cleanliness would not have led her to restrict the type and quantity of food she gave to Ms Gawidan.

On Monday, the prosecution stressed repeatedly that the couple showed no remorse, and even offered Ms Gawidan a settlement agreement of S$20,000 on their lawyer’s advice, in a bid to obtain a lower sentence.

Asking the defence to convince the court that their clients were remorseful, District Judge Low said: “The court must be sure that compensation is not used to buy their way out.”

Mr Lye said that the couple agreed to the terms of the settlement drafted by Ms Gawidan’s lawyers, without negotiation, and this indicated “genuine remorse and regret”.

In sentencing Lim, District Judge Low accepted that Lim was remorseful and did not intentionally seek to starve Ms Gawidan, but did not elaborate further.

However, he said that Lim should pay the maximum fine to reflect that he had failed to comply with regulations for a prolonged period.

Turning to Chong, he said that her actions in depriving Ms Gawidan of food were “extremely aggravating” but accepted, too, that she did not seek to starve the domestic helper. He did not say more on the judgement.

In a statement released after the hearing on Monday, Ms Jeanette Har, director of the well-being department at MOM’s foreign manpower management division, said that the ministry has “zero tolerance” for the abuse and mistreatment of workers.

“The conduct of Lim and his wife is reprehensible, and MOM will prosecute individuals who fail to safeguard the well-being of the worker. We are glad that Thelma’s physical condition has improved and she is now working for a new employer,” she said.

MOM reminds employers that they are responsible for the upkeep and well-being of their foreign domestic workers (FDW), which include giving them adequate food and rest. This means “minimally three proper meals and a balanced diet”, it said.

Foreign domestic workers who need help for well-being issues may call the MOM FDW help-line at 1800 339 5505.

Anyone with information on suspected offences involving these workers should write in to MOM at mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg [1] or call 6438 5122 to report the matter.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

United Overseas Bank Ltd v Lippo Marina Collection Pte Ltd and others - [2017] SGHCR 01

IPOS Circular No. 2/2017: Examination practice with respect to shape marks

Intellectual Property of Singapore
Examination Practice with respect to Shape Marks
(Circular No. 2/2017, dated 24 Feb 2017)

The Registry has reviewed its examination practice with respect to shape marks in light of the recent legal developments in this area, in particular, the decision of the Singapore Court of Appeal in Société des Produits Nestlé SA and another v Petra Foods Ltd and another [2017] 1 SLR 35.

Under section 7(3)(b) of the Trade Marks Act, a sign shall not be registered as a trade mark if it consists exclusively of the shape of the goods which is necessary to obtain a technical result.

From 1 March 2017, the Registry will implement a new examination practice for trade mark applications comprising shape marks where a section 7(3)(b) objection may be contemplated.

Under this practice, the Registry may request, by way of an Office Action, for additional information related to the trade mark application. Specifically, the applicant may be requested to:

State the essential feature(s) of the shape mark; and

Provide relevant information on whether the essential feature(s) would be necessary to obtain a technical result.

This practice will apply to trade mark applications comprising shape marks filed on or after 1 March 2017.

For more information on shape marks, please refer to the Trade Marks Work Manual chapter on “Shape Marks” by clicking here.

Maximum $10k fine, 5-year ban for causing pedestrian's death

Straits Times
28 Mar 2017
Elena Chong

A market stallholder who failed to keep a proper lookout for a pedestrian was given the maximum fine of $10,000 yesterday for causing death.

David Joseph John, 62, was also banned from driving for five years for negligently causing the death of Mr Wong Fook Hin, 79, who died of multiple injuries 10 days later.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Delicia Tan told the court that John was driving his van along the fourth lane of the five-lane Outram Road, towards Cantonment Road, at 7.14pm on Nov 13, 2015.

As he approached the corner with Back Alley Road, a side road, he turned to his right to look for vehicles coming out of the side road.

He failed to keep a proper lookout ahead and did not see Mr Wong crossing the road. He did not slow down to give way and the van struck Mr Wong.

An eyewitness, who was in his car waiting for a parking space, saw the van pass him and hit Mr Wong.

After the collision, the van and Mr Wong both moved forward for some distance before coming to a stop.

Mr Wong was taken to Singapore General Hospital, where he died on Nov 23.

In mitigation, John's lawyer Jason Lim said Mr Wong had been jaywalking at a pedestrian no-crossing zone. There was a traffic light-controlled crossing barely 20m away.

Mr Lim said there was no aggravating factor in this situation and a jail sentence was not appropriate.

District Judge Ong Chin Rhu said John was clearly negligent in failing to notice Mr Wong, who had made his way across three lanes of the road.

Although she agreed that Mr Wong had been jaywalking, she would not say he was mainly responsible for the accident.

A second charge of causing grievous hurt to a nine-year-old cyclist in Jalan Bukit Merah on Oct 23, 2015 was taken into consideration during sentencing.

The prosecution is considering an appeal.

John could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for causing death through his negligence.

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

TPY v TPZ and another appeal - [2017] SGHCF 02

State Ct PD Amendment No. 1 of 2017: New PD 11, 120

State Courts

Third man in IPPT ruse jailed

Straits Times
28 Mar 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

An engineer was sentenced to four months' jail yesterday after pretending to be other operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) and taking the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) on their behalf.

Nicholas Tan Kin Sung, now 37, did this on two occasions in 2014. He pleaded guilty to two cheating charges involving $800 in all. He is the third and final man to be dealt with in court for taking part in the scheme.

The mastermind, salesman Lim Chun Chyi, 37, was jailed for 18 months on March 20 after pleading guilty to 20 cheating charges involving $8,000.

On Sept 13 last year, Kho Puay Meng, 39, was jailed for two months after pleading guilty to one charge of conspiring to cheat.

Between 2011 and 2014, the trio took the IPPT for 72 NSmen and pocketed the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) incentive payouts. A gold award recipient is entitled to $400, while a silver award garners $200. A pass-with-incentive award is $100.

Lim would either actively solicit clients or receive requests from them via phone calls or WhatsApp messages. He would then register for the IPPT on his clients' behalf and collect their identity documents to get into the centres.

The clients passed the money to Lim after receiving their payouts. Lim, the only one who interacted with the clients, would give the other two men their cuts later. Occasionally, Lim would ask clients for an additional $50 fee for engaging his services.Tan went on behalf of the clients on Nov 24, 2014, and a week later.

Lim was caught on Dec 6, 2014, after a fitness trainer at Khatib Camp noticed he looked familiar and recalled that the same man had taken the IPPT a few weeks earlier. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Provost investigated and referred the matter to the police in April 2015.

Tan's sentence has been deferred to April 10 as he has to settle some personal matters. He was offered bail of $30,000.

Mindef said 58 SAF, six Singapore Civil Defence Force and five Singapore Police Force NSmen were disciplined according to the respective service's disciplinary framework.

A Mindef spokesman said: "In addition to identity verification during IPPT registration, facial checks will be conducted against their 11Bs or NRICs. Since the start of 2015, biometric fingerprinting technology has progressively been introduced at SAF camps to complement the existing security procedures."

An 11B is a military identity card.

For each count of cheating, Tan could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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

Audi AG v Lim Ching Kwang - [2016] SGIPOS 02

Law Soc: Consultation paper on Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules for Family and Related Proceedings

Law Society

Certain documents mentioned in this notice are accessible only by Law Society Members with their user ID and password via The Law Society of Singapore website.

Consultation paper on (a) Proposed Amendments to Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules for Family and Related Proceedings; and (b) Best Practices Guide for Family Law 

The Law Society of Singapore and the Family Justice Courts are seeking feedback on: (a) proposed amendments to the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules 2015 (‘PCR 2015’) in the context of family and other related proceedings; and (b) a 'Best Practices Guide for Family Law Practitioners' which sets out best practice guidelines for legal practitioners conducting family proceedings in Singapore.

The consultation period is from 20 February 2017 to 20 March 2017 (both dates inclusive). All views and feedback may be sent in electronic form to represent@lawsoc.org.sg.

For more information on the consultation paper, please click here.

Arbitration pioneer Alvin Yeo offers tip to young lawyers

Straits Times
27 Mar 2017
K.C. Vijayan

His advice: Cut your teeth in court litigation before plunging into international arbitration

Whether it is handling the decade- long Susan Lim court saga or a $250 million arbitration spat involving firms backed by famed Malaysian and Indonesian tycoons, Senior Counsel (SC) Alvin Yeo is a master of his craft - both in litigation court work and arbitration advocacy.

The former MP and veteran lawyer, who led teams in the two high-profile cases, told The Straits Times both were equally challenging but required the two different skill sets. He also advises young lawyers to cut their teeth in court work first, before plunging into arbitration where both your competitors and your markets are global.

SC Yeo, who turns 55 tomorrow, was last week lauded by the renowned London-based legal directory Chambers Asia-Pacific with the Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession award in its 2017 honours list for the region at a gala event held here.

Chambers Asia-Pacific described Mr Yeo as "an excellent strategist as well as a first-rate litigator" who is a "deeply impressive and extremely capable individual", and who provided leadership on Singapore International Arbitration Centre and International Chamber of Commerce proceedings. The rare award is another mark of recognition for SC Yeo, who in 2000 became the youngest lawyer appointed senior counsel here at age 37.

SC Yeo was called to the Bar in 1988. He, current Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Senior Counsel Wong Meng Meng were the three founding partners of WongPartnership in 1992.

The firm, then a boutique litigation firm with 11 lawyers, has today become a top-tier full-service firm with some 300 lawyers and has offices in six countries in Asia.

Mr Wong is currently chairman and senior partner of the firm, which is the youngest of Singapore's Big Four law firms, with each of the three others being more than twice its age.

SC Yeo's legal work also spans the growth of Singapore as an international arbitration centre, being a pioneer in the field more than two decades ago.

Two high-profile cases he led in the areas of open-court litigation and closed-door arbitration attest to his broad experience and ability.

In litigation, he was lead counsel for the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in its disciplinary proceedings against Dr Lim for overcharging in relation to a $24 million bill for a patient in 2007. She was eventually suspended for three years and fined $10,000 in 2012.

In the course of the saga, Dr Lim took the SMC to court to appeal against the outcome and failed.

SC Yeo said it was "one of the most contested SMC cases" and had an "international element".

But, if he had his way, there would have been little publicity on the details of the case.

"This was a case which attracted so much media attention. In accordance with the SMC's approach of preserving the confidentiality of its proceedings, I applied on its behalf to have the court proceedings held in camera," he said. This was done to protect the reputation of the doctors facing disciplinary proceedings, prior to the conclusion of those proceedings, he added.

"Unfortunately, this was resisted, and the proceedings were held in open court, with all the resulting publicity," he said.

By contrast, in the case of arbitration hearings, publicity is not an issue as confidentiality is a condition. But an arbitration case comes to the public's attention when the private award is challenged in court.

He cites the spat over a failed pay-television venture between the Astro group controlled by Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan and the Indonesian Lippo group where eight Astro units sued three units of Lippo to enforce the arbitration award in Singapore.

The Court of Appeal in 2013 overturned the $250 million arbitration award won by Astro, and Lippo's PT First Media and PT Ayunda Prima Mitra had to pay about $700,000 to five units of Astro.

SC Yeo said the challenges in such an arbitration case stem from a range of issues which are fought out across a span of jurisdictions.

In the case, the proceedings took place in Britain, Singapore and Hong Kong, with a host of personalities of different nationalities as, variously, the arbitrators, the legal counsel, expert and factual witnesses.

"It is mastering the sheer breadth of issues playing out over multiple proceedings and executing an overall, coordinated strategy that is the biggest challenge," he said.

"The arbitration process tends to be very intense, where everything is crammed into a week as some of the parties fly in from abroad and you start very early and finish very late.

"In court, it is not so cramped; they might give you four weeks, six weeks for your trial. In that sense, it's slightly more spaced out but the fact that you are on your feet for four, six weeks itself is a challenge."

He advised young lawyers to start off in court litigation to acquire the advocacy and cross-examination skills which they can then apply to the arbitration context.

"In arbitration, your chances for oral advocacy are actually more limited. So you have to make sure it counts because you actually have less time."

Asked about winning and losing cases, he said: "The largest source of stress from disputes work stems from the win-lose nature of the work. At the end of the day, the client is looking for a positive result from his case, not just a valiant losing effort. If the outcome is not successful, which does happen, you have to analyse what the reasons are, learn from your mistakes, and move on. There is no other way to survive in this practice."


The largest source of stress from disputes work stems from the win-lose nature of the work. At the end of the day, the client is looking for a positive result from his case, not just a valiant losing effort.


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

Chun-Hua Lo v Monster Energy Company - [2017] SGIPOS 01

Sup Ct PD Amendment No. 1 of 2017 - Amendments to paras 28, 32, 90, 118, 130, App B

Supreme Court




Dear Sir/Mdm,

1       It is hereby notified that amendments have been made to Part II, III, XI, XIV, XVI, Appendix A and Appendix B of the Supreme Court Practice Directions. These amendments will take effect on 1 March 2017 and are summarised below:

a.      amendments to paragraph 28 onAuthorisation for collection of mail and Court documents;
b.      amendments to paragraph 32 on Personal service of processes and documents;
c.      amendments to paragraph 90 on Skeletal arguments for appeals before the High Court, Court of Appeal and Court of 3 Judges;
d.      amendments to paragraph 118 on Timelines for filing;
e.      amendments to paragraph 130 on Registration of service clerks for admiralty matters;
f.       amendments to form 2 (Request for Interpretation Services) and deletion of form 4 (Specimen Authorisation Card) and form 5 (Notification under Order 62, Rule 2(1) of the Rules of Court) under Appendix A; and
g.      amendments to paragraphs 17 and 19 on Waiting Periods under Appendix B.

2       Please find attached a document reflecting the marked-up amendments to the Practice Directions.

3       The electronic Practice Directions will be amended to reflect these changes.

Dated this 17th day of February 2017.


Neptune Court committee must repay estate fund

Straits Times
27 Mar 2017
Carolyn Khew & Priscilla Goy

Court rules it did not observe procedures in using over $420k for legal fees in failed suit

Members of the outgoing Neptune Court Owners' Association (NCOA) management committee will have to pay more than $420,000 to the condo's estate fund by this week, following a High Court decision last week.

The court ruled that the committee did not follow proper procedures when it decided, without permission from its residents, to use $427,700 from the fund to pay for legal fees for a failed defamation suit against 26 residents.

The decision had not been approved at an annual general meeting (AGM) or put to ballot, said Justice George Wei, in ruling in favour of two residents who were seeking to recover the "misspent" money.

Instead, expenditures related to the defamation proceedings were "inconspicuously parked" under privatisation expenses or privatisation expenses/legal fees, he noted.

"It is clear that members of NCOA were never given the chance to vote on the legal expense for the law suits in question," said Justice Wei in his oral judgment on March 22.

Built in 1975, Neptune Court has 752 units.

The NCOA has been trying to get the estate privatised by buying land and common areas from the Ministry of Finance.

The case arose in 2012 when residents put up resolutions for consideration ahead of that year's AGM.

The management committee took offence to certain phrases in two proposed resolutions.

The first asked it to explain who should be responsible for paying the costs involved in the privatisation exercise.

The second asked residents to give their considered decisions on the income and expenditures for 2011 and the budget for the following year.

A court ruled last year that the phrases carried no defamatory meaning.

Yesterday, about 200 residents attended this year's AGM. Last week's judgment was discussed by residents, who also endorsed a new committee headed by Mr Ho Kok Keong.

Outgoing president Tommy Wong, who held the post from 2008, told the AGM that his committee accepts the court ruling although the members felt aggrieved.

"The legal suits are not for personal reason but to protect the committee's integrity," Mr Wong said.

The management committee had tried to appeal against the defamation ruling twice but failed.

Mr Wong also appealed to residents to be given a 12-month grace period for his committee to pay back the money, which drew mixed responses from them.

An 80-year-old retired teacher, who declined to be named and was among the 26 residents sued, said she was glad about the ruling.

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

Public Prosecutor v Chia Kee Chen - [2017] SGHC 05

Law Soc: IPOS - Fee revisions

Law Society

Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (‘IPOS’)
Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Circular No. 1/2017

The Registries has issued Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Circular No. 1/2017 informing the fee revisions and new initiative with effect from 1 April 2017.

The circular covers the following matters:

• Lower Filing Fees for Patents and Trade Mark Protection
• Other Fee Changes
• Implementation of Goods and Services Tax ('GST')
• Change in Procedure for Amendment and Correction of Patents Documents

Click on the following links to view the Circular:

Trade Marks Circulars and Practice Directions (2017)
Patents Circulars and Practice Directions (2017)
Designs Circulars and Practice Directions (2017)

Leonie Towers case: Condo owners want to take cooling towers spat to court

Straits Times
27 Mar 2017
K.C. Vijayan

The spat between Leonie Towers residents and a lone dissenter over the bid to tear down the condominium's cooling towers is set to be taken to the High Court for a final decision.

At an extraordinary general meeting held last Friday, owners voted by a 80.9 per cent majority to appeal against the Strata Titles Board's decision earlier this month.

Leonie Towers' management corporation (MC) wanted to dismantle the cooling system, which has outlived its estimated service life of 20 years. The MC was backed by 82 per cent of unit owners at a meeting last year.

The owners then enacted a by-law under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management (BMSM) Act to allow the MC to proceed.

But dissenting unit owner Yap Choo Moi, 67, successfully applied to the Strata Titles Board (STB) to invalidate the by-law last year.

The three-member STB, in a novel ruling, blocked the MC's bid. It said the relevant laws do not allow the MC to dispose of common property like the air-conditioning system.

Leonie Towers, in the River Valley Road area, has 92 units in two tower blocks, each 25 storeys high.

Among other things, consulting engineers hired to study the system reported that there was corrosion in the steel piping, which required expensive replacements. Major repairs would cost $520,000, a replacement system would cost $750,000, while removing the cooling towers would cost only $85,000.

Madam Yap told the STB that removing the cooling towers would require her to install a new system, which would "lower her quality of life".

In its decision, the STB said there is no provision in the BMSM Act or the Land Titles (Strata) Act that allows for a MC to dispose of common property. And even if this could be done, it could be done only by way of a unanimous resolution, the STB said.

Leonie Towers MC chairman Pearl Lim told The Straits Times that the decision to seek the High Court's permission to appeal against the STB's decision was necessary.

"We are paying about $4,500 monthly in servicing and maintaining the cooling towers excluding the electricity bill. The cooling towers also pose safety hazards for the guards who go up there daily."

Mrs Lim said the MC will carry out mediation talks with Madam Yap to resolve the issue, with two other residents acting as mediators.

Mrs Lim credited the MC's lawyer Toh Kok Seng, who had raised the mediation option and advised that "it is always good to come to an amicable conclusion", she said.

"Our role is to serve for the general good."

Madam Yap, speaking through her lawyer Valerie Ang, said last night that she would not be in a position to comment until after the appeal has been filed.

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

Attorney-General v Ting Choon Meng and another appeal - [2017] SGCA 06

IPOS dispute resolution: Trade Marks Case Guide (1st Ed: 2017)

Customer sues over tampered mileage

Straits Times
27 Mar 2017
Christopher Tan

A motorist who bought a car which had clocked more than twice the mileage shown on its odometer took the seller to court and won.

Madam H.M. Peh, 35, an auditor, sued used-car dealer Right Car and recovered $20,000 last week.

Madam Peh and her husband Steve Long were looking to buy a car in late 2015, and spotted a 6½-year-old Nissan Presage advertised by Right Car, a second-hand dealer located in Turf City.

"We did an Internet search on them (the company) and there was nothing wrong," said Mr Long, 41.

The Presage's odometer - which records the distance clocked by a vehicle - showed that the seven-seater had clocked 75,000km.

"It looked nice," Mr Long said. "We asked the dealer if it was the real mileage, and he said yes."

They paid $59,000, and took delivery of the car in December 2015.

But within a month, the car developed a few mechanical problems.

"My wife got suspicious, and she called Tan Chong (the authorised Nissan agent)," Mr Long said.

According to Tan Chong, the car had clocked almost 200,000km when it was last serviced in June 2015.

"We were very angry," Mr Long said.

The couple confronted the dealer, who denied knowing the odometer had been tampered with.

After some haggling, the dealer agreed to take back the car and refund them $56,000. But then, "they dragged their feet".

"In the end, they said, 'we don't want to give you any money', so we sued them," Mr Long said.

The court ruled in favour of Madam Peh in December, and she secured a compensation of $20,000.

This is believed to be one of the few cases where consumers successfully sued a dealer over a car with incorrect mileage.

The sum Madam Peh was awarded is equivalent to the loss she made when she traded in the Nissan for a brand-new Citroen Picasso.

"Now, we'll never buy another used car," Mr Long said.

Right Car, which did not contest the suit, declined to comment when contacted.

Lawyer Vijai Parwani, who acted for Madam Peh, said: " Unlike jurisdictions like in Australia and the United States, which have specific legislation against tampering with odometers, there are no specific laws here.

"Having said that, it is possible that a party can be charged with cheating if he fraudulently altered the odometer so as to induce a buyer to purchase the vehicle."

Singapore Vehicle Traders Association first vice-president Raymond Tang said odometer-tampering is "quite common".

"Some dealers do it because it is easier to sell a low-mileage car," Mr Tang said, adding that a vehicle with a lower mileage would generally fetch a higher price too.

But he said it is fairly easy for consumers to win a court case if there is evidence that the mileage shown on the odometer is not the actual mileage.

"They can check with the authorised dealer of the car, which should have the information," he said.

But to save themselves the hassle, Mr Tang said buyers should "buy from more respectable dealers, such as those accredited by CaseTrust".

He said buyers should also be wary of cars with unusually low selling prices.

"If eight dealers are selling a particular car at a certain price, and two others are selling much lower, there must be something wrong," he said.

The car industry remained the top source of complaints to the Consumers Association of Singapore for the fifth year in a row last year, with grouses about defective cars making up half of the 2,916 complaints.

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

Kim Seng Orchid Pte Ltd v Lim Kah Hin (trading as Yik Zhuan Orchid Garden) - [2017] SGHC 04

Law Soc: SILE - CPD Year 2017 points requirements

Law Society

SILE CPD Notice: CPD Year 2017 Points Requirements 

Singapore Institute of Legal Education ('SILE') has notified that for CPD Year 2017, the following lawyers (including those practising as locum solicitors) will need to fulfil CPD requirements for CPD Year 2017, which runs from 1 January to 31 December 2017:

a.            Advocates and solicitors of more than 15 years' standing ('Group 3 Lawyers') - those admitted to the Singapore Bar on or before 31 December 2001;

b.            Advocates and solicitors of 5 to 15 years' standing ('Group 2 Lawyers') - those admitted to the Singapore Bar between 1 January 2002 and 1 January 2012 (both dates inclusive);

c.             Advocates and solicitors of less than 5 years' standing ('Group 1 Lawyers') - those admitted to the Singapore Bar on or after 2 January 2012; and

d.            Foreign lawyers registered under section 36B of the Legal Profession Act ('s36B Foreign Lawyers').

Car buyers left in the lurch by parallel importer Royal Automotive

Straits Times
27 Mar 2017
Adrian Lim

13 left in the lurch; parallel importer owes them money but cannot be reached, they say

A parallel car importer in Woodlands Close seems to have closed down, leaving at least 13 buyers in the lurch.

Customers of Royal Automotive told The Straits Times last week that they are owed about $600,000 and have been unable to reach the company's director or staff in the past two months.

The company has vacated its showroom, its Facebook page has also been taken down and website sgCarMart lists it as "not in operation".

The Straits Times was also unable to contact Mr Syed Khairil, the company's director.

Buyers said they placed orders with Royal Automotive from as early as last May, and made deposits and payments of up to $100,000 but never got their cars.

Other buyers said they were only able to successfully collect their vehicles after they forked out more for the certificate of entitlement and additional registration fee.

The company allegedly told them it was in financial difficulty and would pay them back these amounts later. These customers are each owed between $20,000 and $60,000.

Royal Automotive made the headlines in November last year, when its former sales representative, Chua Peng Jun, 23, was charged in court with misappropriating $414,564.

Mr Syed Khairil told the media then that it would try its best to fulfil all its orders.

