23 May 2017
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Boosting energy efficiency to curb carbon emissions

Straits Times
22 May 2017
Audrey Tan

Floods, heatwaves and other disasters induced by climate change have been plaguing the world for years.

But only in December 2015 did countries agree to tackle it, after decades of wrangling. The historic event in Paris saw delegates from nearly 200 countries - including Singapore - agreeing to go on a carbon diet.

The pact, the first universal, legally binding climate deal, came into force on Nov 4 last year, and aims to keep the global temperature rise this century to below 2 deg C.

Under the pact, Singapore pledged to become greener economically and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to achieve each dollar of gross domestic product by 36 per cent from 2005 levels, come 2030. It also pledged to stop any further increases to its greenhouse gas emissions by the same timeline.

Last July, Singapore unveiled its plan to meet its targets.

A pivotal strategy is to cut carbon emissions by improving energy efficiency across all sectors, namely power generation, industry, buildings, transport, households, waste and water.

Singapore has moved to do it on all fronts.

Changes made to the Energy Conservation Act in Parliament last month will require large polluters to step up green efforts or face higher penalties.

Companies have to adopt a structured measurement and reporting system for their greenhouse gas emissions - a move that will pave the way for the carbon tax scheme that the Government plans to impose in 2019.

Large emitters - such as power stations, refineries and petrochemical and semiconductor manufacturers - will likely be taxed in the range of $10 to $20 per tonne ofgreenhouse gases they produce.

For vehicles, the National Environment Agency has introduced a new Vehicular Emissions Scheme , starting on Jan 1 next year. It will be much stricter on carbon dioxide emissions and will include checks on four other pollutants: hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

National water agency PUB is also testing new technologies that will help cut energy use in water-treatment processes.

Besides curbing emissions, Singapore's climate action plan will also set out ways for the country to deal with climate change in six areas, including coastal protection, managing the water supply and improving food supply resilience.

For example, one project is to build Changi Airport's Terminal 5 at 5.5m above the mean sea level - higher than the level that PUB stipulates for other areas in Singapore. This measure is to protect against floods.

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Pars Ram Brothers (Pte) Ltd (in creditors’ voluntary liquidation) v Australian & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and others - [2017] SGHC 38

IPOS Case Summary: Courts (Singapore) Pte Ltd v Big Box Corporation Pte Ltd [2017] SGIPOS 05

Judgments
12 May 2017

Heritage East condo MC has 4 months to fix carpark system

Straits Times
22 May 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Frustrated by an 18-month shutdown of a Katong condo's faulty mechanised carpark system, a resident sought redress from the Strata Titles Board.

Last month, the board gave the Heritage East's management council (MC) a four-month deadline to fix the system.

The board, which heard the application of Ms Ker Lee Ping, rued the "unsatisfactory" situation.

"(It) is in contradiction to the (MC)'s mandatory statutory duty to maintain the common property in a state of good and serviceable repair," said the board in decision grounds issued last month.

Ms Ker had sought an order for the MC to rectify the system and pay damages for her loss of use of the carpark, estimated at $20.42 per day.

After hearings earlier this year, the board, presided by Mr Alfonso Ang, ordered the MC to restore the system, pointing to its duty under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act. But it dismissed Ms Ker's claim for damages.

Ms Ker, through her lawyer Joel Quah, argued that failure to repair the system caused severe inconvenience at the condo, a multi-storey apartment block off East Coast Road near Telok Kurau.

The condo has a fully automated mechanised carpark that is built within a unique twin tower structure - served by a common lift transporter - and contains 34 of the condo's 39 parking spaces.

In September 2015, water from a fire sprinkler that was activated by smoke from a condo unit resulted in the carpark being shut down for the second time in three years and it has remained closed ever since.

Ms Ker added that the temporary parking arrangements posed safety hazards as these temporary spaces allowed cars to be parked at places which blocked "crucial firefighting points".

The board heard that the MC had entered into negotiations with the carpark's sole agent, Chris-Ray Engineering, for the restoration works, but these came to a standstill as both parties could not agree on maintenance terms.

The MC, through its lawyer Simon Tan, denied it had been negligent, pointing to its earnest efforts, such as seeking the expertise of third parties and other temporary measures.

The board observed that after the carpark had been shut down, the MC had taken various steps to restore the system, including directly contacting the China-based manufacturer's engineers to restore the system.

But the MC had difficulty getting the help of manufacturer Hangzhou Xizi-IUK Parking Systems and as the system was password protected, third-party contractors could not get it restored, noted the board.

Making clear that its role was not to adjudge or get embroiled in the contractual spat between the MC and Chris-Ray, the board stressed that such disputes cannot justify the MC's "inordinate delay in restoring the carpark to working condition".

"Such matters cannot be left in a limbo until the (MC) finds, at its own time and pace, a solution. The (MC), having taken one year and six months (and counting) in attempting to resolve the matter, reflects a lack of a sense of urgency on their part in tackling the problem."

The board called for the MC to explore other options instead of becoming embroiled in disputes with Chris-Ray. It also ordered the MC to pay $5,000 in costs to Ms Ker and her filing fees for the case to be heard by the board.

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Stepaniuk, Nikolai v Wellstead Corporate Solutions Pte Ltd and others [2017] SGHC 39

Singapore High Court grants anti-suit injunction to prevent re-litigation of issues raised in arbitration

Judgments
12 May 2017

Ex-detainees launch book to mark 1987 arrests, call for ISA to be abolished

Straits Times
22 May 2017
Danson Cheong

A group of former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees have launched a book to mark the 30th anniversary of their arrests, and called for the ISA to be abolished.

The former detainees are part of a group of 22 activists rounded up under Operation Spectrum in 1987 for being part of what the Government called a Marxist plot aimed at overthrowing it.

The book titled 1987: Singapore's Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On, was launched at an event at The Projector cinema at Golden Mile Tower yesterday afternoon, organised by civil society group Function 8.

It contains essays from 36 contributors, including detainees who detailed their experience being interrogated and detained without trial.

A documentary on the events surrounding the arrests titled 1987: Untracing The Conspiracy was screened before the launch.

Among the 200 people present were civil society activists and opposition politicians, including Workers' Party MP Chen Show Mao and Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan.

After the film screening, four former detainees - Ms Low Yit Leng, in her 50s; Ms Chng Suan Tze, 68; Mr Vincent Cheng, 70; and Mr Kenneth Tsang, 64 - took questions from the audience.

"After all the experiences that we have, even 30 years after the episode, we (Singapore) still are not in any way attempting to abolish the ISA," said Mr Cheng.

Mr Tsang said Singapore should learn from Asian countries such as South Korea and Taiwan, which have become "great powerhouses" both economically and in terms of democratic freedoms.

Other civil society activists also spoke, among them historian Thum Ping Tjin, who urged the Government to release evidence for the Operation Spectrum arrests.

He said: "Thirty years is a reasonable amount of time where we begin to get perspective on the past."

In their statement released yesterday, the former detainees of Operation Spectrum also elaborated on their call to abolish the ISA.

"Many have been forced into exile because of the fear of arrest and the terrible prospect of indefinite detention without trial," they said, calling on the Government to allow political exiles to return home.

The Government had previously said that it would not scrap the ISA as it remained "relevant and crucial" to keep the country safe and secure.

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

TXW v TXX - [2017] SGHCF 04

MAS issues new spreading and capping of commission rules for relevant life policies effective from 1 April 2017

Business
12 May 2017

Singapore joins global panel to regulate drone use

Straits Times
22 May 2017
Karamjit Kaur

Set up by UN civil aviation arm, 15-member group aims to develop framework to address stakeholders' concerns

Singapore has joined a 15-member group set up by the United Nations' civil aviation arm to draw up global rules and regulations for the safe use of unmanned aircraft, including drones.

The team, formed last year, comprises eight countries, including the United States, France and China, as well as industry bodies like the global pilots' association.

Singapore is an "active member" of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Advisory Group, a spokesman for the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) told The Straits Times.

In December last year, the group came up with an online toolkit to provide the aviation authorities and regulators with information on unmanned aircraft and how they can be safely operated.

The next step is to develop a more comprehensive global framework that will address concerns that pilots and other stakeholders might have.

"In the near future, an overhead drone delivery or even a flying taxi may enter your daily life," said the ICAO.

"It's in everyone's interest to determine sooner rather than later how and where they can safely operate, so as to minimise all related noise and privacy concerns."

The sooner this framework is agreed upon internationally, the sooner the industry will be able to align their developing UAS businesses within harmonised systems, the ICAO said.

These and other topics will be up for discussion at a symposium which will be held in Montreal, Canada, in September.

In Singapore, where the rules for operating such systems were tightened a few years ago, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has recorded 103 violations since June 2015.

Mr Tan Kah Han, senior director for safety regulation and director for airworthiness and flight operations at the CAAS, said that such incidents typically involve flying within 5km of aerodromes, which is not allowed, and flying within restricted and security-sensitive areas without a permit.

The authority has also received four reports from pilots sighting such activity near Changi and Seletar airports.

So far, the CAAS has issued several warnings and suspended permits for some operators, Mr Tan said.

In general, permits are required for flying unmanned systems that are heavier than 7kg.

For lighter drones, approval is needed if these are operated for business purposes or within restricted zones.

Since June 2015, more than 2,300 applications for permits have been received, said the CAAS.

More than eight in 10 were for the purposes of aerial photography, videography, surveillance or inspections, Mr Tan said.

Those who operate without the required permits can be fined up to $20,000.

Repeat offenders can be fined up to $40,000 and jailed for up to 15 months.

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

BNS v BNT - [2017] SGHCF 05

Draft Measures on Transfer of Personal and Important Data out of China Released

Legislation
12 May 2017

Commentary: Can governments stop fake news?

TODAY
22 May 2017
Han Fook Kwang

Fake news is in the news, again. This time it is mostly about governments planning to introduce new laws and penalties to stop their spread.

The German authorities are targeting Internet giants like Facebook, and plan to require them to take action against fake news posted on their sites failing which fines of up to 500,000 euros can be imposed.

In Britain, there is a parliamentary committee looking into the issue. The Singapore Government announced last month it is studying the matter and looks likely to introduce new laws. Why are governments stepping in, and will they succeed?

Their concerns have mounted following the presidential election in the United States where the volume and intensity of fake news reached new heights.

Even more alarming for them was the possibility that foreign governments might have been involved in attempts to influence the outcome of the polls. While there has been no conclusive evidence of this, the mere suggestion that future elections anywhere could be similarly targeted has made governments anxious to be seen doing something. So, what can they do?

An obvious target are the large social media sites like Facebook, Google and Youtube. These platforms are powerful aggregators of news – genuine and fake – and spread them virally through users posting and re-posting them.

It has been reported, for example, that the fake news of Pope Francis endorsing the American presidential candidate Donald Trump was shared on Facebook a million times.

By focusing their attention on these companies, governments hope to use their resources and technical know-how. They know their own capabilities are limited, and, in any case, many of the questionable sites are based outside their jurisdiction. Faced with impending new legislation, these tech giants will want to be seen responding though their actions are unlikely to amount to much.

So far the plans they have announced are mainly about flagging dubious content. But it is a laborious process trying to verify the spurious deluge and they will end up with token efforts on a handful of the most blatant cases.

You can be sure, though, even these will find their way elsewhere, somewhere, somehow in the vast expanding cyberspace.

In fact, Facebook isn’t the most prodigious multiplier of news. The distinction belongs to instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Line and others.

They are harder to police because they do not operate any sites, only multitudes of chat groups formed and re-formed instantly.

But there is a more fundamental reason why government action is unlikely to succeed. It is that fake news is not like an illegal product bought and sold on the quiet, like fake watches or illicit drugs and firearms. If it were, it can be dealt with similarly, with laws, enforcement and public vigilance.

Fake news is loud and wants to attract attention to itself and is happily passed around not by misfits and people on the fringe but the average citizen of the online world.

UP AGAINST THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION

To understand why this has happened, you have to understand the revolution that has taken place in information and communication which has completely upended the traditional world.

Much has been written about this new media landscape that has made news and information available to everyone 24/7, turned mainstream media business on its head, removed the traditional gatekeepers of information and made authorities everywhere more accountable for their words and action than ever before.

But the more profound effect has been on how people consume and respond to news and information.

They no longer do so passively but want to be active participants, posting and re-posting them to their social circles, acting as gatekeepers.

They become active filters, deciding what to pass on and what to suppress depending on their interests and biases. What drives this transformation from passive consumers to active broadcasters? It comes from the greater autonomy and independence from authority the digital world confers to everyone.

People everywhere have embraced this freedom and made use of it in many ways. Much of it is highly positive, in commerce, education, social activism and community building. Of course, there is also more pornography, Internet scams and hate content than ever before. But the good overwhelmingly surpass the bad.

Think back, for example, on your own experience online over the past 24 hours and it is likely you wouldn’t want to go back to pre-revolutionary time, even with all the unsavoury parts included. In this milieu, enter so-called fake news.

But what is fake? It comes in all shapes and sizes, from the ridiculous to the sick and harmful. For example, there are countless versions of how using your mobile phone can fry your brain cells.

Or conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre being the work of US intelligence to create an excuse to attack Islamic terrorists.

There is a lot of it going round every day, with or without an important election happening, and they exist alongside all the other stuff that inform, educate and entertain.

But they have not slowed down the popularity of the online world because the consumer decides what to do with them – whether to delete, filter or re-broadcast it.

And in deciding, it reinforces his or her sense of autonomy and independence, and they will not give that up lightly. Government action to censor or filter, on the other hand, subtract from this freedom.

Tech companies know this, which is why they have confined their action so far to only checking and flagging the more questionable material. But it also means their impact will be limited.

It is important for governments to understand this when they think about what action to take. The reality is that they will be not just be taking on the producers of fake news but the millions of consumers who want to be their own gatekeepers. That’s the real revolution that has taken place. It is not fake.


Han Fook Kwang is a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. He is also Editor-at-Large with The Straits Times. This piece first appeared in RSIS Commentary.

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Prometheus Marine Pte Ltd v King, Ann Rita and other matters - [2017] SGHC 36

Bank Held Not Liable to Investors in Investment Dispute

Judgments
11 May 2017

Baltic Exchange outlines its growth plans

Straits Times
22 May 2017
Jacqueline Woo

Maritime info provider intends to add LNG indices and more freight market benchmarks by this year

The London-based Baltic Exchange has bold growth plans in the wake of its acquisition by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) last year.

Among other things, the maritime information provider plans to introduce more freight market benchmarks as well as new liquefied natural gas (LNG) and container indices by this year.

The Baltic Exchange provides independent rate assessments for various bulk carriers, notably the Baltic Dry Index, as well as assessments for a range of tankers moving crude and products of oil.

Expanding its offerings will allow the exchange - with a history that dates back to 1744 - to "remain at the heart of the bulk shipping industry for the long term", chief executive Mark Jackson told The Straits Times in an e-mail interview.

"The next steps will be taken in close collaboration with our shipbroking panellists and end-users to identify the best reporting model, routes and vessel descriptions," said Mr Jackson, who was appointed head of the exchange in January.

On top of rolling out more container routes, there is potential to develop derivative-based risk-management tools for the container sector as well, he said, adding that both the LNG and container indices are ideally suited to being published from Singapore.

"Singapore is at the heart of the rapidly developing LNG infrastructure in Asia, and we hope to add value to SGX's current offerings and play our role in developing Singapore as Asia's leading LNG trading hub," he said. "Adding a freight element to existing LNG pricing would help develop this market."

Industry players such as dry bulk shipping consultancy IBulk (Singapore) believe it will be good to have access to new sectors from the convenience of the Baltic Exchange as all shipping markets are interrelated, said managing director Sencer Sahinkaya.

Still, Mr Teo Siong Seng, managing director of shipping line Pacific International Lines, believes it could take some time before a new container index can take off here, given that the market already has several such indices, including the highly cited Shanghai Containerised Freight Index.

Meanwhile, the Baltic Exchange has also set up a Baltic Asia Advisory Committee, which will meet on a regular basis and advise the exchange on maritime matters - such as code of conduct, new routes, vessel descriptions and maritime digital infrastructure - with a focus on the region. The Asia-based committee comprises 14 members, including the Baltic Exchange and SGX.

"Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai are fast-growing maritime service hubs... It is vital that the Baltic Exchange is able to understand their needs," Mr Jackson said.

He added that the committee received useful inputs at its inaugural meeting on April 28, in relation to its proposals to develop the new indices, launch an escrow service, improve its debt-collection service and develop post-trade tools.

The escrow service, for example, will be used for sale and purchase transactions, although the Baltic Exchange hopes to eventually expand it to include financial securities in cases of ship arrest or disputes.

At last month's Singapore Iron Ore Week, Mr Jackson noted that the acquisition by SGX, completed in November last year, has "reinvigorated" the Baltic Exchange.

"The SGX investment has come about at a time when seaborne trade has become more Asia-centric and at a time when technology is challenging the way in which we all work," he told a forum.

"I believe that the new structure of the Baltic Exchange, now with a single shareholder who is interested in long-term goals, allows us to grow our leadership profile, to play a bigger role in setting standards, building consensus and leading change in the shipping markets."

Staying relevant in the global maritime industry is key, added Mr Jackson. "It means reacting to the shift in geographical importance as seaborne trade becomes more and more Asia-centric. It is about being proactive about the way the marketplace conducts its business, especially as technology, disruptive or otherwise, brings about change."

SGX chief executive Loh Boon Chye, who also spoke at the forum, noted that the industry has seen "unprecedented price volatility and global headwinds that have made risk management increasingly relevant in shipping and commodities".

"Our strategic acquisition of the Baltic Exchange last November seeks to integrate the risk management of cargo and freight, and link the two liquidity pools, while bridging the global shift in seaborne trade towards Asia," said Mr Loh.


ADDING VALUE

Singapore is at the heart of the rapidly developing LNG infrastructure in Asia, and we hope to add value to SGX's current offerings and play our role in developing Singapore as Asia's leading LNG trading hub. Adding a freight element to existing LNG pricing would help develop this market.

MR MARK JACKSON, chief executive of the Baltic Exchange, on its plans after being acquired by SGX last year.

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KLW Holdings Ltd v Straitsworld Advisory Ltd and another - [2017] SGHC 35

MAS reviews Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme

Business
11 May 2017

ADV: SAL - Manager / Assistant Manager (Marketing Communications), Business Development

Singapore Law Watch
22 May 2017
Singapore Academy of Law

Micheal Anak Garing v Public Prosecutor and another appeal - [2017] SGCA 07

MAS consults on first phase of draft regulations pursuant to the Securities and Futures Act including regulations on markets, financial benchmarks and collective investments schemes

Legislation
11 May 2017

Controlling prices of formula milk may cause more problems: Forum

Straits Times
21 May 2017

The Price Control Act has been used only twice in Singapore's history.

The first time was in 1973, when licences were introduced for the import and export of rice, following a wave of panic-buying when the international oil crisis caused prices to soar.

The second was in 1990, after a few suppliers cornered the pork market and manipulated prices.

The Act was not invoked even when inflation hit more than 6 per cent in 2008.

It seems that for the Act to be invoked, there must be an element of crisis and a staple item consumed by the majority.

Formula milk powder, unfortunately, does not fall into these categories (Place formula milk under Price Control Act, by Dr Daniel Ng Peng Keat; May 17).

The Act is meant to curb profiteering, but the Competition Commission of Singapore found no evidence of illegal price-fixing among formula milk producers (Aggressive marketing of 'premium' formulas driving rise in baby milk powder prices in Singapore; ST Online, May 10).

Singapore has to ensure that the milk powder market remains open and competitive, and that information is readily available for consumers to make informed decisions.

If used liberally, price control can have a negative impact on the market.

When suppliers cannot set their own prices, they will be discouraged from producing more of the item, causing the supply to decline.

The quality of the products may also drop, as producers have fewer financial resources to reinvest in their business.

The result is less choice for consumers.

The correct approach, therefore, is for the Government to diversify its sources and offer cheaper versions of formula milk.

Francis Cheng

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K.V.C. Rice Intertrade Co Ltd v Asian Mineral Resources Pte Ltd and another suit - [2017] SGHC 32

MAS issues “Guidelines on the Online Distribution of Life Policies With No Advice”

Business
09 May 2017

Legal test on doctors' negligence: MOH, AGC studying impact

Straits Times
20 May 2017
Linette Lai

The Health Ministry (MOH) and Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) are studying the impact of a new legal test used by the Court of Appeal to determine if a doctor has been negligent in giving medical advice.

The test - in which the average patient's opinion on the advice received carries more weight than the opinions of a doctor's peers - was used in a landmark decision last week.

MOH said it initially had concerns that a legal test that does not take into regard doctors' views would "create uncertainty" in the profession. "(This) could lead to defensive medical practices and ultimately result in additional procedures and costs for patients," an MOH spokesman said.

However, the spokesman added that the courts have accepted that "the expert evidence of doctors on matters of medical practice and judgment will continue to be of some significance".

The new test, a modified version of what is known as the Montgomery test, was used by the Court of Appeal in a case in which a businessman sued a surgeon and the National Cancer Centre Singapore for allegedly providing wrong advice ending in unnecessary surgery. The businessman lost the appeal.

Previously, Singapore's courts had used only the oft-cited Bolam test, which states that a doctor is not negligent if his actions could be supported by other doctors.

National University of Singapore law faculty professor A. Kumaralingam said the new test marks a "fundamental shift" from giving weight to what doctors believe is relevant information, to what patients think about the matter.

"Ideally, it should lead to a culture of collaborative autonomy where doctors and patients are equal partners in managing the patient's health," he said.

Experts say the new test is unlikely to significantly change the way doctors practise, but could get them to pay more attention to how they get their message across.

Said Dr Jeremy Lim, a partner in Oliver Wyman's global health practice: "The new test should ideally encourage doctors to reflect and be even more thoughtful about how and what they communicate to patients and their relatives.

"It should clarify the expectations and standards of care in communicating the pros and cons, and risks of any proposed treatments."

An oft-cited concern with the new test is that to protect themselves, doctors may provide too much information, thus making it more difficult for their patients to make sound treatment decisions.

Dr Desmond Wai, who practises at Desmond Wai Liver and Gastrointestinal Diseases Centre, said the balance between disclosing enough information and sharing too much can be a tricky one. He personally tailors his consultations to the specific details of each case.

"We need to understand the patient's socio-economic background and education level, and adjust our explanation accordingly," he said.

"For patients with big families, I usually call for a family conference to ensure each and every member of the family is aware of the medical diagnosis and options, before coming to a consensus."

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

TRS v TRT - [2017] SGHCF 03

China: First Investment Arbitration Award

Judgments
09 May 2017

17 years' jail, 24 strokes of cane for MacRitchie rapist

Straits Times
20 May 2017
Ng Huiwen

Bangladeshi worker's conviction the first in new framework for sentencing rapists

Bangladeshi Pramanik Liton was yesterday convicted and sentenced to 17 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane for abducting and raping a woman at knifepoint in broad daylight at MacRitchie Reservoir.

Justice Choo Han Teck found the 24-year-old construction worker guilty of two counts of aggravated rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of abduction for illicit intercourse.

His was the first case to fall under a new framework for sentencing rapists, which was spelt out by the apex court last week .

The framework sets out three sentencing bands, corresponding to the severity of the rape and various aggravating factors. Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan noted that Liton's offences would come under Band 2, where there are two or more aggravating factors. This band carries a sentencing range of 13 to 17 years in jail and 12 strokes of the cane.

"Taking into consideration Terence Ng and the prosecution's sentencing submissions, I am of the view that the global sentence should reflect the seriousness of the offences," Justice Choo said, referring to the case of cobbler Terence Ng Kean Meng, 46, who appealed against his sentence for statutory rape. The chance to review the framework arose from that case.

The previous framework divided rapes into four categories: Those with no aggravating or mitigating factors, those with specific aggravating factors, multiple rapes, and those committed by offenders who will remain a threat to society. But the four categories did not cover the full spectrum of circumstances in which rape may be committed, the apex court had said.

