eOASIS is Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP's legal information website for clients, containing business and legal information prepared from a practitioner's viewpoint. It has four different modules, updated regularly, and materials range from commentaries on the latest legal developments to key legal and business information.
MAS Issues Guidelines on Individual Accountability and Conduct for Financial Institutions (w.e.f 10 Sept 2021)
With effect from 10 September 2021, all financial institutions ("FIs") regulated by the Monetary of Authority of Singapore ("MAS") (unless excepted) should implement appropriate policies and processes to achieve five accountability and conduct outcomes ("Outcomes") set out in the MAS Guidelines on Individual Accountability and Conduct issued on 10 September 2020 ("IAC Guidelines").
These five Outcomes and specific guidance underpinning each Outcome aim to reinforce FIs' responsibilities in three key areas: (i) promote the individual accountability of senior managers, (ii) strengthen oversight over material risk personnel and (iii) reinforce conduct standards among all employees.
The IAC Guidelines take into account MAS' proposals in its previous consultation papers.
This Update highlights key features of the IAC Guidelines, namely its scope of applicability and MAS' implementation approach, and provides a summary of specific guidance of the Outcomes and several key considerations for FIs to note in achieving the Outcomes.
Managing Manpower Costs: New Guidelines on Wage Cuts and Updated Tripartite Advisory on Retrenchments
In an encouraging sign, Singapore's third-quarter economic growth has expanded by 7.9% in the third quarter from the 13.2% contraction in the preceding quarter. However the economic fallout of COVID-19 will not dissipate anytime soon, especially as new waves of infections continue to surge worldwide. While the government has been encouraging businesses to retain workers where possible, it is now acknowledged that retrenchments and/or wage cuts may be inevitable. Accordingly, there have been two new developments for employers to take note of:
- Release of the National Wages Council's ("NWC") 2020/2021 Supplementary Guidelines ("Supplementary Guidelines"), which will apply from 1 November 2020 to 30 June 2021; and
- Updates to the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment as of 17 October 2020 ("Updated Advisory") issued by the tripartite partners, being the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM"), the National Trades Union Congress ("NTUC") and the Singapore National Employers Federation ("SNEF").
The Supplementary Guidelines sets out principles for wage cuts, while the Updated Advisory provides guidance on conducting retrenchment exercises. We provide an overview of both developments in this Update.
Court Proceedings in New Normal - Successful Application for Leave for Both Foreign Factual and Expert Witnesses to Testify via Video-Link
While Singapore has settled well into the present "new normal" of Phase Two of reopening the economy, travel restrictions and other preventative measures are still largely in place, and may continue to be in place for the foreseeable future. Yet the wheels of justice must continue to turn. Access to justice (fundamental to the rule of law) must continue to be provided by an agile legal system. In circumstances where foreign witnesses are unable to physically attend trial, what considerations will the courts take into account when deciding whether to grant leave for them to give evidence via video-link?
To put matters in context, giving evidence by video-link is, per se, not a new issue. Guiding principles have been established in legislation and earlier cases over the last three decades. However, how such principles are to be applied against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a novel point. Necessity is the mother of invention, and so courts worldwide have devised creative but legally sound solutions that do not cause prejudice to any party.
In the lead up to a recent civil trial (currently part-heard and resuming in late October), conducted entirely remotely, Gregory Vijayendran SC, Kevin Tan, Devathas Satianathan, and Low Weng Hong from Rajah & Tann Singapore's dispute resolution team successfully obtained leave from the Singapore High Court for the Defendant's foreign factual and expert witnesses to give evidence by video-link in a contested application. This was despite the Plaintiff's strenuous objections.
This Update elucidates the considerations that the Court took into account when granting such leave.