25 September 2016
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Woman gets $56k but must pay $35k in costs

Straits Times
23 Sep 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Damages awarded are less than the settlement offer she rejected

A woman who sued for $4.82 million over injuries from a fall but got $56,000 instead stands to see her proceeds shrink as the apex court has ordered her to pay $35,000 in costs.

This is because the damages won by Briton Pamela Mykytowych in court fell short of the hotel's offer to settle before the case went to court.

Under the rules, if a suing party declines a sum offered in settlement and persists in the court case but fails to get a higher sum, then she or he will have to bear the costs of the party sued. The amount that the hotel offered was not disclosed.

Mrs Mykytowych, 52, had sued VIP Hotel, near Newton MRT station, for damages after she slipped on a puddle of water in the reception area and fractured her left kneecap and hurt her ankle in May 2011.

While she recovered fully from the injuries, she said she continued to suffer intense pain after developing a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Her claim list included loss of earnings and future medical treatment.

The former car rally driver was awarded $9,000 by the High Court last year. She appealed to the apex court, or Court of Appeal, through her lawyer Salim Ibrahim. The court increased her award to $56,605 in July this year but ordered her to pay costs last month.

The appeal court comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin had found that her disability as a result of CRPS was not as serious as she claimed, yet not as insignificant as what the High Court judge had found. The court awarded her $30,000 for pain and suffering from CRPS while the High Court gave her nothing.

The appeal court rejected the £622,080 (S$1.1 million) she sought for a full-time domestic helper, but accepted she could do with occasional help. It awarded $20,000 for the services of a domestic helper for about eight hours a month for the next 10 years at an hourly rate of £10 she suggested.

Overall, the court awarded her $113,211. Based on her 50 per cent liability for the mishap, the final sum due to her was $56,605.

On top of the $35,000, the appeal court last month ordered Mrs Mykytowych to pay costs to the hotel from the date of the offer to settle on July 16, 2013 to that of the High Court decision on May 19 last year.

She was in turn awarded legal costs for the case from the date she filed the suit in 2011 to the date the offer to settle was made in 2013.

But the costs that the hotel was ordered to pay her would be based on costs in the State Courts, not the High Court, because the sum she won in the High Court was below $250,000. These sums are to be computed.

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

Jiangsu Overseas Group Co Ltd v Concord Energy Pte Ltd and another matter - [2016] SGHC 153

Family Justice Court PD Amendment No. 2 of 2016

Ex-NUS High student sues eight years after orientation injury

Straits Times
23 Sep 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Ex-NUS High student claims she was hit in head during activity, sues school and two former schoolmates

Eight years ago, when she was 12, Miss Edith Enright was hit in the head by two schoolmates during an orientation activity, she alleges.

Now aged 21, the Harvard undergraduate is suing them and the National University of Singapore (NUS) High School of Mathematics and Science for the injury which she claims affected her balance, and still causes migraines and giddiness, and has left her sensitive to certain smells and lights.

She could have sued earlier through a legal representative such as her parents. But the law also allows Miss Enright, an American, to wait till she reaches the age of majority, which is 21 here, and sue in her own name within three years.

Senior lawyer Niru Pillai said: "They do this for a variety of reasons, such as to better gauge how the effects of the injury manifest itself over time and also to spare the possible anguish and trauma of a minor having to face court litigation."

It was the third day of school in 2008 when Miss Enright and the other two NUS High students were involved in an orientation activity known as "Wet-the-Flag", together with about 160 other students.

In the activity, the students of each class had to construct a "fort" using metre-length wooden poles, and then place a flag on top. Part of the challenge, which took place on the school track, was for rival groups to wet the others' flag by throwing water balloons. Poles were also used to deflect the water balloons.

Miss Enright claims that the two defendants struck the side of her head with a pole during the activity.

The injury, she said, kept her away from classes for three months. When she returned to class, she could do so only on a part- time basis, and took her examinations on a modified schedule.

Miss Enright, then a proficient athlete and competitive ice-skater, also claims she partly lost her ability to balance. In the year that followed the incident, she had to consult several specialists, was repeatedly hospitalised and suffered post- concussion syndrome and insomnia, her lawyer Subramaniam Pillai said in court papers filed.

Since the incident, she also has had to rely on special schooling arrangements, including at her current place of learning, Harvard University. These include attending fewer classes, unique arrangements for exams, and special accommodation which keeps her away from flashing and coloured lights.

All three defendants deny her claims.

One of the former NUS High students said he was 12 then, and had no choice but to take part in the orientation games as he had just enrolled in the school.

According to the papers filed by his lawyers, Ms Choo Yean Lin and Mr Lee Chow Soon, he remembers holding on to a yellow pole with his classmate to deflect the balloons, and had no intention of hitting the plaintiff.

His classmate said he was also unaware that either he or his classmate had hit Miss Enright until he heard a shout. Even then, he was unsure if it was directed at them. He alleged that she was also to blame for failing to keep a safe distance.

The school, defended by Dentons Rodyk & Davidson lawyers Loh Jen Wei and Nerissa Tan, made clear that the activity was closely supervised by student leaders and teachers.

Miss Enright's class mentor, Ms Joon Ng, had ordered both defendants to stop and the event was terminated immediately as the students had breached the rules by stepping out of the "fort".

The school added that Miss Enright contributed to the injury by failing to keep a safe distance from the other two students.

A High Court pre-trial conference was held last week.

Miss Enright's class mentor, Ms Joon Ng, had ordered both defendants to stop and the event was terminated immediately as the students had breached the rules by stepping out of the "fort". The school added that Miss Enright contributed to the injury by failing to keep a safe distance from the other two students.

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

TQN v TQO - [2016] SGHCF 13

Sup Ct PD Amendment No. 3 of 2016 - Adjournment or vacation of hearings other than trials; skeletal arguments for appeals

Supreme Court

Wrong FY figures used, so company's penalty for price-fixing is cut

Business Times
23 Sep 2016
Claire Huang

Competition watchdog's error means penalty payable falls from S$7.6m to S$4.8m following appeal

[Singapore] FOR the first time, a financial penalty imposed by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has been reduced on appeal, following a mistake in the interpretation of its rules.

Japanese firm Nachi-Fujikoshi Corporation and three other Japanese ball-bearing manufacturers were fined in May 2014 for engaging in cartel activities to fix prices.

The competition watchdog had then imposed a penalty of close to S$7.6 million.

Following an appeal, the Competition Appeal Board (CAB) found in January that the amount should have been 37 per cent lower, or close to S$4.8 million, as CCS had used the incorrect turnover figures.

Under CCS' guidelines, the penalty calculation is based on the infringing party's turnover in the relevant markets in the "last business year" or "the one preceding the date on which the decision of the CCS is taken".

The CAB said the watchdog should have based the company's penalty on turnover from the most recent financial year before the final infringement decision - not the financial year before the proposed infringement decision.

Law firm WongPartnership, which represented Nachi, said in a statement that the infringement decision was issued in May 2014, so the firm's most recent business year would have been FY2013.

The CCS had applied turnover figures from the firm's FY2012 instead, the law firm said.

When approached, CCS explained that Nachi's turnover for the financial year ending Sept 30, 2013 had not been provided to CCS before Dec 16, 2013 - the day the proposed infringement decision was issued.

In Jan 2014, Nachi made written representations to CCS; two months later, it furnished its turnover figures for FY2013, but did not state that these turnover figures should have been used for calculating the penalty.

The issue was raised only at the point of appeal, after it received the final infringement decision and penalty amount from CCS in May 2014.

CCS said: "Notably, Nachi had asked for a much larger reduction in penalties, relying on three grounds of appeal. The CAB found in CCS' favour on two out of the three grounds:

CAB said that CCS had properly exercised its discretion in determining the starting percentage to be used in calibrating the financial penalties, given the seriousness of price-fixing. CAB also found CCS to have been correct as well in factoring in the impact of this infringement on the relevant market in Singapore, in light of Nachi's market share, said the competition watchdog.

It added that the CAB's decision on this issue is significant because re-export sales make up a large part of Singapore's total export sales; in 2015, it was about 51 per cent.

Said CCS: "With Singapore being a small, open and export-oriented economy, CCS regards the CAB's decision on this issue as recognising the need to prevent and deter anti-competitive behaviour that has an impact on competition between businesses within Singapore, to ensure our markets for exports remain competitive."

After a round of public consultations between Sept 25 and Nov 27 last year, the watchdog in June sought public feedback on proposed changes to its guidelines on financial penalties and enforcement for breaches of competition regulations. CCS said the proposed review would bring its practices in line with that of the European Union and the United Kingdom.

The proposals follow submissions by WongPartnership and the International Bar Association's Antitrust Committee last November.

Ameera Ashraf, head of the law firm's competition and regulatory practice, noted that the proposed tweaks to the calculation of penalties will provide "far more certainty to parties under investigation".

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

Lee Chee Keet v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGHC 155

Law Soc: Amendments to the guidelines on the review of post-grant patent amendments

Law Society

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

Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (‘IPOS’)
Amendments to the guidelines on the review of post-grant patent amendments

Intellectual Property Office of Singapore ('IPOS') would like to update members on the amendments to the guidelines on the review of the Post-Grant Patent Amendments.

Under current practice, post-grant amendments are allowed if the amendments:

  1. do not introduce additional matter; and
  2. do not extend the scope of protection.

However, in the decision of Ship's Equipment Centre Bremen GmbH v Fuji Trading (Singapore) Pty Ltd & Ors [2015] SGHC 159, the Singapore High Court affirmed the guidelines for allowance of post-grant amendments set down in the UK Court. The UK guidelines are of a higher bar than IPOS' current practice, imposing the following additional requirements:

  1. Disclosure of all relevant matters.
  2. No unreasonable delay in seeking amendments.
  3. No unfair advantage obtained by delaying amendments which are known to be needed.

The guidelines were applied again in a more recent decision of Warner-Lambert Company LLC v Novartis (Singapore) Pte Ltd [2016] SGHC 106 by JC George Wei.

IPOS has aligned its practice for assessing post-grant amendments in accordance with the guidelines affirmed by the Singapore High Court.

A circular on the revised practice was released on 30 June 2016. Upon release, the updated practice will apply to all pending and new requests for post-grant amendments. An updated version of IPOS' examination guidelines will be released at a later date.

Click here to view the full text of the circular.​

S’pore Medical Association renews call for managed-care firms to be regulated

23 Sep 2016
Neo Chai Chin

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Medical Association (SMA) has reiterated its call for companies handling medical claims for insurers and doctors to be regulated for the good of the public, amid growing concern among doctors over “unfair” practices of such firms.

The SMA represents the majority of doctors here. Speaking to TODAY, SMA president Wong Tien Hua suggested that the authorities consider new laws or amending current laws to regulate these companies, which are called managed-care companies or third-party administrators (TPAs).

TPAs usually offer companies and insurers a panel of doctors, and doctors can join these panels to potentially reach a larger pool of patients.

But doctors are concerned over TPAs charging them fees computed as a percentage — typically 8 to 25 per cent — of what they charge a patient for their services, which is akin to a sales commission, even though the TPA might not have done any work related to the care of the patient. Some TPAs also impose caps on the fees that doctors can charge patients.

When the issue came up in Parliament last week, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong gave no indication that his ministry would regulate TPAs, but said the Health Ministry is working with medical professional bodies and associations to raise doctors’ awareness of appropriate arrangements with TPAs.

Releasing its latest ethical code for doctors that same week, the Singapore Medical Council, which regulates doctors, said that fees charged by TPAs “must not be based primarily on the services (doctors) provide or the fees (doctors) collect”.

Responding to queries, Dr Wong Tien Hua, who wrote about the issue in SMA’s August newsletter, said the association remains of the opinion that TPAs should be regulated as healthcare entities, to ensure better standards and improve transparency.

A possible preliminary step is for TPAs to form a body for voluntary self-regulation and to promote ethical standards within the industry, he said. The body could then engage actively with stakeholders including the Life Insurance Association (LIA) and professional bodies.

Doctors told TODAY that care for patients is compromised when doctors have to keep fees too low. For instance, caps on medication could mean doctors being able to prescribe only three days’ worth of antibiotics when a proper course would be five days’ worth.

In addition, when senior specialists decide to end their contracts with the TPAs, patients could end up being referred to remaining specialists on the panel who are not in the best position to handle the cases. For instance, someone with acute appendicitis may be referred to a surgeon who does not normally deal with abdominal diseases.

Dr Wong Nan-Yaw, a colorectal surgeon in private practice, agreed that TPAs should be regulated. “My experience with the TPAs as a specialist is that the fees dictated by the TPAs to my anaesthetist colleagues are so low that in an emergency, I’ve got great difficulty getting an anaesthetist who’s willing to (take up the case),” he said. “That compromises patient care.”

TPAs should disclose how much of each dollar they receive is retained by them, and how much goes into services for the patient, he said. They should also be open and transparent about the specialists still remaining on their panel and their sub-specialty, and patients should have a right to choose the specialist who can provide the best standard of care, he added.

TPAs have billed their services as a solution to managing healthcare costs. Mr Michael Tan, co-founder of Fullerton Health — a TPA — previously told The Business Times that the fees that they levy help cover operating costs such as setting up an IT system and running of a 24/7 call centre for patients and panel doctors, among others.

Dr Wong Tien Hua said the SMA is currently holding talks with the LIA, the Consumers Association of Singapore, the Ministry of Health and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to see how healthcare costs can be controlled.

The Health Ministry would also work with the LIA to remind Integrated Shield insurers to ensure their appointed TPAs have no conflict of interest and disclose to policyholders any financial arrangements they have with the doctor.

When contacted, the LIA — whose members include AIA, Aviva, NTUC Income, Great Eastern, AXA and Prudential — did not say what disclosures would be made to policyholders. It also did not say what it considered to be a conflict of interest. LIA executive director Pauline Lim, however, said its member companies that work with TPAs should ensure no conflict of interest that will compromise policyholders’ interest. LIA does not condone practices that add another layer and further escalate healthcare costs in Singapore, she said.

TPAs have been part of the healthcare landscape for many years. But their involvement in Integrated Shield plans of individual policyholders in the past year, restrictions imposed on the amounts doctors can bill policyholders, and unfair contract terms imposed by some TPAs, have triggered an uproar over what doctors call unfair practices, TODAY reported in June.

The SMC said fees paid to TPAs should reflect actual work done in handling and processing the patients, and doctors must not pay fees that are so high as to constitute “fee splitting” or which render them unable to provide the required standard of care.

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Public Prosecutor v Lee Ah Choy - [2016] SGHC 154

Law Soc: Family Justice Courts Practice Directions Amendment No. 1 of 2016

Law Society

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

Family Justice Courts
Practice Directions Amendment No. 1 of 2016

The Family Justice Courts ('FJC') has issued Practice Directions Amendment No. 1 of 2016 informing of the following which has come into effect on 1 July 2016:

Setting out the fees payable for applications for copies of documents in Court Proceedings;

Explain that the Court may reject documents that are not in compliance with the Family Justice Rules, the Practice Directions or any other directions made by the Court;

Clarify that where there are multiple plaintiffs, applicants or deputies, a single affidavit instead of multiple affidavits should be filed;

Provides for substituted service applications on a company's alternate address, giving effect to the new Section 173 of the Companies Act (Cap. 50) which allows the company's officers to stipulate an alternate address and sets out the conditions of an alternate address;

Clarify the requirements and undertakings in a Mareva injunction, in line with the practice applicable in the Supreme Court;

Clarifications on the types of cases which are to be transferred to be heard in the Family Division of the High Court;

Setting out instructions on the making of references to page numbers of exhibits in an affidavit and the listing out of related documents in a table of contents;

Amendments of Forms 6, 8, 18, 21, 30, 191, 206, 209 and 242 are due to the new Sections 11A and 69(1A) and amendment to Section 113 of the Women's Charter;

Amendments of Forms 96 to 98 and 229 to replace the forms for Offer to Contribute, List of Documents, Affidavit Verifying List of Documents and Plaintiff's Affidavit for Application under Section 121B of the Women's Charter;

Amendments of Forms 217, 218, 219, 220, 222 and 224 to give effect to minor amendments to the forms that serve to clarify their contents; and

Amendment of Form 243 amends the contents of a Joint Summary of Relevant Information for Ancillary Matters hearings.

Please click here to view the full text of the Amendment

SGX queried over salaries, tech spending at AGM

Straits Times
23 Sep 2016
Wong Wei

Investors concerned exchange may not be on the right track as markets slow down

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) fielded a string of queries at its annual general meeting (AGM) yesterday with investors voicing concerns over salaries and the recent trading disruption.

Around 700 shareholders attended the AGM at the Star Theatre yesterday which lasted for about three hours. Due to a slew of questions, voting on the first resolution did not start for over an hour into the meeting.

Long-time shareholder Mano Sabnani questioned the level of pay for chief executive Loh Boon Chye, given a difficult year.

The SGX recorded a full-year net profit of $349.02 million, a shade above the $348.61 million a year earlier.

Mr Loh, who became CEO in July last year, is getting a remuneration package of $3.2 million. Mr Sabnani suggested the salaries paid to top executives be reduced.

"If you want to incentivise your executives properly, and if the market is not doing well, maybe you want to make them feel the pain a bit and work harder to improve," he said, drawing applause from shareholders.

Chairman Chew Choon Seng responded: "We have to have a competitive compensation structure, comparable to financial institutions in Singapore, in order to attract the right people... and retain them."

Mr Chew, who retired from the board and as chairman at the end of the AGM, added that the exchange's performance was partly affected by market forces beyond its control. Board director Kwa Chong Seng will be the next chairman.

In his opening remarks, Mr Loh said that SGX had to grapple with interest rate changes, slower global growth and volatile commodity prices during the year.

Nonetheless, he said, the SGX has further cemented its position as a multi-asset class exchange, pointing to the launch of an over-the- counter bond trading platform in December.

"In the derivatives business, we launched the MSCI China Free Index contracts and the first offshore India Nifty sector futures," he noted, saying that the SGX is looking to add South Korea's equity index into its futures platform that already covers indices in China, India, Japan and Taiwan.

But not all investors were convinced that the SGX is on the right track. One shareholder challenged the management to "think outside the box" to incentivise companies to list on the SGX.

He also pressed the SGX on the 2013 penny stock saga: "Three years have passed, which is a long time, and there is still no resolution in sight."

Chief regulatory officer Tan Boon Gin pointed to court proceedings in January where the prosecution had said that charges would be brought by the end of this year.

Another shareholder questioned whether the spending on technology, which rose 10.3 per cent to $127.85 million in the last financial year, has been effective, given the recent trading disruption in July.

Mr Loh said the outage was prolonged due to the longer-than-expected time needed for broker firms to reconcile the market data and that the backup system was actually functioning properly.

Other issues raised yesterday also included the impact of the implementation of the minimum trading price (MTP).

An investor asked: "Out of the many AGMs I have attended, I have not found one company that said (the MTP) is a right move. Are you out of tune with the listed companies?"

Mr Loh pointed to the recent proposed refinements to the MTP scheme, adding that the SGX is open to feedback.

All resolutions were passed yesterday.

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

Neptune Capital Group Ltd and others v Sunmax Global Capital Fund 1 Pte Ltd and another - [2016] SGHC 148

IPOS Case Summary: Beats Electronics, LLC v LG Electronics Inc. [2016] SGIPOS 08 (whether application was made in bad faith and there was a likelihood of confusion)

23 Sep 2016

A very extravagant way to spread gospel, says judge: City Harvest trial

Straits Times
22 Sep 2016
Danson Cheong

It could have used ads or concerts, instead of spending $24m on Ho's music career, he says

There are cheaper ways to evangelise than the $24 million that City Harvest Church (CHC) spent on Ms Ho Yeow Sun's pop music career.

The church could have bought television or newspaper advertisements. Or it could have organised Korean pop concerts, with CHC senior pastor Kong Hee preaching afterwards.

Instead the way it went about spreading its gospel was "very extravagant", said Justice Chan Seng Onn in the High Court yesterday.

Justice Chan is one of three judges hearing the appeal of the six CHC leaders convicted of misappropriating millions in church funds to promote Ms Ho's career in a mission known as the Crossover Project. Yesterday was the close of the five-day hearing, and a judgment will be delivered at a later, as yet unknown, date.

Of the many ways to evangelise, Justice Chan said: "It can be through Sun Ho singing, (or) it could be engaging, at a much cheaper cost, maybe K-pop (singers) and Kong Hee can come to the concert and then preach."

He spoke as the prosecution was presenting its arguments. It wants longer sentences for all six CHC leaders, who face terms of between 21 months and eight years. It is asking for terms of between five and 12 years instead.

The six CHC leaders are appealing against their conviction and sentences.

In October last year, the lower court found the CHC leaders had ploughed $24 million from CHC's building fund into bogus bonds used to fund the music career of Ms Ho, who is Kong's wife. Another $26 million was used to cover up the initial misdeed.

Justice Chan asked if members had supported the means in which the Crossover was carried out.

They did, said deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Christopher Ong, but "what they didn't know was how much the means was costing and they didn't know who was paying for that cost".

Later, Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin also asked if the CHC leaders had been carrying out what they thought was a church purpose - "only they took the wrong route or the wrong means".

But DPP Ong said it was more important for the court to ask if church members supported the Crossover because they were not given the full facts about it.

Offering an analogy, he said: "If I were to offer you a Ferrari and I tell you that it is free of charge, you might well take it because, why not, it's free.

"If I tell you that I'm going to give you a Ferrari but use your money to pay for it, you may not be so supportive of the idea of my giving you a Ferrari."

He also told the court the six had not shown remorse - which ordinarily would be a mitigating factor.

"Restitution amounts to saying 'I am sorry', and this is not something we have heard from the offenders in this case," he said.

During the five-day hearing, lawyers for the five CHC leaders, and former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, who is representing himself, delivered impassioned arguments - often before a courtroom packed with over 50 people.

They stressed that the bonds used to fund the Crossover were genuine investments. Furthermore, the Crossover, which aimed to create "a megastar" in Ms Ho - who would attract non-Christians who could be preached to at her concerts - was a project that was supported by the church, said the lawyers.

At the close of yesterday's hearing, Justice Chao adjourned the case to give the judges time to go through the trial's voluminous record.

No date for a judgment was given by Justice Chao, who said: "This is something we need to give special consideration to... we can only promise you a judgment ASAP."


If I were to offer you a Ferrari and I tell you that it is free of charge, you might well take it because, why not, it's free. If I tell you that I'm going to give you a Ferrari but use your money to pay for it, you may not be so supportive of the idea of my giving you a Ferrari.

DEPUTY PUBLIC PROSECUTOR CHRISTOPHER ONG, saying church members supported the Crossover Project because they were not given the full facts.

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

Vintage Bullion DMCC v Chay Fook Yuen and others and other appeals - [2016] SGCA 49

Administration of Justice (Protection) Act: Upholding the integrity of our justice system and balancing rights

23 Sep 2016

Woman, 85, and slimming centre settle lawsuit

Straits Times
22 Sep 2016
Selina Lum

An 85-year-old woman has settled her lawsuit against a slimming centre in which she sought a full refund and damages over a $400,000 weight-loss package.

Madam Gan Siew Hong , who has diabetes and other health problems, visited the Ngee Ann City branch of London Weight Management in July 2013 with her husband and her son after seeing its TV commercial touting a weight-loss trial session for $18. The family, who live in an HDB flat, eventually paid about $400,000 for weight-loss treatments and products.

In a lawsuit filed in the High Court on Aug 3 this year seeking compensation of close to $450,000, Madam Gan alleged that the treatments not only failed to improve her health, but also caused her to suffer diarrhoea, a skin rash and pus discharge. She claimed that the centre pressured her family into signing up for a six-year package.

In its defence filed on Aug 31, London denied this but said it was willing to refund the unused portion of the package amounting to $43,408 out of goodwill. The centre said Madam Gan's family declared only that she had diabetes and that it is not liable for injuries resulting from non-disclosure of medical history.

The centre also said it had advised her to seek medical advice on the suitability of its treatments and products.

In a joint statement to The Straits Times yesterday, Madam Gan and London Weight Management said: "We... have amicably resolved all claims and any claims and/or demands between the parties."

Both parties "further unconditionally withdraw all allegations against each other", said the statement, sent by Madam Gan's lawyers from Lim & Bangras. Financial details of the settlement are not known.

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

Related headlines

Woman, 85, sues slimming centre over $400k treatment, ST, 07 Sep

Lim Ying Ying Luciana v Public Prosecutor and another appeal - [2016] SGHC 151

Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Amendment) Bill 2016: Appoints SPRING as administering agency

23 Sep 2016

Court approves extradition of two suspects in S’pore accused of cheating US Navy

22 Sep 2016
Valerie Koh

SINGAPORE — Two former employees of a Singapore-based defence contracting firm look set to be extradited to the United States, where they are wanted for their roles in a high-profile bribery scandal surrounding the US Navy.

This comes after a State Court judge on Wednesday (Sept 21) gave the green light for the extradition of Neil Peterson and Raja Maslindah Raja Shamsad, who were respectively vice-president (global operations) and general manager (Singapore, Australia and the Pacific Isles) at Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

The two will be remanded in prison until Law Minister K Shanmugam issues a warrant for their surrender to the US.

There will be a 15-day period before they are surrendered, and they have the option of reviewing the court’s decision.

Over in the US, they have been accused of cheating the navy of more than US$30 million (more than S$41 million) in an elaborate scheme involving fraudulent invoices, contract bid-rigging, and fictitious port authorities with inflated port tariffs that they invented.

In written submissions tendered during the court hearing on Wednesday, Deputy Senior State Counsel Luke Tang said that evidence exists to prove the case, including forged documents, business records and email correspondence agreeing to cheat the US Navy.

The court first heard from the Law Minister about the extradition request from the US on July 19 this year, and issued an apprehension warrant for the pair the following week.

During a Sept 7 hearing, Peterson’s lawyers Hamidul Haq and Thong Chee Kun, and Maslindah’s lawyer Anand Nalachandran, said that their clients would cooperate with the authorities on the extradition.

GDMA — owned by Malaysian businessman Leonard Glenn Francis — is a multinational firm headquartered in Singapore, with offices around the region. For more than 25 years, it managed bids for marine husbandry services during the US Navy’s port visits.

Peterson, 38, a permanent resident here, faces six charges of conspiring to defraud, using electronic or wire communication to obtain money and property fraudulently, and submitting false claims to the US government.

Maslindah, a 43-year-old Singaporean, has been slapped with seven similar charges.