DPP Tan, in asking for a total sentence of at least 20 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane, listed six aggravating factors specific to the offences. They included how Liton had further violated the victim, a 39-year-old Chinese national, to get rid of any semen as he was afraid she would get pregnant. This caused her significant pain and left her deeply scarred, she said.

Delivering his verdict after a three-day trial, Justice Choo said the victim's evidence was "clear, cogent and consistent", while Liton's was "bizarre and incomprehensible".

In an unusual turn on Thursday, Liton told the court he did not have sex with the victim because she had died from fear. This, despite the fact that she is alive and testified that Liton attacked her. He was in court when she took the stand.

Addressing Liton, Justice Choo said: "Clearly, she had not (died) or this would have been the world's first supernatural trial. I see nothing supernatural, only a traumatised woman who has convinced me that you committed the offences upon which you are being tried."

Liton's sentence will be backdated to his arrest. For each charge of aggravated rape, he could have been sentenced to between eight and 20 years in jail and at least 12 strokes of the cane.

On the new framework, criminal lawyer Sunil Sudheesan said it allows the court more flexibility to consider the specific facts of a case in sentencing. "My sense is that punishments may now go up, as cases of rape in the lowest category can now get up to 13 years," he said.

In the old framework, the benchmark for the lowest end of the sentencing spectrum for rape was set at 10 years.


About the case

On the afternoon of Feb 8 two years ago, Bangladeshi Pramanik Liton abducted a 39-year-old Chinese national along a trail at the park at knife-point.

He raped her and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

He was arrested at his worksite two days later, after Gurkha trackers located the crime scene and found a jackknife with his thumbprint in the forest.

His semen was also found on the woman's panties, swabs taken from her body and tissue paper recovered from the crime scene, which was 14m off the trail.

The rape victim's Singaporean husband had told the High Court during the trial that she was "unlike her usual cheerful self" when she told him over the phone on Feb 8 that she needed help. They were not married at the time.

When he met her at the Mushroom Cafe at MacRitchie Reservoir, she was in a state of shock and her voice was shaky as she told him she was "nearly killed in the forested area" and had been "violated".

Two workers at the park also took the stand to describe her as being distraught when they came across her that day.


CLEARLY GUILTY

Clearly, she had not (died) or this would have been the world's first supernatural trial. I see nothing supernatural, only a traumatised woman who has convinced me that you committed the offences upon which you are being tried.

JUSTICE CHOO HAN TECK, addressing Liton, who had told the court that he did not have sex with the victim as she had died from fear. She is in fact alive and testified that he attacked her.

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Public Prosecutor v Pramanik Liton [2017] SGHC 110

Public Prosecutor v Morgan Kupusamy - [2017] SGHC 31

PH Hydraulics & Engineering Pte Ltd v Airtrust (Hong Kong) Ltd [2017] SGCA 26:Can punitive damages be awarded for breaches of contract?

Judgments
08 May 2017

Worker hurt while 'moonlighting' wins negligence claim

Straits Times
20 May 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Court rules employers were liable for injuries despite worker's lack of proper permit

The High Court rejected an employer's defence that an injured construction worker should not benefit from a negligence claim as he had been moonlighting at the time, which is against public policy.

Judicial Commissioner Audrey Lim ruled the defence "blatantly" ignored the fact that the employers themselves breached the law for hiring the worker. He did not have a valid work permit to work for them.

The judge in decision grounds last week held company director Chen Yongbiao and the company Dongwu Steel Industry liable for the injuries suffered by Mr Mohd Shohel Md Khobir Uddin while moving a metal plate at the worksite in Tuas Road. The nature of the injuries was not indicated.

Mr Shohel, a Bangladeshi national who was hired by SPG Marine under a work permit, had accompanied a dormitory room-mate named Sujan to work at the Tuas worksite on Sept 21, 2014. It was a Sunday and his day off.

Sujan told him he would be paid $60 a day.

Mr Chen picked the duo up at Joo Koon MRT station and took them to the worksite. While working, Mr Shohel fell into a hole while carrying the large metal plate with Sujan.

Mr Chen, who was not present when the accident happened, took him to West Point Hospital. He was later transferred to National University Hospital for treatment.

Mr Shohel, represented by lawyer Subbiah Pillai, sued Mr Chen and the company for damages, claiming he suffered injuries because of their negligence.

The defendants, through lawyer Eu Hai Ming, denied the claims, alleging that both workers had entered the premises without knowledge or consent.

The judge found Mr Shohel to be an "honest and reliable witness", while she said Mr Chen was "evasive and dishonest" and provided "inconsistent evidence on key matters".

Citing two past cases, Judicial Commissioner Lim said if Mr Shohel were not allowed to make a claim because he did not have a valid work permit for moonlighting, then employers might believe "they can discriminate against such employees whom they choose to hire despite knowing that it is illegal". For instance, they could provide such workers with little or no safety equipment, she added.

The judge said to do so would "run counter to the policy of protection of these workers at the workplace and may even encourage or embolden employers in employing foreign workers illegally, knowing that the employer would be absolved from any liability to compensate a worker who suffered injuries through the fault of the employer in the course of that employment".

She said Mr Shohel's illegality "did not fall within the limited range of cases where an injury was directly incurred in the course of committing a crime".

The judge held Mr Shohel 20 per cent to blame for not keeping a sufficient lookout while walking and ordered the defendants pay 80 per cent of the damages to be assessed separately.

The defendants are appealing.


Judicial Commissioner Lim said if Mr Shohel were not allowed to make a claim because he did not have a valid work permit for moonlighting, then employers might believe 'they can discriminate against such employees whom they choose to hire despite knowing that it is illegal'.

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

Public Prosecutor v Razak bin Bashir - [2017] SGHC 33

Key refinements to the Code of Governance for Charities and Institutions of a Public Character

Business
08 May 2017

Drug trafficker hanged after exhausting avenues of appeal

Straits Times
20 May 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Singaporean drug trafficker Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali, 31, was executed at Changi Prison yesterday, having exhausted all avenues of appeal.

Ridzuan, and accomplice Abdul Haleem Abdul Karim, were found guilty in the High Court of trafficking in 72.5g of pure heroin. The former was sentenced to death by the court on April 10, 2013. His accomplice, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane.

The Misuse of Drugs Act provides for the death penalty if the amount of heroin trafficked is more than 15g. But in 2012, changes were made to the law to give judges the discretion to not impose the death penalty on drug couriers who receive a certificate from the prosecution stating that he had substantively assisted in disrupting drug trafficking activities.

Abdul Haleem, who was 30 then, was the first to receive such a certificate. Before being spared the noose, he had asked to be hanged if his friend was sentenced to that fate. But the judge told him: "You have certification from the Attorney-General's Chambers, he does not."

Ridzuan's appeal against conviction and sentence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on Feb 27, 2014, in another landmark case.

Because of its impact on revised drug laws, which give judges the discretion to not impose the death penalty in specific cases, the case was heard before five judges - the first time this happened in the Court of Appeal in nearly two decades. Ridzuan was also assigned three lawyers to argue his appeal.

In April that year, Ridzuan sought leave from the High Court to start judicial review proceedings against the public prosecutor's decision not to grant him a certificate of substantive assistance. The High Court dismissed the application on July 17, 2014, and, in October 2015, the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal.

On Jan 8 last year, Ridzuan took his case to the Court of Appeal for the third time by way of a criminal motion for the court to review its decisions on his appeals, on the grounds that the Misuse of Drugs Act provisions under which he was sentenced to death were unconstitutional.

The apex court dismissed the criminal motion on Dec 2 last year.

He submitted a petition for clemency to the President, which was unsuccessful.

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said yesterday: "Muhammad Ridzuan was accorded full due process under the law, and he was represented by legal counsel throughout the process."

CNB said that 72.5g of diamorphine, or pure heroin, is equivalent to about 6,004 straws, which is sufficient to feed the addiction of about 864 abusers for a week.


CNB said that 72.5g of diamorphine, or pure heroin, is equivalent to about 6,004 straws, which is sufficient to feed the addiction of about 864 abusers for a week.

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Bigfoot Internet Ventures Pte. Ltd. v Apple Inc. - [2017] SGIPOS 04

Preserving the commercial value of a guarantee

Judgments
05 May 2017

Gallop Stable fined $9k for cruelty to horse

Straits Times
20 May 2017
Elena Chong

Company failed to provide adequate veterinary attention to wounded mare

Gallop Stable, which manages between 120 and 150 horses across three stables in Singapore, was fined $9,000 yesterday for cruelty towards one of its animals.

The company was found guilty last month, after an eight-day trial, of failing to provide adequate veterinary attention to a 17-year-old chestnut thoroughbred mare at its Pasir Ris Green ranch on or before May 15, 2013. This caused unnecessary suffering to the mare, named Sharpy.

The horse-riding provider, represented by its director Mani Shanker, is appealing against the conviction and sentence.

A veterinarian from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) found Sharpy in poor condition when she paid an unscheduled visit to the Pasir Ris ranch on May 15 that year.

Sharpy was lying down, and its right hind leg was about three times the size of a normal leg.

The horse was also bobbing its head in a bid to get rid of the flies in its eyes.

The vet advised the stable to seek immediate veterinary attention for the horse.

The next day, another vet taught stable staff how to wash Sharpy's wounds twice a day.

Two days later, Sharpy's condition seemed to have worsened when the AVA vet, Dr Wendy Toh, visited the horse again.

Sharpy was lying on the ground and there were maggots in its wounds.

When offered water and food, the horse drank non-stop for two minutes and ate continuously for up to half an hour.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Choong Hefeng asked for the maximum fine of $10,000 to be imposed.

He said there was a need for greater deterrence of such offences and for wrongdoers to be more severely punished.

While penalties under the Animals and Birds Act were last increased in 2012, the number of animal welfare and cruelty cases investigated and feedback received have increased steadily over the past year.

Among the aggravating factors Mr Choong cited in this case were the magnitude and long duration of Sharpy's suffering.

Gallop's lawyer, Mr Simon Tan, said his client was adamant about saving Sharpy, despite veterinary advice for the horse to be put down.

He added that Gallop spent close to $16,000 on the treatment and care of Sharpy, which is now healthy and still owned by the stable.

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

TMO v TMP - [2017] SGCA 14

Robust Governance in the Battle Against Corruption: Integrating Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Measures

Business
05 May 2017

Stiffer sentence sought for card cheat

Straits Times
20 May 2017
K.C. Vijayan

SMU graduate given 14-day short detention order and 220 hours of community service

Prosecutors wanted a credit-card cheat to be put behind bars for three months, but the court decided instead to give the newly minted Singapore Management University (SMU) graduate a short detention order of 14 days and 220 hours of community service.

The prosecution is now appealing against the sentence given to Goh Bing Kun, 27.

Goh had admitted using a debit card found by an accomplice at Zouk on Jan 24, 2015 - both men used it to buy drinks. The next day, they used the card again to buy other items, including two iPhones from a store in Bencoolen Street.

Goh , who was once awarded National Serviceman of the Year while he was with the 1st Commando Battalion, was then studying at SMU. He recently graduated and is now a management trainee.

The police nabbed him and his accomplice J Xander Roslan, 28, about two weeks after the card owner, Mr Evan Kong, 24, reported the unauthorised transactions. Roslan is due to be dealt with separately.

Goh admitted to three charges - two for cheating and one for misappropriating the debit card. Eight other charges were taken into consideration. All were for cheating to induce the delivery of property.

Goh paid back the total sum lost by Mr Kong, which amounted to $3,945.95, in July 2015.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Bryan Leow argued that the offences were serious enough for Goh to be jailed for three weeks and two months respectively for the two cheating charges, and one month for the misappropriation charge, with the latter two terms to run consecutively.

But Goh's lawyer James Ow Yong countered that rehabilitation should be the dominant sentencing consideration.

"Deterrence is well achieved through community-based sentences (CBS)," he said, adding that Goh is progressing well in his career, among other things.

In judgment grounds issued earlier this month, District Judge Low Wee Ping agreed that CBS was appropriate.

It "can achieve an even stronger deterrent effect with a short period of incarceration, while not extend to such a long period as to jeopardise the accused's career and future prospects", the judge said.

He noted that Goh had voluntarily sought counselling and taken ownership of his mistakes, and he accepted that Goh was "significantly remorseful".

Goh's sentence has been stayed pending the appeal.

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

Planning Act - Planning (Exemption under Section 53) (No. 3) Notification 2017 (S 241 of 2017)

Raising the bar, accounting for the future

Business
05 May 2017

New laws will help ailing firms stay afloat

Straits Times
20 May 2017
Grace Leong

Sources estimate 5 to 8 firms here will seek protection under new debt-restructuring laws

More distressed companies in the oil and gas, shipping and offshore marine sectors could seek protection under a new insolvency framework to come into effect soon.

The framework - adopting some elements of the United States bankruptcy code - aims to give troubled entities greater flexibility to restructure and survive.

Firms in these ailing industries have been hit hard by the oil price rout so a fair number are set to seek protection to restructure under the new rules, TSMP Law restructuring partner Alexander Pang said.

Industry sources estimate five to eight ailing firms, which have either raised finance here, or have creditors, operations or offices here, could seek the new protection.

One possible candidate is Ezra Holdings, which sought Chapter 11 protection in the US in March, given a lack of such protections here. There is talk the firm could apply for local protection as well, under the revised debt-restructuring laws here.

The move would be motivated by the fact that Singapore parties not doing business in the US have little to fear in not complying with a US order. But they will have to comply with a Singapore court order, TSMP Law joint managing director and senior counsel Thio Shen Yi said.

The amendments to the Companies Act - passed by Parliament in March - are set to take effect soon. After that, the High Court will be able to order a moratorium in favour of a firm proposing a scheme of arrangement for debt restructuring.

The moratorium, a temporary protection barring creditors from claiming a firm's assets,will be issued automatically upon application for up to 30 days - with worldwide effect.

The changes are being made now as Singapore companies will have to repay about $38 billion worth of local bond debt over the next four years, Mr Pang said. "In this environment, the possibility of some defaults occurring is high," he added.

If there is no strong, effective debt-restructuring framework, the oil and gas sector could face severe issues as the industry recovers, said Mr Patrick Ang, deputy managing partner at Rajah & Tann Singapore.

"The key players could disappear. But debt restructuring helps preserve company value, and keep the industry alive, so that those with the relevant industry skills can look forward to keeping their job in future. This is critical for our economy."

Another critical change is empowering the High Court to issue a judicial management order when a firm is likely to be unable to pay its debts, and not when it is unable to pay its debts. This allows the judicial management process to start earlier.

"In the past, Asian firms tended to shy away from getting into debt restructuring, or wait too long and then do it when it is too late. I think this amendment will change that mindset," Mr Ang said.

Small and medium-sized enterprises may be able to seek help through a scheme of arrangement under the revised rules. But larger firms will likely be under pressure to opt for judicial management, as creditors may prefer an independent third party to manage the distressed company, Mr Pang said.

One key change is that the court will also be able to give rescue financing "super-priority" over all other debts. What that does is help distressed businesses by attracting investors to pump in money earlier.

Current laws have no provisions for white knights to put in money earlier. But the new rules can help as banks or investors may be willing to inject fresh capital into a distressed, but economically sound business, if that capital has priority over existing debts, Mr Ang said.

These changes are part of efforts to establish Singapore as a global debt restructuring hub for Asia.


EARLY INTERVENTION

In the past, Asian firms tended to shy away from getting into debt restructuring, or wait too long and then do it when it is too late. I think this amendment will change that mindset.

MR PATRICK ANG, deputy managing partner at Rajah & Tann Singapore, on how the new laws will help firms get help earlier.

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Rapid Transit Systems Act - Rapid Transit Systems (Creation of Rights) (No. 5) Notification 2017 (S 240 of 2017)

A new way to carry on another’s legacy: the new waiver for the use of legacy health information under the Human Biomedical Research Act

Legislation
04 May 2017

Family violence is everyone's business: Forum

Straits Times
20 May 2017

The report on the abusive stepfather (Man kicked, punched and stepped on 4-year-old stepdaughter; May 18) highlights how young children can be abused severely behind closed doors over a prolonged period.

As a specialist organisation working with children and families who experience violence, Pave believes this case shows why anyone who is aware of family violence needs to raise the alarm early.

The little girl suffered no fewer than 29 injuries over two months. Could she have been spared the worst of it, had someone raised the alarm sooner?

Our experience tells us that once violence starts, it may not stop. It can persist and lead to serious consequences for victims, including severe injury or even death.

Children who are victims or witnesses of violence are especially vulnerable.

Traumatised young children are among the hardest to help and may need a long time to recover from the physical, psychological and emotional scars.

Children need adults to protect them, but sometimes a protective parent may be experiencing spousal abuse herself and is living in fear of the abuser.

Anyone who is aware of the abuse or suspects abuse can help.

Extended family members, neighbours, friends, teachers and schoolmates can play their part in alerting the authorities.

The tragedy of the young child in the news this week tells us we have to stop thinking that family violence is a private matter. It is everyone's business to be concerned and to help stop the violence.

Adisti Jalani (Ms)
Acting Principal Social Worker
Pave

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

The Kwong-Wai-Shiu Free Hospital (Transfer of Undertaking and Dissolution) Act 2017 (Act 21 of 2017)

Singapore High Court considers the interpretation of settlement agreements and arbitration clauses

Judgments
02 May 2017

Court to rule if lawyer who evaded tax is fit to practise

Straits Times
19 May 2017
K.C. Vijayan

A lawyer who was jailed for tax evasion will have to face a court of three judges, which will rule if he is unfit to continue practising.

Mr Ong Cheong Wei, 52, is now working as an Uber driver.

A disciplinary tribunal recommended Mr Ong be dealt with by the court, which is the highest body to deal with errant lawyers.

Mr Ong, who used to run his own firm, was convicted and jailed for four weeks on each of the two tax evasion charges in 2015. He also paid a penalty of $118,341.

Among other things, he declared his income for assessment years 2007 and 2008 as $93,000 in total, and underdeclared $306,305.

Mr Ong, who was called to the Bar in 1995, continued to practise after his release from jail until April last year, when the Attorney-General's Chambers objected to his bid for a practising certificate. Lawyers have to apply for one every year.

Mr Ong pleaded guilty before a tribunal last December to a single charge pursued by lawyer Daniel John for the Law Society that the criminal convictions "imply a defect of character" making him unfit for the profession.

The tribunal appointed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and comprising Senior Counsel Andre Yeap and lawyer G. Radakrishnan said not every criminal conviction made a lawyer unfit to continue practising and noted there was no precedent case here where disciplinary action had been taken against a lawyer convicted of an offence under a similar section of the Income Tax Act.

The tribunal in decision grounds last month ruled that tax evasion was a dishonest act that made Mr Ong unfit to be a lawyer.

Mr Ong urged the tribunal to show mercy, noting he had paid his dues and served jail time. The tribunal ruled that the case be referred to a court of three judges, where he can be struck off, suspended or fined, among other things.

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

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Concessionary Rate of Tax for Financial Sector Incentive Companies) Regulations 2017 (S 239 of 2017)

Singapore Parliament passes amendments to Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act

Legislation
02 May 2017

Lawyer faces discipline over dodgy fund transfers

Straits Times
19 May 2017
K.C. Vijayan

He is accused of abetting money laundering based on info hacked from his computer

A lawyer whose computer was hacked and the material used to show he acted in dubious cross-border money transfers will have his case referred to a court of three judges, in decision grounds released on Wednesday.

The court will decide if Mr Allan Chan Chun Hwee can continue to practise law or be suspended or fined.

Mr Chan had pleaded guilty last year to four charges of misconduct before a disciplinary tribunal.

The tribunal probe followed an anonymous complaint to the Law Society in 2014 that he had allegedly abetted money laundering activities for two companies.

The letter included material from the hacked computer.

This is the first reported case of a lawyer being taken to task before a disciplinary tribunal for accepting and sending foreign currency without verifying source backgrounds.

Mr Chan, a lawyer of 18 years who ran his own firm, admitted he did not carry out background checks on the two companies - Institute of Business Management and Financial Services and Investment Suisse.

He had been asked by a man claiming to be a "Sir" Robert Cowley in 2006 to advise on Singapore law and to act as an escrow agent for the receipt and transmission of funds as directed by Mr Cowley and the two companies he chaired in return for a percentage fee.

The title "Sir" was self-appointed by Mr Cowley, a 73-year-old Australian who has faced legal trouble in his home country.

The complaint letter spelt out one transaction of US$1.5 million and eight transactions of over US$20,000 each. The transactions stopped after 2011.

The tribunal noted an e-mail from Mr Cowley in July 2008 which said transactions of up to €5 million could take place and Mr Chan stood to gain from fees for "no or very little legal work".

The Law Society did not accuse Mr Chan of money laundering but argued that the deals amounted to breaches of the "know your client and know your client's business" rules.

Mr Chan, who represented himself, admitted he did not verify Mr Cowley's identity beyond meeting him on a few occasions. He also did not carry out background checks on the two companies. He added that no "red flags" went off in his mind to do further background checks, explaining that as a "much younger and impressionable lawyer", he felt "privileged" to serve Mr Cowley.

The tribunal, appointed by the Chief Justice and comprising Senior Counsel Roderick Martin and lawyer Teo Weng Kie, noted he did not challenge the authenticity of the e-mails attached to the anonymous complaint, among other things. Mr Chan was ordered to pay $5,000 in costs to the Law Society.

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

Town Councils Act - Town Council of Chua Chu Kang (Conservancy and Service Charges) By-laws 2017 (S 238 of 2017)

Brand New Possibilities — Opening Up Third-Party Funding for International Arbitration in Singapore

Legislation
28 Apr 2017

Rule of law is about ensuring robust legal processes: Voices

TODAY
19 May 2017

I am concerned about the conception of the rule of law in “Reinforce religious ideas of love, forgiveness to support rule of law” (April 17).

The letter’s central theme is the importance of mutual respect and understanding among people from diverse backgrounds within Singapore.

The writer goes on to emphasise the role of the rule of law in ensuring order here, concluding with the exhortation to Singaporeans to “reinforce the positive ideas, such as forgiveness and love ... the rule of law aims to support”.

This oversteps the doctrinal boundaries of the rule of law to encompass values such as forgiveness, love and mutual understanding, which bear little relation to its core elements.

The heart of the rule of law is about ensuring robust legal processes by upholding the following principles: Clarity and certainty in legal rules; transparency and accountability in legal processes; and equal access to the law for all citizens.

Our leaders have adhered to these conceptual boundaries.

In “Rule of law a game-changer for S’pore: PM” (April 1), the Prime Minister spoke of ensuring that individuals trust all are equal before the law and that businesses know they operate in a transparent, rational environment.

Crucially, he said the rule of law stood for the upholding of individual rights and freedoms while balancing them against society’s need to maintain law and order.

To be clear, I believe that voices espousing virtues such as forgiveness, love and mutual understanding should be lauded.

Nonetheless, only with a proper understanding of the rule of law, a principle critical to Singapore’s success, can there be meaningful debate about its elements and practical operation in our society.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Housing and Development Act - Housing and Development (Precincts for Lift Upgrading Works) (No. 3) Order 2017 (S 237 of 2017)

S-VACC: Future of the Singapore fund industry

Business
28 Apr 2017

Use Case's model agreement to deal with contractors: Forum

Straits Times
19 May 2017

We thank Mr Kong Peng Sun for his feedback (Unfair renovation contracts hurt home owners; May 11).

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) frowns on the practice of renovation contractors asking consumers to pay a substantial advance deposit before the work begins.

From 2014 to 2016, Case received at least 713 complaints in which renovation works were delayed or stopped halfway.

Most of the consumers who were affected by such delays were those who had paid at least 80 per cent of the contractual value. This is clearly unacceptable.

Consumers are advised to ask renovation contractors to commit in writing to the payment schedule as well as the key project milestones and deliverables, with completion dates clearly documented, and pay accordingly.

Consumers should also not pay a large deposit upfront.

In this way, they can limit their losses should the contractor delay or stop work. It will also be helpful should there be a subsequent dispute.

We also encourage consumers to use our model agreement on home renovation, which can be downloaded from our website (https://www.case.org.sg/pdf/model_renovation.pdf).

It provides fair guidelines for consumers to negotiate terms with contractors.

