Singapore Journal of Legal Studies NUS
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The Singapore Journal of Legal Studies is the flagship law journal of the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore and one of the oldest law journals in the Commonwealth. As the first and leading legal journal in Singapore, it contains a rich store of legal literature analysing the legal, political and social development of Singapore in its progression from a developing to a First World nation. The journal continues to advance the boundaries of global and local developments in law, policy and legal practice by publishing cogent and timely articles, legislation comments and case notes on a biannual basis.  

Highlights of our December 2013 issue are …

Titled Transnational Commercial Law: Realities, Challenges and A Call for Meaningful Convergence, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon delivered the Keynote Address at the 26th LAWASIA Conference and 15th Biennial Conference of Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific, in which he discussed the future of international commerce in the Asia-Pacific region and the importance of developing a legal infrastructure that supports such burgeoning transnational commerce. By drawing from experiences in investment arbitration and international commercial arbitration, Menon C.J. made a case for the harmonisation of laws within the Asia-Pacific region, and concluded by laying out plans for the way forward, discussing inter alia, the role of the proposed Singapore International Commercial Court.

Irene Calboli and Mary LaFrance propose that the U.S. Congress implement a legislative provision prohibiting copyright protection for incidental product features in the context of parallel imports in The Case for a Legislative Amendment against ‘Accessory Copyright’ for Grey Market Products: What can the U.S. Learn from Singapore and Australia? Drawing from Singapore and Australia’s experiences, they argue that the U.S. would benefit from the adoption of a specific legislative solution that would exempt incidental uses of copyright product accessories from possibly-applicable restrictions on parallel imports. They conclude by suggesting specific amendments that Congress could introduce into the U.S.’s copyright regime.

Tracy Evans Chan attempts to fill the void of legal critique on the role of ‘public interest’ in insolvency processes in Singapore in The Public Interest in Judicial Management. While statutory provisions stipulate ‘public interest’ as a ground for invoking winding up and judicial management processes, it is unclear what specific purpose was envisaged by this ‘public interest’ exception to the typical requirements for making a judicial management order. He discusses the concept of ‘public interest’ in this context, and concludes by proposing a more robust interpretation that gives weight to the balancing of inter-creditor interest in pursuit of enterprise wealth maximisation in the public interest.

In The New Contractual Interpretation in Singapore: From Zurich Insurance to Sembcorp Marine, Goh Yihan considers two recent landmark Court of Appeal decisions regarding the law on contractual interpretation. In an exposition of the law post-Sembcorp Marine Ltd v. PPL Holdings Pte Ltd, he critically evaluates the separate issues of admissibility of extrinsic evidence and the interpretative approach in Singapore. He focuses on the interaction between the common law and the Evidence Act, in particular the difficulty in distinguishing between statutory and common law principles. He concludes by identifying and proposing solutions for four outstanding issues, including the practical question of the admissibility of subjective declarations of intention, as well as that of prior negotiations and subsequent conduct.

Rachel Leow and Timothy Liau in their article, Unjust Enrichment and Restitution in Singapore: Where Now and Where Next?, seek to induct newcomers to this complex area of law by examining the four main conceptual debates in the law of restitution and the position that Singapore law takes on the debates. Following that, they examine the recent Court of Appeal decision in Wee Chiaw Sek Anna v. Ng Li-ann Genevieve, and argue that the Court’s description of unjust enrichment—as a common law strict liability cause of action that is claimant-sided and which focuses on the claimant’s loss—should not be taken as a definitive pronouncement of the law as it might unduly hamstring future development of the law of unjust enrichment.

In Equitable Accessorial and Recipient Liability in Singapore, Pauline Ridge considers the leading cases in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia concerning recipient liability and evaluates three possible directions for the development of equitable accessorial and recipient liability in Singapore. She concludes by discussing the need for Singapore to develop an autochthonous legal system while maintaining uniformity of equitable principles with common law jurisdictions, so as to combat global-scale fraud and corruption, and facilitate efficient commerce.

Senthil Sabapathy discusses two approaches towards the contractual doctrine of remoteness—an orthodox knowledge-based approach, and a broader agreement-based approach derived from The Achilleas—in the separate contexts of England and Singapore in The Achilleas: Struggling to Stay Afloat. He argues that while Singapore has clearly rejected the agreement-based approach, the English courts’ half-hearted reception of The Achilleas has neutered the full impact of the agreement-based approach and resulted in confusion and uncertainty in the law. He concludes by identifying the key problems with the agreement-based approach that has prevented it from establishing a firm footing in both England and Singapore.

Low Kee Yang, in Occupiers’ Liability After See Toh: Change, Uncertainty and Complexity, critically evaluates the recent Court of Appeal decision in See Toh Siew Kee v. Ho Ah Lam Ferrocement (Pte) Ltd which held that all occupiers’ liability claims should henceforth be dealt with within the negligence framework. He highlights the challenges and unresolved issues that plague this novel approach, particularly as regards unlawful entrants with varying degrees of culpability, and proposes an optimal approach in which claims are scrutinised at the later stages of breach, causation, and defences, rather than the first stage of duty of care.

In Copyright Subsistence in Contemporary Times: A Dead Shark, An Unmade Bed and Bright Lights in an Empty Room, David Tan and Chan Yong Neng examine the scope of protection that copyright law provides for installation artists in Singapore. Focusing on the threshold issue of copyright subsistence, they argue that there should not be a per se rule either against the recognition of installation works as ‘sculptures’ or more generally as ‘artistic works’. By examining three controversial Turner Prize-nominated and winning works, they suggest that ‘artistic purpose’ is likely to have a more prominent role in the evaluative criteria used by the courts for the classification of ‘artistic works’, particularly in relation to non-propositional installation works.

Teo Keang Sood undertakes a comparative study of the Malaysian and Singaporean system of private caveats in The System of Private Caveats in Malaysia and Singapore: Some Reflections. He focuses on three areas of debate—priority of unregistered interests, entry of further caveats, and requirements to sustain a caveat—ultimately drawing from the best practices of both jurisdictions and proposing refinements that should be made to the caveat system.

Our December 2013
issue also features several legislation comments and case notes, and book reviews. Click here for the complete contents page.

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