Is the potential loss of emoluments a relevant sentencing factor? M Raveendran v Public Prosecutor [2021] SGHC 254

The High Court in M Raveendran v PP decided that the potential loss of emoluments is not a relevant sentencing factor. In coming to this decision, the High Court considered four possible bases upon which the reduction of a sentence on account of the potential loss of emoluments could conceivably be justified. These were the principles of equal impact, parsimony, judicial mercy, as well as whether any express terms of a statute applied in the instant case.

How to construe an atypical bill of lading: The “Luna” and another appeal [2021] SGCA 84

Bills of lading have been described as the cornerstone of modern sea carriage. Traditionally, a bill of lading serves three functions. It is a: (1) receipt by the carrier acknowledging the shipment of goods; (2) memorandum of the terms of the contract of carriage; and (3) document of title to the goods shipped. However, what happens when a bill of lading cannot possibly serve any of its traditional functions? In answering this question, the Court of Appeal in The “Luna” and another appeal considered the contracting parties’ intentions behind the issuance of the bill of lading as well as the underlying sale arrangement. Ultimately, the Court of Appeal held that the bills of lading in question would not pass as documents of title as the contracting parties never intended for them to function as such, and they did not and could not serve the traditional functions of a bill of lading.

Section 33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act: Jumadi bin Abdullah v Public Prosecutor and other appeals [2021] SGCA 113

Jumadi v PP concerns section 33B of the Misuse of Drugs Act, a provision that incentivises accused persons to cooperate with CNB officers so as to obtain a certificate of substantive assistance and escape the gallows. The notice, which brings s 33B to the attention of the accused, cannot be construed as an inducement or promise because otherwise, statements recorded after the issuance of the notice would be rendered inadmissible as evidence. In Jumadi v PP, Jumadi claimed that CNB officers made him a promise before the notice was issued, and in any case, the notice was an inducement, thereby challenging the admissibility of his statements. Unsurprisingly, the Court of Appeal dismissed all his claims.

Logachev strikes again: A “new” sentencing framework for evasion of income tax in Tan Song Cheng v PP [2021] SGHC 138

Consistency in sentencing promotes fairness by ensuring that like offenders are treated similarly by our criminal justice system. This can be achieved by applying well-constructed sentencing frameworks. The High Court in Tan Song Cheng v PP acknowledged the importance of consistency in sentencing, particularly for offences under s 96(1) of the Income Tax Act.

What cases are to be heard by the Appellate Division and Why: Noor Azlin bte Abdul Rahman and another v Changi General Hospital Pte Ltd [2021] 2 SLR 440

On 2 January 2021, certain statutory amendments came into effect to amend Singapore's court appellate system. These changes established the Appellate Division of the High Court ("AD"), akin to an intermediary appellate court, while the High Court was newly named the General Division of the High Court ("Gen Div"). In Noor Azlin bte Abdul Rahman and another v Changi General Hospital Pte Ltd [2021] 2 SLR 440 the Court of Appeal ("CA") explains the significance of the AD, what cases are to be heard by the AD and why, as well as when a case may be transferred from the AD to the CA and vice versa.

The legal effect of no-oral modification clauses: Charles Lim Teng Liang and another v Hong Choon Hau and another [2021] SGCA 43

No-oral modification clauses seek to invalidate contractual modifications which are not made in writing. In Charles Lim Teng Siang and another v Hong Choon Hau and another, the Court of Appeal held that the no-oral modification clause in question did not apply to a rescission of the contract. It explored the legal effect of no-oral modification clauses in obiter, noting that such clauses likely raise a rebuttable presumption that in the absence of an agreement in writing, there would be no variation of the contract.

Consistency in Sentencing: Exploring the Dichotomy between Judicial Judgments and Public Perception

Singapore's criminal justice system prefers deterrence over other sentencing considerations. However, where sentencing outcomes seemingly defy this expectation, claims of inconsistency oversimplify the delicate balance between sentencing considerations. Rather, to appreciate the consistencies within Singapore's sentencing framework, it is necessary to understand the intricate workings of its application and administration. Year 2 LL.B. students John Hoy and Damien Teo deconstruct the concept of consistency, before exploring the dichotomy between the metric of consistency utilised by the public on one hand and the judiciary on the other.

Deterrence? Or Mercy and Second Chances? An Evaluation of the Singaporean Judiciary’s Attempts to Tread a Tightrope in Sentencing

Year 2 LL.B. student Isabelle Lim examines the interplay between deterrence, rehabilitation and judicial mercy in sentencing and evaluates how well the judiciary has struck a balance between these competing principles. Whilst the judiciary clearly favours deterrence over judicial mercy in sentencing, the common perception that the judiciary prioritises deterrence over rehabilitation is not necessarily true. Further, cases where deterrent sentences were meted out to youth offenders and offenders with mental disorders do not evidence inconsistency in sentencing or a disproportionate focus on deterrence, for a closer examination of such cases reveals compelling facts justifying a departure from rehabilitation as the primary sentencing principle.

Deconstructing the legal contours of POFMA: The Online Citizen Pte Ltd v Attorney-General and another appeal and other matters [2021] SGCA 96

In The Online Citizen Pte Ltd v Attorney-General, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) discussed the issuance of Part 3 Directions under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act 2019 (“POFMA”). Such Directions may be issued to any statement-maker who communicates a false statement of fact online. Significantly, the CA made conclusive findings regarding the constitutionality of the POFMA, the new five-step framework to be used by courts in assessing applications to set aside a Part 3 Direction, and the applicable burden of proof.