Samples of a payment schedule with key project milestones and deliverables can also be found in the model agreement.

When choosing a renovation contractor, consumers should consider a contractor under the CaseTrust accreditation scheme for better protection and faster resolution of issues, if any.

Lim Biow Chuan

President
Consumers Association of Singapore (Case)

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Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Concessionary Rate of Tax for Approved Qualifying Companies) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 236 of 2017)

MOH consults on draft regulations for research regulatory framework under Human Biomedical Research Act

Legislation
28 Apr 2017

ADV: SAL - IT Support Executive

Singapore Law Watch
19 May 2017
Singapore Academy of Law

Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Concessionary Rate of Tax for Global Trading Companies) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 235 of 2017)

Quick Guide to Inward Re-domiciliation to Singapore

Legislation
28 Apr 2017

Court rules in favour of Sakae founder

Straits Times
18 May 2017
Grace Leong

A former Sakae Holdings director and two associates failed in their bid to get sushi chain founder Douglas Foo to indemnify about $37 million in penalties they are facing.

An adverse ruling would have forced Mr Foo to contribute towards paying for damages assessed against the three men.

The latest development in the long-running dispute goes back to April when Mr Andy Ong was found to have breached his fiduciary duties while he was a director and ordered by the High Court to pay $2.64 million to Singapore-listed Sakae.

Mr Andy Ong, Mr Ong Han Boon and Mr Ho Yew Kong were also ordered to pay about $35 million to Griffin Real Estate Investment Holdings, in which Sakae is a minority shareholder. They have appealed against the ruling.

In the meantime, they tried to get Mr Foo to pay their liabilities by claiming that he was also in breach of his fiduciary duties to Griffin. They claimed that these breaches contributed to certain transactions that Sakae had complained about.

Sakae had sued Mr Andy Ong and others who allegedly conducted the affairs of Griffin "in a manner that is oppressive and prejudicial" to the interests of Sakae. They were accused of treating Griffin's funds as their personal stash and diverting them for the benefit of Mr Andy Ong's ERC group.

The High Court's decision issued on May 4 found that the three men had no legal basis to make third- party claims against Mr Foo. Instead, High Court Justice Judith Prakash ordered them to pay a higher than the standard rate for Mr Foo's costs after "unreasonably" pursued claims that had no legal basis.

The men claimed that if Mr Foo "had been a good boy and done what he was supposed to do, they could not have been bad boys, and done what they were not supposed to do", according to the ruling.

But Judge Prakash said the contention does not have any weight. "The whole complaint against Mr Foo is not that he actively did something, but that he did nothing," she noted.

The three men have offered no evidence that Mr Foo had knowledge of their various "oppressive" activities, she said. "All they have said is that if he had been a more active director, he would have found out what was going on and stopped it," Judge Prakash added.

On the other hand, she found that the harm done by Mr Andy Ong and Mr Ho to Griffin was deliberately inflicted. Judge Prakash noted that, in one instance, the defendants acted in "clear disregard of" Sakae's interests when they siphoned off $16 million from Griffin under the guise of prematurely terminating a lease agreement, which she found to be a "sham document".

Judge Prakash also dismissed Mr Ho's claims for liability against Mr Foo, noting that Mr Ho had a duty to act in the interests of Griffin, but did not alert Mr Foo to what was going on. "Instead, he connived with Mr Ong and did whatever the latter wanted him to do without applying an independent mind. He was not merely a sleeping director but was an active party to sham documents," Judge Prakash said.

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

Sakae Holdings Ltd v Gryphon Real Estate Investment Corp Pte Ltd and others (Foo Peow Yong Douglas, third party) and another suit [2017] SGHC 100

Planning Act - Planning (Development of Land Authorisation for Applicable State Property) (Amendment) Notification 2017 (S 234 of 2017)

Examining the “special circumstances” test in BLY v BLZ [2017] SGHC 59: when should jurisdictional challenges result in stays of the arbitral proceedings?

Judgments
27 Apr 2017

Maritime sector needs help to ride out storm

Business Times
18 May 2017
David Gerald

The industry faces more issues than help, especially with local banks, when caught in a challenging economic climate

The raging and persistent turbulence in the maritime sector has destabilised not only many industry players, but also minority retail shareholders and noteholders, who have suffered as restructuring efforts have been lacklustre and futile.

It started with Swiber, Swissco, Rickmers and then Ezra. The spotlight is now on Marco Polo Marine and Nam Cheong. What do they have in common?

In their heydays, they were market darlings, courted by banks, followed by analysts, and loved by shareholders and bondholders with insatiable appetite to "invest" in their future and share the rewards. Risks were far from their minds. What could have possibly gone wrong?

According to the 2017 Menon Report, world's second-largest port Singapore is the top maritime capital, ranking No 1 in shipping, ports and logistics, and attractiveness and competitiveness - particularly due to its strategic geographical position and its role as a strategic centre for commercial management. This is the third time Singapore took pole position, after 2012 and 2015. In this latest survey, Singapore also scored high in maritime technology (No 2) and financial and law (No 4).

Oil and gas players could only thrive in this environment. Banks were ever ready to bankroll acquisitions, joint ventures, new yards, new vessels and related capital expenditures. With relatively "easy" financing, these companies borrowed from generous lenders, with scant regard for soaring gearing levels. After all, banks were their benevolent financial "partners".

All is well when macroeconomic indicators are positive, with active trading activities, high oil price and strong demand for shipping, logistics and oil exploration.

But when the global economy becomes weak with trade becoming sluggish, the shipping industry moving into its cyclical low, and oil prices hitting historical lows and staying persistently low, it is a perfect storm for the maritime industry.

Financing from banks slows or dries up. To compound the problem, customers take longer to pay or stop paying, more and more vessels become idle with limited charters, contracts for new vessels are delayed or cancelled - the list of bad news gets longer by the day.

Let us consider some of the issues facing the industry:

Short-term financing for long-term assets

The average lifespan of a ship ranges between 20 and 30 years, but typical financing for these multi-million-dollar assets by Singapore financial institutions averages only five years. In Europe, banks offer 10- to 12-year financing for these vessels.

Why are the local banks this conservative? Naturally, banks want to recover as much as they can. They are not willing to take sharper cuts - inevitable under such circumstances, when companies are heading towards insolvency if no new funds are available. Banks should be open to innovative refinancing ideas that may require a longer time horizon for them to recover their debt, for instance, pegging the repayment to cash flows or even considering debt equity swaps.

It is a clear issue of short-term financing for long-term assets. With loan tenures of just five years, when these vessels are at an embryonic stage of useful life, Singapore banks are practically disregarding the balance of their good two-decade useful lifespan.

Can this structural balance be corrected? Are there any compelling reasons why Singapore banks should be much more risk-averse than their European counterparts? Otherwise, maritime players can only afford to operate in the up-cycle or hold huge cash balances for the down-cycle lest they fall victim to crippling cashflow woes.

Government lifeline controlled by banks

With many marine sector players floundering under heavy debt and bond defaults, the Ministry Of Trade And Industry announced in last November two unprecedented sector-specific one-off measures to throw a lifeline to these players and to stabilise the beleaguered sector. The Singapore government will take on 70 per cent of risk for both schemes, with the banks taking on the remaining 30 per cent risk. But are the banks really taking the measured risk?

Both schemes provide vital working capital and financing to help marine and offshore firms, from shipyards to offshore services providers, as well as oil and gas equipment and services companies and their suppliers.

An internationalisation finance scheme, under IE Singapore, which provides up to S$70 million (it was S$30 million) per borrower group.

A bridging loan scheme that allows Singapore-based firms to borrow up to S$5 million each for up to six years to finance operations and bridge short-term cash flow gaps, with the maximum loan for each borrower group capped at S$15 million.

The schemes are designed to provide much-needed financial assistance to facilitate business sustainability for companies in distress. But companies will get the badly-needed funds only if the banks are willing to share the burden and the risk of the remaining 30 per cent. On paper, this scheme looks good, but in practice, it is very much in the control of the banks. Are these measures too little and too late for some of the marine companies?

It is now almost six months since these lifeline measures were introduced. How many companies have been resuscitated? Perhaps the banks should be asked to account for any loans extended, to how many and which distressed companies.

Haircuts a necessary evil in restructuring

For these distressed companies to continue operating under the current economic climate, they need to channel whatever limited financial resources available to them to working capital to stay afloat.

Creditors - including bank lenders and bondholders - must provide a temporary respite in allowing a standstill in interest payments and capital repayments, where applicable, when they become due.

In addition, haircuts are now a necessary evil so that the distressed companies can effectively restructure their debts and financing for business sustainability. This, I understand, is not favoured by the creditors. Otherwise, the demise of these companies could be a self-fulfilling eventuality, given the lack of financial resources.

Bank roles must prop government goals

It has been said that banks are companies' friendly, benevolent financiers in good times but undertakers when the tide turns.

Whether this is a fair statement remains to be seen in the current financial crisis in the marine sector. How far are the banks willing to give and take as creditors? If they are unwilling to take a haircut, they are complicit in destroying Singapore's once robust marine sector.

As Singapore aspires to become a leading financial centre, the role of the banks has to be in sync with this overall objective as Singapore aims to attract international issuers of bonds and equity.

Judicial management sound in theory

Judicial management is a court-supervised administration process where a public accountant is appointed as a judicial manager, with the primary objective of coming up with a rescue plan for financially-distressed companies to be returned to financial health - but it doesn't come cheap.

And unfortunately, it is often used as a means to sell off assets in a more controlled setting than liquidation.

It should be noted that since judicial management was introduced in 1987, very few companies that were put under such management survived as going concerns. While our judicial management laws (which are in the process of being updated) are sound in theory, the evolution of the judicial management process and practice over the years has led to its current flawed state.

Senior lenders also often influence the company's choice of judicial manager, putting the judicial manager in a position of potential conflict of interest. There is little or no direct day-to-day supervision to ensure that the judicial manager is acting objectively, in the best interests of the creditors as a body collective, and doing his/her job in reinvigorating the business.

Instead of trudging into the thick of complex and difficult negotiations with banks and trade creditors, noteholders, potential investors and even the regulators, in the hope of conceptualising and executing a comprehensive debt-restructuring plan, often see judicial managers selling off bits and pieces of the company's business and assets (even those critical to the company's survival) at distressed values, ultimately destroying value rather than preserving it. And through the process, while shareholders see their equity reduced to zero and creditors take haircuts on their debts, the judicial managers are the only ones who get their high fees paid in full.

It would be a worthwhile study to analyse who are the real beneficiaries of companies under judicial management. The judicial manager who is paid handsomely to manage businesses that he or she had no prior experience in managing? Or the larger creditors, usually the banks, who typically have stronger influence in the selection of the judicial manager?

My bet is that the small creditors are the real losers, sharing what remaining financial crumbs, if any.

The failed experiment of judicial management in Singapore makes one question the benefits of such a "creditor-in-possession" regime, as opposed to a "debtor-in-possession" regime like the US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. One wonders whether the passing of Singapore's new Chapter 11-styled insolvency laws is an implicit acceptance of the shortcomings of judicial management.

New insolvency laws to better protect

The recent amendments to Singapore's insolvency laws are modelled after the powerful pro-debtor US Chapter 11 bankruptcy regime. The amendments have been passed by Parliament in March this year and are expected to come into effect soon.

Like Chapter 11, the new insolvency laws afford greater debtor protection, and introduces Chapter 11 concepts such as enhanced moratorium protection, super-priority treatment for rescue financing, and cram-down mechanism for dissenting class of creditors.

These changes, part of a series of legal reforms to make Singapore a more attractive global restructuring hub, are to be welcomed. A brave new course has been set. It remains to be seen whether the passengers on this journey, such as the banks and the professionals, embrace these changes or fight to hang on to the old.

Liquidation reduces recovery value

Here comes what is possibly the worst option and must surely be the last resort because no one wins.

Whether the liquidation is managed by professional liquidators or the company, fire sales rarely fetch good value for asset sales.

In the recent round of management of distressed situations, the parties enjoying the best returns are said to be institutions specialising in liquidation and insolvency management.

From a country perspective, for Singapore to retain its pole position as a strategic maritime centre, and from a sectoral perspective, for the marine sector to recover, all stakeholders must play their part in the recovery process in unity.

This is especially crucial in transforming Singapore into a leading centre for international debt restructuring. We cannot turn back the clock for Swiber, Swissco or Rickmers, but the clock has started ticking for Marco Polo Marine and Nam Cheong.

Of the 48 (out of 58) small- to mid-cap maritime, offshore and engineering listcos on the Singapore Exchange as at the end of 2016, how many will be able to withstand this perfect storm? For all stakeholders, this motto rings true: United we stand, divided we fall.


The writer is founder, president and CEO of the Securities Investors Singapore (Singapore).

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

Planning Act - Planning (Qualified Persons) Rules 2017 (S 233 of 2017)

Stamp duty changes for all share transfers – including listed companies?

Legislation
27 Apr 2017

Easier for parents to be deputies to their special-needs child

Straits Times
18 May 2017
Kok Xing Hui

New scheme cuts costs for parents who want to manage their adult child's matters

Housewife Selina Tan, 63, worries about her son Kenny, 24. He has autism and may have trouble applying for housing because of his mental capacity, but she cannot do so on his behalf because she has not been appointed as his deputy.

"To get a deputyship is costly," she said, so the family never got around to doing it.

To help families like Madam Tan's, the Government has tweaked forms and processes so parents can easily apply to become their special-needs child's deputy before the latter graduates from school.

The programme started as a pilot at the four schools run by Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore and is now expanded to AWWA School, Eden School, Pathlight School and St Andrew's Autism School. About 200 students graduate from these schools each year.

Under this programme, students about to graduate will have their mental capacity evaluated by school psychologists. Parents will then be invited for a deputyship briefing with pro-bono lawyers who can help them fill in forms and make court applications.

The entire process takes two to three months and will cost under $400. Without this programme, parents would have to pay $3,000 to $9,000 for legal fees, and a few hundred for a formal medical report.

Previously, parents needed a formal medical report to apply for deputyship. With this Assisted Deputyship Application Programme, parents can apply with a report prepared by special education (Sped) school psychologists.

The psychologists will use a new standardised mental capacity assessment form. The assessment will look into the child's capacity to make decisions. It will assess if he can manage his own finances, or would need help applying for travel documents or for government benefits. About 100 psychologists were trained to use the new form yesterday.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development intends to roll this scheme out to another four Sped schools next year - Metta School, Grace Orchard School, Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive School and Rainbow Centre Yishun Park School.

For mothers like Madam Tan, whose children have already graduated from Sped schools, they will get help when the scheme is eventually rolled out to adult institutions.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who was observing yesterday's training, said: "It could be with the schools or with voluntary welfare organisations... where parents with adult children can come back and we can help facilitate that process of applying for deputyship."


HELP AT HAND

It could be with the schools or with voluntary welfare organisations, where there could be centres where parents with adult children can come back and we can help facilitate that process of applying for deputyship.

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT TAN CHUAN-JIN

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

Planning Act - Planning (Deferment of Payment of Development Charge by Charities) Rules 2017 (S 232 of 2017)

IMDA and AGC review Electronic Transactions Act and seek views on draft UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records

Legislation
27 Apr 2017

Marco Polo Marine's shipyard unit seeks stay on creditor claims

Business Times
18 May 2017
Tan Hwee Hwee

The shipyard unit of troubled offshore and marine group Marco Polo Marine is seeking a scheme moratorium to restrain creditors from commencing legal proceedings against the unit.

An application for the stay order was made to the Singapore High Court after Marco Polo Shipyard Pte Ltd received a claim from its creditor, Hock Leong Enterprises Pte Ltd.

The Business Times understands that the hearing of the application, which took place on Wednesday, will continue at a later date.

Tuas-based Hock Leong is a supplier of metals and metal products, according to published information on the private-owned entity.

BT was not able to ascertain the size of Hock Leong's claim against Marco Polo Shipyard as at press time on Wednesday.

Marco Polo Marine's shipyard arm has sought the stay on creditor claims under Section 210(10) of Singapore's Companies Act, which outlines the legal remit of schemes of arrangement (SA) for companies incorporated here.

The shipyard unit is also said to have tabled a compromise or arrangement with its creditors akin to an SA at the time of its application for the stay order.

The listed parent group, Marco Polo Marine, had on May 1 suspended share trading, citing the receipt of an "increasing number" of letters of demand from its creditors.

Back then, it warned against a roadblock in its refinancing and debt structuring efforts. It said that it was not confident that it would be able to eventually bridge the gap between the expectations of the lenders and the conditions set by strategic investors.

Marco Polo Marine had negative working capital of S$18.7 million as at end- March. On Thursday, the group is holding an informal dialogue for holders of its 5.75 per cent notes due 2016. The dialogue will be hosted and moderated by the Securities Investors Association (Singapore).

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

Planning Act - Planning (Development of Land Authorisation for Last Approved Use) Notification 2017 (S 231 of 2017)

[CHN] China Passes the General Provisions of its Civil Law

Business
27 Apr 2017

Multiple paths to enact EU-Singapore FTA, future Singapore-UK trade ties

Business Times
18 May 2017
Soon Weilun

Experts share ways in which Singapore and EU can ratify EUSFTA as soon as possible, but are reticent on how the FTA can benefit Singapore-UK ties post-Brexit

The next steps that Singapore and the European Union (EU) take in ratifying a proposed free-trade agreement (FTA) between them will affect how soon a similar one between Singapore and the United Kingdom can emerge, experts told The Business Times.

In separate interviews, international law and trade specialists shared with BT some ways in which Singapore and the EU can look to ratify the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) as soon as possible.

Experts also pondered about how this may impact future relations between Singapore and the UK. The top British envoy to Singapore had said that the UK is wondering how both parties can retain benefits from the FTA the moment it leaves the EU.

The experts' comments come a day after the EU's top court ruled that the EUSFTA, in its current form, needs the EU's and all of its member states' approval in order to come into force.

Even though majority of the provisions can be enacted by the EU alone, two areas still need the region's 38 national and sub-national parliaments' green light.

A spokesman for the city-state's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said that MTI wants to work with the EU to have the pact "provisionally applied" for the parts that are under the EU's exclusive purview.

Yeo Lay Hwee, director of the EU Centre in Singapore, says that there is still a danger of a member state potentially upsetting the FTA. She thinks that with only two provisions needing their approval, any concerns can be sufficiently answered.

"Look at the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which is much more complex than EUSFTA. Wallonia almost killed it, but still consented in the end," she said. Wallonia is a region in Brussels.

One way to assuage member states' worries about the EUSFTA is to introduce an ancillary document or an amendment to the FTA, said Eugene Lim, head of law firm Baker McKenzie's Asia Pacific international commercial and trade practice. "It ultimately boils down to whether everyone can agree to the final agreement whether in parts or as a whole with bilateral modifications."

Jessica Gladstone, partner at law firm Clifford Chance, offered another, perhaps more drastic, way to avoid any member state vetoing the FTA. It involves splitting the agreement into two - one for the EU and another to be agreed upon by member states. This can speed up the ratification process.

Future Singapore-UK trade relations have also entered into the experts' consideration. British High Commissioner to Singapore Scott Wightman told BT in mid-April that the UK is looking at how feasible it is to have a "mechanism" that allows businesses in the UK and Singapore to continue enjoying benefits of the EUSFTA once Brexit occurs.

When approached by BT after Tuesday's court ruling on what MTI thought of the idea, the spokesman said: "As key trading partners and like-minded countries, Singapore will work with the UK post-Brexit towards a bilateral FTA that will offer certainty and confidence to our businesses, and bolster bilateral trade and investments."

Baker McKenzie's Mr Lim sees the value in Mr Wightman's proposition. "It would be a quick way of having a base-line blueprint for a bilateral agreement with the UK rather than having to negotiate a new treaty from scratch."

But Deborah Elms, executive director of the Singapore-based consultancy Asian Trade Centre, is sceptical. Negotiations between the UK and the EU may change, and by then the EUSFTA may not be applicable to the UK, she said.

It would be easier to just allow Brexit to occur, then let the UK fall back on "foundations of the house", or World Trade Organization rules, as a basis for trade negotiations with other countries.

"No reason to start buying new fixtures and fittings because the bathtub won't fit until and unless the foundation is solid," she said.

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

Planning Act - Planning (Housing and Development Board Flats Authorisation) Notification 2017 (S 230 of 2017)

Supreme Court Note: PH Hydraulics & Engineering Pte Ltd v Airtrust (Hong Kong) Ltd and another appeal [2017] SGCA 26 (punitive damages for breach of contract)

Supreme Court Note
26 Apr 2017

The respondent in this appeal purchased a Reel Drive Unit (“RDU”) from the appellant. Under the Sale and Purchase Agreement (“SPA”), the respondent was to design and supply the RDU. It also undertook to obtain industry certification from the American Bureau of Shipping. The RDU malfunctioned and the respondent commenced a suit against the appellant for breach of the SPA in failing to deliver an RDU that was of merchantable quality and fit for its purpose. The High Court ruled that the appellant had breached the SPA and there was no appeal against this finding. A separate issue which arose was whether the appellant had been fraudulent in the manner it had secured the industry certification. The High Court ruled that the appellant had been fraudulent and imposed an award of punitive damages.

The Court of Appeal unanimously allowed the appeal on these two points. It held that there was no cogent evidence that the appellant had acted fraudulently. It went on to address the issue of whether punitive damages could, in principle, be awarded for breach of contract. The Court of Appeal noted that it was well-established that punitive damages could be awarded in tort, and therefore, that a plaintiff who had causes of action in both contract and tort might be able to recover punitive damages by pleading a claim in tort. The present judgment was concerned only with whether punitive damages could be awarded for breach of contract absent concurrent liability in tort.

The Court of Appeal found that there were powerful reasons founded on principle, precedent, and policy against the recognition of punitive damages as a remedy for breach of contract. As a matter of principle, allowing the courts to punish a party who had breached a contract sat uneasily with the concept of a contract as an obligation arising from a voluntary and binding agreement. Further, the argument that it was necessary to have a residual discretion to award punitive damages in contract law because existing remedies were inadequate to punish and deter outrageous behaviour was neutral at best. There were other extra-compensatory remedies which arguably had punitive or deterrent effects; these were preferable as they remained primarily compensatory in purpose in that they protected a plaintiff’s interest in contractual performance. Another argument against recognising punitive damages for breach of contract was the absence of clear criteria by which to determine when punitive damages should be awarded, and the consequent uncertainty this would lead to.

The Court of Appeal also noted, surveying cases from the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, that the weight of case law authority was against the recognition of punitive damages. Although there was Canadian case authority to the contrary (which the High Court had relied on), the Court of Appeal found that it was not persuasive authority for the availability of punitive damages for breach of contract.

Finally, the Court of Appeal observed that policy considerations also militated against recognising the availability of punitive damages for breach of contract. Doing so might add to the length, complexity and costs of litigation and confer upon plaintiffs an undue advantage in forcing large (or larger) settlements. Also, punitive damages were most commonly awarded in circumstances where there was a heightened risk of reprehensible conduct because of the unequal bargaining power of the parties; such risk was more appropriately managed by regulation rather than by judicial remedies such as an award of punitive damages.

On punitive damages, see PH Hydraulics & Engineering Pte Ltd v Airtrust (Hong Kong) Ltd and another appeal [2017] SGCA 26 at paras 62–136.

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.

ADV: SAL - Assistant Manager (MIS)

Singapore Law Watch
18 May 2017
Singapore Academy of Law

Planning (Amendment) Act 2017 - Planning (Amendment) Act 2017 (Commencement) Notification 2017 (S 229 of 2017)

Developments in Site-blocking

Judgments
26 Apr 2017

Early gains seen for Singapore in EU court ruling on FTA

Business Times
17 May 2017
Soon Weilun

Ruling gives the EU room to ratify more aspects of the FTA on its own than previously; observers say the FTA can now move on to seek approval

Singapore can look to scoring early gains from a top European Union court ruling on a free-trade pact that the city-state has with the regional bloc, observers told The Business Times.

This comes even as the ruling by the EU Court of Justice on Tuesday is expected to lengthen the time for the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) to come into force.

