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Legal Updates

Legal Updates for February 2016

Technology, Media and Telecommunications Quarterly Regional Update: A Snapshot of the Past Year & A Look Ahead
As we enter into 2016, we are very excited to share with you the significant legal developments in the technology, media and telecommunications ("TMT") sphere in the past year. This quarterly update, the first of 2016, aims to highlight the significant TMT-related legal developments in the ASEAN region, as well as in the key economies across the world. Written as a series of short, easy to digest summaries, we hope that this update will help keep you informed of important events in the past year, and set you thinking about the potential opportunities as well as the legal issues in the technology space in 2016.

Data Breaches and What You Can Do About Them
Data breaches are increasing in size and prevalence with each passing year, with cyber-criminals (and even state actors) taking keen interest in obtaining sensitive corporate and personal data. In the last several years, many reports from around the world and in Singapore abound of data breaches occurring in many reputable organisations. It is no longer a question only of preventing data breaches but more so one of being able to effectively handle a data breach when it occurs. With data continuing to be a key asset and operational currency of any organisation, it is of paramount importance for an organisation to pay attention to how it can reduce the impact of a data breach and effectively deal with it, when a breach does happen.

The EU-US Privacy Shield – New Framework for Personal Data Transfers from the EU to the US
On 2 February 2016, the European Commission and United States announced an agreement on a new framework for transatlantic data flows: the EU-US Privacy Shield. The EU-US Privacy Shield outlines the framework that will replace the invalid Safe Harbour framework.

This update provides an overview of the key features of the EU-US Privacy Shield.

Proposed Employment Claims Tribunal
The Ministry of Manpower ("MOM") has announced the details of the proposed Employment Claims Tribunal ("ECT"), which is intended to address salary-related employment claims for all workers. Currently, MOM's labour court (the "Labour Court") provides adjudication services to resolve salary-related claims between employers and employees covered under the Employment Act. However, those who are not covered by the Employment Act (including professionals, managers and executives ("PMEs") earning more than S$4,500 per month) would have to file their claims with the civil courts, which can involve a lengthy and costly process. To provide a more accessible system to resolve salary-related claims more quickly for all employees, MOM announced plans in 2014 to set up an ECT to take over the work of the Labour Court in adjudicating salary-related claims. The public consultation exercise on the proposed ECT closes on 23 March 2016.

This update discusses the proposed key features of the ECT.

Developments in International Arbitration, Construction & Projects in 2015
This Client Update summarises some of the notable developments in Singapore case law in 2015 in the fields of International Arbitration, Construction & Projects.

Withholding Payment of Salary when Employees Breach their Duties; and Calculating Loss of Future Profits for Diversion of Business
When an employer finds out that its employee has been unfaithful and/or breached his/her contractual or fiduciary duties owed to the company, a common knee jerk reaction is to immediately terminate the employment of the employee and (1) refuse to pay any outstanding salary of the employee on the basis that the employee's breaches of duty would preclude a claim for salary, or (2) pay only as at the point in time of termination. While instinctive and probably gratifying for the employer, a refusal to pay salary that is due to the employee is incorrect in law. In the recent case of Schonk Atonius Martinus Mattheus and another v Enholco Pte Ltd and another appeal [2015] SGCA 65, the Court of Appeal delivered a very instructive judgement clarifying the law on such situations.

Singapore to Get New Cyber Security Legislation
On 21 January 2016, the Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Cyber Security Mr Yaacob Ibrahim announced that a new cyber security bill would be introduced. This new cyber security bill is intended to provide the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore with wider powers to enable it to better prevent and cope with cyber security threats to Singapore's critical information infrastructure.

This Update takes a brief look at past cyber security breaches that have occurred in Singapore that have engendered the government's efforts to enhance cyber security in Singapore, the state of the existing cyber security legislation in Singapore and the potential scope of the new cyber security law.

When is it Appropriate to Order Nominal Maintenance?
In the termination of a marriage, the Court has the power to order that the husband make regular maintenance payments to the wife. In certain situations, the Courts will make an order of nominal maintenance - basically a nominal monthly sum of $1. In ATE v ATD [2016] SGCA 2, the Court of Appeal provided some guidance on when it is appropriate to order nominal maintenance.

Malaysian Parliament Assents to Transpacific Trade Partnership – What About the Rest?
On 4 February 2016, 12 countries, including Singapore, officially signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership ("TPP"), the region's largest free trade agreement to date. This is expected to spark off a contentious process of ratification in many of these countries, before the TPP can eventually enter into force, as planned, in 2018. Out of the 12 countries, Malaysia has taken the lead in ratification, having obtained the assent of its Parliament on 28 January 2016, even before the TPP was signed by the respective leaders of these countries. This update will explore the current progress of ratification for each of these TPP countries, as well as discuss some of the underlying reasons for Malaysia's eagerness in ratifying the TPP.

Unresolved Issues in Deciding the Appropriate Dispute Forum
The case of Abdul Rashid bin Abdul Manaf v Hii Yii Ann [2016] SGHCR 1 answers some of the unresolved issues in the law of forum non conveniens. In terms of the weight to be attributed by the court in its consideration of the relevant factors, should compellability be a significant factor if a witness is willing to testify outside of his place of residence? Are the merits of the case relevant to a forum non conveniens application? This application to stay proceedings on the ground of forum non conveniens was successfully resisted by Francis Xavier S.C. and Ang Tze Phern of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.

Key Legislative and Regulatory Developments in Singapore for the Year 2015
This Update provides a brief summary of the key statutory and regulatory developments in Singapore for the year 2015.

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