However, Royal Automotive sent a text message to some buyers earlier this month, informing them that the firm had a "total lost of its liquidity and assets" due to Chua's case. Besides apologising, the firm said: "There is nothing that we can do for any one (sic) of the customers."

Buyers said they were attracted by Royal Automotive's prices, which were up to $10,000 cheaper than other dealers.

Ms C.H. Tan, 48, a customer relations officer, ordered a Toyota Sienta in October and placed a $10,000 deposit for it. In the same month, the firm asked for another $76,888, claiming that the car would be delivered by the year end.

After Chua was charged, Ms Tan said the delivery was postponed to March. But she never got the car. "We don't know what to do next. It's our hard-earned money," she said.

Attempts by three buyers to recover their money via the Small Claims Tribunal were also unsuccessful.

Ms Kristen Teng, 31, an administrative manager, said that Mr Syed did not turn up for the mediation last month. The registrar ordered the company to refund her deposit of $15,000 by March 15, but it did not do so.

A buyer who only wanted to be known as Ms Tay said she was given a cheque for $47,888 in November by the company but it bounced.

"A lawyer advised us to take a civil suit but said there was no guarantee of getting the money back," said the 33-year-old clerk.

At least 30 police reports have been made involving Royal Automotive, and the authorities said investigations are ongoing.

Mr T.T. Lim, 30, a freelance programmer, said he was resigned to not getting his money back. He paid close to $100,000 for a Honda Vezel.

"Let this be an expensive lesson to other people to be wary of such companies," he added.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) also said it has received 29 complaints about the firm since July.

Case executive director Loy York Jiun advised buyers to do their homework on parallel importers by looking up reviews on online forums.

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

Chong Chin Fook v Solomon Alliance Management Pte Ltd and others and another matter - [2017] SGCA 05

Law Soc: Offficial Receiver Practice Circular 1 of 2017 – Revision of administration fee as prescribed under Fees (Winding Up and Dissolution of Companies and Other Bodies) (Amendment) Order 2017

Law Society

Official Receiver's Practice Circular 1 of 2017
Revision of administration fee as prescribed under the Fees (Winding Up and Dissolution of Companies and Other Bodies) (Amendment) Order 2017

The Official Receiver has issued Practice Circular No. 1 of 2017 informing that with effect from 3 January 2017, the prescribed sum required to be placed with the Official Receiver under rule 32(1)(e) of the Companies (Winding Up) Rules will be revised pursuant to the Fees (Winding Up and Dissolution of Companies and Other Bodies) (Amendment) Order 2017. The amendments will revise the Preliminary Administration Fee upwards to $1,400 and the Administration Fee upwards to $9,000. (Refer to G.N. S 1/2017)

The revised prescribed sum in relation to an application to Court to wind up a company will therefore be $10,400.

For queries on the circular, contact Ms Tan Yu-Wen at 6325 1498 or e-mail TAN_Yu-Wen@mlaw.gov.sg.

Click here to view the circular.

ADV: Centre for Asian Legal Studies, NUS - Research Associate/Associate Editor

Singapore Law Watch
27 Mar 2017

Muhammad bin Abdullah v Public Prosecutor and another appeal - [2017] SGCA 04

Law Soc: ACRA-MOF - Public consultation on proposed changes to Companies Act, Limited Liability Partnerships Act and Accountants Act

Law Society

ACRA and MOF launch public consultation on proposed changes to the Companies Act, Limited Liability Partnerships Act and Accountants Act

​The Ministry of Finance ('MOF') and ACRA have launched a public consultation exercise to seek feedback on proposed amendments to the Companies Act, Limited Liability Partnerships Act, and Accountants Act. The public consultation runs from 27 December 2016 to 13 January 2017. This follows the earlier public consultation held in October 2016 on proposed amendments to the Companies Act to introduce an inward re-domiciliation regime in Singapore.

The press release and consultation documents are available on the ACRA website here.

The amendments from the October 2016 round of public consultations, as well as Companies Act amendments in this second round will be incorporated into a single Companies (Amendment) Bill. The Accountants Act amendment will be included as a related amendment in the Companies (Amendment) Bill. Amendments relating to the Limited Liability Partnerships Act will be in a separate Limited Liability Partnerships (Amendment) Bill.

Lamborghini scion taking legal action against S'pore club

Straits Times
26 Mar 2017
Tan Tam Mei

He says club, which closed a day after opening, owes licence fees, hurt his business reputation

The son of famed auto designer Ferruccio Lamborghini has joined a group of people accusing a Singapore nightclub and its linked businesses of owing them money.

In a letter to The Sunday Times, Mr Tonino Lamborghini said the former club at Clarke Quay, which bore his name, owes his company licensing fees amounting to "hundreds of thousands (of) USD".

"Our lawyers are taking action not only to get due fees, but mainly to protect our brand and recover all damages we are suffering."

The Sunday Times reported last week that the Tonino Lamborghini Club owed former workers, including employees from linked businesses Pixie Group and TL Landmark Asia, up to three months of salary. A contractor also said he was owed about $400,000.

The club opened on Oct 20 and closed the next day.

Mr Lamborghini, founder of the Italy-based Tonino Lamborghini business, said its "image, goodwill and reputation" have been "seriously damaged by a disgraceful situation that is beyond our control".

He said his business was not involved in the operational issues, renovation and manpower contracts of the Singapore club, which had licensing rights to the brand name.

A Manpower Ministry spokesman had earlier said it was investigating Pixie Group and TL Landmark for Employment Act infringements. It issued orders of payment which were defaulted. Some former employees had also taken up law suits against the companies.

Mr Lamborghini said: "We are not - to the best of our knowledge - a party to any legal action brought against the aforementioned companies whose unlawful behaviour towards employees, contractors and business partners we... blame."

He said he was approached, in 2015, by Mr Victor Hoo, director of Pixie Group, who expressed interest in developing a "project of Tonino Lamborghini branded nightclubs" in the Asia-Pacific region.

Last October, Tonino Lamborghini entered a trademark licence agreement with Mr Hoo's Singapore-headquartered KV International Group. The Singapore club was to be the first of nine.

When Mr Lamborghini went to its pre-opening party, he became aware of the "troubled situation".

His company stopped the club from opening and terminated the licence deal on Feb 8, due to contract breaches which included non-compliance of design guidelines and not meeting quality standards.

Mr Lamborghini said: "We were quite astonished and disappointed. Mr Hoo had never mentioned any problem or delay before the day of the pre-opening party."

When contacted, Mr Hoo told The Sunday Times that KV International signed the licensing rights and made payment for seven cities. The final payment was to be made when the Singapore club opened but because it was unable to, payment was not made.

Mr Hoo also said Pixie Group intended to acquire the Tonino Lamborghini Club project but could not raise enough capital. He added that while some Pixie Group employees assisted in club operations, the company did not own or run the club.

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

Sin Herh Construction Pte Ltd v Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co Ltd and another - [2017] SGHC 03

New Cybersecurity Laws Introduced in Parliament

28 Mar 2017

What are tax avoidance and tax evasion?

Straits Times
26 Mar 2017
Simon Poh


Both the terms "tax avoidance" and "tax evasion" refer to arrangements seeking to minimise tax liabilities that are not acceptable to the tax authorities.

Tax evasion involves reducing a taxpayer's liability through illegal means such as failing to declare taxable income or claiming fictitious or non-existent expenses. It is a criminal offence and offenders are expected to pay hefty fines and penalties, including serving imprisonment terms.

A tax avoidance scheme may involve an arrangement that is artificial or has little or no commercial substance and is designed to obtain a tax advantage that is not intended by Parliament.

While there are no criminal penalties for tax avoidance, the tax authorities may exercise their powers to carry out appropriate adjustments to cancel out the advantage obtained through the avoidance scheme.


Businesses and individuals need to be careful when managing their tax affairs.

When reporting taxable income, extra caution must be exercised to ensure that no tax evasion or tax avoidance activities are involved.

These two terms should be contrasted with "tax planning", which involves structuring transactions to minimise tax liability, and fulfils both the legal requirements as well as the intent of tax laws.

If you want to use the term, just say: "To ensure that tax planning is legal and defensible, taxpayers should be careful not to engage in tax avoidance or tax evasion activities."

The writer is associate professor (practice) of the department of accounting at NUS Business School.

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

L Capital Jones Ltd and another v Maniach Pte Ltd - [2017] SGCA 03

Contract and Good Faith: An idea gaining ground?

28 Mar 2017

Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo wins international award

Straits Times
25 Mar 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Senior Counsel and former MP Alvin Yeo has received a prestigious international award for his outstanding contributions to the legal profession in the region.

Mr Yeo, 54, chairman and senior partner of top-tier law firm WongPartnership, received the Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession award at the Chambers Asia-Pacific 2017 awards here last night.

The award is given to only two recipients yearly in recognition of their exceptional work in their respective fields and continued contribution to the Asian legal arena, and who "have had a significant and lasting impact on their market and who are outstanding lawyers in their own areas of practice". The other recipient is from Hong Kong.

Chambers Asia-Pacific is a respected international legal guidewhose signature directories have been identifying and ranking the best lawyers and law firms in over 180 jurisdictions worldwide.

Mr Yeo is a leading counsel in international commercial arbitration. Senior Counsel Davinder Singh won the same award in 2014.

Current Attorney-General Lucien Wong won a special award for his outstanding contributions to the legal profession at the Chambers Global awards in London in 2007.

The Chambers website says the awards are based on its research for the 2017 edition of Chambers Asia-Pacific and reflect a law firm's pre-eminence in key practice areas.

"They also reflect notable achievements over the past 12 months including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service," it added.

Nominees for the awards are identified following year-long findings and interviews by a research team.

Chambers Asia-Pacific lauded Mr Yeo for providing "leadership on Singapore International Arbitration Centre and International Chamber of Commerce proceedings". It also described him as "an excellent strategist as well as a first-rate litigator".

Admitted to the Singapore Bar in 1988, Mr Yeo became the youngest lawyer appointed as senior counsel in Singapore some 12 years later.

His legal career spans the growth of Singapore as an international arbitration centre, as a pioneer in the field more than two decades ago.

He said yesterday that he was deeply honoured to receive the award and that it would not have been possible without the support of his firm's clients and colleagues.

"This is a fitting testament to the growth and success of WongPartnership in the Asia-Pacific legal landscape," he added.

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

Public Prosecutor v Goh Jun Guan - [2017] SGHC 02

The adoption of institutional arbitration rules and their effect on the right to appeal in domestic arbitrations

27 Mar 2017

Not breach of contract but unlicensed lending, says judge

Straits Times
25 Mar 2017
K.C. Vijayan

High Court dismisses $10m suit involving fabricated invoices

The High Court dismissed a $10.3 million suit by a trading company seeking the return of alleged unpaid investments from a business duo and ruled that the sums advanced were unlicensed moneylending.

The court found the 76 agreements to fund a joint venture wholesale food business were backed by invoices the plaintiffs knew were fabricated to provide an "air of legitimacy" to the loans granted.

"In other words, the plaintiff's primary, and indeed sole, object was to lend money at high interest," said Judicial Commissioner Audrey Lim, in judgment grounds released on Wednesday.

"In the present case, I have no alternative but to give effect to the draconian consequences of the Moneylenders Act."

Ochroid Trading and its sole director Ole Prytz Rasmussen had entered into a joint venture to invest in VIE Import & Export, started in 2003 by Ms Chua Siok Lui and entrepreneur Sim Eng Tong. VIE was de-registered in November 2012.

The series of agreements under dispute provided for "loans" to VIE for the purchase and resale of specified foods and food-related products, as well as for the funds to be repaid with a "profit" on a stated date.

There were 740 deals inked over three years from 2005.

The 76 in the suit, made over four months from December 2007, were still unpaid. Ochroid and Mr Rasmussen, through lawyer Gary Low, sued for breach of contract, among other things. They argued the agreements involved genuine investments in VIE's business and were not "loans".

Ms Chua and Mr Sim, defended by lawyers Alvin Tan and Sarbjit Singh Chopra respectively, denied the claims, countering that the agreements were unlicensed loans that cannot be enforced, under the Moneylenders Act.

They added that the plaintiffs knew that the invoices accompanying the agreements were fabricated and that there were no real goods underlying each agreement.

The judge said the evidence suggested that the plaintiffs were "trying to have their cake and eat it".

"They wanted to preserve the agreements as loans so they would not have to share in VIE's business risks and would obtain a fixed return regardless of profitability.

"At the same time, they wanted to give the impression that these loans, although at an extortionate interest rate, were not moneylending transactions but were part of a legitimate joint venture by including words such as 'cooperation' and 'profit' in the language of the agreements and by insisting on supporting invoices (which they knew would be fabricated)."

The judge also found that the plaintiffs were carrying on the business of moneylending "as there was a system and continuity in the transactions from the inception of the moneylending agreement".

Mr Rasmussen said yesterday that their lawyers were reviewing the grounds of decision and they would act according to their advice.

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

Ochroid Trading Ltd and another v Chua Siok Lui (trading as VIE Import & Export) and another [2017] SGHC 56

Public Prosecutor v BAB - [2017] SGCA 02

SGX Proposes Changes to Equities Market Structure to Facilitate Greater Retail Participation

27 Mar 2017

Man cleared of drug use, reasonable doubt raised

Straits Times
25 Mar 2017
Selina Lum

A 56-year-old man with a long history of drug abuse yesterday got himself acquitted of his latest charge - for which he was sentenced to 7½ years' jail - after he raised questions about the investigation work of narcotics officers.

Mr Lemmont Tan Beehunt had tested positive for opiates in his urine but insisted he was innocent. He argued that the substance monoacetylmorphine - a metabolite of heroin - could have come from "Chinese medicine" he had bought from a street peddler and taken to relieve pain.

Mr Tan contended that he had given the medicine to Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers some time after his arrest, but nothing was done to send the bottle of black pills for analysis.

In November last year, a district judge, who did not believe Mr Tan, said the medicine was not seized because there was no such medicine. The judge then dealt with him under a sentencing regime for hardcore addicts. Mr Tan was not caned owing to his age.

Yesterday, Mr Tan appealed to the High Court against his conviction and sentence.

Arguing his own case, Mr Tan insisted he had handed the medicine to the CNB. He challenged the authorities to view surveillance footage from when he reported to the CNB.

"A picture paints a thousand words," he argued, saying he was carrying a big bag containing prescription medicine and the pills.

Mr Tan has been in and out of drug rehabilitation centres and prison for drugs since 1982. In 2010, he was jailed for five years and nine months under a scheme for re-offenders.

On Jan 13 last year, CNB officers arrested him to make him undergo a urine test. The test showed he had taken heroin, as no other medication can produce monoacetylmorphine in the urine.

Mr Tan contested a charge of drug consumption, arguing that the black pills may have been mixed with illegal substances. He insisted he had taken the medicine to the CNB after his arrest, but the bureau "suppressed" this.

An officer had testified that some medications were recovered from his home on Jan 13 and then photographed. But the pills Mr Tan blamed for his test results were missing from the photo.

He argued that the officer was lying about the date, pointing out that one of the prescription medications bore a label with the date Jan 18, 2016. In other words, the medications could not have been seized five days earlier, as claimed by the officer.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Star Chen argued that the district judge was satisfied that the CNB had recovered and photographed all the medications found at his home.

She noted that Mr Tan gave contradictory accounts about the medications at trial, undergirding the judge's finding that he was inventing the story as it suited him.

Justice Chan Seng Onn said Mr Tan has "raised serious credibility issues" with regard to the seizure of the medicine and created a reasonable doubt about the "suppression" of some Chinese medicine that may contain traces of illicit drugs.

A spokesman for the bureau said it will study the judge's comments and observations.

"CNB conducts regular reviews of investigative processes as part of our internal work process," said the spokesman.

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

Chiang Shirley v Chiang Dong Pheng - [2017] SGCA 01

Enhancing transparency, facilitating business and positioning for growth

24 Mar 2017

KL court says it can't interfere in S'pore case

Straits Times
25 Mar 2017

Malaysia's High Court yesterday said it could not interfere in a case involving two Malaysian death row inmates in Singapore who wanted their plight to be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), New Straits Times (NST) reported.

Judge Hanipah Farikullah, who made the ruling in chambers, said the court has no jurisdiction in a matter related to foreign policy.

He dismissed a leave application by S. Prabagaran, 30, and K. Datchinamurthy, 32, for a judicial review, NST said.

The duo who are behind bars in Singapore wanted to compel the Malaysian Foreign Minister and the Malaysian government to institute proceedings against Singapore at the ICJ over their drug trafficking conviction.

Lawyer N. Surendran, who represented the applicants, said the two men will be appealing against the decision. "The court dismissed our application for leave, saying that this is a matter that relates to foreign policy and the court has no jurisdiction to interfere," Mr Surendran said, according to the newspaper.

Prabagaran was convicted in the High Court of Singapore in July 2014 of trafficking 22.24g of diamorphine. Datchinamurthy was convicted in April 2015, along with Singaporean J. Christeen, in the same court for trafficking 44.96g of diamorphine, NST said.

The Malaysians were sentenced to death in 2015 after exhausting all their domestic legal remedies in Singapore.

Prabagaran and his mother V. Eswary, 54, then filed an application for a judicial review in January.

The other convicted Malaysian and his mother A. Letchumi, 54, similarly filed for a judicial review last month. They wanted to get Malaysia's Foreign Minister and the Kuala Lumpur government to start proceedings in the ICJ to stop their execution.

NST said the duo were also seeking for a declaration that they are legally obliged to protect their right to a fair trial.

Earlier, Mr Surendran said there were no indications when Singapore would be carrying out the execution. "It (execution) could be at any time as all appeals have been exhausted and that is why we are continuing with the appeal," he said, according to the paper.

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

Nordic International Ltd v Morten Innhaug - [2017] SGHC 01

Singapore's value proposition continues to woo Single Family Offices

24 Mar 2017

Competition watchdog okays Japanese shipping lines' JV

Straits Times
25 Mar 2017
Rachael Boon

Merger of their container liner and terminal services businesses not regarded as anti-competitive

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has given the nod to a proposed joint venture between three Japanese shipping lines, it said yesterday.

The firms - Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Mitsui OSK Lines, and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha - had sought approval on potential issues under the Competition Act.

CCS decided that the joint venture would not infringe the prohibition against anti-competitive mergers under the Act, and issued its decision on March 14. It will be made available on the CCS' public register of mergers and acquisitions at www.ccs.gov.sg.

The three companies will merge their container liner shipping business, and their container terminal services businesses outside Japan.

"The only overlapping service that would affect Singapore is the provision of container liner shipping services," noted the CCS.

They also provide logistics services, bulk shipping, and car and liquid transport through their units, but the three firms will continue to offer these services separately from the joint venture.

The CCS had conducted a public consultation about the impact of the joint venture on the global supply of container liner shipping services for intra-Asia trade routes, and for trades involving East Asia - which includes Singapore.

It took feedback from vessel-operating common carriers, non-vessel operating common carriers as well as beneficial cargo owners.

The CCS set out several reasons for giving the deal the green light. One was that the combined market shares of the firms, across relevant markets such as Europe and North America, did not cross the CCS' indicative thresholds.

Also, "the barriers to entering the relevant markets are not prohibitively high as potential entrants do not necessarily have to operate their own vessels to enter" those market, but could charter slots on vessels of other liners.

Barriers to expansion are also low as there is overcapacity in the industry, and container lines are able to include Singapore as a port of call without substantial cost.

The CCS also noted there was "limited product differentiation by container liner shipping service providers generally", and the information out there did not suggest the three firms are closer competitors to each other than against other players.

The joint venture is also unlikely to increase the possibility of anti- competitive coordination, "given the large number of liners and low market concentration that would continue to exist" after the new firm is formed, said the CCS.

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) set out several reasons for giving the deal the green light. One was that the combined market shares of the firms, across relevant markets such as Europe and North America, did not cross the CCS' indicative thresholds.

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

Masoud Rahimi bin Mehrzad v Public Prosecutor and another appeal - [2016] SGCA 69

The Singapore Court of Appeal clarifies that privilege extends to pre-2012 in-house counsel communications

24 Mar 2017

Woman jailed for selling fake MCs to drug addicts

25 Mar 2017
Valerie Koh

A housewife was sentenced to five months’ jail on Friday (March 24) for providing drug addicts with forged medical certificates (MCs) to cover their absence from urine tests.

Nursusilla Kassim, 26, faced four charges of providing or selling forged MCs from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and National University Hospital (NUH) to two men between Jan 10 and 29 last year. She sold the documents for S$20 each.

Court documents stated that a middleman named Shaik Abood Abdullah introduced the two men to her.

One of the men, Mohammad Rashid Hatnan, was supposed to report to a supervision officer at a police station twice a week for urine tests. When he missed an appointment on Jan 4 last year, he approached Abood to get a fake MC.

Abood linked him up with Nursusilla, who asked if he wanted a forged MC from KTPH, TTSH, NUH or Singapore General Hospital. Rashid said that he had no preference and they met up to complete the transaction.

After Rashid handed in the forged MC to his supervision officer, his deed was exposed when the officer noticed incorrect information on the MC and ran checks with KTPH. Between Jan 16 and 29, Nursusilla also handed three forged MCs to another man, Sahlan Moati, who missed three urine tests at another police station.

Pleading leniency in a letter to the court on Friday, Nursusilla said that she accepted full responsibility for her actions.

District Judge Lim Keng Yeow said that the accused committed forgery in a “deliberate and calculated” manner, getting the right templates and fashioning the documents to be deceptive.

“The fact that she may not have known exactly how the MC would be used did not reduce her culpability. It was obvious that they would be used for deceit and could be used to facilitate many forms of unlawful conduct,” the judge said.

Her co-accused Abood has been in remand since Oct 11 last year. Rashid was jailed six months for using a forged document and failing to report for a urine test, while Sahlan remains at large with an arrest warrant issued against him.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Ng Jun Xian v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGHC 286

The scope of police power to seize property

23 Mar 2017

Vessel captain charged in HK court over Terrex shipment

Business Times
25 Mar 2017
Hoe Pei Shan

Chinese national Pan Xuejun could be jailed up to seven years for failing to have the required import permit

The captain of the container ship with nine Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Terrex infantry carrier vehicles on board that were detained in Hong Kong in November was on Friday charged in court for failing to have the required licence.

Prosecutors allege that Pan Xuejun, a 39-year-old mainland Chinese national, imported the Singapore-made armoured vehicles on Nov 23 under shipping company APL to Hong Kong without the necessary import licence issued by the director-general of Trade and Industry.

The vehicles, which cost a total of S$30 million, were used by the SAF for training purposes and had been on board a container ship that was in transit in Hong Kong, en route back to Singapore after a military exercise in Taiwan.

They were considered by Hong Kong customs to be "ground vehicles specifically designed or modified for military use". For his single charge of importing such strategic commodities without the proper licence, Pan could face up to seven years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Appearing for the first time in court on Friday, Pan was released on bail of HK$50,000 (S$9,000) and is expected to only be entering a plea after his case is next mentioned on May 19, his lawyer told The Business Times.

Prior to releasing the Terrex vehicles on Jan 27, Hong Kong's customs chief, Roy Tang, said that his department had not found the Singapore government responsible for the possible breach of the licensing requirement.

The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department said on Thursday in a statement to BT that it has "sufficient evidence to prove a case in breach of the strategic trade control system" and that prosecution of the shipping agent and master of the vessel had begun.

Assistant director of public prosecutions Bianca Cheng said on Friday that prosecutors were planning to combine Pan's case with that of another defendant, understood to be APL. The shipping company is expected to appear in court at a later date.

An APL spokesman told BT that the company "has yet to receive any summons" and "is rendering its support to the Master who has received a summon".

The controversial detention of the military vehicles drew strong reactions from both Singapore and Beijing.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing in January that the Chinese government "firmly opposes any forms of official interactions, including mil-to-mil (military to military) exchanges and cooperation, between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic ties with us".

"It is hoped that Singapore will cooperate with the SAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) government in the follow-up procedures and draw lessons from the incident," she said. "China has made representations to Singapore over the relevant incident and hopes that the government of Singapore will faithfully adhere to the one-China principle."