Deborah Elms, executive director of the Singapore-based consultancy Asian Trade Centre, said: "It's fantastic that we've now unlocked the step forward. The court's decision really affects EU more than Singapore; the battle is now between the member states and the EU."

Tuesday's ruling said that for the EUSFTA to fully come into force, it needs approval from the 38 national and sub-national parliaments of the 28 member states in the regional bloc.

The decision, which cannot be appealed, ends a years-long state of suspension for the FTA's progress.

Back in October 2014, the European Commission (EC), the EU's executive branch, said that it needed legal clarity on the number of layers of approval for the FTA to come into force.

Trade between the EU and Singapore reached S$93.18 billion last year, up from S$90.83 billion in 2015.

Following Tuesday's ruling, a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said that it respects the EU's internal processes, and looks forward to the FTA's formal entry-into-force after all member states give their approval.

For now, MTI wants to work with the EU to have the pact "provisionally applied so that businesses can utilise the parts of the agreement that are under the EU's exclusive competence".

"Exclusive competence" refers to those areas in the FTA that the EU can ratify on its own, without the approval of the national parliaments.

Under Tuesday's court ruling, the EU can put into force a wider range of provisions that include (but are not limited to) protection of direct foreign investments, intellectual property rights and sustainable development.

Only two aspects of the EUSFTA require national ratification: One is in the field of non-direct foreign investment; the other is the regime governing dispute settlement between investors and member states.

The split of competencies proposed last December by an EU Court of Justice advocate-general was markedly different - Eleanor Sharpston had pushed for the EU to be required to seek member states' approval in more areas.

Observers said that the split of competencies can work in Singapore's favour, in that, with more exclusive competence granted to the EU, there is a potential for the FTA to come into force sooner, which can benefit Singapore.

For reference, the EU-Korea FTA's provisional application allowed EU exports to South Korea to grow by 55 per cent over four years, going by an EC parliamentary reply.

Public international law specialist Jessica Gladstone, a partner at law firm Clifford Chance, said: "The Court of Justice did acknowledge that a large part of the Singapore FTA does fall under exclusive EU competence.

"If this option is pursued by the European Commission, then the Singapore FTA, by and large, may be entered into force sooner rather than later."

But even as Singapore can hope for early gains with Tuesday's ruling, observers note that the EU may experience more issues in the future with the ruling.

A recent deal between the EU and Canada was almost killed by opposition from one sub-national parliament. It now will take effect provisionally in the coming weeks.

Observers also note that Tuesday's ruling covers an FTA that is considered "new generation" - one that goes beyond just a simple agreement on trade in goods and services.

Milagros Miranda Rojas, a special adviser on international trade law at Norton Rose Fulbright in London, said that the EU, already in the process of negotiating similar pacts with other economies such as Japan and Mexico, will be concerned by Tuesday's ruling.

For now, Singaporean businesses said that the enlarged exclusive competence under the EU's purview in Tuesday's ruling can give them some relief.

But having it subjected to national ratification still worries them.

Said Ho Meng Kit, chief executive officer of Singapore Business Federation: "The positive thing is that it's not as severe as we thought.

"But we still wish that it would not need to go through the national parliaments because we've completed the negotiations.

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

Medicines Act - Medicines (Export Licence for Psychotropic Substances) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 228 of 2017)

Chinese court enforces a foreign judgement for the first time on the basis of reciprocity

Judgments
26 Apr 2017

Adopting a more patient-centric legal standard the right call

TODAY
17 May 2017
Nigel Fong

In a landmark judgment released last Friday, the Singapore Court of Appeal embraced a more patient-centric standard to decide if a doctor has fulfilled his duty to provide medical advice.

The Court dismissed the appeal of Mr Clement Hii Chii Kok, who had sued Dr London Lucien Ooi for complications from major surgery that turned out to be unnecessary. Mr Hii, a Malaysian businessman, had two suspicious pancreatic nodules.

Multiple tests could not confirm whether these nodules were cancerous or not. After extensive counselling, Mr Hii opted for aggressive treatment in view of the possibility of cancer.

Dr Ooi, a surgeon at the National Cancer Centre, performed surgery to remove the nodules. Unfortunately, the operation led to various complications, while the nodules turned out to be non-cancerous.

The crux of Mr Hii’s complaint was that he should not have been offered surgery, and was not adequately informed of the uncertainty of the cancer diagnosis. The High Court dismissed Mr Hii’s lawsuit in 2016, prompting his appeal, which was turned down by the nation’s highest court last week.

In doing so, the Court of Appeal also established a new legal standard to determine whether a doctor had been negligent in his care.

Up till now, the standard of care had been the “Bolam test” with a “Bolitho addendum”. The court of appeal made it clear that this standard of care applied not only to physicians, but also to other professionals.

The principle of the “Bolam test” is that the court, as a medically untrained party, cannot determine what is medically “correct”; instead, this should be left to the professional opinion of the body of physicians.

Under Bolam, a doctor is not negligent if he does what other competent doctors would have done. Hence, a “rogue doctor” who does what other doctors deem unsafe or harmful would be negligent. On the other hand, where there is controversy between physicians about whether treatment A or B is better, either is acceptable.

The “Bolitho addendum” clarifies that a physician cannot defend himself by referring to other physicians who do the same, if this practice is outright illogical (for example, it goes against proven facts, does not weigh risks and benefits, or is internally inconsistent). Therefore, Bolitho offers a safeguard against commonly held but unreasonable practices.

It should be noted that for liability to arise, it is insufficient to prove that a doctor did not meet the standard of care. It is also necessary to prove that this negligence resulted in demonstrable harm to the patient.

Over the years, the “Bolam test” has come under criticism. Arising from a 1957 British judgment, an era of Doctor-say-Patient-comply, the “Bolam test” took a rather paternalistic stance of emphasising medical judgment over the patient’s viewpoint. But medicine has changed dramatically since the 1950s.

Today’s doctor-patient relationship is a partnership founded on mutual trust and open communication.

Except in an immediately life-threatening situation, or when dealing with demented or obtunded patients, I sit down with my patients to explain the disease they have, its consequences, and the benefits and risks of the various treatment options available.

While I provide my recommendations, patients have the autonomy to accept or refuse the treatment I offer. In this light, the “Bolam test” seems to give too little heed to patient autonomy.

While many jurisdictions have moved away from Bolam and Bolitho, it remained the standard of care in Singapore, having last been upheld by the Singapore Court in 2011. This case provided the Court of Appeal with an opportunity to re-examine whether it should remain the standard of care.

Firstly, the Court held that Bolam and Bolitho still applied in the areas of diagnosis and carrying out treatment that had been agreed upon. Correct (or at least defensible) diagnosis is a matter of the physician’s experience and judgment.

Carrying out treatment (for example, surgery) is a matter of the physician’s skill. Both have little to do with the patient’s opinion. Therefore, whether a physician had been competent in diagnosis and treatment is a matter best adjudicated with reference to reasonable professional opinion, as set out in Bolam and Bolitho.

On the other hand, in the provision of advice to patients, the Court recognised that the “Bolam-era conception of the patient as a passive recipient of treatment no longer prevailed within the profession or in the wider society”.

Patients today have access to more information and expect to participate more actively in the consultation process with a doctor, the court noted.

Therefore, the Court adopted a new standard of care that acknowledges patient autonomy to decide on his/her treatment, and obliges physicians to enable this autonomy by providing sufficient information on the benefits and risks of treatment, including available alternatives.

What constitutes “sufficient information” is determined from the patient’s perspective — what a reasonable patient would want to know, and what this particular patient is likely to find important — not the Bolam standard of what other information physicians would have provided.

As part of a three-stage inquiry to determine if a doctor has fulfilled his duty, the court will also look at whether the doctor is aware of the information in the first place, and whether the doctor could have any justification for withholding the information.

Consider this scenario: A famous singer had a neck lump. He sees a surgeon, who diagnoses thyroid cancer, and proposes surgery to remove the thyroid. This surgery carries a very small risk (less than 1 per cent) of nerve damage leading to permanent hoarseness of voice.

This would be inconvenient for most patients, but career-ending for the singer. Suppose the surgeon knows that the patient is a famous singer, but does not inform the patient of this risk, and proceeds with surgery. Unfortunately, hoarseness of the voice occurs.

Under Bolam and Bolitho, the surgeon could possibly have defended himself if it were the professional norm not to counsel patients on risks of less than 1 per cent probability, notwithstanding this patient’s occupation.

Under the new test, however, the surgeon clearly falls short of providing relevant information that the patient would have wanted to know. This does not mean bombarding the patient with every single detail, but only what is reasonably important.

I personally find the Court’s position fair and right.

While the Court’s judgment breaks legal ground locally, it is already what physicians here practise on a day-to-day basis. This is also codified in the 2016 Singapore Medical Council Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines.

There were concerns that a shift away from Bolam and Bolitho would promote medical litigation and defensive practice, and increase healthcare costs. I beg to differ.

On the contrary, in providing a well-calibrated legal standard that offers clarity, the Court removes much of the uncertainty that had been driving some defensive medical practices in the past few years.

There are adequate safeguards written into the judgment to deter frivolous lawsuits.

Furthermore, it has been shown that the root of much litigation is poor doctor-patient communication, rather than malpractice per se; encouraging sound doctor-patient communication will only decrease, not increase, litigation.

More importantly, it is the right thing to do — and not simply for fear of the lawyers.


Nigel Fong is a Resident in Internal Medicine at Singhealth. He was a President’s Scholar and maintains a keen interest in healthcare policy.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 18) Notification 2017 (S 227 of 2017)

Do hacked emails retain confidentiality?

Judgments
26 Apr 2017

NGOs seek clarity on organisers’ role at Speakers’ Corner events

TODAY
17 May 2017
Valerie Koh

To comply with the no-foreigner rule for events at Speakers’ Corner, civil society groups said they would append a note on this in their publicity materials, or even check attendees’ identity cards on the spot.

Besides these measures, however, there is little else they can do to enforce the rule on the ground, they said, asking the authorities for more clarity on when the organisers would be held responsible.

Their comments came after the organisers of Pink Dot said last Sunday that only Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) will be allowed at the annual rally held in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community on July 1.

Rules on who can attend events at Speakers’ Corner were tightened under changes to the Public Order (Unrestricted Area) Act last November, which barred foreigners from participating in assemblies and processions. Previously, foreigners were not permitted to join demonstrations only.

Responding to TODAY, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the Government has made clear that it does not seek to proscribe events, but “Speakers’ Corner is a designated outdoor area for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents to participate in assemblies and processions, and for Singaporeans to express their views on issues that matter to them”.

She added: “This approach is consistent with the Government’s long-held position that foreigners and foreign entities should not engage in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues.”

The MHA spokesperson also said that the rules on event funding and participation at Speakers’ Corner are “applied equally to all public assemblies and processions”.

In response to TODAY’s queries, a Pink Dot spokesperson said they might check attendees’ identity cards to ensure only Singaporeans and PRs take part in the event.

But Mr Leong Sze Hian, president of human rights group Maruah, said such a measure will be difficult to enforce. “You can’t just ask people to show you their identity cards,” he said.

Mr Gilbert Goh, who frequently organises events at Speakers’ Corner, said that he would include a footnote on event websites to deter foreigners from attending in future.

Mr Leong said Maruah would study the tweaked rules in detail before deciding what steps to take.

He noted that if an organiser announces prior to and during an event that foreigners cannot attend, he “cannot imagine” that they would be held accountable if there were still the odd foreigner present. Maruah organises one event — usually a protest — at Speakers’ Corner each year.

Last Sunday, for instance, there were at least 10 people who turned up for a prayer service organised for members of the Indonesian community in Singapore, even though organisers had circulated a WhatsApp message the day before cancelling the event. The event was organised partially in support of outgoing Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), who was recently sentenced to two years’ jail for blasphemy against Islam. But after a police advisory, one of the organisers, who wanted to be known as “Pak Chau”, called off the event which was to be held at Queenstown Stadium.

On the day itself, he sent two people to Queenstown MRT Station just in case some did not get the message, and at least 10 people showed up.

The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), which has organised funfairs at Speakers’ Corner, wanted to know the types of events that fall under the definition of an assembly or procession.

“It’s a park. Practically, this would be very difficult (to exclude every single foreigner),” said Ms Jolene Tan, the group’s advocacy and research head.

For events on domestic helpers’ or foreign spouses’ rights, for instance, their voices would be essential, she added. “I wonder if the changes are necessary to be so complete in the exclusion of foreigners,” Ms Tan said, adding that Aware would have less manpower at events if its foreign staff members are barred.

Concerns of undue influence, which the Government had cited in the past to bar foreign entities from organising and sponsoring events, were already addressed by prohibitions on foreigners speaking and holding placards, she added.

There have been several rounds of changes to the rules on the use of Speakers’ Corner. When it was set up in 2000, demonstrations and marches were allowed with a permit.

The rules were relaxed four years later, with the police scrapping licensing requirements for indoor public talks and allowing more activities for Singaporeans.

In 2008, Singaporeans were allowed to organise and participate in demonstrations — except for those involving race and religion — without having to apply for a police permit.

Last October, the Government reiterated that foreign firms would have to apply for a permit to get involved with events at Speakers’ Corner, unlike local companies and NGOs.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Child Development Co-Savings Act - Child Development Co-Savings (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 226 of 2017)

The benefits and harms of e-commerce on competition law

Business
26 Apr 2017

Having a meaningful regulatory conversation

Business Times
17 May 2017
Tan Boon Gin

Since Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) was incorporated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Singapore Exchange to take on its frontline regulatory responsibilities, there has been chatter that this change spells more regulation ahead. I find this interesting because if the objective were to increase the number of regulations, there is no need to set up a dedicated subsidiary because adding new regulations is par for the course. It is removing them that is hard.

I would like to explain that our focus as a regulator will sway towards neither more nor less regulation; rather, we want to regulate meaningfully. By meaningful regulation I mean regulation that is meaningful to all market participants, will remain meaningful today and tomorrow, and will produce meaningful outcomes.

When it comes to regulation of capital markets, there is a tendency to focus on investor protection. This is particularly true in Singapore where there is a higher proportion of retail investors compared to the Western jurisdictions. This, however, risks losing sight of the reason that capital markets exist in the first place: which is to help companies grow, stimulate the economy, create more jobs and allow investors to participate in that growth.

This has several consequences. Firstly, it means that we always need to balance our role as a market watchdog, protecting investors against market failure, with our role as a market shaper, to grow and develop the markets. Take the heavily debated issue of dual class shares: from an investor protection point of view, it is important to promote a capital structure that aligns management interests with that of shareholders and holds management accountable to shareholders. However, that does not mean that if certain types of companies face a funding gap, or feel that they need to resist pressure to boost their short term financials, it is better for them to do so through the private markets, or through opaque arrangements in the public markets.

RELEVANT ISSUES

Similarly, there are different kinds of investors; some may value control more than others who want to have the choice to earn asymmetrical returns by putting their faith in a talented founder or a talismanic brand. These are all relevant issues that we need to address.

Secondly, it means that our policymaking should be informed by views from all market participants. Currently, SGX has a public consultation process before we make any major rule changes. If we notice that a certain segment of the market has not responded, we try to chase for a response. We want to identify and engage with these segments, even if it is through verbal rather than written channels and through more informal sessions such as focus groups. We may even depart from the usual open-ended consultation process and do a multiple choice survey. In short, we are willing to listen to feedback in all shapes and sizes to encourage the whole market to be forthcoming because the diversity and richness of views will create better outcomes for everyone.

Finally, the regulator must be willing to be more open and transparent. Over the last couple of years, we have shared information gathered from our surveillance activities with the market through our Trade with Caution alerts that we issue in response to unusual trading. Similarly, we have produced what we call a surveillance dashboard for each of our member firms, that records the details of their trading activities that have generated alerts in our surveillance system, so that they can see what we see.

We know that the market is sensitive to regulatory changes, and will endeavour to signal major changes clearly and well in advance to give the market time to react. So from now on, the market can expect greater certainty in terms of timing and pace of regulatory change.

Major rule changes are often event-driven. The danger is that with time, memory fades and one forgets the precise reason for having a rule in the first place. We need to drill down to the precise mischief the rule was intended to address, and see whether it is still relevant today. More importantly, we need to see whether there have been other changes in the regulatory framework which make the rule less obligatory now.

Another case in point is quarterly reporting (QR), where there have been many developments in the continuous disclosure framework in Singapore since QR was introduced. The Securities and Futures Act has been amended to broaden the definition of materiality and now sets a higher bar for disclosures. The new enhanced auditor reporting requirements require key audit matters to be highlighted, thereby increasing the transparency and accessibility of financial statements. We have been taking prompt and proportionate enforcement against disclosure breaches, and have not hesitated to query a company publicly and pointedly when we felt that disclosure was lacking, underscoring how aware we are of the need to preserve public confidence in the robustness of the regime. The global regulatory landscape has also changed and more and more jurisdictions are moving away from QR on the basis that it encourages short-termism.

The market is becoming more mature and we can increasingly count on investors to play their part in enforcing a disclosure-based regime. In an ideal world and truly efficient market, the immediate feedback loop that is market discipline would be able to drive good corporate behaviour in a way that regulation could never match. The question we need to ask is whether these changes have strengthened the disclosure-based regime to the point where there is scope to dial down QR, because QR is not an end in itself, but a tool to ensure prompt and accurate disclosures.

Now, turning to regulation that is meaningful tomorrow; I must confess this is a tricky one because it requires a leap of faith. When it comes to something like sustainability reporting, it is understandable that some controlling shareholders and senior management cannot imagine that shareholders will care so much about environmental, social and governance factors, despite the growing evidence that sustainability is important to investors. But the role of a regulator is to anticipate global trends and prepare the market for trajectories that we foresee are necessary to give us a competitive edge. It bears recalling that corporate governance also took some time to be accepted when it was first introduced, and we accept that it may take some time for everyone to see the benefits.

INTENDED GOALS

In order to achieve meaningful outcomes, regulation must be no more and no less than is absolutely necessary to achieve its intended goals. We want quality companies to list on the exchange, which is why we have high admission standards. However, this only works if what the company is representing to us in terms of its financials and business is in fact true and accurate. This is why we have worked closely with the Association of Banks in Singapore to enhance the guidelines for the due diligence that must be carried out by issue managers and sponsors on companies seeking to list on SGX.

On the other side of the equation, if a regulation proves to be too blunt a tool, we will not hesitate to sharpen it. When we first started issuing our Trade with Caution alerts in response to unusual trading, these were generated automatically and we used to issue as many as 50 a year. However, we realised that because we generated so many alerts, they were being shrugged off and had limited impact. Today, we issue less than five Trade with Caution alerts a year, and each time we do so, it has the intended effect, because the persons who should not be trading, stop trading.

Finally, we need to bear in mind the danger of over-regulation such that we create the perverse outcome of deterring quality companies from listing on our exchange, or driving investors to the unregulated sector instead. We need to offer products that cater to different risk appetites in the regulated space, and we must not make it too difficult for investors to access these products.

In conclusion, the pace of global regulatory change in the last few years has been unrelenting. Regulators everywhere are finally pausing to take stock, weigh the cost of compliance and assess the unintended consequences. As a regulator, the setting up of SGX RegCo should be seen as a step towards pursuing truly meaningful regulation to widen investor choice and facilitate access to capital.


The writer is CEO of Singapore Exchange Regulation.

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

Mediation Act 2017 (Act 1 of 2017)

Trustees Act amended to allow issuance of regulations that will require trustees to maintain up-to-date information on controllers and accounting records relating to Singapore trusts

Legislation
26 Apr 2017

ADV: Acquire legal knowledge and its practice with Kaplan!

Singapore Law Watch
17 May 2017
Kaplan

Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 22 of 2017)

Latest IP developments: Amendments to the Registered Designs Act; Stylisation may not confer distinctiveness; Post-sale support may amount to evidence of use in Singapore

Judgments
24 Apr 2017

ADV: SCCE - Become certified in compliance and ethics

Singapore Law Watch
17 May 2017
Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics

Early Childhood Development Centres Act 2017 (Act 19 of 2017)

Stamp Duties (Amendment) Act 2017: New stamp duty for acquisition/disposal of equity interests in residential property-holding entities and changes to Seller’s Stamp Duty and Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework

Legislation
24 Apr 2017

Two men told to return $3m to late doctor's estate

Straits Times
16 May 2017
Selina Lum

Elderly woman with dementia lacked mental capacity to give away $5m to the defendants and her maid: Court

When a retired doctor was asked to subtract seven from 100, the octogenarian, who had dementia, answered 200.

The late Dr Freda Paul's inability to do simple arithmetic in December 2009 was cited by the High Court yesterday as a reason why it found that she lacked the mental capacity in 2010 to give away a total of $5 million to her maid, a construction worker and an engineer.

Judicial Commissioner Debbie Ong ordered construction worker Kulandaivelu Malayaperumal to return $2 million to Dr Paul's estate. Engineer Gopal Subramaniam was ordered to return about $912,000.

A default judgment had earlier been obtained against Sri Lankan maid Arulampalam Kanthimathy, who had received $2 million. She returned home in 2012.

The money came from the sale of Dr Paul's sole asset, a Haig Road bungalow that was sold in 2009 for $15.4 million.

"I do not think that Dr Paul would have had the capacity to appreciate property value and determine the distribution of sale proceeds, given her lack of arithmetic ability," said the Judicial Commissioner.

She found that the defendants had "supplied hindrances" to Dr Paul's independence in decision- making, cutting her off from her friends and relatives. She was also made to live in unclean conditions, including sleeping on newspapers spread out on the bed.

Dr Paul was a paediatrician at the Singapore General Hospital. She was single and died in August last year at the age of 87.

In the early 2000s, she befriended Mr Malayaperumal, a worker at a nearby construction site, and his supervisor, Mr Subramaniam. Both were from India.

In mid-2009, Mr Malayaperumal moved into her home.

Months later, she signed a power of attorney authorising Mr Subramaniam to sell the house and to buy a smaller one.

Before the house was sold, Dr Paul underwent a psychiatric assessment. She could not do simple arithmetic and could not recall the names of simple objects two minutes after she was told, but was certified fit to sell her house.

In 2010, Mr Subramaniam used the proceeds to pay $1 million to Mr Malayaperumal, $1 million to Ms Kanthimathy and $912,000 to himself. He used $2.4 million to buy a house in Ceylon Road for Dr Paul.

Six months later, Mr Malayaperumal and Ms Kanthimathy each received another $1 million.

Dr Paul also willed most of her assets to Mr Malayaperumal and Ms Kanthimathy, in stark contrast to her 2007 will in which she wished for the bulk of her wealth to be used to set up a bursary fund for needy female medical students at the National University of Singapore.

In 2013, her distant relatives, Senior Counsel Philip Jeyaretnam and Dr Ruhunadevi Joshua, were appointed under the Mental Capacity Act to manage her affairs.

Suspecting that she had been exploited, they went to court to reinstate the terms in the 2007 will and filed a suit to recover the money.

Yesterday, their lawyer, Mr Herman Jeremiah, said the judgment "redresses in no small way the advantage that the defendants had taken of Dr Paul's vulnerability".

A successful recovery of the judgment sums would mean more money in the bursary fund to be set up in the name of Dr Paul, he said.


$2m

What maid Arulampalam Kanthimathy received.

$912k

What engineer Gopal Subramaniam received.

$2m

What construction worker Kulandaivelu Malayaperumal received.

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

Town Councils Act - Town Council of Marine Parade (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 225 of 2017)

[IND] Reserve Bank of India further relaxes rules on foreign direct investment in LLPs

Business
24 Apr 2017

Injunction hearing on Rickmers' proposed US$113m asset sale adjourned

Business Times
16 May 2017
Tan Hwee Hwee

Singapore's High Court on Monday adjourned for a week the hearing of an injunction filed by a noteholder against the proposed US$113 million sale of the entire fleet of insolvent shipping trust Rickmers Maritime.

The injunction has been filed by a single noteholder. Being the first legal proceeding of its kind commenced against a listed shipping trust in Singapore, this may turn out to be a test case of how far noteholders can push for recourse against insolvent entities.