Around June 2011, the US Navy struck a deal with GDMA for three regional contracts: the company would provide exclusive husbanding services for US ships and submarines at ports in South-east Asia, Australia and the Pacific Isles, and East Asia.

Before arriving at each port, a US Navy ship would send GDMA a list of supplies and services required. An invoice would be submitted and the ship would then issue a cheque in payment.

However, instead of submitting competitive quotes for these supplies and services, GDMA allegedly fabricated quotations, such that the firm appeared as the lowest bidder. It would then inflate the charges that would be submitted to the US Navy.

Among other things, Peterson allegedly created a shell company and submitted an inflated quotation for tug boats in 2012. A lower-cost quotation from a competitor was deliberately kept out of sight, and the US Navy ended up accepting the shell company’s quotation.

Francis — better known as Fat Leonard within the business circuit — admitted in January last year to his role in the scandal, where he provided navy officials with prostitutes, hotel stays and cash in exchange for contracts and tip-offs. He informed investigators about the roles Peterson and Maslindah played in the conspiracy.

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Public Prosecutor v Mohsen Bin Na’im - [2016] SGHC 150

MOM to raise Employment Pass qualifying salary with effect from 1 January 2017

22 Sep 2016

Short-selling: when is regulatory action warranted?

Business Times
22 Sep 2016
R. Sivanithy

HOW should regulators deal with short-selling attacks, if at all? It's not an easy question to answer. There is hardly ever any clamour for regulatory intervention when strong "buy" reports with sky-high target prices send stocks shooting up. But there are always calls for gatekeepers to take action when a short-seller swoops into the market with a sell that (a) uses inflammatory language to make sensational claims about the target being worth much less than the current market; (b) causes worry and panic; and (c) is usually aimed at a high-priced stock that everyone thought was financially solid.

The reason for this disparity in the way buys and sells are perceived is, of course, purely emotional - rising prices are comforting because of their wealth enhancement, while crashing prices bring dismay, wealth destruction and, inevitably, calls for justice to be served.

In Singapore, regulators have not acted in the admittedly small number of sensational short-selling cases encountered by the local market over the past few years. This could be because although short-sellers are viewed by some quarters as market pariahs, there is reason to view them as part of the market's ecosystem. If so, then they have every right to voice their opinions as anyone else.

Over in Hong Kong too, there has not been any regulatory intervention - until now. Last month, short-seller Andrew Left of Citron Research was found guilty by Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission's Market Misconduct Tribunal of publishing a "false and misleading" report on developer China Evergrande Group.

"The SFC investigation found Left made a profit of about HK$1.7 million by shorting 4.1 million Evergrande shares before issuing a scathing report on the company on June 21, 2012," said South China Morning Post on Aug 26. "Shares in Evergrande slumped 19.6 per cent following the release of the report before closing the day down 11.4 per cent, against a 1.3 per cent drop in the benchmark Hang Seng Index."

According to news reports, the maximum penalty for such misconduct is a ban from trading Hong Kong's stocks for up to five years and a fine equal to the profit made.

However, as noted earlier, there is a school of thought that short-sellers have a valid place in today's market - either as whistle-blowers, price stabilisers or playing a role in exposing accounting shenanigans. On this premise, governance and freedom of speech advocates have leapt to Mr Left's defence, arguing that the tribunal failed to differentiate an honestly held but incorrect opinion on one hand, and a statement of fact on the other.

Should the HK authorities have bothered? Maybe or maybe not, but without full knowledge of the issues, nuances of the case and the deliberations by the tribunal who presumably were fully aware of the flak it would draw with a guilty verdict, it would be difficult to draw firm conclusions.

One thing we do know for sure though - officialdom always finds itself in "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations. Ignoring the case would have brought criticism from those who think short-sellers are squalid bottom-feeders who should all be flogged and hung out to dry; taking action brought as it did the complaints described earlier from those who think it was important not to obstruct a diversity of views in the market.

If, however, a short-seller acts in bad faith by spreading untruths and knows that he or she is doing so, and if there is a significant market impact as a result of those untruths, then maybe a case can be made for the authorities to step in. The difficulty, however, would be proving recklessness and intent to make a profit from others' misery and fear.

Note also that in a presumably efficient and sophisticated market, any resulting stock price weakness upon release of an untruthful report should not last too long. After a knee-jerk sell-off, a rebound should quickly ensue - there is, after all, a lot of truth to the saying that fundamentals will always assert themselves. Moreover, if a short-seller gets it wrong, or fails to cover the position in time, his or her loss can be very painful since share price rises are in theory unlimited.

When that happens, even regulators are relegated to the role of observers as it is the market that takes over as the ultimate disciplinarian.

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

Pang Giap Onn (alias Arif Peter Pang) v Harmesh Singh s/o Ram Singh - [2016] SGHC 149

Suspicious transaction reports and the Indonesia tax amnesty

22 Sep 2016

Former tour guide to be sentenced next Friday

Straits Times
22 Sep 2016
Carolyn Khew

Prosecution calls for 10-12 years' jail for CBT but defence says three years would suffice

A former China tour guide who pleaded guilty to misappropriating $1.1 million from an elderly Singaporean widow is expected to be sentenced next Friday.

At the close of yesterday's hearing, Principal District Judge Bala Reddy said he needed time to consider the sentencing after both the prosecution and Yang Yin's lawyer made further submissions.

Last month, Yang, 42, pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT) for misappropriating $500,000 and $600,000 from Madam Chung Khin Chun in 2010 and 2012, respectively. The 89-year-old was diagnosed with dementia in April 2014.

Yesterday, deputy public prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani said 10-12 years' imprisonment for Yang was a fair sentence, taking into account his conduct at trial and the need to send a "strong deterrent signal".

"This case brings to the forefront of public consciousness the potential vulnerability of such individuals, and aptly illustrates the difficulty of detecting and deterring financial crime perpetuated against these victims," said DPP Vaswani.

"A resounding signal is necessary to indicate a zero-tolerance position towards any predators of the vulnerable elderly."

Moreover, in this case, large sums of money were involved. Previous cases, he said, showed a correlation between the amount misappropriated and the sentence imposed.

During the hearing, Yang rocked back and forth in the dock while the submissions were read out to him in Mandarin by an interpreter.

A medical report showing the Chinese national had suffered acute stress disorder last month should be taken as a mitigating factor, said his lawyer, Mr Irving Choh.

He reiterated that a sentence of three years would suffice and urged the judge not to depart from the "normal sentencing" for criminal breach of trust cases.

"This is really just a case, nothing extraordinary," said Mr Choh.

"His scheme, in hindsight is quite foolish, Sir. I am sorry to say that... but... he has pleaded guilty."

As for Yang's conduct at trial, the court had not found his behaviour to be in contempt of proceedings or scandalous, added Mr Choh.

In May, Yang pleaded guilty to 120 other charges, mostly of falsifying receipts made to his company.

The other charges involved cheating, immigration offences and breaking Companies Act laws.

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

Koh Keng Chew and others v Liew Kit Fah and others - [2016] SGHC 140

CCS clears proposed joint venture relating to aircraft maintenance

21 Sep 2016

SBIO: corporate governance at the edge

Business Times
22 Sep 2016
Mak Yuen Teen

SBI Offshore (SBIO) and its boardroom tussle challenge the boundaries of good corporate governance and raise important questions about independence, competencies and attributes of directors, and difficulties that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often face in putting together a skilled and diverse board, as well as the role of sponsors in contributing to good governance of Catalist companies.

Before the recent appointment of new directors, SBIO had a five-member board - a little small (as the board itself acknowledged) but not unusual for an SME. Its small board size was helped by having only one executive director (the CEO) and only one major shareholder with a seat on the board (the non-executive chairman), allowing it to still have a majority of independent directors. Among its four non-executive directors, three have backgrounds in accounting, finance and insurance, while the other is a lawyer. What appeared to be lacking among the non-executive directors was any significant prior experience in the business that the company was in or was attempting to diversify into.

It may be difficult for SMEs like SBIO to attract good independent directors at reasonable fee levels. In FY2015, the total fees paid to SBIO's non-executive directors was S$126,000, or an average of S$31,500 per director. This is probably about 15-25 per cent of the average for the larger listed government-linked companies (GLCs). Yet, the job of an SME director can be more demanding than for a GLC director. For SMEs, the potential pool of good independent directors may be rather small, and they often end up with directors who lack the desired skills, experience, commitment, and other personal attributes.


The three requisitioning shareholders proposed the appointment of four directors. Two of them - Hui Choon Ho and Lau Yoke Mun - were to assume executive director positions. As a former executive chairman and CEO of the company, Mr Hui would bring relevant industry and senior management experience.

He could have been a suitable replacement for current CEO Chan Lai Thong or otherwise added something to the board - from the skills and experience standpoint. The board was not questioning the relevance of his skills and experience, but his alleged interference in the operations of the company as a shareholder and his alleged involvement in two contradictory acquisition agreements which had potentially serious implications.

In this regard, I was rather shocked that Jen Shek Voon, former audit committee (AC) chairman of SBIO - an experienced AC chairman and former senior partner of a Big Four firm - was quoted as saying: "We have heard enough about PwC (its report). This whole report is a red herring." ("Shareholder move to oust SBI Offshore CEO stalls", BT, Sept 17).

In the case of Mr Lau, he is said to have over 30 years of experience in finance and accounting, although he also has some general management and other experience, and had a short stint in the company as an employee and service provider, where his responsibilities included finance, business development, and corporate matters. He does not have any experience as a listed company director. The value he adds to the board from a skills and experience viewpoint is less clear to me. In his case, the board has concerns about his conduct and performance as a former employee and service provider.

As for the other two proposed directors - Ong Nai Pew and Geoffrey Yeoh Seng Huat - the board felt that they would bring relevant experience. Dr Ong was considered to have "relevant experience, skills and expertise in the area of investment strategy planning and economics research", while Mr Yeoh had "relevant experience, skills and expertise in the area of project financing, and could contribute to the diversity of the skills and expertise required of the board in view of the recent diversification into the solar energy business". The board deemed them to be independent.

Given that Dr Ong owns 5.7 per cent of the total issued shares, he is "technically" independent from a shareholding perspective, based on the 10 per cent shareholding threshold set out in the Code of Corporate Governance 2012. The fact that Dr Ong and Mr Yeoh have been proposed by Mr Hui and Tan Woo Thian - who own 11.7 per cent and 13.8 per cent respectively - also does not necessarily mean that they are not independent as the Code deems a director to be prima facie non-independent under such circumstances only if there is a direct association between the nominated director and the "10 per cent shareholder". However, in practice, it is often difficult to establish whether there is a "direct association".

A more thorough assessment of the independence of Dr Ong and Mr Yeoh should consider relationships between them and Mr Hui and Mr Tan - and whether they are independent in character and judgement. However, most companies here make only rudimentary assessments of director independence.

Independence aside, if Dr Ong and Mr Yeoh are appointed, the board may still lack sufficient diversity in competencies, as these two directors would add mostly finance-related expertise and experience.

The day before the EGM, the company appointed four new directors, increasing the number of directors to nine. They are: James Kho Chung Wah, Lawrence Kwan Hon Kay, Ling Yew Kong, and Mark Edward Pawley. Mr Kho and Mr Pawley have a finance and investment-related background, and Mr Kwan has a corporate secretarial background. Mr Pawley does not have prior experience as a listed company director.

Mr Kho and Mr Pawley's background looks similar to that of several of the current directors and those proposed by the requisitioning shareholders. Mr Ling's background is described as "strategic advice and chart new directions" for the various companies that he has been involved with over the last few years. He is executive director and CEO at China Sky and also became executive chairman at Anwell Technologies in 2015 when it went into judicial management. He has also been executive chairman at Firstlink Investments Corporation since 2005 and still retains the position after the company was delisted at the directive of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in 2011. In total, he holds 23 directorships, although mostly in private companies. In Mr Ling's case, my main concern is his ability to commit time.

Basil Chan - who joined the board last year and who was the audit committee chairman and lead independent director - has since resigned, bringing the board size back down to eight directors.

Under normal circumstances, a board appointing new directors just before an EGM called by shareholders to appoint and remove directors may be seen as a blatant attempt to frustrate shareholders' right to change the board. It is certainly not a blueprint for companies facing shareholder revolt. However, I can understand why the SBIO board did it, especially given the questions surrounding two of the proposed directors. Further, shareholders proposing to appoint or remove directors may be acting in their own interest rather than that of the company's, and shareholders do not owe fiduciary duties to the company, unlike directors.

Nevertheless, given the speed with which the four new directors were parachuted into the company, the newly constituted board may not be fit for purpose.

Rule 226 of the Catalist Rulebook sets out certain responsibilities of sponsors. Rule 226(1) states that "a sponsor taking on sponsorship of an existing issuer must . . . investigate and consider the suitability of each director and proposed director of the issuer and consider the efficacy of the board as a whole for the company's needs . . .". It appears that this rule applies to a continuing sponsor when it first takes on the sponsorship of an existing issuer. Rule 226(2) states that a sponsor, in undertaking continuing activities for an issuer, must "advise its issuer on the suitability of directors arising from proposed changes in the issuer's board of directors". This clearly is an ongoing responsibility of a sponsor and would be expected of SBIO's sponsor, Prime Partners Corporate Finance (PPCF).


As mentioned in my earlier commentary ("Stand taken by SBI Offshore sponsor highly disappointing", BT, Sept 14), I do not agree with how the sponsor handled the proposed appointment of the two directors which the board had concerns about. However, this case raises wider issues as to whether sponsors are really equipped to fulfil their responsibilities, including advising on the suitability of directors. Do sponsors like PPCF have internal guidelines and policies for assessing the suitability of a director? To what extent do they assess the suitability of each director based on their character, competencies and ability to commit time?

At the EGM, a number of shareholders present in person or by proxy expressed that the EGM resolutions should be considered and voted upon only after shareholders are presented with clear outcomes of the investigations arising from the PwC report and the report to the Commercial Affairs Department. The shareholders present then voted on the adjournment of the EGM.

Catalist Rule 730(A)(2) states that all resolutions at general meetings shall be voted by poll. Under the Companies Act, shareholders can demand a poll and any provision in a company's articles excluding this right shall be void. However, there are two exceptions: the appointment of the chairman of the meeting, and the adjournment of the meeting. SBIO relied on its articles to vote to adjourn the meeting based on a show of hands.

Was it fair that the adjournment of the meeting was voted based on a show of hands, even though it is in accordance with SBIO's articles? No and yes. No because, in general, shareholder decisions should be based on one-share-one-vote. However, arguably yes in this case because there is a pending investigation relating to one of the proposed directors and the sponsor had asked the board to seek further professional opinion or legal advice for two of the directors. More generally, one can argue a case for decisions to be based on number of shareholders, rather than number of votes, where there is a real risk of minority shareholder interests being trampled over by dominant shareholders.

However, like the appointment of the four directors before the EGM, what happened at SBIO's EGM could be abused by unreasonable minority shareholders trying to disrupt meetings and thwart shareholders who own much larger stakes.

Unfortunately, in SBIO's case, ideal governance is off the table and we have to make do with pragmatic governance.

The writer is an associate professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, where he teaches corporate governance and ethics.

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

Likpin International Ltd v Swiber Holdings Ltd and another - [2016] SGCA 48

AMVESINDO and SVCA announce formation of ASEAN venture council

21 Sep 2016

ADV: Singapore Mediation Centre - Adjudication Conference, Oct 25 2016

Singapore Law Watch
22 Sep 2016
Singapore Mediation Centre

Max Master Holdings Ltd and others v Taufik Surya Dharma and others and another suit - [2016] SGHC 147

Latest developments: Intellectual property

20 Sep 2016

Third-party funding regulation impeding Asian legal market

Business Times
21 Sep 2016
Matthew Secomb

THIRD-PARTY funding - which offers an alternative way to fund a legal claim - has traditionally been met with suspicion and scepticism. Third-party funding allows a commercial fund with no prior connection to the case (the "third party") to finance the cost of legal proceedings, whether in litigation or arbitration. In return, they receive a share of any damages. This is contrasted with traditional funding methods, in which the party or a related company pays these costs.

For hundreds of years, funding another party's claim was a crime, with concerns that the third party in question may take the opportunity to inflame damages, suppress evidence or suborn witnesses. The notion of a party "gambling" on the outcome of litigation was considered problematic, as third-party funding could distort justice and damage the integrity of the judicial process. While England abolished the common-law crime in 1967, it remained largely unlawful in Singapore and Hong Kong.

In recent years, we have seen this type of funding become increasingly popular across jurisdictions in Europe, the United States and Australia. One argument in favour of third-party funding is that it provides access to justice by enabling a party to enforce its rights in a dispute. Even when a party to a dispute is solvent, this funding method offers commercial options for how risk is allocated, and the claim is collateralised. This frees up capital which may have been tied to the dispute for other business objectives.

Asia's legal landscape is now responding to the increasing global prevalence of third-party funding of international arbitration. Singapore closed the consultation for draft legislation legalising third-party funding for international arbitration in July. Hong Kong's Law Reform Commission has recommended legislative reform.

These reforms have been the topic of ongoing discussion in recent years and have been the subject of some controversy. In many jurisdictions, there has been a level of consensus around the development of third-party funding. The prevention of this type of funding initially made sense for various policy reasons. However, there has been an about-face with many now seeing that the use of third-party funding actually supports the development of a society governed by the rule of law.

In both Hong Kong and Singapore, the judiciary has made some headway in tackling the old common-law prohibition. Third-party funding is permitted in Hong Kong when it is being used by liquidators to pursue claims on behalf of insolvent companies. In Singapore, the Court of Appeal decided that the prohibition applies to arbitration, but also recently suggested that third-party funding might be possible in certain situations.

White & Case's 2015 International Arbitration Survey, conducted with Queen Mary University London, showed that Singapore and Hong Kong are now the third and fourth most preferred venues for international arbitration. Both jurisdictions need to maintain this momentum; it is becoming apparent that third-party funding is an area in which reform is needed to stay ahead of other arbitration centres. Singapore, while recognising the need to protect its judicial system from abuse, also sees that third-party funding work is currently going to other international arbitration centres.

Singapore's path to reform would require that the common-law restrictions on third-party funding be abolished. It would also specify that third-party funding in international arbitration and related court and mediation proceedings would not be "contrary to public policy or otherwise illegal".

This is a significant legal reform; normally, funded parties would face risks arbitrating in a jurisdiction in which third-party funding is prohibited. Following reform, lawyers would be able to recommend third-party funders and negotiate these funding agreements. By publishing draft legislation, Singapore could be seen to have leapfrogged into the lead ahead of Hong Kong for now - but this advantage is unlikely to last. Hong Kong's Law Reform Commission issued its consultation paper on third-party funding for arbitration in late 2015 and ended the consultation period in February, with draft legislation expected in Hong Kong by the end of this year.

These are long anticipated and welcome developments for international arbitration in Asia - although for now, nothing has changed and the nature of the expected amendments remains unclear. But law firms, parties and funds should prepare for the changes to come. In 2015, several major funds launched offices in Hong Kong, and we expect to see the same in Singapore. At this stage, we do not know how these jurisdictions will regulate third-party funding, with Singapore expected to impose a duty to disclose the identity of any third-party funders. The current form of third-party funding regulation in Asia is holding the market back. When this barrier is released, we anticipate rapid growth in how this market develops.

The writer is a Singapore-based partner at White & Case international law firm

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

Antariksa Logistics Pte Ltd and others v Nurdian Cuaca and others - [2016] SGHCR 10

Latest developments: Unjust enrichment; debt capital markets; family law

20 Sep 2016

Authorities move to ensure illegal downloaders get fair process

21 Sep 2016
Tan Weizhen

SINGAPORE — In a first, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) are applying to the courts to intervene in proceedings involving rights owners of two movies going after illegal downloaders here, to ensure a fair process. If allowed, they want to put in safeguards and conditions to avoid “allegations of abuse”, they said in a joint statement on Tuesday (Sept 20).

For example, in some countries, conditions are imposed on the letters of demand issued to subscribers, to ensure that the content is phrased in a way that does not cause undue alarm.

Last month, TODAY reported that the owners of the movies, Queen of the Desert and Fathers & Daughters, had started legal proceedings to go after those who illegally downloaded the movies here, the second such case here. Film studio Voltage Pictures, which produced Fathers & Daughters, had also gone after illegal downloaders of Dallas Buyers Club, which it produced, last year. Queen of the Desert is produced by QOTD. Both are represented by Samuel Seow Law Corporation (SSLC), which acted for Voltage Pictures in the Dallas Buyers Club case, and had drawn complaints over how two of its former lawyers had handled the proceedings. 

In the statement, IPOS and AGC said: “(We) are of the view that whilst content owners have the right to enforce their intellectual property, this should be done in a way that builds legitimacy and respect for the entire process, and is not susceptible to allegations of abuse.”

Abusive practices include “speculative invoicing”, also known as “copyright trolling”, where a party pursues quick settlements from alleged copyright infringers, by launching legal action against them and taking advantage of their reluctance to pursue their rights fully before the courts, said IPOS.

Adding that they had reviewed the positions taken in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US in similar cases, IPOS and AGC said: “We will be asking the courts to consider imposing similar safeguards and conditions, if we are allowed to intervene.” IPOS said it was inappropriate to comment on the precise safeguards and conditions being sought at this point. But it noted that in the Australian case involving the producers of Dallas Buyers Club and Internet service provider iiNet, the court ordered that the draft of the letters to be sent to iiNet’s subscribers be submitted to the court for its consideration.

In April last year, SSLC succeeded in getting the court to compel telcos to give up details of their customers who purportedly downloaded the movie Dallas Buyers Club, and filed civil claims against these customers.

But two months later, the Internet Society (Singapore) filed a complaint with the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc), alleging that Mr Robert Raj Joseph and Mr Lee Heng Eam, who were with SSLC then, had issued letters threatening criminal proceedings against the alleged downloaders, to advance the civil claims. This goes against the LawSoc’s Practice Directions and Rulings Guide, which states that it is improper for a solicitor to “communicate in writing or otherwise a threat of criminal proceedings in order to achieve a stated objective in any circumstance”. In May, LawSoc said it was taking action against two lawyers over their conduct in dealing with illegal downloaders of Dallas Buyers Club, without naming the lawyers.

Intellectual property lawyers who spoke to TODAY welcomed it as a move to ensure a fair process.

Mr Jason Chan, director of Amica Law, said: “If the court makes certain orders arising from the positions taken by AGC and IPOS ... future rights owners will definitely have to be aware of what happened in this case here.”

Mr Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons, who became president of the Internet Society (Singapore) last month, agreed, noting that the latest case with Queen of the Desert and Fathers & Daughters has a similar modus operandi as the Dallas Buyers Club case.

Other safeguards that could be introduced in such proceedings include setting a limit on the amount of damages that could be claimed, said the lawyers.

A pre-trial conference on the Queen of the Desert and Fathers & Daughters case was held on Tuesday morning, during which the deadlines for the parties — Samuel Seow Law Corporation and M1, Singtel and StarHub — to exchange information were set, as well as directions for the progress of the case.

TODAY understands that the case will likely be heard again in November.

TQH v TQI - [2016] SGHCF 11

SHC refuses to give weight to witness compellability as a factor in the test for forum non conveniens where the witness in question is the Defendant’s brother

19 Sep 2016

Don’t split the legal pie but expand it: Voices

21 Sep 2016

I refer to the letter “Limit working hours for lawyers called to the Bar” (Sept 19).

The writer suggested that one of two possible ways to address the oversupply of lawyers is to limit, by statute, the working hours per week for lawyers called to the Bar.

As a fellow member of the legal fraternity, I would argue that his proposed solution might not achieve its intended purpose. A statutory limitation on working hours could harm the profession.

Most lawyers charge by their billable hours. Understandably, they work long hours to earn as much as possible, whether for their firms to justify their salaries or for themselves. To limit working hours is to limit their earning capacities.

There would probably be two undesirable consequences for the profession and the public: Members of the fraternity may treat one another as rivals for their earnings; and legal fees would be hiked to adapt to the limited working hours.

Realistically speaking, lawyers and law firms need to maintain their level of income and revenue.

The intention of the writer’s proposal would be to let more lawyers share the same market. The underlying assumption is that the size of the market remains unchanged. But we could expand the legal market by creating more demand.

In the book Getting to Yes, the authors addressed the principle of “expanding the pie”. While splitting the pie may become a zero-sum game, expanding it could create a win-win situation for all parties.

This principle is well-accepted in mediation and applies here too. More demand for legal services creates more legal work, which means more jobs and earnings for lawyers.

The establishment of the Singapore International Commercial Court, the promotion of Singapore as a regional dispute resolution centre, and more, are examples of the attempts to create new demand for local legal professionals.

While these long-term plans may not resolve the oversupply issue immediately, they are the correct approaches. Any tactical measure to alleviate the oversupply is momentary. We should exercise caution where legislation is involved, especially when the side effects are obvious.

Shaun Wong

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Ramesh s/o Krishnan v AXA Life Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd - [2016] SGCA 47

SCA: Promissory note holders not bound by arbitration clause in underlying contract

19 Sep 2016

Customers in a bind after furniture seller goes missing

21 Sep 2016
Toh Ee Ming

SINGAPORE — Several customers have been left in the lurch after furniture retailer Royal House (The Rome Gallery) disappeared with thousands of dollars in paid deposits for items that were never delivered.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) is looking into four cases filed from January, on top of 48 cases of feedback and enquiries, involving payment contracts ranging from S$500 to S$6,500.

Royal House had set up a booth at Singapore Expo in June and July, its customers told TODAY, and they paid between S$500 and S$2,288 as deposits for furniture they had bought. Calls by TODAY to the company were unanswered, and its office was empty.

Customers claim that the company’s managing director gave “excuses” for the delay, citing delivery problems and a backlog of orders, before he eventually could not be contacted.

One customer, a 50-year-old engineer who gave his name only as James, said he was shopping for a new sofa set at Expo in early June and was served by two salesmen. He was told the sofa would arrive the following month, and made a full payment of S$2,288.

Closer to the delivery date, around the Hari Raya Puasa period, he was directed to the firm’s managing director Gary Chia, who claimed there were problems with delivery because staff members at the factory in Malaysia were not working. Later, he mentioned other issues such as securing an export permit and having a “backlog” of orders as reasons for the hold-up.

This went on until early August, until Sept 2 when Mr Chia sent out a text message saying that the company had run into “financial difficulties” and it “could no longer operate”.