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, meanwhile, maintained that the Terrexes had sovereign immunity as property of Singapore and could not be legally detained or confiscated by other nations. Dr Ng told Parliament in January that the SAF had followed the same procedures for shipping military equipment "for over 30 years without any significant incidents".

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

Forest Fibers Inc and another v K K Asia Environmental Pte Ltd and others - [2016] SGHC 282

Additional conveyance duties on residential property-holding entities and other stamp duty changes with effect from 11 Mar 2017

23 Mar 2017

A creative way of selling homes that is testing tax boundaries?

Business Times
24 Mar 2017
Lynette Khoo

The Peak @ Cairnhill I and II comes with enhanced scheme offering longer exercise period and transferable option

The enhanced deferred payment scheme at The Peak @ Cairnhill I and II (Peak I and Peak II) offers an intriguing way for the developers to move their inventory, but it is worth asking if it goes against the spirit of stamp duties on residential transactions.

For a while now since the onset of property cooling measures, developers have tried various means to make their projects more palatable. They have more flexibility to come up with creative marketing schemes for delicensed projects - those that have received Certificate of Statutory Completion and individual strata titles issued to buyers.

Since the sales and purchase agreements for delicensed projects no longer come under the purview of the Controller of Housing, developers are able to stretch their imagination to the limits in dangling incentives for buyers under private treaties.

One commonly used scheme in delicensed projects thus far has been the deferred payment scheme, which allows buyers to defer the substantial balance payment for one to two years.

The scheme for Peak I and Peak II is touted as "enhanced" for reasons including stretching the exercise period for the option to purchase - which is three weeks in normal circumstances - to 18 months and two years respectively. This means that the buyers defer paying the stamp duties on purchase for 18 months at Peak I or two years at Peak II.

In addition to the longer exercise date, the buyer can also nominate someone else to exercise the option, thanks to a "and/or nominee" legal clause in the private treaty with the developer.

To be clear, flipping an uncompleted property by reselling the purchase option is not allowed under the Housing Developers rules. The option granted by the housing developer is not assignable or transferable. This means a home owner can only sub-sell the property after he has signed the sales and purchase agreement.

But for delicensed projects and resale properties, they are a different kettle of fish. There is usually less incentive for a third party to take over an option to purchase an already-completed unit since he can buy another completed unit directly in the resale market.

In private resale agreements, there can also be legitimate reasons for including the legal clause to give the buyer that flexibility of nominating someone else to exercise the option. For instance, a married couple may choose to decouple their existing property holdings before one of them exercises the option to purchase a new property.

But since the creative schemes at Peak I and Peak II allow the option exercise date to be 18 months to two years later, such long exercise period does make it highly probable for the first buyer to profit from reselling the option to someone else without paying relevant stamp duties.


To give an illustration, let's say Buyer A agrees to buy a small unit at Peak II from the developer for S$2.1 million by footing a 20 per cent non-refundable downpayment of S$420,000. Buyer A can move into or rent out the unit as he has signed a tenancy agreement with the landlord as master lessee. During the two-year period, the property tax and maintenance fee payable are also absorbed by the developer.

Between now and the exercise date in March 2019, Buyer A finds Buyer B to take over the option; Buyer B agrees to be the nominee to exercise the option by paying Buyer A S$520,000 as he expects that the price of the unit will rise by more than S$100,000 in two years' time.

This is a win-win. Buyer A gets to profit on a "resale" without paying any buyer's stamp duty and seller's stamp duty since he did not effectively own the unit to begin with. Buyer B gets to maintain the loan quantum based on the original property value of S$2.1 million even if prices shoot up within the two years. Such transaction is undeclared since passing on the option to purchase merely requires a letter of nomination prepared by solicitors.

But it is worth considering if this goes against the spirit of existing stamp duties on residential transactions, even if it has not been the developers' intention to help such buyers dodge taxes.

In response to a BT query, a spokeswoman from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore said: "The scope and coverage of stamp duties are clearly spelt out in legislation; and IRAS will continue to enforce these rules, as well as monitor any new developments in the market."

Peak I and Peak II were originally jointly developed by Tee Land and TG Development in a 27-73 joint venture; last year, this JV was dissolved with Tee Land exchanging its entitlement in Peak II for TG's entitlement in Peak I.

Since the inception of the enhanced scheme this year, 11 of some 17 balance units at Peak I have been sold while 56 of the 60 units at Peak II have been sold. But it is unclear if any of these options have been reassigned to someone else, though some agents say that none has taken place.

Lippo Group has also introduced a similar "enhanced deferred payment scheme" for Marina Collection on Sentosa, but with a 30 per cent downpayment instead of 20 per cent. So far, two units have been sold under the scheme, according to agents.

With the exception of Peak I that comes under qualifying certificate (QC) conditions, the other above-mentioned projects are not constrained by QC conditions or the remission clawback on additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) to sell out within a certain period.

But evidently, the possibilities are aplenty under private treaties for delicensed projects, for which developers have found ways to revive schemes that have been abolished for uncompleted projects (the government disallowed deferred payment schemes for uncompleted projects since 2007). There are about 2,031 completed unsold units as of end-2016, out of the total 21,102 unsold private residential units. Deferred payment schemes are, however, not without risks for developers themselves. Besides straining their balance sheets, they may end up holding onto the unsold units and still incur the attendant charges under QC and ABSD if buyers choose to let the options lapse.


But the strong response to OUE Twin Peaks' deferred payment scheme early last year has prompted other developers to do likewise for their projects. Wheelock Properties introduced a similar scheme at Ardmore Three last year; CapitaLand rolled out its own version of a deferred payment scheme, known as the stay-then-pay programme, at two mega projects, d'Leedon and The Interlace last year, and later on introduced it for Sky Habitat this year.

Developers that are faced with looming deadlines to sell out their projects under the conditions of QCs and ABSD have greater urgency to delicense their projects to have more flexibility to sell under private treaty, other than to apply steep discounts to move inventory. This urgency will become stronger now that the tax loophole which allows them to sell residential units in bulk through sale of shares in the holding entities has been plugged. Since March 11, the government introduced additional conveyance duties or ACD on such share transfers to mirror the stamp duties on direct residential transactions.

But for all intents and purposes, creative payment schemes are deemed inessential if developers have priced their projects realistically to begin with.

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

AmFraser Securities Pte Ltd v Goh Chengyu - [2016] SGHC 278

Yap Son On v Ding Pei Zhen clarified Contractual Interpretation but left questions about Extrinsic Evidence and the Starting Points for Interpretation

22 Mar 2017

Wanted: Feedback on new framework for investment funds

Straits Times
24 Mar 2017
Jacqueline Woo

Feedback is being sought on a new corporate structure for investment funds.

The structure being proposed - the Singapore Variable Capital Company (S-VACC) - will encourage asset managers to consolidate their operations in Singapore by domiciling more of their funds here, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong told a conference yesterday.

Investment funds use three structures now - unit trusts, companies formed under the Companies Act, and limited partnerships.

The S-VACC aims to complement these existing corporate structures with one that is tailored for investment funds, said Mr Wong, who is also Second Minister for Finance.

"We believe this will spur demand for fund-servicing activities such as accounting, legal, custody and tax in Singapore, therefore creating more jobs in the broader professional service sector."

Mr Wong said that the S-VACC structure will offer asset managers greater flexibility and lower costs, as it will cater to both open-ended and close-ended fund structures.

It will also be used for investments across all asset classes, and by both retail and private funds.

In addition, the S-VACC will allow asset managers to achieve cost efficiencies by consolidating administrative functions at the umbrella fund level. This means that sub-funds, with varying risk levels, different investment objectives and classes of investors can be housed under the same umbrella as a single legal entity.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) provided more details on the new structure, including how S-VACCs will be allowed to maintain their respective registers of shareholders, although they will have to disclose the registers to supervisory and law enforcement agencies when necessary.

It said that the S-VACC is proposed to be limited to investment fund purposes only, and will be required to have a fund manager which is regulated by the MAS.

Shares of the S-VACC will generally be issued and redeemed at net asset value to ensure accountability and transparency for creditors.

The MAS has also proposed that the incorporation of S-VACCs be governed by a new Act, under which the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority would act as the registrar of S-VACCs, while MAS would oversee the anti-money laundering obligations.

"With the S-VACC framework, MAS seeks to offer a flexible and efficient platform for fund managers to co-locate fund domiciliation with their substantive fund management activities in Singapore and further deepen the asset-servicing ecosystem," said MAS in a statement yesterday.

The public consultation will end on April 24. More details can be found on the MAS website.


We believe this will spur demand for fund-servicing activities such as accounting, legal, custody and tax in Singapore...

MR LAWRENCE WONG, the National Development Minister and Second Finance Minister, on the potential of the Singapore Variable Capital Company.

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

Re Gulf Pacific Shipping Ltd (in creditors’ voluntary liquidation) and others - [2016] SGHC 287

Universal succession in Singapore – getting the recognition it deserves

22 Mar 2017

SGX, stockbroking body set out guidelines on TR advice

Business Times
24 Mar 2017
R Sivanithy

The Guidance Note, which outlines the types of advice allowed, gives brokers a heads up to the new rules that will kick in soon

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) and the Securities Association of Singapore (SAS) on Thursday sent brokers a Guidance Note which outlined the type of investment advice that trading representatives (TRs) are allowed to offer their clients, thus clarifying a grey area that has existed ever since the rules were tightened in the wake of 2008's US subprime crisis.

"TRs are allowed to give ERA (execution-related advice)/recommendations on listed-excluded investment products (EIPs) to clients provided they state the rationale for their ERA ," said SGX and SAS.

"This could be based on technical or fundamental analysis conducted by the TRs, reports issued by other research analysts, or market developments/performance/events," the note added.

On June 29 last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a consultation paper on proposed changes to the Financial Advisers Act that dealt with exempting ERA for EIPs, these being financial instruments that are seen as being less complex or sophisticated and therefore would be well-understood by retail investors.

On Dec 30, MAS released its response to the feedback on that consultation paper, in which it said brokers have to put in place measures to ensure that each time TRs provide ERA in respect of listed EIPs to clients, the TRs must provide the rationale for that advice.

It said the finalised regulations will take effect in the first quarter of this year. SGX and SAS's Guidance Note is therefore aimed at giving brokers time to digest the changes before the new rules come into effect, which is likely to be soon.

The note also reminded brokers that they cannot give ERA without basis or rationale, and provided a non-exhaustive list of many examples in which they are allowed. Among them are:

  • recommending a stock because the price-earnings ratio is attractive and the sector has a positive outlook;
  • recommending a stock because of a new research report;
  • recommending a trade because the stock has moved by a certain percentage;
  • recommending a trade because the company had just released either positive or negative news;
  • recommending a stock as the sector in which the company operates has displayed growth/decline in the past few months, or similar stocks have risen/fallen over the same period;
  • recommending a stock because of its dividend payout policy;
  • recommending a trade based on positive/negative sentiment gathered through the TRs' interaction with clients and other TRs;
  • recommending a buy or sell based on Wall Street's performance overnight; and
  • recommending a trade based on anticipation over whether the US Federal Reserve is about to raise or lower interest rates.

TRs contacted by The Business Times welcomed the move. The president of the Society of Remisiers, Jimmy Ho, described it as being "market-oriented".

"It is a step in the right direction," he said. "The authorities have clearly recognised the importance of TRs being able to guide their clients with useful advice and recommendations."

A dealer at a local brokerage said that setting "OB markers" like this can help drum up more liquidity. "Over time, this will help TRs engage with their clients and also help educate the investing public. It's a win-win that hopefully will see more retail interest return and volume increase."

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

Main-line Corporation v United Overseas Bank Ltd and another - [2016] SGHC 285

Singapore Court: Arbitration clause designating wrong institution incapable of being performed

21 Mar 2017

SID launches last set of CG Guides series

Business Times
24 Mar 2017
Syarafana Shafeeq

The Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) has unveiled the last set of its Corporate Governance Guides (CG Guides) as well as a brand new eGuide.

The brand new eGuide platform will serve as an electronic guide to the six printed CG Guides, as well as explanations and references to all the principles and guidelines of the Code of Corporate Governance.

Resource Guide, the last set of the series that was unveiled on Thursday, provides a helicopter overview of the whole CG Guide series.

A box set of all the printed guidebooks has also been released, with second editions of the guidebooks.

The changes to the guidebooks include updates to regulations and practices that have occurred since the books were published, as well as improved referencing and access to the different topics and pages in the guides.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu was guest of honour at the "Final Launch of the Corporate Governance Guides for Boards in Singapore" event held at Marina Mandarin Singapore.

Ms Fu previously launched the first guidebook, the Nominating Committee Guide, as well as a board diversity pledge back in August 2015.

In her address, she highlighted the importance of a gender-diverse leadership, and the poor proportion of women on boards.

"This is not about giving preferential treatment to a specific gender - merit still comes first," Ms Fu said, adding: "But we can, and must do more to strengthen the gender diversity in corporate leadership."

The project undertaken by SID to produce the comprehensive guide for corporate governance was commenced in February 2015.

It is supported by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and the Singapore Exchange.

The five previous guides in the set (the Nomination Committee Guide, Remuneration Committee Guide, Board Risk Committee Guide, Board Guide and Audit Committee Guide) were progressively launched over the past 15 months.

Each guide was overseen and reviewed by six review panels of around 10 experts and practitioners each, as well as a professional firm.

SID chairman William Cheng said: "Though today is technically the final instalment of the CG Guides series, it is by no means the end of our work."

"We will continue to update the books. The next round of major updates will likely be in two years when the revised CG Code is in place," he added.

Mr Cheng also disclosed that SID is currently working with KPMG to produce a Guide to Sustainability for Boards. The guide is expected to launch in September this year.

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

Towa Corp v ASM Technology Singapore Pte Ltd and another - [2016] SGHC 280

Strata titles board holds that it cannot interfere with decisions made in compliance with procedural requirements and where parties vote in favor of their own commercial position

21 Mar 2017

Singapore to attract more global funds

Business Times
24 Mar 2017
Jamie Lee

New corporate structure for funds to be set up here, as the nation plays to its strength as a regulated financial hub amid pressure for tax transparency

In a move aimed at attracting more global funds to set up their legal entities here, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Thursday proposed introducing a corporate structure for investments.

This is expected to play to Singapore's regulatory strength amid stronger global pressures for tax transparency, which effectively calls for businesses to be domiciled in jurisdictions where they have substantive operations.

In announcing the proposed change, Singapore's Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong said this move will enable investment managers to consolidate their operations in Singapore by domiciling more of their funds here, alongside their fund management activities.

"We believe this will spur demand for fund-servicing activities such as accountancy, legal, custody and tax in Singapore, therefore creating more jobs in the broader professional services sector," said Mr Wong, who is also minister for national development. He was speaking at a conference of the Investment Management Association of Singapore (IMAS).

Three types of structures are now being used by investment funds in Singapore: funds can form unit trusts, have limited partnerships, or be registered as companies under Singapore's Companies Act.

However, each structure has its limitation for global funds.

Justin Ong, PwC Singapore's Asia-Pacific asset and wealth management leader, told The Business Times that the unit trust model is not commonly used by non-UK European funds, while the limited-liability model is mostly applied by US companies. As for Singapore's Companies Act, this is mostly used by domestic companies with typical business operations.

Under the new corporate structure known as the Singapore Variable Capital Company (S-VACC), asset managers domiciled here can enjoy more flexibility and save on costs, said Mr Wong.

The structure can be applied to open-ended and close-ended funds, retail and private funds, and for investments across all asset classes. Open-ended funds differ from close-ended ones in that open-ended funds can adjust constantly their investment criteria, their capital and their fund size.

Asset managers will also be able consolidate administrative functions at an umbrella fund level. This means sub-funds with varying risk levels, investment objectives and classes of investors can be housed together under the same legal entity, said Mr Wong.

Funds typically base their legal entities in places such as Dublin, Luxembourg, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands - offshore locations viewed as tax havens.

But amid the weight of tax-transparency pressures exerted by the OECD's Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) and the United States' Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), businesses are expected to be based in places where they can prove substantive operations in order to justify the tax breaks they earn.

PwC's Mr Ong said: "There's nowhere to hide. In the last two to three years, this whole debate around tax transparency has been around substance. If you create a vehicle in Singapore, it works because you've got an eco-system here."

Singapore has focused on building itself as a financial centre for asset managers; it can now tap that expertise, as well as its reputation for being well-regulated, to woo global funds into setting up their legal entities here, he added.

"It's very fungible as a vehicle structure. So once you have these things in play, any global investor who wants to invest into Asia, or any part of Europe, can now look at the Singapore structure."

Mr Ong added that Singapore-domiciled funds can take advantage of the various bilateral tax treaties in force.

Tony Lewis, head of HSBC's securities services, Singapore, pointed out that funds based here may also, in time, benefit from fund passporting through Asia.

"Singapore's strategically important location within Asean means that future fund passporting schemes will provide Singapore-domiciled funds with additional, and extensive, distribution channels."

With regard to future fund passporting in this region, it is understood that Singapore is still in talks over "tax harmonisation" with other Asia-Pacific countries. Singapore poses advantages for its Asia-Pacific counterparts in Australia and Japan, given that fund flows through Singapore are from global investors, while fund flows within Australia and Japan tend to come from domestic investors.

Mr Ong said: "When the Asian fund passporting concept comes about, that would provide a new playground for Singapore. It's a very big opportunity, and if we sit out of it, it would be quite disadvantageous. Once you're not in the game at the first move, you will no longer get there."

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

Ong Ghee Soon Kevin v Ho Yong Chong - [2016] SGHC 277

New stamp duties on shares transfer – Acquisition and disposal of equity interests in residential property holding entities

20 Mar 2017

IVF mix-up: Woman entitled to compensation, court rules

Straits Times
23 Mar 2017
K.C. Vijayan

But Court of Appeal says child should not be seen as 'continuing source of loss' to parents

A woman who conceived a baby with a stranger's sperm in a fertility treatment mix-up was found to have suffered a loss of "genetic affinity" and is entitled to compensation worth nearly a third of the cost for bringing up the child.

But the Court of Appeal, in its ground-breaking judgment yesterday, made it clear that this in no way means that the child should be seen as a "continuing source of loss" to the parents, who have accepted her as their own.

Instead, the damages are awarded because the woman could not fulfil her basic human desire to have a child of her own with her husband.

The court's ruling in what it described as "possibly one of the most difficult" it had to deal with caps a long-running battle between the couple and Thomson Fertility Centre's parent company Thomson Medical, and two embryologists.

In 2010, the couple went to the centre for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. A stranger's sperm - instead of her husband's - was used to fertilise her extracted eggs.

The mistake resulted in her giving birth to a baby girl with her genetic make-up but not her husband's.

In 2012, the woman sued for damages, including for the upkeep of the child, known as Baby P in court proceedings.

The High Court disallowed the claim for upkeep in 2015, citing policy considerations which view the birth of a healthy child as a blessing. The woman appealed.

The Court of Appeal, comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, Andrew Phang, Tay Yong Kwang and Justice Steven Chong, admitted it was faced with a conundrum.

If it refuses to grant upkeep costs, the woman "would receive a comparatively modest award for pain and suffering".

This, wrote Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang on the court's behalf, "would appear to undercompensate" the woman.

"After all, the only reason why she elected to conceive via IVF was because she desired a child with her husband but, because of the... mistake, she finds herself the mother of a child fathered by a complete stranger."

It was argued that the award of upkeep costs denigrates the worth of Baby P, he pointed out.

On this point, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court, explaining that "the obligation to maintain one's child is an obligation at the heart of parenthood".

But the court also recognised that the woman has lost something of profound significance.

"The ordinary human experience is that parents and children are bound by ties of blood and share physical traits. This fact of biological experience - heredity - carries deep socio-cultural significance," the judgment read, highlighting some of the woman's depositions.

She had told the court how Baby P's different skin tone "never fails to draw curious looks from the public... turning joyous family time into depressing moments".

"Further, it is very disheartening to both my husband and me when my eldest son queries us on the difference in the way his sister looks."

While the court made a "categorical and unequivocal objection to any suggestion that racism has any place in our society", the issue of race was a real one, it said.

The court even highlighted a point made by the Constitutional Commission's report into the Elected Presidency in respect of race, which said that "Singapore cannot yet be considered a post-racial society: This is a reality that must be faced, even if it is one that is not to be endorsed".

The court said it recognised the complex role that physical resemblance, race and cultural and ethnic identity "have had and continue to have on our individual well-being, as they so evidently have had on the appellant's".

The court decided that the loss of genetic affinity has resulted in social stigma and embarrassment for the family. It ruled that the actual sum the woman can claim should be set at 30 per cent of the financial costs of raising Baby P, with the precise quantum to be determined by the High Court.

Lawyers whom The Straits Times spoke to said this should apply to when Baby P reaches the age of 21.

The Court of Appeal added that it would be preferable for the parties to arrive at an amicable settlement in order that closure might be achieved.

The clinic was defended by a team of lawyers led by Senior Counsel Lok Vi Ming and Audrey Chiang while the woman was represented by Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, S. Palaniappan and Derek Ow.


It is very disheartening to both my husband and me when my eldest son queries us on the difference in the way his sister looks.


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ACB v Thomson Medical Pte Ltd and others [2017] SGCA 20

Prima Bulkship Pte Ltd (in creditors’ voluntary liquidation) and another v Lim Say Wan and another - [2016] SGHC 283

In brief: Insurance, Companies, Insolvency

20 Mar 2017

Veteran criminal lawyer struck off the roll

23 Mar 2017
Valerie Koh

A veteran criminal lawyer with nearly three decades of experience was struck off the roll on Wednesday, after the Court of Three Judges noted that his “objectionable conduct” – ranging from making false declarations to mislead the court to urging a client to get a medical certificate to explain his absence from court – pointed towards a “gross failure” to fulfil a lawyer’s duty to the court.

Mr Udeh Kumar Sethuraju’s repeated adjournments of cases were also “intolerable”, said Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, delivering the judgement on behalf of the court.

“This is not a case of an occasional lapse that may be forgiven… (Mr Kumar) disregarded the legitimate interest of all the other stakeholders in the justice system over a sustained period of time,” he said.

The ex-lawyer faced 28 charges, brought against him by the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) following complaints from the Attorney-General and the State Courts.

A Disciplinary Tribunal found that 11 charges were severe enough to be raised to the Court of Three Judges. These related to Mr Kumar’s conduct in representing a particular client, his habit of being tardy or absent from hearings, and his failure to avoid unnecessary adjournment, expense and waste of the court’s time.

Lawyers representing the LawSoc called for a suspension of 12 to 15 months, but the Court chose instead to disbar Mr Kumar, who has a long history of disciplinary issues.

In 2013, the Court of Three Judges suspended him from practice for three months over improper conduct relating to a client’s sale of a house. A Disciplinary Tribunal fined Mr Kumar S$20,000 on two separate occasions: For being absent or late for hearings in 2013 and for poor case management in 2015.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the court was told of the time when one of Mr Kumar’s clients missed his court hearing, as he had not been informed about it by the lawyer. Mr Kumar later urged the client to see a doctor to “save his ass” and offered to get a doctor’s memo on his behalf – for a fee of S$300.

Due to the court absence, the client’s bail of S$10,000 was forfeited. Mr Kumar offered to repay him, but to date, he has only paid the client S$5,000.

In another charge, Mr Kumar wrote a letter to a High Court judge stating that he had “just recently” been told that a client had appointed him to appeal his case, and he had been unable to see the client “due to a lack of visit slots” in jail.

But in an affidavit, Mr Kumar offered a different version of the incident. “I was looking at the hearing list in relation to other matters, I realised that there was a hearing for his appeal… I was then reminded that he had initially requested me to help with his appeal,” he said.

Senior Counsel N Sreenivasan, who was defending Mr Kumar, said that the ex-lawyer was very hardworking, but faltered due to a mismanagement of his cases. But Mr Sreenivasan conceded that “the totality of the picture is someone very slipshod, someone who doesn’t have regard for the proper way of doing things, someone who has bitten off more than he can chew”.

Chief Justice Menon, however, felt that the problem went beyond poor management. “It seems to be disregard for the court. I was dismayed that an officer of the court would behave this way. I don’t think we can sweep it aside as a matter of mismanagement,” he said. “I can’t think of a more objectionable conduct of a solicitor standing before the court.”