Rickmers Trust Management said that the hearing has been adjourned to May 22 with directions to the parties to exchange affidavits before the new hearing date. Also, no interim injunction was ordered pending the adjourned hearing.

BT understands that the adjournment was granted after Rickmers Maritime sought time to respond to the summons which was served on the trust on May 12. The trustee-manager had said that the injunction application - by noteholder Peter Kwok Kian Tow - was completely unanticipated by the trust.

The injunction, though filed in Mr Kwok's name, represented the legal action pursued by a group of noteholders who acted on the advice of their lawyers, a statement issued to BT said.

This group argued that Rickmers Maritime's proposed deal with Navios Maritime Partners LP would see all vessels held by the trust sold at "a steeply under-valued price" that is "significantly detrimental" to noteholders.

Noteholders said that Navios' offered price of US$113 million compared unfavourably against an estimated valuation of US$137.6 million from Vesselsvalue for the trust's vessels.

They also pointed out that Rickmers Maritime's proposed sale to Navios would result in upfront cash recoveries of just a fraction of the approximate "8 per cent to 10 per cent" the shipping trust claimed may go towards unsecured creditors.

Instead of the lump-sum sale, they argued for the winding up of the shipping trust "in an orderly manner" so that positive cash-accretive long-term contracts on five of the 14 vessels in the fleet can run their full course. Under this scenario, they estimated the returns to noteholders will far exceed what the shipping trust estimated to be recoverable as upfront cash for unsecured creditors.

A group of about 40 noteholders have already raised some of these issues in a correspondence addressed to the board of directors of Rickmers Maritime Trust on May 9. But in a May 12 response sent to the noteholders, the management allegedly asked noteholders "to wait for the announcement after the completion of the sale to Navios" and "rejected any request for meeting".

Noteholders thus pointed to a lack of communication from the trustee-manager of the process leading to the proposed sale to Navios and the distribution of sale proceeds.

Rickmers Maritime, in a statement to BT, counter-argued that the proposed disposal of the vessels to Navios was part of the trust's winding-up process, "which was made in light of an unsuccessful restructuring given no other possible alternatives to restructure the trust's debt".

The shipping trust was referring to its failed bid to win noteholders' approval for a debt-to-equity swap tabled for a proposed notes restructuring exercise. This was the pre-condition set by the trust's senior lenders in extending support to restructuring the outstanding bank loans.

It reiterated that the Navios transaction was the only deal on the table and that it would allow the trustee-manager to meet the objective of delivering upfront cash value on an accelerated basis to all creditors.

It also cited the trust's acute liquidity position as heightening the possibility of vessels on the fleet being arrested by creditors.

Beyond this sparring of words, the verdict on this injunction filed by noteholders against a shipping trust may guide the legal remit of future notes restructuring exercises.

Robson Lee, partner of law firm Gibson Dunn, said: "This is probably the first test-case for the court to decide if a noteholder of a registered business trust has the locus standi (or the rights) to take direct legal action against the trustee-manager."

Singapore's Business Trust Act does not make any provision for noteholders of notes issued by a registered trust to pursue legal actions against the trustee-manager, quite unlike unitholders, Mr Lee explained.

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

Street Works Act - Street Works (Creation of Rights) (No. 5) Notification 2017 (S 224 of 2017

Registers of controllers and nominee directors in Singapore. 10 things you need to know

Legislation
24 Apr 2017

Insurers dragging their feet over new accounting standard: PwC

Business Times
16 May 2017
Claire Huang

Time is running out for insurers here and abroad who have been slow to prepare for the reforms that are on the cards to improve transparency and comparability of profit reporting.

The new accounting standard, International Finance Reporting Standard or IFRS 17, may only take effect from Jan 1, 2021, but PwC Singapore said insurers have little time and much to do to update existing systems and prepare their staff for the inevitable reforms. IFRS 7 is to be issued sometime in May this year by the global accounting rule maker, International Accounting Standards Board (IASB),

Chen Voon Hoe, accounting and reporting advisory leader at PwC Singapore noted that insurers here have been slow to move as they are "still in denial" and some are hopeful that the changes will be delayed.

The problem with this is that the bigger players need at least three to four years to get ready for the changes, while it is easily a two-year exercise for smaller insurers to review contracts, quantify the impact, make accounting decisions, before they decide on tweaks to current systems, he explained.

Given that insurers' products are "bespoke", there is no off-the-shelf solution available in the market that can facilitate the transformation to IFRS 17, he said, adding that insurers can work with partners and vendors to develop such solutions tailored to their needs.

In the works for more than a decade, IFRS 17 aims to provide some form of consistency as to how all insurers classify and measure insurance contracts - something that is now lacking.

The new standard is also expected to give clarity on where changes in an insurer's profit in a certain year are coming from, Mr Chen said.

IFRS 17 will require current valuation of all insurance liabilities, not just life, but also non-life. The intention is to increase comparability between insurers themselves, as well as between insurance and other parts of the financial industry such as banks and asset management.

But insurers, worried about the greater volatility in their profit and loss statements and greater scrutiny on some of their products, have been resistant to the changes.

PwC Singapore's insurance industry leader Woo Shea Leen told The Business Times that insurers are concerned about the granularity required under IFRS 17, particularly for participating funds, which they have argued, goes against the concept of risk pooling.

The problem is compounded as insurers' existing systems "will not be able to cope with the changes", Mr Chen said, adding that this is because their accounting, actuarial and underwriting systems are not equipped to generate data with the level of granularity required.

Another obstacle, said Ang Sock Sun, regulatory advisory services partner at PwC Singapore, is the issue of retrospective adjustments.

"Life policies can be incepted 20, 30 years ago and IFRS 17 will require insurers to go back to 20, 30 years ago to assess the implications arising from the standard. The key question will be - is the data available? How do they get around it in terms of retrospective adjustments?" she said.

The new standard, which is already proving to be a massive challenge for the industry, is also expected to be an expensive affair.

For a global insurer, total implementation cost of IFRS 17 including accounting, actuarial modelling and finance transformation, is estimated to range from "at least hundreds of millions", PwC said.

In Singapore, insurers' tax assessments are carried out based largely on their regulatory returns and these are similar to that in their financial statements. But these elements will change under IFRS 17.

Ms Woo pointed out that regulators here will continue to work on the revised risk-based capital framework or RBC 2 independent of IFRS 17. "Now IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore) is using both to assess tax. Going forward, if the divergence continues, how will it assess tax?"

Despite the overwhelming issues, the new standard is expected to create jobs in the industry, PwC said.

This, as resources such as finance transformation talent, accounting technicals and actuaries who can run required models, will be in demand, even as the training of staff on the new standard is an uphill task.

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

Street Works Act - Street Works (Creation of Rights) (No. 4) Notification 2017 (S 223 of 2017)

Of prima facie standard(s), bare arbitration clauses and constituting arbitral tribunals: KVC Rice Intertrade Co Ltd v Asian Mineral Resources Pte Ltd and another suit [2017] SGHC 32

Judgments
24 Apr 2017

Govt has duty to ensure consistency when upgrading laws, penalties: Voices

TODAY
16 May 2017

It is natural for citizens to compare sentences for similar offences, especially high-profile cases, though they have limited knowledge of the legal niceties or technicalities.

The public expects consistent law enforcement and sentencing, although their perception of consistency could differ from that of judges.

And in “Penalties for crime must reflect public opinion: Shanmugam” (April 24), the Law and Home Affairs Minister was attending to the disquiet among citizens about what they believe is inconsistent in the legal system.

The Government has a duty to update and improve the legal system, considering changes in technology and in sociopolitical and economic settings, as well as citizens’ expectations of a fair system. Other steps may also help us to achieve this.

Judges could make the decision-making process more transparent by pointing out precedents or benchmarks they used or did not use.

Prosecutors should challenge judgments if they find the penalties to be inconsistent with precedents for similar cases.

If more objective analyses of cases are done and published in various media, citizens would gain a better perspective on our legal system and the judicial process.

The Government’s credibility is also at stake if it does not address public concern over the consistency issue.

It should constantly review whether a law contains loopholes or inadequacies and make amendments whenever necessary via our parliamentary mechanism.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Street Works Act - Street Works (Creation of Rights) (No. 3) Notification 2017 (S 222 of 2017)

Singapore High Court finds directors stripped insolvent shipping company of assets to evade creditors

Judgments
24 Apr 2017

Don't study law

Straits Times
16 May 2017
Simon Chesterman

Dear Simon,

Don't study law.

I mean it. Law is hard. Law is rarely fulfilling. And there's a reason people make jokes about lawyers having a chasm that separates their head from their heart.

You most certainly shouldn't study law just because you got the grades. A fistful of As could equally see you pursue politics or literature, business or science. Medicine maybe. (Ah, but you had to drop chemistry, didn't you?) Remember the time you thought seriously about enrolling in veterinary science just because it had the highest cut-off? Don't. Do. It.

Don't study law for the money. You've met enough lawyers already who earn big salaries without having time to spend them; lawyers who hit a mid-life crisis at 35, with an eye to a heart attack by 50.

Also, don't study law because you hope to be powerful. Lawyers can have influence, yes, but it can be baleful as well as beneficent. Carl Schmitt was a law professor, after all.

And for heaven's sake don't study law because you think you will earn respect. See the earlier reference to lawyer jokes. (For example: What's the difference between a jellyfish and a lawyer? One's a spineless, poisonous blob. The other is a form of sea life.)

So, instead, study something in which you are interested, about which you are passionate, and through which you think you can make a difference.

Really? You still think that might be law? You're even more stubborn than you are now.

Fine.

If you must study law, then do it because you want to understand how power in society is held to account. The rule of law stands between organised society and the rule of the jungle. One day, even as great a country as the United States may find that the rule of law is the only protection against a reality TV star who becomes its 45th President. (I know you haven't heard of reality TV yet - you aren't missing much.)

Study law because you love what it entails: doctrines that confront all the vagaries of human experience, theories seeking to uncover hidden forces that shape those doctrines, the strategies and tactics of legal practice. Law in the books as well as law in action. Language that proves on a daily basis that the pen is mightier than the sword because we as a community choose to believe it to be so. Then focus your research on the hardest of those cases, where rulers turn on the ruled, where the institutions of society break down, and the bonds of human civilisation are revealed to be at their weakest. Ethnic cleansing is another term that hasn't yet been invented, but it will be when genocide returns to Europe in a few years.

And, despite all this, keep on studying law. Research, teach, practise in the hope that doing so might make the world a little safer, a little more just. Remember that, even as a student, you can help in the Aboriginal Tutorial Assistance Scheme and by volunteering at the Fitzroy Legal Service. When you get the chance, encourage more and more students to do pro bono work. (You might think it's an oxymoron to make pro bono work compulsory, but keep an open mind about that.)

Above all, never stop questioning why you chose law, and what the privilege of being offered such a choice now obliges you to do next.

Cheers, Simon

p.s. The 4D numbers for May 10, 2017 will be 0563. Just saying.


The writer is dean and professor at the National University of Singapore faculty of law. Letters of the Law is a student-led initiative that aims to promote positivity in the legal community. The website publishes letters written by law graduates to their younger selves, and can be found at www.lettersofthelaw.org.

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

Street Works Act - Street Works (Creation of Rights) (No. 2) Notification 2017 (S 221 of 2017)

Voluntary Arrangements in Bankruptcy – Duties of the Debtor and Nominee

Judgments
21 Apr 2017

ADV: SAL - Senior Executive / Executive (Academy Administration), Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy (Sidra)

Singapore Law Watch
16 May 2017
Singapore Academy of Law

Street Works Act - Street Works (Creation of Rights) Notification 2017 (S 220 of 2017)

Singapore strengthens tax cooperation with other countries

Business
21 Apr 2017

No ABSD on $6.6m unit for charity: Court

Straits Times
15 May 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Taxman ordered to refund $987k in duty, late fees paid by trustees

The High Court, in a landmark case, has ruled that property bought by a charitable purpose trust was not subject to the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD), and ordered the taxman to refund the $986,965 in duty and late fees paid last year by the trustees on the deal.

The Commissioner of Stamp Duties had imposed the 15 per cent ABSD on the $6.56 million unit in Goodwood Residence condominium in Bukit Timah Road, bought by trustees of the Chew How Teck Foundation in 2015.

ABSD was introduced in 2011 as part of measures to moderate property price increases in Singapore.

The foundation, a registered charity established by Mr Chew Chee Thong in 1994, was meant to promote medical research and provide financial help in hardship cases both here and in Malaysia, among other things. Mr Chew died that year.

He left a will that provided for a property in Chee Hoon Avenue to be used by his widow, Madam Zhao Hui Fang, but with eventual ownership to reside in the charity foundation he established.

In 2014, the High Court authorised the will executors to sell the property for $22.8 million and use part of the monies to buy the Goodwood unit for Madam Zhao's use in the name of the foundation. She still lives in the unit.

The balance was lodged with the foundation, and the Goodwood deal was also cleared by the Commissioner of Charities in 2015.

Under the law, ABSD is payable where property is transferred to beneficial owners who are entities or foreigners. Madam Zhao is a Singaporean.

The trustees, represented by KhattarWong lawyer Joanna Yap Hui Min, appealed to the High Court against the commissioner's decision last year, arguing that ABSD should not be paid as the foundation was not an entity per se and stood to inherit the unit for charity eventually.

Counsel for the commissioner Julia Mohamed disputed the appeal for various reasons, pointing out that those factually benefiting from the charity work of the foundation are the beneficial owners of the Goodwood property, which in this case may include research institutes and Malaysian researchers.

Judicial Commissioner Aedit Abdullah clarified that there was a difference between beneficial ownership and getting a factual benefit from something.

"It goes against the very concept of a charitable trust to find that beneficial ownership is vested in factual beneficiaries of the charity.

"If that were the case, it should follow that all the persons factually benefiting could, if they so desired, get together and dispose the subject matter of the trust. But that is simply not the law," he said in judgment grounds issued last week.

He added that those factually benefiting from the objects of the charity, whether here or in Malaysia, were not the beneficial owners of the property. He said properties held under a charitable purpose trust do not have "identifiable beneficial owners" for ABSD to apply.

Judicial Commissioner Aedit made clear that there is nothing in principle to stop ABSD from being imposed on property deals by charities, but this was a policy matter for the authorities to decide on.

"There just needs to be stated clear imposition under the relevant statutory instrument," he said.

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

Health Products Act - Health Products (Therapeutic Products) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 219 of 2017)

Forging economic ties

Business
21 Apr 2017

Shipping firm involved in North Korea dealings gets reduced fine of S$100,000

TODAY
15 May 2017
Siau Ming En

A Singapore-registered shipping firm, Chinpo Shipping Company, had its fine reduced from S$180,000 to S$100,000 after the High Court cleared the firm of transferring money that could have contributed to North Korea’s nuclear-related programmes or activities.

The judges – made up of Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice See Kee Oon – had partially allowed Chinpo’s appeal against its convictions and sentences on two charges on Friday (May 12).

The firm’s earlier conviction and sentence of running a remittance business between April 2009 and July 2013 without a valid remittance licence remained.

The firm had begun remitting money when its shipping business started to dry up.

On July 8, 2013, Chinpo had transferred US$72,017 (about S$101,000) from its Bank of China account to CB Fenton and Co, a Panama shipping agent. The money was for the transit expenses for North Korean container ship, Chong Chon Gang, to pass through the Panama Canal from Cuba.

Three days later, an arms shipment, hidden under a cargo of sugar, was seized from the ship. The weapons found included two Cuban fighter-jets in perfect condition, missiles and live munitions.

Separately, between April 2009 and July 2013, Chinpo had also applied to its bank for 605 outward remittances, totalling about US$40 million, on behalf of North Korean entities.

Chinpo later claimed trial after being slapped with two charges, and the firm was convicted of both charges in December 2015.

For its charge under the United Nations (Sanctions – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Regulations, Chinpo was fined S$80,000. For the other charge under the Money-changing and Remittance Business Act, it was fined S$100,000.

Delivering the findings of the appeal on behalf of the judges on Friday, Justice See said the transfer of about US$72,000 fell outside the mischief of the regulations relating to North Korea.

“A reasonable person in the position of Chinpo would not have appreciated that the transfer could have had the effect of contributing to the (nuclear-related, ballistic missile related, or other weapons of mass destruction related programmes or activities of North Korea),” he said.

The transfer went purely to the payment of port fees and related charges for the ship to pass through the Panama Canal, said the judge.

And although a shipment of weapons was found on the ship, this was not known to the firm when it made the transfer. Hence, the transfer was “at least somewhat removed” from a transfer of funds in direct support of North Korea’s nuclear-related programmes, he added.

On the remittance offence, Justice See noted that Chinpo had blindly received money from North Korean entities. It then paid the money to the intended payees, which were for matters unconnected with the firm’s ship agency and ship chandelling services.

The firm also engaged Bank of China to facilitate the 605 remittances and did so in its own name, concealing the identity of the North Korean entities.

“This was the very mischief that the (Act) sought to avoid, and which Parliament sought to address through the licensing regime for remittance businesses under the (Act),” he said.

Adding that Chinpo had, without a valid licence, provided remittance services of an unprecedented volume and over an unprecedented duration in Singapore, Justice See noted that the maximum fine of S$100,000 that was initially imposed was warranted.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Public Order (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act 23 of 2017)

Employment Claims Act 2016 in operation from 1 April 2017: New Employment Claims Tribunal to hear salary-related disputes

Legislation
21 Apr 2017

Singapore can help finance projects, says Lawrence Wong

Straits Times
15 May 2017
Chong Koh Ping

BEIJING • Singapore can play a complementary role in financing projects in the Belt and Road initiative, particularly those in South- east Asia, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

As an international financial centre and one of the largest offshore yuan centres, Singapore can join Hong Kong and London in facilitating lending to the major infrastructure projects aimed at improving connectivity between China and countries along the trade routes linking Asia, Africa and Europe.

Mr Wong suggested roping in private and commercial partners to help make projects more bankable or more acceptable to lenders.

Besides finance, Singapore also has a wide range of high-quality professional services in urban master-planning, engineering, project advisory, dispute resolution and legal services, which can help make infrastructure projects more bankable, he said at a session on financial connectivity at the Belt and Road Forum yesterday.

Financial institutions are also welcome to tap Singapore's capital markets and institutional investors, such as pension funds and insurance companies, to raise funds, he added.

Mr Wong represented Singapore in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the Belt and Road initiative with China.

The MOU notes that cooperation on the initiative will "enable the two sides to enjoy better bilateral relations, more substantive economic ties and closer people-to-people exchanges".

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

Home Team Corps Bill (Bill 26 of 2017)

Execution of Judgments – Payment Before or After Appeal?

Judgments
20 Apr 2017

ADV: SAL - Programme Manager for Legal Technology Vision

Singapore Law Watch
15 May 2017
Singapore Academy of Law

Monetary Authority of Singapore (Amendment) Bill (Bill 25 of 2017)

SIC revises Practice Statement on opinion issued by IFA on offers, whitewash waivers and disposal of assets under Singapore Code on Take-overs and Mergers

Business
20 Apr 2017

Court adopts new legal test to determine if doctor was negligent

Straits Times
13 May 2017
Ng Jun Sen

In a landmark decision, the Court of Appeal has adopted a new legal test to determine whether a doctor has been negligent while dispensing medical advice.

The apex court used the detailed new test in dismissing an appeal by Malaysian businessman Clement Hii Chii Kok, according to the written judgment released yesterday.

In 2013, Datuk Seri Hii had sued Singapore surgeon London Lucien Ooi and the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) for misdiagnosing him and giving him wrong medical advice. He lost his case last year.

The court used the new test for negligence, which involves seeing whether there is material information about the patient that the doctor should know and if the doctor is aware of this information.

The test also considers whether a doctor is justified in withholding such information, including in emergencies or when giving the information would cause more harm.

Previously, Singapore's courts had used only the oft-cited Bolam test, which states that a doctor is not negligent if his actions could be supported by other doctors.

In this case, the courts decided to use a modification of the so-called Montgomery test, which considers whether the patient is receiving useful medical information, rather than whether it is the common practice.

The new test includes a three-stage inquiry to determine if the doctor had fulfilled his duty of care to the patient, lawyers said.

Patients, in general, now have access to more information and are expected to participate more actively in the consultation process with doctors, said the five-judge panel including Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, Judith Prakash, Tay Yong Kwang and Steven Chong.

The court also held that while there were concerns the new test could lead to more litigation and encourage "defensive medicine", there was not enough evidence to show these concerns overrode the patient's autonomy.

Legal Clinic LLC director, Ms Kuah Boon Theng, who was the NCCS' lawyer, said the court is saying it is time that "doctors should instead empower patients to exercise their autonomy by giving them the information they need in order to make meaningful decisions about their own care".

If the traditional test were used, doctors could simply claim that it is their practice to not reveal certain information, she added.

While Britain's courts have adopted the Montgomery test since 2015, the test does not have a three-stage inquiry.

Because of this, there has been criticism about whether doctors would prioritise protecting themselves, overloading the patient with unimportant information, rather than to provide them with accurate guidance, said Ms Kuah.

With the modified Montgomery test, doctors can withhold information too, but they will have to prove that doing so will protect the patient from harm, she explained.

She told The Straits Times: "It is a remarkable and thoughtful decision that goes further than Montgomery ever did in providing guidance to the medical profession on informed consent."


About the case

Prominent Malaysian businessman Clement Hii Chii Kok had undergone complex surgery in August 2010 to remove parts of five organs.

He alleged he had been told by Singapore surgeon London Lucien Ooi and the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) that he suffered from "pancreatic cancer" and that surgery was the only option.

But both defendants deny the claims and said they never told him he had cancer of the pancreas. They said there were multiple specialist opinions that showed that the cancer could not be ruled out in his case and surgery was recommended.

Datuk Seri Hii, who studied law, sued the NCCS and Professor Ooi for damages, claiming that they had failed to provide proper advice, did not consider the results of various other tests and failed to get his informed consent.

But Justice Chan Seng Onn in a judgment in February last year ruled in favour of the defendants, saying this claim was not borne out by the evidence.

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

Hii Chii Kok v Ooi Peng Jin London Lucien and another [2017] SGCA 38

Town Councils Act - Town Council of West Coast (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 218 of 2017)

Singapore Exchange amends listing rules following changes to the Companies Act

Legislation
20 Apr 2017

3 bands for sentencing rapists spelt out

Straits Times
13 May 2017
Selina Lum

Court of Appeal's new framework requires judges to size up 'offence-specific' factors

The Court of Appeal yesterday laid down a comprehensive framework for sentencing rapists, in a move to promote a more consistent and transparent practice in meting out appropriate punishments.

The three-judge apex court - comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang - set out three sentencing bands that correspond to how serious the rape is.

The levels of severity are based on the number and intensity of various aggravating factors in a case.

The sentencing range for Band 1 is 10 to 13 years' jail and six strokes of the cane; Band 2 is 13 to 17 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane; and Band 3 is 17 to 20 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane.

In doing so, the court dismantled the previous framework, which divided rapes into four categories: those with no aggravating or mitigating factors; those with specific aggravating factors; multiple rapes; and those committed by offenders who will remain a threat to society indefinitely.

This framework, set out by then Justice V.K. Rajah in 2006, had largely guided sentencing for rapists in the last 10 years.

Yesterday, Justice Chao noted that the old framework was a response to the "limitations" of the single benchmark sentence of 10 years' jail and six strokes of the cane set in 1993, which did not provide enough guidance.

The framework has "brought a measure of consistency" in the sentences imposed in rape offences but "suffers from several problems" that needed reform, he said.

For one thing, the four categories did not cover the full spectrum of circumstances in which rape may be committed, resulting in a "clustering of sentencing outcomes", he said.

Also, Category 2 lacked "conceptual coherence" and covered a wide range of situations of varying gravity. Cases can run the gamut from the violent rape of a young toddler to the rape of a domestic helper by her employer.

He noted that good sentencing guidelines should ensure consistency, maintain a level of flexibility and discretion for sentencing judges, encourage transparency in reasoning, and create a "coherent picture of sentencing for a particular offence".

