30 May 2015
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New lawyers find it tougher as glut looms

Business Times
29 May 2015
Claire Huang

Some firms are cutting starting pay, taking fewer trainees and reducing hiring

[Singapore] THEY were once eagerly courted, but those days might be over for freshly minted lawyers.

The trials of market forces and a slowing economy have led several law firms here to cut the sizable starting pay packages seen at the height of the lawyer crunch a few years back, moderate the number of trainees that they take in, or reduce the number of new lawyers that they hire.

Unlike three or four years ago when the legal sector faced a shortage of lawyers, the sector now faces a mismatch in supply and demand. Observers say that this is expected to worsen in the next few years as measures to ramp up supply kick in.

Previously, the average gross starting pay in the Big Four firms was S$6,000 and more a month, while medium-sized firms paid new lawyers between S$4,500 and S$5,500.

Given the current oversupply, The Business Times was told that starting pay in bigger firms have moderated to between S$5,500 and S$6,000 monthly. Gross pay in medium-sized firms and small firms have fallen more to S$4,000-5,000, and around S$3,500, respectively.

Patrick Ang, Rajah & Tann's deputy managing director, said that many firms used to offer pay packages that comprised higher base salaries and lower variable bonuses. The firm however has now switched back to the previous model of lower front-loading so that monthly salaries are lower and bonuses are higher. Since last year, the firm also reduced its trainee intake from more than 40 lawyers to about 35 now, although about 90 per cent of its trainees were retained.

Similarly, RHTLaw TaylorWessing recently decided to reduce the front-loading component of pay packages and instead offer higher bonuses for those who perform, said managing partner Tan Chong Huat.

Rodyk & Davidson, which has also moderated its starting pay, said that it follows current market rates and constantly reviews them to stay competitive.

These developments come as no surprise to lawyer Amolat Singh, who said that bigger organisations have less room for being sentimental. Already, many law graduates have failed to get training contracts, he said.

Last year, almost 650 law graduates competed for some 490 training contracts.

Shashi Nathan, a partner at Withers KhattarWong, said: "If you reduce starting salaries by 10-15 per cent, that allowance gives law firms room to hire one or two more new lawyers."

Still, not everyone is cutting back. It is business as usual for some firms, including Allen & Gledhill, Drew & Napier, WongPartnership and Morgan Lewis Stamford. Some, like Wong & Leow and Tito Isaac & Co, have retained all their trainees, even as the intake grew over the years.

"The Singapore legal sector is becoming increasingly polarised between firms that do 'Wall Street' work and those that do 'High Street' work. The former compete with international firms for talent, so they have not moderated their pay scales significantly. This is one of the reasons that TSMP is not reducing our starting pay, and we continue to pay S$7,000 for newly qualified lawyers," said Stefanie Yuen Thio, joint managing director at TSMP Law Corporation.

One outcome is that fresh lawyers are now less choosy about the firms that they join. Unlike previous years when fresh graduates tended to shun small firms, the tides have turned - something that is welcomed by the smaller players.

Said Nicholas Narayanan, a partner at Nicholas & Tan: "The silver lining is that quality candidates are coming to smaller firms like ours."

Lawyer Peter Low said that in the past two months, he has been inundated with more than 100 internship, training and job applications.

One legal trainee told BT that for those who want to practise law, "there is no choice in the matter", and many of his peers now turn to small firms due to the circumstances. Others said that their specialised skills allow them to either practise law or follow an academic route.

Last year, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that 430 advocates and solicitors were called to the Bar, up from 411 in 2013 and 363 in 2012. The spike in the number of students pursuing law degrees in countries including Britain and Australia has also added on to the pressure.

This year, close to 600 are eligible to file an application to be admitted as a lawyer, said the Supreme Court, although the actual numbers can only be finalised upon submission of applications.

The development follows measures to raise the supply of lawyers to plug the shortage in recent years due when the economy was growing more briskly, as well as the government's push for Singapore to be the legal services hub of the region.

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

TAA v TAB - [2015] SGHCF 1

Town Councils Act - Town Council of Nee Soon (Conservancy and Service Charges) (Amendment) By-laws 2015 (S 91 of 2015)

10 financial advisory firms may have breached anti-competition law

Business Times
29 May 2015
Claire Huang

[Singapore] TEN prominent financial advisory (FA) firms have been provisionally found by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) to have made an anti-competitive agreement against one of their own two years ago.

In the first such decision made against the financial industry, the anti-competition watchdog on Thursday issued a proposed infringement decision against the 10 FA firms, all members of the Association of Financial Advisers (Singapore) or AFAS; of the 10, nine have representatives on the AFAS executive committee.

The 10 are Cornerstone Planners, Financial Alliance, First Principal Financial, Frontier Wealth Management, IPP Financial Advisers, JPARA Solutions, Professional Investment Advisory Services, Promiseland Independent, Ray Alliance Financial Advisers, and Wynnes Financial Advisers.

CCS said these firms put pressure on iFAST Financial to withdraw its offer of a 50 per cent commission rebate to individuals who buy life insurance products from providers through Fundsupermart.com. The online portal is iFAST's online unit trust distribution arm.

The watchdog deems this move by the 10 firms in contravention of Section 34 of the Competition Act, which bars businesses from entering into agreements to prevent, restrict, or distort competition.

The 10 parties now have six weeks to make representations before CCS issues its final decision.

iFAST withdrew its offer of commission on May 3, 2013, after having launched it only three days before.

CCS said it had noted media reports on the withdrawal of the offer, and that it received a complaint on the matter. It subsequently launched a probe into it.

At the time, iFAST, a securities dealer and financial adviser, was not a member of AFAS. iFAST distributes investment products such as unit trusts through its Fundsupermart.com platform to retail investors. It also offers investment products through a business-to-business distribution platform to financial institutions.

CCS said the 10 FA firms' use of iFAST's distribution platform "contributed significantly" to iFAST's revenues in Singapore.

Vincent Ee, managing director of Financial Alliance and also AFAS president, said it was never the objective of his firm to suppress competition in the FA industry. Offering a commission rebate as an inducement was unethical, he said, because it could lead consumers into making purchases on the spur of the moment.

"It is unfortunate that, in the attempt to uphold a long-standing practice among financial advisory practitioners and to safeguard consumers from potentially misleading marketing material, Financial Alliance, a member of the AFAS executive committee, may be seen by CCS to have infringed competition law."

He said the 10 firms had "expressed disappointment" to iFAST out of concern that its marketing approach would not only mislead consumers, but also tarnish the industry's ethical and professional standing and violate anti-inducement guidelines and practice.

Separately, AFAS said it has long held the view that commission rebates should not be used as an inducement to purchase financial products.

"This position has been consistent with that of the regulator and the Life Insurance Association. Unlike a supermarket rebate, which is direct and has no long-term implications, life insurance commission rebates have financial implications that could impact consumers later."

If the rebate issue is not handled properly, consumers' trust in the FA industry would be undermined in the long run, said AFAS.

Seah Seng Choon, executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said: "Businesses should not be colluding to set or limit prices, as this will effectively dismantle the free market, causing consumers to be greatly disadvantaged."

He added that competition is a key component of the free market and spurs businesses to be more efficient as they compete with each other, giving consumers more choice and better prices.

If the 10 firms are found to have breached the regulations, financial penalties could be imposed on them.


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Dong Jianrong v Jiang Huaguo - [2015] SGHC 56

Personal Data Protection Act 2012 - Personal Data Protection (Prescribed Healthcare Bodies) Notification 2015 (S 90 of 2015)

Understanding the future of money and data

Business Times
29 May 2015
Regina Lim

Given innovative developments such as IoT and Bitcoin, is the law sufficiently elastic to cover them?

IN THE last decade, writes Thomas Friedman, "we have gone from a connected world ... to a hyperconnected world" (Friedman, 2011). The transformation has been nothing short of remarkable. When Mr Friedman's book The World Is Flat was published in 2005, he described the launch of the Windows operating system, the digitisation of content, and the spreading of the Internet browser as "seamlessly" connecting people with people (Friedman, 2011).

If you consider that "seamless", it surely is even more seamless now. The time and distances for written, voice and video communications have been shortened by a whole new level.

Now, the world has moved beyond persons-to-persons connection. The next thing on the horizon is the connection of devices in an Internet of Things (IoT). The goal is to enable all things that can or should communicate through the network to communicate through the network. In 2000, two billion "things" were connected to the Internet. Today, there are 10 billion. By 2020, there is expected to be 30 billion (Brewster, 2004). The exchange of data is picking up pace precipitously.

Telecommunications equipment manufacturers are working in earnest to set the standards for the 5G mobile networks. One of the key drivers of this technology is the expected explosion of IoT devices and the noiseless chatter on the airwaves as they constantly communicate with each other. The amount of data that IoT devices will generate will be staggering, and much of it will be personal data. In the upcoming hyperconnected world, we are probably going to be as addicted to our wearables that are now constantly sending data into the cloud. We will want to consume the services and enjoy the conveniences. Can the data protection principles that were formulated for a Web 1.0 world - and mayhaps earlier - continue to be effective and business friendly? Or will it become an albatross around the necks of companies holding back the potential of a brave new IoT world?

This raises the importance of a related question: who owns the Big Data? It is a legal minefield. Depending on the characteristics of the data or database, it might attract copyright, or duties of confidentiality, or database rights. Also, depending on where the data is generated, or where the service provider is situated, it might involve different jurisdictional rights. Furthermore, given that most platforms have licence agreements, the rights might just be determined by a key term in the agreement (eg, Twitter's terms of service require users to grant Twitter "a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free licence (with the right to sub-licence)" ). (Twitter, 2015)

When it comes to personal information, a whole host of different issues involving data protection and rights of privacy are raised. Social networking apps like Foursquare use subscriber location-based information to deliver location-based information, such as recommendations of things to do and places to go nearby. Take another example of the mobile app "SGH Diabetes Pal", which enables doctors and healthcare staff of Singapore General Hospital to remotely monitor a patient's progress and hypoglycaemic episodes (Singapore General Hospital, 2013). There are tremendous promises of what IoT services can achieve for its users but in each case, they require that users surrender certain personal information. Often times, it seems, the trade between privacy and convenience is done so casually that its full implications are not understood.

The hyperconnected user is also frequently the hyperconnected consumer. This can be neatly illustrated by these e-commerce figures from Amazon: in 2014 alone, the orders Amazon handled exceeded two billion items; and of these transactions, more than 25 per cent were made and paid for using a mobile device (Amazon, 2015).

It was not so long ago that transactions could only be performed at brick-and-mortar retail stores and banks. In the early-to-mid-1990s, technology had only just enabled monetary value to be stored on a silicon chip embedded in a plastic card. Then it took time for the usage of debit cards and credit cards to spread. Next, building on the debit card and credit card networks as well as the underlying automated clearing house, online payment was made possible. The Internet became a new delivery channel and electronic payment services became more accessible. Now, a variety of e-money has been created and it is rising in popularity in line with the boom of the online economy.

The general characteristic of e-money is that it is a liability issued by an entity (against the receipt of equal value of fiat currency). This poses something of a regulatory challenge in many jurisdictions.

First, there is a basic question of whether some or any non-banking institution may issue e-money. Facebook, for example, is currently making its bid to launch an e-money system in Europe. It has been reported that regulatory approval from Ireland (which has not been given) would require it to segregate funds equivalent to the amount of money it has issued, which is the same control that a bank in Ireland is subjected to (Gibbs, 2014) (Davies, Robinson & Kuchler, 2014). Presumably this would sufficiently address the competing concerns between (a) protecting consumers and maintaining prudential standards; and (b) encouraging competition and innovation within the financial services industry.

Second, there is a further question of the sharing of the risks and responsibilities among the players in the e-payment system. When a consumer makes an e-payment to the ultimate merchant, the processing of the e-payment might well involve all of these entities: the eWallet service provider, the loyalty card issuer, the credit card issuer, the bank, the payment gateway service provider and the mobile network operator. The exact involvement of an entity could differ from e-payment scheme to e-payment scheme, so it is not always clear if it falls within or outside regulation.

A further observation might be made that the greater the access that each of the entities has to the financial data of the consumer, the greater the overall vulnerability of the consumer to cybercrime, identity theft, service disruption or accidental disclosure or loss of data.

So it is apparent that the regulatory challenges of e-money and e-payment systems are multi-faceted and complex.

If Bitcoin comes into the picture, the complications multiply. The appeal of the Bitcoin system (to libertarians) is that it is decentralised and unregulated. These just so happen to be its perceived weaknesses as well. When almost half a billion worth of Bitcoins vanished into thin air from the coffers of Mt Gox, no central bank was liable to step in and back the investors' deposits (Sidel, Warnock & Mochizuki, 2014). Similarly, when the market for Bitcoins becomes volatile, no capital controls were instituted to save its value from sliding further (Schiavenza, 2015).

Although it appears that widespread regulation of the Bitcoin system is not going to be imposed any time soon, pressure has been brought to bear on governments to regulate at least certain aspects of the system. In Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has announced that that it will regulate the intermediaries in Singapore to address potential money laundering and terrorist financing risks (MAS, 2014). Iras has also issued guidance on how it treats income earned from trading in Bitcoin (ie, as income if trading in the course of business and as non-taxable capital gains if the purchase and sale is investment in nature) as well as for Goods and Services Tax (ie, value added tax) purposes - payments using Bitcoin are treated as barter trades and a supply of Bitcoins is treated as a supply of services (Iras, 2014).

Taking a broad view of this increasingly interconnected world, perhaps a central concern is this: as the physical barrier of distance is broken down on the IoT, will the law be sufficiently elastic to cover these new developments? If it is not, is it a matter of fine-tuning the existing law, or must new rules be crafted to cater to specific situations? In a sense, the law might be seen as the bulwark against technology's creeping intrusions into the private lives of people and the overseer of a progressively broader and deeper financial market. But the countervailing concern is that the balance is not struck right and the law ends up suppressing technological developments.

It is necessary therefore to understand the intricate interaction between law and technology with the perspectives of all its actors: the industry players, the lawyers and the regulators. The upcoming "Technology Law Conference 2015: The Future of Money and Data" on June 29 and 30 is one forum where these perspectives will be sought. Ultimately, this will be one of the many ongoing conversations that it will take for the law to remain relevant and appropriate in today's context.

The writer is a Justice Law Clerk at the Supreme Court of Singapore. She will be a rapporteur at the Technology Law Conference 2015 (http://bit.ly/techlaw2015). The conference, to be held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, MBS, is organised by the Singapore Academy of Law.
The views expressed here are the writer's and not reflective of the Supreme Court's

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ARX v ARY - [2015] SGHC 55

State Ct RC No 2 of 2015 - Appointments

State Courts

Build up expertise in mediation: Forum

Straits Times
29 May 2015

THE success of the Collaborative Family Practice scheme depends on a number of factors ("Ease sting of divorce for family's sake"; Wednesday, and "Promote private mediation as a first step" by Mr Rajan Chettiar; Tuesday).

First, there must be an emergence of an adequate critical mass of interested and competent collaborative lawyers and practitioners.

In this respect, Singapore has made a good start, having, within two years, trained two batches of lawyers in Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) through the Singapore Mediation Centre.

Feedback has been positive in divorces done through the CFP, with less pain, less cost and better outcome for spouses and children, on ancillary matters like property distribution, maintenance, custody and access to children.

Second, collaborative practitioners have to put out a consistent message collectively and individually about the values of collaborative practice, so that clients and referral sources become familiar with the collaborative model and its benefits.

Collaborative practitioners have to identify the group of CFP lawyers who are committed to learn how to practise CFP effectively. Proper training, accreditation and lifelong learning are crucial to upgrade the know-how and skills in CFP and mediation.

Issues of property distribution, maintenance, custody and access are issues best sorted out in a transparent manner, with respect and civility, and involving both spouses, with the help of two trained CFP practitioners.

This is the model of the CFP. In a CFP case, you treat such issues at the early stage, upstream, before the parties heading for divorce file divorce papers.

However, when these ancillary issues are being handled downstream after the divorce papers have been filed in the traditional adversarial approach, too much antagonism has already been caused.

More cases of divorce should try the CFP or private mediation to aim for a better settlement outcome.

Yap Gim Chuan

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Kua Tee Beng v Ye Caiyan - [2015] SGHC 53

Sup Ct RC No 3 of 2015 - Amendment to Supreme Court calendar 2015

Supreme Court

Innovation through the TPP

Business Times
29 May 2015
Mark Elliot

NEGOTIATORS from 12 Asia-Pacific countries are on the cusp of concluding one of the world's largest and most significant free trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The benefits of open trade are well documented: Trade removes artificial barriers inhibiting the free exchange of products across borders; speeds new goods and services to market; stimulates economic growth; and creates jobs. By facilitating the creation of a global rules-based trading system, high-quality trade agreements level the global economic playing field and create opportunities for all participating nations.

As TPP moves towards conclusion, teams of negotiators are meeting virtually around the clock to secure final agreement on facets of the agreement, from agriculture to cars, and customs transparency to procurement. Among the most pressing discussions are the high-stake conversations about intellectual property (IP), the legal framework that underpins successful innovation. The TPP presents some of the world's largest trading powers with the opportunity to set a new gold standard for promoting innovation.

Innovation happens everywhere, but only a handful of countries have harnessed the formula to consistently bring new, innovative products and services to market. Investment in innovation requires assurances that laws will provide effective - if time-limited - exclusive rights to commercialise resulting inventions and creativity. IP provides that legal certainty, which is why it is so essential that the TPP encompasses high-standard IP protections if it is to live up to its full potential.

Existing IP laws vary widely, creating tremendous uncertainty for investors in many TPP markets. The International IP Index P: Unlimited Potential, released by the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), maps IP in 30 economies around the world, including each of the TPP countries. It reveals that Singapore scores fourth overall, and second among the TPP countries benchmarked, trailing the US, but surpassing the IP protections provided in Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

And with good reason. In March 2013, Singapore released a roadmap to transform Singapore into the IP hub of Asia. The plan describes how Singapore will develop a vibrant IP marketplace, build a globally competitive IP workforce, and create a progressive environment that promotes IP leadership. Securing robust IP protections in the TPP will only serve to further these objectives. As chair of the IP negotiation in the TPP, Singapore is well placed to see this ambition fully realised. In fact, Singapore may have the most to gain from the TPP. Becoming a hub for IP-supported innovation will help to stimulate both regional investment and investment from global innovative companies looking for a safe haven for IP in the region. In turn, stronger IP protections will stimulate great domestic innovation, a critical step on the path to becoming a knowledge-based economy.

The 2015 GIPC International Index included first-of-its-kind data which clearly demonstrated these benefits. For example, the Index found that companies in countries with advanced IP rights in place are 40 per cent more likely to invest in research and development (R&D) than in economies whose IP regimes lag behind. Spending on R&D establishes a foundation for long-term economic growth. With robust IP protections in place - supplemented with the TPP's IP chapter - Singapore can attract increased private sector R&D spending, which will help fuel innovation and enable Singapore to become more globally competitive.

Innovative economies require the right mix of inputs and outputs, and those in turn require the right mix of incentives from government. Investment in R&D is an essential component of innovative capacity; however, the GIPC Index also examines innovative outputs to reflect which inventive efforts have translated from an idea on a napkin to a product in the marketplace. The Index found that countries with strong IP protections produce 50 per cent more innovative output than in economies with weaker IP protections. Fostering greater domestic innovative outputs will ensure that Singapore remains one of the leading knowledge-based global economies.

Greater R&D and increased innovative outputs are just two of the many benefits which robust IP systems provide. But the bottom line is this: By further strengthening the IP environment through the TPP, Singapore could become a leader in IP protection not only in the Asean region, but as a beacon of the benefits of robust IP for nations around the world. US industry stands ready to work with our partners in Singapore to ensure that Singapore continues to harness the unlimited potential made possible by robust IP protections in the TPP.

The writer is executive vice-president of the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center

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Public Order Act - Public Order (SEA Games 2015 Closing Ceremony) Notification 2015 (S 325 of 2015)

Law Soc: Information on wills submission is now online

Law Society

Information on Wills Submission is Now Online 

With immediate effect, law firms who wish to submit an entry in the Information on Wills section of the Singapore Law Gazette are encouraged to do so via the online form. Using the online form ensures that your submission is processed quicker and the details published with accuracy. Payment may be made by cheque, Paypal or credit card. The online form may also be accessed on our website under ‘For Members > eForms > Information on Wills'. For enquiries, please e-mail publications@lawsoc.org.sg.

Trade fair case: No appeal by AHPETC

Straits Times
29 May 2015
Walter Sim

Town council still exploring options to challenge judgment: Sylvia Lim

THE Workers' Party (WP)-run town council has not appealed against its guilty verdict for holding a Chinese New Year fair last year without a permit.

But WP chairman Sylvia Lim, who heads the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), told The Straits Times that it is still exploring options to challenge the decision.

The Straits Times understands that the 14-day window during which AHPETC had to decide on an appeal lapsed on May 18.

Responding to queries, Ms Lim said in an e-mail to The Straits Times last week: "The town council is considering placing this matter before the High Court."

She did not elaborate on the specific course of action.

But an option open to AHPETC is to file for a judicial review of either the law, which mandates a permit for trade fairs, or of the process involved in applying for the permit.

AHPETC ran the Chinese New Year fair at Hougang Central Hub for 22 days last year despite the National Environment Agency (NEA) refusing to issue it a permit. It was fined $800 by District Judge Victor Yeo last December.

Ms Lim told reporters at the time that AHPETC planned to take the case to the High Court because "we are not satisfied with the outcome of the case".

The town council paid the fine, but filed a notice of appeal. This required the judge to release his full grounds for the decision.

His grounds, dated April 27 this year, were published on legal portal LawNet on May 4. AHPETC then had to decide whether to proceed with the appeal.

During last year's court hearings, AHPETC argued that the requirements set by the NEA in applying for a permit were onerous and unreasonable.

But Judge Yeo declined to rule on those aspects, saying that the issue surrounding conditions for a permit should not be argued at the trial, but at a judicial review.

In the grounds of his decision, he found AHPETC's main defence - that it believed it did not require a permit - to be unconvincing.

AHPETC proceeded with the fair despite not having an NEA permit, and also ignored NEA's orders to cease the activities.


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Public Order Act - Public Order (SEA Games 2015 Closing Ceremony) Declaration 2015 (S 324 of 2015)

Law Soc: ACRA - Latest BizFinx preparation tool released

Law Society

Latest BizFinx Preparation Tool Released

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority ('ACRA') has released the latest version of the BizFinx preparation tool v 2.3.0 which is now available for download from BizFinx website.

ACRA has encouraged preparers to update to the latest version for bug fixes, changes to the business rules and enhancements to the text editor.

Please note that XBRL financial statements generated from earlier versions (2.20/2.1.0) will no longer be accepted for filing with effect from 1 July 2015. All Excel/XBRL.zip files prepared using earlier versions of the preparation tool can be opened and edited in the latest version of the preparation tool, without any loss of data.

To update the existing preparation tool to the latest version, please connect to the Internet, launch the preparation tool and click on 'Application Updates' at the Introduction page.

For more information on the software update, please click here.

Legal liability issues ‘preventing mass adoption of self-driving cars’

29 May 2015
Joy Fang

LEIPZIG (Germany) — The technology may already be in place, but the mass adoption of autonomous vehicles is at least a few decades away because of legal liability issues that need to be sorted out.

At the International Transport Forum held in Leipzig, Germany, yesterday, Mr Clemens Klinke presented a report on strategies in preventing accidents and cited an example of the sort of judgment call that could arise on the roads and result in legal issues that would take at least 15 to 20 years to resolve.

He cited the case of a moral situation where a woman suddenly pushes a pram across the road into the path of a self-driving car. Should the computer choose to swerve into oncoming traffic, or save the passenger by crashing into the woman?

“It’s not a technical question but a legal question ... Until now we still don’t have an answer to this: Who is responsible for driving the (self-driving) car, the driver or the assistance?” said Mr Klinke, who is a member of the management board of Dekra SE, a wholly-owned subsidiary of German vehicle inspection firm Dekra.

He was presenting his company’s Road Safety Report 2015, which looked at strategies in preventing accidents. The report noted that “neither the available and foreseeable vehicle and infrastructure technology, nor the legal framework can make a scenario where vehicles can drive anywhere autonomously all the time a reality over the next 15 to 20 years”.

Many cars are already equipped with semi-automated features such as lane-keeping assistance, vehicle dynamics control, emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, said Mr Klinke. And the technology available makes it possible for driverless vehicles today to ply motorways, given that these are long stretches of uninterrupted roads.