Mr Kumar declined to comment after the hearing.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Supercars Lorinser Pte Ltd and another v Benzline Auto Pte Ltd - [2016] SGHC 281

SGX issues Consultation Paper for a possible listing framework for Dual Class share structures

17 Mar 2017

Pro-bono help over the phone

Straits Times
23 Mar 2017
Ng Huiwen

Needy individuals can soon dial a lawyer for pro-bono legal help, under a pilot initiative by local legal tech start-up Asia Law Network (ALN).

ALN chief executive Cherilyn Tan told The Straits Times that its existing Quick Consult phone calls, where users can seek legal advice from a lawyer at $49 for 15 minutes, will be extended to a non-profit organisation from April 1.

ALN, which features an interactive database of lawyers, is among the five technology solutions under the new Tech Start for Law scheme.

About 20 lawyers across big and small firms have volunteered for its pilot run, said Ms Tan.

If it is successful, she hopes to roll out the platform to family service centres here while cross-border pro-bono work can also be carried out with regional non-profit organisations in the future.

This is an example of how lawyers can leverage technology to improve access to justice, said Ms Tan, 32, who founded ALN in 2014.

"The call reduces wait time for urgent cases, and is especially for beneficiaries who are unable to travel during office hours as they are working multiple jobs to make ends meet."

Others who may benefit include those who cannot afford to travel to meet their lawyers, the elderly and those with disabilities, she added.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has said that legal practice will see an "uberisation", in reference to private-hire car service Uber, as new systems are better able to match the supply of and demand for lawyers.

Beacon Law Corporation director Tan Cheow Hung, who was LawSoc's Pro Bono Ambassador 2016, said he is hopeful that the pilot initiative would encourage more lawyers to do pro-bono work.

He said: "This is especially so if the system is able to match a lawyer to a pro-bono client only when the lawyer is available, thus ensuring that billable hours are not affected."

Added Mr Lau Kah Hee, 34, a partner at Derrick Wong & Lim BC: "Ultimately, as a lawyer, you want to help people solve their legal problems in a cost-efficient and effective way."

Mr Lau, who will be among the lawyers in the pilot run, takes about four Quick Consult paid calls a month.

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Public Prosecutor v Sumanthiran s/o Selvarajoo - [2016] SGHC 284

MAS sets up Data Analytics Group to help position financial sector for future digital economy

17 Mar 2017

Start-up makes case for a knowledge bank

Straits Times
23 Mar 2017
Ng Huiwen

Many law firms count knowledge as one of their greatest assets but few keep a bank of the work produced by their lawyers, said co-founder of local legal tech start-up Intelllex, Mr Chang Zi Qian.

"To compound the problem, work done may be lost because of lawyers leaving the firm," he added, noting that lawyers are sometimes forced to start their research from scratch.

To help lawyers retain knowledge and practise more efficiently, Mr Chang, 30, and his team designed an online workspace with an intelligent search engine and knowledge management system.

Intelllex, which was launched in January last year, now has more than 3,000 users.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has said that such predictive technology will make research "less time-consuming, more accurate and almost certainly cheaper than manual research or tedious document review by junior associates".

In its tie-up with the Tech Start for Law scheme, Intelllex will be rolling out a new enterprise version which allows lawyers of the same firm to share documents.

Law firms will also be able to take stock of the work done by their lawyers across expertise.

This will allow the growing number of multidisciplinary firms to "confidently know who has experience in a particular area and is the most suitable to (be) put together on such teams", said Mr Chang.

Singapore law firms that are eligible under the scheme will pay $35 per lawyer each month. So far, more than 20 firms have shown interest in the enterprise version, added Mr Chang. About three regional law firms have also reached out to his team in the past month, he noted.

Mr Darius Tay, director at boutique law firm BlackOak, said before it started using Intelllex last April, lawyers trawled through databases and textbooks during research, and knowledge management was done on an ad hoc basis.

"It resulted in a lot of redundant effort when lawyers redid research on issues that their colleagues may have looked at on another case."

Leveraging on technology has enabled the firm's lawyers to do more high-level strategic work, he noted.

Mr Chang said that looking ahead, the Intelllex team also hopes to integrate other tools into the workspace, including legal writing and drafting.

In the next two years, the team also aims to venture into other common law jurisdictions, such as Australia and Hong Kong.

Mr Chang said: "The intellectual work still has to be done by a lawyer - robots cannot do everything.

"So, what we really hope to do is change the way law is being practised."


The intellectual work still has to be done by a lawyer - robots cannot do everything. So, what we really hope to do is change the way law is being practised.

CO-FOUNDER OF LOCAL LEGAL TECH START-UP INTELLLEX, MR CHANG ZI QIAN, on the potential of the software it designed.

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The Cellar Door Pte Ltd / Global Interactive Works Pte. Ltd. - [2016] SGPDPC 22

The Minority’s Approach to Statutory Interpretation in AG v Ting Choon Meng better accords with the Interpretation Act

16 Mar 2017

Mindset change needed for legal tech scene to take off

Straits Times
23 Mar 2017
Ng Huiwen

Experts point out key hurdle as S'pore seeks to grow culture of innovation in the industry

Singapore has made its strongest push yet to get more lawyers to harness technology in their practice, said lawyers, observers and experts.

These include recent efforts led by the judiciary and the Government, such as the Legal Technology Vision and the $2.8 million Tech Start for Law scheme.

But more remains to be done to change mindsets among lawyers while growing a culture of innovation in the sector, they added.

At the official opening of the Singapore Management University law school building on March 15, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said lawyers will not be immune to disruption.

Many routine legal tasks can now be automated while law firms overseas have begun using data science to tackle legal questions, he added.

However, Singapore law firms still "have a way to go", compared to those in the United States and Britain, said Mr Mark Goh, managing director of boutique law firm MG/Chambers.

Like many others who spoke to The Straits Times, he added that it begins by getting law firms here to adopt baseline technologies.

These include practice management systems that allow case updates, timekeeping and billing to be carried out online as well as online legal research and marketing tools.

"The courts are aware that legal technology issues are far more complex, especially in terms of cyber security, responsibility and liability," noted Mr Goh, who created in-house legal document assembly software VanillaLaw last year.

"But first, you need to have people come up to the baseline.

"If stakeholders are not working in that environment, how can they debate and discuss these issues?"

Last month, the Ministry of Law, together with the Law Society (LawSoc) and Spring Singapore, launched a new scheme - Tech Start for Law - to help law firms adopt technology by subsidising part of the initial costs.

This comes after a study commissioned by LawSoc last year found that only 9 per cent of small and medium-sized law firms have adopted technology.

The managing director of Eden Law Corporation, Ms June Lim, said the scheme provides an incentive for law firms to try out the technology products.

But it is also crucial for "someone to set the tone and to want to put these things in place", she added.

She has been running her practice in a virtual workspace for the past three years.

"Frankly, mindsets have to change too," Ms Lim noted.

Some law firms continue to do most processes manually due to lack of time to train staff or "simply the fear of things going wrong when automated", said LawSoc chief executive Delphine Loo Tan.

However, as wages continue to rise, firms will be forced to turn from manual labour to technology, she added.

Furthermore, "legal services are now contributing to a greater proportion of the country's gross domestic product than ever before".

Via Law Corporation director Wang Yingyu said: "We have to hire people with an open mindset to learn new things.

"We will keep upgrading our systems and it can be troublesome but we will not shy away from it."

As part of the wide-ranging Legal Technology Vision, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has called for the incubation of a legal tech scene in the years ahead.

Mr Lee Ji En, 23, who started Facebook group Legal Hackers SG in January last year, said the legal tech scene here is still at a nascent stage.

"For instance, in the big US cities, there are podcasts, weekly meet- ups and chat groups about how to use technology to resolve problems in the legal industry," said Mr Lee, who is a practice trainee at Bachoo Mohan Singh Law Practice.

Legal Hackers SG, which has about 300 members, began as an informal platform to discuss legal innovation. He added that it is encouraging to see two local start-ups - Asia Law Network and Intelllex - on the Tech Start for Law scheme, and hopes more products will be included over time.

He remains positive that the legal tech community will grow over time. "Our push for legal innovation has started well but we will need to ensure that we keep the momentum going," he noted.


We have to hire people with an open mindset to learn new things. We will keep upgrading our systems and it can be troublesome but we will not shy away from it.

VIA LAW CORPORATION DIRECTOR WANG YINGYU, on her law firm's commitment to adopting technology.

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Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act - Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 110 of 2017)

MAS announces regulatory changes to strengthen finance companies resilience and ability to finance SMEs

16 Mar 2017

Exercising restraint in the use of restraints

Straits Times
23 Mar 2017
K.C. Vijayan

A review is needed in the handling of minor offences and elderly suspects, with alternatives to warrants of arrest worth considering for municipal infringements

Every year, tens of thousands of Singaporeans fail to pay fines for offences ranging from breaches of town council rules, to illegal parking, speeding and other traffic-related matters, to failure to pay utility bills.

After repeated reminders go unheeded, a warrant of arrest is issued by the courts and that is fed into a police enforcement database.

That is what happened to Madam Josephine Savarimuthu, 73, who had breached town council rules over wrongful placement of potted plants. Her initial fine was $50 but ballooned to $400 by the time she settled the bill on March 7, which included court legal fees.

Madam Savarimuthu was arrested on March 4 when she went to Ang Mo Kio South neighbourhood police centre to report a lost pawn ticket. The police officer discovered an outstanding warrant of arrest for her, issued by the court last year as she had failed to attend court in relation to town council summons.

So on that Saturday, the police offered her bail. She refused. She was then taken to a police station and from there to court. After the matter was processed by the court, she was escorted that same day to Changi Women's Prison - with handcuffs and leg restraints on her.

After being remanded over the weekend, the same restraints were used on her on Monday morning when she was conveyed to the State Courts from the prison to be dealt with for the offence. Her daughter, Madam Gertrude Simon, 55, bailed her out then and on the following day, the fine was settled.

But the manner of her treatment subsequently drew debate. The incident came to public attention after Madam Simon wrote in to The Straits Times Forum to register her unhappiness over the way her mother was treated and to call for law enforcement officers to exercise flexibility in their treatment of elderly folk.

The case actually raises questions about the treatment of two different groups of offenders. The first are elderly suspects in custody, whose numbers could swell in the coming years given the rapid ageing of the population. The second are those guilty of municipal offences and who have, as a result of non-payment of fines, had a warrant of arrest issued against them.


Those who commit municipal offences are of all ages and backgrounds. Currently, the police execute warrants of arrest triggered against such defaulters by a host of agencies, such as the Housing Board, Land Transport Authority (LTA) and town councils.

In 2015, the caseload for departmental and statutory board charges and summonses handled by the State Courts rose to 143,700, from 116,865 in 2014. While these figures include charges not handled by police, it stands to reason that at least a share of these cases involve police enforcing warrants of arrest against individuals, as in the case of Madam Savarimuthu. The question is whether this is the best way to deal with such offenders.

There is also the matter of resource allocation, as current process takes up scarce police resources and incurs court costs. Alternative options are worth exploring, especially as other countries, such as Australia, have found different means to deal with such offences.

In the state of New South Wales (NSW), for example, most minor offences would not result in an arrest warrant, a police spokesman for the state said in response to questions from The Straits Times. "Ultimately, the non-payment of fines sees the matter fowarded to the State Debt Recovery Office. They take action to recover the money and then are able to cancel drivers' licences in NSW, for instance in the case of driving offences," he said.

The State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) administers the NSW fine enforcement system and is responsible for the receipt and collection of outstanding fines and penalties. These fines are for miscellaneous minor infringements, such as parking offences, failure to pay bills like ambulance fees or election-related breaches.

The SDRO is armed with remedies such as garnishing the sums payable from the offender's employer or placing a charge on property and, if such actions fail, then an order for community service is issued.

No equivalent of the SDRO may be justified here in cost-benefit terms but it stands to reason to consider a scenario where agencies like the town councils are empowered to deal with municipal breaches on their own, armed perhaps with remedies similar to those made available to the SDRO. After all, it seems more appropriate for municipal offences to attract penalties proportionate to the nature of the breach.

A review of current processes could also help to shift the burden of enforcement action away from the police and free them to focus on more serious challenges to safety in the face of new security threats.


Singapore is not the only country grappling with the issue of senior citizen arrests. In Britain, police arrest some 40 senior citizens a day on average, according to 2010 figures reported in the Daily Mail.

"Their crimes range from failing to pay a fine for overfilling a wheelie bin to not wearing a seat belt or chopping a neighbour's hedge without permission," the newspaper reported.

In Singapore, comparable data is not currently available publicly but The Straits Times reported earlier this month that the number of elderly prisoners has almost doubled in the past five years. The Singapore Prison Service has even retrofitted some prison cells with senior-friendly features like grab bars and handrails. With the ageing of society, the issue of how the elderly should be treated while in police custody gains added significance and urgency.

In the case of Madam Savarimuthu, the prisons officers who handcuffed and used leg restraints on her - virtually maximum-security restraints - were following procedures that have likely evolved over time.

There was one case each in 2007 and 2008 in which remandees attempted to escape.

In 2007, two accused persons broke free from police escorts near District Court 26 in the basement level. They were recaptured within the premises. In June 2008, two accused persons who were not handcuffed fled from the court lock-up but they were promptly apprehended within 100m of the lock-up. Two days later, the pair were back in the then Subordinate Courts, appearing with hands cuffed and legs shackled.

In today's post-Mas Selamat era, the mantra seems to be: Better to be safe than sorry - to a fault. Singaporean terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari escaped from Whitley Road Detention Centre in February 2008 and was on the run before being arrested by the Malaysian Security Branch in April 2009.

Now, the standard operating procedure (SOP) seems to be for prison inmates and remandees to be handcuffed and shackled not only to ensure secure custody but also to prevent them from harming themselves and others, including the officers. Also, it can be risky to expect ground officers to be able to discern quickly the risk level of a person in custody merely from the nature of their offence or age.

The challenge is for the authorities to find a way to relax procedures for minor offences and elderly offenders without raising risks significantly.

Criminal lawyer Josephus Tan argues for a "calibrated" approach in dealing with the elderly, including making provisions for someone to assist the senior in custody. This is "not just a legal issue but a social issue", he said. "There is no 'one size fits all' but what we see are a sign of things to come, given that we are an ageing society."

Retired award-winning social work professional K.V. Veloo urged prisons and police to start developing an SOP on how to deal with seniors that covers each stage of the process - from arrest, interrogation, confinement in police or prisons' remand to court appearance and disposal.

"I will go a step further: They should be treated as in the case of juvenile offenders under the Children and Young Persons Act, which provides protection and care of such young people. The hallmark of a caring society is seen in how it treats its weakest members," said the former chief probation and after-care officer.

It would also be more ideal if the rule is not to use security restraints on elderly offenders and those involved in minor cases but allow officers the discretion to do so.

That is especially so for the elderly, who may be facing their first run-ins with the law after long years of law-abiding existence.

On this issue, a review is timely.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (TUM CREATE Electric Three-Wheeled Motor Cycle Trial) (Exemption) Order 2017 (S 109 of 2017)

Revisiting the Issue of Parallel Imports in Singapore – Samsonite IP Holdings Sarl v An Sheng Trading [2017] SGHC 18

15 Mar 2017

Mastermind to serve life sentence after appeal fails

Straits Times
23 Mar 2017
Selina Lum

The man who abducted the 79-year-old mother of Sheng Siong supermarket chain founder Lim Hock Chee in 2014 and demanded a $20 million ransom will be jailed for life and given three strokes of the cane, after his appeal against conviction was rejected.

Lee Sze Yong, 44, had asked for the death penalty after he was convicted in December last year, saying that he could not bear the thought of "hopeless years ahead". He did not appeal against his sentence.

Yesterday, Lee, who had argued his case before the Court of Appeal without a lawyer, said: "Undoubtedly, I had committed a crime."

Head shaved, wearing a purple prison jumpsuit and holding sheets of paper in his hands, he argued that the question was whether the state of his mind "lies within the language of Section 3 of the Kidnapping Act".

The provision states that an individual who abducts someone with intent to hold that person for ransom faces either the death penalty or life imprisonment with caning.

The former sales executive repeated the argument he had made during his trial - that he was not guilty of kidnap for ransom because he had intended to release Madam Ng Lye Poh by midnight that very day, whether or not the ransom was paid.

But the three-judge court dismissed his argument.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon noted that the trial judge did not accept Lee's assertion that he would have released Madam Ng empty-handed when the clock struck 12.

"Even if the appellant did have the intention to release the victim by the end of that fateful day... the offence was complete when he abducted the victim with intent to hold her for ransom."

During his trial last year, Lee admitted that he had been thinking of ways to kidnap rich people in Singapore to clear his debts, which had ballooned to about $200,000.

His first target was billionaire investor Peter Lim's children.

He did research on wealthy people and kept an organiser in which he recorded information on potential targets and the means by which he could execute his plans.

He also bought items such as pepper spray, a taser and masks.

In 2013, he started staking out the Hougang house of the Sheng Siong boss and decided to target Madam Ng after observing her movements.

On the morning of Jan 8, 2014, he approached her at an overhead bridge and asked her in Hokkien if Mr Lim was her son.

After she confirmed that he was, he tricked her into getting into his rented Honda Civic by lying that her son had fallen in his office.

He blindfolded her and phoned Mr Lim, demanding $20 million in $100 and $1,000 notes.

Mr Lim eventually negotiated the sum down to $2 million.

Lee then roped in his former lover, Mr Heng Chen Boon, who was not aware of the plan, to help him swop cars and guard Madam Ng.

When Mr Heng pleaded with him to release her, Lee threatened to expose their sexual history.

After being driven around for 12 hours, Madam Ng was released after her son dropped off a bag with the cash in Sembawang Park.

Lee was arrested in Ang Mo Kio shortly after and led police to the bag of cash, which he had thrown into some bushes at the same park.

Mr Heng, 52, has served a three- year jail term on a reduced charge of helping Lee to abduct Madam Ng.

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

Foreign Employee Dormitories Act 2015 - Foreign Employee Dormitories (Appeals) Regulations 2017 (S 108 of 2017)

MAS strengthens financing channels for next-generation Asian growth companies and builds technology infrastructure to drive innovation in support of recommendations of Committee on the Future Economy

15 Mar 2017

Maid abuser's appeal fails, judge raises jail term from 14 to 16 months instead

Straits Times
23 Mar 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

A sales executive who got 14 months' jail for subjecting her maid to abuse almost daily for about three weeks was yesterday unsuccessful in appealing for a lighter sentence.

Instead, High Court judge See Kee Oon increased Ang Lilian's sentence to 16 months' jail.

He said Ang, 45, who asked for a fine or one day in jail, showed a complete lack of remorse.

The judge added that the mother of two, represented by lawyer Foo Cheow Ming, capitalised on her maid's vulnerability.

The prosecution argued that there was no reason for the court to grant Ang's appeal and depart from sentencing precedents.

They noted that the original sentence of 14 months' jail meted out by the State Courts last year was well within the range of sentences given in similar cases.

Ang was found guilty last July on 11 charges of abusing Ms Moe Myint Aye, now 28, after an 11-day trial.

However, she was cleared of one count of using criminal force on the Myanmar national, who began working for Ang's Marine Terrace household in January 2013.

Apart from the jail term, Ang was also ordered to pay $3,150 in compensation.

The maid, who now works for another employer, was assaulted almost daily between mid-April 2013 and May 1 that year.

Ang hit her with her fist and objects such as a dustpan, a shower head and a cane. The attacks were targeted mainly at the maid's head and face.

Ang also pulled the victim's hair, threw her to the ground and slapped her face repeatedly.

The maid testified during trial that her life was "very bad'' and that Ang would attack her for any slight mistake.

Ang's crimes came to light on May 7, 2013 after a public-spirited neighbour noticed the maid's injuries and alerted the police.

The repeated blows resulted in severe bruising around the eyes.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Ruth Teng and James Chew, who sought a jail term in the range of 14 to 16 months in the State Courts, earlier argued that the serious injuries were a significant aggravating factor.

"This is not a case of a light smack or a quick shove. This is a case where the victim was systematically brutalised by Ang," the prosecutors said in their submissions to the court.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan, who presided over Ang's trial, found her conduct particularly egregious.

The abuses were prolonged and showed a pattern of escalating severity, he noted.

He also rejected the defence's argument that the victim had fabricated all the incidents of abuse to engineer the premature termination of her employment contract.

Ang could have been jailed for up to three years and also fined up to $7,500 for each charge of maid abuse.

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

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Exemption of Foreign Income) (No. 2) Order 2017 (S 107 of 2017)

MAS announces inclusion of registered business trusts in new financial reporting framework and sets out transitional relief for issuers affected by new framework

15 Mar 2017

Ex-trader in spoofing case gets 16 weeks' jail

Straits Times
23 Mar 2017
Grace Leong

Former DBS Vickers Securities remisier Dennis Tey Thean Yang was sentenced to 16 weeks' jail yesterday for manipulating prices in the securities market by using an illegal trading tactic called "spoofing".

Tey, 33, filed a notice of appeal against his sentence and was granted bail of $80,000 by District Judge Jasvender Kaur.

Said the judge: "It is in the interest of the community to root out spoofing to ensure that the financial markets are genuine. If such misconduct is not effectively deterred, then the manipulators would be protected at the expense of the market participants, whom the law is supposed to protect."

It was the first such case brought jointly by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Singapore Police Force's Commercial Affairs Department. Tey pleaded guilty earlier this month to eight of 23 charges related to his attempt to manipulate prices through fraudulent securities orders made between late 2012 and 2013.

His scheme aimed to defraud IG Asia and CMC Markets Singapore, which provide what are called Contracts for Differences (CFD). These allow investors to profit from the price fluctuations of underlying assets without actually owning them.

Tey's "spoofing" strategy involved entering false orders in underlying securities to temporarily change the prices and, in turn, the prices of the corresponding CFDs.

He then executed the CFD trades at prices which were beneficial to him but were detrimental to the two CFD providers. After executing the CFD trades, Tey removed the false orders for the underlying securities. He entered 465 orders through the securities accounts and 325 trades through the CFD accounts to make a profit of $30,239, the judge said.

He was also charged with unauthorised use of the trading accounts of his parents and clients to perpetrate the fraud.

The judge said "the high level of planning to execute the scheme and to evade detection" and the "scale, frequency and duration of the offence" were significant aggravating factors when considering a jail term.

She also found Tey had breached his responsibilities as a trading representative and breached his duty of fidelity to DBS Vickers when he used nominee accounts to circumvent trading restrictions his employer had imposed on him.

Tey, a Malaysian who left DBS Vickers in March 2014, was arrested in May 2015, charged in July last year and convicted earlier this month.

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Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Exemption of Income of Prescribed Persons Arising from Funds Managed by Fund Manager in Singapore) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 106 of 2017)

More time allowed for reporting internally generated UTI of uncleared specified derivatives contract not electronically confirmed

14 Mar 2017

CCS uncovers 5 firms involved in F1 tender bid-rigging

Business Times
22 Mar 2017

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) issued a proposed infringement decision (PID) against five companies on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in tender bid-rigging.

The bids in question include a tender for the provision of electrical services for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix from 2015 to 2017.

The firms are the Cyclect Group, comprising Chemicrete Enterprises, Cyclect Electrical Engineering and Cyclect Holdings, as well as HPH Engineering and Peak Top Engineering.

In a release on Tuesday, the CCS said it began its investigations after receiving a complaint on the alleged anti-competitive agreements.

In the case of the F1 tender, called on Dec 8, 2014 by Faithful+Gould Project Management on behalf of Singapore GP, a total of four bids from Chemicrete, Cyclect Electrical, HPH and Peak Top were submitted.

After assessment, the tender was awarded on April 23, 2015 to Cyclect Electrical, which submitted the lowest bid for the three-year contract.

CCS's investigations found that Chemicrete, Cyclect Electrical, HPH and Peak Top colluded in the submission of their bids for the F1 tender. Instead of each party independently preparing their own competitive bid, the Cyclect Group prepared all price schedules and final bid prices for HPH's and Peak Top's submissions, with the intention that Cyclect Electrical would win the tender.