James, who lodged a police report, said that Mr Chia did not answer calls, but he heard that the company was still hosting fairs in August. The police do not have sufficient evidence to take further action, he added.

Another customer, a 30-year-old global recruiter who did not want to be identified, paid an S$800 deposit for a S$1,500 sofa in end July at Expo. She later learned that the company closed down, and found others in a similar bind when she went online. “I wouldn’t have expected this thing to happen in Singapore, let alone at Expo .... how come there’s nothing (the authorities) can do?”

Mr Seah Seng Choon, executive director of Case, said: “Case’s powers are limited to negotiation and mediation, and this cannot be done if the company does not respond to us.”

To ensure that consumers do not fall prey to “questionable practices”, he urged furniture-fair organisers to play their part in checking their exhibitors’ credentials, or to explore imposing checks and safeguards against furniture exhibitors, such as having a policy to look into the background of newly registered vendors.

He also advised consumers to pay only upon delivery of goods, or to pay a low deposit because “there is no way to guarantee that the business delivers on (its) promise”.

This is especially if the business or the fair organiser does not have the mechanism to protect prepayments by consumers. Case is advising the affected consumers to consider filing a claim with the Small Claims Tribunals, or to file a police report if they suspect fraud is involved.

Mr Steve Liew, 35, an aviation engineer who placed a S$1,388 deposit for a dining table and a bed frame, and even went down to the company’s warehouse (which is now empty), said: “It’s a big sum of money, and as a small consumer, it’s already (too expensive) for us to get a lawyer … That’s why I think these (companies) are getting away (scot-free).”

Last week, Parliament passed changes to consumer laws — to take effect by the end of 2016 — giving Spring Singapore, a statutory board under the Trade and Industry Ministry (MTI), more powers to go after errant retailers. The agency can order shops to hand over information for investigations and enter their premises to take evidence. Case will be able to inform Spring on problematic retailers for investigation and Spring can submit injunction applications against the retailers to the courts.

In July, Case president Lim Biow Chuan told TODAY that Case has recommended that the MTI regulate the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act for collection of prepayments, because of increasing cases of “businesses being liquidated after taking large amounts of deposits” and consumer protection is inadequate. MTI said that it would review the feedback on prepayment protection.

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Simgood Pte Ltd v MLC Barging Pte Ltd and others - [2016] SGCA 46

Latest developments: Banking and finance, tax, M&A, IP, trust, real estate

16 Sep 2016

City Harvest leaders deceived members, auditors, lawyers: DPP

Straits Times
21 Sep 2016
Danson Cheong

They subverted church's internal governance bodies, used positions of trust to misspend funds, court hears

The six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders deceived church members, auditors and lawyers, and subverted the church's internal governance bodies, the High Court heard yesterday.

They used their positions of trust to misspend millions of dollars in charity funds - the largest amount in such a case in Singapore's legal history - on a pop singer's music career, according to Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong.

He was responding to the arguments against conviction put forth by the six CHC leaders at the centre of the financial scandal.

In October last year, the six were convicted of misappropriating millions in church funds to fuel the pop music career of CHC senior pastor Kong Hee's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, in a church mission known as the Crossover Project.

The court found that they had invested $24 million from CHC's building fund in bogus bonds from music production firm Xtron and glass-maker Firna, and the money was used to fund the Crossover Project. Later, another $26 million was used to cover up the initial misdeed.

The six, including Kong, are appealing against their convictions and sentences - ranging from 21 months' to eight years' jail - while the prosecution is appealing for longer sentences.

DPP Ong said the CHC leaders knew the bonds were "excuses to expend building fund money on (Ms Ho's) music career" and not investments.

Addressing the arguments by the CHC leaders that there was a need for secrecy in carrying out the Crossover Project in order to avoid uncomfortable public scrutiny, DPP Ong said it was strange since the only thing needing to be "secret" was the fact that Ms Ho was funded by the church's building fund - which was "buried so deep that even the auditors don't know about it".

He said it was public knowledge that Ms Ho was "famous pastor Kong Hee's wife", and Kong would come out to preach at the end of her concerts.

"Where is the secrecy in this?" asked DPP Ong, adding that Kong and his conspirators also controlled the bond proceeds, choosing to spend them on the Crossover Project and deciding how and when they would be repaid to the church.

Justice Chan Seng Onn asked: "If I put out the money and eventually pay back to it myself, just sweeping around, playing around it myself, having full control of it, how can you call it an investment?"

DPP Ong replied: "Yes, your Honour, that is exactly our point."

Another issue discussed in court yesterday was whether the offences committed by the six CHC leaders fell under the ambit of Section 409 of the Penal Code that they were charged under.

This is the most aggravated form of criminal breach of trust, and sets out the offence as one committed by a person "in the way of his business as a banker, a merchant, a factor, a broker, an attorney or an agent banker, merchant or agent".

In this context, Justice Chan asked if "the church, as a society, is in the business of courting donations", with agents of the church then being seen as agents carrying out such business. DPP Ong disagreed. But he said Section 409 concerns individuals who "customarily and regularly are entrusted with funds which they are then supposed to take responsibility for".

Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin said that if the elements of Section 409 are not satisfied, the charges could be reduced. Arguments for the appeal will continue today.

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Seow Hwa Chuan v Ong Wah Chuan - [2016] SGHC 146

Public consultation on proposed changes to Singapore's copyright regime

16 Sep 2016

Holding charities to high standards

Straits Times
21 Sep 2016

The guidelines proposed to improve the governance of charities ought to be welcomed as the sector handles vast sums of money. Tax-deductible donations came to about $1.4 billion last year, propelled by the 300 per cent tax deduction allowed for the Golden Jubilee. Total annual receipts (including government grants) amounted to $14.6 billion.

With a steadily growing pool of registered charities (now over 2,200) one cannot rely on a sense of responsibility alone to ensure that the duty of care is exercised diligently and office holders are faithful to the charity's mission. At a basic level, for example, one would expect those at the helm to refrain from paying themselves excessively. That was an issue in Britain when the Charity Commission's chief called into question "disproportionate salaries", while others asserted "charities shouldn't be ashamed of paying people what they are worth". In America, it is said there are "too many charities" chasing the same pool of donors, leading to higher costs of fund raising that might not be fully disclosed.

It is to avert these and other risks in the charity sector that its code of governance deserves to be tightened. Excessive red tape, of course, could weigh down organisations but high standards of governance should never be compromised. Risks can abound when management is weak or dominated by a few individuals, there is no ceiling on how long board members can remain in office, and no transparency on how they are performing their duties.

Public views are being sought for the latest refinements to the code. Whatever views are expressed about the nature of the new guidelines, few would contest the objectives of the code. These are to help charities become more efficient and effective by sharing good practices, ensure board members conduct themselves properly, and boost public confidence in charitable bodies.

Given the diversity within the sector, the guidelines are applied differentially across groups. Over half of charities are relatively small and almost as many have a religious character, which might make internal and external oversight difficult. Whatever their characteristics, it is incumbent on all charities to abide by the spirit of the entire code. Alongside the attention given to their strategic direction, financial planning, compensation policies and fund-raising practices, there should also be adequate disclosure of all dealings. Public generosity calls for a high standard of integrity to be demonstrated by all charities to ensure that donors' good intentions are delivered upon. According to the World Giving Index, almost six in 10 Singaporean donate to good causes. However, fewer than three in 10 serve as volunteers. By raising their game, charities could inspire more to contribute and play an active role in them.

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Goh Yee Lan Coreena and others v P & P Security Services Pte Ltd - [2016] SGHC 141

MAS responds to feedback on proposed remote clearing membership framework

15 Sep 2016

Hard to limit working hours for young lawyers: Voices

20 Sep 2016

I refer to the letter “Limit working hours for lawyers called to the Bar” (Sept 19).

As a senior practitioner, I have always asked my young lawyers to either take their work home and not be at the office after hours or to return to the office at the weekend.

It is not a case of senior management making them work overtime but of young lawyers taking it upon themselves to work longer.

They take their work seriously and thus spend more time to ensure that they produce top-quality work for clients. I appreciate the care and passion young lawyers put into their work.

As young lawyers, they would also take time because they lack the experience to complete their work faster; they spend much time on research and redrafting and fine-tuning their work.

In my law practice, my senior lawyers usually leave on the dot at the end of office hours.

Using that as a guide, I see these young lawyers learning the ropes fast and becoming wiser in time management and sharper in knowing what needs to be added in affidavits.

Thus I disagree that a statutory limit on working hours is a straightforward fix.

Gloria James-Civetta

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Singapore Medical Council v Wong Him Choon - [2016] SGHC 145

SHC affirms that shareholders do not have the automatic right to obtain a company’s financial information

15 Sep 2016

Union files appeal over sacking of SMRT staff

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016

The National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) yesterday submitted an appeal to rail operator SMRT against the dismissal of two workers who were involved in a fatal track accident earlier this year.

Train driver Rahmat Mohd, 49, and another SMRT employee who has not been identified, were sacked over the incident in which two trainees were killed.

NTWU executive secretary Melvin Yong said the union had reviewed the cases and raised further queries in its appeal to SMRT.

"As we await the reply from the company on their decision, we will continue to render the necessary support and assistance to the affected employees during this difficult time," he said in a statement.

Mr Rahmat, who was dismissed last Tuesday following an internal inquiry, was driving the train that hit and killed the two men near Pasir Ris MRT station on March 22.

Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, were part of a 15-man team sent to investigate a possible fault with track equipment.

The other employee who was fired is believed to have been part of the work team on the tracks.

SMRT said in April that several safety lapses were found, including allowing the train to ply in automatic mode. Watchmen who were supposed to keep a lookout for trains were also not deployed.

Besides the dismissals, warnings were issued and performance grades were "recalibrated downwards across various levels of the Trains team, including senior management", the company told staff.

SMRT said it will be examining the appeal in accordance with "established processes", but did not elaborate on what these are.

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

Qingdao Bohai Construction Group Co, Ltd and others v Goh Teck Beng and another - [2016] SGHC 142

ASAS issues Interactive Marketing Communication & Social Media Advertising Guidelines

15 Sep 2016

Man jailed 7 years for killing brother

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016
Selina Lum

23-year-old who stabbed older sibling to death at home suffered from major depressive disorder

Bad blood between two brothers turned into a family tragedy when the mentally ill younger sibling stabbed his older brother to death in the bedroom they shared, a day after the pair exchanged angry words.

Yesterday, Ng Yao Wei, 23, was handed a seven-year jail term after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide.

After Ng was sentenced in a courtroom packed with family and friends, his 87-year-old grandmother told him she would pray for him. "Whatever food they give you, just eat, so that you will be healthy," she said in Hokkien.

Ng's parents, Mr Ng Soon Guan, 64, and Madam Gan Chai Min, 55, appeared distraught. They declined to comment when approached by reporters.

Ng's lawyer Josephus Tan said in court earlier that Ng's parents regretted not being able to protect the brothers from each other and not having discovered their younger son's depression earlier.

"The real victims are the parents," he said. "They have lost one son and, today, they are here to see the other one get sentenced."

Ng was a 21-year-old Singapore Polytechnic student on April 13 last year when he stabbed 26-year-old graphic designer Ng Yao Cheng to death at the Windermere condominium in Choa Chu Kang, where they lived with their parents, eldest brother and domestic helper.

The accused called the police at about 11pm to report a murder on the night of April 13.

Paramedics arrived 10 minutes later to find the victim with multiple knife wounds on his neck and body.

Ng was arrested at the scene. He was charged with murder two days later at Changi General Hospital, where he was treated for injuries.

The charge was later reduced to culpable homicide as Ng was assessed to be suffering from major depressive disorder, which reduced his mental responsibility for the killing.

Yesterday, the High Court heard that the two brothers had an acrimonious relationship and would often quarrel over trivial matters.

On the evening before the incident, two friends of the accused went to his home to play computer games. The older Mr Ng became agitated over the noise they were making and shouted at his brother. In response, Ng called his older brother "a dog" in Mandarin. Their father intervened before the two came to blows.

In the middle of the night, Ng took a knife from the kitchen and hid it under his pillow.

The following night, Ng confronted his older brother for embarrassing him in front of his friends. Angry words were exchanged. When Ng called his brother "an a***hole", the older man lunged at him.

The younger man stepped back, reached for the knife and repeatedly stabbed his brother with the weapon, which had a 20cm blade.

On hearing the commotion, their mother and domestic helper went into the room. The domestic helper took the knife to the kitchen while their mother tried to stem the bleeding on the older Mr Ng with a towel.

An autopsy found that the victim suffered 22 stab wounds.

Yesterday, Ng's lawyer, Mr Tan, asked for a jail term of not more than seven years. He argued that his client, a timid and quiet individual, had been subjected to longstanding physical and verbal abuse by his older brother since he was young.

As they shared a room, his client had no choice but to suffer in silence, he added.

The older brother had also made death threats towards Ng, resulting in the accused hiding the knife under his pillow, said Mr Tan.

Their parents agreed that the older brother was "a hot-tempered and unreasonable individual" who had differences with all his immediate family members but especially with Ng, said the lawyer.

In November 2014, Ng walked into the Institute of Mental Health to seek help but kept it from his family.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ma Hanfeng sought seven to 10 years' jail, to ensure that the accused is sufficiently treated before his release back into society.

The maximum punishment for culpable homicide is life imprisonment and caning, or jail of up to 20 years and a fine or caning.

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Allergan, Inc and another v Ferlandz Nutra Pte Ltd - [2016] SGHC 131

IPOS Case Summary: Consolidated Artists B.V. v The Faceshop Co., Ltd [2016] SGIPOS 07 (irregularity in procedure not detrimental to the interests of any person or party may be corrected as directed by Registrar)

15 Sep 2016

Court throws out woman's negligence claim against doc

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016

She said treatment affected her mobility but was seen in video using stairs without difficulty

She had sued a surgeon over nerve injuries suffered after undergoing laser treatment on her legs, claiming her mobility was affected and that her legs hurt when they came into contact with clothes.

But video surveillance carried out by a private investigator hired by lawyers for the vascular surgeon being sued showed the 50-year-old woman walking and climbing stairs without difficulty or signs of pain.

During one journey, she was seen choosing to walk up a flight of stairs at Orchard MRT station instead of looking for a lift or escalator.

Yesterday, Madam Rathanamalah Shunmugam, a financial services director at an insurance company, lost her medical negligence suit in the High Court.

She sought at least $2 million for medical expenses incurred, future medical expenses, income losses suffered and future income losses.

Madam Rathanamalah alleged that Dr Chia Kok Hoong, who has a private practice at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, had not advised her about the risks and complications of the treatment, known as endovenous laser therapy.

She insisted that she saw Dr Chia to treat pigmentation on her legs and would not have agreed to undergo the procedure - used to treat varicose veins - had she been warned that she risked nerve injuries.

She claimed the constant pain and hypersensitivity in her legs have curtailed her ability to provide sound financial advice to clients. This has led to her clients being disappointed with her service and her being unable to grow her customer base.

Dr Chia, who was represented by Mr Christopher Chong, contended that he had told her of the risks, including possible nerve injuries, before carrying out the procedure to treat her varicose veins in July 2010.

Yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Aedit Abdullah dismissed Madam Rathanamalah's claim.

He found that while Dr Chia did not maintain a complete contemporaneous record of his consultations with the patient, she had signed the consent form acknowledging that the risks had been explained to her.

There was also evidence from Dr Chia's witnesses, including the doctor who had referred her to the surgeon, that he had given her advice and obtained her consent.

The judicial commissioner commented that based on video surveillance, the extent of her injuries may not be as bad as she claims. He also noted that she had tried to claim for medical expenses which were already covered by her insurers.

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

ASG v ASH - [2016] SGHC 130

SCA clarifies the standard of care owed by employers to former employees when providing references

14 Sep 2016

Ho's music career a genuine investment: Defendants' lawyers

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016
Danson Cheong

Putting church money into the music career of Ms Ho Yeow Sun was a genuine investment and City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders had every right to do so.

That was the argument put forth by the lawyers of both former CHC finance manager Serina Wee, 39, and CHC deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 43, at their appeal hearing in the High Court yesterday.

In October last year, Wee and Tan were among six CHC leaders convicted of misappropriating millions in church funds to fuel the pop music career of Ms Ho - the wife of CHC founder Kong Hee - in a church mission known as the Crossover Project.

The court found that the six CHC leaders - including Kong - had invested $24 million from CHC's building fund in bogus bonds used to fund the Crossover Project.

Later, another $26 million was used to cover up the initial misdeed.

Wee and Tan were the last two CHC leaders to present their cases. All six are appealing against their convictions and sentences. The prosecution, for its part, is asking for longer sentences.

Said Wee's lawyer, Senior Counsel Andre Maniam: "My client did not think she was doing anything wrong - if there was an element of financial return, it was an investment."

The lower court had ruled that the bonds were not a genuine investment - in part because it found that the proceeds from these financial instruments were, in fact, controlled by the CHC leaders.

Mr Maniam told the court that there was nothing wrong with the investments having a dual purpose of both funding Ms Ho's music career and having an expectation of a financial return.

"(Wee's) point is (they) are not expensing the building fund for missions but also investing it," said Mr Maniam.

He had earlier referenced album sales projections for Ms Ho's United States album that showed profits would be made.

However, the album was never launched in the end - Kong told the court previously this was because of ongoing investigations in 2010.

Dressed in a black blouse and skirt, Wee, like the other accused, sat emotionless in the dock.

She faces a five-year jail term.

Wee, like the other five CHC leaders, took issue with the lower court's finding that using the building fund to finance the Crossover was a "wrong use" of the money.

Tan's lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, told the court the Crossover was a mission of the church.

"(Tan's) mind was very, very clear, the Crossover was legitimate and supported by church members," said Mr Sreenivasan.

Tan, Kong's right-hand man, faces a 5�-year jail term.

Mr Sreenivasan said his client had provided "important and relevant information" to both the auditors and lawyers, and they knew that the bond proceeds would ultimately fund the Crossover Project.

Yet, no red flags were raised, he said.

Referring to Tan and the other CHC leaders spending CHC's money on the bonds, Mr Sreenivasan said: "They did not have knowledge that they were not legally entitled to do so."

Having said that, Mr Sreenivasan said Tan had made his peace with whatever finding the court would make.

"At the end of the day, if the court feels that it is legally wrong, then that is their will and (he) will let it be," he said.

The prosecution is expected to respond and present its case today. The appeal will also continue tomorrow.

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

Allplus Holdings Pte Ltd and others v Phoon Wui Nyen (Pan Weiyuan) - [2016] SGHC 144

Proposed payments framework and establishment of National Payments Council

13 Sep 2016

6 1/2 years' jail, caning for man who abused girlfriend's baby

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016
Amir Hussain

Tan pleaded guilty earlier this month to one charge of causing grievous hurt and three out of four charges of ill-treating a child. 

A man who pushed his girlfriend's one-year-old son off a bed with so much force that the baby broke his skull was yesterday sentenced to 6 1/2 years' jail and six strokes of the cane.

The infant had bleeding in his brain but miraculously survived the ordeal on March 25 last year - after emergency surgery. Now aged three, the boy is in foster care and undergoing rehabilitative therapy.

His tormentor, Franklie Tan Guang Wei, 26, pleaded guilty earlier this month to one charge of causing grievous hurt and three out of four charges of ill-treating a child.

District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim said a deterrent sentence was needed to signal society's disapproval and reprobation of Tan's conduct.

"The most glaring and obvious aggravating factor is the fact that these acts of abuse were committed against a defenceless and vulnerable child... His only crime was the fact that he cried, a natural thing for him to do at his age, and could not be consoled, which (Tan) found frustrating," she said.

The boy was born in mid-2013, after his father lost contact with his mother, who is now 25. In August 2014, she got into a relationship with Tan, who did odd jobs and last worked at a mobile phone shop. The next month, the infant's behaviour changed.

"(He) appeared to be fearful of males and started having nightmares in his sleep," Assistant Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok said.

Two nannies who looked after him also found bruises on his body.

"When (the mother) was questioned, she denied that (he) had been abused and claimed that there were 'spirits' in the flat," Mr Kok added.

In November 2014, the mother got pregnant with Tan's child and moved in with Tan and his mother.

On Nov 8, the baby's cries woke the couple. Tan slapped him once, leaving finger marks on his cheek and bruising near his ear.

Three days after the incident, a nanny took photos of the bruises and swelling. She made a police report about the injuries on Nov 19 and the Child Protective Service was informed. The baby was then put under the nannies' care, and the mother and Tan were allowed only weekly supervised access. Tan's grandparents later took over from the nannies in taking care of the baby in February last year, with the couple granted supervised access again.

But on March 8 last year, Tan's grandfather left the infant at Tan's flat. That night, frustrated with his cries, Tan threw the baby at his mother, who was about 2m away. The infant fell against her body.

Later, Tan and the mother were allowed to spend the nights with him. But on the morning of March 25, angered by the baby's cries, Tan hit his buttocks twice, causing a bruise.

After the mother went to work, leaving the infant alone with Tan, the baby vomited on the bed. Angry, Tan forcefully pushed him off the bed with his right arm.

The infant landed face-up on the floor about 2m away and vomited. Tan took him to the toilet to shower but did not check the water temperature first, scalding his upper back.

Later, Tan noticed that the baby was in a daze and semi-conscious. He was also vomiting repeatedly. Tan told the mother, who went home to find the infant weak and very pale. They took him to hospital.

The mother has been charged with two counts of permitting Tan to ill-treat the baby. Her trial is scheduled to begin next Monday.

Defence lawyer Gino Hardial Singh submitted a psychiatric report that said Tan has persistent depressive disorder, poor emotion regulation and low intelligence.

Tan could have been jailed for up to 10 years, fined and caned for causing grievous hurt. For child abuse, he could have been fined $4,000 and jailed for four years per charge.

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Ang Zhu Ci Joshua v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGHC 143

SGX consults on refinements to the minimum trading price framework

09 Sep 2016

Find other ways to counter illegal gambling: Forum

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016
Toh Shok Ching

I was saddened by last Thursday's report ("Legal online betting may be available soon").

The Government approving Singapore Pools' and Singapore Turf Club's applications to be exempted from the Remote Gambling Act would be taking the easy way out in its efforts to counter illicit gambling on unauthorised websites.

Instead, it should think up responsive measures by working closely with the police and the Infocomm Development Authority, while continuing to ban and block websites that offer remote gambling services.

In fact, the ban acted as a deterrent.

What makes the Government think that the number of gambling addicts will not spiral upwards with the introduction of online betting?

Leisure gamblers could possibly turn into chronic ones. Online gambling could even reach new audiences, such as young people, housewives, retirees and the jobless. All they need is a smartphone or computer to log in at any time.

It is easy to get addicted to gambling, but so much harder to get out of it.

Chronic gamblers still place bets, even with the inconvenience of having to queue at kiosks. Why tempt them further with the convenience of online betting?

Telling the public that the gambling surpluses from Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club are used for good causes is irrelevant to families that are broken up as a result of gambling.

These families may not recover from the psychological damage gambling does to them.

We have already seen the damage the casinos brought. We do not need to see more.

Toh Shok Ching (Mrs)

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Shenzhen Kenouxin Electronic Co Ltd v Heliyanto and others - [2016] SGHC 139

All in good faith: Recognising the doctrine of good faith in Singapore’s international sales law

09 Sep 2016

Businessman fined for fighting man suspected of affair with wife

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016
K. C. Vijayan

A district judge fined a businessman instead of jailing him for a bruising fight with a man alleged to be having an affair with his wife.

The prosecution, which is appealing against the sentence, had urged that Tommy Koh Leng Theng, 36, be jailed for at least three weeks for his "relentless" blows that continued even after Mr Ho Wei Siong, 42, was on the ground.

"But there were factors that mitigated against the seriousness of Mr Koh's actions", including his "emotional response to seeing Mr Ho, who he perceived was responsible for the breakdown of his marriage", said District Judge Adam Nakhoda.

Mr Ho was also "insolent" when asked if he had had an affair with Koh's wife, responding: "What if I have, what can you do?" This led to Koh overreacting, he added in judgment grounds released last week.

Koh had pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace when he fought with Mr Ho at Lorong 27A, Geylang on June 11, 2014.

Koh also agreed to an additional charge being taken into account during sentencing, which involved fighting with another man who had made advances on his wife in 2012.

The district judge agreed with Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Shi that since Koh had previously resorted to fighting to settle differences, he had to be specifically deterred from doing so in future.

In pressing for a jail term, DPP Shi pointed to the serious injuries Mr Ho suffered, among other things, saying he had bruises, abrasions and stitches on his left eyelid.

Lawyer Anil Singh, in defending Koh, argued that the incident was not premeditated, with Koh emotionally unstable because of his marriage breaking down.

He added that Mr Ho had used a plastic chair to hit Koh when the latter tried to punch him, after which the fight began.

Mr Ho, who was given six days' medical leave, had been issued a stern warning by the police for his part, noted the judge.

The district judge acknowledged the aggravating factors but ruled the "threshold" to merit a jail term had not been crossed, given the facts and circumstances of the case.

"I considered that imposing the maximum fine of $5,000 would be sufficient to meet the needs of specific deterrence," he said.

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

Shi Ka Yee v Nasrat Lucas Muzayyin and another - [2016] SGHC 138

Latest developments: Healthcare

09 Sep 2016

Ex-principal fired from public service

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016
Jeremy Koh

Koh lied about his affair with a school vendor and was sentenced to four weeks' jail in January

A former River Valley High School (RVHS) principal, who was sentenced to four weeks' jail in January after lying about an extramarital affair with a school vendor to whom he awarded contracts, has been dismissed from public service.

Koh Yong Chiah, who was 61 when sentenced to jail, was once one of Singapore's "super principals".

A notice posted yesterday in the online edition of the Government Gazette said that Koh, a Senior Education Officer Superscale G, had been dismissed from the public service with effect from Sept 14.

On Nov 24, 2005, the father of two gave false information to an officer from the Ministry of Education (MOE), asserting that he was not having an affair with school service provider Ivy Loke Wai Lin.

Koh was then principal of Jurong Junior College (JJC), a post he held from 2003 until 2009, when he became principal of RVHS.

Koh and Ms Loke, who was 55 as of January this year, met in 2000 while he was the principal of the former Chinese High School (CHS). Their first sexual encounter was during a CHS community service trip to Lijiang, China, in 2001. Both were married.

Between May and November 2005, in his capacity as the final approving authority for contracts at JJC, Koh awarded six contracts worth $162,491 to Ms Loke's firm, Education Architects 21 (EA 21).

