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.

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.

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.