In a separate case, international school Gems World Academy called for an invitation to quote for the procurement of barcode tagging services for its campus property.

Gems received a total of three quotes, including quotes from Chemicrete and HPH. On March 31, the tender was awarded to Chemicrete, which had submitted the lowest quote.

According to CCS's investigations, Chemicrete sought HPH's assistance to win the tender. Chemicrete forwarded a competing quote to be submitted by HPH to Gems that was higher than Chemicrete's own quote.

Under the Competition Act, business entities should not enter into any agreement or engage in any concerted practice with the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition.

They should instead independently determine their responses to competition and refrain from participating in any discussion, coordination, or plan which is anti-competitive in nature, the CCS said.

The Cyclect Group, HPH and Peak Top have six weeks from receipt of CCS's decision to make their representations to CCS, before it makes it final decision.

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

Supreme Court of Judicature Act - Rules of Court (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 105 of 2017)

MAS releases Response to feedback from consultation paper on removing DBU-ACU divide

14 Mar 2017

Discipline needed when applying to delay AGMs

Business Times
22 Mar 2017
Mak Yuen Teen & Chew Yi Hong

Rule 707(1) of the Mainboard and Catalist Rulebooks requires all issuers with a primary listing on Singapore Exchange (SGX) to hold their annual general meetings (AGMs) within four months after the financial year-end. They are also required to issue their annual report to shareholders and SGX at least 14 days before the AGM. The Singapore Companies Act requires listed companies to hold their AGMs within the same deadline and to send the audited financial statements and the auditor's report to shareholders at least 14 days before the AGM.

Some issuers apply for a waiver from Rule 707(1) in order to hold their AGM after the four-month deadline. Holding the AGM after the statutory deadline also requires the approval of the relevant regulatory authority. SGX typically expresses no objection to the AGM being held at a later date subject to certain conditions, one of which is that the relevant regulatory authority concerned also approves the extension. For Singapore-incorporated companies, the relevant regulatory authority is the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra).

Issuers that apply for waivers to delay results announcements often apply for waivers from Rule 707(1) as well. Although regulators do grant waivers from Rule 707(1) in most cases, we are pleased that, based on what we have seen in 2016 compared to 2015, they appear to be getting stricter in doing so. In some cases, an application for a waiver or a further waiver was rejected by SGX. In at least six cases in 2016, SGX had granted approval for a waiver or further waiver subject to Acra also giving approval, but Acra subsequently rejected the application.

Issuers should get the message that extensions to release results or to hold AGMs are granted only in exceptional cases. Directors should be held accountable if such delays are due to their lax oversight.

Often, applications for waivers from Rule 707(1) are early indicators of bad news. Therefore, starting from our second yearly report on shareholder meetings last year, we looked at issuers that apply for waivers from holding their AGMs on time.

In our latest report due later this month, we found that 43 issuers made announcements related to a waiver from Rule 707(1). Some applied for multiple waivers. SGX requires issuers to give reasons for applying for a waiver - although some gave rather vague reasons.

Reasons for waiver

One issuer cited the requirement of another exchange where it has a dual listing for 21 days of notice of the AGM, need for translation, and resources being diverted in applying for the dual listing. Another was a new listing.

Four others cited cost savings reasons because of an impending delisting. Other reasons include change of external auditors, special audit or investigation, financial issues (including liquidation, judicial management, going concern problems), resignation or change of key finance personnel, and accounting or audit issues.

Accounting or audit issues were the most commonly mentioned reasons, with 17 of the issuers citing this as a reason, followed by financial issues, with 11 issuers doing so. Often, issuers provided multiple reasons, in which case we classified them based on what we consider to be the major reason.

Issuers were inconsistent in their disclosure of waivers. Some disclosed at the time of application and also when SGX informed them of its decision. Others disclosed only when they were informed by SGX. Some disclosed only when the AGM is already due or nearly due. We cannot even be sure if there were issuers that applied for and failed to obtain a waiver but did not make any announcement.

Delays without waivers

Take the case of YuuZoo Corporation, which in 2015 applied to delay its AGM by one month saying that it was informed by the auditors that the audited accounts would not be ready. The announcement was made only on April 30, the last day to hold its AGM, and in the announcement, it disclosed that it made the application to SGX on March 24. Only when the approval of the waiver was announced on May 8 were more detailed reasons for the delay provided. In 2016, YuuZoo again applied for more time to hold its AGM, this time citing "printing errors" in its annual report. The extension was not granted by SGX. YuuZoo eventually held its AGM on May 27, after its April 30 deadline. There were also some issuers that had applied for extensions of time to announce the full-year results later than 60 days after the end of the full year, as required under Rule 705(1), but did not apply for or announce a waiver to delay their AGM.

For example, China Fishery Group and Pacific Andes Resources Development announced at the end of 2015 and in early 2016 respectively that they have applied for extensions of time to announce the companies' full-year results for the financial year ended Sept 28, 2015. However, they did not announce any applications for waivers to delay their AGMs even though their 2016 AGM deadlines have long since passed - other than both issuing announcements at the end of 2016 that there will be delays to the FY2015 and FY2016 results announcements and AGMs.

The companies have gone totally quiet on their financial reporting for the past 14 months. While it may be somewhat understandable given the circumstances the issuers are in, shareholders are at a complete loss with regard to the financial position of the issuers.

Then there is the case of Transcorp Holdings, which on Dec 29, 2016, disclosed that it had applied for an extension of time to announce its full-year financial statements for the financial year ended Oct 31, 2016. The announcement on SGX was titled "Financial Statements and Related Announcement: Notification of Results Release". Only when one clicks on the announcement would one realise that it was actually an application for approval for an extension of time to announce the full-year results. It has yet to announce if it had obtained SGX's approval. Further, the company is now already past its four-month deadline to hold the AGM but there has been no announcement about the delay or about any application or approval for an extension. We would question the disclosure treatment of the announcement and would urge stronger oversight over how announcements are being made.

Questionable disclosure of waivers

Probably the worst case of questionable disclosures of waivers from Rule 707(1) was China Environment, an issuer which kept delaying its AGM.

On March 22, 2016, China Environment announced that SGX had informed the company that it had no objection to its AGM for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2015, being held two months late, by June 30, 2016. The company disclosed that it had applied for the waiver on March 4, 2016. The reasons it cited was "inter alia, timing considerations which make it unlikely that the Company will be able to finalise the Annual Report (including the Accounts) in time for it to be dispatched to shareholders of the Company and for the AGM to be held no later than 30 April 2016". What these "timing considerations" were or what caused them were unclear.

A week after its announcement, the executive chairman resigned, followed by the chief financial officer (CFO), the external auditor and two other executive directors in April. The new executive chairman who was appointed on March 9 then resigned less than six months after his appointment. There were other board and management changes.

Meanwhile, on June 16, the company revealed that it had to restate and re-file its financial statements for FY2013 and FY2014 under Acra's Financial Reporting Surveillance Programme. It disclosed that Acra had on Aug 21, 2015, issued a warning letter to two of its directors, followed by an advisory letter to the board of directors on Oct 23, 2015, with respect to the FY2013 financial statements. The audited financial statements for FY2015 would also be deferred until the completion of the FY2013 and FY2014 financial statements. Perhaps this was what the company meant by "timing considerations" in its application for the waiver almost three months earlier.

On June 22, the company announced an application to SGX for a further extension to Oct 7, 2016, to hold its AGM, citing the need to re-state and re-file its FY2013 and FY2014 financial statements. On Aug 12, the company disclosed that it had on July 26 applied to SGX again for an extension of time to hold its AGM by Dec 20, 2016, and that SGX had granted an extension on Aug 10. It cited the delay in the audit process for the FY2015 financial statements as a result of the need to restate and re-file the FY2013 and FY2014 financial statements.

On Oct 19, China Environment announced that it had on Sept 14 applied to Acra for an extension of the deadline to restate and re-file its FY2013 and FY2014 financial statements and table them at the AGM by Dec 20, 2016. It also disclosed that it had on Aug 15 applied to Acra for an extension of time to hold its AGM for FY2015 by Dec 20, 2016, and that Acra had approved it.

The company then announced on Nov 10 that it had applied for yet another extension to hold its FY2015 AGM by June 30, 2017. This time it cited "the recent lockout and power supply cut due to rental in arrears have created disruption to the local staff and Singapore management who are trying to prepare for the audit to be done" and that "one of the key accounting personnel, who handled all the major bookkeeping functions and coordinating the sales and purchase contracts had also resigned recently".

Finally, on Dec 21, the company announced that it had made a report to the Commercial Affairs Department against the former executive chairman and former CFO. Up till today, there is still no sign of the AGM.

In the light of situations such as these, we are recommending in our report that issuers should be required to make an announcement at the time when they apply for a waiver to delay the announcement of results or the holding of their AGM, with the reasons for the application. This is because such applications are often red flags that shareholders should watch out for. In fact, as a general principle, consideration should be given to requiring issuers that apply for waivers from any listing rules or statutory requirements to disclose such applications in a timely manner, and with reasons clearly stated.

We also recommend that issuers that are directed by regulators to restate and re-file their financial statements and those that receive warning or advisory letters relating to non-compliance with financial reporting standards should be required to make an immediate announcement indicating clearly the reasons.

In our view, the poor disclosure of waivers is part of a bigger problem - a lackadaisical attitude towards compliance with listing and regulatory requirements on the part of some issuers. Recent examples of apparent disclosure lapses in issuers such as Spindex Industries and Swiber Holdings raise questions as to whether some issuers and their boards are paying lip service to their disclosure obligations under the listing rules and legislation.

There have been criticisms in some quarters that we have focused too much on compliance or conformance, rather than performance, in our corporate governance efforts. While we agree that good corporate governance requires striking the right balance between compliance and performance, there is still a markedly weak compliance discipline among many listed issuers. If we do not take urgent steps to address the disclosure lapses that are becoming all too common, our disclosure-based regime is at risk of becoming a selective disclosure-based regime.

The writers are, respectively, an associate professor of accounting at NUS Business School where he teaches corporate governance and an active investor who has also been involved in various corporate governance research projects in Singapore and the region.

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Employment Claims Act 2016 - Employment Claims Rules 2017 (S 104 of 2017)

Singapore’s Trademark Year in Review

14 Mar 2017

Next financial crisis may be triggered by a cyberattack, says MAS chief

Business Times
22 Mar 2017
Angela Tan

Emerging technologies help reduce risks in the financial sector, but they may also accentuate some risks or even create new ones, such as cyberattacks and runaway algorithms, warned Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

In his keynote address at an annual forum by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in Sydney on Monday, he said cyberattacks, which are less visible and often hit many firms at the same time, are a growing threat to the financial ecosystem, and that financial technology (fintech) could accentuate this risk.

"As more financial services are delivered over the Internet, there will be growing security and privacy concerns from cyber threats," he said. "And maybe even systemic concerns. It is not inconceivable that the next financial crisis is triggered by a cyberattack."

Cyber risk management will thus be the new frontier for global regulatory efforts and supervisory co-operation to address these emerging threats.

He noted that the financial sector has benefited from technological innovation, as is evident from the growing use of digital payments and a wide variety of financial operations; big data is being used in many areas of finance to gain richer insights into customer behaviour and needs, to detect fraud or anomalies in financial transactions and to sharpen surveillance of market trends.

But various risks lurk. Take for example, the nascent use of robo-advisors - software algorithms that recommend a portfolio based on investor preferences and rebalance the portfolio automatically. Shouldn't such robo-advisors be subject to capital requirements, since the financial risks presented by them are similar to that by traditional fund managers, Mr Menon asked.

They also present higher technology risks in the form of runaway algorithms or cyber criminals stealing customer information, not to mention potential systemic or macro-financial risks.

"The failure of a robo-advisor could potentially lead to contagion among other algorithm-driven service providers. This could present systemic risks if investors seek to withdraw their investments in securities through fire sales," he added.

The pro-cyclicality arising from algorithms is another unknown, as the interaction between algorithms could exacerbate market trends.

But Mr Menon suggested that regulators guard against taking approaches that are too pre-emptive when dealing with the uncertainties of fintech; instead, they need to keep pace with innovation.

Turning to how the MAS responds to fintech, he said it uses a regulatory sandbox to test new ideas in a confined environment. The Singapore regulator has also started using techniques such as clustering and network analysis in its supervision of the financial markets and its monitoring of anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism risks.

"We are working to develop algorithms that can detect and identify trading accounts suspected of syndicated activities," he said, adding that MAS will soon set up a dedicated unit on supervisory technology to synergise these efforts and to sharpen its supervisory practices.

On cyber security, MAS has collaborated with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (FS-ISAC) to establish an Asia-Pacific Regional Intelligence and Analysis Centre. The centre will encourage regional sharing and analysis of cybersecurity information within the financial services sector. It is expected to begin operations soon.

Mr Menon noted that, nine years on from the global financial crisis, the financial industry continues to be plagued by egregious misconduct, and financial regulation remains a work in progress.

Regulators must "evaluate the effects of the reforms put in place and make adjustments where appropriate, to maximise their effectiveness and minimise their costs".

But ultimately, it is the financial institution's responsibility to foster "a culture that motivates the right ethical behaviour and responsible risk-taking in the markets" as there are limits to what externally imposed rules can do, he said.

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

Employment Claims Act 2016 - Employment Claims Act 2016 (Commencement) Notification 2017 (S 103 of 2017)

Key Announcements from MOM’s Committee of Supply Speeches 2017 and Other Employment Updates

13 Mar 2017

What has happened since the accident

Straits Times
22 Mar 2017
Seow Bei Yi


The rail operator has implemented additional safeguards for staff working on running tracks during traffic hours, such as switching on a red flashing light with an appropriate sign displayed. It has also introduced more stringent checks for track access during traffic hours.

Each request is reported to management alongside information such as the location, time and duration of access, as well as protection arrangements - for better monitoring and detecting of deviations in practice.

SMRT has also improved the audit process for track access.

Previously, checks were not conducted as track access is an ad-hoc activity, meaning audits can be done only on short notice. Inspectors have since been attached to signal maintenance, to check on compliance for access during traffic hours.

Other measures include a new department - the Track Access Management Office - to plan, coordinate and control track access in non-traffic hours.

On Feb 28, SMRT pleaded guilty to one charge under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for failing to take measures necessary to ensure the safety and health of its employees in accessing train tracks, and was fined a record $400,000.


The ministry, which did an investigation into the case as well, revealed on Feb 28 that not only did SMRT fail to comply with approved operating procedures on the day of the accident, but non-compliance had been taking place as early as 2002.

It said these deviations were not documented nor properly authorised, which resulted in an "unsafe workplace that eventually led to the death of two of its employees".

SMRT has accepted full responsibility and said it has reviewed safety protocols and procedures.


A coroner's inquiry is expected to be held this year. Two SMRT employees - Mr Teo Wee Kiat, 40, director of control operations, and Mr Lim Say Heng, 47, assistant engineer in charge of the March 22 on-track team - have been charged in relation to the accident.


The LTA said it has completed its investigations into the incident but cannot comment further as there are still cases before the court.

A spokesman said it will release its findings at "an appropriate juncture".

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Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 14) Notification 2017 (S 102 of 2017)

[IND] The introduction of GST to India - What businesses should look out for in 2017

13 Mar 2017

ADV: Enter the STEP Private Client Awards 2017/18

Singapore Law Watch
22 Mar 2017
Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 13) Notification 2017 (S 101 of 2017)

A distinction without a difference: L Capital Jones Ltd v Maniach Pte Ltd [2017] SGCA 3

10 Mar 2017

ADV: Transform your legal department in 6 months

Singapore Law Watch
22 Mar 2017
Thomson Reuters

Stamp Duties (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 15 of 2017)

Avoiding the perils of joint investments in real property

10 Mar 2017

Perennial appeals against High Court decision related to Capitol project

Business Times
21 Mar 2017
Lee Meixian

Perennial Real Estate Holdings on Monday filed appeals over the High Court's earlier decision to dismiss the winding-up applications for three joint entities that it holds with Pontiac Land unit, Chesham Properties.

On March 3, Judicial Commissioner Kannan Ramesh had acknowledged the deadlock between the shareholders, but accepted Chesham's argument that it would not be just and equitable to wind up the companies because there is an exit mechanism available to Perennial under the constitutions of the companies - in this case, it provides for one party to offer to sell its shares to the other at a fair value.

He added that where an exit mechanism is available to a shareholder, that shareholder should abide by the agreement and use the exit mechanism.

In this case, Perennial did not use that mechanism, so there was no unfairness in warranting the winding-up of the companies.

The three companies Perennial is seeking to wind up are the joint entities that developed the Capitol integrated development project.

In April last year, Perennial had sought court action to either wind up the three companies that hold the project's luxury hotel, retail shops, residential units, and theatre, or have the court order a sale or buy-out.

All three firms are equally owned by Perennial and Chesham.

Perennial on Monday said it will make the necessary announcements when there are further material developments on this matter.

When contacted, a Pontiac Land spokesman declined to comment.

Perennial's counter ended a cent lower at S$0.825 on the stock market on Monday.

Representing Perennial is TSMP Law Corp's Thio Shen Yi, while Chesham is represented by Davinder Singh and Pardeep Singh of Drew & Napier.

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Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 14 of 2017)

[MYA] Before the market opens: How is insurance in Myanmar currently regulated?

09 Mar 2017

23 1/2 years' jail for man who sexually abused daughter

Straits Times
21 Mar 2017
Selina Lum

Father also gets maximum 24 strokes of the cane for two-year campaign of degrading acts

A food stall assistant, who sexually abused his biological daughter in the family flat for more than two years, was yesterday sentenced to 23 1/2 years' jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.

The man, 42, denied the charges. He is appealing against his conviction and sentence and was granted $150,000 bail pending appeal.

Among other things, he claimed that it was not possible for him to have committed some of the acts, given the size and condition of his penis, which was deformed after an enlargement procedure.

The man - who cannot be named, to protect the identity of his daughter - committed various sexual offences against her between the end of 2011 and April 2014, when she was aged between 11 and 13.

After her father was sentenced, the girl, now 16, said she was glad he would get the maximum number of strokes of the cane.

"He didn't even show any remorse today. He has the guts to turn around and smile at us. What is that all about?" said the junior college student, who went to court in school uniform.

Her mother, 41, who has divorced the accused, said: "No matter what is the sentence, even if he got the maximum, it's not enough to cover all that we went through."

When the girl was just 11, her father grabbed her hand and made her touch him. The abuse escalated to more intrusive and degrading acts.

Most of the abuse took place in the master bedroom when the girl used the computer there for school projects. Her father would ensure the door was closed and locked before subjecting her to a range of sexual acts.

She kept quiet as she was afraid that the family would break up. But after yet another incident in April 2014, she decided that she had had enough.

She sent her mother a long text message revealing the abuse. "I love Dad... but I hate Dad when he does that to me," she wrote.

After getting over the shock, her mother replied 12 minutes later: "I love you. You have me always."

The next day, the woman threw her husband out of the flat. Three weeks later, she made a police report and filed for divorce.

The man claimed trial to 10 counts of sexual offences - one for committing an indecent act with a child, five for outrage of modesty and four for sexual assault by penetration - and was found guilty last month.

Yesterday, the prosecution sought a sentence of 24 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane for his "campaign of abuse" in performing "despicable and humiliating" acts on his daughter.

Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang said the man's "vexatious defence" about his "monstrous" sex organ was a "cock and bull story conceived purely as an afterthought to undermine the prosecution".

"It was really the victim's misfortune to have a sexual pervert for a father," said the prosecutor, adding that this was one of the most deplorable cases to come before the courts.

"Instead of the home being the safest place where the victim could find love, solace and trust, the accused made the home a living hell for the victim."


He didn't even show any remorse today. He has the guts to turn around and smile at us. What is that all about?

THE VICTIM, who was glad her father was given the maximum caning sentence.

Hurt is more than anyone can imagine: Victim

"Words have not even been invented for what he did to me," said the 16-year-old, when asked to tell the court of the effect of being sexually abused by her own father over two years.

In her victim impact statement, which was submitted to court by the prosecution yesterday, the girl said she still suffers flashbacks and nightmares of what her father did to her.

"There are days when it grips me. I am still in control and I am determined not to be defined by all these, but they will always be a huge part of my identity. There is no way around that."

She said she was relieved when her mother believed her after she revealed the instances of abuse but felt frustrated at having paranoid feelings as if her father was still in the flat.

She had trusted her father, but he hurt her "more than anyone can imagine - physically, mentally and emotionally".

"He had clearly breached his responsibilities as a father."

The girl said she felt baffled by her father's decision to claim trial, during which he slandered her by saying in court that she was framing him because he had scolded her. "I could not comprehend how he could have the guts to wound his own flesh and blood."

She felt betrayed not only by her father, but also his family members who "seemed to accept" what he did to her without feeling apologetic or embarrassed.

"They no longer differentiate the right from the wrong, just because he is a member of their family. I do not see a slight manifestation of guilt or remorse, neither from him nor his family," she said.

The girl's mother, in her statement to the court, expressed worry about how the abuse would taint her daughter's growth in relationship and sexuality matters. The administrative assistant, 41, also blamed herself for "missing all the signs" of the abuse.

"The bottom dropped out of my world the day (my daughter) gathered enough courage to tell me about the sexual abuse... It is something I will never, ever be able to forget; it is a look that continues to haunt me today and reinforces my own feelings of failure.

"For two years, I didn't even know that (my daughter) was suffering. For that two years, I didn't even know that our home was not a safe place for my children to stay."

She said she was "truly disgusted" with what her former husband had done to her daughter. "My children respected him as their father. But the person who is supposed to protect us did not protect us, yet ruined our lives."

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

Stamp Duties Act - Stamp Duties (Section 23) Order 2017 (S 100 of 2017)

Proposed amendments to the regulatory regime for Venture Capital managers

09 Mar 2017

Helping to address under-reporting of sex crimes

Straits Times
21 Mar 2017
Seow Bei Yi

Recent moves make it easier for sexual assault victims to get help. But more can be done, even for those who decide not to lodge a police report

It was not easy for Cindy, 22, to tell the police that she had been raped by her boyfriend of almost two years in 2015.

She said she did so last year, after he started "stalking" her and threatening to blackmail her with compromising pictures.

But she was told by a police officer that her chances of getting the perpetrator convicted were low, she said. The officer also gave her examples of how the man could defend himself in court against her evidence, and she left feeling anxious.

Cindy - which is a pseudonym to protect her identity - did not lodge a police report eventually, feeling discouraged after the interview, she told The Straits Times last month.

She decided to reach out to ST after reading about the arrest of a Portuguese man in relation to a molestation report. A widely shared Facebook post about the incident suggested that a police officer had made inappropriate comments to the woman who lodged the report during their interview - and it resonated with Cindy.

Such an experience may not be the norm among the 151 rape cases last year. But many who do not go to the authorities cite similar fears of being disbelieved, or having too little evidence.

A series of initiatives announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs last month are set to make the process of reporting sex crimes, as well as court procedures, less intimidating.

While police investigation officers already receive training in victim care and handling serious sexual offences such as rape, a new training video is to be launched in the third quarter of this year. Made in collaboration with the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), it is aimed at sensitising officers to victims' perspectives.

A pamphlet with information on investigation and court procedures, as well as care and support measures, will be launched as well by the fourth quarter of this year.

Laws and court processes will also be strengthened to reduce victims' trauma, while being fair to the accused.


Other initiatives show a positive shift in streamlining victim care, and are similar to what is available in other countries.

A one-stop centre set up by the police and Singapore General Hospital (SGH) started operations in January, seeing closer collaboration among the authorities, healthcare experts and victim care professionals. If rape is reported within 72 hours, the victim can be examined by SGH doctors in Police Cantonment Complex, where they are interviewed. Previously, they had to travel to a public hospital for a medical examination - which was stressful and more time-consuming.

Similarly, in Japan, one-stop centres are designed such that victims need not recount their experience at multiple places, including police stations. They have helped with under-reporting of sexual crimes, and the central government's goal is to have at least one such centre in each of the country's 47 prefectures by 2020.