As such, a "fundamental change" to the way the sentencing framework for rape is structured is required.

A judge who is sentencing a rapist should now look at "offence-specific" factors related to the way in which the crime was committed and the harm caused, to decide which band the offender falls under. Aggravating factors include group rape, premeditation, an abuse of trust, violence, and rape of a vulnerable victim.

Cases with no or very limited aggravating factors fall into Band 1; cases with two or more aggravating factors fall into Band 2; and extremely serious cases, based on the number and intensity of aggravating factors, fall into Band 3.

After determining the band, the judge should look at the circumstances of each offender to calibrate the sentence upwards or downwards. "Offender-specific" factors include whether there was remorse and the age of the offender.

Justice Chao made it clear that the benchmark sentences applied to convictions following trial. In cases where the offender pleads guilty, the court can assess the value of the plea as a mitigating factor. He noted that the new framework "does not effect a radical change in the sentencing benchmarks".

"For the most part, it seeks only to rationalise existing judicial practice to promote a more systematic, coherent, consistent and transparent approach towards sentencing in this area," he said.

The chance to review the sentencing framework arose from the case of cobbler Terence Ng Kean Meng, 46, who was appealing against his sentence of 13 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane for statutory rape. (He had another sex charge and the total sentence was 14 years' jail and 14 strokes but he did not appeal against the other charge.)

In 2013, when he was 42, he befriended a 13-year-old schoolgirl and invited her to his flat.

After finding out she had run away from home, he offered to be her godfather. Her parents agreed.

They began spending time together and she agreed to have sex with him.

Applying the new framework to Ng's case, the court found the original sentence was appropriate and dismissed his appeal.

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

Ng Kean Meng Terence v Public Prosecutor [2017] SGCA 37

Public Transport Council Act - Public Transport Council (Taxi Fare Pricing Policy) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 217 of 2017)

MAS establishes Corporate Governance Council to review Code of Corporate Governance

Business
19 Apr 2017

Toby Landau becomes first Queen's Counsel to be admitted to the Singapore Bar

Straits Times
13 May 2017
K.C. Vijayan

Prominent English lawyer Toby Landau has become the first Queen's Counsel to be admitted to the Singapore Bar - a move that reflects Singapore's growing stature as a global legal hub.

High Court Justice Quentin Loh, in welcoming Mr Landau and other new lawyers on behalf of the Chief Justice and the Bench on Thursday, described his admission as a "historic occasion in the legal history of Singapore".

"He is an advocate who has already made his mark on the world stage. An advocate of great renown, a great reputation and with forensic skills that are acknowledged by many professional directories," added Justice Loh.

The judge noted that while QCs have been admitted on an ad hoc basis to argue particular cases, "Mr Landau has chosen to throw in his lot, so to speak, with us".

English QCs are an elite and eminent group of lawyers appointed by the Queen based on merit and are largely made up of barristers.

Justice Loh's address was highlighted by Essex Court Chambers where Mr Landau has an independent practice.

Mr Landau, 49, will be based in Singapore and has met the pre-conditions for general admission to the Bar here, including residency requirements.

Justice Loh said the move showed that "Singapore is not going to be a small little pond where we practise" and the country was "open more and more to international pressures and international work".

He looked forward to Mr Landau imparting some of his "very considerable knowledge and skills and values" to younger members of the Bar.

QC Landau has previously been admitted to the Singapore Bar on an ad hoc basis to argue in the high-stakes Astro v First Media and Lippo litigation before both the Singapore High Court and Court of Appeal, among other matters.

He has also appeared in arbitrations in Singapore alongside local lawyers. Mr Landau has been on the Panel of Advisers of the Attorney-General since 2012, and was part of the team that represented Singapore in the Railway Land Arbitration against Malaysia in 2014.

He will not be joining or establishing a full-service law firm in Singapore, said Essex Court Chambers.

But he will work alongside other Singapore lawyers as part of his existing international practice.

Mr Landau said he was "deeply appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to Singapore and its legal fraternity".

Rajah & Tann partner Paul Tan says that Mr Landau played the role of his mentor when he spent two years working in London in 2011.

"Of all his qualities, Toby's willingness to engage and debate with his juniors in cutting-edge cases was inspiring and formative in my earlier days. Till today, I still count on him as an invaluable source of advice. I have no doubt that especially the younger members of our Bar will benefit immensely from his work in Singapore," he said.

Welcoming his admission , a Law Society spokesman said the society "considers this one-off, sui generis admission as a boost to Singapore's growing stature as a legal hub with world-class lawyers".

The chairman and Senior Partner of WongPartnership, Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo, added: " The admission of Toby Landau, coming on the heels of the arrival on our shores of other prominent practitioners such as Lucy Reed and Judith Gill QC, is testament to the growing prominence of Singapore as an international centre for arbitration and dispute resolution."

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

Parking Places Act - Parking Places (Provision of Parking Places and Parking Spaces) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 216 of 2017)

Changes to Companies Act and LLP Act put in place to increase transparency of ownership/control of business entities, improve ease of doing business, allow inward re-domiciliation, enhance debt restructuring framework

Legislation
19 Apr 2017

NUS, NTU hit by cyber-attacks aimed at govt and research data

Business Times
13 May 2017
Amit Roy Choudhury

No evidence points to student databases having been targeted; the daily operations of the two varsities were also unaffected

Breaches to the IT systems of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University were discovered last month, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Cyber Security Agency (CSA) in a joint statement on Friday.

The cyber-attacks, which appeared aimed at stealing government information and research documents, were what is known as APT (advanced persistent threat) attacks - carefully planned cyber intrusions executed over a considerable period of time, and which are not the work of casual hackers.

Singapore has faced APT attacks before, but this is the first time this kind of attack has been directed at institutions of higher learning.

Investigations by the CSA appear to indicate that the attacks on the two institutions were not coordinated.

The agency also found no evidence to suggest that information or data related to students of the two universities had been targeted.

The daily operations of both institutions, including critical IT systems for student admissions and examinations databases, were also unaffected.

David Koh, CSA's chief executive, said: "We know who did it, and we know what they were after."

He added, however, that the details could not be revealed for "operational security reasons".

The intrusions into NTU's networks were detected when the university ran its regular checks on its systems on April 19.

NUS detected an unauthorised intrusion into its IT systems on April 11, during cybersecurity assessments by external consultants engaged to strengthen its cyber defences.

Both universities have since stepped up their vigilance and adopted additional security measures beyond those already in place.

CSA has notified other autonomous universities, critical-information infrastructure providers and the government sector about the attacks and advised them to be on alert and to monitor their systems.

Instances of malicious activity detected in other institutions, government agencies and other industries were found to be isolated ones and have since been cleaned up, the agency said.

Giving some background on APT attacks, Sanjay Aurora, Asia-Pacific managing director for security company Darktrace, said the critical word in "APT" is "persistent".

"These are sophisticated threats that are getting into your network... Perpetrators often acquire legitimate user credentials or gain access through unprotected software or hardware, which enables them to easily bypass traditional security tools like firewalls."

He added that once these threat actors are in the network, it becomes extremely difficult to distinguish their behaviour from that of legitimate network users.

"These attackers can then move laterally and silently within the organisation's network for weeks or months, conducting reconnaissance and searching for critical information, before eventually executing an attack or exfiltrating data."

He added that it can take up to 230 days for a company to realise it has been breached and its critical systems, compromised. "At Darktrace, we once started working with a customer, only to find that there was a sophisticated threat inside this client's network that had been there for eight years."

Nick Savvides, Symantec's security advocate for the Asia-Pacific including Japan (or APJ), noted that complex APT attacks are not a recent phenomenon. He cited the Banswift attacks of last year, in which banks using the Swift network were targeted; US$81 million was stolen from the Central Bank of Bangladesh.

Bill Taylor-Mountford, the APJ vice-president at LogRhythm, noted that hackers are no longer just targeting the usual suspects in Singapore, such as the financial institutions, government and critical infrastructure.

Bodies like the universities hold valuable data, "including intellectual property that can bring about financial gain". LogRhythm is a US-based security intelligence company.

Research agency IDC's Asia-Pacific head for government and education Gerald Wang commented that APT attacks will continue taking place, given that operational silos still exist when it comes to securing IT systems and digital data.

"Most public-sector organisations that IDC has spoken to take a rather reactive stance when it comes to securing digital data... With widespread reactionary mindsets to IT security, where remedial action is taken only after the discovery of an attack, APT attacks will only continue to endure."

CSA's Mr Koh said cyber threats are rising in scale and frequency, and the perpetrators are becoming more sophisticated.

"They are looking for the weakest link, any vulnerability they can exploit. Attackers are not just targeting government systems but are also looking for any kind of network that's connected or remotely related to the government. Hence, private-sector organisations also need to pay more attention to cybersecurity."

He added that it was through the regular checks by NTU and NUS that the malicious activity in their IT systems was uncovered.

"We urge all organisations to be vigilant and to proactively check their IT networks for malicious and unusual activity. This way, we can all work together to secure our networks."

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Electronic Road Pricing System) (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2017 (S 215 of 2017)

Fairness for Divorcing Homemakers? – TNL v TNK and another appeal and another matter [2017] SGCA 15

Judgments
19 Apr 2017

Singapore latest target of ever-growing cyber threat

Straits Times
13 May 2017
Irene Tham

Hackers using advanced persistent threats require much sophistication and resources

Cyber attacks on governments and institutions have become a weapon of choice - and Singapore has not been spared the threat, said the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore.

"Attackers are not just targeting government systems; they are (also) looking for any network that is remotely related to the Government," said Mr David Koh, chief executive of CSA. "Attackers are... always looking for the weakest link to exploit."

The attacks by hackers on National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), discovered last month, were aimed at stealing government and research data, CSA revealed yesterday.

The breaches were said to be advanced persistent threats (APTs) in which hackers gain unauthorised access to and lurk within computer networks undetected for a long period of time.

State-sponsored APTs have plagued the French presidential election, which concluded last week, and last year's US presidential election, said security software firm Trend Micro.

Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron's campaign team was repeatedly hit by phishing e-mails to trick his staff into parting with their passwords. Confirming the attacks, Mr Macron had said no campaign data was compromised. The same hacking group, dubbed Pawn Storm, was also believed to be behind the attacks last year on the e-mail accounts of the US Democratic National Committee to undermine Mrs Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.

Trend Micro said that one in five US organisations has suffered a cyber espionage-related attack in the past year.

Mr Nick Savvides, a security advocate for Asia-Pacific and Japan at cyber security software firm Symantec, said cyber attacks are either financially or politically driven.

"State-sponsored attacks are highly sophisticated and capable of obfuscating their source," he said.

Money could also be a motive.

Mr Aloysius Cheang, executive vice-president of global computing security association Cloud Security Alliance, said: "There is definitely valuable research data of commercial value."

In the case of NUS and NTU, hackers may have also assumed that the universities' systems had links to government systems, Mr Cheang added.

Mr Bill Taylor-Mountford, American security intelligence firm Log- Rhythm's vice-president in Asia-Pacific and Japan, said: "Any entities using APT need to have considerable resources."

Such threats demand a lot of sophistication, he added.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim urged everyone to do their part to defend important data. For instance, individuals can practise good cyber hygiene.

"As we become more digitally connected, such threats will continue to increase in sophistication, and both public- and private-sector organisations are equally vulnerable," he said.


CYBER THREAT

Attackers are not just targeting government systems; they are (also) looking for any network that is remotely related to the Government... Attackers are always looking for the weakest link to exploit.

MR DAVID KOH, chief executive of CSA.


ST Explainer: What is APT?

Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are stealthy and continuous computer hacking processes to gain intelligence or steal information from another party.

The hackers gain unauthorised access into and lurk within computer networks. They exploit vulnerabilities in systems with sophisticated techniques using malware.

Once the malware is planted in the network, it gives hackers a back door to remotely monitor and extract data from the target network or system.

In 2010, the Stuxnet worm, designed by the United States and Israel, made its way into Iran's Natanz facility and infected specific industrial control systems through an infected USB drive.

The malware quickly propagated and temporarily crippled Iran's nuclear programme, though computer screens showed nothing amiss.

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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Quota System) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 214 of 2017)

Guidance on the Scope of the Parallel Importation Defence under the Trade Marks Act

Judgments
18 Apr 2017

Ministry proposes changes to GST law

Straits Times
13 May 2017
Samuel Chan

The Government proposes to tighten the goods and services tax (GST) collection process in the sale of goods commonly used in fraud schemes, such as mobile phones and memory cards.

Under a proposed amendment to the law, GST-registered sellers would no longer be allowed to charge GST on the sale of these goods to GST-registered customers, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said.

Instead, these customers would account for the GST chargeable by dealing directly with the Comptroller of GST, which means the registered customers would report the GST amount due in their GST return forms on behalf of the registered suppliers.

This will deter fraud schemes where the seller absconds after collecting the GST while businesses down the supply chain continue to claim input tax, which is GST incurred on business purchases and expenses.

Mr Koh Soo How, Asia-Pacific and Singapore's indirect tax leader at PwC, said: "With this change, the risk of the first party running away with the tax collected from the second party is eliminated as the obligation to account for the tax will be passed down to the customer."

MOF is seeking feedback on this and five other proposed changes to the GST Act aimed at easing business compliance, clarifying existing legislation and improving tax administration.

A $200 monthly penalty for late submission of GST returns immediately after the filing due date is proposed. The penalty is currently imposed only on outstanding returns starting from one month after the filing due date.

Also, GST tax notices are to go digital unless taxpayers opt out.

MOF also proposes electronic record-keeping and additional invoice details for selected businesses to beef up tax administration. To ease business compliance, it is proposed that customer accounting on the supplier side for the sale of non-residential property to Reits or their Special Purpose Vehicles be extended to movable assets sold with the property. Lastly, there is a proposed change to GST treatment regarding the sale of government land on which there are buildings to be demolished.

Details of the proposed changes can be found at mof.gov.sg.


CLOSING GAPS

With this change, the risk of the first party running away with the tax collected from the second party is eliminated as the obligation to account for the tax will be passed down to the customer.

MR KOH SOO HOW, PWC's Asia-Pacific and Singapore indirect tax leader, on the proposed change to GST collection.

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

 

Town Councils Act - Town Council of Tanjong Pagar (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 213 of 2017)

CCS issues PID for bid-rigging relating to tenders for electrical services and asset tagging

Business
18 Apr 2017

New cap on tenants for private homes

Straits Times
13 May 2017
Ng Jun Sen

From Monday, landlords can rent out to no more than six unrelated persons; no change to HDB cap

When she moved out of her family home last year, Ms Yvette Lim, 34, thought she could eventually sublet her old bedroom to help her family pay the rent.

With a floor area of 4,500 sq ft, her spacious Choa Chu Kang house, where six of her family members now live, could easily accommodate a few more tenants, she calculated.

But her plans have been dashed.

From Monday, landlords can rent out private homes to no more than six unrelated persons. If there are six related people living in the residence, no tenants are allowed.

The move reduces the occupancy cap from eight previously.

Existing tenancy agreements with seven or eight tenants will be allowed to run their course until May 15, 2019, but after that, the rules will kick in regardless of the contract's expiration date, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in a letter on Thursday to registered property agents .

For HDB flats, the maximum sub-tenants allowed for a three-room unit and a four-room or bigger unit remain unchanged, at six and nine respectively.

Ms Lim, an administrative assistant, told The Straits Times: "Eight was just nice for us, but it's a pity now because the house will be quite empty. One of the five bedrooms will be unused."

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, a URA spokesman said the rule change ensures that residential premises are "consistent with the character of the local community and integrate better with the neighbourhood".

He added that it takes into account "the strong supply of alternative accommodation" that caters to non-familial groups of occupants, such as hostels for students and dormitories for company employees.

Some residents and property watchers The Straits Times spoke to welcomed the move, saying it will reduce disruption and noise caused by overcrowded units.

PropNex Realty chief executive officer Ismail Gafoor said: "Private properties are meant to be exclusive, with owners of the development having the quiet enjoyment of the facilities and lifestyle. In order to maintain this exclusivity, the cap of six tenants is reasonable."

However, landlords such as Mr Peter Chia do not agree. The retiree, who is in his 60s, relies on rental income from his four-bedroom unit in Pacific Mansion in the River Valley area. He lives there with five tenants and hopes to get two more.

Mr Chia will have to take down his advertisement if he is unable to rent out the empty bedroom in his 1,500 sq ft apartment by Monday. This is a loss of $900 to $1,200 in potential monthly rent, he said.

The new rule will also affect home-sharing such as Airbnb. The URA is studying the option of creating a new category of private homes that will allow short-term rentals.

An occupancy cap of six means that future home-sharing hosts will not be able to lease out an apartment to, say, two large families, said International Property Advisor CEO Ku Swee Yong.

Some analysts wondered if the occupancy cap could have better reflected the size of the home.

Said Cushman & Wakefield research director Christine Li: "A better implementation could have been to peg occupancy caps to the number of bedrooms, similar to that for HDB flats."

URA said this is not the case as there are various types of private property, from small apartments to bungalows. Said a spokesman: "We have simplified the control for greater clarity to the public by not adopting a stratified occupancy cap control based on unit sizes."

Thursday's announcement gave three days for real estate agents to react and could trigger a surge in rental contracts being renewed or signed over the weekend, said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim.

On social media, some agents have started asking landlords with a sizeable number of tenants to quickly renew their tenancy pacts.

Said Mr Lim: "We have not seen any surge of sign-ups yet, but we do not rule out that some landlords will try (to do so) over the next few days, before May 15 arrives."

Mr Lim believes HDB occupancy caps may soon follow suit.

"There is a possibility that HDB may align the caps accordingly since the spirit of this rule change is to prevent overcrowding within residential units," he said.


REASONABLE NUMBER

Private properties are meant to be exclusive, with owners of the development having the quiet enjoyment of the facilities and lifestyle. In order to maintain this exclusivity, the cap of six tenants is reasonable.

PROPNEX REALTY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER ISMAIL GAFOOR

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Sembawang (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-Laws 2017 (S 212 of 2017)

Genetic affinity as a novel remedy for wrongful fertilisation – a case of assessing the incalculable? ACB v Thomson Medical Pte Ltd and others [2017] SGCA 20

Judgments
17 Apr 2017

Why carbon tax is needed and what it means for Singapore

Straits Times
12 May 2017
Euston Quah & Christabelle Soh

The effects must not be considered in isolation, especially as low-income households may need help in coping with higher costs

Carbon taxes will be implemented in Singapore from 2019. These taxes will be levied on the largest direct emitters of greenhouse gases, such as power plants.

Consultations with industries have been completed and the authorities are in the midst of public consultations.

When it comes to considering the appropriate size of the carbon tax, the overarching balance that needs to be struck is between the economic concepts of efficiency and equity.

On the efficiency front, a measure to reduce carbon emissions is necessary if Singapore is to have any chance of meeting its carbon-reduction obligations under the Paris agreement to curb fossil fuels that harm the planet.

As things stand, global carbon emissions are on track to increase global temperatures by more than 2 deg C, the limit beyond which a catastrophe is very likely to happen.

Too much of the world's resources are being allocated to producing goods and services that result in overly high carbon emissions. A high carbon tax is often seen as necessary to discourage carbon emissions.

The superiority of a carbon tax over other measures such as tradable permits - another form of carbon emissions pricing in which firms are given a permit to carry on carbon activities - lies primarily in the fact that carbon taxes are easier to understand and implement.

Unlike tradable permits, they result in stable carbon prices that enable firms to make necessary plans for adjustments, such as in making future business investment decisions.

On the equity front, things are more complex. First, while the carbon tax will be imposed only on large direct greenhouse gas-emitters, there will be knock-on effects on the rest of the economy.

Power plants will pass on the tax, at the very least partially, in the form of higher electricity prices. This will affect all households and firms, whose electricity bills will rise. The higher costs for firms may be passed on in the form of higher prices for goods and services. One further upshot is that the carbon taxes, if sufficiently large, may stimulate inflation.

LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS HIT

The extent of the price increase will depend on the extent to which firms can pass on increased costs of production as higher prices.

Here, unfortunately, lies one source of inequity. Necessities, for which consumers have the lowest sensitivity to prices, would see the largest increases as households do not have the option of going without them.

In contrast, luxury items would see little rise in prices as firms are less able to pass on cost increases as consumers have the option of simply going without them.

Furthermore, the lowest-income households spend the largest proportion of their income on necessities.

According to the 2013 Household Expenditure Survey, households in the bottom income decile spent 9.9 per cent of their monthly income on food. The figure for households in the top decile, in contrast, was just 4.2 per cent.

Expenditure on electricity and gas showed a similar picture, taking up 4.1 per cent and 1.9 per cent of the monthly incomes of households in the bottom and top deciles respectively.

In short, carbon taxes may result in the largest erosion of the purchasing power of the poorest households.

This tension between efficiency and equity will affect the so-called optimal amount of tax. Efficiency concerns would demand a higher tax to reduce carbon emissions and push the carbon tax towards the upper limit of $20 per tonne that the Government had publicly stated.

Equity concerns, meanwhile, would demand a lower tax to minimise the impact on low-income households and push the eventual carbon tax towards the lower limit of $10 per tonne.

A further consideration would be whether there are accompanying measures and how well they would work. For example, the carbon tax is not the only measure in place to reduce carbon emissions.

The restructuring of diesel taxes, the extension of the carbon emission-based vehicles scheme till Dec 31 this year, and the enhancement of early turnover schemes encouraging early replacement of older and more pollutive commercial diesel vehicles all work towards reducing carbon emissions. The better these schemes work, the lower the carbon tax required in meeting carbon-reduction obligations. Hence, there is a need to take a holistic or inclusive approach in determining the optimal level of carbon taxes to be implemented.

Similarly, the impact on low-income households must be assessed carefully.

The effects of the carbon taxes must not be studied in isolation. The sum of the effects of higher water prices, increased U-Save rebates, GST vouchers and the like should be studied jointly to determine the net effect on low-income households, and whether carbon taxes should lean towards $10 per tonne or if another layer of rebates is necessary.

Between the two, it is probably better to keep the carbon taxes high enough to achieve its efficiency objective and introduce a separate rebate to deal with the consequent inequity, if necessary.

THE IDEAL TAX

Any form of carbon-emission reduction costs money as firms and households are compelled to use more expensive energy and newer technology and incur mitigation costs as in carbon pricing.

The revenue collected from a carbon tax may be used to reduce other taxes, and this benefit itself may partially offset the costs of carbon-emission reduction.

The carbon tax rate will rise over time. The optimal or ideal tax should be calculated based on the link between carbon content and damage to health, productivity and the economy. Studies will be needed to try to quantify this link between carbon content and societal damage. In that way, people can readily see the need for a carbon tax and the amount levied.

A carbon tax is definitely necessary and post-Paris is the best time to implement it as other countries' implementation of their carbon-reducing measures would mean that Singapore's carbon taxes would not reduce its relative international competitiveness.

However, in working out what should be the quantum levy for the carbon tax, a more broad-based and inclusive view of the efficiency and equity impacts must be taken. Only then can the two be weighed and an informed decision made.


The superiority of a carbon tax over other measures such as tradable permits - another form of carbon emissions pricing where firms are given a permit to carry on carbon activities - lies primarily in the fact that carbon taxes are easier to understand and implement.


Euston Quah is professor of environmental economics and head of economics at Nanyang Technological University. He is also president of the Economic Society of Singapore. Christabelle Soh is an economics teacher with the Ministry of Education.

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Pasir Ris-Punggol (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 211 of 2017)

Legislation allowing third-party funding in international arbitration effective from 1 March 2017

Legislation
17 Apr 2017

Group launches drive against sex trafficking

Straits Times
12 May 2017
Kok Xing Hui

Kalinga Fellowship aims to run programmes in rest of Asia too

A 10-year effort to reduce the trafficking of women in Asia, and sexual assault against them was launched in Singapore yesterday.

Called the Kalinga Fellowship, the programme has its roots in India and aims to reduce trafficking and sexual assault by having governments, companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) work together.

Kalinga Fellowship kicked off with a pilot in March this year in the eastern state of Odisha in India. Over five days, 120 attendees from NGOs, and the private and public sectors tackled topics such as fighting sexual harassment at work and educating Indians on trafficking.