He did not disclose the nature of his relationship with Ms Loke to the quotation approval panel.

Between 2005 and 2012, he approved $3.4 million worth of contracts to EA 21 and Education Incorporation, another of Ms Loke's firms.

Dubbed one of the "super principals" when he was appointed cluster superintendent in 1999, Koh was, at one point in his career with the education service, overseeing 11 schools in the south zone.

The Nanyang University graduate began his teaching career at Catholic High School in 1981, eventually becoming Kranji Secondary's principal. He made the news in 1999 when he was named principal of CHS.

When the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau started investigating him in 2012, he was redeployed to the MOE to assist in curriculum development.

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

Shi Wen Yue v Shi Minjiu and another - [2016] SGHC 137

Are you licensed to claim? The licensing regime under the Singapore Building Control Act

09 Sep 2016

Feedback wanted on tweaks to charities' code of governance

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016
Priscilla Goy

Charity Council proposes changes to improve transparency and accountability

Charities should disclose information on their board members - including their attendance at board meetings, their pay and when they were appointed.

They should also declare the pay packet for each of their three highest-paid staff, if the person's pay exceeds $100,000 a year.

These guidelines - some of which already apply to larger charities - will be extended to cover almost all charities, under proposed changes to the code of governance for the charity sector.

  • Proposed changes

  • Disclosure of board members' names, board appointments and dates of appointment

    NOW: This is required by law, for charities with annual receipts or expenditure of $500,000 and above.

    NEW: This is a guideline in the new basic tier, that is, for charities with annual receipts of over $50,000 and all Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs).

    Disclosure of number of board meetings in the year, and attendance of each board member

    NOW: No such guideline.

    NEW: Guideline in basic tier.

    Disclosure of board members' pay in annual report

    Generally, board members should not be paid for their services on the board. If they are, the pay and benefits should be declared in the annual report.

    NOW: This guideline applies only to charities with annual receipts of above $10 million and IPCs with annual receipts of above $200,000.

    NEW: Guideline in basic tier.

    Disclosure of pay of each of charity's three highest-paid staff, if this exceeds $100,000 a year

    NOW: This is a guideline for large charities with annual receipts of above $10 million, and IPCs with annual receipts of above $200,000.

    NEW: Guideline in basic tier. Total annual pay also includes any pay received in a charity's subsidiaries. The charity should also disclose if any of the three top-paid staff serves on the board.

    Maximum term limit of 10 years for at least two-thirds of the board members

    NOW: No such guideline.

    NEW: Guideline for large charities with annual receipts of above $10 million, and IPCs with annual receipts of above $500,000.

Small charities with annual receipts or total expenditure of less than $50,000 will be exempt from these, as well as from submitting online checklists that evaluate their governance.

Such charities usually have fewer staff and more resource constraints, and find it tougher to meet the guidelines. They make up about 10 per cent of the more than 2,000 charities in Singapore.

The Charity Council is asking the public for feedback on the proposed changes, and the consultation paper can be read online from today.

The council promotes good governance in the sector and advises the Commissioner of Charities on regulatory issues. The code of governance is a best practices guide for charities to improve their transparency and public accountability.

It was introduced in 2007, and refined once in 2010. The latest refined code is expected to be launched early next year.

The council said yesterday that it started on the latest refinement in August last year, "to enhance the code's relevance and clarity, taking into consideration developments in other jurisdictions and increased global focus on good governance, transparency and accountability to enable informed giving decisions".

The guidelines are tiered, depending on the charity's financial size and status as an Institution of a Public Character (IPC).

In giving the rationale for extending some guidelines to mid-sized charities, the council said: "Charities are public-interest entities and receive tax exemption on their income. Therefore, there is a greater need for transparency and accountability to the public for all charities to whom the code applies."

It also noted that key decisions are made at board meetings and it wants to encourage regular attendance at the meetings, even if this is done via teleconferencing.

Mr Delane Lim, who is not paid as an executive director and board member of the Character and Leadership Academy, said he does not mind having to disclose more information, noting that safeguards and transparency are important. His charity, which conducts youth outreach programmes, had an annual income of about $70,000 in the financial year ending in April last year.

"There will probably be more paperwork, and we don't have many staff to do that, but I think it's okay as long as the process is seamless and convenient," he said.

"If the authorities start asking for many supporting documents like Central Provident Fund statements, or insist that attendance at every board meeting is very high, then that may be quite ridiculous."

Other proposed changes include introducing a maximum term of 10 consecutive years for at least two-thirds of the charity's board members. This is generally for larger charities.

The council originally proposed to have this guideline apply to all board members, to encourage renewal and introduction of "fresh ideas". But it decided to allow more flexibility after receiving feedback from dialogues with charities.

Mr Gerard Ee, who chairs the council, told The Straits Times: "For a religious charity where the founder sits on the board, the charity may not want the founder to step down from the board after 10 years."

The council also recommended that larger charities set in place whistle-blowing policies and risk-management processes.

• The public has until Oct 18 to send feedback on the proposed changes to charity_council_sec@mccy.gov.sg

• The consultation paper is available at www.charities.gov.sg and www.reach.gov.sg

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

JVL Agro Industries Ltd v Agritrade International Pte Ltd - [2016] SGHC 126

Private wealth planning – Why Singapore

07 Sep 2016

Singaporean nabbed for drug trafficking in Bali

Straits Times
20 Sep 2016
Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

A Singaporean working illegally as a deejay has been arrested for drug trafficking on the popular Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Officials said Muhammad Faliq Nordin, 32, was nabbed during a sting operation on Sept 10, after he picked up two packages at a post office in Denpasar, Bali's capital.

The packages, which arrived separately from the Netherlands on Aug 29 and Sept 9, contained a total of 100.2g of methamphetamine, better known by its street name, crystal meth, and 30.3g of cocaine.

The drugs have an estimated street value of 225 million rupiah (S$23,300), according to Mr Syarif Hidayat, who heads the Customs and excise office for Bali, Nusa Tenggara Barat and Nusa Tenggara Timur.

"The illicit drugs were hidden in ceramic cups and filled over with candle," he said.

Bali police director for narcotics Franky Parapet said Faliq confessed that he was going to deliver the packages to a friend identified as Kubo Raum, a British national.

"The suspect went to the post office carrying a proxy letter signed by Kubo Raum to pick up the package, he was also carrying Kubo Raum's passport," said Mr Franky, adding that the police are now searching for the Briton.

Bali provincial police spokesman Anak Agung Made Sudana said Faliq is the first Singaporean to be arrested on the island for drug trafficking.

Faliq has been living in Bali for the last four to six months on a tourist visa and had worked as a deejay, said Mr Franky. He had also deejayed in the Philippines and Thailand recently.

Mr Franky said initial investigations indicated that Faliq was operating as a "drug courier" even though the Singaporean claimed that he did not know what was in the packages. He claimed he was collecting them as a favour for Kubo, whom he befriended two to three months ago.

Indonesian law differentiates between a drug user, courier and dealer, with the latter typically receiving the maximum death sentence if found guilty.

The amount of drugs seized during Faliq's arrest does not carry the death sentence but, if found guilty, he could be jailed for life.

Indonesia has a tough anti-drugs policy and the Joko Widodo government has stepped up executions of drug convicts, including several foreigners, in recent years.

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

Mykytowych, Pamela Jane v V I P Hotel - [2016] SGCA 44

Applications against network service providers for discovery of subscriber details – ongoing developments

07 Sep 2016

Limit working hours for lawyers called to the Bar: Voices

19 Sep 2016

I refer to The Big Read article “As supply of lawyers lurches from shortage to glut, spotlight falls on policies” (Sept 10).

The Chief Justice’s suggestion of the paralegal route for fresh graduates has potential consequences, not to mention the concerns of those pursuing a law diploma.

As a member of the legal fraternity, I would argue that another way to address the oversupply of lawyers is to limit, by statute, the working hours per week for lawyers called to the Bar.

This would crystallise the aspiration to a better work-life balance, drive up productivity, and generate higher demand for lawyers.

Obviously, there are other economic considerations: Proponents of free-market principles would frown upon tampering with market forces, and owners of legal practices would argue that this would increase costs and make legal services less competitive.

Most people may agree that the invisible hand of the market should be balanced by the visible hands of good governance and regulation to prevent market failure.

As with other businesses, legal practices are exposed to the risk of regulations and would be wise to price in such risks, whether during the recruitment of lawyers or the provision of legal services.

Long working hours are a factor in the mid-career attrition rate; it follows that a statutory limit on working hours is a straightforward fix to stop the haemorrhage of experienced practitioners.

I also think that a minor tweak to the qualification process — extending the training contract period — would serve as another remedy.

The current process for local law graduates consists of five months of studying for the Bar examinations and a six-month practice training period, whereas the process is longer for overseas law graduates.

The qualification period in Singapore is shorter than in England and Australia. In England, qualified solicitors must have first completed the legal practice course, similar to our Bar examinations, and then a two-year training contract.

In New South Wales, Australia, a barrister must have undertaken 12 months of training. Notably, however, law degrees in England and Australia can be completed in three years, compared with four years in Singapore.

Regulating the supply of qualified legal professionals is not an easy task; if the market is saturated, and we prefer not to do a U-turn on overseas graduates, we should focus on fine-tuning the process where the supply meets demand.

Ambition is indeed no substitute for ability as Singapore continues its efforts to establish itself as the legal hub of the region. And plainly, this potential glut is, in fact, an opportunity if it is managed properly.


Ju Xiaoyong

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved 

Public Prosecutor v Pram Nair - [2016] SGHC 136

Powering the innovation cycle through intellectual property

07 Sep 2016

Singapore companies take wait-and-see approach

Straits Times
19 Sep 2016
Lee Xin En

With little idea of how Britain's new relationship with the European Union will look, businesses in Singapore are taking a wait-and-see approach, even as they make preparations to amend legal agreements.

For now, the main impact on Singapore companies with a presence in Britain has been limited to the sterling's depreciation - and for some, this has been a silver lining.

Local property developer Oxley Holdings, which is developing the Royal Wharf waterfront project in London, said that while the sterling's fall will affect profits, it has also prompted increased inquiries from overseas buyers since Brexit.

As of the end of last month, 88 per cent of about 3,400 units at the Royal Wharf had been sold, it said. It plans to double marketing efforts in the Middle East and Asia.

City Developments (CDL), which has 22 hotels in Britain through its London-listed unit Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C), said the impact of the currency fall is seen when the British operations are consolidated into Singapore dollars in the accounts of M&C's parent, CDL.

Despite perceptions that a weaker sterling will make Britain more attractive to travellers, the firm has yet to see evidence of this. CDL executive chairman Kwek Beng Leng said that raising rates would be difficult, but added that he expects a boost in domestic British tourism, which would benefit M&C.

"During this period of economic uncertainty, our strategy is to ensure that costs are controlled. This is a very important factor," he said.

For conglomerate Sembcorp, which provides utilities to chemical and other manufacturing firms, the weaker sterling has been a boon.

"We haven't seen any fall in demand from our customers in Britain thus far. In some cases, some are even increasing production to take advantage of the weaker pound," a spokesman said by e-mail.

Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chief Ho Meng Kit said for its members with business in Britain, things are back to "near normal".

He noted that as Singapore firms operating in Britain are largely in the services and hospitality sectors, Brexit would be "less impactful" for them than firms using Britain as a manufacturing hub to Europe.

Lawyers here said that clients are making preparations, although nothing has been executed.

Ms Sophie Mathur, a Singapore-based partner at Linklaters, said that while firms here were not feeling the impact on a day-to-day basis, companies and investment managers were looking at areas such as data-sharing rules.

"Under Singapore's Personal Data Protection Act, you can export data to a country with an equivalent regime, or take steps to ensure that data is treated as it would be here," she said. "The EU is generally seen as the gold standard for data protection laws. It is not yet clear if the new United Kingdom rules will be an equivalent regime.

"Singapore firms will have to assess the extent to which the regime there is equivalent to Singapore's, and whether they are allowed to transfer data there without taking additional steps."

The latest available figures from the Department of Statistics show that Singapore's foreign direct investment in the UK amounted to $41.6 billion in 2014.

Meanwhile, investment managers might have agreements with clients to buy EU funds, which would have implications for how the agreements would pan out from a "definitional point of view", Ms Mathur added. "We are poised to start amending those agreements but, as of now, we can't."

Ms Lee Suet-Fern, senior director of Morgan Lewis Stamford's Singapore office, said companies were looking at dispute resolution provisions in their contracts.

"With respect to new contracts, where possible, many Singapore corporates active in Europe are now more keen to push to use Singapore law and Singapore dispute resolution, for familiarity and clarity. Counter-parties are becoming more receptive to this."

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

Eng Chiet Shoong and others v Cheong Soh Chin and others and another appeal - [2016] SGCA 45

Personal liability for false declarations in work pass applications – recent spate of prosecutions

06 Sep 2016

More expat spouses left in lurch in divorce cases

Straits Times
18 Sep 2016
Amelia Teng

Ending a marriage is never easy, especially in a foreign country, and this is the case for a growing group of expatriate spouses here.

While dealing with divorce, some find themselves stripped of their Dependant's Pass (DP) and are forced to leave the country or fight a lengthy legal battle. They can even be forced to leave behind young children.

Under the law, a parent cannot leave Singapore with his or her children without the consent of the other parent, even if they are legally divorced. Those who do so can be hauled back to Singapore on charges of child abduction.

Once the DP is cancelled, he or she is given a social visit pass or tourist visa to stay in Singapore, which could be 30 to 90 days. He or she is not allowed to work during this period.

This method of "getting rid" of expat spouses is becoming more common, according to lawyers.

When an expat moves here, his or her company sponsors the Employment Pass (EP). The employer of the expat, who is typically male, then sponsors his wife and children as dependants on his pass, which he can ask to cancel any time.

Ms Catherine Rose Yates, a British permanent resident who set up a support group for expats going through a divorce, said she has come across 11 such cases.

"The spouse with the EP is legally entitled to request to cancel the DPs of his family members and, in these cases, by cancelling only the mother's DP, he is trying to separate her from the child," she said.

"He is hoping that she would have to leave the country. That puts him in a better position in a custody battle for the children."

Ms Christina Karl, managing director of Berry Appleman & Leiden Asia Pacific, an immigration consultancy firm, said: "Cancellation is immediate once the employer makes the request. It is not the individual who cancels the DP, but his or her employer as it is the sponsor."

Ms Yates said the support group has grown from five to six members in December 2014 to more than 250 now.

"Almost every day, there is a new post on the group's Facebook page asking for advice about these visa situations. It works both ways, but it tends to be the women who are more vulnerable," she added.

Kate (not her real name), a 26-year-old from Kazakhstan, was told via letters from her husband's lawyers earlier this month that her DP had been cancelled and she could stay in Singapore only on a social visit pass until Oct 5. She was also told she had been taken off the tenancy agreement of their rented condominiumunit and had to leave within the same time period.

Her French husband, a tennis coach who holds an EP, had filed for divorce just a day before, after moving out of their place in July.

She is still staying there with their son, who is nearly two years old. She lost her monthly pay of $1,800 as a spa receptionist last month when her contract ended and is not able to work now.

"If I take my baby home with me, I am denying him access to his father, but why is it also not seen the other way round?" she asked. She has since managed to engage pro bono lawyers to try to get her DP back until the divorce is finalised.

Lawyers said that, in these cases, the working spouse has not done anything illegal. Ms Aishah Winter, associate director at Consilium Law Corp, said: "While probably not desirable, the husband may be within his legal rights in cancelling the DP for the partner and retaining it for his child. The visa status of children is usually pegged to the husband's (or working parent's) employment status in Singapore and will not usually have to change upon a divorce."

Ms Poonam Mirchandani, partner at Mirchandani & Partners, which specialises in international family law, said current rules and regulations allow the spouse holding the EP to, in a way, "play God".

She has seen a 25 per cent rise in the number of expats filing for divorce here in the last two years.

"If there is an ongoing court case, and the children are in Singapore, my firm has seen instances where ICA has given the spouse a long-term visit pass," she said, referring to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

She added: "A trailing wife, whose marriage has broken down and whose husband behaves unconscionably, will find herself in a desperate position.

"Not only is her continued stay here dependent on the whims of her husband supporting her DP application, but he could also cut her off financially and deprive her of access to their home and children. As a foreigner, she is also not entitled to any legal aid."

Mrs Franca Ciambella, managing director of Consilium Law Corp, said her firm has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of expat inquiries for divorce and separation this year. Many face complications in their visa situations.

Her firm tries to work with both parties or the opposing party's lawyer to maintain the wife's visa status in the interim.

"If that is not possible, (we ask) for a more reasonable timeline in the wife's ability to stay... All of this is dependent on the clients themselves and their willingness not to allow their emotions to affect their decisions, which could cause disruption in the lives of their children."

Ms Wong Kai Yun, co-managing partner of Chia Wong LLP, has seen spouses whose DPs were cancelled, give up and leave Singapore. Such a situation is what the husband is usually counting on.

Lawyer Gloria James-Civetta said that about half of the spouses in expat divorce cases she saw last year threatened to cancel the DP.

"After receiving my letter, they usually take steps to reinstate the DP at least until the divorce is finalised and, in some cases, until the partner can get a relevant pass to work here," she added. "Usually, the stubborn ones will go to court."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower said that a person may also apply for a work pass on his or her own merit, adding: "Approval will be subject to the relevant eligibility criteria being met."

Ms Mirchandani feels that the courts should more readily allow trailing spouses to relocate with their children, if they can show that they have no means of staying here.

Ms Yates said: "It could be easier if there was some sort of visa to allow the women caught in such situations to get back on their feet.

"They would like to work and not be completely dependent on their ex-husbands, but they need some support to get the right passes so they can be with their children."


A trailing wife, whose marriage has broken down and whose husband behaves unconscionably, will find herself in a desperate position. Not only is her continued stay here dependent on the whims of her husband supporting her DP application, but he could also cut her off financially and deprive her of access to their home and children. As a foreigner, she is also not entitled to any legal aid.

MS POONAM MIRCHANDANI, partner at Mirchandani & Partners, which specialises in international family law.



Staying in Singapore on visit pass

For nearly every month since January last year, Alicia (not her real name) has been heading to Malaysia by plane or bus, and returning shortly after. All for the sake of her five-year-old daughter. Following her divorce in 2014, her Dependant's Pass (DP) expired in January last year, and she has been on a visit pass, which has to be renewed for her to stay in Singapore.

"ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority) gives me eight to 30 days of extension, if any, depending on the reasons I have, like a date for a court case," said the 35-year-old, whose daughter is on a DP here and attends pre-school.

The court had awarded joint custody of the girl to both parents, and care and control to Alicia, which means she is responsible for the girl's daily care.

But being on a visit pass means she cannot work and has trouble renting a home.

She stayed at a friend's place for a year for free, before moving in May to a room in another friend's home in Bukit Batok with her daughter, paying $800 a month in rent.

Her applications to change her daughter's DP to a Student's Pass - for foreigners studying here - had been rejected three times. If her daughter had a Student's Pass, Alicia could apply for a Long-Term Visit Pass to accompany her as a guardian.

"I have my daughter here and I have the care and control, but it's clearly not enough for me to extend the visa to a long-term one," she said.

Alicia, who declined to reveal her nationality for privacy reasons, alleged that her former husband - an American who is a banker on an Employment Pass - had started cheating on her in 2011. He now sees their daughter nine days a month and pays $2,000 monthly for child support. "It's so difficult to plan anything because I don't know when I will be kicked out of the country," said Alicia. She found a lawyer in May - who charges her a small fee of $300 a month - to help with legal proceedings.

"I'm still looking for a job offer but it's very difficult, especially when companies are employing only locals or permanent residents. "I'm scared I'll lose my daughter - she's my everything. I would be glad to go back to my home country and start life all over again, but I also don't want to separate her from her father. "So I'm totally stuck."


 Amelia Teng


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


Peh Kah Chan v Tan Chong Realty (Pte) Ltd - [2016] SGHC 135

Singapore Employment Claims Tribunal to come into operation from April 2017 – whither employment arbitration?

02 Sep 2016

1 in 5 complaints against docs due to poor communication

Straits Times
18 Sep 2016
Linette Lai

Complaints against doctors have been creeping up over the past decade - about one in five that the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) finished investigating last year boiled down to poor communication between doctor and patient, says Dr Tan Chi Chiu.

In updating the council's guidelines on medical ethics, he hopes to reverse the trend - giving patients a better idea of what to expect from treatment by making sure that doctors go through all the important issues with them.

"In the complaints that the Complaints Committee has received, many of them have to do with either poor communication or a misunderstanding of the ethical obligations," said Dr Tan, a gastroenterologist in private practice who chaired the working committee reviewing the guidelines.

When people complain after procedures go wrong, for example, investigations often throw up a similar issue: Patients felt they were not told enough to make an informed decision.

"Sometimes, what is discovered is that the consent-taking was not a thorough process," Dr Tan explained. "Information which ought to have been given - regarding the potential for side effects, adverse outcomes, risks and so on - was not clearly explained."

The SMC received 141 complaints last year - its lowest in six years, although the figure has generally been on an upward trend.

Its updated ethical code and guidelines were announced on Wednesday. This is the first time that these guidelines have been revised since 2002.

Unlike the old set of rules, the new guidelines are more specific on the dos and don'ts. They include detailed advice on issues such as complementary medicine, caring for minors and the appropriate charging of doctors' fees.

This was intentional, said Dr Tan, as the environment that medical professionals work in is an increasingly complex one.

"We believe that doctors can be better educated and guided on their ethical obligations if guidelines are comprehensive, rather than general and vague," he said.

The new guidelines also address issues such as fees and appropriate advertising - a necessary addition, said Dr Tan, in an era where medical services have become more commercialised.

Rather than listing the fees which doctors should charge - a measure that was scrapped in 2010 when the Competition Commission of Singapore ruled that doing so was anti-competitive - the guidelines specify the principles doctors should abide by when making commercial decisions.

For example, fees must be "fair and reasonable and commensurate with the work actually done", while advertising must not "exploit patients' vulnerabilities, fears or lack of knowledge".

Cardiologist Kenneth Ng, who is from the Novena Heart Centre, said that the guidelines help doctors to "know where the boundaries are, so that we operate within the allowed confines".

Meanwhile, general practitioner Yik Keng Yeong said that he makes sure he and his patients are on the same page by explaining the potential effects of treatment.

"For example, if you're doing a little operation to remove a lump, you've got to forewarn the patient that it might cause a scar," said Dr Yik, who carries out small surgical procedures under local anaesthetic. "You must let them know these things and manage their expectations."

Added Dr Chua Jun Jin of JJ Chua Rejuvenative Cosmetic and Laser Surgery: "To me as a practising physician, the most important principle that I follow is to do everything we can in the interests of our patients."


  • Updated guide for doctors

  • What's new in the Singapore Medical Council's (SMC) updated ethical guidelines for doctors:

    •Sections on telemedicine and end-of-life care, which have become more prominent in recent years. Doctors practising telemedicine, for instance, are reminded that they must try to provide the same quality of care as they would in person.

    •A section on complementary and alternative medicine. Doctors must practise only the forms that are approved by the SMC, and must not mislead patients as to the appropriateness and expected benefits.

    •An expanded section on caring for vulnerable patients who may not be able to make informed decisions, such as minors and people with diminished mental capacities.

    •More specific instructions on how doctors should charge patients, including their ethical obligations to be transparent and charge "reasonable fees" that are commensurate with the work done.

    •Detailed guidelines on the way doctors advertise their services. These include advertising in a way that does not exploit patients' insecurities, fears or lack of knowledge.

    •Guidelines on the appropriate use of social media, such as not initiating social media relationships with patients, and making sure that the things they choose to make public do not bring the medical profession into disrepute.

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

Huang Liping v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGCA 43

Consultation paper on review of risk-based capital framework for insurers in Singapore

02 Sep 2016

Has the bar been set too high?

Straits Times
18 Sep 2016
Chong Zi Liang

Has the bar for potential presidential candidates been raised too high, inadvertently excluding individuals who have what it takes to be the head of state?

Nominated MP Azmoon Ahmad raised this question at last Friday's panel discussion, when he zeroed in on two key amendments to the eligibility criteria suggested by the Constitutional Commission and accepted by the Government.

When the changes kick in, private-sector candidates must have had experience running large, complex companies that have a minimum of $500 million in shareholders' equity - a change from the current requirement of $100 million in paid-up capital.

Also, only the most senior executive in such a company will qualify.

But Mr Azmoon argued that the $500 million figure was not an exact measure of a person's capabilities, and someone helming a company of a lower value may well have better leadership skills.

"I know of top executives, those that lead smaller companies, and they are good leaders and their products are, what I call, low-value products and they will never make the $500 million mark," he said.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam acknowledged that the $500 million figure is a "proxy" for finding individuals with the necessary financial competence. But he highlighted that the same could be said of the criterion, no matter what figure it is set at.

  • The $500m question: What they said

  • AZMOON AHMAD: I know of top executives, those that lead smaller companies, and they are good leaders and their products are what I call low- value products and they will never make the $500 million mark. K. SHANMUGAM: I understand. But how do we devise a system that doesn't look at individuals but can work for the future?

    AZMOON: Precisely, that's what I'm trying to point out - this $500 million is still a proxy, it is not a true measure. SHANMUGAM: Yes, it's a proxy.

    AZMOON: Yes, so if it's not a true measure, it's just a proxy and that proxy became...

    SHANMUGAM: I don't say it's not a true measure, I say it's a proxy.

    AZMOON: Okay, a proxy may become a stumbling block, a filtration where it's not real. That's my worry. Can we couch it a bit different?

    SHANMUGAM: Right. Well, you have the deliberative track which Gillian Koh pointed, even if you haven't run a company of size of $500 million, but if you can persuade the Presidential Elections Committee that you have this kind of qualities and you have run a smaller company but your company made all these sorts of advances and changes and it's demonstrative of your ability, if you can persuade the PEC that you have comparable experience, then you can still succeed.

That is why the commission compared the financial figures today with those of 1991, when the elected presidency was introduced, to get a sense of how the eligibility criteria should be revised to better reflect the present economic landscape.

"There is no ideal way of choosing the best person, but if you want to look for markers and proxies, this is what the commission has come up with," he said.

And even if an applicant's company does not meet the $500 million mark, the rules include what Mr Shanmugam called a "deliberative track" that allows the vetting body, the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC), some leeway on who qualifies to stand for election.