A one-stop centre in Nagasaki saw 225 consultations in the first nine months following its launch last April, compared with a dozen or so inquiries about sexual violence in a year previously. In 2014, Chiba prefecture launched its support centre, where victims can also be checked for sexually transmitted diseases and receive emergency contraception.

Singapore lawyer Gloria James-Civetta, who last year visited a centre in Osaka which operates round the clock, said victims there appreciate having services housed under one roof.

Japan started having such care schemes in 1999, and they do not apply only to those who report sex crimes, she said. She suggested that Singapore extend such services to victims of domestic abuse.

Ms Jolene Tan, head of advocacy and research at Aware, suggests that the one-stop centre here be available for other cases as well besides rape, such as sexual assault by penetration. The initiative could be extended to other police headquarters as well, she said.

She added that the authorities could "consider extending the timeline for forensic examination to 120 hours, which is the practice in some US jurisdictions", and expanding the number of hospitals working with the police in future.


Closer collaboration between organisations for a more victim- centric process does not have to end with the one-stop centre.

More could be done for those who have experienced sex crimes, even if they do not end up making a police report quickly, or at all.

London has a network of specialist sexual assault referral centres that are open round the clock and located near acute hospitals. The first was set up in 2000. They are funded by the National Health Service of England and the Metropolitan Police Service.

Anyone who has been sexually assaulted or raped can go to these centres to speak anonymously with a specially trained police officer. The necessary information will be taken from those who decide to lodge a crime report. But people who do not want to lodge a report still have the option to go for a medical examination or sexual health screening and receive follow-up services, including help with emotional support.

Ms Tan said a similar model for Singapore "would be very welcome". "In the long term, we hope that the forensic medical examination can be made available to survivors without the prerequisite of a police report, so that survivors can take some time to decide whether they wish to make a report while also preserving evidence," she said.

In Singapore, there are multiple avenues for people to report sex crimes, such as through a "999" call, visiting a police station, or being referred by agencies such as hospitals, non-governmental organisations and schools.

But they need to lodge a police report first before they get a medical examination to assess injuries and preserve DNA evidence against the attacker.

Most reports of sexual assault are made after 72 hours, the police say. Significant medical evidence is difficult to gather by then.

While there are fears of frivolous reporting, that must be weighed against the larger fear that victims of sexual assault do not get the emotional help they need, or the physical examination that might help secure a conviction.


Aware's Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC) handled 338 cases last year - including Cindy's - up from 234 in 2014 when it was launched. In January and February this year, it handled some 90 cases - a sign that more people are willing to seek help.

But many might still be choosing not to come forward, with international statistics showing that sexual crimes often go unreported.

A 2013 report bringing together official statistics on sexual offences in England and Wales said that according to crime survey numbers, only 15 per cent of women who reported being victims of the most serious sex crimes such as rape or attempted rape went to the police. About 90 per cent of victims knew the perpetrator - compared with less than half for less serious sexual offences.

Similarly, even as more people have been approaching Aware's SACC, most - 69 per cent last year - do not make police reports. Their fears: not being believed, and worry over how friends and family would react.

While steps are being taken for investigation and court processes to become more accommodating to victims, support also has to come from the people closest to them.

Justice may be important, but for victims, it is not necessarily their end goal, said experts. Victims often want such incidents to stop, and not have them happen to others. They want the perpetrators to know they are responsible for their actions, and they also want to seek personal recovery.

And loved ones can help by supporting victims in seeking help.

It may not be possible to eradicate sex crimes, but the least a community should do is to ensure that those who dare lodge a report do not feel afraid, or discouraged for doing so.



Number of cases Aware's SACC handled in January and February this year.


Number of cases it handled last year.


Number of cases it handled in 2014, when it was launched.

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Constitution of the Republic of Singapore - Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Responsibility of the Minister for Manpower) (No. 2) (Amendment) Notification 2017 (S 99 of 2017)

Singapore Court of Appeal decides on registrability of Kit Kat Finger shape marks

09 Mar 2017

Tanglin Club members reject move to redevelop clubhouse

Straits Times
21 Mar 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Tanglin Club members at a special general meeting last week turned down a move to consider redeveloping its clubhouse building and grounds, along with its sports complex, which is already under study for redevelopment.

Members defeated 234 to 76 the proposal to empower a task force to study the viability of the project, understood to reflect a conservative mood among many who preferred to keep the status quo. According to its website, the club has more than 7,000 members.

The club last August had mandated a nine-member task force to explore how to maximise land use of "Plot B", consisting of the sports complex, tennis courts and squash centre, and located next to The American Club in Claymore Hill.

It was also tasked, among other things, to look into applying to the Urban Redevelopment Authority for permission to build a high-rise, mixed recreation and commercial development on the land.

The task force was formed as the club wanted to maximise its prime location and thus secure it by optimising the land use.

It is understood that "Plot A", where the clubhouse building is located, was suggested for inclusion, as the scope for redeveloping the land potential at Plot B should not be looked at in isolation.

The plots are on opposite sides of Stevens Road.

Club president Robert Wiener, in a message to members in the current issue of the club's magazine, explained the latest move to include the main clubhouse was a follow-up from the work of the task force since its inception last year.

"In the 70s, a decision was taken to redevelop the old clubhouse into the current facility we see today. I can clearly recall the sentimental tone and the resistance.

"Many of us couldn't imagine Tanglin without our beloved bungalow.

"True enough, as time passes by, history does repeat itself and again today, there is development contemplation at the club," he said.

Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong said the club is "sitting on prime land and it is a pity if the site is not converted to its highest and best use within the permissible planning parameters".

It is understood some older members may have had concerns with costs and not being able to see the benefits of rebuilding.

"The Club Development Task Force is continuing its mandate to explore development opportunities on Plot B (as per the May 2016 AGM-carried resolution)," said a club spokesman responding to The Straits Times.

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

Supplementary Supply (FY 2016) Act 2017 (Act 13 of 2017)

Termination for Gross Misconduct – The Position in Singapore and the UK

08 Mar 2017

Ezra calls for trading suspension in S'pore

Straits Times
21 Mar 2017
Jacqueline Woo

Beleaguered Ezra Holdings called for trading in its shares here to be suspended yesterday - a day after it filed for bankruptcy in the US .

The group's yard operating arm Triyards Holdings, the last of its three Singapore-listed units still trading last week, had also requested a trading halt.

Ezra shares last traded on March 15 at an all-time low of 1.1 cents, down 77.6 per cent this year, while Triyards shares finished at 28.5 cents last Friday, dropping 1.7 per cent from Thursday's close. Shares of the group's other Singapore-listed entity, Emas Offshore, have been in suspension since earlier this month, last trading at five cents on March 3.

Ezra announced on Sunday that it had filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code to facilitate its financial restructuring. Its debt-laden joint venture Emas Chiyoda Subsea sought the same process late last month.

"The prolonged challenging operating environment in the oil and gas industry made it difficult for Ezra to carry out fund raising as a company listed on the SGX-ST," said Ezra.

Documents showed Ezra has declared estimated assets of between US$500,000 (S$699,000) and US$1 billion against estimated liabilities of between US$100 million and US$500 million. It also has $150 million of 4.875 per cent notes due in May next year. But Ezra's total debt numbers could be higher. It faces over US$1 billion of short- term debt, going by its 2016 earnings report, and has at least US$900 million in total exposure to guarantees extended to charter hire liabilities and loans for Emas Chiyoda.

According to the court papers, Ezra's largest unsecured creditors include all three Singapore banks: DBS Bank with claims totalling US$281.4 million, OCBC Bank at around US$207 million, and United Overseas Bank (UOB) with US$22.8 million. In terms of secured debt, OCBC and DBS each have claims of more than US$47.2 million, while UOB has US$10.2 million. OCBC also has a secured claim of over US$26 million against Ezra Marine Services.

CIMB head of research Lim Siew Khee said it was likely that the banks' exposure to Ezra exceeds their exposure to Swiber Holdings, which filed for judicial management here in July last year.

A DBS spokesman said the bank had moved the loans of Ezra and Emas Chiyoda into non-performing loans in previous quarters and "suitable provisions have been made". OCBC and UOB said they have made provisions for vulnerable accounts in the sector.

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

Supply Act 2017 (Act 12 of 2017)

Highlights of proposed amendments to the banking regulations and banking (Corporate Governance) regulations

08 Mar 2017

Helping S'pore SMEs stay agile in the digital economy

Business Times
21 Mar 2017
Chai Wai Fook & Teh Swee Thiam

The SMEs Go Digital Programme helps local enterprises move ahead with digital deployment initiatives

The rise of the digital economy is recognised as a promising growth area for Singapore, validated by various perspectives gleaned from work by the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) and the measures targeted at deepening digital capabilities, as unveiled in Budget 2017.

At the same time, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) remain a fundamental growth segment for Singapore, notwithstanding the pressures on costs and profitability that have beleaguered many in the last few years, exacerbated by wider economic and geopolitical volatility that has dampened local economic growth.

According to the CFE, the digital economy in South-east Asia is expected to grow to US$200 billion by 2025, with e-commerce accounting for US$88 billion.

From 2016 to 2018, the digital economy is expected to generate some 53,000 new jobs in information and communication roles in Singapore.

Given Singapore's strengths - such as proximity and access to key markets in the region, reliable and connected infrastructure, trusted reputation, well-educated workforce and a strong and pro-business government - local enterprises should be well-positioned to capture the opportunities arising from the digital economy.

Yet, it remains questionable as to how well the majority of SMEs are able to participate and, by that extension, thrive in the digital future.

Clearly, many SMEs will need to make upfront investments, whether in upgrading of hardware, software or workforce transformation, as part of their digital initiatives execution.

These investments may be significant, and considering the limited and stretched resources SMEs are already challenged with, there is a real risk that many may fail to reposition their business to fully capitalise on the growth potential that the digital economy brings to their business.

Helping SMEs Go Digital

SMEs have often been a key beneficiary of past Budget measures.

Budget 2017, building on foundations set by previous Budgets, reaffirms the need to help SMEs build capabilities.

To strengthen our SMEs' digital capabilities, the government introduced the SMEs Go Digital Programme to help local enterprises move ahead with digital deployment initiatives.

Administered by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), Spring and other sector lead agencies, SMEs can expect to receive multi-prong guidance under three components: advice on technologies to be used at each stage of growth, in-person help at SME Centres and a new SME Technology Hub, and funding support for the piloting of emerging info-communications and technology (ICT) solutions.

Among others, the programme will target retail, food services, wholesale trade and logistics, where digital technology can significantly improve productivity.

The SMEs Go Digital Programme, building on the foundation of IMDA's iSprint programme, is not new. Pre-qualified solutions that have been proven beneficial will be tailored and consistently used by the SMEs participating in the programme.

SMEs with limited resources and that are at the early stages of experimentation in their digital transformation journey can consider tapping on this programme to improve their customer experience or digitise internal work processes for quick wins.

This may include offering a new online customer service portal or enhancing their online marketing and distribution channels.

SMEs that are jump-starting their digital transformation by launching new digital products or services may need to invest in more sophisticated information technology infrastructure, such as a strong enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management system.

For this, SMEs can approach SME Centres for advice on off-the-shelf technology solutions that are pre-approved for funding support, or connect with ICT vendors and consultants under the programme.

The digitally-advanced firms can get specialist advice from the SME Technology Hub.

Help to transform

As SMEs roll out their digital initiatives, they need to support their employees in upskilling and reskilling to transit into new or expanded roles.

And what would have been even more helpful for SMEs, but were missing from the Budget announcement, are tax incentives to help defray peripheral costs incurred in their digital journey.

Considering that the Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme will lapse after the year of assessment (YA) 2018, training costs incurred by SMEs for their employees thereafter will no longer enjoy enhanced tax deductions.

This may result in a gap in the ecosystem - as SMEs choose between investing in digital capability development and employee upskilling.

In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat encouraged employers, unions, trade associations and chambers of commerce to develop more structured training programmes for workers.

Notwithstanding this, considering that many SMEs have limited resources, an extension of enhanced deduction claims on training costs they for their employees after YA2018 could be helpful.

Taking this a step further, perhaps double tax deductions could be granted for consultancy fees or charges, or special tax deductions on investments in technology infrastructure and development expenses for digital platforms (after offsets by any supporting grants) incurred by SMEs for initiatives aimed at scaling up their digital capabilities.

The scope of such double tax deductions can even be widened to cover the operating expenses in relation to these initiatives, such as search engine optimisation fees, which can be useful when SMEs extend the reach of their digital platforms as they expand overseas.

Cash incentives are usually more effective than tax savings for small businesses, so the enhanced deduction claims or enhanced capital allowances can come with the option to convert qualifying expenditure into a non-taxable cash benefit, which can potentially be capped annually.

A barrier to digital adoption in SMEs is a self-limiting mindset: Many SMEs feel that they are too small in scale or command too insignificant a customer base to warrant any investments in digital.

Large corporations may traditionally have the scale and financial might to win in the market, but with the disruptions and enablement that technologies bring, SMEs too can be serious competitors to upend market incumbents and seize the upsides of the digital future.

With SMEs making up 99 per cent of all local enterprises and employing 70 per cent of the workforce, they are one of Singapore's greatest sources of growth and innovation. Digital holds the key to unlocking much of their future potential and, by that extension, Singapore's economic potential.

The writers are Partners, Tax Services at Ernst & Young Solutions LLP. The views in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organisation or its member firms.

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

Parks and Trees (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 11 of 2017)

Supreme Court Note: TMO v TMP [2017] SGCA 14 (jurisdiction and power of Syariah Court, High Court over Muslim marriages dissolved abroad)

Supreme Court Note
08 Mar 2017

The Court of Appeal held that parties married under Muslim law who obtain a divorce from a foreign court may seek relief from the Singapore civil courts for the division of matrimonial assets.

In this case, the parties were married under Muslim Law in Singapore. Years later, a divorce was obtained from the Johor Sharia Court. The wife subsequently sought an order for the division of matrimonial assets in the Singapore Syariah Court (“the Syariah Court”). TheSyariah Court, however, refused to grant the order. It considered that it did not have jurisdiction to make the division order pursuant to s 52(3) of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap 3, 2009 Rev Ed) because it had not granted the parties’ divorce.

The wife then applied to the Family Justice Courts in Singapore for the division order pursuant to s 121G of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353, 2009 Rev Ed). The Family Justice Courts refused to grant the order on grounds that they did not have jurisdiction or power to do so under the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322, 2007 Rev Ed) (“SCJA”) or the Women’s Charter. The High Court on appeal similarly refused to grant the order. It considered that s 3(2) of the Women’s Charter, which excluded the application of the statute in specific respects to parties married under Muslim law,prevented the High Court from exercising its powers under s 121G in the present case. The wife appealed again.

The Court of Appeal held that the High Court did have jurisdiction and power to grant the division order under s 121G of the Women’s Charter. First of all, the Court noted that where a matter did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court, the High Court retained residual jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to ss 16 and 17 of the SCJA. Next, the Court, in reviewing the legislative materials on s 3(2) of the Women’s Charter, considered that the purpose of the provision was to manage possible overlaps between Muslim law and non-Muslim law arising from the concurrent jurisdiction of both the High Court and the Syariah Court over a matter, by providing for the circumstances under which each system of law would or could apply to Muslim marriages. When regard was had to that purpose, it must follow that s 3(2) was to be construed subject to a very important qualification. This was that where the Syariah Court had no jurisdiction over a matrimonial dispute involving parties to a Muslim marriage and the High Court took residual jurisdiction over the matter as a consequence, s 3(2) of the Women’s Charter would not apply at all. This was because there would be no conflict of jurisdiction since it was the High Court alone that had jurisdiction, and in the circumstances, there would be no basis for the disapplication of the Women’s Charter. To construe s 3(2) otherwise would lead to a legal vacuum and there was nothing to suggest that this was the intention behind the provision.

On the facts, the Court of Appeal agreed that the Syariah Court did not have jurisdiction over the wife’s application. It followed that the High Court would have residual jurisdiction over the application pursuant to ss 16 and 17 of the SCJA and that the exclusion under s 3(2) of the Women’s Charter did not apply at all. The High Court was therefore empowered to grant relief under s 121G of the Women’s Charter, including an order for division of matrimonial assets in the present case.

At TMO v TMP [2017] SGCA 14, paras 25, 26, 27, 33, 53, 54 and 55. To view the judgment, click <here>.

Disclaimer: The above is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. The full judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document.

Mastermind in IPPT cheating scheme jailed for 18 months

Straits Times
21 Mar 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

He and two accomplices took fitness tests for NSmen, pocketing Mindef incentive payouts

What started out as a favour to help his friends pass their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) morphed into a scheme that cheated the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) of $24,700.

Salesman Lim Chun Chyi, now 37, who initially took the IPPT on his friends' behalf, also roped in friends to pretend to be other operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) - sometimes for a fee.

Between 2011 and 2014, he and his friends took the IPPT for 72 NSmen and pocketed the Mindef incentive payouts.

Lim was caught on Dec 6, 2014, after an eagle-eyed fitness trainer at Khatib Camp noticed that he looked familiar. He recalled that the same man had taken the IPPT a few weeks ago.

Lim was jailed for 18 months yesterday after pleading guilty to 20 cheating charges involving $8,000. In each of these charges, he had attained the gold award for others. Another 73 charges for similar offences involving $16,700 were taken into consideration during sentencing.

According to court documents, Lim and two accomplices - Nicholas Tan Kun Sung, 37, and Kho Puay Meng, 39 - entered various army camps to take the IPPT on behalf of other NSmen. Lim was the only one who interacted with the clients.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jean Ting said Lim would either actively solicit clients or receive requests from them via phone calls or WhatsApp messages. He would then register for the IPPT on his clients' behalf.

DPP Ng said: "In return, depending on whether the accused obtained a gold, silver or pass-with-incentive award, the accused would receive the corresponding incentive payout disbursed by the Ministry of Defence to the NSmen as payment."

A gold award recipient is entitled to $400, while a silver award garners $200. A pass-with-incentive award is $100.

DPP Ng said the clients passed the money to Lim after receiving their payouts.

Occasionally, Lim would ask clients for an additional $50 fee for engaging his services. If they agreed to his terms, he would ask for their personal details and use these to register online via the NS portal for a time slot at one of the many army fitness centres islandwide.

He would then meet his clients to collect their identity documents, such as identity cards and driver's licences, to get into the centres.

He would go to the centres himself or get one of his accomplices to do so.

DPP Ng said Lim would give Tan and Kho a cut of the incentive payouts when they were involved.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Provost started its investigations soon after Lim was caught pretending to be someone else, and the matter was referred to the police in April 2015. On Sept 13 last year, Kho was jailed for two months after pleading guilty to one charge of conspiring to cheat. The case involving Tan is still pending.

Yesterday, DPP Ng told the court that Lim had made full restitution, and urged District Judge Low Wee Ping to jail him for between 18 and 24 months, stressing that his offences were difficult to detect.

Defence counsel Raphael Louis pleaded for nine months in jail, and said his client was embarrassed at bringing shame to his family.

When handing out the sentence, Judge Low said he agreed with the prosecution, adding that the fact the trio ran more than 80 times in the IPPT in three years as part of the scheme bewildered him.

Addressing Lim, he said: "You could have used your fitness for other positive outcomes but decided to take the criminal road."

Mindef said a total of 58 SAF, six Singapore Civil Defence Force and five Singapore Police Force NSmen had been disciplined according to the respective service's disciplinary framework.

Verification measures have since been stepped up to apprehend and punish those who attempt to cheat during IPPT. A Mindef spokesman said: "In addition to identity verification during IPPT registration, facial checks will also be conducted against their 11Bs or NRICs.

"Since the start of 2015, biometric fingerprinting technology has progressively been introduced at SAF camps to complement the existing security procedures."

A 11B is a military identity card.

Currently, Bedok Camp and Maju Camp are equipped with biometric fingerprinting technology.

To strengthen the security of SAF camps, all personnel, including NSmen taking their IPPT, will have to undergo biometric fingerprinting to get in by next year, said DPP Ng.

This applies to all SAF camps and fitness conditioning centres.

For each count of cheating, Lim could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.


Number of NSmen for whom Lim and his friends took the IPPT, pocketing the Mindef incentive payouts.

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Planning (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 10 of 2017)

Duties of nominee directors appointed to fulfil requirement for a locally resident director

07 Mar 2017

ADV: Enter the STEP Private Client Awards 2017-18

Singapore Law Watch
21 Mar 2017
Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 12) Notification 2017 (S 98 of 2017)

IRAS issues notice to financial institutions on “Implementation of the Common Reporting Standard”

07 Mar 2017

Jailed 10 years, caned for robbing, stabbing woman 16 years ago

Straits Times
21 Mar 2017
Elena Chong

A 32-year-old man who robbed and stabbed a woman with a knife in a lift when he was 16 years old was sentenced to the maximum 10 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane yesterday for robbery with hurt.

The woman, Ms Soh San, 28, was stabbed nine times and died from stab wounds to the chest and abdomen on Oct 2, 2001.

Gunasegaran Ramasamy turned himself in at a neighbourhood police centre on Nov 17, 2013, after he was pricked by his conscience.

His lawyer, Criminal Legal Aid Scheme Advocate Ng Shi Yang, said Gunasegaran heard "voices" shortly after the 2001 offence, which worsened in the years leading up to his confession in 2013.

A district court heard that on the day of the crime, Gunasegaran's sister had told him to buy instant noodles at a shop in Bukit Batok when he decided to look for targets to rob. He wrapped a knife about 28cm long with a newspaper and tucked it at the back of his pants.

When he arrived at a block in Bukit Batok West Avenue 8, he spotted Ms Soh. The manager with a telecommunications firm had just returned home from work.

Gunasegaran followed the victim to the lift lobby, pressed the lift button and used his knuckle to rub against the button in a bid to remove his finger print.

After they got into the lift, he whipped out his knife and demanded money.

Ms Soh put up a struggle and was stabbed in her arm. She then gave him three $10 notes.

Dissatisfied, he tried to snatch her purse. When she resisted, he became angry and stabbed her repeatedly on her arm and body.

He then fled by running down the stairs.

Gunasegaran had convictions in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2006 for burglary, robbery and theft, and was last given four years' jail and six strokes in 2011 for causing grievous hurt, breach of a personal protection order and concealing stolen property.

District Judge Tan Jen Tse said Gunasegaran had committed a very serious offence and noted several aggravating factors in this case.

"I also note that you were very young at the time and was remorseful," he said.

After Gunasegaran's arrest following his surrender, the urine sample he provided tested positive for methamphetamine.

He admitted he had smoked Ice two days earlier and had been smoking the drug over two years. The maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years and $20,000 fine.

Gunasegaran's jail sentence includes eight months for taking methamphetamine, which is to run concurrently.

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

Presidential Elections (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 9 of 2017)

SGX Consults on Listing Framework for Dual-Class Shares

07 Mar 2017

Row over power supply: Three years' jail for slashing landlord

Straits Times
21 Mar 2017
Elena Chong

A mentally ill woman, angry with her landlord for switching off the main power supply, slashed him in the forearm with a paper cutter.

Mr Wong Keng Woo, 76, died about 1½ hours later from acute haemorrhage due to an incised wound of the left radial artery. The contributory cause was ischaemic heart disease.

Malaysian Woo Mui Mee, 36, claimed she attacked Mr Wong after he took a bamboo pole and poked her repeatedly in her abdomen at Block 114, Yishun Ring Road, on Nov 21, 2015.

Woo, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was yesterday sentenced to three years' jail after admitting to causing grievous hurt to Mr Wong at about 10pm that day.

Woo had entered Singapore days earlier on Nov 15 that year to look for a job, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhuo Wenzhao. The former dishwasher, who had previously rented a room from Mr Wong, returned to his flat as a tenant again.

Investigations showed that on the night of the attack, Woo became angry with Mr Wong after he switched off the main power supply. When she saw him seated at a bus stop opposite the block, she shouted at him to return. When he was back at the flat, she scolded him and he threw something on her room door which made her angrier.

She then confronted Mr Wong with the paper cutter. She slashed him once on his left forearm outside the flat when she saw him trying to switch on the power supply.

He then took a wooden pole and walked towards her. When she saw this, she slashed him again on the forearm before running away. By then, neighbours had called the police who found blood along the corridor but could not access the unit.

Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel cut the padlock on the window and an officer climbed into the unit and unlocked the wooden door. Mr Wong was found motionless on the bed in the master bedroom and pronounced dead at 11.38pm.

In a mitigation plea, Woo's assigned lawyers from the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, Mr Amarick Gill and Ms Cheryl Ng, said the accused's actions were a result of her mental condition which made her believe Mr Wong was sexually attracted to her.

An Institute of Mental Health report found Woo had no insight into her mental condition, but if given proper treatment before release, her condition could be managed and she would not repeat similar acts in future.

"A significant and lengthy sentence will be unjustifiable, purposeless and will serve neither Ms Woo's interest nor the public interest," said the defence.

Woo, whose sentence was backdated to Nov 23, 2015, could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Authorisation of Use) (No. 2) Notification 2017 (S 97 of 2017)

Impact of the Giant Light case in China - PRC Court recognised Singapore Supreme Court judgment

06 Mar 2017

Unwise to base sentencing on ‘ground sensitivity’: AGC: Voices

20 Mar 2017

In his letter “AGC should ensure that firm — but fair — justice is meted” (March 17), Mr Sunny Goh said that the AGC (Attorney-General’s Chambers) in the Joshua Robinson case should have “exercised more ground sensitivity, it could have pushed for a full trial”, and that an “open trial” would allow “a stiffer sentence ... [to] be sought” and can be for “public education”. This misunderstands the trial process and AGC’s role.

In deciding to prefer charges, the AGC assesses what offences may have been committed and whether the available evidence is sufficient to prove those offences beyond a reasonable doubt.

When charges are preferred, our laws do not permit the AGC to force an accused to either claim trial or plead guilty. It is for the accused to decide what course to take.

If the accused claims trial, the purpose of that trial is to resolve the factual and legal disputes raised. Trials are not conducted for the purpose of “public education”.

Mr Goh suggested that AGC had played “judge and jury” in the Joshua Robinson case, and that AGC should “leave it to the judge to show compassion”. It is unclear what he means.

In our criminal justice system, as in many others, it is not uncommon for an accused to plead guilty to some charges in order to reduce his sentence. This has a number of important advantages, including the certainty of securing a conviction, saving time and judicial resources and, particularly in cases involving children or victims of sexual crimes, sparing them the stress of giving evidence. That is why accused persons who plead guilty generally receive a lighter sentence compared to those convicted after a trial.

It is for the Court to decide on the appropriate sentence after assessing all relevant considerations. These include: (i) the facts that are legally relevant to sentencing (ii) the relevant sentencing precedents (iii) mitigating and aggravating factors and (iv) the prosecution and defence counsels’ submissions.

When AGC makes submissions on sentencing to the court, we are always mindful that the suggestions are fair and appropriate. It is important that the sentence must befit the crime and the offender, which will depend on the facts and the circumstances of each case. It is unwise to punish the offender on the basis of “ground sensitivity”.

Kow Keng Siong, Chief Prosecutor, Attorney-General's Chambers

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Rapid Transit Systems Act - Rapid Transit Systems (Creation of Rights) (No. 2) Notification 2017 (S 96 of 2017)

Choice of Court Agreements Act 2016 – a boon for bankers?

06 Mar 2017

Ezra bites bullet, files Chapter 11 protection with US court

Business Times
20 Mar 2017
Tan Hwee Hwee

Company currently has about 17,000 shareholders; it also has S$150 million of outstanding notes due in May

Offshore and marine (O&M) firm Ezra Holdings, once a stock-market darling, has chosen to go down the same path as its associate, Emas Chiyoda Subsea (ECS), and sought Chapter 11 protection with the US bankruptcy court - yet another victim of the prolonged and debilitating downturn in the sector.

Ezra's holding company and two other entities under the group, Emas IT Solutions Pte Ltd (EMIT) and Ezra Marine Services Pte Ltd (EMS), submitted their Chapter 11 applications on Saturday to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, stating in court papers that Ezra has found it difficult to carry out fund-raising as an entity listed on Singapore Exchange (SGX) owing to the prolonged challenging operating environment in the O&G industry.

In a follow-up announcement on SGX on Sunday, Ezra said the Chapter 11 filing "is intended to optimise the scope and extent of the restructuring options available" and "to protect the interests of all stakeholders . . . including creditors and shareholders".

Ezra's problems are not new as the market has known of its difficulties for many months. Most recently, on Feb 3, Ezra disclosed a potential US$170 million writedown tied to its interest in ECS. This followed two Jan 31 announcements from Ezra's partners in the ECS joint venture (JV), Chiyoda and NYK Line, detailing 51 billion yen (S$634 million) in combined writedowns for their respective equity and loans to the JV.

The ECS writedown was in addition to US$370.3 million impairments and provisions Ezra made in Q4 FY16, which dragged the group into a massive net loss of US$339.6 million and saw its equity to controlling interest plunge to US$232.98 million against over US$1 billion of short-term debt on its books.

In noting the deterioration in its FY16 financial statement, Ezra had warned against "going concern issues". Furthermore, as an OCBC Credit Research note issued before the Sunday announcement suggested, ECS's US bankruptcy filing on Feb 28 exacerbated the plight of the highly geared holding company.

So it was that Ezra's Sunday disclosure and its March 18 bankruptcy filing flagged accelerated legal proceedings against the holding company on claims linked to corporate guarantees extended in support of ECS.

Ezra's court filing further said two statutory demands from Svenska Handelsbanken AB (Publ), Singapore branch and Forland Subsea AS have since expired under Singapore law. This extends the two creditors the liberty to commence winding-up applications against the holding company.

Robson Lee, partner of law firm Gibson Dunn, in pointing to the developments since ECS's Chapter 11 filing, noted that the writing may have been on the wall for weeks now that the holding group "as a mothership with all group companies under its stable . . . needs to seek legal shelter to pre-empt inundations of litigations from the creditors".

In this respect, Ezra and its subsea associate ECS have taken a different route from Swiber Holdings, another erstwhile darling of Singapore's stock market, which entered into judicial management through an application with the Singapore court.

Ezra had said in its Sunday SGX disclosure that its Chapter 11 application is intended to "expand rehabilitation options to preserve value for all stakeholders of the group".

Legal experts had also identified the "debtor-in-possession financing" as a key characteristic of US bankruptcy code, which provides debtor companies more flexibility in prioritising financial resources for the purpose of rehabilitating their businesses over repaying their liabilities.

ECS is widely believed to have sought Chapter 11 protection to ring-fence US$90 million new funding from Chiyoda and Subsea 7.

While Ezra could be also seeking to protect whatever financial resources it has on the books, Mr Lee of Gibson Dunn said stakeholders may take comfort from media reports suggesting that with group "net assets exceeding net liabilities", there exists "a prospect of rehabilitation".

Court filings obtained by BT show Ezra had declared estimated assets of between US$500,000 and US$1 billion against estimated liabilities of between US$100 million and US$500 million.

The documents showed DBS Bank and OCBC Bank have over US$47 million secured claims each against Ezra; UOB ranked at a distant third with over US$10 million secured claims against the holding company. In addition, OCBC is listed as the only secured creditor with over US$26 million claim against EMS.

The three local banks also made Ezra's creditor list for its 20 largest unsecured and contingent claims: DBS with over US$280 million, OCBC with in excess US$200 million and UOB with under US$23 million. Ezra also has S$150 million worth of outstanding notes, the principal of which is due for redemption in May.

SGX has called on Ezra to convene a meeting with noteholders, to which the company said it will comply. The exchange also said it will write to holders of the notes which are custodised with the Central Depository (CDP). Investors whose notes are not held directly via their own CDP accounts but through nominee accounts are advised to contact the nominee directly.

SGX has also compiled details of these noteholders and will make them available to the trustee of the note issue, HSBC Institutional Trust Services (Singapore) Ltd.

The Securities Investors Association (Singapore) has been informed of the development and invited to participate, together with its legal advisers, in the arrangements put in place for noteholders.

Ezra's court filings showed the holding company has issued in excess of 2.9 billion shares of publicly held stock in Singapore that were held by about 17,400 persons or entities.

The group has two other listed entities on the Singapore bourse, Emas Offshore Limited (EOL) and Triyards. EOL had gone on a trading suspension since March 6 while its holding company entered into its latest trading halt on March 15. Triyards is the only counter still trading on SGX as at press time.

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

Rapid Transit Systems Act - Rapid Transit Systems (Creation of Rights) Notification 2017 (S 95 of 2017)

Thailand: Clarity on Obtaining Permission for Majority Foreign Ownership in Insurers

06 Mar 2017

Greater public-private partnership needed in tackling trade in illicit goods

Straits Times
20 Mar 2017
Cyril Chua

Last September, Singapore Customs officers seized a large shipment of wallets, purses and bags suspected to be counterfeit, while inspecting a container coming in from China.

Two months later, they seized some 130 tonnes of counterfeit rice shipped in from India. The rice had a similar trademark to that of a Singapore-registered brand, whose rightful owner had alerted the officials to the shipment.

To be sure, that such discoveries are made periodically should come as little surprise, given the trade volumes that Singapore's port - one of the busiest transhipment hubs in the world - handles. With more than 30 million containers passing through every year, a certain proportion would be expected to contain counterfeit or smuggled goods. However, the Republic's performance can be improved when it comes to dealing with such shipments.

Singapore ranked seventh out of 17 Asian economies surveyed, based on a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit in September last year. It came behind regional players such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan, and has drawn some criticism for not doing enough to monitor its trade. It has been reported that as much as 2 per cent of the world's counterfeit goods are shipped through Singapore.

The country has also been tagged as a hub for contraband cigarettes - according to reports, 15 per cent of cigarettes smoked here are smuggled in. The impact goes much further than lost taxes; sales of such cigarettes have been linked to the funding of organised crime and even terrorism.

Such findings and proposals do not augur well for a country that has wowed the world with its progress in research and innovation and, with it, the creation of intellectual property (IP).

Having such illicit goods pass through Singapore undermines its reputation as a creator and protector of IP. The Republic needs to protect IP better by improving its oversight over the flow of goods that may infringe such property.

What can be done?

For a start, some border enforcement procedures could be simplified. At the moment, different aspects of border controls are managed by different departments.

Counterfeit goods imported into Singapore by human traffic through airports are handled by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority as well as the police, while goods imported through logistics companies or courier services are under the purview of Customs.

The enforcement processes are quite different for cases handled by different departments. It is often confusing for rightful owners who are not familiar with the enforcement processes.

Perhaps a central system of some sort can be set up to help coordinate such efforts. It is essential to create a system that would remove some of the existing bureaucracy in the current processes.

Customs does act on such information if brand owners lodge a notice informing officials of suspected fake goods being imported. This empowers officers to detain a particular shipment on arrival or before it is shipped onwards.

This ex officio approach, however, requires written notice. This can take time to process, increasing the lag between application and enforcement. Customs officers may also be unfamiliar with the trademarks and logos, which can create challenges in field checks.

One system that provides for a stronger partnership between enforcement agency and businesses - and which enables greater proactive measures by both sides - is the recordal system. This allows IP rights owners to pre-register their trademarks with Customs.

Detailed information and images of their trademarks, logos and brand names enable border officials to proactively monitor and check imported goods for IP infringements when they are alerted to suspect shipments.

Recordal or similar systems have been used with much success in places such as the United States, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, and bear several advantages over the ex officio approach.

Such a system eliminates the need for paper applications and provides a single point of contact for all stakeholders, so that Customs officials also know who to contact should they discover fake goods during routine checks.

It also helps them to focus their efforts - they would need to look out for infringements of only trademarks that have been registered, and expend less effort on IP whose owners appear less interested in curbing illicit goods.

A comprehensive system to record trademarks and exchange IP information more effectively will enable greater proactive measures to stem the flow of counterfeit goods.

Ultimately, it will give Singapore a competitive advantage in a trade environment that is moving towards greater protectionism, enhance the reputation of our ports and show our commitment to the protection of intellectual property rights.

Having such illicit goods pass through Singapore undermines its reputation as a creator and protector of intellectual property (IP). The Republic needs to protect IP better by improving its oversight over the flow of goods that may infringe such property.

The writer is an intellectual property lawyer from law firm Robinson.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Teck Ghee Emergency Preparedness Day 2017) (Exemption) Order 2017 (S 94 of 2017)

Income Tax Act: Amendments implement Budget Statement 2016 changes and Country-by-Country Reporting

06 Mar 2017

Interior design trade bodies act to lift standards

Business Times
20 Mar 2017
Chai Hung Yin

Sids has set up China design outposts, IDCS working on consultancy, legal services to advance industry's interests

Local interior design firms looking to move into China will soon be able to count on assistance from the recently revived Society of Interior Designers Singapore (Sids) which has lined up ambitious plans to advance the industry's interests.

Back after more than a decade of dormancy, Sids is now working with design associations and design institutes in China and has set up four Singapore Design Outposts (SDOs) in Yunnan, Hangzhou, Changsha and Chongqing.

Through the SDOs, Sids aims to facilitate collaborations and partnerships via activities such as public lectures and exhibitions, and in so doing, expand the reach of Singapore interior designers into China.

Similarly, through the SDOs, its Chinese counterparts can use Singapore as a gateway and launch pad to penetrate markets in South-east Asia and beyond.

Said Keat Ong, president of Sids, who wants to make the association the bridge to the world: "We are engaging and outward-looking now to work in a more collaborative manner."

Mr Ong also wants Sids to be a platform where everyone comes together to elevate the industry and the profession with activities such as lectures and industry engagement programmes.

Other trade bodies such as the Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association and Singapore Furniture Industries Council have successfully helped members internationalise by exploring overseas markets together.

The other design industry trade body, Interior Design Confederation (Singapore) (IDCS), also has a slew of measures to take the industry forward.

At the end of 2016, it asked its 360-strong members to re-register at a higher membership rate of S$150 a year and to update their working experiences and education backgrounds.

George Budiman, president of IDCS, said: "The reason is after they had registered as members, they were not really contributing, they were not participating in events and programmes."

So far, it has gathered about 130 paid members, excluding students whose membership is free.

It also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Renovation and Decoration Advisory Centre (Radac), during the recently concluded Singapore Design Week held from March 3 to March 12.

The MOU aims to promote professional interior design consultancy services and thus prevent public misunderstanding of interior design contractors and designers.

IDCS is also tying up with lawyers to offer services such as pro bono legal mediation services to members to resolve issues between members and clients.

These developments are a far cry from over a decade ago when the industry was fraught with rampant undercutting, intense rivalry, petty politicking and slipping standards of professionalism as it grappled with issues of accreditation.

Then, two rival trade bodies - Sids and the now-defunct Interior Design Association - had merged in 2004 to form IDCS, aimed at lifting standards in interior design in Singapore, after trying unsuccessfully to do so for at least eight years before.

There was talk of drawing up accreditation standards for the industry and a database of reputable designers for public reference, but these failed to materialise.

Fast forward to 2016 and the industry is still talking about having an accreditation scheme for Singapore interior designers.

Mr Ong, who took up the presidency of SIDS in January 2016, said an accreditation scheme is on the cards to protect and raise the profile of the profession.

He said: "We have been fighting for the longest time for ID (interior designer) to get properly recognised against the untrained. The accreditation is to differentiate the two.

"It doesn't mean we are discriminating; we want the untrained or the undertrained to move up to the professional level. It needs time to be able to develop that."

Unlike professions such as medicine, dentistry and architecture, there are currently no accreditation standards for interior designers.

"So the only way is assessment through the society. That is the last filter mechanism that we have to differentiate the trained and the untrained ones," said Mr Ong.

Currently, Sids has in excess of 150 members, with more applications yet to be assessed, said Mr Ong.

The qualifications and backgrounds of applicants will be evaluated before professional membership is awarded. Those who don't make the mark will become associate members, said Mr Ong.

Singapore is late to the game as markets such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Philippines already have accreditation systems in place, with Taiwan having it legislated, he said.

Mr Ong said: "This a very urgent task that we want to get on track. It is one of our long term plans because these are things where we need to engage more than a party to execute and not something you can do alone."

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

Singapore Tourism (Cess Collection) Act - Singapore Tourism (Tourist Hotels, Tourist Food Establishments and Tourist Public Houses) (Amendment) Notification 2017 (S 93 of 2017)

Employee misconduct and termination – Responsible handling by employers

03 Mar 2017

Doctor's hubby loses appeal in Law Soc case

Straits Times
19 Mar 2017
Selina Lum

Court dismisses bid for judicial review of panel's decision

A retired banker has lost his appeal in challenging a decision by a Law Society review committee to dismiss his complaint that opposing lawyers in disciplinary proceedings against his wife, prominent surgeon Susan Lim, had inflated their fees.

Mr Deepak Sharma had based his complaint on, among other things, the fact that WongPartnership's claim for $1 million in legal costs against his wife was eventually driven down to $370,000.

The law firm had represented the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in a long-running and high- profile case against Dr Lim for overcharging a Bruneian royal patient.

But in a written judgment last week, the Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Sharma's bid for judicial review of the committee's decision, ruling that the committee had not committed an error of law.

The apex court upheld the legal principle put forward by the committee - that, in the absence of proof that a lawyer has put up improper or fraudulent claims, a significant reduction by the court of costs would not, in and of itself, amount to professional misconduct.

Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang, delivering the decision of the three-judge court, noted that in the case of costs between lawyer and client, overcharging can, in and of itself, amount to misconduct.

However, the current case does not involve a lawyer billing his client, he said. Instead, it is a case involving party and party costs, in which the losing party is ordered to pay costs to the winning party.

The final amount is determined by the court, in a process known as taxation, after hearing from the winning side who puts up the bill as well as the objections of the losing side. "It is often, if not invariably, the case that a party's claim for party and party costs will be reduced by the court on taxation, for the reason (if nothing else) that taxation is an adversarial process and the quantum of costs to be allowed will typically be disputed by the opposing party," said Justice Phang.

The corollary, he said, is that an excessive claim for such costs would not, in and of itself, generally constitute professional misconduct by the lawyer concerned.

In the current case, Justice Phang said the committee had concluded that there were no improper or fraudulent claims.

Dr Lim had been ordered to pay the SMC's legal costs after she lost a court battle to block a disciplinary hearing against her. The hearing was over a $24 million bill for the patient in 2007. She was eventually suspended for three years and fined $10,000.

In 2013, WongPartnership put up three bills detailing the fees of Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo and Ms Melanie Ho, amounting to about $1 million. The fees were brought down to $340,000 by an assistant registrar, and finally adjusted to $370,000 by High Court judge Woo Bih Li.

In 2014, Mr Sharma, who had funded Dr Lim's legal expenses, complained to the Law Society against Mr Yeo and Ms Ho for "gross overcharging".

A two-member review committee dismissed his complaints, except for one against Ms Ho. Dissatisfied, he asked the High Court to quash the decision and order a fresh review of his complaints.

His lawyer, Mr Abraham Vergis, argued that, given the significant reduction of costs by the court, the committee should have referred the case for an inquiry.

Mr Sharma's bid for judicial review was dismissed by Justice Woo, who said the committee had not made errors of law and was entitled to dismiss his complaints.

He appealed. But the Law Society and the Attorney-General's Chambers argued that Justice Woo's findings should be upheld.

Crux of Sharma's case

Prominent surgeon Susan Lim had been ordered to pay the SMC's legal costs after she lost a court battle to block a disciplinary hearing against her over a $24 million bill for her Bruneian royal patient in 2007. She was suspended for three years and fined $10,000.

In 2013, WongPartnership put up three bills detailing the fees of Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo and Ms Melanie Ho, amounting to about $1 million. The fees were brought down to $340,000 by an assistant registrar and adjusted to $370,000 by a High Court judge.

In 2014, Mr Sharma complained to the Law Society against Mr Yeo and Ms Ho for "gross overcharging" which he said amounted to professional misconduct.

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

Deepak Sharma v Law Society of Singapore - [2017] SGCA 18

Environmental Public Health Act - Environmental Public Health (Notice to Attend Court) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 92 of 2017)

Human Biomedical Research Act 2015: Partial commencement

03 Mar 2017

Hot and bothered over condo's cooling towers

Straits Times
19 Mar 2017
Melissa Lin

The saga behind a resident's fight to save Leonie Towers' central air-con system

In 1979, Madam Yap Choo Moi moved into the Leonie Towers condominium off Orchard Road.

Over the past four decades, the businesswoman has never installed air-conditioning in her home. Instead, she has relied on the condo's central air-con system, which is serviced by cooling towers on the rooftop.

When the vast majority of her neighbours decided to have the ageing towers dismantled last year, Madam Yap, 67, objected - and hired a lawyer to fight her case.

She won.

In an interview with The Sunday Times last week, held in her well-furnished living room, Madam Yap, who is also known as Ms Lee Lee Langdale, said: "I've been very happy with the system and have been using it for years... If there are any problems with it, it should be fixed."

She got her wish when the Strata Titles Board (STB) earlier this month blocked the management corporation's (MC) bid to dispose of the cooling towers.

The saga began last September, when the MC held an extraordinary general meeting about removing the system.

It had existed for almost twice its estimated service life of 20 years.

Consulting engineers had found, among other things, that the system's steel piping had corroded, requiring expensive replacements.

Its water quality was poor, meaning that there was the likelihood that the water droplets contained bacteria that, when breathed in, could cause a type of pneumonia known as Legionnaires' disease.

At the meeting, unit owners were told that major repairs would cost $520,000 and a replacement system would cost $750,000, while removing it would cost only $85,000.

Leonie Towers comprises 92 units in two 25-storey tower blocks. Each tower is serviced by two central cooling towers.

With just 40 per cent of residents using them - the rest had installed their own air-con units, the majority decided that the towers should just be dismantled. The MC's proposal was backed by 82 per cent of unit owners.

The unit owners then enacted a by-law under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management (BMSM) Act to empower the MC to proceed.

But Madam Yap applied to the STB to invalidate the by-law, and succeeded. Now, the cooling towers will stay put.

"We went to the STB because that was the only thing we could do if the condo is doing something that we think it shouldn't be doing," said Madam Yap's husband, Mr Roger Gaimster Langdale, 81, a retired accountant.

The couple, who did not want to be photographed, declined to say how much they spent on legal fees, and whether ties with their neighbours have been affected. Mr Langdale is part of the condo's management council.

Madam Yap had told the STB that she relied on the cooling towers and removing them would require her to install a new system, which would "lower her quality of life". She declined to explain further.

Another unit owner who wants the system retained, a housewife who wanted to be known only as Mrs Wu, 70, told The Sunday Times: "The central air-con system was something we always had. It's working well, why demolish it?"

The board ruled that no provision in the BMSM Act or the Land Titles (Strata) Act allows for an MC to dispose of common property.

"It is noteworthy that even when this could be done, it could only be done by way of a unanimous resolution," it added in judgment grounds issued on March 3.

The MC will be holding another extraordinary general meeting on Friday to decide if it should appeal and, if so, pay the legal costs - estimated to be up to $60,000 - using management funds.

Another battle looms.

Mrs Wu said of the MC's plan to appeal: "Why would we use our own money to fight ourselves?"

Keeping cool in the heat

In general, cooling towers extract waste heat to the atmosphere. In air-conditioning systems, they chill water to run the air-con.

Part of the maintenance fees that Leonie Towers' owners pay goes towards the upkeep of the cooling towers. But each owner's electricity bill depends on how often he switches on the air-conditioning.

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Control of Vectors and Pesticides Act - Control of Vectors and Pesticides (Prescribed Form) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 91 of 2017)

Proposed amendments to laws governing the management of strata properties and its impact on developers

03 Mar 2017

Lawyers on disposal of common property

Straits Times
19 Mar 2017
Melissa Lin

Some lawyers say that the law should be changed to allow a condominium management corporation (MC) to dispose of common property, so long as the majority of residents agree.

Said lawyer Amolat Singh of Amolat & Partners: "It would be paradoxical that a unanimous decision should be required to dispose part of the common property when a unanimous decision is not even required for the whole condo to be sold en bloc."

For a property to be sold en bloc, the consent of at least 80 per cent of the owners must be obtained before a sale tender can be called.