In urban cities like Singapore, however, this becomes almost impossible, he added. The roads would be dense with different stakeholders and competing road users, including driverless cars, normal cars, bicycles and pedestrians.

In a separate panel session, though, Ms Sarah Hunter, head of public policy at Google X, a facility run by Google dedicated to making major technological advancements, said she does not think legal issues will be “such a big blocker” as some people might think.

“The courts and insurance companies have dealt with gradual autonomy being introduced into cars very successfully within the existing legal framework,” she said. “ ... I think it’s a very interesting philosophical, social discussion, but I think in practice the courts will manage to resolve these issues.”


Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Public Order Act - Public Order (SEA Games 2015 Opening Ceremony) Notification 2015 (S 323 of 2015)

Sup Ct PD Amendment No. 2 of 2015

Supreme Court


Dear Sir/Mdm,

1       It is hereby notified that amendments have been made to Parts I, IV and XII of the Supreme Court Practice Directions. Amendments to Appendices B and H and a new Appendix G are also introduced in this set of amendments. These amendments will take effect on 1 June 2015 and are summarised below:

a. amendments to paragraph 7A on business of the Registry;

b. amendments to paragraph 43 on applications for discovery or interrogatories against network service providers;

c. the introduction of a new paragraph 99B on cost guidelines;

d. amendments to Appendix B on Waiting Periods;

e. the introduction of a new Appendix G on the Guidelines for Party-and-Party Costs Awards in the Supreme Court of Singapore;

f. amendments to Appendix H setting out the names of the Registrar, Deputy Registrar, Divisional Registrars and Senior Assistant Registrars.

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

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

Dated this 18th day of May 2015.


Anti-littering cameras an invasion of privacy: Forum

Straits Times
29 May 2015

WHILE I understand the rationale behind the National Environment Agency's (NEA) use of cameras to catch high-rise litterbugs ("More cameras to nab high-rise litterbugs"; yesterday), my concern is that such cameras can and will intrude upon the privacy of home owners.

Having security cameras on a street or places where crimes can be committed is fine, if it helps deter criminal activity in public places. However, we do not want any cameras in private areas such as changing rooms or toilets, as it is an invasion of privacy.

Now, with these high-definition surveillance cameras focused on suspected homes, it is hard to understand how this is not an invasion of privacy in one's home, one's private area.

This plan raises several questions: How long will a suspected litterbug be observed? How many people have access to these videos? Who will be reviewing the videos every day? Who will be holding on to the videos? Will videos that show littering be destroyed? How much can the cameras see?

Instead of feeling safe, now, I am well aware that my movements and daily routines can be watched, observed and recorded, if I am suspected of being a litterbug. I also worry about the safety and privacy of our wives, girlfriends and daughters.

As much as there is a need to act against high-rise serial litterbugs, I am against it if our private lives are watched and recorded.

I strongly urge the NEA to be transparent on this issue.

Donovan Chee Kwok Hoe

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Public Order Act - Public Order (SEA Games 2015 Opening Ceremony) Declaration 2015 (S 322 of 2015)

State Ct RC No 1 of 2015 - Change in nomenclature for key Judicial Officer appointments

State Courts

Moneylenders seek to impose other fees on borrowers

Straits Times
29 May 2015
Joyce Lim

Proposals made after failing to quash recommendation for interest rate cap

AFTER failing to have a proposal for a 4 per cent cap on monthly interest rates scrapped, moneylenders now want to be able to slap borrowers with a $60 fee every time a payment is late.

They also want the green light to charge a one-off fee of 10 per cent of the loan once it is approved.

The proposals form part of the raft of claims made by Moneylenders' Association of Singapore to a government-appointed advisory committee formed last June to review and strengthen moneylending rules.

The 15-member panel will finalise its recommendations today.

It had earlier proposed that an interest rate cap of 4 per cent a month be imposed, including a late-payment interest, also capped at 4 per cent a month.

No other fees would be allowed to be imposed on borrowers.

These proposals drew strenuous objections from licensed moneylenders when announced last November.

Moneylenders, who can now charge as much as they want, with rates averaging 20 per cent to 40 per cent a month, said the 4 per cent interest rate cap was not tenable.

They said they should be allowed to charge 15 per cent to 20 per cent a month in order to cover high overhead costs and the risk they take in lending to certain borrowers.

The Moneylenders' Association had said to the committee earlier that many of its borrowers would not get loans from banks. They also claimed that at least 20 per cent of such customers default on their payments.

Licensed moneylenders expect a rise in loans as thousands of heavily indebted individuals could have their credit facilities suspended by banks, once tougher rules take effect on June 1.

The president of the Moneylenders' Association, Mr David Poh, estimates that lending will rise 30 per cent once the new rules kick in.

But credit counsellors have urged the authorities to prevent moneylenders from capitalising on the change in regulations.

A borrower, who wanted to be known only as Mr K. H. Tan, told The Straits Times that he owes more than $20,000 to 15 licensed moneylenders.

He found himself caught in the web of late fees last year when he borrowed money to pay debts to loan sharks.

The 36-year-old, who earns $2,500 a month as a technician, said he first took a loan of $1,000 from a licensed moneylender and was required to pay an instalment of $400 over four weeks.

"The $1,000 loan wasn't enough to clear my debt. I had also used up my salary to pay the loan sharks. Because it was a weekly loan and the payment was due before I received my salary the next month, I had to borrow from another licensed moneylender to meet the instalment payment of the first licensed moneylender," said Mr Tan.

"Almost every week, I was shopping for a licensed moneylender to borrow from."

The loans were easy to get, according to Mr Tan.

"I just needed to show them my payslip to prove that I am gainfully employed. Even though they knew that I was heavily indebted, they were willing to offer me a loan," he said.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore estimated that at the end of February, there were 32,000 people with unsecured debt of more than 24 times their monthly salary.

This will bar them from taking out further unsecured loans from June 1. The rule gets tighter from June 1, 2017, when the limit falls to 18 times the monthly income. It goes down again from June 1, 2019, to 12 times.


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

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 27) Notification 2015 (S 321 of 2015)

Law Soc: State Courts - Introduction of court ADR fees for District Court cases

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.

Introduction of Court ADR Fees for District Court Cases with effect from 1 May 2015 

The State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution was launched by The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon on 4 March 2015. The Centre has consolidated the different Court ADR services which used to be offered through discrete departments, with the view to providing an integrated and holistic approach to resolve each conflict. The Centre now provides ADR services for civil claims, Magistrate’s Complaints lodged in relation to minor criminal offences in the Crime Registry, as well as other relational disputes such as applications under the Protection from Harassment Act. The previous Primary Dispute Resolution Centre, that provided ADR services for civil claims, has been subsumed within this new Centre.

At the launch of the Centre, The Honourable the Chief Justice highlighted that the State Courts had been studying a possible charging structure for ADR services. His Honour announced that ADR fees would be introduced for higher value civil claims in the District Courts, with the exclusion of non-injury motor accident claims, personal injury claims as well as cases under the Protection from Harassment Act. The Rules of Court (Amendment) Rules 2015 have been passed to introduce Court ADR fees of $250 per party under Order 90A rule 5A and will take effect from 1 May 2015 onwards.

The State Courts Practice Directions have been amended to implement this change. Solicitors should take note of paragraph 25, subparagraphs (7) and (8).

The amendments to the Practice Directions have also introduced guidelines for the use of Skype at mediation in the following circumstances:

(a) The overseas party (not being a corporation) is unable to travel to Singapore on certified medical grounds, or provides other evidence of inability to travel to Singapore for mediation; or

(b) The overseas party is a foreign incorporated company with no local presence and/or representative.

Solicitors may refer to paragraph 25, subparagraphs (23) to (26) for details.

YuuZoo's latest disclosure opens a Pandora's box for SGX

Business Times
29 May 2015

Are companies allowed to post positive research reports - whether paid or independent - about themselves on the SGX website?

MAYBE it's only me, but I'm not comfortable with e-payments firm YuuZoo posting a positive research report about itself as an official release on the Singapore Exchange's (SGX's) website, especially when YuuZoo paid for the research in the first place.

If all companies start doing what YuuZoo did, then where do we draw the line? Should companies be allowed to post broker reports as well? Since broker reports are not paid research and are purportedly independent, why not? But what if the reports - paid or independent - are negative? In the interests of consistency, should companies also feature them?

This leads to a more pertinent question: Shouldn't SGX's website be only for information relevant to investment decision-making, like material and relevant business-related developments such as earnings announcements, corporate fund-raising, significant purchases and divestments, and changes in key officers?

Or are we now to understand that relevant investment decision-making information includes broker reports that may or may not be commissioned by companies?

On May 21, e-payments firm YuuZoo released a press statement headlined "New Edison Investment Research Report on YuuZoo Sees Significant Upside on Share Price, Puts Fair Value At Up To S$1.83 In View Of New Signed Agreements''.

Given that the stock was trading at around S$0.22 at the time, I'm sure that many people would have seen the headline figure of S$1.83 and jumped in to buy. As a result, the stock gained more than 50 per cent in a week in high volume.

The press release, however, did not disclose the all-important fact that YuuZoo commissioned Edison to do the research. Also, Edison did not actually make a formal investment recommendation - perhaps understandable given that YuuZoo paid for its preparation - and the S$1.83 price is based on the company's business growing very rapidly, ie under the most optimistic business conditions which may or may not pan out in the future.

There are two places where YuuZoo's relationship as a client of Edison is disclosed - at the bottom of Page 1 of the report and at the end, in fine print under the disclaimers.

Technically, I don't think any listing rules have been broken, so YuuZoo's actions appear above board. But what if SGX itself one day posts a "strong buy'' issued by a big investment bank on the SGX stock? Would the investing public frown upon it as a practice not to be condoned?

I'm sure the public would. How many times, for example, have we seen blue chips such as Singtel, Singapore Airlines, Singapore Press Holdings or Keppel Corporation issue a release on the SGX website drawing attention to a very positive - even if independent - research report? In 23 years as a journalist, I'd have to say "never".

However, let's assume for argument's sake that there's nothing wrong with companies posting research reports about themselves as official releases to the exchange. If the report was paid for by the issuer, should the rules then be tweaked to make sure this fact is stated in the press release? Or is a sentence at the bottom of Page 1 of a report and another - in fine print - at the end-page sufficient disclosure?

In my view, SGX's website is not the appropriate place for companies to feature any sort of investment research about their own shares, paid or otherwise. Instead, the correct place is the companies' own websites or any one of dozens Internet chat sites or forums.

In YuuZoo's case, an interesting precedent has now been set and, if you like, a Pandora's box opened for SGX to deal with because by allowing it to pass for more than a week now, the exchange appears to have given tacit permission to companies to post positive reports on their shares on SGX's website.

Even more disturbing is that there looks like there's no need to differentiate between paid research and those independently generated by brokers.

A version of this article originally appeared on Write on the Money, a blog on The Business Times website. For more, visit bt.sg/write_money

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

Casino Control Act - Casino Control (Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 320 of 2015)

State Ct PD Amendment No. 5 of 2015 - App B new Forms 9C(A), 9I

State Courts

Drug traffickers' deaths: Criticisms of laws not all fair

Straits Times
29 May 2015
S. Chandra Mohan

WITH the dust having settled over Indonesia's recent executions of drug traffickers, it may be opportune to examine some issues that were previously not fully examined. No one, whether in Indonesia or elsewhere, considers the loss of a human life without sadness.

But the reasons for anguish over the executions and subsequent criticisms of Indonesia's laws, justice system and political leaders were not all rational or fair.

It cannot be disputed that every visitor to a foreign country must obey the laws of that country, the violation of which may result in serious consequences to life and liberty.

And no country needs to justify or rationalise any punishment it imposes, whether to foreign offenders, their governments or the media, or defend the integrity of its judicial process.

Unfortunately, the media frenzy over the Indonesian executions of eight drug traffickers dwelt on the severity of their punishment while ignoring the enormity of their crimes. Drug trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar international illicit trade that introduces 450 tonnes of heroin into the market each year. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated in 2012 that there were more than 27 million drug addicts worldwide and some 183,000 drug-related deaths each year.

Drug traffickers have been described by a Malaysian judge as "engineers of evil and peddlers of death". The number of countries that impose the death penalty for drug trafficking has increased from 10 in 1979 to 22 in 1985 and 33 by 2012.

Indonesia is not alone in the region in imposing the death penalty, which it believes deters drug trafficking. As every arriving visitor well knows, all of Indonesia's Asean neighbours, with the exception of the Philippines after 2006, have made drug trafficking a capital offence.

The executions of drug traffickers emphasised Indonesia's resolve to deal firmly with its growing drug problem. There are some 5.6 million drug addicts in the country. When President Joko Widodo took office last year, he vowed to deal with his country's colossal drug problem which he described as a "national emergency".

Some 40 young Indonesians die each day from drug abuse, Mr Joko had noted.

Equally alarming was the level of drug addiction among public servants in almost all the state agencies. They are supported in their habit by thousands of tonnes of drugs imported into the country, mostly by foreign drug syndicates.

In January this year, out of 60 convicted traffickers on death row, 34 were foreigners from 15 countries. They had taken advantage of Indonesia's long and porous maritime borders and weak law enforcement.

The nine Australians, dubbed the "Bali Nine" who were convicted in 2006 of trafficking in heroin, mostly received prison terms according to their role in the offence.

There was ample evidence of their guilt from their testimony at the trial, the drugs found on them, evidence gathered during surveillance in Indonesia and from information supplied by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on their involvement in drug trafficking.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were executed, were the masterminds of the group.

One claimed he knew nothing and he would be "lying" if he had said anything in court. The other claimed amnesia for his inability to remember anything until his arrest.

The Australians were convicted of trafficking in 8.5kg of heroin with a street value of US$3.1 million, sufficient for about 170,000 drug users for a week.

The drugs were destined for Australian cities, where they would have contributed to more deaths from drug overdoses and HIV infections from shared needles. Ironically, the AFP has been accused of "having blood on their hands" for tipping off their Indonesian counterparts.

It is surprising how even the delay in the executions, rather than a rush to carry them out, was the subject of criticism.

Critics ignored the fact that Chan and Sukumaran were permitted to pursue their appellate remedies right up to three weeks before their executions.

The years that followed their convictions saw them fully exhausting a plethora of legal and administrative remedies.

It included a challenge to the constitutionality of the death penalty, appeals to the Bali High Court, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, applications for judicial review to the Bali District Court, petitions for presidential clemency and final appeals to the state administrative court.

What is less known is that, according to a Roy Morgan Research poll taken at the end of January, 62 per cent of Australians felt their government should do nothing more to stop the duo's execution.

The Australian media played up the tirade about the death penalty from human rights activists who do not have the responsibility of running a government or managing law and order in a country like Indonesia.

Even if one were to accept that there is insufficient evidence that capital punishment deters crime, is there any evidence that it will not or has not done so? At any rate, at least for the present, does anyone anticipate Australian traffickers rushing into Indonesia to ply their trade?

Events that followed the executions were equally astonishing in Australia. Prime Minister Tony Abbott joined a number of his countrymen to describe the executions, in accordance with Indonesian law, as "cruel and unnecessary".

But did scores of Australians not cheer and applaud in court when the three Bali bombers were sentenced to death in 2003?

Then Prime Minister John Howard was reported as having said that he found it impossible "as an Australian, as Prime Minister, and as an individual, to argue that those executions should not take place when they have murdered my fellow countrymen and women". The idea of even pleading for the deferral of their executions was "distasteful to the entire community".

The Bali bombers' biggest mistake, perhaps, was that they did not flee to Australia, which refuses to extradite convicted foreign murderers facing capital punishment in their own country.

This entire unfortunate episode is not about the clash of political will or nationalism or of that elusive concept called human rights.

It is about visitors to a foreign country respecting its sovereign and inalienable right to have and enforce its own laws as it thinks fit. For those unwilling to show that respect, the world just does not owe them a living.


The writer is a law professor at the Singapore Management University.

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

Banking Act - Banking (Credit Card and Charge Card) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 319 of 2015)

Sup Ct RC No 2 of 2015 - Amendment to Supreme Court calendar 2015

Supreme Court

Local club cannot use Ku De Ta name: Court

Straits Times
28 May 2015
Grace Leong

Decision caps five-year legal battle waged by another club in Bali

THE days of swish club Ku De Ta operating under that name at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) SkyPark may be numbered.

One of the biggest nightclub draws here, the 57th-floor bar on top of MBS has two weeks to undertake to the Court of Appeal that it will stop using the name. If not, the court will issue an order to stop its use.

The club, which generated US$32 million (S$43 million) last year, is controlled by L Capital Asia, an investment arm of French luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which indirectly holds its controlling stake in Ku De Ta SG.

L Capital said it is reviewing the implications of the appellate court's ruling for a club in Bangkok and other projects that are in the pipeline.

Tuesday's decision caps a five-year legal battle launched in 2010 by the partners of a beachfront club in Bali that began using the Ku De Ta name in 2000.

The Bali club's partners, represented by Senior Counsel Ang Cheng Hock and Mr William Ong of Allen & Gledhill, objected to the name being used by the club in Singapore and sought to enforce their trademark rights.

In November 2013, a lower court dismissed their case against Nine Squares, licensor of the Ku De Ta trademarks in Singapore, and against Ku De Ta SG over the trademark's unlawful use.

The lower court's decision was overturned by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon who, in December last year, found that Nine Squares did not own the trademarks and held them on trust for the Bali partners, who have exclusive rights to use and license the name.

He also ordered Nine Squares, incorporated by Australian businessman Arthur Chondros, to transfer registration of the marks to the Bali partners and provide them with an account of all profits it has made from their use. Mr Chondros conceived the Ku De Ta name and was one of the partners of Ku De Ta Bali club.

In the judgment, CJ Menon found that the Bali club partners were not bound by a licence agreement under which Nine Squares had given Hong Kong businessman Chris Au rights to use the trademark in Singapore. Mr Au subsequently assigned his rights under the licence to Ku De Ta SG.

This is because Mr Daniel Ellaway, a former common director of Nine Squares who had licensed the trademarks to Mr Au in 2009, did not have the authority to do so, or to bind Nine Squares to the licence agreement, he ruled.

Mr Sanjay Gujral, L Capital's regional managing director, told The Straits Times that it "invested in the business in January 2014 after a favourable judgment by the Singapore High Court in the last quarter of 2013, and the dispute over the trademark predates the investment".

"While it is unfortunate that subsequent legal judgments have gone against the business, L Capital had secured appropriate representations, warranties and indemnities from the previous shareholders under the terms of the investment agreement," he said.

Mr Sanjay said that the club's business has "improved significantly since L Capital's investment, and based on (its) understanding, the MBS venue ranks among the Top 10 locations globally... through significant focus in upgrading operations, people and marketing".


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

To view the judgment, click <here>.

Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 26) Notification 2015 (S 318 of 2015)

State Ct PD Amendment No. 4 of 2015 - New paras 25, 39, App B Form 6B, App C

State Courts

RHT Holdings plans IPO launch next year

Straits Times
28 May 2015

A HOLDING company with assets providing a wide range of professional business services is planning a listing on the Catalist board in the the first half of next year.

RHT Holdings consists of RHT Academy, RHT I-Asset, RHT Compliance Solutions, RHT Corporate Advisory, RHT Capital and RHT Management Services.

The units offer services such as corporate advisory, regulatory compliance and manpower management.

Chief executive Jayaprakash Jagateesan told The Straits Times: "Right now there are actually no competitors who can match the broad range of services we offer.

"We want to grow the business and take it regional. We have already started rolling out a plan for regional expansion."

It has an association of law firms called Asean+ which brings services to clients in eight Asean and regional countries, as well as other ventures internationally.

The company was formed in September last year. It grew out of law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, the eighth-largest in Singapore.

Mr Jagateesan, RHTLaw's former CEO, said the firm wanted to move beyond the legal to a non-legal side of business.

"We looked at areas where clients would require professional services outside of law, and this would revolve around governance, risk and advisory," he added.

The company is also focusing on going digital.

Mr Woon Tai Ho, CEO of RHT Digital & Media, whose resources will be made available to the whole RHT group, said his company is developing its own studio in their Battery Road office.

Mr Jagateesan noted that foreign firms see Singapore as a business hub because of the infrastructure and government grants provided.

"We are looking for the next Google or the next Facebook to be our client. If they come here, we are able to provide the full suite of services," he said.

Mr Jagateesan also said the firm has a corporate culture of charity and social responsibility.

"Charity is something I grew up with, which is why I am very active with the firm's corporate social responsibility initiatives."

The company held its first charity golf event last Friday, which raised around $120,000. Half of it went to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, while the other half went to the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore.


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

Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (SEA Games 2015) (Exemption) Order 2015 (S 317 of 2015)

Sup Ct PD Amendment No. 1 of 2015 - Amendment to Part II, para 11

Supreme Court



Dear Sir/Mdm, 

1          It is hereby notified that paragraph 11 on “Urgent applications outside of the Court’s office hours” in Part II of the Supreme Court Practice Directions will be amended. The amendments will take effect on 15 April 2015.

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

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

Dated this 14th day of April 2015.


Court rejects govt move on independent accountants for AHPETC; it also raps council

Business Times
28 May 2015
Teh Shi Ning

THE High Court has turned down the government's application to appoint independent accountants to oversee government grants made to Aljunied-Hougang- Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), run by the opposition Workers' Party. But the court also highlighted the gravity of the town council's lapses and raised the possibility of other parties taking legal action.

In his grounds of decision released on Wednesday, Justice Quentin Loh ruled that the Ministry of National Development (MND) had not established legal basis for its court application to appoint such accountants.

But "grave and serious questions" have been raised over the state of AHPETC's accounts and his judgment does not stop any resident or the Housing Development Board from bringing an action against the town council if they wish to, he said.

The court also noted that MND can require the town council to appoint independent accountants, as a condition for releasing the grants, without having to get a court order.

MND said in response to media queries that it would "study the judgement carefully and consider what the next steps should be".

MND's lawyers had argued that the ministry is a "person" for whose benefit the Town Councils Act (TCA) is imposed on AHPETC, but Justice Loh disagreed. The judgement noted that when the Town Councils were set up, the whole idea was to rest the responsibility of the management of the funds as well as the estate with the Town Council.

Although MND has some interest in a loose sense in ensuring that a town council complies with its statutory duties, this does not give rise to a right on MND's part to head to court to enforce the town council's duty, the ruling said.

In March, the ministry applied to the court to appoint independent accountants to oversee government grants given to the town council and sign off on payments larger than S$20,000 made from these grants.

The ministry has withheld two years, or about S$14 million, worth of grants to AHPETC, saying that the town council has not taken sufficient measures to rectify accounting and governance lapses uncovered by an earlier Auditor-General's Office audit. It also missed two recent sinking fund payments. AHPETC has said that it deferred its sinking fund transfers as it needed to prioritise the use of the funds for routine expenses and operations.

While the court will not appoint accountants, the judge described the town council's failure to fulfil its obligations as "the height of financial irresponsibility" and referred to questions raised over its accounts, the validity and propriety of payments made to related parties, and numerous breaches of the Town Councils Act and the Town Councils Financial Rules.

"If AHPETC was a managing corporation subject to the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act, I have no doubt that AHPETC or its officers will be exposed to the possibility of civil liability or, in an extreme scenario, criminal liability," he said.

It is a "travesty" for AHPETC to have ignored their duties and obligations, and they "owe a duty and a heavy responsibility to their constituents to run AHPETC properly and it is incumbent on them to put their house and finances in order," Justice Loh added.

The Straits Times reported AHPETC chairman Sylvia Lim as saying, in response to the judgment: "We respect the court's decision and will be studying the judgment in detail."

"In the meantime, we remain focused on filing our audited accounts for FY13/14 and FY 14/15, and on continuing to improve our financial processes." Ms Lim is also the Workers' Party chairman and an Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament.


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

To view the judgment, click <here>.

Registration of Deeds Act - Registration of Deeds (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 316 of 2015)

Sup Ct RC No 1 of 2015 - Appointment of Registrar

Supreme Court

Competition watchdog okays rubber deal

Straits Times
28 May 2015

SINGAPORE'S competition watchdog has cleared a plan by Denka Performance Elastomer to buy the chloroprene rubber (CR) business of E.I. du Pont de Nemours, although the two companies together control 90 per cent of all such imports into Singapore.