"If you can persuade the PEC that you have this kind of qualities and you have run a smaller company but your company made all these sorts of advances and changes and it's demonstrative of your ability, if you can persuade the PEC that you have comparable experience, then you can still succeed," he said.

Later, Mr Azmoon asked if it was necessary to restrict qualification to only the top executive position in a firm. A chief financial officer - not as high a rank as chief executive - could actually be the best person to look into the numbers when safeguarding the national reserves, he said.

But Institute of Policy Studies deputy director Gillian Koh pointed out the commission's rationale was that only the most senior decision-maker in a company will have the required expertise and experience.

Mr Shanmugam added that if more executive positions could qualify, the PEC would "be hard-pressed to decide what exactly your executive role was, how significant your role was in the context of the success of the company".

"The commission's view was 'let's be quite clean and neat about it - you show that you are responsible for the company and that it was profitable, that you managed it and for a period'," he said.

Meanwhile, National University of Singapore assistant professor of law Cheah Wui Ling suggested that the PEC's decision on who qualifies to stand for president could be subject to judicial review.

But Mr Shanmugam said the realities of operating such a system would make it too complex and unworkable.

"Let's say a candidate challenges and meanwhile elections are held and someone else is elected, the court ruling may come 18 months down the road. I think judicial review in such cases is not the best or most practical solution," he said.

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

AUA v ATZ - [2016] SGCA 41

MAS issues response to feedback from consultation paper on insurance returns: Proposed revisions to information requirements and presentation format

31 Aug 2016

Shareholder move to oust SBI Offshore CEO stalls

Business Times
17 Sep 2016
Anita Gabriel

FRIDAY's meeting for SBI Offshore shareholders to vote on a board shake-up that was triggered by a major shareholder's "mutiny" against the chief executive officer came through like an edgy day-time chat show and after two highly-charged hours, ended up being adjourned.

The hashtag #nofilter came to mind as all nine directors, led by chairman Mirzan Mahathir, huddled at one side of a table at the far end of a small, packed room, facing no less than 70 shareholders including many proxy shareholders and former employees and for the most part of the entire two hours, endured a litany of hard-hitting questions and incensed remarks.

The most vociferous bunch who were visibly vexed by the company's loss-making status and were eager to oust CEO Chan Lai Thong from the board were parties friendly to Tan Woo Thian. Mr Tan, SBI Offshore's founder and largest shareholder, together with two other requisitioning shareholders, Hui Choon Ho and Ong Nai Pew, are seeking shareholders' approval to instal four new directors and oust Mr Chan from the board.

The four prospective directors are Mr Hui, Dr Ong, Lau Yoke Mun and Geoffrey Yeoh Seng Huat.

After a lengthy crossfire, raised voices and finger-pointing between the board and parties friendly to Mr Tan, it was suggested by some minority shareholders - they were possibly the lone voice of reason from the floor - that the meeting be adjourned until there was more clarity on the investigations into Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) findings and the outcome of the report lodged by the company with the Commercial Affairs Department on Thursday. Based on a show of hands, the meeting was adjourned.

"Shareholders were right in seeking more information from the investigation currently in progress before deciding on the suitability of the proposed candidates," said David Gerald, president and chief executive of the Securities Investors Association (Singapore).

In an announcement to the Singapore Exchange, SBI Offshore said that the board would make further announcements on the progress of such investigations, and also give notice for the reconvening of the EGM at an appropriate time.

The session started out on a civil note with a shareholder expressing "shock" over the PwC findings that were publicly released a week ago and had unearthed two sets of agreements, each on the purchase and subsequent sale of a 35 per cent stake in China-incorporated Jiangyin Neptune Marine Appliance Co (NPT).

Based on the PwC report, the agreements which contained discrepancies in terms of dates and pricing from the company's official disclosures involving the NPT transactions allegedly bore the signatures of Mr Hui (for the NPT purchase) and Mr Tan (subsequent NPT sale).

"We don't have all the facts and CAD's investigations could take two to three months . . . we believe that certain fiduciary duties of (past) directors were compromised," said Ling Yew Kong, one of four newly-appointed independent directors (IDs), all of whom make up a special investigation committee that was just formed to lead the investigations into the matter.

The absence of the company's Catalist sponsor, Prime Partners Corporate Finance, at the meeting was noted after one shareholder deemed that their presence would have been helpful to clarify shareholder questions arising from the PwC report.

SBI Offshore's appointment of the four IDs drew scrutiny with one shareholder saying that it was a "slap on the face" for the existing IDs who if they were truly independent, should have been tasked with that mandate of leading the probe instead of upsizing the board and incurring higher cost for the company.

To that, Basil Chan, the company's lead ID, replied: "We wanted to dispel the perception (of not being independent) as we have been involved over the last two months (looking into) the various allegations. Perception doesn't mean we are not independent. This was an exceptional situation."

Jen Shek Voon, a former independent non-executive director of SBI Offshore who resigned last year and shareholder who was seated next to Mr Tan throughout the EGM, stood up and interrupted Mr Mirzan mid-speech - he would do this several more times during the session, drawing rebuke from others - and with a thundering voice suggested that perhaps the board (Mr Mirzan, the non-independent chairman included) should resign since it is not deemed independent, hence was not protecting shareholder interest.

"We have heard enough about PwC (report). This whole report is a red herring. This has nothing to do with the resolution for John Chan (Lai Thong) to be removed," he remarked, asking how much was paid to PwC for the review, to which Dr Ong later claimed had cost the company S$600,000.

From hereon, the animosity in the room cranked up. Mr Tan said: "I'm the founder. He (Mr Chan) was my good friend for 30 years. The company is losing money but he travels business class. I'm very unhappy about all this. Are you listening, Mr Chairman?"

At which point Mr Chan stood up in a huff: "Don't tell half-truths to justify my removal."

Amid the unnerving exchange, Mr Mirzan, who stayed remarkably calm, unflinchingly so despite the jibes levelled at him by some shareholders, called on Mr Hui to provide his side of the story.

"We are very sad because as shareholders, we haven't received a single cent of dividend in the last four years from the company. Because of that, I would like to remove the CEO to restore the company to profitability," said Mr Hui

However, Mr Mirzan - 11.6 per cent shareholder of SBI Offshore and eldest son of Malaysia's former premier, Mahathir Mohamad - and Mr Chan pointed out that Mr Tan was the CEO of the company up until March this year.

For now, the plans by the requisitioning shareholders to shake down the board and force the CEO out have been stymied by the release of the PwC report which rightly so, has turned minority shareholders wary.

One man seemed visibly dispirited by that outcome. When approached by The Business Times after the meeting, Mr Tan said: "I am very disappointed."

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

Muhammad Zuhairie Adely Bin Zulkifli v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGHC 134

SHC: Natural justice in arbitral awards

31 Aug 2016

Jason Hldgs employee, ex-employee interviewed by CAD

Business Times
17 Sep 2016
Tan Hwee Hwee

TROUBLED timber flooring specialist Jason Holdings said on Friday the Commercial Affairs Department of Singapore (CAD) had called in two employees either currently or previously on the payroll of its principal operating unit for an ongoing investigation.

New Sze Wei, an employee of Jason Parquet Specialist (Singapore) Pte Ltd (JPSS), and Amy Chan Mei Lin, a former employee of JPSS, were interviewed by the CAD in relation to its investigations on Aug 30 and Sept 9, respectively.

The CAD is conducting an investigation into a possible offence under the penal code.

Jason Holdings previously clarified on Aug 7 that the CAD was investigating the company's director, Jason Sim Chon Ang, for the possible offence and not JPSS.

Mr Sim was interviewed by the CAD on Aug 1 and ordered to produce documents and information from 2008 to 2016. His travel documents were impounded on Aug 2.

Separately, Jason Holdings said on Friday that the company had received a letter of demand dated Aug 30 from KPMG for payment of the sum of about S$41,000, in respect of tax invoices issued for services rendered and disbursements incurred. The letter stated that KPMG may commence legal proceedings if payment of such sum is not made. The deadline for payment as stipulated in the letter has lapsed on Sept 9.

The company's board of directors are of the view that the claim will have a material adverse impact, inter alia, on its financial position, the financial performance, business and operations.

Shareholders of the company and potential investors are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the shares of the company, it said.

The listed company posted in June a S$13.8 million net loss for FY15 compared to S$215,000 net profit in its restated 2014 results. Revenue fell to S$23.2 million in 2015 from S$40 million in 2014 on a slump in the construction sector.

Shares in Jason Holdings, which are suspended, last traded at S$0.062.

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

Suresh s/o Suppiah v Jiang Guoliang - [2016] SGHC 133

Singapore Bankruptcy Amendment Act comes into force

30 Aug 2016

Timing of reserved election to be made known by October

Straits Times
17 Sep 2016
Rachel Au-Yong

Whether next year's presidential election is one reserved for candidates from the Malay community will depend on addressing several legal issues.

But these will be sorted out and a decision made by the time amendments to the Constitution are tabled in Parliament next month, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday. Reserved elections are among proposed constitutional changes accepted by the Government this week.

"Ultimately, it's for Parliament to decide," he said at a Straits Times Roundtable discussion on the Gov- ernment's White Paper reviewing aspects of the elected presidency.

On Thursday, the Government accepted a review panel's idea of a "hiatus-triggered framework" to ensure minorities become president from time to time. Under this model, an election is reserved for a race if no one from that group has been president for five continuous terms.

Yesterday, panellist and Institute of Policy Studies deputy director Gillian Koh asked if the clock for such a provision will start from 1991, when the elected presidency scheme was introduced through amendments to the Constitution, or 1993, when Mr Ong Teng Cheong was the first president voted in by the people.

If it starts from 1991, the next presidential race - which must be held by next August - must be reserved for Malay candidates. There has not been a Malay president since Mr Yusof Ishak, who died in office in 1970. But if it starts from 1993, there must be one more open election before a reserved one kicks in in 2023.

Mr Shanmugam replied that there were legal issues to sort out before giving a definitive answer. He did not elaborate, but said earlier this month that the Government was asking the Attorney-General for advice on aspects of the panel's proposals to ensure representation of all major races in the office of the president.

Observers say one issue is defining who counts as an elected president: while Mr Ong was the first popularly elected president, his predecessor Wee Kim Wee, although chosen by Parliament, was the first to exercise discretionary powers due to a special provision inserted into the Constitution when the elected presidency scheme was introduced in 1991. Mr Wee was president from 1985 to 1993.

Another is ensuring that the provision complies with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Singapore signed last year and is expected to ratify next year.

But he added: "Certainly, by the time the Bill is tabled in Parliament in October, we'll be in a position to say where the clock starts."

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

Nam Hong Construction & Engineering Pte Ltd v Kori Construction (S) Pte Ltd - [2016] SGCA 42

The new 2016 SIAC Arbitration Rules come into effect

30 Aug 2016

I was brainwashed by Kong, says former CHC fund manager

Straits Times
17 Sep 2016

He had been brainwashed into thinking pop singer Ho Yeow Sun would be "a megastar" like American singer Whitney Houston as her husband, City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee, had regularly played up her success.

That was why he had thought the church investments in the financial bonds he had structured to fund her music career were genuine and profitable, former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, 57, told the High Court yesterday.

He was one of six church leaders convicted last October of misappropriating millions in church funds to fuel the pop music career of Ms Ho, in a church mission known as the Crossover Project.

The court found that they had invested $24 million from CHC's building fund in bogus bonds used to fund the Crossover Project. Another $26 million was used to cover up the initial misdeed.

Appealing against his conviction and sentence, Chew, who faces six years in jail, said Kong told church leaders Ms Ho would be more successful than pop stars such as Taiwanese singer Jay Chou and girl group S.H.E., and even tipped her to be the "next Whitney Houston".

Citing an e-mail in which Kong said they had "a singing diva" in their midst, Chew said: "If she was touted to be the next Whitney Houston, how would she not be a profitable commercial vehicle for us?"

Justice Chan Seng Onn, part of the three-judge panel hearing the appeals, asked Chew: "So you were brainwashed?"

Chew replied: "Yes, I was."

He said if what he did was considered part of a criminal conspiracy, it would have been "the worst thought-out conspiracy ever".

"It looks that way to me too," said Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, to laughter in the courtroom.

Chew also took issue with the decision of the lower court, which had ruled that using the CHC building fund for the Crossover Project was a "wrong use" of the money and, hence, the funds were misappropriated. The building fund could be used for only building-related matters or investment.

But Chew said even if the Cross- over was a "wrong use" of church funds, spending the money on it cannot be considered misappropriation as it was a "church mission".

"No one has deprived the church of the benefit of using the money... As long as the money is applied to the owner's benefit, it is not misappropriation," said Chew.

Meanwhile, lawyer Paul Seah, who argued for the appeal of former CHC finance manager Sharon Tan, said Tan was "kept out of the loop in key discussions", and pulled in only when she was needed "to provide facts and figures".

He did not concede that spending the money on the Crossover Project was a "wrong use" and said that even if it were, "wanting to do something wrong or unauthorised is not the same as wanting to cause wrongful loss".

He said that if the building funds were used instead to hold a Christian rally here - paying for overseas speakers, the rental of the National Stadium and other logistics - it would have been seen as a "wrong use", but the church would have benefited from the thousands converted to Christianity.

Tan, 40, the fourth CHC leader to present her case, faces 21 months in jail, the lightest sentence of the six. Kong and former CHC finance committee member John Lam had argued their appeals on Thursday.

On Monday, the final two CHC leaders - deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former church accountant Serina Wee - will present their appeals.

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

Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co Ltd v International Elements Pte Ltd - [2016] SGHC 132

MAS consults on draft legislation to exempt dealers from business conduct rules in FAA when providing execution-related advice in respect of listed excluded investment products

30 Aug 2016

S'pore Academy of Law moving to Adelphi

Straits Times
17 Sep 2016
K.C. Vijayan

With the sleazy massage joints banished earlier this year, The Adelphi in Coleman Street is set to burnish its owners' list with new intellectual heft - the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL).

The Academy is buying 8,751 sq ft of office space on the eighth floor of the premises for some $20.7 million. The space is equivalent in size to almost eight five-room Housing Board flats.

Located in the heart of the civic district, The Adelphi is bordered by the National Gallery, the Supreme Court building and St Andrew's Cathedral. Constructed in 1991, the 10-storey building with a basement has offices on six floors.

SAL - which is headed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and whose membership of over 10,000 from the legal fraternity includes the Attorney-General and the Bench - is the promotion and development agency for Singapore's legal industry.

The Academy announced yesterday on its website that it expects to complete the deal by December and move its office and administrative outfit in the new financial year.

The purchase will enable SAL to convert a part of its current rented space in the Supreme Court into training rooms and meeting facilities to better accommodate its programmes and services.

The Chief Justice who gave a "heads-up" about the "exciting changes" during the Academy's annual appreciation dinner last month, said its work had expanded over the years and will continue to grow.

It is also looking at ways to better serve the needs of different segments of the legal community.

The purchase was made after a thorough review of available properties, and was approved by the SAL senate on the recommendation of the executive board.

The Chief Justice added that the purchase would diversify part of SAL's investment assets into real estate at a time of volatility in other investment markets.

"The move will enable the Academy to house its operational units at its own premises instead of paying rent to the Supreme Court," he said.

Real estate consultant Nicholas Mak said weightage in selecting the site would have been based on industry need. Being located next to the Supreme Court, The Adelphi would be convenient for lawyers.

The property was in the news earlier in the week when The Straits Times reported that the massage parlours in its basement were gone following an extensive police raid at the strata-titled building over six days in June.

The police said at least 13 illegal massage establishments had been closed down.

Following the raid, The Adelphi's tenancy mix now consists mainly of offices as well as audio-visual and beauty care stores. New cafes have also started moving in.

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

Sun Delong v Teo Poh Soon and another - [2016] SGHC 129

[MYS] Intellectual property case updates - Malaysia

30 Aug 2016

After historic process, participants take stock of EP panel’s proposals

17 Sep 2016

For only the second time in Singapore’s history, a Constitutional Commission was appointed in February. Its task was to review specific aspects of the Elected Presidency (EP).

Half a century ago, a similar commission was set up as a newborn nation sought to find its way forward: In 1965, a Constitutional Commission comprising 11 members and headed by then-Chief Justice Wee Chong Jin was appointed in December — four months after Singapore attained independence, and amid communal tensions.

The commission was asked to propose ways for the rights and interests of minorities to be safeguarded in the Constitution. Public hearings were held, with the views culminating in a report submitted in August 1966. The recommendations paved the way for the setting up of the Presidential Council in 1970 — later renamed the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.

Fast forward to today, and a nine-member commission, headed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, was tasked with studying the eligibility criteria for prospective candidates for the Presidential Election, safeguarding minority representation in the presidency, and the framework governing the exercise of the President’s powers.

The commission’s report was submitted last month, after six months of deliberations involving public hearings and written submissions from the public.

In all, the commission received more than 100 submissions. A total of 19 groups and individuals who had contributed written submissions — including former Cabinet Minister S Dhanabalan, academics, lawyers, professionals, law students and representatives from non-governmental organisations — gave their views on the proposed changes to the Elected Presidency at four public hearings, which were held in April and May.

On Thursday, the Government released its White Paper to set out its proposed changes to the EP and its responses to the commission’s wide-ranging recommendations. The Bill to effect the necessary legislative changes will be introduced in Parliament next month and the House will debate it in November.

TODAY spoke to the people who had presented their views at the public hearings, to get their thoughts on the commission’s proposals — what caught their eye, what they agreed or disagreed with — and their contributions to a historic process.


“I was personally surprised that the commission chose to venture outside the terms of reference in regard to removing the Elected Presidency altogether. My expectation when working with (IPS deputy director) Dr Gillian Koh on our submission is that the commission would chose to stay within the set terms of reference laid out by the Prime Minister.

The introduction of the reserved election is problematic. Part of the issue with it isn’t the reserved election itself — it is too early to say how that will work out — the issue is that we’re still uncertain as to what the nature of the problem is.

We have had four elections and seven candidates, of which one was a minority. We have not had a Malay or Eurasian candidate. So the most important question is, why not?

The reserved election appears to solve a problem downstream from this — that is, what happens when minority candidates can qualify, run for office, and cannot be elected for racial reasons. I cannot say that this is not a problem that does not need fixing; all I can say is that there are many other elements to the system that need to be addressed before addressing concerns about how the electorate votes.

Unless what the commission is suggesting or the Government in taking up the “reserved election” idea is that it is because Malays and Eurasians do not believe they have a chance that they do not even try. This, then, is an assumption that Chinese voters vote only on the basis of race — yet another deeply troubling hypothesis or assumption that will need to be dissected.”


“It was certainly meaningful to be able to suggest changes to the important institution ... I was among those who defended the need to have provisions for minority representation, which I knew would be contentious. But rather than doing something akin to a Group Representation Constituency system or one where the Elected President (EP) would be rotated among those of the main ethnic communities in Singapore, I suggested a mechanism of safeguards that would kick in only if we are not able to ensure that all of our groups would be represented from time to time. I am hopeful that, over time, an unrestricted election will be able to produce minority EPs.”


“The commission took great care to explain how it arrived at its recommendations. It was a thorough, comprehensive and compelling report.

(The surprising suggestion was) to return to the former system of having an appointed President … There was no indication during the hearings that the Commission was actively considering (this). The suggestion is also almost a non-starter, given the Government’s steadfast position that the President must be elected in order to provide the President with the democratic mandate and moral authority to stand up to the Government.

While I understand the commission’s rationale and reasoning for its proposal for reserved elections, I remain uncomfortable with it as it is a form of affirmative action. To be fair, conceptualised as it is, the reserved election holds promise as a safeguard … But I hope we will never have to resort to a reserved election.

It is worth recalling that our ceremonial Presidents did not become symbols of our multiracialism by virtue of their being minorities. It was what President Yusof Ishak did through his actions, utilising the “soft power” of the office of the President, that enabled him to transform the head of state office into a symbol of our multiracialism … The late President Wee Kim Wee, a Peranakan Chinese, was much beloved and respected by all Singaporeans, demonstrating that being from the majority race is not a barrier to a symbol of multiracialism.

It was a privilege and honour to be part of this important and path-finding review process. This is, after all, only the second constitutional commission in our history, with the first half a century ago! For me, it was also a rare opportunity to encourage my Constitutional Law class students to be part of the review process ... I believe that the experience brought constitutional law alive for the students, and demonstrated how they can play a role in the review process.”


“I generally remain unconvinced that it is necessary to introduce a system of reserved elections to ensure that candidates from specified minority communities will be elected as President from time to time. I feel we should give more credit to voters to be able to pick candidates for their abilities, not their ethnicity … Moreover, we risk reinforcing the misconception that minorities are not capable of being elected on their own merit. More should be done to encourage members of minority communities to put themselves up for election under the current system, rather than rushing into having reserved elections.

I feel it is not a good idea for the financial criterion for presidential candidates to be raised beyond what is necessary to take inflation into account, or that we insist that only the head of an organisation is qualified. I fear that these more-stringent criteria will make it more difficult to find suitably qualified minority candidates. The criteria should be pitched at a level to ensure that candidates have adequate experience handling financial matters. They need not be “financial wizards”, especially since the Council of Presidential Advisers exists to assist the President in carrying out his or her constitutional duties.

The part of the commission’s report that I found most surprising was the suggestion — which was actually outside the commission’s terms of reference — that perhaps it would be a good idea to separate the ceremonial and custodial roles of the President ... I agree (with the commission) that this might solve many of the issues that (it) was asked to look into.”


“We agree with the proposals by the commission to regulate the campaign methods and to prevent misinformation by candidates running for the office. In discharging his or her custodial functions, the Elected President may only react to proposals by Parliament, and has no power to introduce proposals of his or her own. It is key that Singaporeans, in choosing their President, are aware of his unique role, and the recommendations by the commission go well towards this.

We disagree with the commission’s decision not to express any views on transitional arrangements for the revised eligibility criteria. While it is true that when the amendments take effect is a matter for Parliament to decide … we felt that there was value in the commission making its views known, with the aim of upholding the integrity of the office of the Elected President.

Our most meaningful contribution would be our submission that there should be a requirement for the President to publicly publish his reasons for vetoing the drawing down on the reserves. The commission agreed with our suggestion, and its ultimate recommendation went even further than what we had originally proposed. Such a requirement will go towards transparency and accountability, and further public debate about the exercise of the President’s powers.”

(Note: In its White Paper published on Thursday, the Government said it has not taken up the commission’s proposal to publish the President’s opinion on all decisions where he exercises his veto. This should not be done where appointment or fiscal matters are concerned. Instead, it could apply to just Supply Bills, Supplementary Supply Bills and Final Supply Bills, which are Bills that involve expenditure.)


“Changes to the Constitution must be made with a lot of care and precision, and so we appreciate the lengths the commission has gone through to deliberate and arrive upon balanced recommendations.

In particular, we are heartened by the “light-touch” approach employed by the commission in recommending a provision to ensure minority representation in the office. We would just bring up two potentially problematic scenarios with that particular recommendation: The increased possibility of a “walkover” election in reserved elections, and the possibility of candidates who may be “twice-barred” by the stringent conditions for eligibility — once by race, the second time by the date of his leadership experience.

This experience as a whole has elevated national conversation to a new level for us. It is very exciting to think that young Singaporeans can participate on so high a level, armed with what they see for Singapore’s future, and it was even more exciting to be a part of that.

One of the more tangible ways in which our proposals have been acknowledged is in the recognition that the Elected President, as a unifying symbol, should possess the ability to represent diverse interests. During the public hearings, we submitted that … what is significant is not just the candidate’s race, but that this individual is able to represent the diverse interests of Singaporeans.

We recommended that this criterion be recognised … Section (E) of the sample certificate of eligibility application form (proposed by the commission) requires candidates to provide other relevant information that would be relevant for consideration by the Presidential Elections Committee, and it is stated that this would include ‘community activities or initiatives demonstrating your engagement with ethnic groups other than your own’.”


“The suggestion ... for a return to a President appointed by Parliament rather than elected, and to leave the custodial functions to a council of experts ... was surprising because it went beyond the terms of reference and was a radical bold suggestion.

I agree with the proposals, which went beyond the terms of reference about considering an appointed President that does not have custodial powers, and assuming the Presidential office is still by election, setting rules on election campaigns — what can be said or not about the Presidential role — and educating the public on the Presidential office. But I think for that to happen, the Government needs to, itself, be clear (on) what exactly the Presidential Election campaigns are or should be about. Surely it’s got to be about character and integrity, in addition to technical expertise.

The raising of eligibility criteria for private-sector candidates is not concomitant with a greater scrutiny of public-sector candidates.

The commission says, for public-sector candidates, not all the public offices can endow the candidates with all the skills for a Presidential role. That’s true. It is also true of the private-sector candidate. But if we expect to raise the private-sector candidate eligibility criteria with respect to the (requirement of having helmed a company with) S$500 million in shareholders’ equity, why is there no comparison for the public office? It is just as easy to set a criteria along those lines.

Whether people agree or disagree on the commission’s proposals, the Government’s intent and decisions on the topic, the fact is that not many people in the world get to participate in such a national institution-building deliberative democracy process like that. So this privilege, which is available to all Singapore citizens, is a heavy one.”


“We are glad that the commission agrees with us that there is an inherent tension between the custodial and representative roles of the office (the first key point of our submission). The design of the office is inherently flawed, lending weight to the call to split the functions and revert to an appointed office.

In our view, the general trend in the recommendations is to arbitrarily narrow the eligibility criteria further, undermining the democratic mandate of the office and making it appear even more exclusionary and even elitist, rather than representative.

We wholeheartedly agree that minority representation matters … But we question whether limiting who people can vote for is the way to address this.

We disagree with the proposal to tighten the corporate criteria further, which makes the office more exclusionary, and may also tend to limit further the pool of potential woman and minority-race candidates.

We also continue to disagree that the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) should be able to disqualify candidates based on “integrity and character”. What the PEC disapproves, the electorate may accept. The people should not be prevented by … unelected individuals (sitting on the PEC) from making this assessment. One of the most important features of any candidate is their track record of public service and contribution, and as far as possible, all potential candidates should be free to present that to — and be assessed by — the electorate.

We greatly appreciate the detailed and publicly documented review process. In our view, more legal and policy changes should be subject to thorough public deliberation, not necessarily through a commission, but with a similar spirit of consultation and transparency.

