Legal Updates for April 2022
IMDA Issues Converged Code of Practice for Competition in the Provision of Telecommunication and Media Services
The Infocomm Media Development Authority has issued the Code of Practice for Competition in the Provision of Telecommunication and Media Services 2022 ("Code"), which will take effect from 2 May 2022. The Code aims to maintain fair market conduct and effective competition, and safeguard consumer interest in the telecommunication, broadcasting, and newspaper media markets.
With the Code having been finalised and set to come into operation, telecommunication licensees and other regulated persons should be aware of the binding obligations contained therein, and should ensure that their policies, procedures and operations are in line with the provisions of the Code. This Update provides a summary of the key features of the Code and the compliance implications of its provisions.
Licensing Framework for Cybersecurity Service Providers Comes into Operation
The Cybersecurity Agency of Singapore has announced the launch of the licensing framework for cybersecurity providers ("Framework"), which has taken effect from 11 April 2022. The Framework imposes a licensing requirement for the provision of prescribed cybersecurity services and sets out a series of licensing requirements and conditions. It aims to better safeguard consumers' interests and address the information asymmetry between consumers and cybersecurity service providers, as well as to improve service providers' standards and standing over time.
The enacted Framework contains certain amendments from the version proposed in the earlier industry consultation. This Update provides an updated summary of the key elements of the Framework, including the scope of licensing, the licensing requirements and the licence conditions, as well as the timeline for compliance.
First Ruling After High Court's Endorsement of New Sentencing Framework for GST Evasion Offences
In Public Prosecutor v Pua Om Tee (MA 9019 of 2021) ("Pua Om Tee"), the High Court found that previous sentencing decisions under section 62 of the Goods and Services Act 1993 ("GST Act") lacked a consistent approach in sentencing offenders for offences under the same. Accordingly, it laid down a new five-step sentencing framework for GST offences.
Rajah & Tann has acted in the first GST evasion case to be decided under this new sentencing framework for GST offences. In this Update, we consider how the Courts' application of the sentencing framework in Pua Om Tee may have an impact on future cases involving GST evasion.
New Mediation Scheme to Help Resolve Disputes with Telco and Media Service Providers
Following a public consultation in 2018 on the Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme ("ADR Scheme") for the telecommunication and media sectors, the Infocomm Media Development Authority ("IMDA") issued its decision on 4 March 2022 and announced that it will launch the ADR Scheme which will help work out issues that customers are unable to resolve directly with their telecommunication providers. The Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) is appointed as the ADR operator to administer the ADR Scheme.
The ADR Scheme is expected to be launched in April 2022, and more information about the scheme will be made available on the IMDA website.
By way of background, in 2016, the Info-communications Media Development Authority Act 2016 was amended to provide IMDA with powers to establish or approve one or more dispute resolution schemes for the resolution of disputes between subscribers and declared telecommunication licensees and designated media licensees, arising from or relating to the provision of services by the licensees to the subscribers. To supplement existing consumer protection measures and provide Eligible Customers access to an alternative platform to resolve disputes with their telecommunication and/or media service providers ("Service Providers") in an independent, fair and effective manner, IMDA had proposed to establish an ADR scheme for the telecommunication and media sectors.
Providing Digital Payment Tokens in Singapore: Regulatory Issues to Consider
There are many types of digital tokens and more are expected to emerge as businesses explore using the distributed ledger technology to create innovative solutions in the financial services and other sectors. The most prominent type of digital tokens is digital payment tokens ("DPTs") that can be used to facilitate payment for goods and services, although these are also gaining popularity (and some regulatory recognition) as an investment asset class.
Before a person offers any digital token for sale in Singapore or any jurisdiction, one has to seek legal advice on the regulatory treatment accorded to the digital token in each of these jurisdictions with reference to the characteristics and nature of the digital token. In Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) looks at the characteristics and the risks associated with digital tokens in applying the appropriate regulatory framework to the products and not the mere labelling of such products.
In this Update, we highlight the applicable regulatory considerations in relation to DPTs that are gaining popularity among investors in Singapore and also include further comments on other types of digital tokens including security tokens and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in Singapore.
Impending Changes to Tax Incentive Schemes for Family Offices
There is a growing need amongst high-net-worth families for institutional management of their private wealth. Family offices address this need, being investment vehicles for structuring the way families invest and transfer their wealth to future generations.
Currently, there are two tax incentive schemes available for family offices in Singapore, where exemption of income will apply to:
To improve the professionalism of family office professionals in Singapore and enhance the positive spillovers to the Singapore economy, MAS has updated the conditions for the above schemes (now known as the S13O Scheme and S13U Scheme respectively). These are set out in the "S13O & S13U Application Process for Family Offices – Guidelines for Advisors" and will come into effect on 18 April 2022.