The Competition Commission of Singapore said in a statement that there was no industry complaint against the deal, and it found that it would be easy enough for other companies to import CR if they wanted to.

CR is a general-purpose synthetic rubber widely used to make adhesives, car parts and general industrial products.

All supplies of CR in Singapore are imported.

Denka Performance Elastomer is a 70:30 joint venture between Denki Kagaku Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha and Mitsui & Co.

The competition commission did not say how much the proposed deal is worth.

Mitsui said on its website last December that the acquisition was expected to be priced at between 10 billion yen (S$110 million) and 14 billion yen.

The acquisition, it said, would value Denka's CR business at about 50 billion yen.

The Singapore watchdog said no one from the industry, including customers and competing global manufacturers of CR, had raised concerns about the planned transaction.

"There are no significant barriers to entry that may hinder or prevent existing global CR manufacturers and distributors from expanding or entering the market," the commission said.

"Existing global CR manufacturers can easily expand production, and potential competitors who are not currently active in supplying CR to Singapore are able to supply into Singapore should there be demand for their CR," it added.

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

Boundaries and Survey Maps Act - Boundaries and Survey Maps (Singapore Land Authority Fees) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 315 of 2015)

Family Justice Court PD Amendment No. 1 of 2015

Kallang Bahru rapist jailed for 13 years

Straits Times
28 May 2015
Selina Lum

A STOREMAN who raped a woman in his car on a bridge in Kallang Bahru and robbed her of her handbag was yesterday sentenced to 13 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane.

Haliffie Mamat, 24, had offered the woman a lift in his Proton Savvy in the early morning of May 4, 2013 near Clarke Quay.

The 34-year-old woman, who had been drinking alone, accepted his offer as she could not get a cab even after waiting for an hour.

She dozed off and when she woke up, Haliffie had stopped the car on a bridge at about 6.30am. He climbed over to her seat and threw her bag to the back seat. He then raped her, telling her: "You can't do anything and just enjoy."

After the rape, he drove off for a short distance but stopped again. He then opened the door on her side, kicked her out and drove off with her branded handbag.

Barefoot, dishevelled and bleeding from her elbows and knees, the woman got into the back of a taxi that stopped at a traffic junction. Crying and mumbling, she told the cabby she had been raped and asked to go to the nearest police station.

Haliffie denied raping her and disputed the items in her bag.

During the seven-day trial, he claimed that their conversation in the car turned sexual and she willingly had sex with him. He said he had only pushed, not kicked, her out of his car.

His lawyers, appointed under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, cast doubt on the reliability of the woman's testimony as well as her claim that Haliffie had grabbed her forearm and caused her hand to hit something in the car, which resulted in a bruise on the back of her hand.

On Tuesday, Senior Judge Kan Ting Chiu found him guilty of rape, rejecting his claim that the sex was consensual. But the judge amended the charge to a less serious one that did not involve any accusation that he had hurt her.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor S. Sellakumaran sought 15 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane, arguing that Haliffie had betrayed the woman's trust after luring her into his car and caused her to suffer trauma and pain.

Haliffie's lawyer, Mr Lionel Leo, asked for 10 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane. He noted that his client was a first-time offender and the offences were completely out of character, as Haliffie's former wife had described him as a soft-spoken, hard-working and non-violent man.


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

Boundaries and Survey Maps Act - Boundaries and Survey Maps (Map Production Service) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 314 of 2015)

Law Soc: IPTO - Practice Circular No. 1 of 2015

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.

Insolvency and Public Trustee's Office
The Official Receiver - Practice Circular No. 1 of 2015 

Insolvency and Public Trustee's Office (‘IPTO’) has issued Practice Circular No. 1 of 2015 which will take effect on 16 March 2015 in relation to the reimbursement of the Applicant-Plaintiffs' Costs in the Winding Up of a Company by the Court.

For all winding up applications filed with the High Court on or after 16 March 2015, if applicants wish to have the option of having the Court fix the costs of the application in lieu of taxation and in the absence of an agreement on such costs with the Official Receiver, the following prayer is to be incorporated in the Originating Summons:

‘That the costs of the proceedings be taxed, if not agreed or fixed, and be paid to the plaintiff out of the assets of the defendant.

Click here for the Practice Circular.

Man gets 13 years’ jail for sexually abusing daughter

28 May 2015
Neo Chai Chin

Another man sentenced to 14 years’ jail, caning for rape, sexual abuse of Sec 1 student

SINGAPORE — He was her biological father and she was only 12 to 13 years old at the time, but that did not stop a deliveryman from sexually abusing his daughter numerous times.

The 47-year-old was yesterday sentenced to 13 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane for a count of inserting his finger into her vagina without her consent, and another of committing an obscene act by rubbing her vagina.

A third charge of grabbing and squeezing the victim’s breasts was taken into consideration in sentencing. He cannot be named to protect his daughter’s identity.

The girl, who turns 16 this year, is currently living in a children’s welfare home and was observed engaging in self-cutting behaviour.

Court documents show that she told an Institute of Mental Health expert that she felt tired and heartbroken that her “beloved” father had sexually assaulted her. She confided in a social worker during her school hours after one of the offences, as she “could not take it anymore”, the court heard. She was also worried that her father would start sexually abusing her younger sister. She had not confided in anyone earlier as she felt nobody would believe her.

The girl’s mother often travelled to Malaysia. In 2012, the father gave the girl a massage after she complained that her body was aching. After telling her to take off her clothes, he unhooked her bra, squeezed her breasts and put his finger into her vagina. Her sister and mother were not in the room at the time.

The second offence occurred in February 2013.

The girl was in bed when she felt her father reach under her skirt and rub her vagina.

High Court judge Tay Yong Kwang sentenced the man, who pleaded guilty, to 12 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane for the offence of sexual assault by penetration without the victim’s consent, and a year’s jail for rubbing his daughter’s vagina.

Earlier yesterday, Justice Tay ordered 14 years’ jail and 14 strokes of the cane for another sex offender who had raped a 13-year-old girl.

Terence Ng Kean Meng, 44, first noticed his victim, a Secondary 1 student, loitering around his makeshift cobbler stall near Commonwealth MRT in October 2013. He approached her and she told him she was afraid to go home as she had run away.

He accompanied the girl home and met her mother. He even offered to be her godfather and her parents agreed.

The divorcee soon became attracted to her and took her to his flat on Oct 29, 2013. Ng rubbed ointment on the girl after she complained about feeling unwell. He asked her if she wanted to have sex and she agreed. They then went to the toilet and he inserted his finger into her vagina. A few days later, they had sex in his flat.

The offences came to light after the girl’s mother died from an illness weeks after the incidents and she confided in someone at her school. She later made a police report and Ng was arrested in February last year.

Ng pleaded guilty and Justice Tay sentenced him to 13 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane for statutory rape, and one year’s jail and two strokes of the cane for penetrating her with his finger.

Two other charges were taken into consideration, including one of statutory rape that took place in an ancestral temple on Commonwealth Lane.


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Boundaries and Survey Maps Act - Boundaries and Survey Maps (Prescribed Fees) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 313 of 2015)

State Ct PD Amendment No. 3 of 2015 - New paras 164A, 168

State Courts

Liposuction death: CEO's family awarded $5.3m

Straits Times
27 May 2015
K.C. Vijayan

THE family of real estate firm boss Franklin Heng, who died after being given too much anaesthesia during a botched liposuction, has been awarded $5.323 million.

It is believed to be the biggest payout to an estate arising from death by negligence.

The sum also included $3.88 million to make up for the loss of inheritance the dependants suffered. The amount was derived based on the wealth Mr Heng would have accumulated and left them had he lived. This is believed to be the first time the courts here have awarded damages for such loss of inheritance after the laws were changed in March 2009 to allow it.

Mr Heng, the chief executive of YTL Starhill Global Reit Management, was 44 when he died after the procedure at Reves Clinic on Dec 30, 2009, leaving behind assets that were valued at just below $7.7 million. A coroner's inquiry found that he suffocated when his airway collapsed because of the heavy sedation.

Mr Heng's 18-year-old daughter, 16-year-old son, former wife Peggy Quek, 45, and his 94-year-old mother, Madam Tan Siak Cheng, through the estate trustees, sued two doctors and the clinic.

In 2012, Dr Jim Wong Meng Hang, 38, and Dr Zhu Xiu Chun, 51, admitted liability.

An 11-day hearing spread over several months was conducted in the High Court to assess how much the doctors should pay.

The court awarded $1.179 million for the dependency claims of Ms Quek and their two children, while $20,000 went to Mr Heng's mother. Another $190,000 was given for coroner's inquiry fees.

But the largest award was for the loss of inheritance.

The parties, stressing that this was the first case in which such a claim was being made, used different ways to calculate how much should be paid.

Justice Choo Han Teck labelled the plaintiffs' amount "high" and the defence's method of calculation "overly narrow". He made clear that there was "no reason to create a wholly new method of calculations".

Instead, he was "of the opinion that a balanced approach is to calculate the amount of wealth the deceased would have accumulated, but for his death".

The judge, after considering the views of experts from both parties as well as those of court- appointed assessor Harsha Basnayake, a senior specialist at Ernst & Young and pioneer in business valuation practice, projected that Mr Heng would have accumulated some $7.39 million had he lived. Given that he willed that his children get 52.5 per cent of his estate, "this will result in a sum of $3,883,005 for the loss of inheritance of the dependants", said Justice Choo.

Rockwills Trustee, appointed in lieu of two will executors who backed out, hired lawyers Kuah Boon Theng and Alicia Zhuang to pursue the court suit.

Mr Heng had actually appointed his girlfriend, Ms Mabel Leong, and friend, Mr Ng Yong Hwee, to be joint executors and trustees of his will, but they renounced their rights - she being in a state of grief, and he being a busy chief executive. It is understood that Mr Heng provided for Ms Leong in the will as well.

It is understood that lawyers for the plaintiffs and Dr Wong are studying the judgment, while lawyers for Dr Zhu will be appealing the case.


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To view the judgment, click <here>.

Boundaries and Survey Maps Act - Boundaries and Survey Maps (Service of Documents) Rules 2015 (S 312 of 2015)

Supreme Court Note: Ram Das V N P v SIA Engineering [2015] SGHC 74 (offer to settle on liability only is valid and effective under O 22A r 9 ROC)

Supreme Court Note
27 May 2015

The High Court considered whether an offer to settle that dealt only with the issue of liability was able to attract the cost consequences under O 22A r 9(3) of the Rules of Court, and held that on a purposive interpretation of the rules relating to offers to settle, such an offer was valid and apt to attract the cost consequences under the Rules of Court. 

The purpose behind the offer to settle regime is to encourage the expeditious resolution of disputes. In this regard, offers to settle may be made for both monetary and non-monetary claims. There is no reason to restrict the validity of offers to settle to require a monetary value, even if the claim was for an unliquidated sum, when the action was bifurcated. Also, plain reading of O 22A r 9(4) suggests that if the plaintiff obtained a less favourable judgment at first instance, the cost consequences therein would apply to any subsequent proceedings, inclusive of the appeal.

At Ram Das V N P v SIA Engineering Co Ltd [2015] SGHC 74 at [27] to [61] and [65] to [75]. To view the judgment, click <here>.

Disclaimer: The above is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. The full judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document.


Ease sting of divorce for family's sake

Straits Times
27 May 2015

IT IS a pity that few divorcing couples are choosing to resolve their marital issues amicably, even though legal avenues to do so are available now. These options do not necessarily make divorce easier. Instead, they aim to help couples - who have decided to go their separate ways - to reduce the emotional trauma of divorce, especially when it weighs on children, and also to cut down legal costs.

State courts and lawyers' groups are working together to make these options available, whether in the form of private mediation, collaboration or negotiation. There are even provisions for families who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers. New structures have been created to tap the expertise of family lawyers, counsellors, financial advisers and child specialists. The goal is a settlement in the best interests of all the parties, including children, without the need for a lengthy, costly and often bruising court battle.

Yet in 2013, fewer than 40 couples chose from the three non-adversarial approaches on offer. Sadly, that figure is a tiny fraction of the 7,500 couples who filed for divorce or annulments that year.

Lack of awareness has been cited as a factor but the mindset of divorcing couples is another hurdle. Too many couples are after revenge, according to Singapore Mediation Centre executive director Loong Seng Onn. Family and close friends ought to help them see that vengeance is a double-edged sword that hurts all involved, including innocents.

Much more is to be gained by making pre-court settlements the norm as divorce rates in Singapore rise, in line with trends in other developed countries. US researchers have consistently found that high levels of parental conflict during and after a divorce hamper the adjustment children have to make. The social costs of divorce might then multiply and be passed on to the next generation.

Against this backdrop, judicial efforts to take on an activist role in helping to resolve family disputes are to be commended. The new Family Justice Court requires all divorcing couples with children below age 21 to undergo counselling. Since most divorce cases still end in litigation, it's useful to empower judges to limit the number of affidavits filed by each side. That can help shorten the process and reduce the pain of having personal details dredged out and aired in court.

The legal fraternity and the community as a whole must help more couples to choose non-combative approaches to divorce. Given the vagaries of relationships, one can expect divorce to be a sad but continuing fact of life here. The pragmatic response would be to mend what's partly broken and end what cannot be mended in level-headed ways.

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Land Revenue Collection Act - Land Revenue Collection (Fees) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 311 of 2015)

Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act 2015: Law to regulate supply and consumption of liquor at public places takes effects

27 May 2015

Justice Wei, judges sworn in

Straits Times
27 May 2015

President Tony Tan Keng Yam officiating the swearing-in and appointment ceremonies of Justice George Wei (right) and Judicial Commissioners Kannan Ramesh and Foo Tuat Yien at the Istana yesterday.

With the new appointments, the Supreme Court Bench will now have a total of 14 judges, including the Chief Justice, and 10 judicial commissioners. It also has five senior judges and 12 international judges.

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State Lands Act - State Lands (Fees) Rules 2015 (S 310 of 2015)

Work Injury Compensation Act: Higher compensation limits and wider scope of expenses claimable

27 May 2015

Storeman guilty of Kallang Bahru rape

Straits Times
27 May 2015
Selina Lum

He will now be sentenced for non-aggravated rape, and robbery

AFTER seven days of trial, the High Court yesterday found a storeman guilty of raping a woman in his car in Kallang Bahru, rejecting his claim that the sex was consensual.

However, Senior Judge Kan Ting Chiu amended the rape charge against Haliffie Mamat to a less serious one, removing the accusation that he had hurt the woman's hand during the rape.

This means that Haliffie, 24, no longer faces a mandatory sentence of at least eight years' jail and no fewer than 12 strokes of the cane for aggravated rape.

Both rape and aggravated rape carry a maximum of 20 years' jail and caning.

The judge did not give reasons for amending the charge.

Justice Kan also convicted Haliffie of robbing the 34-year-old woman of her handbag and various items inside it. While Haliffie did not deny robbing her, he disputed the contents of the bag.

The court will hear sentencing arguments today. For robbery, Haliffie faces between three and 14 years of jail, and at least 12 strokes of the cane.

During the trial, the court heard that the victim, who had been drinking alone at Clarke Quay, accepted a lift from Haliffie at about 5am on May 4, 2013, after she failed to get a taxi.

The woman, who testified behind closed doors, said she got into his Proton Savvy as she thought Singapore was safe and she had accepted lifts from strangers before.

She said she dozed off and when she woke up, he climbed over to her seat and threw her bag to the back seat. She said that in the ensuing struggle, he grabbed her right forearm and hit the back of her right hand against "something hard" in the car.

She said that as he raped her, he told her: "You can't do anything and just enjoy."

After the rape, he drove off for a short distance, then stopped, opened the door on her side and kicked her out, making off with her bag.

But Haliffie testified that the woman chatted with him in the car. The conversation turned sexual and one thing led to another, he said.

He added that she willingly had unprotected sex with him, and denied kicking her out of the car. His lawyers cast doubt on the woman's claim that a bruise on the back of her hand was caused during the rape, and argued that it could have resulted from her fall out of the car.


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Revised Edition of the Laws Act - Revised Edition of the Laws (section 11(3)) Order 2015 (S 309 of 2015)

SHC provides guidance on the assessment of evidence in cases with limited documentation and emphasises fundamental principle of company law

26 May 2015

ADV: New LawNet launching on 1 June 2015!

Singapore Law Watch
27 May 2015

Constitution of the Republic of Singapore - Public Service (Special and Senior Personnel Boards) (Amendment) Order 2015 (S 308 of 2015)

MAS to phase in borrowing limit on unsecured credit over four years

26 May 2015

Tougher borrowing rules to kick in

Straits Times
26 May 2015
Joyce Lim

Licensed moneylenders expect rise in loans; rules to be tightened further

A TOUGH new rule affecting people with heavy credit-card and other unsecured debt may profit some moneylenders here.

Mr David Poh, president of the Moneylender's Association of Singapore, expects to see a 20 per cent to 30 per cent rise in lending by licensed moneylenders once the new credit rule kicks in next Monday.

"With their credit facilities suspended, how do you think these people can service their existing debt? They don't have that many choices. Licensed moneylenders are their only source of fast cash," said Mr Poh.

From June 1, borrowers with unsecured debt of more than 24 times their monthly salary will not be able to take out further unsecured loans. Unsecured debt has no collateral.

The rule gets tighter from June 1, 2017, when the limit falls to 18 times the monthly income. It goes down again from June 1, 2019, to 12 times.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has estimated that 32,000 people, as of February, will be affected by the new rule.

It has said financial institutions will have the flexibility not to suspend credit for some affected borrowers during the transitional period, on a case-by-case basis.

Loans from licensed moneylenders are not affected by the new rule yet.

While the first group of borrowers to be affected may be under a mountain of debt, most licensed moneylenders The Straits Times spoke to said they will not turn them away.

"Most of them would have a stable job and they would be working to pay off their debts. So if they have a source of income, we won't turn them away," said one licensed moneylender, who asked not to be named.

Mr Poh said: "These are the type of borrowers that moneylenders like. They earn more than $30,000 a year and have a stable job to service the loans. Before, they would not go to moneylenders because they could get a lower interest rate from the banks."

Under the current moneylending regulations, there is no cap on the amount of interest that moneylenders can charge for loans to those who earn $30,000 and above a year.

But last November, an advisory committee initiated by the Law Ministry proposed some changes to the regulations of the licensed moneylending industry.

The 15-member panel suggested an interest rate cap of 4 per cent a month and a late-payment interest, also capped at 4 per cent a month.

No other fees would be allowed to be imposed on borrowers.

The proposal drew strenuous objections from moneylenders, with Law Minister K. Shanmugam noting the strong feedback and assuring them that the committee would review the figure.

The Straits Times understands that the committee will be finalising its recommendations on Friday.

The delay is worrying, said Pastor Billy Lee, who runs Blessed Grace Social Services, a support group for gambling addicts.

He urged the Law Ministry not to take too long to implement the stricter regulations for moneylenders, so as not to give moneylenders a chance to capitalise on the MAS' new rule.

Mr Lee, who started his support group in 2012, saw at least 80 new cases in the first five months of this year. He said: "I have been getting more and more cases. People who are desperate for money would agree to any terms and conditions set by the moneylenders.

"Perhaps the MAS could have an interim measure to help those who would be affected by the new rule, until the moneylending regulations are revised."

As of last week, only about 400 applications had been approved for the Repayment Assistance Scheme (RAS), an industry-led effort by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), to help heavily indebted people reduce their debt.

However, ABS director Ong-Ang Ai Boon said she expects more people to apply once the borrowing limit takes effect.

One applicant, who wanted to be known only as John, said: "Under RAS, I can pay off my debt at only 5 per cent per annum. But RAS covers only debt in excess of 12 months of my income. At least with RAS, I know that I would be able to clear more than half of my debt by the end of the eight-year instalment plan that has been drafted for me."

The 54-year-old security supervisor, who earns about $3,000 a month, owes almost $80,000 to at least seven banks.

"For the past three years, I have been paying over $1,000 a month to the banks, most of which went to pay for the interest and not the principal sum," said John, a divorcee, who got into debt three years ago after he started visiting the casinos.

Ms Tan Huey Min, general manager of Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS), urged more borrowers to step forward to seek help in managing their debts.

"If the borrower does not think that RAS works for him, he could always approach CCS for alternative solutions, including working out a Debt Management Programme, which is an instalment plan that helps to manage the total debt of the borrower," said Ms Tan.

"Whether a borrower is affected by the new rule next week or later, without a proper repayment strategy and arrangement now, debts will only grow... Borrowing to repay is not a solution."

Since CCS was launched in October 2004, it has done about about 7,800 Debt Management Programmes for overly indebted people.


Background Story


Whether a borrower is affected by the new rule next week or later, without a proper repayment strategy and arrangement now, debts will only grow... Borrowing to repay is not a solution.

- Ms Tan Huey Min, general manager of Credit Counselling Singapore

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Legal Profession Act - Legal Profession (Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism) Rules 2015 (S 307 of 2015)

SCA: Clause limiting injunctive relief to the ground of fraud upheld

25 May 2015

Feedback on extension of shipping pact wanted

Straits Times
26 May 2015

SINGAPORE'S competition watchdog is calling for feedback on whether there should be a five-year extension to a pact involving shipping liners - and whether any extension should be in its current form.

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) said in a statement yesterday that the Competition (Block Exemption for Liner Shipping Agreements) Order, or BEO, was first issued in July 2006.

The BEO generally exempts ship owners and operators from competition laws here, allowing groupings of shipping lines to set freight rates and share ships for the transport of cargo.

The order was extended in 2010, and will expire this Dec 31. If extended, it would expire on Dec 31, 2020.

The public consultation seeks views on the possible impact of the proposal on the Singapore economy, including players in the maritime industry such as shippers, port operators, liners and logistics service providers, CCS said.

The watchdog said it will make a recommendation to the Minister for Trade and Industry after it has considered written submissions from the public.

Giving a view on the BEO, CCS said the shipping agreements had enabled "the connectivity of Singapore's container port with consequent broader benefits to the Singapore economy, and facilitate cost savings for the liners from economies of scale".

"These economic benefits are likely to be significant enough to outweigh any anti-competitive effects of liner shipping agreements," it added, after taking into consideration the findings of the CCS-commissioned consultancy study.

The commission said the study was based on information provided by industry stakeholders and feedback from CCS' own consultation with key industry stakeholders.

The public can provide feedback to the CCS until June 15.

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Legal Profession Act - Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 306 of 2015)

CCS clears first proposed joint venture for aircraft MRO services

25 May 2015

Stricter policies necessary to ensure confidence in markets' integrity: Mailbag

Business Times
26 May 2015

I REFER to the report "Xpress and its former chairman broke listing rules in 2014: SGX" (BT, May 22).

It is good that Singapore Exchange has taken some form of enforcement action by issuing warnings to the company and the former chairman for the tardy disclosures in relation to creditors' winding-up applications. The enforcement action is for a breach of Listing Rule 704(20), which specifically requires such information to be disclosed. However, this may not be the end of the problems for the company.

Section 203 of the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) imposes liability for breaches of the continuous disclosure requirement in the listing rules, if the breach is intentional, reckless or due to negligence.

In my letter "Closer scrutiny of Xpress may be warranted" (BT, July 25, 2014), I had raised questions about the company's response to SGX's query about unusual volume movements and subsequent disclosures about the legal proceedings, winding-up petitions and proposed placement of new shares.

The enforcement action so far does not address SGX's query on July 1 about unusual volume movements - the number of shares traded that day was 184 million compared to the daily average of a few million shares. Did someone know of the impending winding-up application and trade on non-public information? In that letter, I had also pointed out that the former chairman's deemed interest had decreased through a disposal of 29 million shares (which amounted to 23 per cent of his total direct and deemed interest in the company) on July 2, based on an SGXNet announcement on July 4.

Therefore, in addition to a possible breach of the continuous disclosure rule in the SFA, there are questions surrounding possible insider trading in the company's shares. It remains to be seen if further enforcement action will be taken by other regulators, although SGX did not mention in its announcement that it has referred the case to other regulators.

As discussed in my commentary "Tighten insider trading restrictions" (BT, Nov 1, 2010), SGX should consider requiring issuers to adopt stricter policies restricting insider trading outside of "blackout periods". Companies such as Micro-Mechanics, Qian Hu and Singtel and have already put in place policies requiring their directors to seek board approval or consult designated persons, such as the company secretary or CEO, before they trade in the issuer's securities.

This is consistent with rules and practices in countries such as the UK and Australia. Stricter policies on dealing in securities by directors and other key officers, and strong enforcement of insider trading and other rules, are necessary for ensuring confidence in the integrity of our markets.

