Legal Updates for October 2018
Are Customer Lists Protected by Confidentiality?
One of the most valuable assets of a business is often its customer or client database. In Adinop Co Ltd v Rovithai Ltd and another  SGHC 129, the Singapore High Court had the opportunity to consider whether customer information disclosed in the course of a distributorship arrangement constituted confidential information. Despite the Defendant's argument that most of the information was available from other sources, the Court held that the customer list was in fact confidential. This decision provides an insight as to how the courts may assess the confidentiality of customer and client lists, and some of the possible steps which businesses may take to protect such vital information.
A Significant Step for Enforcement of Money Judgments in Commercial Cases between Singapore and China
On 31 August 2018, the Supreme Court of Singapore and the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China ("PRC") signed a Memorandum of Guidance ("MOG") on the recognition and enforcement of money judgments in commercial cases. The MOG sets out how a judgment issued by the courts of Singapore may be recognised and enforced in the courts of the PRC and vice-versa.
Examining the Enforceability of Restraint of Trade Clauses
The validity of restraint of trade clauses is an important and often disputed issue, as the courts will not enforce them unless they can be justified as being reasonable. In Powerdrive Pte Ltd v Loh Kin Yong Philip and others  SGHC 224, the Singapore High Court considered the validity of a restraint of trade clause, ultimately deeming it unenforceable. The High Court was prepared to make a substantive determination of the enforceability of the clause without waiting for trial, in the context of striking out applications brought by the Defendants in that case. The 6th Defendant in this case was successfully represented by Adrian Wong and Sara Sim of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.
Can A Witness Give Testimony by Video Link from Overseas to Avoid Potential Prosecution in Singapore?
In Anil Singh Gurm v J S Yeh & Co and another  SGHC 221, the Singapore High Court considered how section 62A of the Evidence Act should be interpreted, in particular, whether a witness should be allowed to give evidence by video link from overseas because he feared prosecution in Singapore if he were to enter the country. As Singapore courts have yet to consider the issue, and foreign cases have adopted differing approaches, this decision serves as a novel statement of Singapore law. The Defendants were successfully represented by Chandra Mohan and Ang Tze Phern of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.
Swatch vs Apple: “Tick” and “THINK” are different
Apple recently tried to oppose Swatch’s trade mark application for “Tick different”. The opposition was rejected by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore ("IPOS"). This Client Update considers IPOS’ emphasis on what the average consumer’s views may be, and highlight pertinent issues that arose from this opposition. In particular, this Client Update discusses the way a trade mark should be represented (in capital letters or small letters), and the evidence required to support an assertion that a trade mark is well known in Singapore.
Competition Bites – South-East Asia & Beyond
Welcome to the October edition of Competition Bites, as we round up the competition law developments from around the world over the last quarter. This has been a busy third quarter for the Singapore regulator, who issued its highest fine ever in relation to a domestic cartel and its first infringement decision against an implemented merger. Elsewhere in the world, we see other competition regulators pursuing enforcement action in online markets. This suggests that, as many have opined, existing competition law frameworks are sufficient to tackle competition law issues which are unique to online markets, and that competition law regulators are in fact sophisticated enough to spot such issues.
Voting Rights of Bondholders and Trustees in Restructuring Proceedings
Bonds are a common asset class in many investment portfolios. However, investors often do not have direct rights against a bond issuer. If so, can investors vote in debt restructuring proceedings commenced by the bond issuer? If investors can only vote through a trustee, how many votes can the trustee cast, and who pays for the trustees’ costs? These important and novel issues were dealt with by the Singapore High Court in In Re Swiber Holdings Ltd  SGHC 211. Wilson Zhu, Sim Kwan Kiat and Chan Min Hui of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP successfully represented the Judicial Managers of the bond issuer in this decision.
MAS Releases E-payments User Protection Guidelines
From 13 February to 16 March 2018, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) launched a public consultation on the proposed guidelines to protect users of electronic payments (“e-payments”). The proposed guidelines aim to encourage wider adoption of e-payments by setting standards on the responsibilities of financial institutions and e-payment users.
On 28 September 2018, MAS issued its response to feedback received on the consultation, as well as the finalised E-payment User Protection Guidelines (“Guidelines”). The finalised Guidelines incorporate, where appropriate, the feedback received from the consultation exercise. The aim of these Guidelines is to establish a common baseline protection offered by responsible financial institutions (“responsible FIs”) on a business as usual basis to individuals or sole proprietors from losses arising from isolated unauthorised transactions or erroneous transactions from the protected accounts of account holders.
The Guidelines will take effect on 31 January 2019.
A Wave of Changes to Employment Laws in Singapore – Employment Act Extended to All Employees
On 2 October 2018, the Singapore Parliament introduced the Employment (Amendment) Bill, setting out several proposed changes ("Proposed Amendments") to the Employment Act (Cap 91, 2009 Rev Ed) ("Act"). The Proposed Amendments will see ALL employees being accorded greater protection and rights. With the employment landscape in Singapore becoming more employee-centric, businesses must keep abreast of these developments and make the necessary adjustments to their employment practices to avoid infringing any employment legislation or regulation. This Update provides a high level summary of the proposed changes to the Act.