Legal Updates for November 2019
Court of Appeal Clarifies Court's Role in Standing Down Criminal Charges
In Lim Chit Foo v Public Prosecutor  SGCA 70, the Singapore Court of Appeal had to determine an important question relating to the conduct of criminal proceedings: whether the decision to stand down charges is purely within the Prosecution's discretion, or whether it is subject to the supervisory jurisdiction of the court. This decision clarifies the court's scope of authority with regard to the management of charges which have been stood down.
Enforcement of Arbitral Awards – How Important is the Seat of Arbitration?
Resisting the recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award can be a challenging endeavour. There are limited grounds on which enforcement can be opposed, and the courts have thus far taken a pro-arbitration position of non-interference. However, in ST Group Co., Ltd. & 2 Ors v Sanum Investments Limited  SGCA 65, the Singapore Court of Appeal demonstrated when it would refuse enforcement of an award in the context of a wrongly-seated arbitration. Francis Xavier S.C., Tee Su Mien and Edwin Tan of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP were instructed counsel before the Court of Appeal, successfully resisting the enforcement of the arbitration award.
Court Rules Imprisonment to be Manifestly Excessive for First-time Offenders Convicted of Illegal Remote Gambling
In Lau Jian Bang v Public Prosecutor  SGHC 254, the High Court substituted the two-week imprisonment sentence handed to the Appellant with the maximum fine of S$5,000 on each of his two charges under section 8 of the Remote Gambling Act ("RGA"). Crucially, the High Court found that imprisonment was an inappropriate punishment for first time remote-gambling offenders who are punters. This decision is significant as it sets out a clear sentencing framework for offenders under section 8 of the RGA, superseding all previous sentencing precedents (which the High Court felt were inconsistent). The High Court's decision also explored the legislative intent behind criminalising remote gambling activities, and whether such intent could only be fulfilled by imposing custodial sentences on offenders.
The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Comes into Force
The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (“EUSFTA”) has come into force on 21 November 2019. This marks a new chapter in the economic relations between Singapore and the EU.
The key benefits of the EUSFTA include:
(a) Elimination of tariffs between the EU and Singapore;
(b) Removal of unnecessary technical barriers to trade; and
(c) Liberal and flexible rules of origin.
The EU is Singapore’s largest foreign investor and services trading partner, and third-largest goods trading partner. This development opens new trade opportunities for businesses in Singapore and the EU.
If you would like to know more about the EUSFTA and its provisions, please see our earlier Client Update.
MAS Consults on Proposed Regulatory Approach for Derivatives Contracts on Payment Tokens
On 20 November 2019, the Monetary Authority of Singapore issued the "Consultation Paper on Proposed Regulatory Approach for Derivatives Contracts on Payment Tokens" proposing to regulate payment token derivatives offered by an approved exchange in Singapore. The consultation closes on 20 December 2019.
When is it an Abuse of Process to Reject an Offer to Settle?
In TMT Asia Ltd v BHP Billiton Marketing AG (Singapore Branch) and another  SGCA 60, the Singapore Court of Appeal demonstrated that a rejection of an offer to settle a claim in full could entail serious consequences. Here, the Court found the Appellant's refusal of the Respondents' offer to make payment of the entire amount claimed to be abuse of process, and thus struck out the Appellant's claim. The Respondents were successfully represented by Kelvin Poon, Derek On and Ang Tze Phern of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.
Human Tissue Framework in Effect From 1 November 2019
On 1 November 2019, the provisions under the Human Biomedical Research Act 2015 which regulate human tissue activities and tissue banks came into effect. The provisions establish the Human Tissue Framework, which regulates dealings in human tissue and prohibits commercial trading in human tissue. In this Update, we provide a summary of the key features of the Human Tissue Framework in safeguarding the safety and welfare of tissue donors.
China Passes New Cryptography Law as Part of Greater Effort to Develop and Apply Blockchain Technologies
On 26 October 2019, China’s top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, voted to adopt the Cryptography Law of People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国密码法) ("Cryptography Law"). The law will come into force on 1 January 2020. This Update takes a look at the key aspects of the Cryptography Law.