Mak Yuen Teen

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Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2014 - Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2014 (Commencement) Notification 2015 (S 305 of 2015)

SHC: The Chem Orchid: Proper termination of a bareboat charter party

25 May 2015

Promote private mediation as a first step: Forum

Straits Times
26 May 2015

ALTHOUGH the statistics relating to the take-up rate for family mediation and the Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) scheme appear to be low, they must be taken in context, in relation to the infancy of these family dispute resolution tools in Singapore ("Low take-up rate for schemes to help divorcing couples"; last Tuesday, and "Mediation services vital as society evolves" by Ms Linda Heng; last Thursday).

Family mediation outside of the Family Justice Courts is less than a decade old. The CFP is only two years old. Further, there is no empirical evidence of the private mediation and CFP cases undertaken by lawyers and mediators.

Singapore is the second place in Asia, after Hong Kong, where CFP is being used to achieve amicable divorce resolution.

We have achieved more significant progress than Hong Kong. This is due to the introduction of CFP through our forward-thinking judiciary, and its support and interest in driving it forward through continual training and by setting up a fast-track divorce hearing system for successful cases in the Family Justice Courts.

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals is impressed with the progress Singapore has made in its CFP work within a short time.

There is a lot of interest in private mediation, carried out outside of the courts and other institutions.

The pool of trained family mediators is growing by leaps and bounds. We now need to create the work through greater public awareness and educating lawyers and clients.

Next, we have to set up and promote independent private mediation as a first step for divorcing couples, in addition to counselling, and before consulting lawyers to start legal proceedings.

Mediation and the CFP are complementary dispute resolution tools. Clear and accurate information on these processes and their suitability must be provided to end users as part of the awareness exercise and for its wider use.

Rajan Chettiar

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Infectious Diseases Act - Infectious Diseases (Notification of Infectious Diseases) (Exemption) Regulations 2015 (S 304 of 2015)

AML/CFT obligations of corporate service providers under ACRA’s enhanced regulatory framework

22 May 2015

Maid jailed 12 years for killing teenager

Straits Times
26 May 2015
Selina Lum

A DEPRESSED domestic helper tried to smother her employer's 16-year-old daughter with a pillow while she was asleep, then stabbed the teen with a kitchen knife before she strangled the girl with her own school pinafore.

Yesterday, Indonesian Tuti Aeliyah, 30, was jailed 12 years after she pleaded guilty to culpable homicide for killing Shameera Basha Noor Basha, a Secondary 4 student at Tanjong Katong Girls' School, on Nov 14, 2013.

The original charge of murder was reduced after she was found to be suffering from severe depression with psychotic symptoms. She had paranoid delusions and heard voices - which significantly impaired her judgment at the time, an Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist found.

In sentencing, Justice Woo Bih Li said he sympathised with her because of her condition. But he added: "There is no running away from the fact that you killed an innocent youth of 16 years of age who was sleeping and who had done you no wrong."

The High Court heard yesterday that Tuti started working for the teen's family of four in April 2012. She was not abused or ill-treated by her employers.

Several months before the incident, the maid started behaving strangely. She lost weight and did not want to call home.

Two weeks before the incident, she had told a neighbour's maid that she wanted to commit suicide. According to the defence, Tuti had tried to kill herself the night before the attack.

The next morning, Shameera was still asleep after her parents and brother had left their Tampines flat.

The maid claimed that while she was in the toilet, a ghost in the mirror had told her to kill the teenager.

At 8am, she entered the teen's room with a kitchen knife. She first tried to smother her with a pillow. When Shameera woke up and put up a struggle, the maid stabbed her a few times in the abdomen and chest.

Tuti then looped the teen's pinafore around her neck a few times and pulled both ends until the girl stopped moving.

The maid then drank half a capful of fabric softener, made superficial cuts on her wrist with a knife and tried to hang herself from a toilet pipe.

When the teen's mother came back at half past noon, Tuti told her that she had killed Shameera.

The mother sought help from a neighbour, who called the police.

An autopsy found that the cause of death was strangulation.

Tuti's lawyer, Mr Nasser Ismail, said that she was depressed over a miscarriage in 2011, which was aggravated by demands by her abusive husband for money.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Charlene Tay said this could not be confirmed. After she was sentenced, Tuti said through an interpreter that she wanted to apologise to the teen's family.


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Nanyang Technological University (Corporatisation) Act - Nanyang Technological University Students’ Union and Constituent Bodies (Exemption) (Amendment) Order 2015 (S 303 of 2015)

Remote Gambling Act 2014: MAS issues new payment blocking order encompassing merchant banks and finance companies

21 May 2015

Honeymoon over for crowdfunding

Straits Times
25 May 2015
Jeremy Au Yong

Backers in US are finding that not all projects deliver on their promises

IT WAS supposed to be the next big thing - a tiny device that would render the ubiquitous computer mouse obsolete.

The Ractiv Touch+, a collection of sensors in a plastic block the size of a pack of chewing gum, was supposed to be able to turn any surface into a multi-touch touchpad. In a slick promotional video, users can be seen using the device to play video games, prepare Excel spreadsheets and paint in Photoshop.

The product was so promising that it got the attention of numerous tech blogs and newspapers. It nearly doubled the US$100,000 (S$133,600) it hoped to raise through crowdfunding website Kickstarter and ultimately drew more than 2,000 backers.

The co-owner of the start-up, Mr Darren Lim, also became the first Singaporean to be admitted to the Thiel Fellowship in the US. The fellowship, set up by PayPal founder Peter Thiel, offers funding to youth looking to advance careers in scientific research and start-ups.

Fast forward two years and the Ractiv Touch+ is in danger of joining the small but growing group of crowdfunded projects that have failed to deliver on their promises. In the United States especially, where the online crowdfunding industry which started around five years ago is now worth billions of dollars, the honeymoon period seems to be ending.

Many backers and industry experts are warning those just starting to dip their toes into crowdfunding to be wary of where they put their money.

"My advice for anyone considering backing a new project would be to really delve deep into the creator's past. Look past the surface and check projects they may have been involved in before," said radio and electronics technician Lachlan Pollock, 37, who has backed more than 20 projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

So far, he classifies three of them - including Ractiv Touch+ - as money down the drain.

No official statistics exist for how many projects that raise money successfully end up failing to deliver, but most estimate that it is a small number.

A study published last year by Professor Ethan Mollick of the Wharton School of Business found a 3.6 per cent failure rate. Out of 381 products he looked at, just three issued refunds while 11 stopped responding to backers.

Meanwhile, a website named Kickscammed, which allows users to post about failed crowdfunded projects, lists more than 160 such products.

The reasons a funded project might fail vary greatly, and backers say most creators blame production problems.

In the case of the Kreyos smartwatch - a project that raised US$1.5 million on Indiegogo - its chief executive Steve Tan placed the blame largely on his China-based manufacturer for the failure.

He posted a long response online apologising for the problems but also effectively saying he had done everything he could.

Some 10 months after the promised delivery date, most of the backers had not received the watch and those who did found it had bugs and was missing a number of promised features.

Other projects have left backers hanging with less explanation.

The backers of the Smarty Ring, a ring that can receive alerts from a smartphone, last heard from the creators five months ago while those who supported the mPrinter, a portable versatile printer, are still without a product more than two years after the promised delivery date.

In Ractiv's case, backers are also still in the dark as to what happened. Around August last year, the company started shipping the devices to its backers. However, it soon discovered a software bug and took down from its website the drivers required to make the Touch+ work.

After about two months of setting, and then missing a series of deadlines, the company dropped off the grid. It stopped updating its Facebook page and its Kickstarter page. Backers said attempts to contact the company were ignored.

One Ractiv backer, Mr Dan DiGregorio, 32, who works in product development for a medical imaging company, said: "I've reached out to them directly. I've also reached out to a couple of funding groups that backed them and they seemed to indicate they had trouble contacting them as well. I don't think they've completely disappeared but I don't understand why they won't answer anyone's questions or let anyone know what's going on."

Ractiv did not respond to e-mail from The Straits Times though its website remains active.

The issue of what sort of claim backers can make against the creators who fail to deliver is one of some disagreement in the United States.

The current terms of service on Kickstarter seem to indicate that - unlike in a normal store - those who pledge money on the site are not necessarily guaranteed a product. Its terms of service simply require that creators unable to fulfil rewards make "every reasonable effort to find another way of bringing the project to the best possible conclusion for backers".

This includes offering to return remaining funds or at least explaining how those funds will be used.

Lawyers take a different tack. Digital media lawyer Dan Rogers wrote in his blog recently that backers and creators are entering into enforceable contracts on crowdfunding platforms.

"Few would argue that a farmer who sells what is still growing in his fields has a legal obligation to deliver the ripened crop to his buyer when ready... Telling a buyer that you didn't realise how much work it would take or deciding to develop something else mid-season hardly relieves you of your duty under the law," he said.

Singapore lawyers agree.

Mr Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons in Singapore told The Straits Times that backers do have rights in contracts. "The only issue that is possible is a 'state of the art' issue - for instance, if what is crowdfunded is so state of the art that no one can guarantee it will be done or done successfully," he said.

Thus far, the liabilities related to crowdfunding have not yet been tested in court. The first major case in the US - for horror-themed playing cards that were never delivered to backers - is still pending, and Mr Tan said he is unaware of any case being brought in Singapore.

For backers, though, supporting a failed project now seems akin to making a bad bet.

Said Mr DiGregorio about the idea of pursuing Ractiv: "Some of us have talked about a lawsuit but I think the consensus is that it will be more trouble than it is worth. Right now, I don't really have any expectations."


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Currency Act - Currency (Denominations and Characteristics of Coins) Notification 2015 (S 302 of 2015)

SHC refuses injunction to restrain re-entry by landlord

21 May 2015

More legal aid now, but demand still exceeds supply: Voices

25 May 2015

I refer to the report “Five full-time lawyers help boost legal-aid scheme” (May 19).

One of the most respected criminal lawyers of our time, the late Mr Subhas Anandan, once said that even “the most heinous offenders deserve their day in a court of law”. The foundations of Singapore’s justice system rest upon the value of equality. No matter what crime has been committed, all accused must be tried fairly and in accordance with the law. This would include them having representation in court, as they may have little to no knowledge of how the legal system functions.

Sadly, it appears that many accused people and even some who are in a way victims themselves (such as those forced into becoming loanshark runners) are unable to afford the often-costly legal fees and, hence, go into court unrepresented. They are at risk of being punished unfairly or even wrongly convicted, where the latter could cost them years of their lives. Such potential miscarriages of justice are unacceptable.

It is thus heartening to read that there are lawyers who are willing to step up and help, and that there are also law firms willing to chip in. This goes to show that the spirit of selflessness is very much alive in the legal community. That the Government helps fund the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS) also shows the importance of ensuring those accused receive a fair trial with professional legal representation. The widening of the scope of aid under CLAS will also extend legal aid to a wider range of accused people.

However, even with such aid, demand still exceeds supply. As such, I hope the examples set by these five lawyers, some of Singapore’s top private law firms and even the Government will inspire more to contribute to our community and sign up for pro-bono activities or even take up cases under CLAS. Such efforts may not yield much monetary reward, but they will provide an invaluable sense of satisfaction for those willing to lend a helping hand.

Louis Lau Yi Hang

Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

National Emblems (Control of Display) Act - National Emblems (Control of Display) (Exemption for SEA Games 2015) Order 2015 (S 301 of 2015)

MAS Notice on anti-money laundering & countering the financing of terrorism

20 May 2015

Should startups bother with corporate governance?

Business Times
25 May 2015
Chin Hooi Yen

As a company grows, effective governance processes do promote confidence among investors, key partners and employees

IT IS safe to say that corporate governance is rarely a priority for startup companies. A quick scan of startup boot camps in Singapore reveals that none includes corporate governance on its agendas.

After all, the resources of these startups are already limited, and they are too busy trying to gain market traction. What's more, the line between ownership and management in these startups is often blurred. The founders invariably run the company and do not take into account the interests of other shareholders simply because they are, usually, the majority or sole shareholders.

The situation, however, becomes tricky when startups find themselves needing to raise funds from angel investors and venture capital firms. And since the investors will usually require a seat on the board, it is at this stage that the startups will experience their first real taste of corporate governance.

Challenges & opportunities

In my experience as legal adviser to several startups, many founders are wary of losing their managerial autonomy with the appointment of new board members. They worry that the decision-making process will either be compromised or become cumbersome, or both.

This concern stems from an unfamiliarity about the nature and benefits of corporate governance, in particular about the role of boards and how to get the most out of them.

The truth is, most startups are founded by people who are most likely young and who lack practical experience in the management of a company. Which is fine so long as they are aware of their own limitations, and they seize the opportunity to create a board comprising individuals who can provide mentorship, strategic solutions, access to their contacts, and insights into corporate management.

An experienced board also adds value to a company by reining in the founder's unbridled impulses, if any. Some founders have strong opinions, and develop the habit of making all decisions, big and small. Their companies typically exhibit strong initial growth that plateaus as their ability to cope with making all the decisions becomes stretched. Founders who are unable to delegate may struggle to attract funding, or may ultimately be replaced by frustrated external investors or shareholders.

Before any of this happens, it is important to find (and welcome) a board member who is willing to step up and provide strategic leadership and oversight to the company, including overseeing the development of a succession plan.

In other words, the creation of a board helmed by professionals and invested with real powers of oversight and proper procedures can be a boon. Founders can reap benefits by understanding that the board can bring value, rather than simply being a check on them. Corporate governance should be regarded as a strategic tool, and not a burden. All a startup needs to do is to allow the board and the attendant corporate governance practices to grow in tandem with the company.

The big picture

Founders should remember that investors are more attracted to startups that implement processes that promote transparency, checks and balances and effective decision-making. In fact, a well-run company will attract better valuations and a larger pool of interested investors. This gives the company the luxury of selecting the investor whose resources and connections it finds most desirable.

And if the opportunity of a buy-in or a public listing presents itself, the due diligence process on a properly governed company is much less likely to unearth problems that might otherwise undermine the proposed investment or listing.

As a company grows, effective corporate governance processes promote confidence in the company among investors, key partners and employees. A well-conceived and correctly implemented corporate governance structure also creates an efficient decision-making process. In this regard, founders should work with their boards to develop a manual or terms of reference where the roles of management and the board are clearly set out. This will enable the board and management to move swiftly to deal with any crisis that develops and seize any opportunity that presents itself.

Founders who are proactive in keeping their boards updated will also find that they become "top of mind" with their board members, some of whom may sit on multiple boards. Board members who are up-to-date on the company's projects or challenges are more likely to mention the company to their contacts, suggest possible partnerships, and make useful introductions.

Some founders who can see this big picture have reaped the benefits. One such person is Daniel Leong, co-founder of LawCanvas, a startup that provides legal document automation software.

He said: "By implementing transparent governance procedures and communicating openly with our stakeholders, we were able to build confidence amongst potential investors and customers, giving us the ability to raise funds from investors efficiently and to receive valuable feedback from customers."

Hopefully, more founders will join him in welcoming independent boards and improved corporate governance.

The writer is a member of the Professional Development Committee of the Singapore Institute of Directors

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Planning Act - Planning (Exemption under Section 53) (No. 3) Notification 2015 (S 300 of 2015)

SHC: Employer successfully sues for breach of the implied term of good faith and fidelity and breach of confidence

20 May 2015

Mr Lee's name and image to be protected

Straits Times
24 May 2015
Rachel Chang

Govt looking into how to prevent them from being used for commercial gain

In an unprecedented move, the Government will change the law to stop the name and image of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew from being used for commercial gain.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said yesterday that this was in response to concerns from the public that companies and individuals are trying to profit from Mr Lee's legacy. He added that the Government shared these concerns.

Mr Lee died on March 23 at age 91.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a community event, Mr Wong said the Government is in the early stages of determining how exactly to carry out this protection. He highlighted two principles it is working with.

First, the protection would be against the use of Mr Lee's name and image for commercial gain only - not for works of tribute or for charity.

Second, it would not be a blanket ban but a case-by-case approach in which the authorities' approval is required before use.

This is how the law regulates the use of the state crest, for example, under the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act (Safna).

Mr Wong said the Government would either expand Safna to cover Mr Lee's name and image, or write a new law.

It is studying examples from other countries like Australia and New Zealand, where laws prevent the commercial use of certain words. The list of these protected words is then separately gazetted, so it can be added to or refined in future, noted Mr Wong.

This will help the Government tread carefully in terms of which words to regulate. Mr Lee's initials are just as famous, for example, but many share them.

Asked for examples of exploitative commercial use of Mr Lee's name and image, Mr Wong cited "the company that tried to do the buns", as well as those making T-shirts or figurines for sale.

During the week of national mourning in March, local bakery chain BreadTalk sold a line of buns called "Lee bu kai ni", loosely translated as "cannot bear to leave you", punning on Mr Lee's surname in Mandarin.

BreadTalk pulled the buns after a public outcry and apologised.

However, Mr Wong said Mr Lee's image in the design of the widely used black ribbon of mourning, or in portraits that were sold for charity earlier this month, were examples of what the Government was not opposed to.

"I think there is a very clear distinction between somebody who does it for charitable reasons, somebody who does it to pay tribute without making profit, and an individual or company who is specifically doing it for profit or commercial gain," he said.

But the technicoloured portraits of Mr Lee by Tianjin artist Ren Zhenyu are also sold commercially for the artist's private gain, although two were sold for charity for $800,000 earlier this month.

The intended new legislation must contend with a myriad of such grey areas, said lawyers yesterday.

"The State feels it is a legacy that they wish to protect," said ATMD Bird and Bird intellectual property lawyer Cyril Chua. "But an idea is one thing, while crystallising it into an applicable law is another."

Registering an image as a trademark is a famously difficult endeavour, as artists often argue that their interpretations of an image are in themselves separate images, he noted.

Rajah and Tann intellectual property lawyer Lau Kok Keng said the proposed law threw up many questions, such as the rights of photographers who have taken pictures of Mr Lee. Photographers own the copyright to their own pictures.

There is also the issue of how the law would affect someone who bears a striking resemblance to Mr Lee and parlays that into commercial gain.

Mr Lau added that the move would also require Mr Lee's estate and descendants to cede control over the use of his image and likeness to the State, an unprecedented act.


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Dangerous Fireworks Act - Dangerous Fireworks (Exemption) Notification 2015 (S 299 of 2015)

SHC: Employer successfully claims against employee for breaches of fiduciary duties but faces challenges in proving damages

04 May 2015

Investors caught in '$60m ponzi scam'

Straits Times
24 May 2015
Joanna Seow

Around 60 people are claiming to have been duped by woman over 'sweet' property deals

It started out as a sweet deal involving the buying and selling of properties in Singapore's choicest districts, promising around 30 per cent returns.

Now, around 60 investors have come forward to claim they have been duped in what could be a multi-million-dollar ponzi scam.

The investors said the alleged mastermind behind the elaborate scheme, Ms Leong Lai Yee, owes investors more than $60 million in capital alone.

They also told The Sunday Times that the woman, who is in her 50s, cut off contact with them last weekend, but not before telling them that their money was gone and she wanted to take her own life.

At least 10 investors have lodged police reports. The police said in response to queries: "It is inappropriate to comment on investigations."

The scheme may have started unravelling only last year, but it has been going on some 15 years.

Through the period, Ms Leong allegedly hooked more than 100 investors with her promise of a virtually no-risk programme.

On the "advice" of a banker, she would buy distressed properties in Orchard, Tanglin and Newton, which are on the verge of being repossessed by banks, and sell them to buyers in China for a profit.

Investors who pumped in money to fund the purchase of these distressed properties were promised returns ranging from 10 per cent to 48 per cent over a period of four to eight months, they said.

They were also told that the eventual buyers would place a 40 per cent downpayment on the property, which would be forfeited if these buyers backed out. This would be enough to pay the profits promised to investors.

The Sunday Times was shown business agreements between investors and Ms Leong guaranteeing their capital and pro-rated profit. The money which investors pumped in ranged from $10,000 to more than $2 million.

Those who referred friends were also given a cut, which could be anywhere from 1 per cent to as much as half of the new funds.

One investor, who gave her name only as Madam J. Tan, said Ms Leong claimed to be marketing high-end condominiums in Singapore's Districts 9, 10 and 11, although there were never any documents to prove this.

"We just trusted her because of the testimonies of those who knew her for a long time," said the 50-year-old, who put in $1 million and introduced several friends to the programme.

Among the investors were retirees and housewives like Madam Tan.

She said Ms Leong had urged people to withdraw their Central Provident Fund savings, borrow from their insurance policies or take a second mortgage on their properties to free up cash to invest.

Several investors were with the scheme for over 10 years, while the latest joined just last month.

Ms Leong, who was known to friends as Adeline, built up trust and goodwill over the years, even inviting investors over for Chinese New Year parties at her well-decorated semi-detached house in Tanah Merah.

"She is someone who sits down together with you, laughs, goes for dinner, holidays in Thailand and Hong Kong together with you. Will you suspect anything?" said a 58-year-old businessman who gave his name only as Mr S. Goh.

He had gotten to know Ms Leong in 2001, and together with friends and relatives poured more than $2 million into the scheme. He also put returns and referral fees back in as investments.

"There were never any problems. There were even people who pulled out early and got their capital and pro-rated returns back," he said, explaining why no alarm bells went off for so many years.

It appeared to be only in the past few years that things started going wrong and Ms Leong tried to raise more funds by offering higher returns of 35 per cent for a six-month contract.

This bears the hallmark of a ponzi scheme, in which fresh funds from new investors are used to pay those who joined earlier.

Last September, several investors received a text message from Ms Leong saying she would pay them only in December, but with additional interest.

A week later, she postponed payment to March 9. She told investors then she was trying to negotiate a $70 million deal that would allow her to repay everyone.

When March 9 came, payments were pushed to May 18.

Four days before the deadline, investors were asked for their addresses so they could be sent invoices. But instead of invoices, some of them later received a letter from Ms Leong in which she said she would kill herself.

She and her husband have been uncontactable since, investors said. Attempts by The Sunday Times to call her were unsuccessful.

Ms Chan Shwe Ching, an investor, began legal proceedings against Ms Leong last month. Her lawyer Michael Chia said the courts have allowed an injunction to freeze Ms Leong's assets within Singapore.

Ms Alina Sim, who is still Ms Leong's lawyer on record, said she was not at liberty to discuss the case.

Around 30 people have also hired a lawyer to launch a civil suit against Ms Leong, said an investor who gave his name as Mr Ong.

Mr Goh said he had dinner with Ms Leong just last month. Now, he and the other investors are hoping her family and the public will help to locate her.

"This is not a Korean drama, it is real," he said ruefully. "There are real people, real families involved."


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Community Disputes Resolution Act 2015 (Act 7 of 2015)

SCA: Guidelines for judicial review of arbitral awards

04 May 2015

Man has to help maintain illegitimate child: Court

Straits Times
23 May 2015
K.C. Vijayan

A COMPANY director failed to convince the High Court that he should not have to help maintain an illegitimate child whom he fathered but never wanted.

The 53-year-old father of three, whose extramarital tryst with a sales director in the same company led to the child's birth, argued that he had disowned his offspring and should not be treated as a parent as he had no contact with the child.

But Senior Judge Kan Ting Chiu made it clear that, under the Women's Charter, the father had a duty as a parent to support the child. "To paraphrase the provision, a parent has a duty to maintain his or her children, whether they are legitimate or illegitimate," the judge said in judgment grounds released yesterday.

Lawyers said the case underlined the law on a putative father's obligations for maintenance and rules that intention is irrelevant, even if the child was begotten from a one-sided affair or a brief encounter, such as in a brothel.

The company director had claimed that his relationship with the woman had been purely sexual and that he had been outfoxed by her, as she sought to beget a child by him.

She countered that their relationship had been based on mutual affection and consent and that she loved him.

The man's lawyer, Mr Koh Tien Hua, argued in the High Court that common law and other statutes, such as the Constitution, treat the mother as the parent of an illegitimate child.

But the woman's lawyer, Ms Leong Pek Gan, referred the court to the Women's Charter.

The judge held that the Women's Charter "clearly contemplates" a man being regarded as a parent of an illegitimate child as well. He ruled that both parents were obliged to pay for the upkeep of the child and they should bear the financial burden equally.

"The norm should not be that parents contribute in proportion to their means because that will place unequal burdens on them for no good reason."

