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.

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

In Takaaki Masui v Public Prosecutor and another appeal and other matters [2021] 4 SLR 160, the High Court introduced a new sentencing framework for purely private corruption offences under ss 6(a) and 6(b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Significantly, the HC utilised mathematical concepts to evaluate and determine the content of sentencing frameworks, and also employed multiple two-dimensional and three-dimensional graphs to represent various sentencing frameworks.

The Law Governing Contract Formation: Solomon Lew v Kaikhushru Shiavax Nargolwala and other and another appeal [2021] SGCA(I) 1

Cross-border contracts often raise questions as to which country’s law should govern the contract. A three-stage test is usually used to determine the governing law. The first two stages determine, respectively, whether parties had expressly or impliedly chosen a governing law, and the third stage determines the governing law based on the law with the closest connection to the contract (if no express or implied choice had been made). However, this test assumes that a contract exists in the first place. If the very existence of a contract is disputed and each contracting party argues that a different law governs the issue of contract formation, does the three-stage test apply or is a different approach required?

The penal-compensatory dichotomy of liquidated damages clauses: Denka Advantech Pte Ltd v Seraya Energy Pte Ltd [2021] 1 SLR 631

In Denka Advantech Pte Ltd v Seraya Energy Pte Ltd [2021] 1 SLR 631, the Court of Appeal affirmed the old rule on contractual penalties as articulated by Lord Dunedin in Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company, Ltd v New Garage and Motor Company, Limited [1915] AC 79: a liquidated damages clause is only enforceable if it is compensatory in nature, meaning that it provides a “genuine pre-estimate” of the likely loss caused by the breach.

Establishing the Authenticity of a Document: CIMB Bank Berhad v World Fuel Services (Singapore) Pte Ltd and another appeal [2021] SGCA 19

The authenticity of a document is of paramount importance in the law of evidence. This was illustrated in CIMB Bank Berhad v World Fuel Services (Singapore) Pte Ltd and another appeal [2021] SGCA 19, which concerned the authenticity of a deed of debenture, i.e. a document which creates or acknowledges a debt.

The Right Time and Place for a Criminal Motion: Amarjeet Singh v Public Prosecutor [2021] SGHC 73

Criminal motions are routinely filed to seek a broad range of remedies associated with the court’s criminal jurisdiction. There being no explicit limits on the sort of remedies pursuable by way of a criminal motion, it risks being abused to subvert established mechanisms that gatekeep other court procedures. The question then is: in what context would the filing of a criminal motion be appropriate (or not)?

Retirement from Trusteeship – Express and Statutory Powers: Chan Yun Cheong (trustee of the will of the testator) v Chan Chi Cheong (trustee of the will of the testator) [2021] SGCA 33

This case involved two trustees of a testamentary trust, both of whom alleged that they had resigned as trustees. Trusteeship is a serious appointment that comes with responsibilities. Under the Trustees Act (Cap 337, 2005 Rev Ed) (“Trustees Act”), which governs trusts in Singapore, once a person takes up a trusteeship, he cannot simply relinquish his duties at will but must do so in accordance with the law and the terms of the trust instrument.  

The precise ambit of the sealing requirement for deeds: Lim Zhipeng v Seow Suat Thin [2020] SGCA 89

Parties (“creditors”) who loan money to others (“debtors”) are often concerned that the debtors will be unable or unwilling to repay them. Such creditors may then enter into deeds of guarantee with third parties (“guarantors”) to secure the repayment of their loans if their debtors default on payment of the same. Unlike a contract, a deed does not require consideration to be legally enforceable.[1] However, for a deed to be legally enforceable, several other formalities must be fulfilled. In particular, the deed must be “signed, sealed, and delivered”.

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.