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Legal Updates

Legal Updates for January 2019

Developments in International Arbitration, Construction & Projects in 2018
As Singapore continues to strengthen its position as a regional hub for dispute resolution and infrastructure, the legal framework in these areas is also under constant development to support its growing capabilities. 2018 saw many advancements in the areas of International Arbitration, Construction & Projects. Of the cases that went before the Singapore courts, Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP had the opportunity to be involved in a number of significant decisions. In this Update, we look at some of the noteworthy developments from 2018.

SingHealth and IHiS case: PDPC Decision Notes Breaches of the Protection Obligation in the Healthcare Sector
On 14 January 2019, the Personal Data Protection Commission issued its {start}decision{end} in the case concerning the largest breach of personal data in Singapore. In Re Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd & Ors [2019] SGPDPC 3, the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection (“Commissioner”) ruled that Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd (“SingHealth”) and Integrated Health Information Systems Pte Ltd (“IHiS”) failed to protect the personal data of individuals, in violation of section 24 of the Personal Data Protection Act (“PDPA”). Section 24 of the PDPA mandates an organisation to protect the personal data in its possession or under its control by making reasonable security arrangements to prevent unauthorised access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or similar risks (“Protection Obligation”).

Given the severity of the lapses, the Commissioner imposed a financial penalty of $250,000 and $750,000 on SingHealth and IHiS, respectively, the two highest fines to date imposed on errant organisations for failure to comply with the PDPA. The maximum financial penalty under the PDPA is $1 million.

Developments in Restructuring & Insolvency in 2018
As part of the drive towards strengthening Singapore's position as an international centre for debt restructuring, finance and business, the legislative framework in this area has gone through substantial updating. The Singapore courts have also continued to develop the law on Restructuring & Insolvency. In 2018, the legal advancements in Restructuring & Insolvency have been swift and significant. In this Update, we look at some of the noteworthy developments from the past year.

Court of Appeal Reverses High Court Ruling That Courts Have No Jurisdiction To Revoke Patents
In 2017, the Honourable Justice George Wei ruled in a landmark decision that the High Court in Singapore had no original jurisdiction to hear patent revocation proceedings, even if such proceedings were brought by way of a counterclaim in infringement proceedings (Sun Electric Pte Ltd v Sunseap Group Pte Ltd and ors [2017] SGHC 232). This decision represented a major departure from existing case law and legal practice. However, in Sunseap Group Pte Ltd and ors v Sun Electric Pte Ltd [2019] SGCA 4, the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court's decision and found in favour of the Defendants. In doing so, the Court of Appeal also laid down some important principles in relation to how a patent revocation counterclaim should be pleaded, and drew a distinction between applications to revoke a patent by way of a counterclaim to infringement proceedings, and by way of standalone pre-emptive suits. Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP's Lau Kok Keng, Nicholas Lauw and Leow Jiamin acted for the successful Defendants/Appellants in the appeal.

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