The judge found that although the woman earned a lower monthly salary of $5,200 compared with the man's monthly income of $14,075, there was no evidence she was unable to pay half the monthly $1,440 maintenance for the three-year-old boy.

To this end, he reduced the monthly sum to be paid by the father from $1,050 - set by a district judge in 2013 - to $720.

The 41-year-old woman is a divorcee with a five-year-old daughter and worked in the firm where the man owns a majority stake.

"I have never wanted this child and I didn't even plan for this," said the man in his testimony.


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) Notification 2015 (S 298 of 2015)

Stronger anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regulations in place

30 Apr 2015

Mediation helps divorcing parties focus on real needs: Voices

23 May 2015

I read with interest the reports “Divorce made less bitter with new mediation process” (May 18) and “Amicable divorce options not popular” (May 19).

As a mediator, I affirm the direction taken by the courts and the Singapore Mediation Centre. A divorce should be settled as amicably as possible for the benefit of the children as well as everyone else involved.

While divorce is a legal and social issue, it must first be seen as a painfully emotional family matter.

Clients are protected by laws and rights in the division of matrimonial assets, and maintenance and custody matters, but the emotions involved in losing a life partner call for professional intervention to help the parties move forward, especially if children are involved.

I believe, and as clients have also informed me, that when emotional hurt is addressed in a therapeutic setting, clients stop putting a price tag on their pain.

They go into mediation more focused on their real needs, whether financial or emotional, instead of using the division of assets and custody to make up for their hurt.

An integrated counselling and mediation process takes the sting out of the battle, and both parties can allow each other to be co-parents. With good closure, co-parenting issues are better sorted out, and expectations aren’t projected on and enmeshed.

The centre I work in practises an integrated approach between mediation and counselling. Clients seeking divorce would speak with a trained mediator or counsellor, who would examine the relationship from a psychosocial perspective.

They are presented with options to see a counsellor to help them achieve insight into why their marriage has broken down, and how they feel about it.

There have been misconceptions about counselling in such a setting. But as counsellors and mediators, we are not in a place to persuade anyone to carry on with their marriage or reconcile. Counselling and mediation are client-centric; the clients decide on their course of action.

My clients who have worked out their separation and divorce mediation with the help of counselling have noted that they were more ready and objective. They are better able to move on amicably with their ex-spouse, both as individuals who are able to cope and as parents who would cooperate for their children’s interests.

I believe strongly in the institution of the family, but recognise that families are sometimes strained and unfortunately break up.

The pain of divorce, the loneliness of single parenting and associated issues must be mitigated by amicable settlements and closures that are done well, so that our generation will not give our children a legacy of pain they did not choose.

Lai Mun Loon

Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act - Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes (Medifund Committees) (Amendment No. 7) Order 2015 (S 297 of 2015)

Reviewing the decision of a disciplinary tribunal: Uwe Klima v SMC [2015] SGHC 97

SLW Commentary
30 Apr 2015

Woman awarded just $18k in $6.5m suit over knee injury

Straits Times
22 May 2015
K.C. Vijayan

A BRITISH woman who sued for more than $6.5 million in damages in probably "the most expensive knee injury ever claimed" was awarded just $18,000 as the High Court was not convinced she could not walk or work as before.

And given that 51-year-old Pamela Jane Mykytowych shared half the blame with V I P Hotel, whose wet lobby floor she slipped on in 2011 - resulting in a fractured left knee - she would have to settle for $9,000.

Mrs Mykytowych, who worked as a healthcare consultant in her own firm but gave up the job to be with her husband here, is understood to be devastated by the outcome and will appeal.

The hotel, which is located near Newton MRT, had accepted 50 per cent blame for the mishap, leaving Justice Choo Han Teck to assess how much she should get.

While the knee injury has since completely healed, Mrs Mykytowych said that she continues to suffer from intense pain after developing a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

A former car-rally driver, she said she could no longer drive, or even walk much. When looking for a job after her injury, she claimed to have even been rejected when applying to be a cashier.

Her claims included more than $1.2 million to engage domestic help for herself for 18 years, $2.8 million for loss of future earnings, and $65,000 for the suffering caused by CRPS.

But in his judgment grounds released yesterday, Justice Choo set the damages relating to the knee injuries at $12,000. He also awarded her about $6,000 more for medical and transport costs resulting from the accident.

But he rejected all her other claims.

While agreeing that she suffered from CRPS, he ruled that she "grossly exaggerated" its impact on her life.

Defence lawyer Ramesh Appoo, acting for the hotel, had produced evidence that showed her taking a long nature walk in July 2012. The surveillance also captured her climbing up and down an embankment at Pasir Ris beach without difficulty.

The judge found that these contradicted her claim that her condition had been "steadily deteriorating" since November 2011.

A doctor who gave evidence also said she had told him about driving a manual car while in Britain.

Mrs Mykytowych, who always appeared in court in a wheelchair, also did not deny going to Spain, Dubai, Hong Kong and Malaysia for holidays after her accident. The judge said there was also evidence that she also made a few trips on her own.

"I therefore find her claims as to her disability and loss of income to be untrue," wrote Justice Choo.

"If her claim regarding the consequences of CRPS is genuine, she must be properly compensated. If it is not, the injustice is not only that she would have made an unmeritorious gain and (the hotel or its insurers) would have suffered an unmeritorious loss.

"More than that, such insurance claims will drive premiums higher and other policyholders will bear the costs of increases in insurance premiums."


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

To view the judgment, click <here>.

Insurance Act - Insurance (Nomination of Beneficiaries) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S 296 of 2015)

FATCA Regulations enter into force and finalised e-Tax Guide for FATCA published

29 Apr 2015

Winsta Group sues 13 directors, officers over 'breach of duties'

Straits Times
22 May 2015

INVESTMENT firm Winsta Group is taking legal action against 13 executive directors and officers.

M Development, the com-pany's holding company, told the Singapore Exchange (SGX) yesterday that the individuals were involved in a series of "undisclosed interested-party transactions" that constituted "actionable wrongs and breach of duties".

The transactions were disclosed in an interim report by accounting firm KordaMentha, which had since launched an internal audit of Winsta Group, as announced on April 9.

The statement to the SGX said the Winsta Group had started legal proceedings against 13 people in the High Court after trading closed on Wednesday.

They include former director Sim Pei Yee as well as persons and entities related to her.

Law firm Rajah & Tann is acting for M Development, formerly known as NTI International, and the Winsta Group.

Ms Sim became executive director of M Development in September 2010 and oversaw Winsta Group's daily operations.

Her father Sim Poh Ping and sister Sim Pei San were listed as key management personnel of M Development. Their remunera-tion for the last financial year exceeded $150,000 each, according to the company's annual report.

The statement also said Winsta Group will suspend Ms Sim's executive functions as well as those named in the legal action.

M Development is appointing a professional management agent to assist in its operations.

Its shares closed 0.1 cent lower at 0.5 cent on the stock market yesterday.

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

Estate Duty Act - Estate Duty (Chew Chee Thong, Deceased) (Remission) Order 2015 (S 295 of 2015)

Reaffirming the high threshold in setting aside arbitral awards: Coal & Oil v GHCL [2015] SGHC 65

SLW Commentary
29 Apr 2015

Xpress and its former chairman broke listing rules in 2014: SGX

Business Times
22 May 2015
Kenneth Lim

They failed to disclose creditors' winding-up applications in a timely fashion, it says

[Singapore] XPRESS Holdings and its then chairman broke listing rules in 2014 by not disclosing creditors' winding-up applications in a timely fashion, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) said on Thursday.

SGX has issued warnings to the printing services company and to KK Fong, Xpress' chairman and chief executive at the time of the breach and currently the company's non-executive and non-independent director.

Xpress on July 22 halted trading of its stock, and announced a day later that one creditor had filed a winding-up application in relation to about S$400,000 of rental arrears, while a bank filed an application in relation to facilities of about S$1.2 million.

Following queries by SGX, Xpress on July 28 revealed that it had received notice for the S$400,000 claim on July 3, and the notice for the S$1.2 million claim on July 8, which was more than two weeks before the July 23 disclosure.

SGX's investigations also found that Mr Fong only informed the other Xpress directors about the winding-up application on or about July 16, more than a week after the notices were received.

According to the exchange, Mr Fong said that he had tried to resolve the matters arising from the winding-up applications, which he felt were "frivolous" or "legally flawed", and he was concerned that an immediate announcement might have given an "unbalanced picture of the company's state of affairs".

But SGX said Mr Fong's objections did not preclude Xpress from making an immediate announcement as required.

SGX noted that the listing rules require issuers to immediately announce any winding-up applications, and the delayed disclosures by Xpress and Mr Fong were a breach of those rules.

If Xpress could not make an immediate announcement on time, it should have requested a trading halt of its stock immediately, SGX said.

"Disclosure is fundamental to a fair, orderly and transparent market," SGX said.

In response to queries by BT, Xpress's board of directors said in a statement that it took a "serious view" of the warning and noted that it has taken a number of steps to improve compliance since July 2014. The company has a new group financial controller, will appoint an external law firm to assist in compliance, and has reiterated to management the need to inform the board of all material matters.

In its own defence, the board also said that it took "great efforts" to exercise prudence during the period between being informed by management and disclosing the winding-up applications.

"The actions that led to the calling of a trading halt on July 22, 2014, included meetings with management and other relevant parties to fully understand the background and implications of the matter," the board said. "This is to ensure that the announcement that finally went out on July 23 was complete, accurate and without prejudice."

Both winding-up applications have yet to be resolved.

Xpress shares closed flat at 1.7 Singapore cents on Thursday before the announcement.


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

Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Amendment) Bill (Bill 20 of 2015)

[IND] De-coding anti-competitive agreements: The Indian approach

29 Apr 2015

Yale professor to join NUS Law

22 May 2015

SINGAPORE — Yale Law School Professor Alec Stone Sweet will be joining the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Law in January 2016, the university announced yesterday.

He will also be the first Saw Swee Hock Centennial Professor in Law, a tenured full-time position at NUS Law. He is an internationally renowned professor of comparative constitutional law and comparative politics, said NUS.

“I have chosen to move to NUS because my future research will focus on Asian law and institutions, and NUS Law is clearly the most important law school in Asia,” said Prof Stone Sweet, who has been with Yale since 2004 and will be giving up his position there.

He added that Singapore’s growth as a “dispute resolution hub for Asia” is attractive to him.

“NUS Law hosts the Singapore International Mediation Institute (SIMI) and will allow me to watch closely the development of the newly launched Singapore International Commercial Court.”

Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Maritime Offences (Amendment) Bill (Bill 19 of 2015)

Latest developments: Intellectual property

27 Apr 2015

MOM: Crane fault likely cause of worker's death

Straits Times
22 May 2015
Olivia Ho

Probe points to design issue; coroner calls for advisory to warn other users

THE death of a Chinese worker who fell 19 storeys after being hit by a tower crane's load could have been due to a fault in the crane's design, a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) investigation revealed yesterday in a coroner's court.

This prompted the State Coroner to call for an advisory to be issued at once to warn users of the crane in Singapore. Mr Liu Debao, a construction worker from Shandong, was pushed off an unfinished HDB building in Fernvale Street on Jan 23 last year.

The 40-year-old was struck by a prefabricated bathroom unit when the crane lifting it suddenly swung towards him at high speed.

It pinned him against some mesh barricades, which gave way. He then tumbled about 51m to the ground, where he was pronounced dead. The crane in question was manufactured in China by Shandong Guohong Zhonggong Mechanical Co. There are 14 cranes of the Guohong QTZ250 model in Singapore.

MOM senior investigation officer Wong Zhi Wun explained in court that a momentary loose wire connection in the crane's slewing control system could have potentially caused the accident.

Simulation tests found that when the disconnection occurred, the crane would start swinging at full speed, even if the operator released the joystick to stop it.

The crane operator, Mr Yao Fujun, also told investigators he had slewed the crane only slightly towards Mr Liu, but the bathroom unit suddenly surged towards his colleague at top speed.

According to Mr Wong, an inspection of the crane afterwards found no loose connections. But the wires could have been "intermittently loosened due to vibrations" during its operations.

He added that two other crane operators using the same model later came forward to claim they had experienced the same thing.

When they stopped and restarted the cranes, however, the problem ceased, so they did not think of reporting it until the accident.

While the investigation did not conclusively pin the blame on the crane design, Mr Wong said it cast "significant doubt" on the accident having been deliberately caused by the crane operator.

State Coroner Marvin Bay recommended that an advisory be sent out "without further delay".

He said: "If this happens once, it is tragic. If it happens twice, it is difficult to justify." He will release his findings on June 4.


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Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill (Bill 18 of 2015)

Absconded accused: Show cause, mitigation and forfeiture

27 Apr 2015

$200m assets: Apex court orders deputies for widow

Straits Times
21 May 2015
K.C. Vijayan

A FIVE-YEAR spat involving three sisters from a prominent Singapore family has ended in the Court of Appeal, which found that one of the women - an 80-year-old who is mentally impaired - is unfit to make decisions about her estimated $200 million in assets.

The apex court found that she was vulnerable and that her youngest daughter and son-in-law had "exercised undue influence" over her. It also ordered deputies to be named on her behalf.

None of the parties was named in the 108-page judgment released by the court yesterday.

The landmark case - heard by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Appeal Judges Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang - is understood to be the first to be heard by the Court of Appeal involving the 2010 Mental Capacity Act. It is significant in clarifying how relevant provisions of the Act operate.

When her father died in 2004, the 80-year-old widow inherited a fortune that, by 2010, was approaching $200 million in value.

Her husband died in 2007, leaving much of his wealth to their three children.

But the court heard that the trio had a bitter relationship, which worsened after his death.

The battle lines were drawn with her elder son, a lawyer, and doctor daughter on one side, and her youngest daughter, a psychiatrist, on the other.

The feuds vexed the woman and tensions came to a head in late 2010, leading her two younger sisters to apply under the Mental Capacity Act to declare her unfit to manage her affairs.

They argued that their sister had given bankers a series of conflicting instructions about her assets and gone to live in Hong Kong with her youngest daughter and her husband, cutting off her other two children and her siblings.

In 2011, a district judge allowed the two sisters' application but two years later, it was set aside when the widow applied to the High Court.

Shook Lin & Bok lawyers, led by Senior Counsel Sarjit Singh, then successfully applied to the High Court on behalf of the two sisters for permission to appeal to the top court, pointing to the important issues of law involved.

The Court of Appeal heard the case last August. The widow was represented by Wong Partnership Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo, while her youngest daughter and husband were represented by Rajah & Tann Senior Counsel Lee Eng Beng. All three opposed the move.

However, the court found that the latter couple had used undue influence to try to keep the widow away from the rest of her family - which was against her wishes.

The court also made clear that medical evidence showed her memory had declined and her ability to understand information in relation to complex decisions about her assets had decreased. She also had paranoid beliefs.

The Court of Appeal has called for the parties to make submissions on who should be appointed deputies to help run her affairs.

"Given (her) considerable wealth, there will likely be many decisions she will have to make in relation to her property and affairs that involve substantial sums," the judgment stated.

In a new direction, Chief Justice Menon also ruled that the mental capacity of any person being scrutinised under the Act should be examined by an independent medical expert instead of being cross-examined on the witness stand.


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Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill (Bill 17 of 2015)

Beyond professional courtesy: Reappraising the rationales of the “no-contact” rule in Singapore

27 Apr 2015

Cases to determine mental capacity need independent expert: Apex court

21 May 2015
Yvonne Lim

Such cases are now adversarial; parties have their own medical experts to better chances of being appointed deputy

SINGAPORE — Calling for a change in the way court cases that determine a person’s mental capacity to run his personal affairs are conducted, the apex court said a more “sensible” approach would be for judges to direct the inquiry with input from an independent medical expert.

Currently, such cases under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) are largely adversarial in nature, where duelling parties put forward their own medical experts to better their chances of being appointed deputy and take over control of what is usually a loved one’s personal affairs.

In a judgment released yesterday, the Court of Appeal said such hearings should take an inquisitorial approach instead because the interests of the person whose mental capacity is being assessed are “paramount”.

“The court’s role is a protective one and it should not shy away from taking control of MCA proceedings and directing parties on the evidence that it requires in order to reach its decision,” wrote Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who has also overseen reforms in the justice system recently to help families settle disputes less acrimoniously.

The court, comprising Appeal judges Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang as well, added that time and costs would also be saved if evidence are adduced in a more targeted manner.

The judges’ comments came in their decision on such a case involving a wealthy woman from a prominent family. Her siblings and two of her children wanted to be made deputies, arguing that she was suffering from dementia. But the woman herself, along with her youngest daughter and her husband, resisted their bids, saying she merely suffered from a condition known as Mild Cognitive Impairment.

During the hearing, the woman refused to have her mental capacity assessed by an independent medical expert, resulting in the matter being determined by way of cross-examination. And when her cross-examination did not speak well of her capacity, her lawyer sought to persuade the court that little or no weight should be given to it.

In its grounds of decision, the Court of Appeal said: “This was unsatisfactory and it illustrates the need for a sensible approach to be taken by parties, especially in the conduct of such cases.”

The judges added: “In our judgement, such cases under the MCA may be better dealt with if the court were to direct the inquiry, if need be, with an assessor.”

The court found the woman incapable of making “relatively complex decisions” concerning her property and affairs, and ruled that deputies should be appointed to make decisions on the woman’s behalf.

However, who these will be will be decided only after both sides make submissions on the precise scope of deputyship, the judges said. The appointment of an independent legal adviser accountable to the court will be considered, they added.

Commenting on the mooted change, family lawyer Belinda Ang said a court-appointed independent assessor would not only provide an impartial evaluation, but also help ensure that a mentally incapacitated person would not have to endure an arduous cross-examination.

“Family disputes are often very emotional and a person who is already mentally incapacitated should not have to go through a lengthy process in court. The best way would be to appoint an impartial expert to give an evaluation,” Ms Ang said.

Mr Koh Tien Hua, who is also a family lawyer, agreed that a court-appointed third-party independent assessor would lessen the adversarial nature of such court proceedings.


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Insurance (Amendment) Bill (Bill 16 of 2015)

Monetary Authority of Singapore Act: Anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing amendments to the Act

24 Apr 2015

Mediation services vital as society evolves: Forum

Straits Times
21 May 2015

IT IS a shame that the take-up rate for divorce mediation is dismal ("Low take-up rate for schemes to help divorcing couples"; Tuesday).

This is not only reflective of family disputes, but also of all other disputes, including commercial, labour, family business, relational disputes, and so on.

As a professional mediator, I have observed that when people are in a dispute, they are quick to hire the best lawyer they can afford. But if they reach a point of settling disputes amicably, they will then look for the cheapest mediation services around.

The best mediation services cost only a fraction of the litigation fees people in a dispute would otherwise incur.

A lack of awareness of early private mediation, and a reluctance to pay for professional private mediators leads to two things.

First, parties posture unnecessarily, and they attempt mediation only at the courts (because it is low cost and, in some cases, mandatory).

This is unfortunate, as positions have already become further entrenched, too much animosity would have accumulated, and claims would further inflate to take into account legal fees and emotional distress.

Early intervention would minimise not only the costs of conflicts, but also collateral damage (to children, staff morale, reputation, and so on).

Second, the private mediation industry will never be able to sustain a high level of professional amicable dispute resolution services without greater public awareness.

The public is generally not well educated on what constitutes good mediation service, and people often rely

on "industry experts" to mediate, rather than mediation experts.

This has, on occasion, resulted in the smearing of the reputation of all mediators, because industry experts who have undergone some mediation training do not necessarily provide the best mediation services.

The public should expect professional mediators to not only possess adequate problem-solving skills, but also be extraordinarily equipped to facilitate constructive discussions, while managing emotional and relational dynamics.

Professional mediators do need to invest much time, money and effort to be accredited, and to receive continual training.

At the moment, this is, more often than not, heavily dependent on the individual mediator's passion and sacrifice of his own resources.

Professional mediators hold themselves to high standards of resolving disputes at the least possible cost, and strive to reconcile relationships whenever possible.

As society becomes more fractured and litigious, the public should expect and pay for no less than professional mediators.

Linda Heng (Ms)

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Financial Advisers (Amendment) Bill (Bill 15 of 2015)

Braganza v BP Shipping Limited [2015] UKSC 17 (Contract, Implied term): commentary

24 Apr 2015

Court dismisses drug courier's bid to avoid caning

Straits Times
21 May 2015
Olivia Ho

THE High Court yesterday dismissed Malaysian drug courier Yong Vui Kong's application for a judicial review to avoid caning.

His lawyer, Ms Violet Netto, will also have to personally foot the bill of $2,500 for legal costs.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said the costs had been incurred by her "failure to conduct proceedings with reasonable competence and expedition".

Yong's death sentence was commuted last November to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane. He was initially sentenced to death in 2008 for trafficking 47.27g of diamorphine.

On March 4 this year, the Court of Appeal dismissed an attempt by Yong, 26, to quash his caning sentence.

On March 13, Ms Netto, who is from law firm L. F. Violet Netto Advocates and Solicitors, made a judicial review application on Yong's behalf for an order that would prohibit his caning.

The AGC subsequently applied to strike out the application on April 14, calling it an abuse of process of the court.


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Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2013 (Act 15 of 2015)

SHC: Recording arbitration agreements in writing

23 Apr 2015

Hearing adjourned to Sept after final witness testifies: City Harvest trial

Straits Times
21 May 2015
Amir Hussain

Crossover Project is No. 1 calling of church: Ex-executive member

AFTER a gruelling 137 days, the trial over the alleged misuse of City Harvest Church (CHC) funds wound down yesterday after the final witness took the stand.

The hearing, which began in May 2013, was adjourned by Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon to September, when the court will hear closing submissions.

In all, the prosecution has called 14 witnesses and produced more than 1,400 documents - including 1,010 e-mails - to make its case.

The six church leaders are alleged to have misused CHC's money to bankroll pop singer Ho Yeow Sun's secular music career, which they wanted to use to spread the Gospel via the Crossover Project.

The accused are CHC pastors Kong Hee, 50, and Tan Yee Peng, 42; former finance managers Serina Wee, 38, and Sharon Tan, 39; and former investment committee members Chew Eng Han, 54, and John Lam, 47.

They allegedly misappropriated $24 million in CHC's building funds through sham bond investments in music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna, and allegedly misused another $26 million to cover it up.

Ms Ho is church founder Kong Hee's wife.

Yesterday, former church executive member Jean-Jacques Lavigne was called to the stand by Chew, who has been conducting his own defence since last May.

Mr Lavigne said he joined the church in late 1998 and stopped attending services in June 2013, a month after Chew left.

Mr Lavigne was a leader in CHC's Business Breakthrough Group - a business network group started in 2003 - and became an executive member, eligible to hold office, in 2008.

Asked by Chew how he felt about church money being put into bonds to fund the Crossover, Mr Lavigne said that from a church member's point of view, it was "probably the best thing to happen in years".

On how important the project was, Mr Lavigne said it was the "No. 1 calling of the church".

"There is no other vision (in the church) but the Crossover," he said.

Mr Lavigne said he bought a number of Ms Ho's Mandarin albums. He added that he was "delighted" with her Crossover work in the United States, and described it as "top-notch and world class".

Earlier in his testimony, Mr Lavigne told the court how CHC was keen on a joint venture with his former employer SUTL, which owns the One Degree 15 Marina club.

He became the business development manager of SUTL's lifestyle division in 2005.

In 2006, SUTL wanted to bid for the Formula One Pit Building and was in discussions with CHC on commercial plans to jointly develop the proposed building, which would include a concert hall.

"CHC was very committed to (the project)", Mr Lavigne said.

Mr Lavigne also said Chew approached him in 2007 to be the general manager of Xtron, and wanted him to run it as a "purely commercial entity", with CHC being a major client. While he did not take up the offer, Mr Lavigne did arrange an audio-visual services project for Xtron in 2008.


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Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act 2015 (Act 12 of 2015)

[GBR] UK Supreme Court Press Summary: Sea Shepherd UK v Fish & Fish Ltd [2015] UKSC 10 (whether appellant liable for loss and damage suffered by respondent)

23 Apr 2015

'Ensure copyright' of wedding photos

Straits Times
20 May 2015
K.C. Vijayan

Lawyers warn couples such images could be used by other parties

WEDDING photos are meant to be personal memories that last a lifetime.

But if couples do not ensure they own the copyright of images of their big occasion, they could end up being used by other parties.

Lawyers issued this warning yesterday in the case of 35-year-old singer and actress Rosanne Wong - half of Hong Kong Cantopop music group 2R.