We believe we have reinforced the commission’s recognition that the custodial and representative functions of the role sit together uneasily, and we hope that we have generally pushed for greater clarity and nuance in thinking around the office. But we are disappointed that no concrete suggestions have been made to improve the representation of women in the presidential process — for instance, through requiring or even urging more women’s appointments to the Council of Presidential Advisers.”


“The commission appears to view the President as primarily a technocrat and is proposing to convert the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) into a super Public Service Commission (PSC) that shortlists candidates with “technical competence and expertise” for the custodial functions of the job.

Several portions of the report are contradictory, which perhaps reflects the fundamental tension between the different roles which the President is called upon to play (and which the commission acknowledges). With regard to reserved elections, the commission is proposing a solution that might be activated only once in 30 years, yet the Elected Presidency itself has been in existence for only 25 years. It is not clear that this is even a problem now, and the “solution” may very well turn out to be a land-mine that blows up on a future Singapore many years from now.

(One proposal that Maruah disagreed with was) having elections reserved for members of specific races. This goes against our principles of racial equality and may easily turn out to be more divisive than unifying. (Another is) raising the financial criteria, which will have the effect of narrowing the pool of eligible candidates. Maruah is of the view that financial experience is not a relevant criterion for Presidential candidates.

Considering that the commission did not cite Maruah even once in its report, I don’t think we had much influence in their thinking. However ... our participation did serve as an indicator that there are divergent views in Singapore on the qualifications that a President has to have.”

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Management Corporation Strata Title Plan No 3322 v Tiong Aik Construction Pte Ltd and another - [2016] SGCA 40

MAS consults on enhancements to regulatory requirements on protection of customer’s moneys and assets

30 Aug 2016

City Harvest appeal: Former CHC finance manager was kept out of plans on alleged conspiracy, says lawyer

17 Sep 2016
Kelly Ng

City Harvest Church’s former finance manager Sharon Tan was only a “mouthpiece” who had “limited understanding” of the alleged conspiracy to misappropriate the mega-church’s funds, or to falsify its accounts, argued defence lawyer Paul Seah on Friday (Sept 16), as he sought to overturn her conviction. 

He stressed that Tan — who was last year sentenced to 21 months’ jail for three counts of criminal breach of trust and four accounts falsification charges — was not involved in the church’s decision to invest in the bonds at the centre of the conspiracy. Her involvement came about after she took over as the church’s finance manager from January 2008. Tan, now 40, had her “entire life built around the church”, said Mr Seah, adding that CHC was the only church she had attended since she became a Christian when she was 15. 

“CHC is the bedrock of her life … She wholeheartedly embraced its mission and vision, including the Crossover Project. Everything she did over the years … was done with the purest of motives in what she thought to be in CHC’s best interests,” he said.

Tan had been working in the church’s accounts department since January 2000 and also met her husband in CHC. “CHC was not merely Ms Tan’s workplace, but was also (her) church and spiritual bedrock, a place where she was taught to believe, and to trust, in both her faith and in her leaders,” said Mr Seah in written submissions presented earlier to the court. 

“The trial judge himself had found that she had no intent to cause harm to the church.”

Tan, church founder Kong Hee, his former second-in-command Tan Ye Peng, former church board member John Lam, former church investment manager Chew Eng Han, and former church finance manager Serina Wee, were found guilty of the unauthorised use of S$24 million in church building funds for the music career of Kong’s wife Ho Yeow Sun, and “round-tripping” another S$26.6 million to cover up the first sum. All are appealing against their convictions.

Mr Seah argued that unlike her five co-accused who either held top leadership positions or sat on CHC’s board at some point, Tan held a low position in the church’s hierarchy and merely “followed instructions”. 

Even when senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and the church’s then-fund manager Chew Eng Han were devising plans to redeem the bonds, Tan was largely left out of the meetings and was only roped in occasionally to “provide facts and figures”. 

“Sharon Tan shows absolutely no understanding of the plans, she doesn’t know how it works … Sharon was merely a mouthpiece, reporting certain things,” said Mr Seah. 

And at each step of this process, Tan showed “eagerness” for the plans to be given the green light by the professionals, and was assured as such, said Mr Seah. “The trial judge erred in tarring Sharon with the same brush as the other co-accused.”

He also questioned if the prosecution had “proved beyond a reasonable doubt” that the accused persons’ alleged wrong use of funds was driven by a “desire to cause a loss” to the church. “If their chief desire was to the advantage of the church, then the criminal breach of trust charges should fail,” he said.

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved 

Axis Law Corp v Intellectual Property Office of Singapore - [2016] SGHC 127

Income Tax Act: MOF consults on proposed changes to implement 2016 Budget Statement changes and country-by-country reporting

29 Aug 2016

City Harvest appeal: ‘Church money meant for a mission cannot be counted as wrong use’

17 Sep 2016
Amanda Lee

In trying to appeal against his conviction and sentence, a former church leader asked if using the church building fund for a missionary purpose is considered “wrong use” or “dishonest misappropriation”, and if it then meant that there was wrongful loss.

Chew Eng Han, 55, who used to be the fund manager at City Harvest Church (CHC), put forth these questions in his written submissions in the High Court on Friday (Sept 16).

His appeal is being heard by a three-judge panel. Last year, he was found guilty on six counts of criminal breach of trust and four charges of falsifying the church’s accounts, and was sentenced to six years’ jail.

Chew, who is unrepresented, said that the prosecution’s case during the trial pointed to the church’s building fund as a restricted fund that could be used only for building-related expenses or for investment. In the “Crossover Project” — fashioned to push the pop music career of founder-pastor Kong Hee’s wife, Ms Sun Ho — the use of this fund was not an investment, the prosecution had argued, so the money was used for an unauthorised purpose that constitutes “wrong use” of the fund, which is tantamount to dishonest misappropriation.

Chew said that the trial judge had adopted the prosecution’s core argument above and “gravely erred in ruling that there was dishonest misappropriation”, basing it on a flawed definition of the word “misappropriate”, which was tied to “wrong use”. 

During the three-hour hearing on Friday, Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin questioned whether the church had something to hide regarding the use of the church fund. “It definitely looked like it was some secret project, because it was a secret project,” Chew replied.

Asked by Justice Woo Bih Li on why the building fund had to be invested in music production company Xtron instead of going directly into the Crossover Project, Chew said that the church wanted a “holding company” that could be used as a “special purpose vehicle” through which it directs the money to projects like the Crossover, and to bid for a property in 2009. 

Chew and his family had donated S$1 million to the church, and he was told in 2008 that Ms Ho’s English album was to be delayed for another year. Kong said then that the project was going to get bigger, they would make money from concerts and merchandise, and Ms Ho’s album launch would be a success. 

“I believed that she was going to be a superstar,” Chew told the court. “Whatever Kong Hee tells us, we believe. We never thought it was a sham.”

Chew pointed to an email Kong wrote in 2005 after he announced to the church that his wife secured a US$5 million (more than S$8 million) contract. He said that church members should be “super proud” of Ms Ho because there was a “singing diva” in their church. Kong also said that his wife was going to be the “next Whitney Houston”.

“If (Ms Ho was to be the) next Whitney Houston, how (can it) not be a profitable vehicle for us?” Chew said. 

Justice Chan Seng Onn asked Chew: “So you were brainwashed?” Chew replied: “Yes. I was.” 

The court was also told that the church bought unsold stocks of Ms Ho’s albums. “If this were a conspiracy, it is the worst-thought-out conspiracy ever,” Chew said.

It looks that way to me, too,” Judge of Appeal Chao said, prompting laughter from the packed public gallery. 

The appeal hearing will continue on Monday with the church’s former second-in-command Tan Ye Peng and former finance manager Serina Wee.

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved 

Yap Chai Ling and another v Hou Wa Yi - [2016] SGCA 39

MCI’s public consultation on changes to the Telecommunications Act and the MDA Act

29 Aug 2016

High Court stays all action against Hanjin

Straits Times
16 Sep 2016
K.C. Vijayan

The High Court has temporarily frozen all Singapore proceedings against troubled South Korean industry giant Hanjin Shipping and its Singapore subsidiaries, pending a full hearing for all parties here on whether the freeze should continue until next January.

Judicial Commissioner Aedit Abdullah approved the interim stay order last week sought by Hanjin's president and chief executive, Mr Suk Tai Soo, who is the company's custodian in its court-mandated rehabilitation proceedings in Seoul.

The interim orders, which recognise the rehabilitation proceedings in Seoul designed to protect the firm against bankruptcy, also restrain any enforcement action against any of its assets here, among other things.

"The imperative for orderly rehabilitation and restructuring of a company running a global business across jurisdictions, and the need to ensure that the company's assets could be marshalled and collected for such effort, both provided sufficiently strong grounds for the exercise of the inherent powers of the court to grant the restraint and stay orders," said the judge in brief decision grounds released yesterday.

The difficulties of debt-ridden Hanjin, the ninth-largest container-shipping firm in the world, have led to serious disruptions in goods transport globally.

Hanjin filed for rehabilitation proceedings to the Korean Bankruptcy Court in Seoul last month, preserving its assets.

A Seoul district court on Sept 1 approved the rehabilitation process, entailing a plan expected to take about four months to complete for a court review. Hence, Mr Suk's application here seeks the stay order to remain till Jan 25 next year.

Mr Suk's lawyers, Mr Sim Chong and Ms Yap Hao Jin, argued that the application for restraint and stay orders here mirrored similar moves across the world "to prevent piecemeal and haphazard resolution of the company's difficulties".

They added that the application underscored the global scope of the rehabilitation, in which all creditors, including Singaporean interests, would participate. Among other things, Hanjin's 112 employees based here risk job loss without the rehabilitation, said Hanjin.

The judge found the proposed steps in the rehabilitation proceedings to be fair to Hanjin's foreign creditors and ruled that court assistance to the proceedings be extended to prevent the arrest of Hanjin ships, except for the Hanjin Rome, which was earlier arrested on the application of creditors.

The judge, who noted that British and United States courts had recognised the South Korean rehabilitation proceedings, said he was satisfied "that the Korean rehabilitation orders should be recognised and assistance rendered".

A High Court case management conference for all parties was held yesterday.

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

Tng Swee Seng v Lau Kim Swee - [2016] SGHC 128

Dedicated anti-money laundering departments formed; first merchant banking licence revoked since 1984 due to aml compliance failures

26 Aug 2016

Govt makes two key modifications to eligibility proposals

Business Times
16 Sep 2016
Kelly Tay

THE government has wholly accepted the Constitutional Commission's recommendation to ensure representation of all races in the presidency, it said in a 49-page White Paper released on Thursday evening.

It has also agreed to update the eligibility criteria for applicants - albeit with certain modifications that depart from the Commission's proposals.

Two key differences in eligibility requirements have to do with how long one must have served in a qualifying office, and how recent that experience must have been. For one, the government is opting to retain the existing eligibility criteria of three years, instead of the doubled duration of six years as recommended by the panel.

And while the government agrees that a currency requirement should be instituted - essentially a "look back" period to ensure that the applicant's leadership experience is relatively current - it thinks the length of time should be extended to 20 years, instead of the proposed 15.

"In the government's view, as long as an applicant's qualifying tenure falls wholly or partly within 20 years of the relevant presidential election, his experience may be considered suitably current," said the White Paper.

This is also a departure from the Commission's recommendation, which said the entire period of the applicant's qualifying tenure should fall within the 15 year window.

Speaking to the media after the release of the White Paper, Law Minister K Shanmugam said that the Commission's original recommendations would have reduced the pool of potential candidates too drastically.

Said Mr Shanmugam: "What (the Commission's proposal) means in practice is that if you call it a certificate of validity, it expires in nine years effectively. He's got to have six years of experience (and) within nine years he should stand for the presidency. We think that might narrow down the field too much, might be too drastic."

This is especially since the 15-year look back period is a significant change from the current position, where no such currency requirement exists. As such, Mr Shanmugam said the government prefers to take a "slightly more cautious" approach.

"We think we maybe start at 20 years, and we decided that instead of six years, keep it to three. Let's see how it works," he added.

Other eligibility criteria, particularly those applicable to private-sector applicants, were accepted. This means future presidential hopefuls must have held the most senior executive position in a Singapore-incorporated company, with shareholders' equity of at least S$500 million. This new threshold - to be periodically reviewed - marks an increase from the current criterion, where candidates must head companies with a paid-up capital of S$100 million or more.

The applicant's company must also have been profitable through his entire period of office, and there must not have been an insolvency process within three years of him ceasing to hold office.

In addition, the government agreed with the Commission's view that while experience in leading a publicly-listed company would be valuable, such a requirement need not be introduced right now. "The issue can be revisited later, after we have seen how the other modifications to the eligibility criteria have operated in practice," said the White Paper.

As for the public sector track, the Commission had proposed to remove the Accountant-General and Auditor-General from the list of public-sector offices that would automatically qualify a person for a presidential contest. It cited how these officeholders arguably play an ancillary and comparatively narrow role in the delivery of public goods and services.

While the government thanked the panel for "rais(ing) valid points", it said that it would like to consider this recommendation more carefully, and will retain the existing position for now. It added, however, that it will reconsider whether the two offices should be removed at a future point in time.

As for the idea to reserve elections for a racial group if it had not been represented for five terms to ensure multi-racial representation, the government wholly accepted the Commission's recommendations.

In its White Paper, the government noted that the "'hiatus-triggered' safeguard mechanism" has the benefit of being race-neutral, in that it guarantees the representation of all racial groups in the presidency.

Said the White Paper: "Practically, it is most unlikely that a five-term hiatus will ever arise vis-a-vis the Chinese community, which constitutes a significant majority of our population. But the approach is significant at a symbolic level, as it underscores the importance of ensuring that all races are represented in the presidency."

It also noted that multi-racial representation in presidential offices is not unique to Singapore, citing Switzerland, Canada, and New Zealand as examples.

With regard to the role and composition of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), the government generally agreed with the Commission's recommendations.

This includes the proposal to increase the number of CPA members from six to eight, and the suggestion that the president be obliged to consult the CPA before exercising all of his custodial powers over the reserves.

This also applies to all his powers pertaining to key public-service appointments. (Currently, the president has a duty to consult the CPA before exercising only some, not all, these powers.)

But in the matter of overturning a presidential veto by a parliamentary override, the government disagreed with the call for a more calibrated approach - one that tiers the Parliament majority required for an override, against the level of support from the CPA. The government said it prefers to retain the present arrangement, where the override mechanism continues to adopt a binary approach, depending on whether the president's veto is supported by a simple majority of the CPA.

Said the White Paper: "The calibrated approach may unintentionally emphasise or even politicise how individual members of the Council, particularly its chairman, have voted, instead of the collective judgment of the Council as a whole. The analogy is with the Cabinet, where ministers may have different views on issues, but take collective responsibility for the decisions of the Cabinet to which they belong, and do not differ publicly from these decisions."

The government reiterated its view that the president should be elected, not appointed, and that a custodial, elected president remains "the most workable and effective solution for Singapore for the present".

It added that it will study the Commission's proposals to improve the rules on campaign methods and preventing misinformation, and decide on the necessary changes later.

Mr Shanmugam noted that there were other recommendations of the commission under study; those will not form part of the Bill and will be taken up later.

The release of the White Paper comes after the Constitutional Commission published its report on Sept 7. Following community dialogues and engagement sessions, the Bill to amend the Constitution will be tabled and debated in Parliament this year.



Entrenchment provisions to be revised, says government

FOR a Constitution to be workable, it must remain a living document over time - one that continually evolves and keeps pace with changing conditions, said the Singapore government on Thursday in a White Paper.

For this reason, the government will revise entrenchment provisions related to the elected presidency - but bring changes into force only after some time. This would allow an assessment of how the institution works over time, so that further refinements can be made if necessary.

The government was responding to the Constitutional Commission's report, which had flagged how provisions entrenching the president's discretionary powers are still not in force - despite entering into law more than two decades ago.

Entrenchment refers to specific mechanisms that safeguard potential curtailment or circumvention of the president's discretionary powers. It grants the president, for example, an effective veto over any proposed amendment of certain core provisions, which can only be overridden by Parliament if it acts with the support of two-thirds of the electorate voting at a national referendum.

Parliament had earlier suspended the entry into force of these entrenching provisions, so that constitutional amendments could be made to fine-tune the elected presidency - without the potential hurdle of having to convene a national referendum each time.

Noting that these provisions should not be suspended indefinitely, the Commission said in its report: "After 25 years, the government should decide whether to bring these provisions into force or repeal them in whole or in part. This, too, is ultimately a matter for political judgment."

In response, the government said it intends to introduce a recalibrated entrenchment framework - one that "aims for a workable balance between preserving the adaptability of the Constitution to changing circumstances, and providing the stability through a sufficiently rigid Constitution".

Law Minister K Shanmugam added: "We think we need to redraft the entrenchment provisions in a way that will be difficult to amend, but not impossible."

The new framework comprises two tiers: the first applies to the elected presidency as an institution; and the second, the president's core custodial functions relating to financial reserves and key appointments (see flow chart).

Provisions that do not relate to these core areas will be subject to the normal constitutional amendment process - where a two-thirds Parliamentary majority vote must be met, before any amendment can be made.

The revised framework will also accord "appropriate weight" to the advice and recommendations of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA). This is in contrast to the current entrenchment framework, which does not accord any constitutional or legal weight to the advice of the CPA.

The government noted in its White Paper: "The next question is when the entrenchment provisions should come into operation. The government has explained previously that it is best to let some time pass, see how the institution works over time, before entrenching.

"The fact that there are good reasons for revising the entrenchment provisions now shows that it was wise to have not entrenched them. Likewise, the question of when to bring into force the revised entrenchment provisions should be considered some period after the upcoming set of amendments have been in operation."



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


Faisal bin Tahar v Public Prosecutor - [2016] SGHC 125

Income Tax Act amended to enable implementation of Common Reporting Standard: MOF seeks comments on draft regulations providing further details

26 Aug 2016

City Harvest appeal: Kong Hee acted in good faith, says lawyer

Straits Times
16 Sep 2016
Danson Cheong, Ng Huiwen

Even if City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee had put church funds to the wrong use, he did so in good faith and there was never any dishonesty behind it.

Moreover, he did not obtain a single cent for his own gain.

That was the case put forth yesterday by Kong's lawyer, Senior Counsel Edwin Tong, in arguing for overturning the pastor's three convictions for "dishonestly misappropriating" church money.

He also called Kong's eight-year jail sentence excessive.

Kong, 52, and five other CHC leaders at the centre of a long-running high-profile financial scandal involving $50 million in church funds are in the High Court for what could be the final stage of the legal process.

The prosecution, on its part, is asking for longer deterrent sentences.

In October last year, the six were convicted of misappropriating church funds to fuel the pop music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, in a church mission known as the Crossover Project.

The court found they had invested $24 million from CHC's building fund in bogus bonds - money that was in fact used to fund the Crossover Project. Another $26 million was used to cover up the initial misdeed.

Yesterday, in front of a packed public gallery of about 50 mostly church supporters, Kong and John Lam, 48, a former CHC finance committee member, presented their cases. The panel comprises Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, and Justices Woo Bih Li and Chan Seng Onn.

Addressing the court, Mr Tong said the lower court had wrongly conflated the "wrong use" of CHC's building fund with having a dishonest intention."The intention to put the funds to wrongful use is not the same as the intention to cause wrongful loss," said Mr Tong, adding that "dishonesty" is defined in the Penal Code as having the intention to cause wrongful gain to one person, or wrongful loss to another.

He said in this case, the bond proceeds were applied "in good faith" to CHC's advantage, going towards a project that had "almost the entirety of the church supporting it".

Mr Tong also reiterated Kong's defence that he had "almost religiously" consulted lawyers and auditors about the bond transactions.

"As far as Kong Hee is concerned, he does not have a shred of paper that said his colleagues were not to give anything but the true facts to the lawyers or auditors," he said.

The six CHC leaders arrived in good spirits yesterday. All of them - except former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, who is representing himself and was seated with the defence lawyers - were smiling and laughing in the dock before proceedings began.

Lam's lawyer, Senior Counsel Kenneth Tan, reiterated his client's defence that he had only limited involvement and knowledge in the bond transactions, agreeing at one point with Justice Woo, who had asked if Lam was an "innocent pawn" being used by the others. Lam faces three years in jail.

"We are saying John Lam was being used to facilitate the plan without knowing the full picture," said Mr Tan.

There was a moment of levity just before the morning session ended, when prosecutors requested a break for the transcriber, after Mr Tan spoke for 21/2 hours. Justice Chao quipped: "We can keep quiet and say silent prayers."

The appeal continues today, with Chew and former finance manager Sharon Tan presenting their cases.

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

Telemedia Pacific Group Ltd and another v Yuanta Asset Management International Ltd and another - [2016] SGHC(I) 03

MAS releases revised guidelines on outsourcing risk management

25 Aug 2016

SBI Offshore files CAD report, beefs up board ahead of shareholder revolt

Business Times
16 Sep 2016
Anita Gabriel

AHEAD of a crunch shareholder vote on a boardroom shakedown on Friday, SBI Offshore has muscled up its board with four new members and lodged a report with Singapore's white-collar crime buster on a possible breach of securities laws and other offences.

The report lodged with the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) is in relation to the purchase and sale of a 35 per cent stake in China-incorporated Jiangyin Neptune Marine Appliance Co (NPT), said SBI Offshore chairman Mirzan Mahathir in an announcement to the Singapore Exchange.

"The full extent of the possible breach of securities laws or other offences, or other potential breaches has yet to be determined," said Mr Mirzan, who owns 11.6 per cent of SBI Offshore and is the eldest son of Malaysia's former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Following the shock findings of a review by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) on the NPT transactions that was publicly released on Sept 10, the board has also appointed a special investigation committee to lead the investigations on the matter and "other connected matters".

The committee comprises four newly-appointed independent non-executive directors - James Kho Chung Wah, Mark Edward Pawley, Ling Yew Kong and Lawrence Kwan Hon Kay.

Their appointments, which took effect on Wednesday, were announced separately earlier in the day when it was also announced that they would lead the investigations into the "grave and very serious" PwC findings as well as actions, if necessary, to recover properties and moneys and to seek redress against breaches of duties.

The latest developments at the ailing offshore company that made losses of US$1.5 million for the first half year ended June are unfolding a day before the feud between the company's founder and major shareholder, Tan Woo Thian, and its chief executive, Chan Lai Thong, comes to a head at an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) on Friday.

Mr Tan, together with two other requisitioning shareholders, Hui Choon Ho and Ong Nai Pew are seeking to appoint four new directors to the board as well as oust Mr Chan from the board. The four prospective directors are Mr Hui, Dr Ong, Lau Yoke Mun and Geoffrey Yeoh Seng Huat. The three shareholders collectively own just over 31 per cent of the company.

If the proposed resolutions on the new appointments are passed, despite the board having flagged the suitability of two individuals as directors before backtracking on one of them, the troubled Catalist-listed company would end up with a 13-member board.

This is way more heft than the average board size of 5-7 of a small cap company on SGX and more than the board's own recognition previously that a board size of six or seven directors would suffice given its current operations and diversification into the solar business.

SBI Offshore said: "While the board had previously thought that the addition of one or two directors should be adequate, the gravity and implications of PwC's NPT Findings make it imperative for the board now to introduce a larger number of new and independent directors who were previously uninvolved with the company."

The damning PwC report, which was first reported by The Business Times, points to the existence of two sets of agreements each on the purchase and subsequent sale of NPT.

The two sets of agreements contain conflicting key details (dates and pricing) which allegedly bear the signatures of Mr Hui (for the NPT purchase) and Mr Tan (NPT sale) from the official disclosures made by the company in relation to the acquisition of NPT and its subsequent sale in 2015.

SBI Offshore's board have urged shareholders to vote against Mr Hui's appointment given his involvement in the NPT transactions and his conduct which has raised doubts on his suitability as a director. It has also recommended that shareholders vote against the removal of Mr Chan from the board.

The "eleventh-hour" move by the board to bring in new members could signal the likelihood - and worry - that the requisitioners, two of whom are former key executives of the firm, could just get their way at the shareholder meeting.

Mr Chan, who was the company's independent director at the time of its listing on Catalist seven years ago, has clearly fallen out with Mr Tan and Mr Hui, which has led to a shareholder revolt against him and is culminating in Friday's showdown that promises to be nothing less than nail biting.

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

Public Prosecutor v Zaini bin Mohamed Noor - [2016] SGHC 123

Surviving Brexit: What we should be asking about IP protection in the UK and EU, following the recent referendum

25 Aug 2016

Use amnesty to ensure tax affairs are in order: MAS

16 Sep 2016

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has urged banks operating in the Republic to encourage their clients to use the opportunity accorded by tax amnesty programmes to ensure that their tax affairs are in order.

“Banks are required to adhere to the Financial Action Task Force standard of filing a suspicious transaction report (STR) when handling tax amnesty cases, similar to the practice in other jurisdictions,” said an MAS spokesperson yesterday.

“Participation in a tax amnesty programme, in and of itself, would not attract criminal investigation in Singapore. The expectation for an STR to be filed on account of a client participating in a tax amnesty programme should therefore not discourage clients from participation. A police investigation is commenced in Singapore only when there are reasons to suspect that a criminal offence under our laws has been committed,” she added.

The MAS statement comes after Reuters yesterday reported anonymous banking sources saying that private banks in Singapore are sharing with the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) the names of clients embracing an Indonesian tax amnesty, a move that could undermine the amnesty and damage the banks’ business with their biggest client pool.

The CAD, a police division that deals with financial crime, told banks last year they must file a report whenever a client takes part in a tax amnesty scheme, the sources told Reuters. After initial resistance from the banks, worried they might lose clients, that message was reinforced this year by the MAS, when Indonesia launched a tax amnesty aimed at wooing back some of the cash its wealthy citizens have stashed in Singapore, said the sources.

“The moment the client tells you he is participating in the amnesty, you have a suspicion that the assets with you are not compliant, and so you have to report to the authorities,” Reuters reported a senior executive at a Singapore-based wealth manager as saying.

Singapore made tax evasion a criminal offence in 2013, and is toughening up the implementation of the law after a money-laundering investigation into state-backed fund 1MDB in Malaysia exposed how some of its biggest banks failed to impose robust controls on suspicious money flows. Indonesians account for an estimated US$200 billion (S$273 billion) of private banking assets managed in Singapore, or about 40 per cent of the total.

A second person with direct knowledge of the matter said banks had started sending to the police STRs related to Indonesian clients who have participated in the amnesty regime. The police website says it has used such filings to detect financial crime. That means if there is any evidence of wrongdoing from these filings, authorities can further probe clients or banks.

