Where a contract is illegal, the contract is void and the courts will not enforce the contract. Despite the simplicity of the foregoing logic, the concept of illegality in contract law – often used as a defence mechanism in lawsuits – has long vexed students and practitioners alike. As Lady Justice Gloster in Patel v Mirza (“Patel”) remarked, it is “almost impossible to ascertain or articulate principled rules from the authorities relating to the recovery of money or other assets paid or transferred under illegal contracts”. In Singapore, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) in Ting Siew May v Boon Lay Choo (“Ting Siew May”) sought to overcome this difficulty by establishing a two-stage approach to the application of the principles of statutory illegality, common law illegality and restitutionary recovery. In the later case of Ochroid Trading Ltd v Chua Siok Lui (“Ochroid”), the CA affirmed the Ting Siew May framework and the principles encapsulated within. In coming to its decision, the CA in Ochroid also considered and rejected the approach adopted by the UK Supreme Court in Patel, which, essentially, determines whether a contract should be struck down for illegality based on a range of factors.
Report on a research seminar by Associate Professor Chen Jialin from Melbourne Law School on 30 January 2019. A/P Chen first noted that the criminal laws of Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong were derived from three different sources: Singapore’s from the Indian Penal Code, Hong Kong’s from English criminal law, and Taiwan’s from the German Penal Code. A/P Chen then compared how Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong treated fraudulent sex crimes, with focus on the issue of consent. He also highlighted how underlying societal attitudes could sometime transcend (or ignore) ostensible legal differences.
The recent UK Supreme Court’s decision in Rock Advertising Limited v MWB Business Exchange Centres Limited was highly anticipated. Modern litigation rarely raises new fundamental issues in the law of contract; this case, however, dealt with two. The first issue was whether a contractual term providing that an agreement can only be modified in writing and must be signed by both parties was effective. Such terms are commonly referred to as “No Oral Modification” clauses. The second issue was whether an agreement to vary a payment obligation was supported by consideration.
September 24, 2018 marked the opening of Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Law’s Centre for AI & Data Governance (CAIDG). The opening occurred at the end of a day-long Singapore AI workshop jointly organised by CAIDG and the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University.
The High Court in the recent matter of Wong Souk Yee v Attorney-General introduced techniques of statutory interpretation heretofore absent from Singapore constitutional law. In interpreting Article 49(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (“the Constitution”), Chua Lee Ming J (“Chua J”), faced with a seemingly conflicting provision in s 24(2A) of the Parliamentary Elections Act (“PEA”), had recourse to an updating construction and a rectifying construction of Article 49(1). This case note briefly analyses the judgment and explores some fundamental issues arising from employing these two methods of statutory interpretation on constitutional provisions.
Croesus might have been mistaken when he commented that “in peace, sons bury fathers, but in war fathers bury sons”. Training accidents do occur, and soldiers pay the ultimate price. On 18th April 2018, Corporal Dave Lee, a full-time National Serviceman, succumbed to heat injury following his fast march. Since then, allegations of the “reckless” behaviour of the training commanders involved have surfaced.
At the quantification stage in breach of contract claims, claimants must sometimes think out of the box. Where no loss has been suffered or loss is hard to prove, one solution is to argue for “negotiating damages”, or damages for breach of contract assessed by reference to the sum a claimant could hypothetically have received in return for releasing the defendant from the obligation breached. Unfortunately, the principles regarding their availability have been so lax and uncertain that negotiating damages have been labelled “jackpot damages”. In Morris-Garner v One Step (Support) Ltd, the UK Supreme Court considered the issue for the first time and sought to remedy this unsatisfactory state of affairs.