She discovered that pre-wedding photos of her and her fiance, dentist Derek Baram, were used at exhibitions by the wedding services agency she had hired, The Feline Bridal on River Valley Road.

The High Court this week dismissed one appeal and upheld another by the agency's boss, Madam Wang Choong Li, after Ms Wong successfully sued her for copyright breaches.

Last year, a district court awarded the Singapore permanent resident - whose full name is Rosanne Wong Wan Chin - $43,500 for the use of 29 pre-wedding photos taken in London, at $1,500 apiece. The lower court also awarded $1,000 to Ms Wong over copyright breach of her wedding day photos that appeared in a coffee table book placed at the agency.

However, the High Court allowed Madam Wang's appeal in the latter case after her lawyer B. Sham Kumar had argued that Ms Wong had not shown she owned the copyright.

Ms Wong hired Feline Bridal to provide services such as gown rental, photography and video recording for her 2009 wedding.

The couple flew to London for the pre-wedding shoot, and although Ms Wong wore the Feline Bridal gowns for the occasion, Judicial Commissioner (JC) Aedit Abdullah found that she owned the copyright of these photographs because she had commissioned her own photographer for the event.

However, Madam Wang's lawyer claimed his client was not acting as an agent for Ms Wong when Madam Wang hired a photographer for the wedding day.

Ms Wong's lawyers, from Tito Isaac & Co, disputed this, and countered that there was no agreement in the relevant form to permit Madam Wang to use the wedding photographs.

JC Aedit found the copyright of the wedding day photographs did not belong to Ms Wong. In judgment grounds released yesterday, he said that "in the absence of any evidence of an actual commission of the... photographer by (Ms Wong)", the copyright resided with either the photographer or Madam Wang.

The judge further lifted an injunction against Madam Wang on the use of the wedding pictures, as well as pre-wedding photos.

He added that copyright issues "may be far from the minds of most couples marrying, but as in many instances, the law intrudes when least expected".

He noted the relevant section 30(5) of the Copyright Act has "not attracted much judicial attention in Singapore". It provides for a person who commissions a photographer to be entitled to the copyright, subject to any agreement.

Lawyers told The Straits Times that copyright depends on the conditions of any agreement between the parties, within the framework of the Act.

Mr Wong Siew Hong of Eldan Law advised: "Read the fine print of the terms and conditions and settle the issues before the deal is inked."

Madam Wang told The Straits Times that her company now issues clients with a form they must sign to say whether they consent to any further use of their photographs.

She added: "I am sad and very disappointed, but we learnt a lot from this and we have to be very careful and move on."


Background Story


Cantopop singer Rosanne Wong discovered that her pre-wedding photos were used by the wedding services agency she had hired.


The agency's boss, Madam Wang Choong Li, claimed Ms Wong had agreed that she could use the pre-wedding day photographs. Madam Wang also argued that Ms Wong had no copyright on the wedding day photos.


Judge Aedit Abdullah said "in the absence of any evidence of an actual commission of the... photographer by (Ms Wong)", the wedding day copyright resided with either the photographer or Madam Wang.

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State Lands (Amendment) Act 2015 (Act 11 of 2015)

[HKG] Astro v Lippo: From Singapore to Hong Kong – an obligation to act in good faith?

23 Apr 2015

Ho 'didn't know number of Mandarin albums sold'

Straits Times
20 May 2015
Amir Hussain

She was also unaware of how project to break into US scene was funded

SHE claimed to have inspired stars such as Jay Chou and thousands of others to embrace Christianity through her concerts around the region.

But Ms Ho Yeow Sun yesterday also admitted that she did not know exactly how many of her Mandarin albums were sold, or how the project to break into the American pop music scene was being bankrolled.

Ms Ho was taking the stand for the first time in the long-running trial involving the alleged misuse of funds belonging to City Harvest Church, which she founded with her husband Kong Hee.

He and five others are accused of funnelling more than $20 million from the church's building fund to pay for the Crossover Project, which aimed to use Ms Ho's secular music to spread the Gospel.

Ms Ho was called to the stand by Chew Eng Han, the church's former investment manager and one of the accused, who is conducting his own defence. He asked Ms Ho, better known by her stage name Sun Ho, if the Crossover was about her.

Telling the court and a packed gallery that the project was only about the church, she said that for 71/2 months starting in 2003, she performed before 140,000 people at 80 concerts in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.

During the concerts, she said she shared her experience of how her religion helped her through depression. Half of the audience at the concerts would later raise their hands to embrace Christianity when asked if they would do so, said Ms Ho.

Among those who were "impacted" were Taiwanese singers Jay Chou, Will Liu Genghong and Rachel Liang Wen Yin, as well as two members of the band F.I.R, she added.

Referring to a blog post by Kong, which stated that Ms Ho's five Mandarin albums sold four million copies, Chew asked how the singer could believe such a figure since documents, including those from her managing company Xtron Productions, showed far fewer numbers.

Ms Ho denied being aware of the blog post or any of the documents.

She was, however, confident of the success of her first American album because "I believe this is what God wants me to do and I was working very hard at it".

Ms Ho said she was working towards "one million to two million" for the United States album.

Asked whether she knew how the US Crossover Project was being funded, Ms Ho said that between 2007 and March 2010, she did not. Its financing and budgeting were carried out by others, including Kong, she explained.

The launch of the album was planned for August 2010. But in May that year, criminal investigations into the alleged misuse of church funds began. The album was never released, despite her recording 50 songs for it.

But she said: "In my mind, it was never a closed deal. If everything is settled and God willing, it would be a privilege to complete the Crossover."

Chew also called former church member Sun Yuen Peng to the stand yesterday. The businesswoman told the court how she and her husband invested $350,000 in Xtron bonds in 2007 after being promised a 4 per cent return after 1-1/2 years.

They never got a cent back, and were instead told not to doubt the church leaders. The couple left the church in 2012.

Madam Sun said: "We had only negative news about Sun Ho that she was living in a big bungalow and her expenses, et cetera."


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Medicines Act - Medicines (Exemption for SEA Games Delegations) Order 2015 (S 294 of 2015)

Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] UKSC 11 (Tort, Negligence): commentary

23 Apr 2015

Woman entered S'pore under false identities

Straits Times
20 May 2015
Selina Lum

She had fled over fake degree, but returned using various passports

SHE fled the country after being charged in 2002 with using a fake degree to apply for permanent residency.

But that did not stop Lin Lifen, 39, from repeatedly coming back to Singapore over the next 12 years using different identities. She is now appealing against a 16-week jail sentence for her offences.

The wealthy businesswoman, who married a permanent resident from Canada, first returned to Singapore as Shuting Lin Grayston using a Canadian passport. Later, she used a Central African Republic diplomatic passport issued under the name Charlize Lin.

Each time, the Chinese national lied in arrival forms that she had never used a passport under a different name to enter Singapore.

In March last year, she was detained at Changi Airport after immigration officers noticed irregularities in her Central African Republic diplomatic passport.

Earlier this year, she pleaded guilty to one count of using a forged degree and three counts of making a false declaration.

Four other false declaration charges were taken into consideration. Her jail term has been stayed pending the outcome of her appeal.

In a written judgment published yesterday, District Judge Shawn Ho said Lin was a "wily wheeler-dealer who deliberately deceived the Singapore authorities with her duplicitous conduct".

Lin, who has a string of business interests including diamond mining, oil exploration and spas, said her main reason for coming back to Singapore was to spend time with her son. But the district judge said the evidence showed that it was the "powerful pull of profit, rather than familial bonds" that drew her back.

He said that in letters to the authorities in 2013, her lawyers said she wanted to move all her business interests here, make Singapore the head office for her oil business and invest $2 million in an apartment.

The district judge also rejected the defence's argument that the different names on the passports were not fakes adopted by Lin to mislead the authorities.

"Why was there a need to be chameleonic about her identity on official travel documents?" he said.

By re-offending after absconding while on bail, Lin had showed "total disregard of authority and blatant disrespect for the law", he added.

Between 1996 and 2000, Lin came to Singapore many times on a tourist pass.

In 2000, she was issued a dependent's pass under the sponsorship of her husband.

Lin, who has a primary school education, later got a fake bachelor's degree in economics from the Foreign Economics and Trade University in Beijing, as she wanted to get PR status here. But the university said the certificate was forged, following checks by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.


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Attorney-General (Additional Functions) Act 2014 - Attorney-General (Additional Functions) Act (Amendment of Schedule) (No. 3) Order 2015 (S 293 of 2015)

Legal consequences for failure to complete purchase of private residential property

21 Apr 2015

Agent jailed two years for rental scam

Straits Times
20 May 2015
Elena Chong

A PROPERTY agent was sentenced to two years in jail yesterday for running a rental scam.

Goh Tzan En duped 25 people into believing he had secured units for them to rent when he knew the flats were not on the market, or had already been rented out.

He also tricked a 59-year-old man into paying an additional $5,000 to buy a flat in Jurong West in July last year.

The total amount involved in all 27 charges was $91,474, of which only $1,500 had been paid back.

Goh, 49, admitted to nine counts of cheating, and the rest were taken into consideration in sentencing.

Investigations showed that between last October and February this year, 25 people, mostly foreigners, responded to online advertisements Goh had posted. They met Goh, who was then with real estate company Era Realty, and signed rental agreements.

Goh made his victims pay him cash for advance rental, security deposits, stamp fees and agent's fees, although the move-in dates were far in the future.

He subsequently came up with various excuses for why his clients could not move into the units, and promised to refund the money to them. But he never did, and was later uncontactable.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin said this was not a one-off incident, but serial cheating.

Not only did the victims lose money, they were also subjected to unnecessary stress and anxiety, he said.

Goh, who was allowed to start his sentence on June 12, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge.


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Immigration Act - Immigration (Exemption from Singapore Visa - SEA Games 2015) Order 2015 (S 292 of 2015)

How the contingency principle affects stamp duty payable on leases

21 Apr 2015

ADV: LexisNexis Criminal Law Special Bundle!

Singapore Law Watch
20 May 2015

Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act - Housing Developers (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2015 (S 291 of 2015)

IPOS Case Summary: Formula One Licensing v Idea Marketing [2015] SGIPOS 7 (whether new evidence shows trade mark was distinctive)

21 Apr 2015

Five full-time lawyers help boost legal aid scheme

19 May 2015
Kelly Ng

SINGAPORE — For the first time, lawyers will be taking up files under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS) full-time, instead of as volunteers, boosting its aim of serving a bigger pool of unrepresented accused persons.

As part of enhancements to the scheme, which will receive S$3.5 million in direct funding from the Government every year, a team of five young lawyers from five firms joined the Law Society’s (LawSoc) Pro Bono Services Office in January to exclusively handle criminal legal aid cases. These pioneering CLAS Fellows, who were seconded or sponsored by the firms, handle up to 30 cases at any time.

Separately, 22 firms have pledged to chip in for the 6,000 litigants CLAS aims to serve each year. The companies, including Drew & Napier, Rajah & Tann, Rodyk & Davidson and TSMP Law Corporation, have committed to take on a total of at least 300 pro bono criminal cases a year.

There are about 12,000 unrepresented litigants each year, the State Courts estimated, and about half of these may benefit from some form of legal aid.

Before CLAS was enhanced, the 265 volunteer lawyers under the scheme handled about 400 cases a year, or fewer than two cases each annually.

Despite a growing number of CLAS applications over the years, only a portion could be supported because of limited resources. For example, of the 1,780 applications received last year, only 431 were granted.

Although the number of lawyers volunteering with CLAS has increased to 400, the caseload target of 6,000 under the enhanced scheme is still a 15-fold jump.

The scheme’s reach expanded after the Government decided in 2013 to directly support defendants — a significant departure from its long-held stance against providing criminal legal aid — as Singapore moves towards a more inclusive and compassionate society.

Prior to this, the scheme, first launched in 1985, had been privately funded through the LawSoc and goodwill donations.

The Government has pumped into CLAS a one-off S$800,000 and will continue to commit up to S$3.5 million annually to cover operational costs, disbursements and honorariums for volunteer lawyers.

Speaking at the launch of the enhanced CLAS yesterday, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said: “The Government decided to play a bigger role and to better assess defendants who cannot afford their own lawyers, but should nevertheless not be left to face the criminal justice system by themselves.”

However, the minister cautioned against the abuse of government-funded legal aid, citing examples in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, where legal aid had been cut to weed out “hugely wealthy people” and unmeritorious cases.

The enhanced CLAS, derived after working with multiple stakeholders including the judiciary and LawSoc, offers a formula buttressed by a proper and rigorous assessment process, he said.

The scope of aid under CLAS has also widened. For example, accused persons who intend to plead guilty can receive legal assistance, unlike in the past, when only those who were below the age of 18 or suffered from mental illnesses were eligible. The list of statutes has also been expanded to include offences under Sections 14 and 28 of the Moneylenders Act.

Criminal lawyer Suresh Damodara, who was conferred the Pro Bono Ambassador Award last year, said the Government’s commitment to legal aid would inspire existing and prospective lawyers to be involved in pro bono work. “I hope this will inject greater consciousness into the legal fraternity (and encourage lawyers) to step forward ... to ensure accused persons are not deprived of legal assistance.”

CLAS Fellow Ng Shi Yang said the fellowship is a “good starting point” to nurture the next generation of pro bono criminal lawyers. “Many of the unrepresented litigants have a lot of difficulty understanding what the system is about, what it means to be charged ... Having legal aid really assures them that they are not entirely helpless,” said the 28-year-old, who is on a six-month secondment from Wong Partnership.


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Planning Act - Planning (Development of Land Authorisation) (Amendment) Notification 2015 (S 290 of 2015)

SCA: Negotiating a lease? That “no representations” clause may not get you out of jail

20 Apr 2015

Ezion dismisses conspiracy suit as 'frivolous'

Business Times
19 May 2015
Kelly Tay

[Singapore] EZION Holdings has rejected as "frivolous and without merit" claims that it was behind a conspiracy to induce an AP Moeller-Maersk unit to breach charter agreements.

On Monday, Bloomberg had reported that Atlantic Marine Services BV (AMS) had filed a Singapore High Court suit accusing Ezion - a Singapore-based offshore service provider - of the conspiracy.

The Amsterdam-based company said Ezion created the impression that AMS, which had partnered Ezion to charter oil rigs to Maersk Oil, was in financial trouble.

Atlantic Marine said in the suit - which is scheduled for a closed hearing on June 2 - that it agreed to pay inflated charter rates to Ezion for the rig services provided to Maersk Oil to help the Singapore company secure bigger loans.

Maersk Oil, which is not a party in the lawsuit, said it has terminated its contract with Atlantic Marine for its failure to meet contractual obligations.

In an announcement on Monday afternoon, Ezion challenged AMS's claims, saying: "The group has received feedback that AMS has failed to meet their contractual and operational obligations and is currently in discussions with (a European-based multinational) oil major on how to better serve its requirement. Such discussions may include the group taking over the operations of the three service rigs (working in the North Sea that are operated by AMS).

"The suit has arisen as a result of this development as AMS has objected to the idea of the group taking over the operations of the three service rigs and has threatened to take whatever actions to stop the communication between the group and the oil major. The suit is seeking from the court an injunction restraining the group from communicating with the oil major to terminate its contract with AMS without putting a monetary value to the claim."

Ezion said it will continue its discussions with the oil major, and "whatever the outcome", no material impact is expected on the group's earnings or net tangible assets per share for the year ending Dec 31, 2015.

Muralli Rajaram, lawyer for Atlantic Marine, declined to comment, said Bloomberg.

Ezion, which last week posted a 9.4 per cent fall in first-quarter net income to US$41 million, described the operating environment as "challenging" after a drastic drop in oil prices.

Its shares closed at S$1.13, down 5.5 cents, on Monday.


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Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act - Housing Developers (Show Unit) Rules 2015 (S 289 of 2015)

Is the future of guarantees guaranteed?

20 Apr 2015

SPH sues TRS couple for copyright infringement

Straits Times
19 May 2015
Elena Chong & Tham Yuen-C

It alleges website used its papers' content without permission

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) has brought a copyright infringement suit against the duo behind The Real Singapore (TRS) socio-political website.

The Singapore-listed media group alleged that content from its newspapers had been reproduced on the website without permission between January 2011 and April this year.

A writ of summons and statement of claim were filed in the High Court on May 7 and the papers served on Yang Kaiheng, 26, and Ai Takagi, 22, yesterday.

They were served by a clerk from WongPartnership, representing SPH, as they walked to the State Courts in Havelock Square for a pre-trial conference for a separate sedition case.

Yang, a Singaporean, and Takagi, his Australian fiancee, have been identified as being editors, developers, operators, moderators and administrators of TRS.

In its statement of claim, SPH cited at least 191 articles from its stable of newspapers that were substantially reproduced, without licence or authorisation, in the form of 177 articles on TRS.

The SPH articles included crime and political stories as well as commentaries, and first ran in The Straits Times, The Business Times, The New Paper and My Paper.

The media company said in court papers that Yang and Takagi had "systematically and consistently" used these articles for content on TRS, and received financial benefit from doing so.

Twice this year - on March 18 and April 2 - SPH sent letters to Yang and Takagi, notifying them of the copyright infringement.

The "TRS Editorial Team" replied to the first letter via e-mail the same day, acknowledging their articles contained "copyright-infringing contents... uploaded by those who have writer accounts". It said the articles "have now been removed". It did not reply to SPH's second letter.

But SPH contends in its claim that some articles remained accessible on the website until early this month, when TRS was ordered to shut down by the Media Development Authority (MDA) for publishing articles deemed "objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public order and national harmony".

SPH is asking the court to declare TRS infringed its copyright. It wants an injunction to stop TRS from continuing to do so; and damages or, alternatively, an account of profits that TRS made through the articles and the payment of the amount to SPH.

TRS was taken down by its editors on May 3, after the MDA suspended the licence of Yang and Takagi to operate the site.

The media regulator said they deliberately made up articles to incite anti-foreigner sentiment and undermine national harmony here, to drive traffic to the site and raise advertising dollars.

The couple have made representations to the MDA on the matter, and are awaiting a review that will determine if their licence will be revoked.

Yang and Takagi were charged with seven counts of sedition for articles published between October 2013 and February this year that allegedly promoted ill-will and hostility between different races or classes here. They face another charge of failing to produce documents, such as financial statements, to investigators.

Earlier this month, Yang was allowed to visit his critically ill father in Brisbane, Australia. He returned a week ago. His father is also back and hospitalised here.

The couple's lawyer, Mr Choo Zheng Xi, said yesterday that he will be making representations to the Attorney-General's Chambers on the criminal case. The next pre-trial conference for the case is on July 1.



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Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2013 - Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2013 (Commencement) Notification 2015 (S 288 of 2015)

[GBR] Decura IM Investments v UBS [2015] EWHC 171: The materiality standard in material adverse effect clauses

20 Apr 2015

Church backs down in battle with MOM

Straits Times
19 May 2015
Toh Yong Chuan

FCBC drops legal review of minister's decision on sacked pregnant worker

A CHURCH that took the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to the High Court over the sacking of a pregnant employee has backed down.

Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) said in a statement yesterday that it is dropping the High Court legal review because it now accepts the Manpower Minister's decision on the dismissal.

In 2013, the church fired the church worker because of her alleged adulterous relationship with another married church worker.

It did not give the woman, who was then in her late 30s, the salary and maternity benefits she was entitled to under the Employment Act.

The woman complained to the MOM and then Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin ordered the church to compensate her about $7,000.

The church paid up but subsequently took the case to the High Court to have Mr Tan's decision reviewed.

But yesterday, the church decided to withdraw its court application.

It said that it had initiated the High Court legal review to clarify "the boundaries under which a religious body such as FCBC is able to conduct its internal affairs in managing the organisation, subject to the applicable laws of the land".

It added that the court process has given it access to documents including Mr Tan's affidavit on the grounds of the decision, and it has since "come to understand and recognise the rationale/basis for the (Manpower) Minister's decision based on the specific facts of this case".

"As a responsible religious body/corporate citizen of this nation, FCBC accepts the minister's decision," it said.

FCBC noted that while the MOM takes the position that employment terms should be reasonable and should not govern the private lives of employees unless they relate to job performance, as a church it can include moral conduct in its terms of employment "in appropriate circumstances" when the conduct affects how workers perform in their jobs.

Besides issuing the statement on its website and Facebook page yesterday, the church also took the unusual step of buying advertisement space to publish its statement in full in The Straits Times and Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao today.

The 10,000-strong church, headed by Pastor Lawrence Khong, is one of Singapore's largest independent churches.

Mr Khong, who is a pastor-magician, has attracted controversy in the past with his strong views on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

When contacted, the MOM said it welcomes the church's decision not to pursue the case.

"Since FCBC has accepted the minister's decision and has withdrawn its case, we consider the matter closed," said an MOM spokesman.

But the case holds a lesson for employers, said the ministry.

"MOM wishes to remind all employers of the importance of clearly communicating upfront to a prospective employee his or her obligations under the contract, which must be reasonable and relevant to the requirements of the job."


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

Housing and Development Act - Housing and Development (Design-Build-and-Sell Scheme - Vesting) (No. 2) Notification 2015 (S 287 of 2015)

Companies Act: Timetable for implementation of amendments

17 Apr 2015

Govt releases new developer rules on show units, sales data

Business Times
19 May 2015
Lynette Khoo

[Singapore] LEGISLATIVE changes to the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act will now require developers to provide detailed sales data on a weekly basis and disclose the value of any benefits to buyers in transaction documents. For the first time, the government is introducing a new set of rules to also ensure that developers accurately depict actual housing units in their showflats.

Amendments to the Act and the new set of rules on show units under the subsidiary legislation, Housing Developers Rules, will take effect from this month to "improve safeguards and provide more information to prospective purchasers of private residential properties", the Ministry of National Development (MND) said on Monday.

Augustine Tan, president of the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas), noted that developers that are already ensuring accurate representation in their showflats "will not have any issues" with the new rules.

"It's better for the buyers and we have no issues with that because we want the buyers to know exactly what they are getting. It's in the right direction," he said.

One of the show unit rules requires the floor area of the show unit to be the same as that of the actual housing unit; another rule requires all external and structural walls (both internal and external) of an actual unit to be depicted in the show unit. If any internal non-structural wall is not built in the show unit, the position, thickness and width of that wall must be clearly marked on the floor and labelled.

Existing show units that have been set up and open for viewing before July 20 will be exempted from the new show unit rules. But developers have to inform buyers of the differences between the show unit and the actual unit, prominently displaying a detailed list and description of the differences at the entrance of the show unit, and provide buyers a copy of that list.

"Some developers may not be very thrilled by some of these new rules, but they may be resigned to have to comply as it is now the law of the land," said SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak.

It is common for developers to create "optical illusions" in their showflats, such as thin markings on the floor to depict the walls and using the same tiles for the balcony and the living room to make the latter look bigger, he observed. "With the actual units getting smaller and smaller, developers try not to turn off the buyers and will ask the interior designer to come up with ways to make the unit not look too small."

A spokesman from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) told BT that that developers will have to submit a declaration that the show units are set up in compliance with the requirements before opening the show units for viewing. The Controller of Housing will conduct spot checks to ensure that the developers build their show units according to the requirements.

"The developer will be required to close the show unit if it is not erected in compliance with the requirements in the Housing Developers (Show Unit) Rules," the spokesman said. "Further action, including suspension or revocation of licence, may also be taken against the developer. In the event that a licensed developer is found to have breached the rules, he shall be liable to a fine not exceeding S$5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both."

There will also be less room for manoeuvring by developers when it comes to pricing tactics. From next Monday, housing developers must submit detailed sales data to the Controller of Housing every week. This will include sales volumes and transacted prices of individual units and the value of any benefits to buyers, including cash rebates, absorption of legal fees or stamp duties, rental guarantees and furniture vouchers. The information will be published on the URA website weekly from June 5.

The Option to Purchase and Sale & Purchase agreements - which are standard forms prescribed under the Housing Developers Rules - will also be amended with effect from July 20 to include more information, such as the value of any benefits that developers offer to buyers.

Buyers already have to declare any price discount, rebate or other benefit when seeking a home loan under the Monetary Authority of Singapore rules. In an ongoing lawsuit, however, UOB is suing a Lippo Group subsidiary and seven individuals for allegedly misleading the bank into granting inflated housing loans for 38 units at Marina Collection in Sentosa from 2011 to 2013 by not disclosing substantial furniture rebates.

