The Murderer’s Defence: challenging a murder charge under s 300 of the Penal Code

A conviction of murder is one with grave implications, one which may result in a sentence of death, or of life imprisonment. Against this backdrop, it is crucial to understand what defences are available to an accused person alleged of criminal homicide. Was the accused provoked into killing the deceased? Was the accused unable to comprehend his actions due to a mental infirmity? And more importantly, do these factors alone justify one’s exculpation? These questions are explored in this article, where focus is placed on several defences typically raised by an accused where the charge of murder is concerned.

Defence of Diminished Responsibility for a Premeditated Murder? Ahmed Salim v Public Prosecutor [2022] SGCA 6

The defence of diminished responsibility is made out when the accused is proven to suffer from a recognised abnormality of mind that substantially impaired his mental responsibility for the murder. It is difficult to see how accused persons in cases of premeditated murder can avail themselves to this defence. Nevertheless, the CA in Ahmed Salim v PP examined the issue and held that such a defence was not precluded.

Which Costs Regime Applies for Which Court: CBX and another v CBZ and others [2021] SGCA(I) 4

There are separate costs regimes governing proceedings in the Singapore courts. Costs in civil proceedings in the SGHC are governed by the Rules of Court, while costs in proceedings commenced in the SICC are governed by the SICC Rules. However, what was unclear is which costs regime applied when a matter is transferred from the SGHC to the SICC. In CBX v CBZ, the SGCA has clarified the law as to how costs should be assessed pre and post transfer. Further, the CA also provided a clear approach as to the assessment of quantum of costs.

Don’t judge a prosecution by its cover – Equality in Implementing Prosecutorial Discretion

The prosecution performs an important task of maintaining law and order, and upholding the rule of law. In exercising their discretionary powers as vested to them under Article 35(8) of the Constitution, this may lead to differential treatment between seemingly equally situated accused persons. While this may raise questions regarding the constitutional right to equality, this article will illustrate why these prosecutorial decisions are nonetheless in accordance with Article 12 of the Constitution.

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.

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.