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 July 2014 issue are …

Mohit Anand, in Islamic Insurance in Malaysia: Insight for the Indian Insurance Industry, looks at the development, evolution and characteristics of Islamic insurance (takaful). Taking cues from the success of takaful in Malaysia, he explores certain key tenets of takaful and micro-takaful  (low-cost takaful) and hopes to lend insurance regulators and policy makers (in India and other emerging markets), which are contemplating introducing takaful, useful insights to develop takaful in their respective markets.
In Piercing the Corporate Veil—In England and Singapore, Stephen Bull discusses the recent English cases on the piercing (or lifting) of the corporate veil—Prest v. Petrodel Resources Ltd and VTB Capital plc v. Nutritek International Corpn, and compares and examines the potential impact that the more restrictive approach adopted by the U.K. Supreme Court will have on Singapore’s jurisprudence, including divergences with existing case law. He notes that the most recent cases of Alwie Handoyo v. Tjiong Very Sumito and Raffles Town Club Pte Ltd v. Lim Eng Hock Peter predate (or were argued just after) the two English cases, and did not analyse the law in detail. However, he ultimately queries the extent of the impact that the English cases will have on Singapore law.
Margaret Fordham, in Psychiatric Injury, Secondary Victims and the ‘Sudden Shock’ Requirement, argues that the said requirement of shock-induced damage for claims in negligence for psychiatric injury (not involving medical negligence) is both artificial and arbitrary. She suggests that the Australian position, which has done away with the requirement, is preferred, but notes that given the Court of Appeal’s pronouncements on the matter in Ngiam Kong Seng v. Lim Chew Hock, the ‘shock’ requirement is set to stay in Singapore until Parliament intervenes.
In Using Trusts to Protect Mobile Money Customers, Jonathan Greenacre and Ross P. Buckley explore how trusts can act as an interim stopgap measure (in the absence of regulation) to ‘regulate’ providers of financial services through mobile phones (who are often telecommunications companies and not banks). They suggest that declaring a trust can address the three main risks that e-money customers face: the trustee-beneficiary relationship mitigates the potential bankruptcy of the provider through the isolation of funds, and clauses in the deed and the imposition of a Protector (such as a regulator) can help deal with potential illiquidity and fraud.
Lee Suet Lin Joyce, in Making a Case for the Duty to Act for Proper Purposes, criticises the little use of the said duty in Singapore and the typical fallback to the duty to act bona fide in the interests of the company. She argues that the two are different, and that the duty to act for proper purposes should be used more frequently given its flexibility and ability to incorporate (and review) both the directors’ belief and the law’s purposes. She provides a comparative analysis of the duty and adopts Lord Wilberforce’s approach in Howard Smith Ltd v. Ampol Petroleum Ltd in determining when such a duty is violated: (a) objectively, identifying what the proper purposes are; and (b) if the directors had acted within the said purposes, whilst taking into account their subjective intentions (e.g., in the bona fide interests of the company).
In Recognising Lost Chances in Tort Law, Liang Shi Wei, Jeremy and Low Kee Yang seek to show that the existing approach of applying traditional causation rules in ‘loss of chance’ cases is arbitrary and inadequate, especially for claimants of medical negligence who have a less than 50% chance of cure. They propose that ‘loss of chance’ be recognised as a new category of actionable damage by the courts, and in doing so, advocate for a two-part threshold test of: (a) a real and substantial chance of obtaining a better outcome; and (b) the injury affecting the claimant’s prospects laying in the future at the time of the negligence, and finally quantifying the loss using the weighted mean approach.
Petra Mahy and Ian Ramsay, in Legal Transplants and Adaptation in a Colonial Setting: Company Law in British Malaya, trace the historical development of company law in British Malaya—the Straits Settlements and the Federated Malay States. They find that there were very low levels of adaptability of the company law from England, with rare instances of interconnection with local economic developments. Further, the pattern of transplants was straightforward and very depoliticised though they observe a pattern of inter-colony legal diffusion not noted in other literature. Lastly, that local law was not a particularly successful tool of “imperialism” given the relatively small number of local incorporations.
In Implication of Terms in Law in Singapore, Teo Keang Sood notes that the Singapore courts have not applied the test of necessity as laid down in Liverpool City Council v. Irwin, instead preferring a test based on reasons of justice, fairness and public policy, and creating a criterion of reasonableness which is contrary to Lord Bridge’s dicta in Liverpool City Council. He suggests that while there may be room for a strict test of necessity given that terms implied in law would apply to all future contracts of the same type, and that it would reduce the uncertainty arising in its application, ultimately he submits that the true test should be one based on wider policy considerations, fairness and justice alone.
Susan Barkehall Thomas, in Proprietary Estoppel and Common Intention Constructive Trusts: Is it Time to Abandon the Distinction?, discusses the said question whilst referring to English and Australian jurisprudence. She argues that it is unlikely to be the case in England (and in Singapore) given the strong institutional/remedial distinction kept between the two doctrines. In Australia, however, she suggests that since the prima facie remedy is to enforce the plaintiff’s expectation, the use of the common intention constructive trust has been overtaken by proprietary estoppel.

In A Critique of International and Singapore’s Legal Treatments of Trafficking in Persons, Ronald J.J. Wong considers the pervasive problem of human trafficking. He begins by discussing the typical narratives for trafficking in persons in Singapore from personal accounts and information in the news. He then considers the problems with the existing international legal instrument combating the trafficking—the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the deficit of victim-centred approaches to the issue and the associated competing ideologies, and the lack of focus on demand-side factors. He then criticises the lack of coverage from and incongruity in the existing piecemeal Singaporean legislation on the issue, and proposes the use of an omnibus anti-trafficking legislation to tackle the problem.

Our July 2014 issue also features several legislation comments and case notes, and book reviews. Click here for the complete contents page.

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