Chia Siew Chuin, Colliers International director of research and advisory, said that discounts have always been difficult to quantify and ascertain. "With more detailed information, buyers can decide for themselves which type of discounts are the most beneficial to them, in real value terms."

But consultants flagged that there is a minor flipside to publishing weekly developers' sales data: Mr Mak felt that weekly data may be an "over-kill" and increase the work for some developers' staff; Ms Chia noted that property trends develop over the longer course of months, quarters to even a year.

"Buyers should take note that weekly information should be harvested for individual project details, rather than be used as an indication of wider market trends," Ms Chia added.

Developers told BT they were unsurprised by the changes, having largely complied since an amendment bill for the Housing Developers Act was read in 2013 in Parliament.

Cheang Kok Kheong, CEO of development and property at Frasers Centrepoint Limited, said that its recent showflats are in full compliance with the new rules. "We believe more regular updates of sales data will be beneficial for everybody including buyers and developers."

A spokesman from City Developments also said that the group is fully compliant with the new regulatory requirements. "Nevertheless, we are reviewing the announced revisions in detail and will implement various measures, where needed," he added.

Knight Frank executive director Tay Kah Poh noted that the new rules will curtail developers' flexibility to price according to business conditions and lay out their show units to highlight design possibilities.

"Singapore's control regime, in terms of disclosure, is probably one of the most onerous around, and these changes will add to the burden on developers to 'show their cards'," Mr Tay said. "But this seems to be in keeping with the prevailing regulatory mood for the authorities to ring fence consumers more and more against all manner of malpractices."


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Road Traffic Act - Road Traffic (Restriction of Speed on Roads) (Amendment) Notification 2015 (S 286 of 2015)

[GBR] Can a success fee be a penalty?

17 Apr 2015

Singapore signs MOUs on cyber security, trade marks

Business Times
19 May 2015
Kelly Tay

[Singapore] SINGAPORE on Monday signed two memorandums of understanding (MOUs) - one on cyber security with France, and another on trade-mark cooperation with China.

The former is the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore's (CSA) first international MOU. It was signed at the Élysée Palace in Paris, France, by CSA chief executive David Koh, and Guillaume Poupard, director-general, Agence Nationale de la Sécurité des Systèmes d'Information (ANSSI).

The signing ceremony was witnessed by French President Francois Hollande and President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is in France to mark the 50th anniversary of Singapore-France diplomatic relations.

Said Mr Koh: "This agreement demonstrates the commitment of our organisations to cooperate to face common threats to cyber security. Cyber security is a critical issue in an increasingly borderless world and we look forward to working alongside France to better prevent and respond to evolving cyber threats."

Separately, the MOU between Singapore and China on trade-mark cooperation will see the two countries enhance exchanges on trade-mark registration, examination practices, protection, and enforcement.

The MOU was signed by Tan Yih San, chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), and Liu Yuting, Vice-Minister of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) of the People's Republic of China.

Under the agreement, Singapore and China will facilitate exchanges of IP officials and experts, and develop capacity-building activities - such as training on the examination of trade marks, oppositions, and dispute resolution proceedings.

Joint conferences will also be conducted, and IP rights holders in both countries will be educated on trade-mark protection and enforcement. Since 2013, trade-mark applications by class count in China exceeded 1.8 million annually, making the country the top trade-marking destination in the world.

Said Mr Tan: "This MOU strengthens the linkages between the two countries' trade mark and brands. It facilitates Chinese companies' effort to expand their operations in Singapore and the larger ASEAN region. It will also welcome Singapore companies and MNCs based in Singapore to have greater access to the China market with their trade marks and brands."

In 2014, bilateral trade between the two countries rose 11 per cent year on year to reach S$115.2 billion. Singapore is China's largest foreign investor with US$7.3 billion worth of investments last year. China is Singapore's largest trading partner.


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Rapid Transit Systems Act - Rapid Transit Systems (Creation of Rights) Notification 2015 (S 285 of 2015)

MAS issues and amends notices relating to direct purchase insurance products

16 Apr 2015

IDA issues ‘stern warning’ to Singtel over Gushcloud incident

19 May 2015
Tan Weizhen

SINGAPORE — The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) today (May 18) issued a “stern warning” to Singtel, following the completion of investigations into what it deemed to be a negative marketing campaign involving social media agency Gushcloud. 

The smear campaign, where Gushcloud had offered perks to social media “influencers” to complain about rival telcos, had caused a huge public backlash earlier this year, prompting Singtel CEO Chua Sock Koong to publicly apologise to StarHub and M1.

In a press release, IDA said it was “disappointed that such marketing tactics have been employed by Singtel”. 

“IDA has always encouraged licensees to compete by promoting the availability, price and quality of their own services, and not by disparaging those of their competitors,” said a spokesman.

He added: “IDA made it clear in its warning to Singtel that IDA will not tolerate such practices. IDA requires Singtel to put in place the necessary measures to ensure appropriate management oversight and control over its marketing and advertising campaigns in order to prevent future such incidents, and that it should not adopt publicity practices or campaigns that may potentially bring disrepute to the telecommunication industry.”

Responding to IDA’s statement, Singtel said it is “committed to upholding the highest standards of professional values and integrity in everything we do”.

Its spokesperson said: “We take a very serious view of the lapse. We have, and will continue to take measures to ensure that our staff and business partners understand and adhere to the same standards and values.” She declined to elaborate on the measures.

StarHub said it noted and accepted the authority’s decision to close the matter. It did not respond to TODAY’s queries on whether it was still pursuing further action as it had indicated previously.

M1 made it clear that it will not be taking the matter further. Its assistant general manager for corporate communications Chua Hian Hou said: “We have accepted Singtel’s apology and its assurance that it will not engage in such practices in future.”

Gushcloud co-founder Vincent Ha could not be reached for comments today, as calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.

In the wake of the debacle, Gushcloud came up with a set of guidelines on good conduct for its staff when they are engaging social media “influencers”, a term used to describe those who have a substantial following on social media platforms.

Discussions are taking place between industry players and the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) to create guidelines for the industry.  ASAS had said it was reviewing the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP).

Direct Marketing Association of Singapore chairperson Lisa Watson said that while she was for adding more guidelines to the code to help educate consumers and guide marketers, she was unsure about the benefits of having regulations. “Most content service providers have clear standards of transparency - both in the old public relations world and today’s environment,” she said in an email response. “Before a campaign, one should always take the ‘headline test’ (would it be a good or bad day if your actions made the headline news?). I doubt either of these parties (Singtel or Gushcloud) thought this one through.” Technology blogger Alfred Siew felt there was no need for guidelines, as the potential public backlash would keep marketers in check. 

“Consumers would show their displeasure at this kind of marketing. It’s misleading and it’s not real, not to mention dishonest. I think there is no need for so many rules as long as the market is clear in its response - Singtel was slammed for this in public,” he said.

IDA’s warning to Singtel also sent out a clear signal that the industry will not tolerate such practices, he added.


Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Health Products Act - Health Products (Medical Devices for SEA Games Delegations) (Exemption) Order 2015 (S284 of 2015)

SCA clarifies relationship between arbitral tribunals and the courts

16 Apr 2015

Low take-up rate for schemes to help divorcing couples

Straits Times
19 May 2015
Priscilla Goy

Little awareness of options to resolve disputes amicably, say mediation experts

JUST 19 divorcing couples sought private mediation about their settlements last year.

And only seven cases were completed under the Collaborative Family Practice (CFP), a scheme launched in 2013 to offer couples specialist legal help with post-divorce issues, such as child custody, before they go to court.

The Primary Justice Project - a pre-court option for divorcing couples ineligible for legal aid, but unable to afford legal fees - has handled just a dozen divorce cases since its launch last May.

The low take-up numbers were revealed yesterday by the Family Justice Courts and Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC), which runs the first two schemes. A third is run by the Community Justice Centre, an independent charity based in the State Courts.

Latest available figures show there were more than 7,500 divorces and annulments in 2013.

Mediation experts called for greater awareness of the help options available, and urged couples to resolve disputes amicably to save time and money.

However, SMC executive director Loong Seng Onn said the figures could be down to couples who "simply want revenge". He added: "They want to drag the other party through the court process because of what their former spouse did to them."

With private mediation, cases are often resolved within a day. It can help in matters such as financial, property and child custody before they get to court.

Yet, take-up of this option has shown little improvement since 2010, when there were just eight cases settled.

Under the CFP, if an agreement is reached, the courts can grant the interim judgment in one to two months, instead of four to six.

But awareness of the three options is so low that even some lawyers are not familiar with them.

Ms Sophia Ang, director of counselling and psychological services at Family Justice Courts, said: "If you're having a happy marriage... very few people would bother to go read up on what mediation is about.

"It is when you're in a conflict, things get really bad and you're desperate, wondering what to do and where to go."

Lawyers say agreeing on issues before going to court reduces acrimony.

Mr Loong said: "Litigation in court is an adversarial process. Both parties have to persuade the judge to decide in their favour. But in the pre-court options, the aim is to enter an agreement with the other party to settle matters."

Family lawyer Michelle Woodworth, of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, cited how the CFP scheme benefited one couple.

Instead of focusing on the break-up itself, they discussed issues such as the division of assets and care of their children. Focusing on these issues helped the husband, who did not initiate the divorce, to be more "emotionally ready", Ms Woodworth said, whereas these problems would have been tougher to negotiate in court.

Mr Loong added: "It's important to let parties know how they can resolve their disputes without affecting the children. Marriages may die, but parenting will continue."


Background Story


If you're having a happy marriage... very few people would bother to go read up on what mediation is about... It is when you're in a conflict, things get really bad and you're desperate, wondering what to do and where to go.

- Ms Sophia Ang, director of counselling and psychological services at Family Justice Courts

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Limited Partnerships Act - Limited Partnerships (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S283 of 2015)

Latest developments: family law; tax

16 Apr 2015

Dallas Buyers Club suit a legal minefield

Straits Times
18 May 2015
Irene Tham

ALL eyes are on Hollywood studio Voltage Pictures for its first lawsuit against Internet users in Singapore for illegally sharing its film Dallas Buyers Club.

The last time users' hearts skipped a beat over a similar issue was in 2007, when local anime distributor Odex went after hundreds of illegal downloaders and took a few individuals to court.

But because all the Odex cases were eventually settled out of court, there is no legal precedent to answer the question of whether broadband subscribers in Singapore are liable for acts committed on their Internet accounts.

"This is all fairly new ground, like the Internet," said lawyer Bryan Tan, a technology partner at Pinsent Masons MPillay.

But Voltage's case against Singapore's illegal downloaders has already generated heated discussion on social media.

There are many unanswered questions and there are also concerns that the lawyers acting on behalf of Voltage may have overstepped their ethical boundaries.

Is there a need to establish a link between an impugned Internet account and the actual downloader?

Early last month, Voltage's Singapore representative, Samuel Seow Law Corporation, sent 77 M1 subscribers letters demanding a written offer of damages, failing which they ran the risk of being sued. More letters are expected to be sent to Singtel and StarHub subscribers.

The studio identified more than 500 Singapore Internet protocol (IP) addresses - of Singtel, StarHub and M1 subscribers - at which the movie was allegedly downloaded.

It filed "pre-action discovery" applications against the three Internet service providers (ISPs) in the High Court late last year, and succeeded in compelling the ISPs to release their customers' details.

The issue here is that the demand letter is addressed to the Internet subscriber, who may not be the one who allegedly infringed on the copyright.

This has sparked a heated discussion online over whether the ISPs' lawyers or the courts should have demanded more proof to link the person who infringed copyright to the impugned Internet account.

Subscribers who were wrongfully threatened with a demand letter could mount a lawsuit against Voltage for making groundless threats, but how many can afford to do so?

Are lawyers allowed to threaten downloaders with the possibility of criminal proceedings to further civil claims?

Demand letters sent out by Samuel Seow Law Corp hinted at the possibility of criminal sanction under sections 136(3) and 136(3A) of the Copyright Act.

The letters, seen by The Straits Times, spelt out a maximum fine of $50,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years, or both, under Section 136(3) of the Act. It also specified a maximum fine of $20,000 or a maximum jail term of six months, or both, under Section 136(3A) of the Act.

However, the Law Society's Practice Directions and Rulings 1989 states: "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."

The directions are a set of ethical guidelines for lawyers.

Mr Harish Pillay, president of the Internet Society (Singapore), said criminal threats should not be used to further civil claims.

"While there was some cagey wording to suggest that criminal sanction 'may' apply, there is a lot of text detailing and emphasising it," he said.

"The majority of people reading the letters are your 'man in the street'. They would not know any better and would think that the threats are legitimate."

When contacted, the Law Society said it has not received any complaints against Samuel Seow Law Corp but urged the Internet Society to report any complaints against any lawyers.

"No one should use the threat of criminal proceedings in order to settle a civil dispute... Complaints will be thoroughly investigated, in accordance with statutory procedure," a Law Society spokesman told The Straits Times.

Why didn't the courts supervise the drafting and issuing of demand letters?

Since so many Internet users are involved, some have asked why the Singapore courts did not supervise the drafting and issuing of demand letters.

They drew comparisons with Australia, where Voltage is also going after Internet users for illegally downloading the Dallas Buyers Club movie. There, demand letters have to be issued to Internet users under Australian court supervision. This is to ensure that exorbitant settlement fees would not be sought.

Court supervision here could also protect end-users in similar ways.

Mr Pillay said the Singapore courts are entitled to impose conditions such as supervising demand letters. "But lawyers for the ISPs need to ask for it... We think this could have been asked for," he said.

When contacted, Singtel, StarHub and M1 declined to comment on whether they had asked for court supervision to protect their subscribers.

How much of a fight did the ISPs put up to protect customer details?

The three ISPs, when asked, did not explain in detail how they resisted Samuel Seow Law Corp's demands in court. Court documents are also not available for public inspection.

Consumers Association of Singapore executive director Seah Seng Choon said consumers should be informed of what was done to protect their interests.

"Consumers in a highly competitive broadband market may want to exercise their choice of ISPs based on how much the service providers are willing to do to protect them," he said.

In a document seen by The Straits Times, one of the ISPs' lawyers had asked for "security for costs" - a potential deterrent.

Security for costs, which companies like Voltage might have to pay for if defence lawyers ask for it, is usually provided through a banker's guarantee.

Lawyers usually request it when the firm filing the lawsuit is not based in Singapore, and the defendants want to ensure their legal costs are covered if the plaintiff loses the suit.

Did Voltage intend to sue Internet users at all?

When The Straits Times last checked with the courts early this month, no individual had been served a writ of summons.

It may still be early days but it would be an uphill task to sue so many individuals. One of the major hurdles is security for costs.

If Internet users were sued in Singapore, their lawyers could ask for security for costs as Voltage is a foreign company.

"The security for costs sought could potentially run into the millions if a substantial number of defendants decide to pursue such applications," saidHolborn Law's disputes lawyer and director Lakshanthi Fernando.

Also, very few copyright holders go after end-users for fear of the public relations nightmare that might ensue.

For instance, Odex director Stephen Sing was flamed online and threatened soon after

the firm targeted downloaders. Anti-Odex online campaigns followed.

An association of content owners, which declined to be named, said suing end-users was akin to activating nuclear weapons.

It said: "We have nuclear weapons in modern-day warfare, just like there are many options to counter online piracy, but we don't use them."


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

Limited Liability Partnerships Act - Limited Liability Partnerships (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S282 of 2015)

SHC: How to reclaim a gift

15 Apr 2015

Divorce made less bitter with new mediation process

18 May 2015
Laura Elizabeth Philomin

SINGAPORE — Once they both decided to part ways after 18 years together, all he and his wife wanted was to settle the terms of their divorce amicably, without a drawn-out tussle.

On the advice of their lawyers, the couple opted to take the Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) route, where parties and their respective lawyers work out together the terms of the split — including the division of matrimonial assets, maintenance payments and custody of the children — before filing their agreement with a Family Court.

After only four meetings, a deal was struck, in which he agreed to pay in full for a new five-room flat for his ex-wife and the quantum of child and spouse maintenance.

“When we came to that stage, I didn’t want to argue over this and that. Once the divorce was initiated, I just wanted to get it over with as soon as possible,” said the divorcee, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lee.

The CFP started in 2013, the same year the Family Justice Review Committee was tasked to look at ways to make the family justice system less stressful and acrimonious. Before that, divorces were known to involve estranged couples bringing their spats to the courtroom, where each tried to gain an edge over the other by trotting out their accounts of petty rows.

Under the CFP, trained lawyers sit in with their clients to facilitate negotiations on the terms, and they reach a mutually-agreed proposal they then file with the Family Courts.

Another person who has chosen the CFP service, Ms Chan (not her real name), said the official nature of court proceedings would have made it more difficult for her, given her grief and guilt over the end of her eight-year marriage.

“By letting us discuss the essential issues in person with our lawyers present to guide, mediate and officiate on the spot, the CFP process made the divorce as painless as it could probably get,” she said. She and her ex-husband reached a settlement in four meetings and concluded the divorce process in six months.

Lawyer Yap Teong Liang, who runs his own firm T L Yap Law Chambers LLC, dismissed fears that the CFP would make divorce appear easier and encourage more couples to resort to dissolving their marriages.

“The divorce law is still the same because after you successfully complete the CFP process, you still need to file the divorce documents in court. I think the fundamental difference is that whatever decision they come to in the sense of an agreement, both parties have participated in the process of arriving at a consensual agreement,” he said.

Apart from both spouses’ willingness to negotiate their arrangements amicably, lawyers said screening for family or marital violence and mental health issues are involved for eligibility.

Mr Rajan Chettiar said the CFP process may be slightly shorter than traditional court mediation. Under the CFP scheme, parties work together as a team to identify issues and solutions in a non-adversarial environment. In contrast, parties in court mediation have to file their divorce with the courts and submit all the relevant court documents before proceeding to mediation, he said.

“I think that’s not a good idea because mediation comes a bit too late when people have already filed court documents and said all the things they want to say about each other. They’ve already set the tone for that kind of acrimony ... and then you want them to shift gear and go to mediate. I think it’s quite tough for some people,” added Mr Chettiar.

Couples will also have to sign upfront an agreement informing them that they cannot use the same lawyers engaged for the CFP process if the matter proceeds to litigation in court should they fail to reach an agreement, said family lawyer Michelle Woodworth, a partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP.

“It is to provide a holistic and safe environment for negotiation on a without-prejudice platform. And I think it incentivises the settlement process; everybody is kept focused on the ultimate goal which is to come to a resolution,” she added.


Copyright 2015 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Companies Act - Companies (Filing of Documents) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S281 of 2015)

Latest developments: banking; crowdfunding; data in cloud; establishing good faith; match-fixing

15 Apr 2015

Insurance industry poised to overcome regulatory challenges

Straits Times
18 May 2015
Wong Wei Han

THE insurance industry worldwide faces challenges as increasingly stringent regulations apply to the sector in the wake of the global financial crisis.

But insurers will tread through this difficult period to play an even greater role, said Mr Mike McGavick, chairman of the Geneva Association and executive chairman of XL Group.

He was speaking at a briefing last Wednesday that opened the association's four-day general assembly in Singapore.

The Geneva Association is an international insurance think-tank with a membership of 90 chief executives from leading insurance and reinsurance firms.

"Post-financial crisis, there were concerns that the risks of financial stability would spill over from the banking sectors. But I think a great deal of work has been done to persuade the world's main regulators that we are a different and much more stable set of risks."

But efforts to raise regulatory standards have continued, and the industry is now eyeing Solvency II as the next big regulatory regime. The regime has been drawn up in the European Union to raise capital and supervision requirements for insurance and reinsurance companies, and will be fully implemented in January next year.

Mr McGavick noted that the industry is ready to adopt new and tougher rules as long as they are standardised globally to minimise compliance costs and retain capital efficiency.

In Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is also consulting with insurers ahead of the launch of the RBC 2, which is an update to the risk-based capital framework for the insurance industry.

But Singapore's approach is "smart regulation", MAS managing director Ravi Menon said last Tuesday at the Insurance Institute of London.

"This means communicating clearly the desired outcomes of regulation and allowing financial institutions the latitude to achieve these outcomes in ways that… minimise the compliance burden," Mr Menon said.

Meanwhile, the current low interest rate environment has pressured insurers' bond investment income, and the slowdown may lead to industry consolidations globally, Mr McGavick said.

These were some of the key industry themes discussed by the 60 chief executives who were in town last week for the Geneva Association's closed-door meetings.

The general assembly - held here for the first time - was supported by the MAS, which hopes to see further developments in the non-life insurance segments.

"Offshore and reinsurance growth in Singapore has been significant in the last five to eight years. These cross-border and wholesale products will continue to see strong growth in South-east Asia, where overall penetration is still quite low," MAS assistant managing director Leong Sing Chiong said at the briefing.


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Companies Act - Companies (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S280 of 2015)

[GBR] Employee’s fraudulent misrepresentations do not unravel settlement agreement

15 Apr 2015

Amos Yee does an about-turn over apology

Straits Times
17 May 2015
Olivia Ho

A day after saying he was "extremely remorseful" for the false claim that his former bailor Vincent Law had molested him and that he would offer a "detailed" public apology, teenage blogger Amos Yee has again admitted to lying.

At 1.30am yesterday, he posted on his Facebook page a link to a new post on his blog, which began: "I should issue a sincere apology to Vincent Law? Hahahahaha." He also said the 51-year-old youth counsellor threatened to discharge himself nine times.

In his post, Yee also described several instances in which he said he was unreasonably treated by Mr Law. These included insisting on meeting him every day, and not allowing him to take photographs with other people.

When asked about Yee's latest about-turn, Mr Law told The Sunday Times: "I think it's best to leave Amos alone and not write about him." He added that he was not considering legal action.

In another post on his Facebook page later yesterday, Yee continued to insult Mr Law. He wrote that if his former bailor were to take legal action, he would sue for "emotional abuse of a child".

His posts attracted hundreds of comments yesterday, with many netizens criticising his behaviour. Some said he was like "the boy who cried wolf" while others said he had lost his credibility, and was simply looking for attention.

Last Friday, after Mr Law demanded an "unreserved apology" from Yee for having claimed he molested him, the teenager, writing on his Facebook page, said: "I am extremely remorseful for the turmoil that I have caused to Vincent and his family..." Mr Law had initially posted bail of $20,000 for him last month, stepping up after his parents refused to do so.

The teenager was found guilty on May 12 of uploading an obscene image and making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians, after a two-day trial. That day, the court reduced the bail sum to $10,000, with no conditions attached. Bail was posted by his parents. Yee will be sentenced on June 2, pending the outcome of a probation report.

Olivia Ho

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Business Registration Act - Business Registration (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S279 of 2015)

SHC: Effect of market agreement amongst motor insurers on motor accident claims in court

13 Apr 2015

Mindef patent case: Dr Ting Choon Meng and TOC website 'made false claims'

Straits Times
16 May 2015
Elena Chong

Doctor who lost patent case, TOC failed to publish correction: Judge

HE HAD lost his patent case against the Ministry of Defence (Mindef). But that did not stop Dr Ting Choon Meng from airing his grievances to sociopolitical blog The Online Citizen (TOC).

Yesterday, both he and five people running the website were found to have made false statements in a 27-minute video interview and an article that was published on the TOC website in January.

District Judge Bala Reddy ordered that as long as the video interview is published, it must include a prominent notification - at the start and at the end of the video, and lasting at least 30 seconds each - that certain statements made by Dr Ting have since been declared by the courts to be false.

A similar requirement applies to the article, which was the remedy sought by the Attorney- General's Chambers, representing Mindef, under the new Protection from Harassment Act (POHA).

But the saga is not over. Dr Ting and TOC are appealing, with their lawyers arguing that the Act was never meant to cover such cases involving the Government.

Dr Ting's lawyer, Mr Choo Zheng Xi, said: "This is a judgment that stretches the reach of the harassment Act beyond what it was clearly intended to cover."

Dr Ting, the co-founder of medical devices firm MobileStats Technologies, claimed that Mindef had copied his patented concept for an emergency mobile clinic after speaking to him about it at a trade fair in 2005.

The vehicle is essentially a truck that opens up to become a resuscitation area with surgical equipment and emergency life-saving devices.

Dr Ting's firm decided to sue Mindef instead of Syntech Engineers, which manufactured and supplied the vehicles. He said he was forced to drop the case last January, claiming that the legal costs were too high.

A court then declared Dr Ting's patent invalid and revoked it.

He went to TOC to complain, among other things, about how Mindef had not just copied his patent, but also tried to financially wear him down by dragging out the case in court.