Mr Singh added: "Further, if the law is not changed, then one could have a situation, say, of a refrigerator or even a table-tennis table that is no longer being used but cannot be disposed of without a unanimous decision."

A lawyer who has over 20 years of experience dealing with management corporation strata title issues said the ruling was "impractical and unreasonable".

The lawyer, who declined to be named, said the MC has the right to dispose of damaged or unused property. To check with the unit owners for such decisions would be "unmanageable", he added.

He suggested that the MC of Leonie Towers could turn off the central air-con system and get those who want to use it to pay for the repair costs.

Owners who are unhappy with the MC's decisions can choose not to vote in the same committee members in future, he added.

But Mr Nicholas Aw of Clifford Law said he agreed with the Strata Titles Board's decision.

"We are talking about common property, that is, every subsidiary proprietor has a say in what happens to it," he said.

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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 11) Notification 2017 (S 90 of 2017)

Proposed changes to the regulatory regime for managers of venture capital funds

02 Mar 2017

Nightclubs in trouble: Salary woes after Lamborghini club lasts just one day

Straits Times
19 Mar 2017
Tan Tam Mei & Seow Bei Yi

It was named after the son of the creator of supercar brand Lamborghini and was meant to rev up Singapore's nightlife.

But, the Tonino Lamborghini Club at Clarke Quay came to a screeching halt, lasting all of one day after its opening on Oct 20 last year, which was attended by the younger Mr Lamborghini himself.

Now, it is accused of having failed to pay salaries to its staff.

Former employees from the Tonino Lamborghini Club, its operator TL Landmark Asia, and Pixie Group- which manages the former - say they are owed up to three months of salary. At least 20 are affected. A contractor also said that he is owed about $400,000.

The companies are being investigated for infringements under the Employment Act, a Manpower Ministry spokesman told The Sunday Times. It had issued orders of payment to Pixie Group and TL Landmark Asia, but payment was defaulted.

The Central Provident Fund Board is also taking enforcement action against the two firms to recover CPF monies owed to former employees.

The employees have pursued other legal options as well. According to court papers seen by The Sunday Times, a writ of summons was issued against the Pixie Group on Feb 6 by three former employees. On Feb 22, State Courts ruled that Pixie Group had to pay the trio a total of $55,886.61.

Another State Court judgment this month ordered TL Landmark to pay another five-figure sum to a group of four former workers.

The plight of Tonino Lamborghini Club comes in the wake of a few similar cases in recent times.

Nightclub veterans say that the industry is volatile.

Mr Godwin Pereira, 42, founder of club Kyo, said that the nightclub business sees "good runs" and tougher times.

Mr Andrew Ing, 49, who was with Zouk from 1993 to 2001, and is now chief operating officer of The Lo & Behold Group, added: "It boils down to the usual stuff when starting a new business: the right funding, working capital, experienced operators and managers.

"All these, plus a good concept will work, and stand the test of time."

It is not clear what led to Tonino Lamborghini Club's current situation.

A former employee in operations said bosses told them there were funding issues. The man, in his 30s, who declined to be named, said he is owed 2 1/2 months of salary.

"We were caught between leaving and going all out to make the opening night a success so we could recoup losses. They explained to us that if we worked until then, the cash would start coming in."

And so, the club opened with Mr Lamborghini, the son of famed auto designer Ferruccio Lamborghini, and two of its directors Victor Hoo and Eugene Tin in attendance.

Mr Adrian Lai, centre manager for landlord Clarke Quay, confirmed that the club had held a private launch on Oct 20, but did not open for business thereafter.

Renovation contractor Aaron Teo, 42, said that he is owed about $400,000 and his company, Mercury Werks, is in debt to its suppliers and subcontractors and owes them about $200,000 because of it.

Added the operations employee, who had left a previous job early last year for the club: "When I first heard about it, it sounded good. The bosses had big plans and franchise rights to expand to many countries, and I thought it was an exciting challenge," he said. "But, after not getting paid, I decided enough is enough."

A Pixie Group announcement on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) last September had stated that after the Singapore club, it intended to open clubs in cities like Shanghai and Bangkok by the end of last year.

The company was registered in 2007 and has four directors - among them are Mr Tin, a Singaporean, and Mr Hoo, a datuk from Malaysia. The latter is also the executive chairman of V Capital, a corporate advisory service firm based in Malaysia.

When contacted, Mr Hoo said that "settlement is under way". At least one Pixie Group employee received a letter dated March 17 offering a pay-off settlement.

Mr Hoo also said that the company was pursuing a A$160 million (S$173 million) acquisition.

According to an ASX announcement on Feb 22, the company had entered a memorandum of understanding to acquire Mineral Bull, a Singapore company in the business of developing zinc and lead reserves in Indonesia.

Clubs in trouble


Last December, nine former workers of the electronic dance music club in Orchard Hotel complained to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) over unpaid wages.

The former part-time staff of Club Nova said they were each owed wages of up to $2,000. Following an MOM inquiry last December, the workers managed to get their money back.

A co-founder of Nova, Mr Wyman Lee, is the cousin of Mr Eugene Tin, director of TL Landmark Asia, which is the operator of Tonino Lamborghini Club. Mr Tin said their businesses are not related.


A former boss of the high-end club at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), Mr Chris Au, was embroiled in several legal suits last August.

These included trademark infringement and a bounced cheque in a supercar deal. His other companies were also besieged by lawsuits, and his restaurants closed one after the other, which led to suppliers and contractors taking up cases against him regarding outstanding payments.

The MBS club is now under different management, with L Capital Asia owning a majority stake in it.


In March 2015, more than 70 employees working at several established nightspots in Clarke Quay lodged complaints to MOM over unpaid wages. The employees said they were employed by Cannery Leisure, Brandz+, Tribeca Leisure and Lux Leisure - companies owned by public-listed group LifeBrandz.

LifeBrandz said then that it was working with the employees to resolve the salary payment amicably.

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

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Singapore — Uruguay) (Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement) Order 2017 (S 89 of 2017)

Disclosure in corporate transactions: A comparison of the UK/Singapore and US approaches

02 Mar 2017

State Courts Towers construction in full swing

Straits Times
18 Mar 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

The first beam of the superstructure of the new State Courts Towers was hoisted into place yesterday morning.

In his address during the launch, Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon said that the existing State Courts building in Havelock Square near Chinatown has served well for the past 42 years, but it is unlikely to be able to support long-term demands.

He added: "To ensure that we have the necessary facilities and infrastructure to address our projected needs, expansion plans were made and the blueprint towards the construction of the new State Courts Towers was mapped out around 2011."

The State Courts said that the new towers, which are being built beside the current State Courts building, will allow the courts to meet future needs and support the push for an efficient, effective and responsive judiciary.

A spokesman said: "The State Courts handle 90 per cent of Singapore's caseload, which equates to more than 300,000 cases per year, and we expect the number of cases to increase as the Singapore population grows.

"With the increase in the State Courts' jurisdiction and caseload over the years, and the introduction of new functions to better serve our court users, the current building is well beyond its original capacity."

Being built at a cost of $450 million, the State Courts Towers will be 178m tall and have three basement levels. There will also be two structures, a court tower and an office tower.

It will also have more than 60 courtrooms and over 50 hearing chambers, compared with the current 37 courtrooms and 40 hearing chambers in the existing building.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in May 2014, and it is expected to be operational from 2020.

The current State Courts building will then be retrofitted and the Family Justice Courts - also in Havelock Square now - will operate there from 2023.

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

Stamp Duties (Amendment) Bill

Telecommunications Act: Amendments facilitate access to rooftop space for mobile deployment

02 Mar 2017

Custody of elderly woman: Family finds closure after viewing police video

Straits Times
18 Mar 2017
K.C. Vijayan

The woman whose 73-year-old mother was arrested for a municipal offence viewed police footage yesterday and accepted that it clearly showed her mother was not physically restrained at any time while in police custody.

Madam Gertrude Simon, 55, who had all along maintained that her mother had been handcuffed by the police, attended a briefing with her mother at the Ang Mo Kio South Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC).

Madam Simon said: "I appreciate the unprecedented gesture made by the police to show me the video recordings of the sequence of events during the time when my mother was in police custody."

She added: "Based on the police video shown, it is clear that my mum was not physically restrained at any time when she was in their custody."

Singapore Prison Service (SPS) officers, who were also at the briefing, had clarified that physical restraints were used by their officers in accordance with current SPS procedures during the two occasions when her mother, Madam Josephine Savarimuthu, was transported between the State Courts and Changi Women's Prison.

Madam Simon said she was gratified by the transparency displayed by the authorities in coming forward to share their footage and information.

"It has helped to bring a good closure to this unfortunate episode of events," she added.

Madam Savarimuthu was arrested by police on March 4 at the same NPC while making a report for a lost pawn ticket. There, it emerged that there was an outstanding warrant of arrest against her issued by the court last year.

It was for failing to attend court, relating to a town council summons for $400 - for the wrongful placement of potted plants outside her flat.

Madam Simon explained that her mother was still traumatised and could have mixed up the details of what she went through.

She said: "I do understand that if my mother had been able to provide details of her relatives earlier at the police centre, then we could have bailed her immediately and avoided this suffering for her."

Madam Simon urged the authorities to review whether elderly persons can be exempted from physical restraints when in custody.

"Law enforcement officers must also be able to exercise discretion for varying situations on the ground," she said.

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

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Concessionary Rate of Tax for Approved Finance and Treasury Centre) Regulations 2017 (S 88 of 2017)

Key legislative and regulatory developments in Singapore for the year 2016

02 Mar 2017

Healthway gets MOM reminder on pay issue

Straits Times
18 Mar 2017
Marissa Lee

Ministry says it will take action if medical group fails to pay staff

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) has said it will take appropriate action against beleaguered clinic chain operator Healthway Medical Group if it fails to fulfil its basic obligation to pay all its employees.

As of the end of last week, Healthway's doctors and senior management had not received their February pay.

Although Healthway is one of the largest private clinic chains in Singapore, with close to 100 clinics and about 1,200 corporate clients, it has been plunged into disarray after losing millions of dollars over the years to questionable investments.

On Monday, there were no doctors at seven of its family clinics after Healthway said it had not paid February salaries amounting to $3.9 million.

Following a report by The Straits Times, MOM officials paid a visit to Healthway's office on Tuesday to find out more about the situation.

The ministry told ST in a statement: "MOM has reminded Healthway of its obligation to pay salaries to all its employees. We note that (Healthway Medical Group) is taking action to resolve this issue.

"MOM will take appropriate action if Healthway fails to fulfil this basic obligation expected of an employer."

Under the Employment Act, employers can be charged if they do not pay their workers within seven days after the last day of the salary period. But the law does not cover doctors and executives who earn more than $4,500 a month.

The ministry said it was informed by Healthway that only doctors and senior management had not been paid, whereas "all other employees such as receptionists and clinic assistants have been paid their salaries on time, in line with the Employment Act".

MOM added that from April 1, those who do not come under the Employment Act can approach the new Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) for assistance if they have salary claims.

"Before TADM is operational, doctors, professionals, managers and executives can also approach MOM for mediation assistance on a voluntary basis," it said.

Meanwhile, Make Health Connect, the third-party administrator for 39 Healthway clinics, has made $600,000 in advance payments to Healthway to cover doctors from 39 clinics for two months, after learning about the group's cash crunch.

Asked what it has done since the MOM visit, a Healthway spokesman said: "Only payment to a few locums is left and we are in the process of settling that."

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

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Concessionary Rate of Tax for Approved Finance and Treasury Centre) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 87 of 2017)

PDPC updates advisory guidelines with new section on drones

02 Mar 2017

Help for motorists to assess blame in accidents

Straits Times
18 Mar 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

Online Simulator will be set up to gauge likely liability as part of dispute resolution platform

By the first quarter of 2019, motorists involved in traffic accidents will have access to an Online Simulator that will gauge their likely liability.

This is to help motorists better decide their next course of action, and make processes more affordable, accessible and effective.

The State Courts said that by the end of 2019, there will also be an online platform to recommend settlement amounts based on the information provided by users, and an online mediation platform for more complex cases.

The Online Simulator uses algorithms based on data that parties provide and also on precedent cases and historical data derived from the Electronic Motor Accident Guide and the third edition of the Practitioners' Library: Assessment Of Damages - Personal Injuries And Fatal Accidents, both launched on Feb 22.

The State Courts announced the the use of the simulator, which is part of the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform for motor accident claims, yesterday at its workplan seminar. It said users will be guided through a question-and- answer format.

Speaking at the seminar, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said: "Having been apprised of the likely outcomes, the parties will hopefully be guided and able to engage in more meaningful settlement discussions, and be better placed to decide on their best course of action."

In time to come, the ODR platform may be scaled up and adapted for use in a wider range of disputes, and provide a virtual environment for parties to participate actively and constructively manage the progress of all their cases, he added.

Insurance broker Ricky Chia said the Online Simulator is a good idea for handling own-damage claims, not so perhaps for third-party claims. He said: "Third-party claims are more complicated as nobody will readily admit his or her liability in an accident. Motor accident claims are often complicated as they involve a lot of different parties."

Mr Bernard Tay, president of the Automobile Association of Singapore, said the platform is meant to advise motorists on the possible outcomes and liabilities in any accident. "It is a good initiative to be supported, and we are awaiting more details," he said.

Mr Muhammad, 42, hopes the Online Simulator will expedite claims. The businessman, who declined to give his full name, said his case is still pending even though he was involved in a serious traffic accident in 2014 and had to be hospitalised for several weeks.

He added: "Right now, filing for motor accident claims is very messy. There is no consolidated approach, with many parties involved, such as the authorities and my insurance company."

Separately, a new Victim Assistance Scheme will be tested for one year from next month to offer assistance in medical expenses to those who suffer criminal assault but receive no compensation from their attackers. Run by the Community Justice Centre, a charitable organisation, the scheme applies to two kinds of offences: Causing hurt and causing hurt with a dangerous weapon. The offence must be committed in Singapore and original medical receipts have to be provided.

The initiatives at a glance

Online Dispute Resolution for motor accident claims A system for parties to resolve disputes through online mediation, an e-settlement platform and an Outcome Simulator.

The Outcome Simulator is expected to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2019, while online mediation and the e-settlement platform are expected to be completed by the end of that year.

Victim Assistance Scheme (VAS) A scheme to assist victims of criminal assault who have not been compensated by their attackers.

Run by the Community Justice Centre - a charitable organisation - the scheme applies to two kinds of offences: Causing hurt and causing hurt with a dangerous weapon. The maximum claim is $1,000. The VAS will be piloted for a year from next month.

Short mediation and hearing in Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) A fast track for SCT cases with no complex legal issues, which may cut court visits down to one from the current three to four.

Once a case is filed, it will be screened and, if suitable, placed on an expedited track.

It is expected to be implemented in the third quarter of this year.

Real-time payment of fines and fees using hand-held devices. From next month, court fine instalments can be paid via the Justice@State Courts mobile app through a link with the service provider, AXS.

By the end of next year, people can also pay court fines and fees with the app.

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

Copyright Act - Copyright (Excluded Works) Order 2017 (S 86 of 2017)

What is an “arbitration agreement”?

27 Feb 2017

More targeted help on the way for jobless PMETs

Straits Times
18 Mar 2017
Toh Yong Chuan

Unemployed professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) will get more targeted help in finding jobs through smaller job fairs, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday.

The shift in focus aims to help jobless PMETs find work sooner, and keep the long-term unemployment rate in check, he added.

For PMETs who have been out of work for six months or longer, "organising a job fair with 10,000 jobs won't solve the problem", Mr Lim told reporters at a job fair.

He said these workers need personalised guidance from career coaches and employers who are willing to hire and train them, even if they lack experience in a sector.

Mr Lim's message for employers: "Don't keep looking for so-called plug-and-play kind of workers. Don't keep looking for workers who can fit into your job 100 per cent."

His comments came after the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released a bleak report on Wednesday which showed that PMETs were the hardest hit by the tepid job market.

They made up 72 per cent of the local workers who were made redundant last year. This is far higher than their share of 55 per cent of the resident workforce.

They are also finding it harder to get back to work. While about 48 per cent of workers who were made redundant last year managed to find new jobs, the rate of re-entry for PMETs was 44 per cent.

To help PMETs get back to work, MOM announced various measures this month to help them switch careers and offered more incentives to employers to hire them.

The moves include training allowances of up to $4,000 a month for those who go on training attachments, and offering employers who hire PMETs aged 40 and above, who have been unemployed for over a year, higher wage subsidies under the Career Support Programme (CSP) for 18 months, up from 12 months.

To make it easier for smaller firms to join the programme, the minimum salary of eligible workers will also be lowered from $4,000 to $3,600 per month for them.

Yesterday, Workforce Singapore and the Employment and Employability Institute gathered more than 20 employers prepared to hire unemployed PMETs in a one-day, small-scale job fair that offered about 260 jobs. All the jobs pay at least $3,600 a month.

Mr Lim noted that enhanced measures saw an increase in the jobs offered at the fair from 150 to about 260. More workers also qualified for schemes like the CSP.

He also said that while the local unemployment rate and long-term unemployment rate - the proportion of residents who could not find a job for 25 weeks or more - had risen to 3 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively, they are "considered relatively on the lower side by international standards".

To ensure these rates remain low, the Government is stepping up efforts like organising targeted job fairs to help unemployed workers back to work, especially those out of work for 25 weeks or more, he said.

"The longer they stay unemployed, the harder (it is) for them to come back (to work)," he said.

Mr Lim added that the quality of jobs also matters.

He noted that business leaders he met this week appealed for a relaxation of the foreign worker quota. However, they need to find a longer-term solution.

"It is not a sustainable solution. The jobs are there. If they cannot find workers, can we transform the job, make it more of a better job to be more attractive to locals?" he said.

"Moving forward, the quality of jobs is a factor that is going to determine whether we are able to overcome this potential stickiness in our unemployment rate."

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

Stamp Duties Act - Stamp Duties (Shipping Investment Enterprise) (Remission) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 85 of 2017)

Bill to amend Retirement and Re-employment Act passed, but not yet in force: Raising re-employment age from 65 to 67

27 Feb 2017

HUDC era ends with privatisation of Braddell View

Business Times
18 Mar 2017
Claire Huang

The estate, comprising 918 flats and two shops, is the largest of the 18 HUDC estates and the last to be privatised

22 years after the government first said it would privatise HUDC (Housing and Urban Development Company) estates, this chapter in Singapore's public housing history has drawn to a close.

The last such estate standing, Braddell View HUDC Estate, was converted into a strata-titled estate under the Land Titles (Strata) Act on Friday.

This development came after the required support for the privatisation was obtained from 75 per cent of flat owners there.

Following this, the estate will no longer come under the HUDC Housing Estates Act, said the Housing and Development Board (HDB) on Friday.

Braddell View, comprising 918 flats and two shops, is the largest of the 18 HUDC estates and the last to be privatised.

HDB said that the common property of Braddell View was, from March 17, to be managed and maintained by its Management Corporation Strata Title Plan No. 4340, which was constituted on the same day.

As provided for under the Land Titles (Strata) Act, the existing management committee assumes the role of the council of the management corporation, HDB said; it added that the committee members are deemed to have been elected as the council members.

The individual owners in the estate will own their respective strata units, as well as the common property as tenants-in-common.

In 1995, the government announced it would privatise HUDC estates under the push to meet the aspirations of Singaporeans to own private housing.

The move was also aimed at giving flat owners greater control over the management and maintenance of their estate.

With the privatisation of Braddell View, a total of 7,731 dwelling units have since been privatised.

The first HUDC estates to be privatised were Pine Grove (660 units) and Gillman Heights (607 units and one shop). That was in November 1996.

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

Stamp Duties Act - Stamp Duties Act (Amendment of First and Third Schedules) Notification 2017 (S 84 of 2017)

Ethical limits of making imputations against complainants of sexual offences: Time for reform?

24 Feb 2017

Current legislation on stamp duty covers all the bases

Business Times
17 Mar 2017
Goh Bun Hiong

It is interesting that we once again get to revisit the issue of policy changes and whether they have been well designed to address specific shortcomings.

On March 10, the Ministry of Finance announced in a press release legislative changes in Parliament "aimed at treating transactions in residential properties on the same basis irrespective of whether the properties are transacted directly or through a transfer of equity interest in an entity holding residential properties". One can only assume that this is targeted at recent transactions where stamp duty on sale of shares in real estate investment companies was avoided.

My initial reaction to this was one of disappointment as the proposal seems to reflect a lack of clarity in thought.

Singapore has always taken pride in the fact that our fiscal policies are crafted, as a starting point, for strategic macro-economic reasons and rarely for reasons of pure revenue raising. While some might disagree, I would like to believe that even our famous COE and ERP were conceptualised with vehicle-control as a primary motive.

While the change would most certainly bridge a gap in stamp duty collections, what problem are we actually trying to solve if this new development were not a mere revenue raising exercise?

Was there an abuse of current legislation as it stands?

Was it to counteract speculative short-term opportunistic behaviour ?

Or was it to curb excessive interest by foreigners ?

This development is a point of concern as the proposed change would create an anomaly in a longstanding sacred principle: one of separate legal personality. While there can exist good reasons to create deviations in legal principles, it must only be done in situations where the status quo results in a harmful outcome as such deviations affect the credibility of our brand and system.

From a quick assessment of the situation, I am firstly not convinced that there was an abuse as a transfer of shares in a real estate company does not constitute a change in ownership and there is no need to create a deviation from this sacred principle.

While it might be an unfortunate outcome for the regulators, it is not sufficient by itself to constitute abuse. The fact remains that stamp duty is not chargeable on such transactions as real estate conveyance has not taken place and we should not lift the corporate veil frivolously as it sets a poor precedent and sends worrying signals.

In any case, there already exists anti-abuse legislation in section 33A of the Stamp Duties Act where the Comptroller is empowered to disregard any arrangement whose sole purpose is for the avoidance of stamp duty.

In view of the fact that a powerful weapon is already at the disposal of the Comptroller (some say too powerful), it is strange that the ministry was pushing for a legislative change and one can only conclude that without this change, even the regulators are hard-pressed to prove that an abuse has taken place.

If the intention was to curb short-term opportunistic behaviour, then I believe that we are better off crafting specific legislation to deal with short term speculation. While I have no empirical evidence to back me up here, my quick assessment is that corporate owners are typically not the most guilty of flipping real estate investments. In fact, many of the trusts created for real estate ownership hold the assets for much longer periods than the average retail investor.

In addition, there currently already exists a very significant Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) of 15 per cent for properties acquired by Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV). This additional duty alone is already a barrier to short-term profiteering. If the ministry wishes to further tighten the screws, it could perhaps consider specific measures against such practices, such as reintroducing the taxation of short-term gains.

In view of the above, I believe that corporate entities are often created precisely for reasons of longer term investments and the handful of companies created for the sole purpose of flipping of real estate assets can be sufficiently dealt with by section 33A of the Stamp Duties Act without this change.

Such a change also penalises corporate entities set up for bona fide commercial purposes. Hence, the consequences are far-reaching as family succession and other long-term planning arrangements have become collateral damage in the process.

Are the proposed changes then targeted at excessive foreign interest in our real estate scene? If that is indeed the case, I believe that it would be more appropriate to restrict the change to only situations where foreign shareholders are involved.

In short, I believe that it is not in the interest of Singapore to propose changes that fundamentally perverts such a longstanding sacred legal principle as it affects our international standing and credibility. To add salt to the wound, this would be all the more disappointing if the changes fail to rectify the underlying shortcoming that we are trying to address.

Perhaps, more light can be shed on the need for such a change as at first glance, the proposed change does not seem to solve any of the underlying issues.

The all-important question we need to ask is not "How much stamp duty revenue are we losing from Real Estate SPVs ?" but "How are Real Estate SPVs detrimental to the real estate situation in Singapore ?" The answers to the second question will allow us to have a clearer picture of the corrective policies that need to be formulated and put in place.

In addition, I believe that the fiscal health of Singapore is not at the stage where we need to raise revenue at the expense of the conceptual integrity of our legal framework.

The writer is director of taxes at PKF-CAP Advisory Partners Pte Ltd.

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

Stamp Duties Act - Stamp Duties (Section 22A) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 83 of 2017)