Legal Updates for May 2022
Building Green Data Centres – Singapore Lifts Moratorium on New Data Centres, Introduces Environmental Sustainability Standards
Data centres are important enablers of the digital economy, but are also intense consumers of resources. In Singapore, the Government had sought to manage the growth of data centres by imposing a moratorium on new data centre projects since 2019. However, there have been indications from the relevant Government Ministries that this moratorium is set to be lifted soon, albeit subject to certain prescribed environmental standards and restrictions. In doing so, Singapore seeks not only to balance digitalisations and decarbonisation, but to harmonise its efforts on both fronts.
In this Update, we look at the lifting of the moratorium on new data centres, the restrictions that may be imposed, and what it means for the technology industry on the sustainability front.
Additional Conveyance Duties to be Imposed on Transfers of Equity Interests in Property Holding Entities into Living Trusts
On 9 May 2022, the Stamp Duties (Amendment) Bill 2022 ("Bill") was introduced in Parliament. The Bill seeks to effect two main changes: (a) Introduce the Additional Conveyance Duties for Trust, which will be payable on transfers of equity interests in property-holding entities ("PHEs") into a living trust, provided the significant ownership threshold has been reached; and (b) Sets out the stamp duty payable on the renunciation of an interest in a residential property held on bare trust.
The Bill is part of the measures introduced by the Government to plug a gap in the existing Additional Conveyancing Duties and Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty regime relating to the transfer of property, or equity interests in PHEs, into a living trust. This Update provides a summary of the key points of the Bill.
CCCS’ Guide to Contractors on Fair Trading Practices for Renovation Industry
On 5 May 2022, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore ("CCCS") published a Guide on Fair Trading Practices for the Renovation Industry ("Guide") with the intention of improving business practices in the renovation industry and reducing unfair practices by suppliers of interior design or renovation services ("Contractors").
The Guide comes in response to a high rate of complaints received by the Consumers Association of Singapore ("CASE") against Contractors in 2021 and Q1 2022. The majority of the complaints related to Contractors’ unsatisfactory service and failure to honour contractual obligations. These include poor workmanship, poor quality of material used for renovation, slow progress or failure to complete renovation works on time. The Guide was finalised with feedback from CASE and other stakeholders such as the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association, the Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Council and the Ministry of National Development.
Contractors should review the Guide carefully and adopt the recommended practices, to avoid the types of conduct that may constitute unfair practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act 2003 ("CPFTA"). We highlight that CASE will refer errant merchants to CCCS for investigation under the CPFTA for engaging in unfair practices and have been proven to do so.
In this Update, we briefly highlight the five areas of trading practices covered in the Guide, and the key Do’s and Don’ts. We also provide a checklist of key items that Contactors should set out in their renovation contracts.