Judge Reddy yesterday called Dr Ting "a disgruntled man who is unable to come to terms with the fact that his Singapore patent is invalid". He pointed out that although Dr Ting had known from the start that the vehicle was manufactured by Syntech Engineers, he had deliberately ignored the facts at every turn and referred to Mindef as the party that infringed his patent.

Not only were his statements clearly "unsubstantiated and false", but he and TOC also failed to publish a correction. Dr Ting even went on to repeat his false statements in his affidavit to the court.

"Such aspersions on the integrity of Mindef and our public institutions, if left unchecked, will severely undermine public confidence," said the judge.

He also highlighted how Dr Ting's statements on social media that Mindef had connived to deliberately infringe his patent - despite the court ruling that there was never a valid patent in the first place - show that he had mounted a "collateral attack" on the court's final judgment.

The judge also ruled that the Government has the legal right to apply for an order under POHA.

The Act, which came into force last November, is meant to "protect persons against harassment and unlawful stalking".

The lawyers for Dr Ting and TOC argued that the word "person" does not include the Government. But the judge said that if the intention was for the word to mean only natural persons, it would lead to a situation where companies, for instance, will not be able to avail themselves of the remedies provided by the Act.

He also pointed out Section 3 of the Government Proceedings Act, which allows the Government to seek legal recourse as long as the claim, if it arose between private persons, provided a cause of action.

TOC's five respondents were Mr Lee Kwai Hou, who wrote the article "Inventor forced by Mindef to close company over patent rights"; executive editor Xu Yuen Chen; editor Loh Hong Puey; managing editor Choo Zheng Xi; and finance executive Lee Song Kwang.


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Supreme Court of Judicature Act - Rules of Court (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2015 (S278 of 2015)

Singapore consumer watchdog proposes to expand "lemon laws" to manufacturers

13 Apr 2015

Trivelis developer may extend warranties

Straits Times
16 May 2015
Lim Yi Han

Financial compensation for 'premium' flats: 'Strong justification' needed

THE developer of a troubled "premium" housing project has said financial compensation for residents is possible only if there is "strong justification".

But EL Development (ELD) continues to maintain that Trivelis - a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project in Clementi - was built "according to specifications and approved plans".

Meanwhile, it is considering extending the one-year warranty on all furnishings and fittings and offering free safety films for glass shower panels as part of a "goodwill package" for residents.

Trivelis - an 888-unit project - was advertised as containing "choice fittings" and "quality floor finishes".

But when owners began collecting their keys in January, some discovered problems such as rusty dish racks, poor quality laminate flooring and glass shower panels that shatter easily.

An ELD spokesman told The Straits Times it is looking to help affected owners and working with the Trivelis residents' committee.

"We will look into the residents' requests and issues and offer what we can, within reasonable boundaries," he said. "Right now, we have not concluded the discussions so there's no concrete plan on what we will offer in terms of the goodwill package. As for defects, we want to assure residents we will rectify them."

He added that the company's response would be on a case- by-case basis and "not a one-size-fits-all treatment".

However, the response did not wash with all residents.

Public relations manager Eliza Soh, 31, said: "We are not here to haggle for freebies. What we want are long-term solutions to the bigger problems that are going to affect our lifestyle.

"To the developer, Trivelis is just another product but to residents Trivelis is our home."

Mr Stephen Yip, a 34-year-old civil servant, bought a three-room flat and has faced problems such as rainwater seeping into his unit and a faulty tap and window latch.

He said it is fair for the developer to extend the warranty of the furnishings and fittings, adding: "I didn't do any renovation in my kitchen and the items don't seem to be of high quality so I'm not sure how long they can last."

Project manager Andy Tan, 33, said: "It really depends on what are the things they are offering. I still prefer cash over freebies."

ELD said it has already cleared drains after rainwater collected in corridors and it will continue to monitor the situation.

It is understood that the authorities do not regulate interior renovation or quality of the furnishings.

According to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), after construction, the authorities will perform checks on things such as fire safety, sanitation and drainage and accessibility features. A BCA spokesman said "matters such as defects and workmanship quality" are between the developer and buyer.

While the Housing Board oversees DBSS projects, the projects are designed, built and sold by private developers who are responsible for any defects. The DBSS scheme was suspended in 2011 after a public outcry over high indicative price tags for units at Centrale 8 in Tampines.

Earlier that year, ELD had beaten 10 other bidders for the Trivelis site, offering $224 million or $271 per square foot per plot ratio.

Trivelis is the first public housing project taken on by ELD, a "boutique" developer with 20 staff members. Its other projects include condominiums such as Rosewood Suites in Woodlands and Stevens Suites near Bukit Timah.

A spokesman for the Trivelis residents' committee said: "We certainly hope for the developer to consider offering a goodwill package soon. The details of the package are for ELD to consider... We hope that the offer made to residents will be acceptable."

More than 200 residents on Thursday met their MP Sim Ann, who called a goodwill package a "move in the right direction". ELD did not attend the meeting.


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Legal Profession Act - Legal Profession (Foreign Representation in Singapore International Commercial Court) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S277 of 2015)

Latest developments: Telemedicine; aesthetics; advertising guidelines; legislation

10 Apr 2015

UN law could resolve US-China sea contest

Straits Times
16 May 2015
Mark J. Valencia

AS US Secretary of State John Kerry was winging his way to Beijing to prepare for the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue next month, the United States and China seemed to be on the verge of a political and possibly military showdown in the South China Sea. How and why did the situation get this bad and what if anything can be done to avoid a confrontation?

Ever since the US announced and began to implement its political and military "rebalance" to Asia, China has viewed it as a way and means to constrain if not contain its rightful rise and influence in Asia. Thus, it is no surprise nor accident that the two have now come face to face over what may seem like a small issue.

But why is this happening in the South China Sea? Over the last year or so, China has conducted reclamation work at seven sites in the Spratlys and is constructing an airstrip that can be used by its military. Constant squawking by US ally the Philippines has drawn world attention to it and the extreme dire possibilities. To some degree, the Philippines has prodded the US into taking a more robust position than it might have. But it is also an "opportunity" for the US to show its resolve. The US fears that this reclamation and its militarisation will advance China's capability to control the area and deny access to others, including itself. It also thinks this may be a prelude to a Chinese declaration of an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the area similar to China's declaration for the East China Sea in 2013. So the US has decided to signal to China and the world that China's recent activities have gone "too far".

It has been announced or "leaked" that the US is considering challenging China's claims and actions with military vessels and aircraft. This raises the more fundamental issue of what is "too far" and who has the right to decide what the rules are or should be. This is all occurring in the context of a supposed "new relationship" between a rising power and the lone superpower. According to the US, the issue is "freedom of navigation" and China's aggressive and "bullying" tactics in enforcing its claims in the area. But strictly speaking, China has done little or nothing to interfere with freedom of navigation or overflight in the Spratlys. US and others' concerns are all maybes and might-bes.

Nevertheless, the US believes that it must physically contest China's claims and policies lest they become "customary international law" through "state practice". The US maintains that if a state persistently objects to a new norm as it is being developed, it cannot be bound by it. This is the raison d'etre of its Freedom of Navigation Programme, through which it physically contests maritime policies and practices of many other states with warships and military aircraft. Ironically, the US maintains, in the words of Mr Daniel K. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State, that it "opposes the threat of force or use of force or coercion by any claimant". But isn't such "gunboat" diplomacy also a threat of use of force? Moreover, China has not yet declared such an ADIZ and it is not even clear what jurisdiction it claims from the features it is "reclaiming". More awkward, the US has not ratified the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), which it claims to be enforcing.

China insists that it has sovereignty over the features in question and that it has the right to do as it pleases on and with its own territory. Also, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying has declared that "freedom of navigation does not give one country's military aircraft and ships free access to another country's territorial waters and airspace". She added that "we demand the relevant side talks and acts cautiously and does not take any actions that are risky or provocative, to maintain regional peace and stability". As for the news of the possibility that the US would physically challenge China in the area, she said: "The Chinese side will take resolute measures to safeguard national sovereignty and safety, we will keep an eye on the situation in relevant waters and airspace, and respond to any violation of China's sovereignty and threat to China's national security."

A more peaceful and civil option would be for the US to ratify Unclos and then use its dispute-settlement mechanisms. The US may also take the issue before the UN Security Council and have it assess the problem and recommend what to do about it. This approach would be preferable to the "might makes right" principle and the precedent it sets.

Besides the obvious dangers of this approach, this option is also fraught with legal and political difficulties.

Apparently the US wants to "test" China's claims to some features as islands.

But even if they are - or were before - reclamation-only rocks, they are still entitled to generate a 12-nautical-mile (nm) territorial sea. The only features that China occupies that are - or were - neither legal rocks nor islands are Hughes, Mischief and Subi reefs, which do not stand above high water. The US challenge would presumably focus on these features and their supposed territorial seas.

Other features that China occupies and on which it is undertaking reclamation work - Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reefs and Johnson South Reef - do generate a 12nm territorial sea. This means that aircraft have no right of overflight without permission and warships must comply with the innocent passage regime. For example, submarines must surface and show their flag. These complexities could cause many a misunderstanding.

Moreover, China requires prior permission for innocent passage of foreign military vessels to enter its territorial seas - as do Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Iran and, more relevant, other claimants Taiwan and Vietnam. This means that a US warship presence in China's claimed territorial sea would be challenging not only China's sovereignty claim but also its territorial sea regime. This would make the US action particularly provocative.

This confrontation could be avoided by dialogue and face-saving compromise. China could clarify its claims in the South China Sea - at least privately - in a manner that doesn't undermine Unclos or the current international order. And the US could - perhaps also privately - cease conflating freedom of navigation with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities. These would be big concessions for nationalists on both sides and, thus, are unlikely. But anything less is papering over fundamental differences and simply postponing the inevitable.

If a showdown, political or otherwise, is not avoided the hope for a "new relationship" between an emerging power and the status quo power will look a lot more like the past than the future.


The writer is Adjunct Senior Scholar, National Institute for South China Sea Studies in Haikou, China

Background Story

The US is considering challenging China's claims and actions with military vessels and aircraft. This raises the more fundamental issue of what is "too far" and who has the right to decide what the rules are or should be.

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Legal Profession Act - Legal Profession (International Services) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S276 of 2015)

Facilitating cross-border capital raising in ASEAN

10 Apr 2015

AHPETC needs govt grants and hopes to get the $7.1m soon: Sylvia Lim

Straits Times
15 May 2015
Lim Yan Liang

THE town council run by the Workers' Party (WP) needs the government grants that have been withheld from it and hopes to receive the $7.1 million soon.

The grants are needed for the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) to meet its operating expenses and to make transfers to its sinking fund, WP and AHPETC chairman Sylvia Lim said yesterday.

She also explained why AHPETC did not accept an offer of half the grants, with conditions attached, from the National Development Ministry (MND) last year.

MND had withheld the grants during a year-long special audit of AHPETC's accounts by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO), which ended in February. It continued doing so after the audit unearthed accounting and governance lapses at AHPETC.

The ministry said it would disburse the grants if the High Court appoints independent accountants to oversee the use of the money by AHPETC. The court decision is pending.

Yesterday, Ms Lim said that by the time the ministry made its half-grant offer last October, AHPETC believed the completion of the AGO's audit was "imminent", and that the entire grant might be disbursed after that.

That was why AHPETC did not accept the offer, she explained, responding to a statement the ministry had issued on Tuesday.

The ministry, in disputing online reports that it was withholding the grants for no good reason, had revealed that it made the half-grant offer. But AHPETC rejected it, despite having earlier asked for the grants to meet its cash flow needs and sinking fund obligations, MND added.

Yesterday, Ms Lim said AHPETC had been deferring its sinking fund transfers in order to pay its routine expenses and "ensure continuity of operations".

It made the quarterly transfers when it could, but its priority was to ensure it had enough cash for daily operations, she said.

She also said AHPETC had earmarked all the withheld grants for its sinking fund payments for the financial year 2014/2015.

"News reports have generated concern about AHPETC's ability to continue to operate. AHPETC hopes to receive the operating grants soon. In the meantime, AHPETC will continue to prioritise its operations to avoid disruption of services to residents," she said.


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Income Tax Act - Income Tax (Exemption of Interest and Other Payments on Economic and Technological Development Loans) (No. 4) Notification 2015 (S275 of 2015)

[GBR] Drawing the line on arbitrator impartiality

10 Apr 2015

Amos Yee 'extremely remorseful' to bailor Vincent Law for allegations of molest

Straits Times
15 May 2015
Chua Kee Siong

Teenage blogger Amos Yee has said that he is "extremely remorseful" for his claims that his bailor Vincent Law had molested him

SINGAPORE - Teenage blogger Amos Yee has said that he is "extremely remorseful" for his claims that his bailor Vincent Law had molested him.

In a note posted on his Facebook page at about 130am, he said he is "currently tendering a long, and detailed public apology to Vincent and his family, for my horrid actions," and that he needs three days to finish preparing it.

"I am extremely remorseful for the turmoil that I have caused to Vincent and his family, for the allegations towards him that he molested me," he said.

"I am currently tendering a long, and detailed public apology to Vincent and his family, for my horrid actions. And I implore him to give me about 3 days to finish preparing it, I am a slow writer..."

The note comes a day after Mr Law, a family and youth counsellor, demanded an "unreserved apology" from Yee after the teenage blogger claimed he had molested him.

Mr Law, 51 - who initially posted bail of $20,000 for the teenager last month - said he has told Yee's parents that he wants the 16-year-old to apologise publicly and fully retract the allegation, otherwise he would "take legal action" for defamation.

Mr Law had stepped up to bail him out after his parents refused to do so, but discharged his responsibilities after Yee breached the conditions of his bail. The condition was that Yee was not to post anything online.

In his note the teenager also invoked religion to plead his cause.

"I understand that Vincent is a Christian and preaches the tenant of forgiveness. So praise Jesus, our holy Christ, please offer me, a second chance."

The teenager was found guilty on Tuesday of uploading an obscene image and making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians, after a two-day trial last week.

Yee will be sentenced on June 2, pending the outcome of a probation report.

On Tuesday, the court reduced the bail sum to $10,000, with no conditions attached.

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Electricity Act - Electricity (Contestable Consumers) Regulations 2015 (S274 of 2015)

[GBR] English High Court tackles serious irregularity in LCIA arbitral award

10 Apr 2015

Tourist jailed 4 weeks for slapping cop

Straits Times
15 May 2015

Finnish tourist Antti Tapio Peltomaki, 35, was jailed for four weeks for voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant in the discharge of his duty

WHEN two police officers responded to a call for assistance in March, they arrived to find a Finnish tourist lying in a back alley near Fragrance Hotel in Selegie Road in just his underwear.

The man, Antti Tapio Peltomaki (photo), had been spotted looking drunk and nearly naked in the lobby of the hotel.

The police officers managed to get him to put on a raincoat, but he removed it after a while and became agitated when they asked him some questions.

While the two policemen were trying to calm him down, Peltomaki suddenly slapped one of them, a 21-year-old national serviceman. The police officers could not calm him down, and had to arrest him.

Yesterday, the 35-year-old, who works as a sales manager with a video game magazine publisher, was jailed four weeks for voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant doing his duty.

Peltomaki pleaded guilty, and told the court he was ashamed of his actions.

In his mitigation, Peltomaki's lawyer Louis Joseph asked for a one-day term with a fine, or not more than a week in jail.

The lawyer said that as a result of the case, the Finn had to extend his stay in Singapore for two months, "at enormous financial cost and expense".

The offence was committed on the spur of the moment and there was minor injury caused, Mr Joseph added.

Peltomaki, who has a seven-month-old daughter, also offered to pay $1,000 in compensation.

This is his first brush with the law. For the offence, Peltomaki could have been jailed for seven years, fined and caned.


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Planning Act - Planning (Development of Land - Lodgment Authorisation) (Amendment) Notification 2015 (S 273 of 2015)

IPOS Case Summary: Lisbeth Enterprises v Procter & Gamble [2015] SGIPOS 6 (whether there was non-use of the mark for a continuous period of 5 years)

10 Apr 2015

Youth 'fascinated with buses' stole 3 for joyrides

Straits Times
15 May 2015
Elena Chong

He stole the third bus while on bail, father says son is hard to control

A 17-YEAR-OLD who grew fascinated with buses over the last year has pleaded guilty to stealing three of them and taking the vehicles on joyrides.

Muhammad Salahuddin Omar, who is deaf, gave his plea yesterday through a sign language interpreter, and asked for one last chance, signing that he hoped to continue his studies.

On March 8, he stole a 45-seater in Woodlands and drove it onto the Ayer Rajah Expressway before being arrested. At the time, he was on police bail for taking two buses from carparks in Bukit Batok and Jurong Road on Jan 31.

Since the latest arrest, the youth has been in remand.

When Community Court Judge Mathew Joseph asked why, Salahuddin's father stood up in court to reveal that he refused to post bail to ensure that his son would not commit more offences.

The father admitted to feeling shame when the police turned up at his door, and said it was hard for him to control his son and felt it was best for the "law to take him" for what he did.

Investigations showed that Salahuddin's father noticed his son developing a keen interest in public transportation over the last year, even attending transport exhibitions with his elder brother and playing bus-related computer games.

The two vehicles he stole in January within a space of less than five hours were worth a total of $220,000. He drove them despite being below 18 years old and without third-party insurance coverage.

At about 2pm on March 8, AZ Bus operations executive Toh Hoe Kok found his firm's $200,000 bus, which had been parked in Woodlands Industrial Park E8, missing.

He tracked the bus through his mobile phone which was linked to a Global Positioning System device on the vehicle.

The 56-year-old saw the vehicle going in circles along Ayer Rajah Expressway, Jurong Town Hall Road, Boon Lay Way and Jurong Pier Road.

He decided to go after the bus in his car, and managed to stop it near Bukit Batok Central.

The court heard that Salahuddin stole the Yutong model bus as it was automatic and easier to drive.

After finding the bus key, he started the engine and drove around for about 45 minutes before he was stopped.

Calling this case somewhat unusual, Judge Joseph said the manner in which the youngster had committed the offences and the number of charges involved were of concern.

He postponed sentencing to June 4, pending probation and Reformative Training Centre reports.

The maximum penalty for vehicle theft is seven years' jail, a fine and disqualification.

For driving under 18, the penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 or a jail term of up to three months; and for the insurance offence, a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to three months plus 12 months' driving ban.


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Requisition of Resources Act - Requisition of Resources (No. 4) Order 2015 (S 272 of 2015)

Singapore and other participating APEC Economies seek feedback on proposed rules for Asia Region Funds Passport

10 Apr 2015

Couple jailed for hurting maid

Straits Times
15 May 2015

A COUPLE who slapped their maid and threatened to sell her in Batam where she'd have to work in the sex trade were sentenced to jail yesterday.

Indonesian Solichah, 28, who goes by one name, said she felt "frightened" and experienced "pain and trauma" while working for Rosman Anwar and his wife Khairani Abdul Rahman at their Sengkang East Road home.

Singtel customer service officer Khairani, 42, was jailed for four weeks on three charges - two of slapping Ms Solichah's face and one of hitting her with a plastic stool. Rosman, 47, a senior logistics officer with Certis Cisco, was given two weeks for slapping the helper and pulling her hair.

District Judge Ng Peng Hong also ordered him to pay $1,520 to the victim for loss of salary for four months.

The couple commiteed the offences between August 2011 and March 2013, when Ms Solichah left the flat and made a police report.

Ms Solichah, who is now working for another employer, testified that she was regularly slapped by the couple over almost 21 months of working for them. Often, she was hit for making mistakes. She said she had asked for a transfer but was persuaded to stay.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong Wei-Zhen said the couple abused their position of authority and robbed the domestic worker of her dignity.

The victim said her employers told her "they have the right to slap my face, to push my head and to scold me, because they are paying my salary" and that "the agent had given them the right to slap me because they are my employers".

DPP Chong said the couple also threatened to sell and send the maid to Batam, where she'd have to work in the sex trade.

Khairani started serving her sentence yesterday while Rosman will surrender on July 1 as the couple have three school-going children. Rosman is out on a $5,000 personal bond and his passport has been impounded. The couple, defended by Mr B. Uthayachanran, were convicted last month.

Judge Ng said: "It is not disputed that in all maid abuse cases, the courts have consistently emphasised that domestic maid abuse cannot be tolerated, and maid abusers who indulge in inappropriate behaviour will not only be severely chastised but also receive deterrent sentences."

The couple could have been jailed for up to 1 1/2 years and/or fined up to $1,500 on each charge of voluntarily causing hurt.


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Common Gaming Houses Act - Common Gaming Houses (Exemption) (No. 25) Notification 2015 (S 271 of 2015)

MAS and ESMA sign MOU relating to Central Counterparties in Singapore

09 Apr 2015

Thief gets 5 years' corrective training

Straits Times
15 May 2015
Amir Hussain

A FREELANCE painter who stole from three women was sentenced to five years' corrective training yesterday.

In the first incident, Tan Chin Heng (photo), 46, met a Vietnamese sex worker in a pub in Joo Chiat and she agreed to provide him with sexual services for $80.

Tan drove her in a rental car to a secluded carpark in Eunos Industrial Estate. He asked her to leave her handbag in the front passenger seat while they moved to the back. After a quarrel over price, Tan said the deal was off and told her to sit in the front seat.

But the moment she stepped out of the car, he quickly locked the doors, climbed into the driver's seat and sped off with her handbag, which contained $200 and US$1,000 (S$1,300) in cash, a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 cellphone and her passport.

Tan took the $200 and threw away the rest of the things.

On another occasion, he picked up a Chinese prostitute from a coffee shop in Geylang. Using the same car, he drove to the same carpark in Eunos and used the same ruse to drive away with her bag.

Tan also robbed a Chinese national he had befriended through the mobile phone app Wechat.

This time, he drove the woman to East Coast Park, and asked her to leave her handbag in the car while they took a walk on the beach. He then used the pretext of getting a cigarette lighter from the car, and drove off with her bag.

Tan was also convicted yesterday of criminal breach of trust. In January, he borrowed a Volkswagen Jetta but failed to return it and became uncontactable.

When the car was spotted at Hotel 81 Star in Geylang in February, the police arrested him there.

In mitigation, Tan's lawyer Sudha Nair said he pays monthly maintenance of $300 for a 19-year-old son from a previous marriage. He is also engaged to a woman, who is four months pregnant with their child.

Corrective training is a tough regime for repeat offenders with no remission for good behaviour.

Tan was jailed for 30 months in 2010 for similar theft offences.


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

Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act - Housing Developers (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 270 of 2015)

Industrial Relations Act: Amendments to Act come into operation

08 Apr 2015

New appointments to Supreme Court Bench

Straits Times
14 May 2015
Look Woon Wei

THE Supreme Court will soon add a new judge and judicial commissioner to its Bench, said the Prime Minister's Office yesterday.

Mr George Wei Sze Shun, 60, and Ms Foo Tuat Yien, 61, will be appointed as judge and judicial commissioner respectively from May 25.

Mr Wei, an expert in intellectual property law in Singapore, is currently a judicial commissioner. He was previously a professor at the then University of Singapore (now known as the National University of Singapore) and the Singapore Management University.

Ms Foo, who joined the legal service in 1976, is currently a senior district judge at the State Courts.

She had served as a district judge in the then Subordinate Courts from 2000 to 2005, and was seconded to be assistant chief executive of the Competition Commission of Singapore from 2005 to 2009.

A judicial commissioner has the powers of a judge, but is appointed for only a specific period of time, usually two to three years.

Both of them will be sworn in at the Istana on May 26, together with Senior Counsel Kannan Ramesh, who will assume the position of judicial commissioner from May 22.

Mr Kannan is the managing partner of Tan Kok Quan Partnership, but will step down from his position. He specialises in dispute resolution, insolvency and restructuring, as well as international arbitration.

With the new appointments, the Supreme Court Bench will have a total of 14 judges, including the Chief Justice, and 10 judicial commissioners. It will also have five senior judges and 12 international judges.


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

Conveyancing and Law of Property Act - Conveyancing and Law of Property (Conveyancing) (Amendment) Rules 2015 (S 269 of 2015)

State Lands Act and Land Acquisition Act: Parliament passes Bills to amend Acts to facilitate use and development of underground space

08 Apr 2015

Susan Lim's legal bill rises to $825k as SMC wins appeal

Straits Times
14 May 2015
Selina Lum

Surgeon ordered by judge to pay ex