The fear of such scrutiny could deter Indonesians from considering the amnesty, which runs to March and has had a tepid uptake. The Indonesian tax office said 393 trillion rupiah (S$41 billion) of assets had been declared as of Sept 13, of which at least 30 trillion rupiah are in Singapore.




Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved 

Public Prosecutor v Agbozo Billy - [2016] SGHC 122

[CHN] Regulations for the administration of mobile internet application information services

25 Aug 2016

Turn glut of lawyers into opportunity for legal industry: Voices

16 Sep 2016
Edwin Teong Ying Keat

I refer to the thought-provoking article “The Big Read: As supply of lawyers lurches from shortage to glut, spotlight falls on policies” (Sept 10).

While we recognise the potential pitfalls of ignoring the glut of lawyers, we need not perceive it as being detrimental to our legal landscape, given the need for an available talent pool to ensure a constant supply of legal professionals.

A burgeoning supply could be beneficial, given the need to sift the best out of the yearly injection of fresh blood into the system.

Other legal systems are in a similar predicament. For instance, The Guardian reported in 2011 that the number of solicitors in England and Wales was growing at four times the rate of the population.

The aspirations of man will often compel many to study law, but the perennial interest in joining a specialised profession to challenge one’s mental faculties should not be seen as a crisis.

Policies should therefore be engineered to plug gaps in fields such as family and criminal law.

Beyond meeting the need for this talent pool via UniSim, we should strive for a paradigm shift and adjust the “aspirational” view of the profession associated with the notions of prestige and lucrative interests.

The legal profession should, rather, be construed as one premised on traits such as sound ethics and the ability to think and analyse critically.

Also, this perceived glut of lawyers can be an opportunity to brainstorm ideas for utilising lawyers for pro bono efforts similar to those of the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme and the Legal Aid Bureau.

Jobs could also be created as a result, so that law graduates who are unable to attain training contracts have viable alternatives.

We should go beyond the fear of a glut and garner benefits from it. In the spirit of progress, every perceived crisis can be an opportunity.


Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved



Pereira Dennis John Sunny v Faridah bte V Abdul Latiff - [2016] SGHCR 09

SHC: When will the court order a minority buyout?

24 Aug 2016

Good for laws to keep up with technology: Forum

Straits Times
16 Sep 2016

I agree that legal but well-regulated online betting will be the best way to deal with illicit gambling ("Legal online betting may be available soon"; yesterday).

First, the outright ban of online gambling sites has not managed to eradicate the problem of people gambling online.

This is because while the ban has made it less convenient, the existence of virtual private networks and other means of changing one's Internet Protocol address means it is still possible to access most online betting sites.

In fact, this makes it harder for the authorities to track the identities of those involved in online gambling. This makes it difficult to prevent underage gambling and problem gambling.

By legalising but limiting online gambling to a few sites, the authorities and the companies offering such services can exchange information to minimise these problems.

This can be done by insisting that those registering for an online betting account must provide their personal identity details. This will ensure that people on the exclusion list are not able to gamble.

Second, allowing Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club to take bets online will likely mean increased revenues to fund various social causes.

Since some gamblers would continue trying to gamble online despite a ban, it would be better for this money to stay within Singapore rather than flow overseas through other online sites.

This money can be used to support our local athletes, who have received a tremendous boost since Team Singapore's spectacular performance at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.

To conclude, when a ban is difficult to enforce across the board, we should consider turning to regulation to deal with this persistent problem.

The casinos are a case in point.

While the Government continues to discourage gambling by imposing a $100 levy for Singaporeans and permanent residents, the casinos offer a legal avenue for those who might have turned to illicit gambling otherwise.

By ensuring our laws keep up with global advancements in technology, we will be well equipped to minimise the impact brought on by vice activities to our society.

Lionel Loi Zhi Rui

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

Public Prosecutor v Mohd Taib bin Ahmad - [2016] SGHC 124

Mental Capacity Act: Amendments partially in force; provisions on professional donees and professional deputies not yet in force

24 Aug 2016

Ethics code for doctors expanded, updated

15 Sep 2016
Tan Weizhen

Document addresses new areas such as telemedicine, more complex medical environment

SINGAPORE — After six years in the making, the Singapore Medical Council has updated — and expanded substantially — its 14-year-old ethical code and guidelines for doctors.

Taking into account developments in medical care, the 64-page document, which is twice as long as the 2002 edition, was released on Wednesday (Sept 14) and takes effect in January. It is the primary document that the SMC’s disciplinary process refers to, together with other legislation like the Medical Registration Act. The council assesses the appropriateness of a doctor’s professional conduct based on peer review, which is also applicable in civil or criminal courts, SMC said.

The revised code and guidelines address new areas such as telemedicine, alternative medicine and end-of-life care while existing guidelines on granting of medical certificates (MCs) and doctor-patient conduct, for example, were beefed up.

A 150-page handbook — covering diverse topics such as relationships with patients, social media and Internet presence, business ties and advertising — has also been published to explain the application of the revised code and guidelines and provide advice on best practices.

SMC said the materials were developed after extensive consultation with the medical community and the process started in 2010 with the establishment of a working committee to review the ethical code and guidelines. The council said the work was guided by principles including relevance to modern medical practice, adapting to the complexities and variations of medical practice, protecting patients’ best interests while being fair to doctors and regulating behaviour rather than imposing blanket prohibitions.

SMC said the guidelines are “intended first and foremost to guide SMC-registered doctors practising in Singapore”. Adding that doctors who are registered with SMC “carry the reputation of Singapore doctors”, the council said: “However, as cross-border medicine becomes more prevalent certain aspects, such as telemedicine conducted in Singapore for overseas patients, may become subject to (the code and guidelines), in addition to the laws and rules that apply in the overseas jurisdiction.”

In recent years, trials have been held here and abroad on replacing doctor visits with video conferencing sessions, for example. The guidelines state that the quality of care in performing robotic surgery remotely, for instance, should be no different from performing the procedure in person. Doctors must also ensure that patients are sufficiently trained to operate telemedicine equipment from their locations and prompt assistance is available if the equipment fails, or the patients cannot operate them.

Dr Tan Chi Chiu, who chaired the working committee, said the environment today has become more complex as compared to 2002: The evolution of technology, greater ways of interaction between doctors and patients and a more complicated medical legal environment. “In an era of increased complexity, it is easier to get tripped up easily. The opportunity for error has become greater. In 2002, the number of complaints to SMC was not so high, and lawsuits for medical negligence not so prevalent,” he said. Last year, there were 141 complaints filed with SMC against 161 medical practitioners. In 2002, 69 complaints were lodged against 73 medical practitioners.

He stressed, however, that the intent of the revised guidelines is not to “tie down doctors’ hands” in what they do. The guidelines are not more elaborate than those in places such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong, which the committee studied. Over the past six years, the committee met more than 30 times. It held dialogues with various sectors of the medical community, as well as two profession-wide consultation in 2014 and last year.

Based on the feedback, there was concern about whether the code and guidelines would lead to doctors “not treating patients according to their best interests by practising defensive medicine”, according to SMC. Defensive medicine refers to the practice of ordering medical tests, procedures, or consultations of doubtful clinical value in order to protect the prescribing physician from malpractice suits.

In response, SMC said it was “illogical to equate abiding by ethical guidelines to practising defensive medicine and increasing healthcare costs”. “It should be to the contrary, since ethical handling of patients should lead to reduced complaints and litigation and thus lower insurance and indemnity costs,” said the council, adding that doctors should use clinical guidelines “in context and not blindly”.

Tanjong Pagar GRC Member of Parliament Chia Shi-Lu, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, said the guidelines were balanced. He noted the discussion among the community whether the guidelines should be kept simple and broad, or should they be more prescriptive and run the risk of being outdated quickly.

On the issuance of MCs, the SMC asked doctors to have a “detailed conversation” with the patients about what types of light duties are available at their workplace before certifying them to be fit for such work. “Leaving it to employers to decide is insufficient and risky to patients. The lightest duty available may exceed what patients ought to perform without aggravating their conditions,” the SMC said.

“It is not right to expect employers to have the medical knowledge to calibrate what duties are given to their employees who are given ‘light duty’ medical certificates.”

What’s new in the SMC’s ethical code for doctors

Fees for services

•Doctors must not charge fees of a level that would bring the profession into “disrepute”. The appropriateness of fees is subject to peer review

•They must not take additional fees for if they have not provided any part of the services to a patient by other doctors

•Fees or range of fees you set must be transparent and made known to patients in advance, But patients’ acquiescence to fees does not absolve doctors of the responsibility of charging reasonable fees

Relationships with patients

•Doctors must not breach professional boundaries by initiating social media relationships with patients

•They can choose to accept such relationships initiated by patients, but cannot compromise relationship by sharing anything that would breach patient confidentiality or through inappropriate words or behaviour towards patients

•Doctors active on social media must ensure that they do not diminish their professional standing, or bring the profession into disrepute


•Doctors must take reasonable care to ensure patients do not have psychological or psychiatric illnesses involving self and body image before performing procedures

•For more invasive and surgical procedures, a reasonable “cooling off” period is needed between patients giving consent and the treatment

•When obtaining consent from patients, doctors must disclose risks “beyond those that are more common”, compared to that required of conventional medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine

•Restricted to only modalities approved by SMC, ie needle acupuncture

•Must have medical reasons for offering SMC-approved CAM services to patients

•Cannot be used in disregard of medical needs of patients that are better met through conventional medicine


•Doctors must ensure they have sufficient training and information to manage patients through telemedicine, or state the limitations of their opinions

•Doctors still retain responsibility for overall management of a patient who undergoes robotic procedures performed by other doctors

•Ensure confidentiality of medical information shared through technology

•Ensure that patients operating telemedicine equipment from their locations are properly trained

Copyright 2016 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Chancery Law Corp v Management Corporation Strata Title Plan No 1024 - [2016] SGHC 121

Construction law in Singapore: A special case - SCL Annual Conference 2016

24 Aug 2016

Takashimaya wins rent dispute with landlord

Straits Times
15 Sep 2016
Selina Lum

The court fight between Takashimaya and its landlord Ngee Ann Development (NAD) over the way to calculate rent has concluded in favour of the department store.

By ruling in favour of Takashimaya, the High Court has denied NAD's claim that it could charge Takashimaya a far higher rent because, hypothetically, the department store could cut back its own area and increase the area it sublets to speciality shops.

NAD had sued Takashimaya - the anchor tenant at its Ngee Ann City complex on Orchard Road since 1993 - last year after both sides reached a deadlock on the meaning of "prevailing market rental value" in the lease agreement.

Takashimaya, represented by Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo and Ms Lim Wei Lee, contended that the rental rate should be valued based on the existing space configuration.

Out of the 56,000 sq m leased to it, Takashimaya uses 38,000 sq m for its department store and the rest is sublet to speciality shops. Takashimaya says this use of space reflects the business model of its parent company in Japan.

But NAD contended that the rent should be valued based on the highest potential of the property.

This method would be based on reducing department store space as speciality shops command higher rent.

In a written judgment released yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Debbie Ong accepted Takashimaya's interpretation.

She found that when they entered into the lease agreement, both parties had intended to have a long-term relationship - Takashimaya would run its department store as Ngee Ann City's anchor tenant and NAD would enjoy strong property values as a result of Takashimaya's presence and ability to attract customer traffic.

She noted that the relationship between NAD and Takashimaya was more like a joint business partnership rather than the typical landlord-tenant relationship.

She noted that Takashimaya Japan has a 26.3 per cent stake in NAD and has four directors on NAD's board.

"Given this foundational context to the relationship, it would be inconsistent with the parties' core understanding and agreement for NAD to obtain rent based on the highest and best hypothetical use of the demised premises even while Takashimaya continues to use nearly 70 per cent of its leased space for its departmental store," she said.

The consequence of using NAD's basis is that Takashimaya would pay far higher rent based on a hypothetical configuration with reduced area for its department store use.

If Takashimaya does indeed reduce the size of its department store in order to maximise profits, that would run contrary to its main business.

"It is doubtful whether Takashimaya would have entered into the lease if it contemplated that it may one day have to run a property leasing business instead of operating its departmental store," she said.

The lease between the parties was initially for 20 years, with Takashimaya given six options to renew for 10 years each.

The rental rate is to be reviewed every five years.

In 2013, after Takashimaya exercised its first option, NAD proposed to revise the rent to $19.83 per sq ft (psf) a month, more than double the existing rate of $8.78 psf. This was based on a valuation report that reduced the space for department store use.

Takashimaya rejected it.

After months of negotiation, both sides agreed in April 2014 to each appoint a valuer and take the average of the two rental values.

Ten days later, unbeknown to Takashimaya, NAD wrote to the two valuers, noting that they are not constrained by the existing space use.

Takashimaya found out only after the two reports - based on hypothetical configurations that reduced department store space - were issued.

NAD explained the failure to send Takashimaya a copy of the letter as an administrative oversight.

Both sides then reached an impasse on how to continue with the valuation exercise.

In her judgment, the judicial commissioner urged both sides to "resolve their disputes amicably" in the light of their long-term business relationship.

Contacted for comment, NAD said in a statement: "We will seek our lawyer's advice and come to a decision thereafter".


Out of the 56,000 sq m leased to it, Takashimaya uses 38,000 sq m for its department store. The rest is sublet to speciality shops.


Initial number of years of the lease between the parties, with Takashimaya given six options to renew for 10 years each.

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

Ngee Ann Development Pte Ltd v Takashimaya Singapore Ltd [2016] SGHC 194

Beyonics Technology Ltd and another v Goh Chan Peng and others - [2016] SGHC 120

Personal data protection – Prohibition on transfer of data out of Singapore

19 Aug 2016

City Harvest appeals start today

Straits Times
15 Sep 2016
Danson Cheong

Prosecution will seek stiffer penalties, while defence fights against convictions, sentences

They have filed their papers.

Today, the six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders at the centre of a multimillion-dollar financial scandal will return to face the courts.

The marathon City Harvest trial begins again in the High Court, with both the defence and prosecution appealing. The appeal will continue tomorrow and for the first three days of next week.

It will be heard by Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, and Justices Woo Bih Li and Chan Seng Onn.

The six who have been convicted - including CHC founder Kong Hee, 52 - are arguing against their convictions and sentences, while the prosecution is appealing for longer deterrent sentences.

In October last year, the six were convicted of misappropriating millions in church funds to fuel the pop music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, in a church mission known as the Crossover Project.

The court found that they had invested $24 million from CHC's building fund in bogus bonds from music production company Xtron and glass-maker Firna, but this money was, in fact, used to fund the Crossover Project. Later, another $26 million was used to cover up the initial misdeed.

For their crimes, the six were handed jail terms ranging from 21 months to eight years.

Kong, fingered as the key man behind the scandal, was given the stiffest sentence.

Presiding Judge See Kee Oon had choice words for the charismatic church pastor, whom he said "acted consciously and dishonestly".

"One does not need to be an expert in legality to appreciate certain fundamental aspects of honesty, truth and integrity," said Judge See in his written judgment.

Former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, 57, was handed a six-year term. And as Kong's right-hand man, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 43, was given a sentence of 51/2 years.

Former church finance manager Serina Wee, 39, was given a five-year term. Former CHC finance committee member John Lam, 48, was sentenced to three years in jail.

Former church finance manager Sharon Tan, 40, received a sentence of 21 months' jail - the shortest.

Calling the case unique and without precedent, Judge See had agreed with the defence that the church suffered no wrongful loss, but still found them guilty of serious offences - including falsifying church accounts and breaches of trust involving large sums of charity money.

But the prosecution has described the jail terms as "manifestly inadequate".

During the trial, it called for harsher sentences - highlighting the fact that the case involved the largest amount of charity funds ever misappropriated in Singapore's legal history, which has shaken public confidence in the charity sector.

Said Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong: "It must be made clear that those leading charities, entrusted with the funds, must adhere to the highest standards of integrity and transparency."

The session starting today could be the final avenue of appeal open to the six church leaders.

If their appeals fail, they can refer the case up to the Court of Appeal, with its permission - and only if there is a point or question of law to argue.

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

Estate of Lee Rui Feng Dominique Sarron, deceased v Najib Hanuk bin Muhammad Jalal and others - [2016] SGHC 119

Do you have an objection? Goh Yee Lan Coreena v P & P Security Services [2016] SGHC 141

19 Aug 2016

Accountant struck off rolls gets second chance

Straits Times
15 Sep 2016
K.C. Vijayan

Court finds the punishment excessive for her offence and suspends her for 2 years instead

An errant public accountant who was struck off the professional register within a year of being registered has been given a second chance, when the High Court allowed her appeal and suspended her for two years instead.

The court, which noted that Leow Kwee Huay had worked for more than 25 years as "an unregistered clerk without blemish" before qualifying as an accountant, ruled that the punishment was "manifestly excessive".

Justice Choo Han Teck, in judgment grounds released yesterday, said: "To finally be admitted as a certified public accountant and be struck off the register within a year of finally becoming a certified public accountant appears harsh in the context of the wrong that she did."

Leow, formerly an audit manager at accounting firm Er & Co, was convicted in 2013 on seven charges of forgery and jailed a total of five days. In September last year, after a disciplinary inquiry, the Public Accountants Oversight Committee deregistered her as her convictions involved dishonesty. Her offence involved appending her signature to the firm's name on audit reports without authorisation.

Through lawyer Daniel Chia Jin Chong, Leow appealed to the High Court, arguing that the oversight committee was flawed in giving insufficient weight to the special facts of the case. For instance, there was no harm suffered by the victim and no evidence that the audited financial statements were inaccurate. No one was put at risk and there was no market impact.

Mr Chia pointed out that Leow was jailed for two to three days on each charge - well below the six-month term imposed for forgery crimes.

Counsel Lim Jen Hui of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority called for the cancellation to be upheld, arguing that there were no "compelling mitigating factors".

Justice Choo said the integrity and honesty of the accountant, as well as the manner in which the offences were committed, are significant factors in sentencing but "all these factors must be considered on the facts of each case".

He said while the signature on the statements was forged, the contents were not false or inaccurate.

Leow was said to have done it because the owner of Er & Co was until then the only person who could sign the statements. "This is thus more like an unauthorised signature than a forgery as commonly understood," said the judge.

While he agreed she should be punished, he found the dishonesty involved limited. But he warned that her career will end for good if she repeated the misconduct.

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

Leow Kwee Huay v Public Accountants Oversight Committee [2016] SGHC 180

The “PWM Supply” ex “Crest Supply 1” - [2016] SGHC 117

Info-communications Media Development Authority Bill 2016 and Government Technology Agency Bill 2016 introduced in Parliament

19 Aug 2016

ADV: Singapore Mediation Centre - Adjudication Conference, Oct 25 2016

Singapore Law Watch
15 Sep 2016
Singapore Mediation Centre

Shi Wen Yue v Shi Minjiu and another - [2016] SGHCR 8

SHC: Defamatory internet publications - The need for electronic evidence

18 Aug 2016

SGX confirms Swiber probe

Business Times
15 Sep 2016
Tan Hwee Hwee

[Singapore] THE Singapore Exchange has confirmed investigations into developments at Swiber Holdings, saying that the probe is ongoing.

It said this on Wednesday in response to BT's query on the outcome of its probe into possible disclosure breaches, as contained in an Aug 16 letter addressed to Swiber's pre-July 28 board of directors. July 28 was the day when the offshore & marine (O&M) company announced its shock application for a wind-up, which it subsequently withdrew in favour of an application for judicial management.

BT, which obtained a copy of the Aug 16 letter, had earlier this week reported on the potential breaches.

SGX said that it would not comment on any ongoing investigations as they are confidential. But it noted that "a series of announcements from Swiber, including the one on July 8, came only after queries from SGX".

On July 8, Swiber issued several SGX filings including one flagging the delay of a US$710 million project off West Africa. Swiber first announced this project in an SGX filing on Dec 15, 2014, and laid claims to clinching contracts totalling US$1.03 billion.

Swiber's July 8 announcement on the project delay came after a private SGX query and 18 months after the project award was first disclosed under the SGX filing.

In the letter dated Aug 16 obtained by BT, SGX made reference to the disclosure lapses on the delay of the US$710 million project and two other litigation claims made against Swiber by Likpin International Ltd and Green Energy Group Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.

The letter indicated that such disclosure lapses are being considered as potential breaches of the exchange's Rule 703 relating to disclosure of material information.

SGX said in the response to BT that the due process of investigation into any company for a possible breach of the Listing Rules involves issuing show cause letters to the relevant persons so that they can understand the exchange's concerns, can assess their cases and provide responses to the exchange.

This ties in with the context of the Aug 16 letter, in which SGX invited named parties at Swiber to make representations within 14 days from the date of the letter to the alleged breaches of Rule 703.

SGX also highlighted on Wednesday that material rule breaches occurring after Oct 6, 2015, will be referred to the Listings Disciplinary Committee (LDC). The LDC has a wider range of sanctions than the exchange on parties found to be in breach of the listing rules, including imposition of monetary penalty in excess of S$10,000 per breach, in excess of S$100,000 in aggregate for multiple breaches, issuance of a public reprimand and an order for denial of facilities of the market.

SGX said it will keep the market informed of all public enforcement and disciplinary actions.

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

Ng Huat Seng and another v Munib Mohammad Madni and another - [2016] SGHC 118

[GBR] A picture speaks a thousand words – Lessons from the Trunki case

18 Aug 2016

Former housing agent fined for cash offence

Straits Times
15 Sep 2016
Janice Heng

It's illegal to handle cash but he used $93,000 of client's money to pay debts

A former property agent has been fined for handling $93,000 of his client's money in cash - the largest amount to date for which an agent has been prosecuted.

Goh Chung Yong, 48, had told his client that he would pass the cash to the client's conveyancing lawyers. Instead, Goh used the money to pay off debts he owed to loan sharks, and lied that it had been stolen from him, according to a Council for Estate Agencies release yesterday.

He was convicted yesterday and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine (in default, seven weeks' imprisonment).

It is illegal for property agents to handle transaction monies for or on behalf of anyone involved in the sale and purchase of a property, and in leasing Housing Board (HDB) properties.

The law took effect in 2010. Seventeen agents - including Goh - have been prosecuted since then.

Goh was previously a PropNex Realty agent. In 2014, a flat owner engaged Goh to sell his Sembawang HDB flat and look for another flat to buy.

In January last year, the flat was sold for $360,000. The owner had earlier agreed to buy a flat in Yishun for $308,000.

Goh asked the owner for $106,000 in cash - $93,000 to pay the conveyancing lawyers handling the purchase, and the rest as commission. Goh said he would pass the money to the lawyers since his office was near theirs.

The owner gave him the cash. But when the lawyers contacted the owner soon afterwards, it emerged that the money had not made it to them.

On March 12 last year, the owner lodged a complaint with PropNex, saying he could not complete the purchase of his new flat in time.

PropNex advanced the sum of $93,000 to the owner, and helped to get an extension from the HDB. The purchase was completed on March 27 last year.

PropNex terminated Goh as one of its agents. Investigations revealed that Goh initially lied to PropNex that the cash had been stolen from his car. He promised to return the money out of his own pocket.

He later admitted he had used the money to pay off debts. On April 16 last year, Goh repaid PropNex after selling his own condominium.

The Council for Estate Agencies advises consumers not to hand transaction monies to their property agencies and agents.

In a sale transaction, such monies include the option fee, downpayment, stamp duties, deposits and sales proceeds. Valuation fees and commission are not considered transaction monies.

Real estate agencies said clients might not realise that it is illegal for agents to handle cash.

Cheques and cashier's orders are more commonly used by clients in such deals, said PropNex chief executive officer Mohamed Ismail Gafoor. He said if a client requests the use of cash, the agent should advise him to get a cashier's order instead.

"Even though it's the law, not everyone may know. I think consumer education still has to catch up," said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim.

The council said it will continue to take action against those who commit the offence.

The public can report cases of property agencies or agents who handle transaction monies to CEA by calling 1800-6432555 or e-mailing feedback@cea.gov.sg.

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

Heinrich Pte Ltd and another v Lau Kim Huat and others - [2016] SGHC 116

PDPC revises advisory guidelines and announces new/updated guides and initiatives

18 Aug 2016

Legal online betting may be available soon

Straits Times
15 Sep 2016
Jermyn Chow & Melissa Lin

Singapore Pools, Turf Club await go-ahead to launch online services as early as next month

Punters may be allowed to place their bets online legally as early as the second half of next month - in a move that appears aimed at trying to counter illicit gambling on unauthorised websites.

The Straits Times has learnt that Singapore-based lottery operators Singapore Pools and the Singapore Turf Club (STC) are preparing to launch their online betting services, in anticipation of getting the green light from the authorities.

Responding to queries from ST, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) would say only that it is evaluating applications from Singapore Pools and STC.

But ST understands that both lottery operators are running final tests on their online betting platforms and have prepared advisories for staff and customers.

They are hoping to be exempted from the Remote Gambling Act by the end of this month.

Details are still being finalised, but it appears that all lotteries and games except for Big Sweep will be available online. However, betting amounts and permutations will be limited. It is also understood that the operators will be able to take live bets online.

Singapore Pools offers betting on football and motor-racing as well as 4-D and Toto, while STC takes bets on horse races.

The latest move to allow the two operators to venture into online betting comes two years after Parliament passed the Remote Gambling Act, which outlawed online and phone gambling. Hundreds of websites that offer remote gambling services have since been blocked.

But the possibility of allowing some operators into this space had been kept open: Then Second Home Affairs Minister S. Iswaran said that an outright ban could drive illegal remote gambling activity underground.

An operator could be exempted from the Act provided that it was a not-for-profit operation and contributed to public, social and charitable causes in Singapore.

Both STC and Singapore Pools meet these criteria. They are not-for-profit organisations operated by the Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board), a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance.

Their gaming surpluses are channelled to the Tote Board to fund charitable and social causes.

If their applications are indeed approved, they will be the first to receive an exemption.

But MPs then said the exemption clause sends mixed signals.

Allowing punters to place their bets online would make betting more convenient - and lead to a whole host of other problems, social workers warned.

"The danger is not just addiction. Especially among the younger generation who lack self discipline, there's also the danger of debt issues," said Ms Deborah Queck, 48, who counsels gambling addicts at Eternal Grace Community Services.

