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.

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.

When a Company is Unable to Pay its Debts: Sun Electric Power Pte Ltd v RCMA Asia Pte Ltd [2021] SGCA 60

The winding up of a company spells its death. It is the process of collecting and selling off the company's assets in order to pay off creditors, after which any remaining assets will be distributed to its shareholders. The company is then dissolved and no longer exists. In Sun Electric Power Pte Ltd v RCA Asia Pte Ltd, the Court of Appeal introduces new legal principles; firstly, with respect to the conduct of a company's appeal against a winding-up order, and secondly, with regards to the test to be used in determining whether a company is unable to pay its debts.

When the Court may order Personal Costs against Defence Counsel: Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin v Public Prosecutor [2021] SGCA 53

Defence counsel perform an important task of mounting a robust defence for accused persons. In so doing, they must also uphold proper conduct in courts. Where defence counsel invoke the courts’ processes without merit, the Court of Appeal has an inherent power to order personal costs against them. In Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin v PP, a three-step step test was adopted to clarify when the courts would exercise this power.

Trial by media? Understanding the contours of the sub judice rule

High-profile court cases are often newsworthy precisely because they involve sensational or shocking facts, or because they implicate current or controversial sociopolitical issues. However, while such cases naturally attract a good deal of public interest, excessive speculation or highly emotive commentary risk undermining the proper and impartial conduct of the case in question, by placing undue pressure on the court and parties, and affecting the availability and reliability of witness testimony. It is therefore crucial to understand the sub judice rule, which aims to protect the proper administration of justice by governing what can and cannot be published in respect of ongoing cases.

Collaboration with the Supreme Court

In a collaboration with the Supreme Court, SMU Law students (under SMU Lexicon) are reporting on selected Court of Appeal judgments, highlighting the significant points, so as to foster greater public awareness of these cases and their implications. The summaries are available on the Supreme Court of Singapore Website, and are reproduced here on SMU Lexicon's website as well.

Redress for Legal Misconduct: Iskandar bin Rahmat v Law Society of Singapore [2021] 1 SLR 874

Part VII of the Legal Profession Act (“LPA”) sets out the complex process whereby complaints and investigations into legal misconduct may be undertaken. Section 96 LPA specifically gives a complainant the right to appeal to the High Court (“HC”) for the complaint to be advanced to a disciplinary tribunal where the Council of the Law Society has recommended that the complaint should be dismissed. The Court of Appeal in Iskandar bin Rahmat v Law Society of Singapore clarified that it had the jurisdiction to hear a section 96 LPA appeal against a decision of the HC to dismiss the complaint and decline to advance it to a disciplinary tribunal.

A Novel Approach to Deriving Sentencing Frameworks: Sentencing as a Science and/or Art? Takaaki Masui v Public Prosecutor [2021] 4 SLR 160

I. Executive SummaryIn Takaaki Masui v Public Prosecutor and another appeal and other matters [2021] 4 SLR 160 (“Masui v PP”), the High Court (“HC”) introduced a new sentencing framework for purely private corruption offences under ss 6(a) and 6(b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Rev Ed) (“PCA”). Significantly, the HC utilised … Continue reading A Novel Approach to Deriving Sentencing Frameworks: Sentencing as a Science and/or Art? Takaaki Masui v Public Prosecutor [2021] 4 SLR 160