Attendees from March's pilot were split into work-groups with specific agendas that have to be met in a year's time. One group, for example, will develop a television show to educate viewers on trafficking and sexual assault.

Next year, the group intends to focus on Telangana state in south India and then Bangladesh in 2019. Other countries it will launch programmes in include Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and Nepal.

Organisers decided to launch the programme here since Singapore is a "heart of commercial strength" and businesses have "a profound role in stopping the trafficking of girls in Asia", said Mr Simon McKenzie, chief operating officer of non-profit Bridge Institute, one of the five partners behind the Kalinga Fellowship.

"While sexual abuse happens less in Singapore, its ability to create a platform is much greater," said Mr McKenzie.

In March 2015, Singapore enacted the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act.

In February last year, a 25-year-old man was sentenced to six years and three months in jail, and fined $30,000 for forcing two teenage girls into prostitution - the first case to be prosecuted under the Act.

In a 2015 report on human trafficking, the US State Department gave Singapore a Tier 2 position on a four-tier ranking, meaning that the Republic had not fully complied with US laws on human trafficking but is making "significant efforts" to do so.

Yesterday's launch was attended by more than 80 people, including business leaders, activists and educators.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

While sexual abuse happens less in Singapore, its ability to create a platform is much greater.

MR SIMON MCKENZIE, chief operating officer of the Bridge Institute, one of five partners behind the Kalinga Fellowship.

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Marsiling-Yew Tee (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 210 of 2017)

Competition Bites – ASEAN & Beyond

Business
17 Apr 2017

Global mindset vital as maritime industry transforms

Straits Times
12 May 2017
Jacqueline Woo

Staying relevant in terms of both skills and knowledge is vital in an industry that is seeing a huge transformation, said Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) chief executive Andrew Tan.

"We are in a phase of industrial transition - some may even call it post-industrial - where it can no longer be business as usual for businesses, industry and even governments," Mr Tan noted, speaking at the annual MPA Global Internship Awards ceremony yesterday.

"This is why the MPA Global Internship Award is such an important initiative in building up a strong pipeline of skilled talent with a global mindset for the maritime sector," he said, adding there is an increased need for Singaporeans and enterprises to operate in overseas markets as the economy here continues to internationalise.

"Notwithstanding the current challenges facing the industry, the maritime sector continues to invest in future talent. As we continue to build up Singapore as the global maritime hub of choice, we will equip our young with the necessary global mindset, networks and skills to take on more leadership roles in the maritime industry."

A record 39 students received the award at the event held at Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, well up from 23 awards given out in 2014. A total of 27 companies, such as Maersk and K Line, are also set to participate in the programme.

Under the programme, they will be given experiential opportunities for internship at local and overseas offices of companies in the maritime industry, covering sectors such as shipping, technical management, shipbroking, offshore, finance and marine insurance.

The award, launched in 2013 to provide local undergraduates in their penultimate year of study with the opportunity to gain practical insights into the global maritime industry, was expanded in recent years to include students from non-maritime disciplines such as law, finance and computing.

One of the recipients this year was Ms Jesslyn Zeng, 21, who is pursuing a double degree in economics and law at the National University of Singapore.

Ms Zeng will be interning at BW Offshore's Norway office for three weeks. "I believe the internship with BW Offshore's in-house legal team will give me a new perspective on the job scope of a legal counsel who serves the oil and gas business," she said.

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Jalan Besar (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 209 of 2017)

Singapore High Court holds adjudication review not restricted to issues raised by respondent

Judgments
13 Apr 2017

Labour scam mastermind jailed 5 years, fined $144k

Straits Times
12 May 2017
Shaffiq Idris Alkhatib

He deceived China nationals with promise of jobs that never existed

He was the mastermind behind a labour scam which deceived 46 Chinese nationals into coming to Singapore for legitimate work that never materialised or even existed in the first place.

When they arrived in Singapore, they were told to look for their own employment to sustain themselves.

After a 14-day trial, Uber driver Chew Sin Jit, now 51, was convicted of 46 counts of being part of a conspiracy to illegally obtain work passes for foreign workers by using shell companies that were not in operation.

Describing Chew's actions as "reprehensible", District Judge Crystal Ong sentenced him to five years' jail and a fine of $144,000 yesterday.

He committed the offences between May 2013 and August 2013 by making use of two shell companies known as NCK Construction and All Rounder Builders (ARB).

According to court documents, he worked with Toh Gim Por, 44, and Mr Sim Oon Peng, 38, to obtain work passes for 26 of the men. The documents also stated that Chew and Mr Poh Ah Ho, 29, obtained the passes for the remaining 20.

In her submissions, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Prosecutor Joanne Wee said: "Such offences inevitably result in social consequences, as vulnerable foreigners... have to source for their own employment, inevitably illegal employment, at work sites.

"As their official employers, both NCK and ARB were businesses that were not in operation, none of the foreign employees was given any basic upkeep, such as accommodation, nor were they entitled to workmen compensation should any workplace injuries occur."

Ms Wee said Toh had testified in court that the purpose of the two firms was to "make money".

However, the submissions did not mention how this was done. There was also no evidence to suggest Chew benefited from these offences directly or otherwise.

During the trial, Toh testified that Chew hatched the plot in May 2013.

Toh then roped in Mr Sim to be the director of NCK Construction and Mr Poh as the director of ARB. These directors were promised up to $25,000 each.

Ms Wee said they would also be given about $1,000 monthly and between $500 and $1,000 for every work pass application received.

She said: "(Their role) was to sign on applications for work passes in their capacity as directors of the companies before the applications were submitted to the MOM."

Toh told the court that he received between $4,000 and $6,000 for contributing to the scheme.

Pleading for a lighter sentence, Chew, who was unrepresented, told the court yesterday that he wished to appeal. He was offered bail of $30,000.

Toh, who pleaded guilty on July 21 last year to five of 46 charges, was jailed for three years and four months, and fined $15,000.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, MOM said Mr Sim and Mr Poh have not been charged in court. The 46 Chinese men have been sent home. For each count of engaging in a conspiracy to illegally obtain a work pass, Chew could have been jailed between six months and two years, and fined up to $6,000.

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Holland-Bukit Panjang (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 208 of 2017)

Proposed Changes to Singapore’s Registered Designs Regime

Legislation
13 Apr 2017

ADV: SAL - Programme Manager for Legal Technology Innovation

Singapore Law Watch
12 May 2017
Singapore Academy of Law

Newspaper and Printing Presses Act - Newspaper and Printing Presses (Exemption from Part III of Act) (Amendment) Order 2017 (S 207 of 2017)

Listing framework for Dual Class Shares – A closer look into safeguards

Business
13 Apr 2017

Unwed mum adopts own biological daughter

Straits Times
11 May 2017
Kok Xing Hui

Some mums do so to protect child's interests, gain benefits given only to legitimate children

Within the month, two-year-old Lorraine Tan (not her real name) will be formally adopted.

She and her adoptive mum will then be treated as any mother and daughter - they will be legally recognised as a family nucleus.

The unique thing about this story: Little Lorraine is not an orphan awaiting a new home. She is a child born out of wedlock who is being adopted by her biological mother.

Her mother, who requested anonymity, started the adoption process last August after seeing mentions of it on a Facebook page belonging to a support group for single parents.

"I saw a post talking about adoption. One woman left a comment saying that she did it for less than $1,000. So I sent her a message and asked her how she did it," said Ms Tan, 38, a civil servant.

She also saw mentions of adoption on the Baby Bonus brochure and on the FAQ pages on taxes.

Unwed parents do adopt their biological children. But that usually happens after they marry a partner who is not the child's parent, and they want him or her to become the legal parent of the child.

Cases of unwed parents singly adopting their children are "very few", said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

"Our laws do not require them to do so. Some unwed parents may nonetheless choose to do so, for reasons such as to terminate the rights and responsibilities of the other parent," the MSF added.

The Straits Times knows of at least two other mothers doing this, one of whom has successfully concluded her case.

Family lawyer Koh Tien Hua said that this procedure is allowed under the Adoption of Children Act, and it "makes the illegitimate child her lawful child, as if the child was born to her in lawful wedlock".

The move essentially removes the label of illegitimacy without changing the circumstances of the child. Lorraine, for example, will have all the rights of a child born to a married couple.

Currently, the differences between legitimate and illegitimate children are benefits such as housing, housing subsidies, the Baby Bonus cash gift, tax relief for the parent and inheritance priority.

Under the Intestate Succession Act, an illegitimate child ranks behind the spouse and legitimate children when it comes to inheritance.

In Parliament last year, the MSF said: "Parents who want to leave something for their illegitimate child should make a will."

Ms Tan's initial impetus for the adoption was the Baby Bonus cash gift and the Child Development Account (CDA) of up to $6,000, which has since been extended to children of unwed mothers born from September last year.

"That was the push factor. But when I started the journey, I noticed more benefits," said Ms Tan.

Top of her list was that Lorraine's biological father - who is married and does not want to acknowledge the child - would have to give up all ties to the girl.

"So in future, he cannot turn around to claim against her," she said, referring to the Maintenance of Parents Act.

The adoption costs less than $1,000 for Ms Tan, who navigated the legal procedures on her own by filing e-litigation papers. Engaging a lawyer would have set her back between $3,000 and $5,000.

Experts said allowing an unwed mum's adoption to change the legitimacy status of a child is like making them jump through hoops.

In recent years, Singapore has moved to equalise benefits for children of unwed parents.

Most recently, those born this year to unwed mothers will have 16 weeks of maternity leave instead of eight weeks previously.

The MSF said: "Government benefits that support the growth and development of children are given to all Singaporean children, regardless of their legitimacy status."

Lawyer Ivan Cheong said unwed mothers are more likely to initiate an adoption for personal reasons rather than benefits since issues such as inheritance can be dealt with by writing a will, which will cost under $500.

He added: "From a layman's view, it sounds very artificial."

Women's rights group Aware called the process of "labelling children as illegitimate" absurd.

Law professor Leong Wai Kum has long called for this label to be removed. In a 2011 paper, she wrote: "With our evermore enlightened view of appropriate legal protection of children, it is incontrovertibly unsuitable."

Family lawyer Sim Bock Eng pointed to the Women's Charter and how both parents are obligated to maintain the child - legitimate or not. She added: "It may be more productive to focus on the parent-child relationship as opposed to the relationship between his parents."

Unwed mothers like Ms Tan may find it "silly and ridiculous", but she said she would do anything for Lorraine's benefit.

She and her daughter now live with Ms Tan's parents in her brother's marital home.

Once the adoption goes through, she plans to buy a built-to-order flat in her and her daughter's names so that the child's future is secure even when Ms Tan dies. She said: "I have to protect my daughter's interests."


<$1k

Cost of adoption for Ms Tan, who navigated legal procedures on her own by filing e-litigation papers.

$3k

Minimum amount Ms Tan would have to pay if she had engaged a lawyer.

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

<$1k

Cost of adoption for Ms Tan, who navigated legal procedures on her own by filing e-litigation papers.

$3k

Minimum amount Ms Tan would have to pay if she had engaged a lawyer.

Criminal Procedure Code - Criminal Procedure Code (Prescribed Law Enforcement Agency) Notification 2017 (S 206 of 2017)

Rong Shun Engineering & Construction Pte Ltd v C.P. Ong Construction Pte Ltd: Forging new boundaries: A Court may set aside only part of an adjudication determination

Judgments
12 Apr 2017

Court orders man to return $1.1m to dad's estate in feud

Straits Times
11 May 2017
Tan Tam Mei

He withdrew money through unauthorised cheques from late father's bank account

A bag containing more than $1 million that was stashed in the false ceiling of a Pasir Panjang house was among the assets brought to light in an estate feud between two brothers.

Their father, coffee-shop operator Ong Kim Nang, 80, died in May 2010. A judgment released by High Court Justice Steven Chong last Friday ordered the younger brother, Mr Ong Teck Seng, 45, to return $1,113,000 and a Rolex watch to his father's estate, which was to be split between some of the seven siblings.

The older brother, Mr Ong Teck Soon, 56, who is one of the two executors of his father's will, had taken his brother to the High Court in June last year over the withdrawal of a total of $1,113,000 through unauthorised cheques from their late father's bank account. He also wanted his younger brother to return two Rolex watches.

In his 2003 will, Mr Ong had left all the money in his bank accounts to his wife, Madam Tan Ai Cheng.

However, the younger Mr Ong had claimed that three days before his father's death, the old man had instructed him to draw two pre-signed cheques - one for $500,000 to himself as a gift, and the other for $613,000, to be held in trust for his mother's expenses and for upkeeping the family's Guok Avenue property off Pasir Panjang Road.

Court documents revealed that the first cheque was made out to "Cash" and was banked into the younger brother's account.

The trust cheque was made out to Madam Tan and banked into a joint account she shared with the younger brother's wife.

But in July 2010, $615,000 was withdrawn and deposited into an account belonging to the younger brother and his wife.

The younger Mr Ong had said that the father had "always intended" to give him the sum of $500,000 when he passed on.

However, the older Mr Ong disputed this, bringing up an incident some time between 1992 and 1994 when he discovered over $1 million hidden in the false ceiling of their family property while repairing the water heater. The father had then distributed the money evenly between the two brothers. Therefore, there would be no reason for him to give the younger brother a further $500,000, the older brother said in his affidavit.

The younger brother's actions were brought to light only in 2011 when the estate's solicitors were preparing the schedule of assets.

Justice Chong said that he was of the view that the late Mr Ong did not authorise the issuance of both cheques. Among the reasons he gave were that the cheques were never once mentioned by the father to any of his other children, and that the gift cheque had been falsely recorded as being made out to Madam Tan in the cheque book, when it was a "Cash" cheque.

He also highlighted that funds from the trust cheque were never used for its intended purpose for the expenses of Madam Tan - who died in 2013 - and the upkeep of the family home.

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Ong Teck Soon (executor of the estate of Ong Kim Nang, deceased) v Ong Teck Seng and another [2017] SGHC 95

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore - Public Service (Special and Senior Personnel Boards) (Amendment No. 3) Order 2017 (S 205 of 2017)

Employment claims tribunal and tripartite alliance for dispute management

Legislation
12 Apr 2017

US children wrongfully retained by mother in S’pore, court rules

TODAY
11 May 2017

Overturning a district court’s decision, the apex court has ruled that two children with US citizenship were wrongfully retained in Singapore by their mother who had found work here.

The two boys, aged five-and-a-half and nearly three, must be returned to their father in California within 30 days, in accordance with the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which Singapore is a signatory.

In judgment grounds issued on Tuesday (May 9), Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, delivering the decision on behalf of the court, said the father had agreed to the family’s relocation to Singapore so his wife could pursue a career here in a bid to save their rocky marriage. But the terms of the consent changed when his wife indicated that she was going to file for a divorce last June, and by holding the children here, she was wrongfully retaining them, he added.

The parents, who were born in India and married there in 2003, are naturalised US citizens. The relationship was strained before the children were born, with frequent spats starting from about three years into the marriage.

The older son was born in Fremont, California, in December 2011, while the younger boy was born in August 2014. Between October and November 2015, the children came to Singapore as part of a family holiday.

The plan was to return to the US on Jan 9 last year, but the mother landed a job with a private equity and advisory firm here on a one-year contract.

After some discussion, the couple agreed on moving to Singapore temporarily. But on June 2, the wife said she wanted to end the marriage, prompting the father to find out how to regain custody of their boys, including launching a legal bid.

Outlining the definition of parental consent in the contested movement of children for the first time, the court said the father never intended for the family to relocate to Singapore. That intention was unilaterally the mother’s, it noted.

“What is clear, in our judgment, is that the only reason the father agreed to the move was to try to rehabilitate the marriage and to be with the children while he was doing so,” wrote CJ Menon. “We are satisfied that there was no shared intention on the part of the parties to relocate to Singapore.”

The court also ruled that the “habitual residence” of a child cannot be determined unilaterally by one parent.

“Our principal reason for taking this view is that where the parents are at odds on the issue and there is no shared intention, the intention of the one parent that could be relevant to a change of the child’s habitual residence will be the intention of the abducting parent,” it added.

“To accord weight to this as a relevant consideration seems to us to be contrary to the purpose of the Hague Convention and, indeed, to good sense ... The purpose of the Hague Convention is to prevent parents from acting unilaterally and engaging in, as it were, self-help remedies.”

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

TUC v TUD [2017] SGHCF 12

Town Councils Act - Town Council of East Coast-Fengshan (Conservancy and Service Charges) By-laws 2017 (S 204 of 2017)

SGX consults on proposed amendments to minimum bid size, forced order range and trading hours for securities market

Business
12 Apr 2017

Milk brands use premium image, consumer behaviour to drive prices up: CCS

TODAY
11 May 2017
Valerie Koh

Brand loyalty and a penchant for premium products among parents here have driven formula milk companies to invest heavily in marketing and research and development.

And this, in turn, could reinforce such consumer behaviour, the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) said.

This was among the findings in the commission’s report released on Wednesday (May 10), which showed that manufacturers have resorted to non-price competition and aggressive marketing to increase their share of a small Singapore market with limited growth.

As a result, formula milk prices here as of May last year were found to be higher, compared with several other countries such as Australia, United States and United Kingdom.

Total marketing expenditure by all six major manufacturers — including Abbott, Mead Johnson and Danone — soared by 42.4 per cent between 2010 and 2014, contributing to more than double the average retail price of formula milk over the past nine years. 

Triggered by public concern over the rising prices, CCS’ year-long market inquiry sought to understand the supply chain, suss out the nature of competition in the industry, and assess if there was scope to increase competition, among other objectives.

Feedback was gathered from manufacturers, distributors, retailers, hospitals and government agencies.

The commission found that manufacturers, which were well aware that the only alternative to formula is breast milk, have chosen to shun price competition. Instead, they focused on constructing a premium brand image and introducing new ingredients purporting attributes desired by consumers.

“Such ‘premiumisation’ strategies further strengthen consumer perceptions and entrench consumer purchasing behaviours, which in turn give formula milk manufacturers the market power to increase wholesale prices, in the face of limited volume growth prospect due to low birth rate and rising breastfeeding rate,” said the CCS.

The report cited the experience of an unnamed supermarket, which had previously brought in a “value-for-money” formula milk brand after receiving customer feedback on the high prices of other options.

Although the new product belonged to an established brand and was priced lower than other premium brands, sales were poor and the product was discontinued by the manufacturer.

Other retailers had similar experiences: Another supermarket noted that this product had been underperforming while a pharmacy stopped selling it after less than a year due to a lack of demand.

Market researcher Euromonitor International noted in a July 2016 report that the focus on premium products was not unique to Singapore.

Across Asia, manufacturers have been increasingly playing up the quality of their formula milk to retain margins in light of rising breastfeeding rates and low birth rates constraining volume growth.

In Singapore, the CCS found that an estimated 95 per cent of formula milk sales in 2015 belonged to premium and specialty milk, while the remaining was standard milk.

“Insufficient understanding of the nutritional content of formula milk and the dietary requirements of infants and young children have often led parents to perceive that the more expensive or premium products are of higher quality,” said the CCS.

The commission stressed that all infant formula milk products in Singapore meet the safety standards and nutrient composition requirements under the Singapore Food Regulations.

The commission’s findings showed that consumers prioritise brand name, nutrition and safety when it comes to buying formula milk. They also relied on word-of-mouth recommendations, and seldom changed brands after settling on a suitable option. The resulting brand loyalty and limited effectiveness of price competition to encourage consumers to try a new brand poses significant barriers to entry.

“Manufacturers who wish to enter the market must devote significant resources to convince consumers of the ‘premium’ status of their products through a combination of marketing and innovation,” said the commission.

The commission also pointed out the “negligible presence” of parallel imports, due to strict labelling and import documentation requirements. Security and quality assurance concerns may have played a role as well.

The CCS made several recommendations to lower the barriers to entry and boost price competition. A research institution or non-governmental organisation could improve consumer awareness on nutritional content and requirements. Armed with such information, consumers will be able to “counter simple heuristics such as ‘more is better’ or ‘more expensive means better quality’”.

Apart from reviewing sponsorship activities in hospitals and their impact on milk rotation schedules, parallel import requirements could be reviewed to encourage greater price competition. Restrictions on online sales, discount on volume sales and delivery services could be relooked. Currently, formula milk for babies up to six months’ old cannot be sold online.

The commission noted that it was unlikely for any single recommendation to be a silver bullet. “Rather, they complement each other in order to increase the level of price competition in the market, so that consumers can derive more value for money,” it said.

Copyright 2017 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Workplace Safety and Health Act - Workplace Safety and Health (Registration of Factories) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (S 203 of 2017)

Supreme Court Note: ACB v Thomson Medical and others [2017] SGCA 20 (recovery of upkeep costs following IVF mix-up)

Supreme Court Note
11 Apr 2017

The Appellant underwent IVF treatment at a fertility clinic operated by the second Respondent and delivered a daughter (“Baby P”). Soon after the birth of Baby P, it was discovered that the Appellant’s ovum had been fertilised using sperm from an unknown third party instead of sperm from the Appellant’s husband. The Appellant sued the Respondents in tort and sought damages for, among other things, the expenses she would incur in raising Baby P (“upkeep costs”). Additionally, she also sued the second Respondent in contract. The High Court ruled, as a preliminary issue, that the Appellant was not entitled to bring a claim for upkeep costs.

The principal issue in this appeal was whether the expenses which arise in relation to the unplanned birth of a healthy child who was born as a result of the negligence of a medical professional was a compensable head of damage. Further submissions which were filed at the direction of the Court of Appeal addressed the further issues of (a) whether the Appellant could claim damages to compensate her for the loss of autonomy which she had suffered and (b) whether the court was entitled to make an award of punitive damages in this case.

The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision of the High Court on the issue of upkeep costs. It held that the recognition of a claim for upkeep costs would be against public policy as it would require the Court to regard, as actionable damage, the incidents of a relationship (the parent-child relationship) which was regarded as socially foundational and incapable of estimation as loss. The Court of Appeal also held that such recognition would also be inconsistent with, and deleterious to, the health of the institution of parenthood and therefore be against the public interest.

The Court held that a loss of autonomy could not be recognised as actionable damage in its own right. However, the Court found that the Appellant had suffered a loss of “genetic affinity”. This was an expression which the Court used to refer to ties which arise partly a result of genetic relatedness and partly a result of the social significance which such relatedness carries. The Court held that this should be recognised as a distinct head of damage in its own right. The Court remitted the assessment of the quantum of damages to be awarded to the High Court but observed that it would be preferable for the parties to arrive at an amicable settlement.

On the issue of punitive damages, the Court held that the decision of the House of Lords in Rookes v Barnard [1964] AC 1129, which confined the situations in which punitive damages were available to three narrow categories, would no longer be followed in Singapore. Henceforth, punitive damages may be awarded in tort where the totality of the defendant’s conduct was so outrageous that it warranted punishment, deterrence, and condemnation. The Court further held that punitive damages may be awarded even where the defendant had already faced criminal or disciplinary sanction and also that proof of intentional wrongdoing or conscious recklessness was not a prerequisite to an award of punitive damages. However, the Court concluded that this was not a proper case for a punitive award to be made.

On upkeep costs: see paras 87, 90 to 94, 95, and 100. On loss of autonomy: see paras 119, 120, 121, and 124. On “genetic affinity”: see paras 125 to 135. On punitive damages: see paras 174, 175, 180, 182, 187, 199, 200, 202, 206, and 208.

To view this 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.

ROM limits spouses' data on portal

Straits Times
11 May 2017
Tan Tam Mei

Redacting of full names and NRIC numbers in response to feedback on possible misuse

The Registry of Marriages (ROM) has quietly started redacting the full names and identity card numbers of spouses from its online records.

This comes after public feedback on the possible misuse of personal details, said the Registrar of Marriage, in response to queries from The Straits Times.

The registrar said the redaction was not due to Personal Data Protection Act regulations, which public agencies do not come under.

When asked about cases of misuse, the agency said there was one instance where a couple's personal information on the registry was possibly misused on social media.

The registrar said the couple managed the situation privately, but declined to say more.

