The Principle of Minimal Curial Intervention in Arbitrations seated in Singapore: Republic of India v Vedanta Resources plc [2021] 2 SLR 354

In keeping with the principle of minimal curial intervention, Singapore courts are extremely reluctant to intervene in the conduct and outcomes of arbitral proceedings, outside of the avenues permitted by the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration or the International Arbitration Act. While dissatisfied parties may nonetheless attempt to devise creative tactics to get around this principle, the case of Republic of India v Vedanta Resources plc demonstrates that the courts are both highly sensitive to and extremely critical of any attempts to do so, as such attempts would be regarded as improper and vexatious, and constitute an abuse of the processes of the court.

The Covid-19 Pandemic as a Supervening Event in the Assessment of Damages: iVenture Card Ltd and others v Big Bus Singapore City Sightseeing Pte Ltd and others [2022] 1 SLR 302

When a contract is breached, the general rule in assessing damages is that the innocent party should be compensated with a sum that would place them in the same position they would have been in had the contract not been breached. Often, those damages will be calculated based on the conditions at the time of the breach, a rule known as the “breach-date” rule. In iVenture Card Ltd v Big Bus Singapore City Sightseeing Pte Ltd, the Court of Appeal considered whether disruptive external events occurring after the breach such as the Covid-19 pandemic could be taken into account to reduce the amount of damages the innocent party receives.

Should penalties imposed under Prevention of Corruption Act cases take into account monies already repaid?: Public Prosecutor v Takaaki Masui and another and other matters [2022] 1 SLR 1033

The Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) penalizes those who engage in corruption. Section 13(1) of the PCA states that a court may order a person convicted of an offence under the PCA to pay a penalty equal to the amount or value of the bribe. In Public Prosecutor v Takaaki Masui, the SGCA decided that monies already returned, repaid or disgorged by the authorities should be deducted from the penalty imposed under section 13(1) of the PCA, as it serves to prevent corrupt recipients from retaining their ill-gotten gains.

Clarifying the application of the Riddick principle: Ong Jane Rebecca v Lim Lie Hoa and other appeals and other matters [2021] SGCA 63

The Riddick Undertaking refers to an implied undertaking not to use documents disclosed during discovery for any collateral purpose. In Ong Jane Rebecca v Lim Lie Hoa, the Court of Appeal laid out a framework delineating the approach that should be taken in cases involving the Riddick undertaking. This framework explains the extent and scope of the Riddick undertaking, and clarified the situations in which parties seeking to use disclosed documents are required to seek leave of court.

Ascertaining the delicate balance between justice and finality: Public Prosecutor v Pang Chie Wei and others [2021] SGCA 101

Finality and justice are twin pillars of the criminal justice system. A presumption of finality attaches to every judgment rendered by the court, lending credence to the notion that justice has been done and may be treated as having been done. Only in exceptional cases may applicants may successfully have their case readjudicated based on subsequent changes to the law. In PP v Pang Chie Wei, the apex court considered where the delicate balance between finality and justice properly lies.

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.

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.