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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.

What's new on eOASIS

Land Betterment Charge Bill Introduced to Replace Development Charge and Differential Premium
The Land Betterment Charge Bill ("Bill") was passed in Parliament on 10 May 2021. The Bill provides for the imposition of a tax (called a Land Betterment Charge or "LBC") on the increase in the value of land resulting from a chargeable consent given in relation to land.

Under the existing framework, landowners and developers currently have to pay either a Development Charge, Temporary Development Levy or a Differential Premium to either the Urban Redevelopment Authority or the Singapore Land Authority ("SLA") where there is an enhancement in land value for various reasons. The LBC would replace the DC, TDL and DP and would be payable to a single entity, consolidating these charges and taxes under SLA. The principles for computing LBC and the proposed rates of charging remain largely unchanged from the current regime.

The Bill sets out the framework for the operation of the LBC, including the rules for calculating the applicable tax, who is liable for payment, and how the obligation is to be satisfied and enforced. In this Update, we highlight the key features of the Bill and the LBC regime and how it differs from the current regime, as well as what developers should be aware of regarding their liability for payment of LBC. 

Relief for Construction Firms Facing Higher Foreign Manpower Costs Due to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a whole host of challenges for construction firms. Among them, the cost of foreign manpower necessary for the construction works has increased due to travel restrictions and limited supply. To provide relief for affected firms, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No. 3) Bill ("Bill") was introduced in Parliament on 10 May 2021.

The Bill introduces a new Part 10A to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, which provides a framework for parties to construction contracts to apply for relief from their contractual counterparties if they are affected by an increase in remuneration for work permit holders as a result of a COVID-19 event. Such increase may be caused by border control quotas set by the Government limiting the inflow of workers from particular countries facing a spike in COVID-19 cases, or by travel restrictions imposed by other countries on their citizens.

Having been tabled on a Certificate of Urgency, the Bill has since been passed on 11 May 2021. In this Update, we highlight the key provisions of the Bill and the framework for relief applications set out therein.  

Singapore IP Strategy 2030 – What It Means for Your Business
Singapore has unveiled its Singapore IP Strategy 2030 ("SIPS 2030"), which is a 10-year blueprint to strengthen Singapore's position as a global intangible assets ("IA") and intellectual property ("IP") hub as well as maintain Singapore's position as a top-ranked IP regime. The SIPS 2030 report details the various aspects of SIPS 2030, highlighting that the global economy is increasingly driven by IA, and that it is vital for Singapore to remain at the forefront of this movement and for businesses to fully utilise the opportunities afforded in this thrust of initiatives.

In this Update, we highlight the key elements of SIPS 2030, including the impending changes to Singapore's IA/IP regime, both in terms of policy and infrastructure, as well as how businesses can benefit from the government's efforts to increase enterprises' access to IA/IP services and to help enterprises unlock potential new sources of capital through IA/IP.  

Leniency Applications – Important Dos and Don'ts
Cartel conduct or anti-competitive agreements in general remain in focus as enforcement priorities for competition regulators around the world. In this regard, leniency applications are becoming more common for businesses involved in cartel activities. The rationale for submitting a leniency application is because leniency programmes run by competition regulators offer potential immunity against financial penalties and even criminal liability in certain jurisdictions for cartel behaviour and/or other competition violations.

However, businesses should not treat leniency applications as a default solution without carefully weighing its pros and cons. Some critical questions which are often left unanswered by leniency applicants include whether there is truly a cartel in place, the chances of securing immunity as the first leniency applicant (or one of the first leniency applicants), the indirect costs of exposing a cartel in favour for leniency, and the alternative options to leniency.

In this Update, we highlight some hidden pitfalls and identify specific dos and don'ts that businesses must keep in mind before proceeding with leniency applications.

 

Guide on COVID-19 Vaccination: Regulatory Issues
COVID-19, the disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV- 2), has spread across the globe causing severe economic and social disruption worldwide. While the world continues to see the detrimental effects of COVID-19, it also begins to welcome the unfolding global endeavour of vaccine development and deployment. The global pharmaceutical industry has announced its commitment towards developing vaccines for COVID-19, and several vaccines have since been authorised by various national regulatory authorities for public use, with vaccinations taking place in several countries across Southeast Asia.

This quick guide explores the various regulatory issues arising in different parts of Southeast Asia, briefly covering vaccine registration and administration, as well as each country's regulatory framework, as of 20 April 2021. 

Consultation to Amend Food Regulations to Permit New Food Additives etc to Align with International Standards
To align regulations with international standards and ensure coherence in legislation, the Singapore Food Agency is seeking comments from the food industry and interested parties on proposed amendments to the Food Regulations under the Sale of Food Act.

This Update provides an overview of the proposed key amendments in relation to:

  1. Permitting the use of new food additives and ingredients;
  2. Extending the use of existing food additives;
  3. Revising the maximum limits for heavy metals in food; and
  4. Ensuring coherence in legislation concerning specifications relating to purity of food additives.

The proposed amendments are set out in the draft Food (Amendment No. X) Regulations 2021 and is targeted to come into effect in the fourth quarter of 2021. The consultation is open from 3 May 2021 and ends on 2 July 2021.

 

Singapore High Court Decides on Landmark Claim for Mass Poaching and Solicitation of Insurance Agents
In mid-2016, the attention of the financial services industry was captured by the exodus of a record number of agents then – numbering more than 240 – from Prudential Singapore ("Prudential") to a competitor financial advisory firm ("Aviva FA") solely owned by Aviva Ltd ("Aviva"). The move led to a landmark claim against a former top agency leader ("AL") from Prudential, Peter Tan ("Tan"), for orchestrating the mass exodus.

After a lengthy 49-day trial conducted over three months in 2019 and 2020, the Singapore High Court has now issued its decision on the claim. In Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Limited v Peter Tan Shou Yi and another [2021] SGHC 109, the Court found that Tan had, whilst contracted with Prudential, indeed carried out preparatory steps such as having discussions with Aviva on an arrangement which would involve him procuring Prudential's ALs and agents to leave and to join the Aviva FA, as well as the subsequent acts of solicitation. The Court therefore held that Tan was liable for breach of his contractual obligation to conduct his insurance business with integrity and honesty, and also dismissed all of Tan’s four counterclaims against Prudential.

Prudential was represented by Murali Pillai SC, Luo Qinghui, Jared Kok, Andrea Tan, Tao Tao and Joey Ng of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP. This Update provides a summary of the case and highlights the key aspects of the Court's decision. 


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