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

Goods and Services Tax Act - Goods and Services Tax (International Services) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2016 (S 440 of 2016)

Employment Claims Bill 2016: Establishment of Employment Claims Tribunal

16 Aug 2016

New law gives shoppers more protection against errant retailers

Straits Times
14 Sep 2016
Melissa Lin

Errant retailers will no longer be able to secretly close and reopen their shops under a different name to escape detection, under changes to the law approved by Parliament.

By the end of this year, government agency Spring Singapore will have wide-ranging powers to investigate and take enforcement action against retailers who persist in unfair practices.

The amendments to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act send a strong deterrent signal to the small number of businesses which engage in unfair practices, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon told the House during the debate, which saw 14 MPs rise to speak in support of the changes.

The new law aims to stamp out "black sheep" retailers and prevent a repeat of the Jover Chew saga.

The former mobile phone shop owner in Sim Lim Square and his workers were jailed last year for cheating 26 victims into agreeing to buy mobile devices worth over $16,000 over a 10-month period.

With its new powers, Spring - a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry which oversees the growth of enterprises in Singapore - will be able to search and enter premises without a warrant to gather evidence against a persistent errant retailer.

This will allow the agency to take action quickly and file a timely injunction - a court order to stop the retailer from continuing with unfair practices - if needed.

It will also be an offence for anyone to obstruct Spring's investigations, such as by destroying documents or giving false information.

Under the new law, the courts can also require errant retailers to alert customers that they are under injunction, such as by printing a notice on their invoices.

The retailers also have to alert Spring when there are changes to their shop's address or employment status. If they fail to comply, they may be charged with contempt of court.

The changes will plug some gaps in the current consumer laws, said Dr Koh, who is also Minister of State for National Development.

Currently, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and the Singapore Tourism Board handle consumer complaints. But the two agencies do not have investigative and enforcement powers.

They can negotiate with retailers, arrange for mediation or invite retailers to sign an agreement to stop their unfair practices. If the retailer refuses to sign the agreement or breaches it after signing, the agencies can take out an injunction.

But even if a court order is issued, business owners tend to close their shops and reopen under a different name to dodge penalties.

Under the new law, doing so would amount to a criminal offence.

In a debate that lasted three hours, 14 MPs raised concerns over issues such as the scope of the law, and how it will be explained to the layman.

Mr Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC) asked if the law applied to online retailers and agents who act as middlemen between buyers and overseas suppliers.

The Act provides the same protection to consumers whether their purchases are made online or from a brick and mortar shop, said Dr Koh.

Agents who "carry on a business" - meaning that they carry out several transactions, and not just a one-off deal - are also subjected to measures under the Act, he added.

Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC) urged Spring and Case to educate consumers, particularly the elderly, foreign workers and tourists, on their rights as consumers.

Raising awareness of the changes to the law is a priority, said Dr Koh, who added: "Business models can change. Consumer shopping patterns may also evolve. So it is not always possible to use legislation to cover all manner of consumer actions... Consumer education will remain the key pillar of our consumer protection framework."

Five MPs also asked whether more will be done to protect consumers who buy prepaid packages, following the sudden closure of gym chain California Fitness in July.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who is also president of Case, noted that the amendments "make no attempt to discourage the taking of prepayment or deposits for future services".

Dr Koh said it would be "very challenging" to impose a broad-based measure on all businesses to protect consumers against loss of prepayments from business closures.

He noted that overseas jurisdictions such as the European Union, Australia and Hong Kong do not adopt such a stance, adding: "Such measures may affect the cost of doing business which would eventually be passed on to consumers."

How Jover Chew incident would have been dealt with now

Jover Chew's mobile phone shop at Sim Lim Square, Mobile Air, shot to infamy in November 2014 when a video of a Vietnamese tourist begging for the return of his money went viral.

The shop refused the Consumers Association of Singapore's request for it to sign an agreement to stop its unfair practices then.

Case's next step was to take out an injunction against Mobile Air.

The process would take several months, as Case had to seek approval from its relevant committees as well as the Injunction Proposals Review Panel at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, before applying for the court order.

Chew and four of his workers were last year jailed for cheating customers.

Describing how Mobile Air would have been dealt with under the new law passed yesterday, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said Case would refer the case to Spring Singapore, which now has the power to gather evidence - such as by entering and searching the shop even without a warrant - that Mobile Air had carried out unfair practices.

Spring could present the evidence to the courts, which might then issue an injunction barring Mobile Air from engaging in unfair practices as stated in the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act.

The courts could also order Mobile Air to publicise its injunction status, such as by putting up notices on its premises. It would then be up to consumers to decide whether they still want to purchase from Mobile Air.

The shop's employees who engaged in the unfair practices could also be required to similarly declare that they are under an injunction.

Spring and Case could also work together to publicise the retailer's injunction order.

Had Mobile Air not complied with the court orders, Spring, as the administering agency, would have the power to haul the retailer to court. Failure to comply with a court order is considered a criminal offence, which could result in a fine and/or jail.

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

Housing and Development Act - Housing and Development (Precincts for Lift Upgrading Works) (No. 9) Order 2016 (S 439 of 2016)

Changes to Child Development Co-Savings Act: Reimbursement for voluntary extended paternity leave and extending co-savings scheme to Singaporean children of unwed parents

16 Aug 2016

Cutting tedious legal research with intelligent search engine

Straits Times
14 Sep 2016
Amelia Teng

Thanks to website launched in January, lawyers now have the time to take on more cases

Legal research can be the bane of every lawyer and law student's existence.

From poring over textbooks in law libraries to trawling through cases online and offline to prepare for submissions, it is a process that can take hours.

To ease the burden, a group of local entrepreneurs - some of whom are former lawyers - have designed a website that helps lawyers search faster, keep notes and organise their research better.

Launched in January, Intelllex, meaning "intelligent law", has already attracted more than 1,000 users - about half of whom are lawyers and the rest law students.

The service is currently free, but a subscription fee is likely to be introduced next year. Lawyers said it has reduced their research time by 30 to 60 per cent, meaning they can handle more cases.

Mr Chang Zi Qian, one of its four co-founders, said: "The base of legal information is growing exponentially as more cases are reported and at a faster rate. Lawyers have to take into account what is happening around the world and things are more complex than decades ago.

"Demands of clients have also increased. They want all angles and arguments covered and that means a lot more work.

"We're trying to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve the problem of knowledge management."

The 30-year-old Singapore Management University law graduate, who served his apprenticeship in commercial litigation at Rajah & Tann Singapore, added that sometimes, partners ask for "fact-specific research" or "quick-turnaround for answers", which can be tough to obtain with existing legal platforms.

His website uses a search algorithm that understands legal case relationships so that it offers more relevant cases, commentaries and statutes across countries.

It focuses on jurisdictions which adopt common law like Singapore, and is able to pick out the legal context of a word or phrase instead of the plain English meaning.

It can also save results for future reference and organise cases according to each lawyer's needs.

"A junior litigation lawyer spends 35 per cent of his time every day doing research," said Mr Chang. "You cannot be billing the client (for) every hour because you have to remain competitive in pricing."

Mr Chang, who spent about four years at the National Research Foundation under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), enjoyed studying law but wanted to be an entrepreneur.

He and the other co-founders left their jobs a year ago to focus on the start-up full time.

One of them, Mr Edmund Koh, 31, worked as a lawyer in banking and financial disputes at Wong Partnership for four years. The others are Ms Li Jianxin, 28, formerly chief operating officer of an IT start-up based in the United States and Ms Felicia Ng, 28, who worked in talent management at the PMO's Public Service Division.

The team plans to open a Hong Kong office next year.

Lawyers said the service helped to speed up their workflow. Mr Kelvin Ong, 30, a litigation lawyer who has been using Intelllex every day since April, said it consolidates not just cases, but other reference materials not found on other platforms, and offers more relevant results.

"As a litigator, research is our bread and butter," he said, adding that it reduces about 60 to 70 per cent of his research time.

Mr Ronnie Tan, 56, managing partner at Central Chambers LLC, a mid-sized firm with about 23 lawyers, said the access to wider content such as research papers and legal publications on Intelllex saves practitioners from going to other sources like Google.

"When I ask them for research on a point that could be very obscure, they can get back to me within 45 minutes, which is very good," he said. "If they are more efficient, they have the capacity to handle more files."

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

Media Development Authority of Singapore Act - Media Development Authority of Singapore (Designated Archive Operators) (Cancellation) Notification 2016 (S 438 of 2016)

SHC: When Is the right time to start an action?

15 Aug 2016

Doc given 2 weeks to pay $500k in legal fees

Straits Times
14 Sep 2016
Selina Lum

A surgeon who owes the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) about $500,000 in legal costs for two disciplinary hearings has been given until Sept 28 to pay the sum or disclose his assets.

Dr Pang Ah San, 58, a general surgeon, was twice found guilty of breaching ethical guidelines which state that doctors are not to offer remedies that are not generally accepted, except in approved clinical trials.

Between 2007 and 2009, he performed a procedure known as percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy on at least four elderly patients at Mount Alvernia Hospital. The procedure consists of inserting a tube into the stomach of patients who cannot swallow.

Instead of standard procedure, Dr Pang used an experimental tube he had invented.

In 2012, he was fined $10,000 for using the tube on an 84-year-old patient who needed permanent tube-feeding. She died of pneumonia a few weeks after the procedure. In 2014, a second disciplinary hearing was started after the Health Ministry received two e-mails from the then-chairman of the hospital's ethics committee. It looked into Dr Pang's use of the same device on three other patients. Dr Pang was found guilty, suspended for six months and fined $10,000.

For both sets of proceedings, he was ordered to pay the SMC's costs, totalling about $538,000.

The SMC, represented by lawyer Chang Man Phing, took steps to enforce the costs orders, including initiating bankruptcy proceedings. This application was dismissed after Dr Pang showed he had $1 million in the bank.

Yesterday, the SMC sought to start contempt proceedings against Dr Pang for disobeying court orders to pay the costs and to disclose his assets. However, the High Court gave him two more weeks to comply.

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

Housing and Development Act - Housing and Development (Precincts for Upgrading Works) (Home Improvement Programme) (No. 6) Order 2016 (S437 of 2016)

SCA dismisses application for leave to commence arbitration proceedings in company’s name

15 Aug 2016

Copyright fair use: Are we 'future-ready'?

Straits Times
14 Sep 2016
David Tan

The digital age is characterised by a proliferation of myriad platforms on the Internet that inform, educate, entertain, ridicule, promulgate ideologies, sell products and connect communities of individuals. Love it or loathe it, social networking sites are here to stay. Sites like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram invite each of us to share writings, photographs and videos.

But do these postings qualify as fair use of the original copyrighted works? It has been said that such activities expose users to higher risks of copyright infringement and the technological features nudge users to behave in certain ways that violate the exclusive rights of copyright holders.

Copyright law is ultimately designed to benefit society by stimulating creativity, by providing economic incentives to create new works. It achieves this goal by securing for creators limited-term monopoly rights to exploit their work.

However, without appropriate limitations and exceptions, these rights could place considerable restraints on creativity, resulting in an overall decrease in social welfare.

Are Singapore's copyright laws "future-ready"? Are we striking the right balance between owners' rights and users' access?

On Aug 23, the Ministry of Law and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) released a public consultation paper on proposed changes to our copyright regime, covering a wide range of topics from fair use to exceptions for non-profit education.

The proposal to reform fair use aptly captures the Government's concern to safeguard the interests of the public at large within a framework of strong, effective protection for copyrighted works.

The open-ended American "fair use" approach was introduced in Singapore in 2004 to complement the categorical Australian and English models. The then Minister for Law, Professor S. Jayakumar, explained that this was intended to strike a good balance between the interests of copyright owners and users by preserving the unimpeded exchange of information and ideas to create an environment which is conducive to the development of creative works.

Courts in Singapore are required to weigh five factors to determine whether an infringing use was "fair dealing". This provision has never been tested before our courts.

The five factors are:

• The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is commercial in nature or for non-profit educational purposes;
• The nature of the creative work;
• The amount of the creative work that has been copied, or whether the part that is copied is substantial to the whole of the creative work;
• The effect of the use on the potential market for, or value of, the creative work; and
• The possibility of obtaining the creative work within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price.

The Consultation Paper recommends the removal of the fifth factor as "it was adopted in 2004, a time when copyright works were still largely distributed in a physical medium" and that it seems "to have less relevance in the light of certain new platforms and uses for content creation and distribution, such as the use of music in the background of home videos put up online".

This is an enlightened move that is in step with technological development, social media norms and global legal trends.

The fifth factor suggests copying is fair dealing if, after reasonable investigation, the work cannot be obtained within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price.Therefore, before I can upload a home video on YouTube of myself lip-syncing and dancing to Let It Go, I need to attempt to pay a licence fee for the use of the song.

The Consultation Paper asks: "Are there any other changes to the 'fair use' defence that can better fulfil the purposes of a balanced copyright regime?"

Many copyrighted works possess significant established meanings and connotations to the public, who utilise them in arguably "transformative" ways on the Internet for social identity formation and democratic discourse, including memes, fanfic and fanvids. It is unclear, even after removing the fifth factor, whether such uses are unequivocally fair use.

I have a modest suggestion - the Government could consider the adoption of a Non-Commercial User-Generated Content (UGC) exception akin to what Canada has recently enacted. Under Canada's Copyright Modernisation Act 2012, an individual may use an existing work in the creation of a new work and authorise an Internet intermediary to disseminate it, if use of the new work is solely for non-commercial purposes. This could certainly cover parody, satire, caricature and pastiche.

As a private individual, I can then freely share photographs, short texts and videos on social media platforms without having to seek the permission of the copyright owners, so long as there is no commercial profit and substantial adverse effect on the potential exploitation of the original work.

Last year, 74 per cent of Singaporeans used social media regularly. In 2018, the number of Facebook users in Singapore is expected to reach 3.18 million.

A clear UGC exception would certainly bring great comfort to many who are a part of the remix/reload/recode culture of online communities today. Copyright law should embrace this new future of transformative play within an interactive social and cultural space.

• The writer is an associate professor in the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore, where he teaches entertainment law and freedom of speech.

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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 49) Notification 2016 (S 436 of 2016)

SGX to set up subsidiary company ‘RegCo’ for regulatory functions

12 Aug 2016

California Fitness bosses 'overseas and uncontactable'

Straits Times
14 Sep 2016
Melissa Lin

Lawyer acting for liquidators says there are insufficient funds to go after them


The individuals who continued to operate California Fitness even though the gym chain's parent company was millions in debt have been identified, but investigators have hit a snag - they are overseas and out of contact.

Lawyer Lionel Tay also told The Straits Times that the liquidators, for whom he acts, do not have the funds to go after them.

What this means for creditors, including the 27,000 members owed $20.8 million in unused gym access and unredeemed training sessions, is that the chance of getting their money back remains slim - for now.

After nearly 20 years of operating in Singapore, California Fitness closed all its outlets suddenly in July, a week after 12 of its gyms in Hong Kong shut due to debt.

Last month, a liquidation report revealed that owner JV Fitness was $21.7 million in the red in January last year, yet it signed new members and got them to pay fees up front.

It also showed that the debt owed to members makes up most of the $30.8 million which the chain's owner is liable for. JV Fitness' total assets on record are worth $5 million and include rental deposits paid to its landlords.

Mr Tay said: "The fact it was insolvent but continued (to operate) and take in new members without any realistic expectation of being able to meet its contractual obligations is, in the view of the liquidators, a potential breach of the Companies Act."

The liquidators have identified the management officers who may be responsible for operating the company at that time but they are overseas and uncontactable, said Mr Tay.

To complicate matters, JV Fitness' parent holding company is based in the British Virgin Islands and China.

"The liquidators' efforts to trace assets overseas are hampered by limited funds currently available," Mr Tay said.

Even if there are company funds available overseas to pay off its debts, "efforts to trace and claw back these funds require significant time and expenses", he said. For now, hope lies in getting litigation funders to pay for the investigation. In such cases, they will get a cut of the proceeds.

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority said it "will not hesitate to investigate the company if the liquidators... come across evidence suggesting the company or its directors had breached the Companies Act".

Questions also remain over why the chain could continue collecting money for gym packages when it was deep in debt.

Mr Tay noted that while the Companies Act aims to prevent companies from doing that, there is no regulatory body that checks if a business, especially one that collects prepayments, is financially able to fulfil its contracts.


Number of members owed $20.8 million in unused gym access and unredeemed personal training sessions.


Amount of money owner JV Fitness was in the red in January last year, as revealed in a liquidation report last month. Yet it continued to sign new members and get them to pay fees up front.


Number of years California Fitness operated in Singapore. It closed all its outlets suddenly in July.

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

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Approved Institutions) (Amendment No. 4) Notification 2016 (S 435 of 2016)

SHC sets aside arbitral award in JVL Agro Industries Ltd v Agritrade International

11 Aug 2016

Dual-class shares - a must or a bust?

Straits Times
14 Sep 2016
Grace Leong


Retail investors' rights must be protected as such shares concentrate power in select few

The recent moves by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) towards the listing of dual-class shares (DCS) have provoked much debate in business and legal circles.

It had been suggested several times last year that the authorities reconsider allowing dual-class listings here to reinvigorate a listless stock market and address the dearth of big initial public offerings. And also to keep from losing the likes of Manchester United after the football club in 2012 reportedly bypassed SGX in favour of the New York Stock Exchange because its share structure allowed the controlling Glazer family superior voting rights to entrench themselves.

It seemed just a question of time before SGX opened its doors to listed companies with DCS, after an amendment to the Singapore Companies Act to allow public companies to have DCS took effect in March this year.

SGX did move closer to allowing this after "an overwhelming majority" of the members of the Listings Advisory Committee (LAC) endorsed it with certain "safeguards" to mitigate the risks inherent in such structures. SGX has given assurance that there will be a public consultation before it makes its decision.

But these moves have drawn flak from some quarters. Critics argue that allowing such a structure will not guarantee that globally renowned companies will make a beeline for SGX. Some believe Singapore may end up attracting questionable firms, as the better ones will typically look to dual-list in the United States.

But not having it may preclude SGX from attracting quality firms that have compelling reasons to have such structures in place before listing.


A company with DCS has two classes of voting shares - one class with one vote per share; the other class with more than one vote per share. This structure gives an outsized degree of voting influence to founding members, and the right to control matters such as board composition.

DCS tend to appeal to early growth technology or research-based firms in the life sciences that have large initial capital requirements and need to tap external sources of funding, but do not want to risk diluting the management's shareholdings and voting rights.

Banks are unlikely to finance such high-risk start-ups. Typically, only venture funds and private equity firms would be keen, and the funding will usually come in the form of convertible bonds or debt instruments. Once the company shows results, these investors may convert their debt financing to equity, diluting the management or founders' shareholdings, lawyer Robson Lee of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher said.

"The dual-class structure allows founding members the autonomy to make key decisions which, instead of focusing on short-term return of investments for shareholders, focus on long-term growth," said Mr Sin Boon Ann, Drew & Napier's deputy managing director of corporate and finance, and associate Ng Pei Tong in a joint statement.


Industry observers are divided over whether DCS will put Singapore one up over Hong Kong when it comes to attracting quality listings.

Allowing DCS structures may make SGX a more attractive listing venue, but it is only one of many factors considered.

"Other factors include valuation, investor and analyst familiarity with the sector, the presence of a comparable peer group, corporate governance standards, specific listing requirements, aftermarket liquidity, and cost. Traditionally, the large tech companies have chosen to list in the US after having closely considered all of these many factors, and not simply because the US allows a DCS structure," said Credit Suisse.

Still, Singapore may appeal to companies considering a listing in the region and needing a dual-class structure, as SGX may be the only major exchange here allowing DCS.

But corporate governance expert Mak Yuen Teen argued that such a structure will not necessarily attract the likes of Google, Facebook and Alibaba here. "We may attract listings from less traditional markets like Russia. I understand there are Russian companies looking to list overseas and many have founders/ controlling shareholders with an interest in DCS. But are we ready for Russian-style governance?

"My point is that we need to be aware that the largest and better ones are very unlikely to head our way. The S-chips are a good case in point," said Professor Mak, referring to the type of foreign listings from China that Singapore attracted when it opened its doors to them.


In essence, DCS concentrate power in the hands of a select few, and this can be used for ordinary shareholders' greater good, or against them. That is because this could result in shareholders who hold shares with super-voting rights unilaterally controlling how the company is run, Mr Sin and Mr Ng said in the statement. Retail investors are generally considered to be less sophisticated than institutional investors, and have less direct access to senior management. They may also not have the resources to research into why a company needs to have DCS, or to pursue actions against the firm for matters such as breach of fiduciary duties or inappropriate management, they added.

While the loss of shareholder parity means that ordinary shareholders could pay a lower price for stock in a company with DCS, there is also a need to ensure they are not short-changed of their rights.

Therefore, retail investors should consider if the proposed safeguards will be complied with by the company and if it has put in place any safeguards voluntarily, and whether they can trust the ability and integrity of the shareholders holding the super-voting rights.


There are also concerns that if more stock exchanges allow DCS structures to attract listings, this may potentially result in declining standards of corporate governance. That is because founders holding shares with super-voting rights may take actions that may be detrimental to the interests of the larger number of individuals, who hold common shares and can be outvoted.

As such, the specific details on the implementation of DCS will be important - particularly in terms of the safeguards and checks and balances that can be put in place, according to Credit Suisse.

Prof Mak said: "Institutional investors need to exercise proper stewardship by holding management and boards accountable, and with dual-class shares, they won't be able to do that effectively.

"On the one hand, we want to allow dual-class shares that basically trample over investor rights. On the other hand, we are going to soon issue a stewardship code that tells institutional investors to use their rights to hold boards and management accountable. I worry that we will become a laughing stock if we do both! If we allow dual-class shares, we should scrap the idea of issuing a stewardship code."


Industry experts are divided on the strength of the proposed safeguards.

According to Drew & Napier, the strongest safeguard is the maximum differential in voting power, where one class of shares can have at most 10 times more voting rights than the other class of shares.

Mr Sin and Mr Ng suggest that the differential could be a "fluid" number that is influenced by factors such as other safeguards in place, the industry type, reputational risks, the profile of the management, and the controlling shareholders.

But Prof Mak called it "a problem". "With a 10:1 differential, it allows one person holding relatively few shares to control. They will be able to easily outvote single vote shares. When someone has little skin in the game and controls the company, that could be a recipe for disaster."

Another safeguard suggested by the LAC is restricting DCS holders to one vote per share on voting on the election of independent directors, which would allow minority shareholders to have an adequate say in board composition.

But Prof Mak said the safeguard suffers from lack of accountability of independent directors.

While independent directors owe fiduciary duties to the company under the Companies Act, the prohibitive costs of litigation and dearth of derivative actions brought against directors here often make shareholders think twice about seeking recourse.

Retail investors cannot always count on independent directors to provide an effective check and balance on management, Prof Mak added. "We very rarely hold independent directors to account when they do not discharge their duties effectively, so why would they be effective safeguards?

"The retail investors really should just go to AGMs (annual general meetings) for the food because their votes won't really matter."

Prof Mak suggested imposing fiduciary duties on those who control companies through DCS and allowing contingency fee class action like in the US.

"Even so, if we start having foreign listings with dual-class shares, these safeguards may not work. Can you imagine trying to enforce your rights, say, for a Russian company with dual-class shares listed here, if things go pear-shaped? Have you seen our regulators or shareholders have much luck enforcing against S-chips that break rules? How do you enforce when the key management is overseas?" he asked.

Ultimately, investor rights and protection are fundamental to a strong capital market. Otherwise, Singapore may be able to bring in the listings using DCS structures, but many investors may avoid the shares. And we will have the same problem that the S-chip scandals have helped create - shares with low liquidity and valuations. That is a problem that we do not need in an already anaemic market.

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

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Medifund Committees) (Amendment No. 5) Order 2016 (S 434 of 2016)

Planning for Brexit

11 Aug 2016

Clinic manager stole over $120,000 from employer

Straits Times
14 Sep 2016
Amir Hussain

A clinic manager entrusted with collecting payments from patients and keeping accounts stole more than $120,000 from her employer in one year.

Claudia Chua Hui Peng, 38, used the cash to pay off her car loan, her maid's salary, her household expenses, as well as her husband's debts to banks, licensed moneylenders and loan sharks.

Yesterday, she was jailed for 21 months after pleading guilty to one charge of criminal breach of trust as a servant.

A District Court heard that she worked for Chris Chong Clinic, an obstetrics and gynaecology clinic at Gleneagles Hospital.

Between January and December 2013, she siphoned off $123,422 from the clinic using two methods.

When a patient opted to pay in cash, she would put the money aside. At the end of the work day, she would edit the consultation item and/or medication purchased as well as the corresponding sum collected in the computer system used for keeping accounts. She would then pocket the difference.

Sometimes, at the end of the day, she would hand over all cash sales proceeds to her employer, Dr Christopher Chong Yew Luen, who would then entrust her with depositing the money into the clinic's bank account.

But Chua would later change the date and time settings in the clinic's computer in order to edit the entries in the bookkeeping system, so that the accounts reflected a lower sum collected. She would then pocket the difference.

Chua's scam was discovered when a patient went to the clinic for a follow-up in December 2013, but the accounting system did not have her details.

The patient had purchased a full antenatal package and paid for it in cash, and this was supposed to have shown up in the system.

Dr Chong confronted Chua, who owned up to her deeds, the court heard. He allowed her a grace period to make full repayment of the misappropriated sum by April 15, 2014, but Chua could not meet the deadline and surrendered herself to the police on April 14.

She has since paid back $1,000.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lim Kah Hwee asked for 22 to 24 months' jail for Chua. Defence lawyer Jason Goh asked for not more than 20 months.

Mr Goh said Chua started work as an administrative assistant in October 2005 with a gross monthly salary of $1,500 and this was eventually increased to $2,000.

Her husband got involved in football betting in 2012 and resorted to taking loans from moneylenders.

Chua, who is the sole breadwinner of the family, felt compelled to comply with his demands for money to prevent her family from being harassed by loan sharks.

The maximum penalty for criminal breach of trust as a servant is 15 years' jail and a fine.

When a patient opted to pay in cash, she would put the money aside. At the end of the work day, she would edit the consultation item and/or medication purchased as well as the corresponding sum collected in the computer system used for keeping accounts. She would then pocket the difference.

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

Central Provident Fund (Amendment No. 2) Bill (Bill 26 of 2016)

[IDN] The 2016 Indonesian tax amnesty

11 Aug 2016

Inconsistencies, gaps in elected presidency proposals: Forum