- income of a company incorporated and resident in Singapore that arises from funds managed by a fund manager in Singapore (previously known as the Section 13R scheme); and
- income arising from funds managed by a fund manager in Singapore (previously known as the Section 13X scheme).
In this Update, we cover the updated conditions, which funds they apply to, and which applications will be affected. For a Chinese translation of this Update, please click here.
COVID-19 and the Journey to Recovery - Exploring the Legal and Practical Issues in the Transport of Vaccines
In recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the unifying and defining experience of the international community. The global journey appears now to be entering smoother waters, with countries headed more confidently towards stabilisation and recovery. One of the key components of the recovery plans being adopted by most countries is a concerted drive to provide vaccinations for their citizens and residents. As such, it should be expected that vaccines will continue to be in high demand across the globe.
The distribution of vaccines remains a profound challenge in the continued fight against COVID-19. How are they being transported? What are the transport requirements of specific vaccines? What are the relevant regulatory and contractual issues that may arise in the transport of vaccines? These are the questions that are of particular relevance to members of the shipping and transport industry, against the backdrop of still fraught supply chains, globally. The transport of vaccines is further complicated by the fact that most vaccines must be stored at very low temperatures, require deft handling, and have limited shelf-life. This not only requires transporters and handlers to be well-versed in cold-chain logistics, it also calls for close cooperation and coordination between those involved at the different stages of the distribution journey.
In this article, we take a look at these issues, particularly from the perspective of the Southeast Asian region from which we have invited invaluable input from the Rajah & Tann Asia network member law practices. The article explores the following:
- Transportation requirements for selected vaccines;
- Practical issues in the various stages of the transport of vaccines;
- International guidelines or standards governing the transport of vaccines; and
- Contractual issues which may arise in the transportation process.
Two New Tax Frameworks to Strengthen Corporate Governance, Tax Compliance
On 18 March 2022, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore ("IRAS") announced the roll-out of two new tax frameworks to help companies strengthen their tax compliance. These are the Tax Governance Framework ("TGF") and the Tax Risk Management and Control Framework for Corporate Income Tax ("CTRM").
Together with the existing Goods and Services Tax ("GST") Assisted Compliance Assurance Programme ("ACAP") which was introduced in 2011, the TGF and CTRM provide a suite of voluntary compliance tools that companies can adopt holistically or as independent programmes. They were co-designed between IRAS and various stakeholders, including the Big 4 accounting firms and the Singapore Chartered Tax Professionals ("SCTP"), taking into account feedback gathered through a pilot programme.
In this Update, we provide an overview of the features and benefits of the two Frameworks.
Singapore Parliament Passes Bill to Regulate Certain Digital Token Service Providers, Harmonise and Enhance MAS Regulatory Power over FIs
The Financial Services and Markets Bill ("FSM Bill"), which seeks to implement a financial sector-wide regulatory approach for financial services and markets, was passed in Parliament on 5 April 2022. The FSM Bill will consolidate the provisions and powers that relate to the Monetary Authority of Singapore's regulatory oversight of different financial institution classes in a single Act.
The FSM Bill contains provisions on the following key areas:
This Update provides an overview of these key areas to be regulated under the FSM Bill.
- Regulation of certain digital token service providers created in Singapore for anti-money laundering and countering of financing of terrorism purposes;
- Harmonised power to impose technology risk management requirements on financial institutions and increased maximum penalty for breaches of such requirements;
- Harmonised and expanded power to issue prohibition orders; and
- Statutory protection from liability for mediators, adjudicators and employees of an operator of an approved dispute resolution scheme.
新加坡全新的《法庭规则2021》(Rules of Court 2021) 于2021年12月1日发布，并于2022年4月1日正式生效。《法庭规则2021》是新加坡民事诉讼规则的一次重大改革，其对诉讼当事人将有深远影响。在这篇评论中，我们探讨了新的《法庭规则2021》中一些重点内容及其对民事诉讼中的当事人的潜在影响。请点击 "READ MORE" 以阅读我们的中文评论。
Disagreement Over Relocation of Club Facilities: Court Upholds Decision to Restrict Award to Nominal Damages
In a civil claim, it is important for claimants to be able to prove the losses they have suffered arising from any claims being made. Apart from general damages, claimants may seek exceptional damages such as Wrotham Park damages or punitive damages, for which there are further requirements of pleading and proof. In Phua Seng Hua and others v Kwee Seng Chio Peter and another  SGHC(A) 11, the Appellate Division of the Singapore High Court considered the requirements for such a claim of exceptional damages.
The case involved claims in a representative action by the Appellants, a group of members of a social club, against the Respondents, who were the club's owner and operator and its director and indirect shareholder. The Respondents successfully resisted the claims for deceit and negligence, and reduced the claim for damages for breach of contract of almost S$20 million to nominal damages. The Respondents were represented by Vikram Nair, Foo Xian Fong and Mazie Tan of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.