Wilful Blindness in the Context of the Presumption of Knowledge: Gobi a/l Avedian v Public Prosecutor [2021] 1 SLR 180

Under section 7 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) (the “MDA”), it is an offence, with consequences that may extend to the mandatory death penalty, to import into or export from Singapore controlled drugs. As part of proving the charge, the Prosecution must prove that the accused was both in possession of, and had knowledge of the controlled nature of the drugs involved. Further, under section 18 of the MDA, the Prosecution is also allowed to rely on a presumption - under certain circumstances - that the accused did indeed have said possession (section 18(1)) and knowledge (section 18(2)). If the accused is unable to rebut these presumptions, the elements of possession and knowledge are made out under section 7.  

Deciding Priority between Two Competing Judgment Creditors: Singapore Air Charter Pte Ltd v Peter Low & Choo LLC and another [2020] 2 SLR 1399

Where a judgment in respect of a debt is concerned, a “judgment creditor” is the party to whom the debt is owed, and a “judgment debtor” is the party who has been ordered by the court to pay a sum of money – the “judgment debt” – to the judgment creditor. However, obtaining the court order alone will not necessarily provide the judgment creditor with satisfaction, as the judgment debtor may not want to, or may not be able to, satisfy the judgment debt.

Conflicts in Legal Representation: Law Society of Singapore v Lee Suet Fern (alias Lim Suet Fern) [2020] SGHC 255

It is not surprising that the law regulates the conduct of lawyers, especially when it comes to the lawyer’s duty to the client. In such relationships, lawyers are placed in positions of trust, with clients relying on them for their expertise, integrity, and judgement. The law thus obliges lawyers to act with utmost loyalty and care in dealing with their clients. Such duties are not restricted to situations where a lawyer expressly enters into a retainer agreement[1] with a client (i.e. an express retainer). For example, where an express retainer is not established, but the parties nevertheless act in a manner which conveys a lawyer-client relationship, a retainer may still be implied, with similar duties imposed on the lawyer. Further, even if no retainer is established, a lawyer can still be sanctioned if his/her conduct is found to be unbefitting of a lawyer.

Limits on the Constitutional Right to Freedom of Assembly: Wham Kwok Han Jolovan v Public Prosecutor [2020] SGCA 111

Is section 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act (Cap 257A, 2010 Rev Ed) (“the POA”), which restricts the constitutional right of peaceable assembly, a valid derogation from Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Cap 1, 1985 Rev Ed) (“the Constitution”)? This question was considered by a five-judge coram of the Court of Appeal (“the CA”) in Wham Kwok Han Jolovan v Public Prosecutor [2020] SGCA 111.

Differing Common Intention Charges: Public Prosecutor v Aishamudin bin Jamaludin [2020] SGCA 70

Under section 34 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) (“Penal Code”), can the Prosecution charge two different people based on a common intention to commit a criminal act between them, but press a more serious charge against one accused person and a less serious charge against the other (“differing common intention charges”)? The Court of Appeal (“CA”) held that there was nothing under section 34 which required the Prosecution to bring identical charges against all who were charged pursuant to a common intention to do a criminal act. Further, there were good reasons why there was no general rule requiring the Prosecution to do so.

The Limits to Freedom of Contract: Leiman, Ricardo and another v Noble Resources Ltd and another [2020] SGCA 52

In line with the principle of freedom to contract, the courts will give effect to the intention of the parties in creating their contract, and also hold them to their duty to perform their primary obligations under such contract. However, where the contracting parties agree to vest certain decision-making powers to a specific (non-judicial) entity, to what extent may a court review the exercise of powers by such entity?

Erring on the Side of Disclosure: the Prosecution’s Additional Disclosure Obligations under Muhammad Nabill bin Mohd Fuad v Public Prosecutor [2020] 1 SLR 984

The Prosecution has been described as owing “a duty to the court and to the wider public to ensure that only the guilty are convicted, and that all relevant material is placed before the court to assist it in its determination of the truth”. However, what exactly does the scope of this duty entail? The Court of Appeal (“CA”) addressed this question in Muhammad Nabill bin Mohd Fuad v Public Prosecutor [2020] 1 SLR 984.

Clarifying “cannabis” and “cannabis mixture”: Saravanan Chandaram v Public Prosecutor [2020] SGCA 43

How should cannabis and cannabis mixture be defined? Should the penalty on trafficking, importing, or exporting of cannabis mixture be calibrated based on the gross weight? Can the Prosecution charge an alleged offender with both knowledge of importing cannabis and cannabis mixture? These are some of the questions the Court of Appeal (“CA”) answered in Saravanan Chandaram v Public Prosecutor [2020] SGCA 43.