The redaction started last November, and while such feedback on possible misuse was "low", said the registrar, the lawyers ST spoke to said cases of abuse of public records happen "regularly".

Criminal lawyer Rajan Supramaniam said one of his clients lived in fear after receiving threatening notes and having paint splashed on her door because of her former husband's debts with unlicensed moneylenders.

She later learnt that the loan sharks had traced her address after obtaining personal details from the free online searches with ROM.

"With just a name and NRIC number, people can trace your whereabouts, and innocent people are harassed as a result," said Mr Supramaniam, who has seen at least six such cases in the past year. He added that there are other instances that might not go to court, such as a spiteful lover who uses the data to track down a person's spouse.

Lawyer Ravinderpal Singh said he believes that the online searches are mostly used for the right purposes, but added that cases of abuse will definitely pop up. He cited a case where a client in the United States engaged his services to check on her husband, who was working in Singapore. "She suspected that her husband got married here and, through the search, it turned out to be true," he said.

In May 2010, ROM records were made available online, and Singaporeans and permanent residents were each given two free online searches over a 12-month period. They could pay $35 for any number of additional searches.

It was reported that the intention was to make it easier for individuals to search the history of prospective spouses, so they could make informed decisions before marriage.

Given the growing concerns with privacy, some lawyers said the redaction is a step in the right direction and "better late than never".

Family lawyer Rina Kalpanath Singh said ROM's move is necessary to prevent misuse of data. "The primary use for this portal to search for marriage history is important, but the names and NRIC numbers are not necessary for that purpose."

Supporting the redaction, Ms Gloria James, head lawyer at Gloria James-Civetta, said: "It gives people the due respect and privacy, but does not detract from the good intentions of helping people confirm marriage history."

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Workplace Safety and Health Act - Workplace Safety and Health (Major Hazard Installations) Regulations 2017 (S 202 of 2017)

Strata titles board affirms legal position that safety is paramount and orders management corporation to allow a subsidiary proprietor to install safety grilles

Judgments
11 Apr 2017

Tommy Koh rebuts view that S'pore has acted against China

Straits Times
11 May 2017
Lim Yan Liang

Singapore does not take sides in the South China Sea issue, nor is it aligned with or against any of the major powers, Ambassador-at- large Tommy Koh has reiterated at a public forum in China.

Reaffirming the close and mutually beneficial relationship between Singapore and China, he addressed statements made by a high-level Chinese official at the public session of the 12th China-Singapore forum yesterday.

Senior Chinese diplomat Ruan Zongze, the first of four speakers at the forum, said Singapore has taken actions in recent years that adversely affected bilateral ties. These included trying to get other Asean countries to release a joint statement after an international tribunal's ruling against Beijing's claims in the South China Sea last year, and saying publicly that the tribunal's award is legally binding and countries should abide by it.

China and four Asean states have overlapping claims in the sea.

Dr Ruan added that Singapore has also allowed the United States to deploy military vessels and aircraft meant for "close-in reconnaissance in China's South China Sea" since last year, though it claimed not to be aligned with the US.

Noting that Singapore is one of China's few "all-weather friends", Professor Koh said Singapore acted very carefully after the tribunal's decision: It did not issue a statement supporting the ruling, or call on China to comply with it.

"What did we do? We did the minimum possible without sacrificing our own national interests: We took note of the award," he said.

Dr Ruan's accusation that Singapore tried to mobilise Asean states to issue a joint statement against China on the arbitration award was also untrue, he added.

"We asked each of the nine Asean countries what is their position, what can they subscribe to in the joint statement, that is all we did," he said.

"We were an honest facilitator, trying to find out whether there is a consensus among the 10 Asean countries, but always conscious that our national interest is to promote peace and cooperation between Asean and China."

Prof Koh said Singapore's foreign policy is to be close to all the major powers. But he assured his Chinese audience that "the bottom line is this: Singapore will never allow its relationship with any major power to harm China".

Sino-Singapore ties are in good order, he added, with multiple annual high-level meetings, including the apex Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation meeting co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli. Singapore is China's top foreign investor, and China is Singapore's largest trading partner, he noted.

When Singapore becomes Asean chairman next year, it will think of projects to bring China and Asean even closer, he said.

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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Expressway Traffic) (Amendment) Rules 2017 (S 201 of 2017)

SGX mandates minimum allocation to public subscription tranche of Mainboard IPOs

Business
11 Apr 2017

ADV: SCCE - Become certified in compliance and ethics

Singapore Law Watch
11 May 2017
Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics

Arms and Explosives Act - Arms and Explosives (Home Team Show & Festival — Exemption from Section 13) Order 2017 (S 200 of 2017)

Singapore Court Of Appeal restrains use of privileged documents uploaded on Wikileaks

Judgments
10 Apr 2017

Apex court to rule on reformative training for youth

Straits Times
10 May 2017
Selina Lum

A 19-year-old youth, who was given three years' probation in 2013 for drug trafficking, went on to commit a spate of other offences.

Muhammad Nur Abdullah, who was 23 when he was hauled back to court for breaching his probation order, was sentenced last year to undergo reformative training, a regime meant for offenders aged below 21 on the day of their conviction.

His sentence was overturned in March by the High Court on appeal by the prosecution, who argued that reformative training was not a sentencing option as Muhammad Nur was over 21 when he was dealt with for breaching his probation order.

Yesterday, Muhammad Nur's lawyer, Mr Tan Hee Joek, succeeded in getting approval for the Court of Appeal to give a final ruling on whether his client can serve reformative training even though he was above the age of 21.

The procedure, known as a criminal reference, is reserved only for cases that hinge on questions of law of public interest.

Yesterday, Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang noted that the question was important and that two views have arisen on the issue.

Under the law, the court can order reformative training if the convicted person is aged 16 and above, but below 21 "on the day of his conviction".

In Muhammad Nur's case, the prosecution argued that the relevant date to determine his age for the purpose of eligibility for reformative training should be the date he was sentenced for breaching his probation order.

In March, the High Court agreed with the prosecution and substituted the reformative training stint with a sentence of five years' jail and five strokes of the cane.

Yesterday, Mr Tan argued that the relevant age is the age at the date of conviction.

He cited cases, including one in 2014 where the High Court upheld the sentence of reformative training for an accused person - who was below 21 when probation was granted and above 21 when he was dealt with - for breach of probation.

Mr Tan said the conflicting decisions show that the question of law involving the correct interpretation of the Probation of Offenders Act and how it interacts with the Criminal Procedure Code is "one of considerable difficulty and complexity that deserves to be resolved by the Court of Appeal as the highest court of the land".

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Tampines (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 199 of 2017)

National Climate Change Secretariat seeks feedback on climate change strategy and carbon pricing

Business
10 Apr 2017

Court of Appeal gives Shunfu Ville sale the green light

Straits Times
10 May 2017
Lee Xin En

Four years after the collective sale committee at Shunfu Ville was formed, the sale of the Bishan estate has finally got the green light.

The Court of Appeal yesterday dismissed an appeal filed by objectors against the sale of the 358-unit privatised HUDC estate. The sale grabbed headlines last May, when more than 82 per cent of the owners agreed to sell the estate for $638 million to property developer Qingjian Realty.

But the deal hit a snag when some owners objected to the sale last July, later filing an appeal to the High Court. One objection queried if the transaction was done in good faith, taking into account the sale price.

From 2015, the sale committee had launched two public tenders, both at a reserve price of $688 million. Both tenders did not attract any formal bids, but the committee had been in talks with Qingjian, which had offered $638 million.

The committee later obtained the requisite 80 per cent consent for the sale at $638 million, although it did not call for another public tender at that price, owing to the urgency of the timeline.

The Court of Appeal noted that while the "committee was in somewhat of a rush, there was nothing to suggest an absence of good faith or impropriety in the transaction".

It said the committee signed a private treaty with Qingjian, as "failing to commit to Qingjian not only did not assure that a better offer would come along" but could also have meant "the loss of Qingjian's offer".

Dentons Rodyk & Davidson senior partner Lee Liat Yeang, acting for Qingjian, said the ruling was significant in clarifying the law in this area, and would give greater confidence to developers looking to buy land through collective sales.

Mr Li Jun, Qingjian Realty managing director, said he was pleased that the deal had gone through and added that Qingjian now faces higher development charges of some $50 million. The charges are levied by the Government on developers who intensify land use. They are revised twice a year and could affect profit margins, he said.

Qingjian plans to build about 1,000 homes on the Shunfu plot, expected to be a mix of high-rise units of up to 25 storeys and landed units. The development will be launched a year from now, said Mr Li.

With the conclusion of the sale, each flat owner will pocket an average of $1.782 million. The Straits Times understands that the sale is expected to be completed in July, and owners will move out six months from then.


The Court of Appeal noted that while the "committee was in somewhat of a rush, there was nothing to suggest an absence of good faith or impropriety in the transaction".

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Ramachandran Jayakumar and another v Woo Hon Wai and others and another matter [2017] SGCA 36

Town Councils Act - Town Council of Bishan-Toa Payoh (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 198 of 2017)

MAS working with industry to apply Distributed Ledger Technology in securities settlement and cross-border payments

Business
07 Apr 2017

'Not a must to substitute caning with extra jail'

Straits Times
10 May 2017
Selina Lum

Court will look at circumstances of each case and decide if enhancement is needed, says CJ

A heroin trafficker appealed against the extra jail time he received in lieu of being caned, and had his appeal thrown out.

But the case gave the court the chance to deal with an important question of law, said Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

Should a convicted criminal be given extra jail time if he is spared the cane owing to medical reasons?

The prosecution argued for this to become the norm, barring special circumstances, and proposed two weeks' jail for every stroke of caning avoided.

But the High Court yesterday said that while the court may impose extra jail time in lieu of caning, that does not mean it has to do so.

Under the Criminal Procedure Code, when a prisoner is found medically unfit to be caned, the court may remit the sentence of caning or impose an additional jail term of up to 12 months.

The wording of the provision is open ended, giving the court the discretion to impose additional imprisonment, said Chief Justice Menon, delivering the decision of a three-judge court. Such discretion should be exercised only when there are grounds to warrant an additional jail term, he added.

"This approach will mean that in each case, the court should consider the circumstances that are before the court and then decide whether enhancement is called for," he said.

The court will give detailed grounds in due course.

Amin Abdullah, 48, had appealed against an extra 30-week jail term given in lieu of caning. His initial sentence was the mandatory minimum of 20 years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane for trafficking in 13.23g of heroin and possessing 0.27g.

Last year, a prison doctor certified him permanently unfit for caning owing to a rare spinal condition.

After the prosecution applied for the caning sentence to be revised, the district court imposed the additional jail term.

Amin, who did not have a lawyer, appealed, arguing that the extra 30 weeks was excessive. He said he knew of other inmates who, like him, were exempted from caning because of their medical conditions but did not get more jail time. "A term of 20 years is already heavy to me," he told the court yesterday.

The court that heard his appeal also included Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice See Kee Oon. Chief Justice Menon noted that Amin had received the minimum jail term. "Even with enhancement of 30 weeks' imprisonment, the sentence was on the low side and was certainly not manifestly excessive," he said.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Terence Chua had argued that imprisonment in lieu of caning would preserve the deterrent effect of the corporal punishment, and that Parliament intended for the courts to impose extra jail time for offenders who are medically unfit to be caned.

Also weighing in was Mr Benjamin Koh, who was appointed amicus curiae (Latin for friend of the court) to give an independent view.

He favoured a flexible approach weighing all the relevant factors in each case, and said the mathematical approach of two weeks per stroke proposed by the prosecution was "not ideal". He disagreed with the prosecution's arguments on deterrence, noting that would-be offenders would not know for certain if they would be spared caning until they were certified in prison.

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Nee Soon (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 197 of 2017)

Dual Class Shares in Singapore

SLW Commentary
07 Apr 2017

The war of the dual-class shares rages on in Singapore

Business Times
10 May 2017
Stefanie Yuen Thio

The battleground

On one side of the battlefield, positioned on the lofty heights of moral superiority, the asset managers (and academics) lob propaganda leaflets pointing out their greater firepower in the form of smug principle and the dollar value of their total assets under management (AUM).

Their opponents are a motley crew. There are the Startup Upstarts, whose uniform is expensive sneakers and untidy man-buns. There are also venture capitalists doling out "series A" funding, corporate finance professionals hardened by years of chronic shortages in the capital markets, and the random outspoken lawyer. They face a steep uphill charge because this is kiasu Singapore, where "don't rock the boat" is an operating principle. Retail investors will not hesitate to blame the government for their investment losses no matter how prominently the risk factors are highlighted.

The latest skirmish

In February this year, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) launched a consultation on dual-class shares (DCS), shortly after the Committee on the Future Economy recommended in its report that Singapore adopt this.

The objections have been swift and vociferous, coming largely from asset managers who typically hold significant but minority stakes and would naturally like to see the one-share-one-vote default continue. State Street Corporation and BlackRock, both heavy hitter investors, have voiced concerns.

The proponents of DCS, while not as organised, are equally impassioned. They include investment bankers who have seen the value of the stock market eroded by delistings - witness OSIM's recent "defection" to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange shortly after being privatised in Singapore. There are also investors and hedge funds who worry that Singapore is missing out on the wave of technology companies, and will dwindle into a stock exchange of Reits for retirees.

Blowing up the arguments

The main concern about DCS is the unequal voting power accorded to different share classes, and the potential for mismanagement and abuse. But to argue only the principle is to fence with ideas.

We are operating in a global market where DCS are a common feature in companies listed in the US, and the question facing us is whether we want to lose our homegrown success stories to a foreign exchange if the SGX does not permit DCS structures on its board.

Commentators say allowing DCS would open the floodgates to badly run companies. But history is full of examples of companies mismanaged without the help of dual-class structures. In 2005, China Aviation Oil's S$500 million fiasco caused by a rogue chief executive's forgery and insider trading shook corporate Singapore.

Purists will also argue that shares with different classes of rights are intrinsically bad. But preference shares, foreign tranche shares, management (golden) shares and share warrants have co-existed peaceably in our corporate eco-system, largely because investors understand that different rights attach to different types of securities.

Rather than a binary position of "yes" or "no", it may be more useful to consider if the SGX's framework of rigorous safeguards would be sufficient to protect investors. Would having DCS really open the floodgates?

Manchester United: Would history be re-written if DCS had been allowed in 2012?

The debate over DCS started when Manchester United wanted to list in Singapore. The Red Devils, denied their DCS goal, went public in the US in August 2012. Their IPO consisted of a vendor sale for the Glazer family, and a new share issue. This lined the Glazer family pockets, and allowed the company to pare down its debt. Under the company's voting structure, the Glazer family's shares had 10 times more voting power than shares in public hands. A successful IPO, reported the Financial Times, would see investors owning 42 per cent of the club's A shares but only 1.3 per cent of the voting rights. It is hard to see what the DCS structure achieved other than to entrench the rights of the major shareholders.

In my opinion, Man U would not have been a good candidate for listing even if the DCS framework had been in place in 2012.

Snap Inc: The case of disappearing shareholder rights

Another negative case in point is Snap Inc, the developer of the Snapchat app. Snap is the first NYSE listed company to issue shares with NO voting rights. The company's governance was disdained as "a banana republic approach", but its shares surged 40 per cent on its trading debut this year, giving it a valuation of US$30 billion, roughly twice the worth of Facebook.

Under the SGX's proposed DCS framework, Snap's founders would not be allowed to bang the opening gong in Singapore. Our rules would have disqualified the app developer as its shares would not have come within the maximum allowable voting differential prescribed.

Can Singapore afford to retire the field?

Singapore has publicly pinned its "future ready" strategy on embracing technology - implementing regulatory sandboxes for fintech, encouraging startups and most recently announcing a S$150 million investment in Artificial Intelligence. It would be market suicide to seed and nurture our homegrown unicorns, only to lose them when it is time for listing because we do not support DCS. Depressingly, Bloomberg reports that Garena, a Singapore online gaming portal and e-commerce provider, which it described as "South-east Asia's most valuable startup", is preparing to list in the US.

In any event, are DCS companies poison? Do asset managers, predicting the apocalyptic fallout of DCS, shun these investments?

Interestingly, based on public information, State Street Corp and Blackrock, opponents of DCS, are listed among the top five holders of institutional holdings in Facebook on Nasdaq.com. They are also invested in Alibaba, both well known for having special voting rights.

Aberdeen Asset Management Asia worries that DCS are a race to the bottom. Perhaps another way to look at it is this: if professional asset managers, notwithstanding their in-principle objections to DCS, feel that it is not commercially viable to avoid investing in companies with dual-class shares, can Singapore really afford to keep its doors closed to DCS?


The author is joint managing director of TSMP Law Corporation.

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Jurong-Clementi (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 196 of 2017)

Taxing the Digital Economy: Impending changes to GST in Singapore

Business
06 Apr 2017

Intellectual property: The next big thing in business

Straits Times
10 May 2017
Yasmine Yahya

IP isn't just for geeks and lawyers. Companies may have IP assets that can make a lot of money. Like the data-rich company that was sold for 32 times its operating profit

For many, the phrase "intellectual property" (IP) would probably bring to mind one of those ads we have been subjected to over the years each time we went to the cinema, about the horrors of film piracy.

Or perhaps one might recall any of several high-profile cases in which a giant corporation or famous artist managed to claim ownership over a pretty basic idea.

Like when Apple successfully obtained a patent so that nobody can ever make a product that is rectangular with rounded corners, or when Taylor Swift trademarked phrases such as "Nice to meet you, where you been?" from her song lyrics.

That's right. Swift could sue you if you use the phrase "This sick beat" in a song, poster or even on a removable tattoo, without her permission.

In short, IP can seem like scary stuff to mess with, the domain of multinationals, megastars and people with expensive law degrees.

But the Singapore Government would like you to know this: IP has a very benign side to it too. In fact, it would really like it if we got to know IP a little bit better.

"We have to stop seeing IP as a technical, legal thing that scares off anyone who's not a lawyer and who's not steeped in the technical IP world," Mr Daren Tang, the chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos), said at a media briefing two weeks ago.

"We have to make sure that people understand IP is of strategic importance to their business. We want business owners to be comfortable with IP."

He was speaking at an event to announce a whole new phase in Singapore's IP journey, one that includes the launch of a $1 billion Makara Innovation Fund, to invest in innovative companies with globally competitive IP.

As he pointed out, IP's role in the global economy is becoming more significant as, increasingly, the most innovative companies of the day are those that trade not in goods but in services, ideas, technology and data.

Kodak is out, Instagram is in.

The world's largest taxi company, Uber, does not own a single vehicle.

Singapore's own Razer, valued at US$1.5 billion (S$2.1 billion), sells computer gaming hardware, yet owns no land, factories or inventory.

What it does have, as Mr Tang noted at the briefing, is a portfolio of over 1,000 IPs - trademarks, designs and patents. "Razer is using IP not just to protect, enforce and ringfence, but to grow, acquire and become bigger," he said.

And as Singapore heads into the future, more companies have to do the same.

This was highlighted in February by the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE), which noted in its report that economies that create, preserve and disseminate IP well are the ones that will turn out to be innovative and competitive.

IP: BREAKING IT DOWN

One of the big myths about IP is that it is created only within disruptive start-ups or huge multinationals with deep research and development (R&D) pockets.

Not so.

And many companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), do not know that they may be sitting on intangible assets of their own, much less that these could be their IP, off which they could make money.

Mr Paul Adams, the chief executive of intangible asset specialist EverEdge Global, said he recently dealt with a company that had been around for 30 years and was in the process of being sold.

The business owners had been advised by other consultants that the company would likely garner a sale price amounting to about four times its operating profit.

"But when we looked at their business, we realised that there was a very valuable asset that nobody had realised was there - the data," Mr Adams said.

Over the past 30 years the company had collected a lot of data related to its particular area of business. "So we helped to run that sales process, focusing on the value of the data, and we targeted buyers that might not be interested in buying the company per se but who would really want that data, and we ended up selling that business for 32 times operating profit."

Other companies may be fully aware of the assets in their hands, but face different stumbling blocks.

"It's one thing to come up with an idea, it's quite another to turn that into a successful, growing business," Mr Adams noted.

"So what you find a lot of the time is that, for example, people will come up with a great idea for a product or service and they will charge out into the market without thinking, 'What's the best way of protecting this? If we deploy this in the market, how do we ensure that people don't simply copy it?'"

Others might charge into a new geographical market without checking to see whether there are any IP risks - does their product or service infringe on the IP of a company already in that market, for example?

IP: GAPS IN ECOSYSTEM AND A THREE-PRONGED SOLUTION

These problems reflect some of the gaps in Singapore's IP ecosystem.

Mr Tang describes the healthy IP life cycle within a company or a nation thus: They have ideas that they research which become IP, that become products and services that go out to market, generating revenue, which then goes back into R&D reinvestment.

"Singapore has done well in the top half of this cycle - we have built a great R&D ecosystem in the last 20 years and we are the top-ranked IP regime in Asia but what we need to focus on going ahead is the latter part of the cycle, dealing with IP commercialisation," he noted.

"How do we translate all this IP into things that can go out to the market and create companies, create jobs and drive the economy?"

The solution, he said, is three-pronged:

Build a pipeline of IP experts with an understanding of law, technology and business, who can help companies unlock their intangible assets and get the right IP strategy in place,

Change the general mindset towards IP - it is not just a legal right that should be enforced and respected, but also a business strategy, and

Bring together financiers, IP professionals, lawyers and other experts to create that flow in the innovation cycle.

Ipos' big event two weeks ago laid out how it is taking some of the first steps towards this vision.

It announced, for example, that Ipos and the Ministry of Law have updated the IP Hub Master Plan. It aims to double the number of skilled IP experts in Singapore to 1,000 and train more working professionals in IP-related issues, so they can help their companies on this matter.

IP ValueLab, the enterprise- engagement arm of Ipos, has begun collaborating with EverEdge, aiming to reach out to more than 150 local companies over the next three years to provide intensive and customised assistance on such issues - IP strategy, management and commercialisation - and help them with their long-term expansion plans.

Meanwhile, the $1 billion Makara Innovation Fund, a partnership between Ipos and home-grown private equity firm Makara Capital, marries Ipos' expertise in IP with that of private equity specialists, to source companies that have strong intellectual property internationally.

The fund will invest $30 million to $150 million each in 10 to 15 young companies that have high-growth potential and own globally competitive technologies, helping them use Singapore as a launchpad from which to grow regionally.

More initiatives will follow.

In its February report, the CFE recommended, for example, developing a standardised IP protocol for all public agencies and publicly-funded research performers, to simplify the commercialisation process.

This is in the works, Mr Tang said.

So the time is ripe for Singaporeans to get over the simplistic understanding of IP as something only to be concerned about if you are watching a pirated film. If these moves are any indication, it may not be too long before IP becomes the next hot trend to jump on.


COMMERCIALISATION OF IP

Singapore has done well in the top half of this cycle - we have built a great R&D ecosystem in the last 20 years and we are the top-ranked IP regime in Asia but what we need to focus on going ahead is the latter part of the cycle, dealing with IP commercialisation. How do we translate all this IP into things that can go out to the market and create companies, create jobs and drive the economy?

MR DAREN TANG, the chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos).

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Town Councils Act - Town Council of Ang Mo Kio (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2017 (S 195 of 2017)

How should “bare” arbitration clauses be enforced by the courts?

SLW Commentary
06 Apr 2017

YuuZoo seeks legal advice on former exec

Business Times
10 May 2017
Kenneth Lim

YuuZoo Corp is seeking legal advice on the statements and actions of former group financial controller Thai Youn Fatt after his exit from the company, the social commerce company announced on Tuesday.

YuuZoo said that Mr Thai's service was terminated on May 3 due to "generally unacceptable behaviour in the workplace", and alleged that Mr Thai had harassed other staff.

The company also noted that Mr Thai had signed a termination letter acknowledging and accepting the reasons for his firing, as well as a confirmation that he "did not and does not have any issues, problems with or concerns in relation to the company's accounts, accounting records or accounting policies".

Mr Thai had previously disputed YuuZoo's characterisation of hi