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Singapore Law


Mind Map on Singapore Law, created by WenQi Teo on 09/15/2014.
WenQi Teo
Mind Map by WenQi Teo, updated more than 1 year ago
WenQi Teo
Created by WenQi Teo almost 8 years ago

Resource summary

Singapore Law
  1. Nature & Sources of Law in Singapore
    1. Law: defined as orders backed/supported by threats (to make you comply) - it comes from many sources, including even customary and religious practices and other cultural practices acceptable as norms of the society and made as law for all to comply/follow.
      1. ** Legal Systems
        1. Common Law System
          1. "judge-made" law system - judges in such system are more active in making laws and later follow and refine the laws.
            1. *** Types of law
              1. Criminal Law (State vs you)
                1. "offences against the State"
                  1. standard of proof: to prove that a crime is committed, with NO doubt at all. Higher standard than civil law
                    1. where society does not want you to behave in a particular way, else you'll be punished
                2. Civil Law (Private Law)
                  1. rights and obligations that parties have dealings with each other
                    1. standard of proof: on the balance of probabilities
                      1. to prove the likelihood of someone breaching the law, with little doubt.
              2. Civil Law System
                1. statute or govt created law, the govt takes a more active central role in deciding what is law and the judges only takes an active role in interpreting the codes and declare and follow the law accordingly.
                2. ***** Sources of Law in Singapore
                  1. The Singapore Constitution (obeyed by govt)
                    1. 1st set of law placed in Constitution upon SG independence
                      1. most important/greatest source of law, most basic laws in SG
                        1. Article 4: if any other law in SG conflicts with SG Constitution, then that law is to be voided
                          1. guides govt in creating laws to deal with rights of its citizens and election process
                          2. English statutes validly applied in SG
                            1. SG was historically occupied by British forces hence British law and custom becomes part of SG.
                              1. UK statutes validly applicable in SG via Application of English Law Act
                                1. So long as it does not conflict with the current SG law, then it can be applied to/as SG law
                              2. e.g. Misrepresentation Act 1967
                                1. e.g. Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977
                                2. Custom and Customary Law (Acceptable Practices)
                                  1. Customary practices change from time to time when society grows old each day. Some customs become so imptly acceptable in society that it is recognised by govt who later creates law to recognise such acceptable customs.
                                    1. e.g. wedding customs
                                    2. Legislation
                                      1. Legislature is one main power of govt created by the SG Constitution which is in charge of creating laws (statutes, legislation, Acts of Parliament) that binds all residing in SG
                                        1. Legislature, thru Members of Parliament (MPs) suggesting certain proposals or issues to be made into laws (Bills of Parliament or suggestions) in Parliament for discussion and such bills goes thru a process of three readings (and if need be, also Committee and/or Sub-Committee Stage before 3rd Reading to be included) in the Lower House before sending such bills to be approved by the President of SG (Upper House).
                                          1. justify their thoughts with statistics
                                            1. At Upper House, if the bill to be approved is of national interest or sensitive racial issues or if it concerns a minor race in SG, the Presidential Council for Minority Rights could be formed to reconsider such bills.
                                              1. Once President agrees to the bill to be law, then such bill will be published in the Gazette and at such date of publication, the law is born - Act of Parliament
                                                1. Some cabinet ministers (in charge of portfolios which deal with national functions) could have legal powers to be able to create by-laws (delegated or subsidiary legislation) so as to improve the running of their respective ministries within their control. They are able to pass the law, without going through the debate.
                                          2. Common Law & Equity
                                            1. SG also adopts part of British Common Law System
                                              1. In UK long time ago, the early judges are the ones who actively decide on law based on acceptable rules of customs (judge-made laws) and once laws are created, the judges of future cases shall follow the law accordingly decided by the judges in previous/past cases (binding precedent). Common Law is judge made law (strictly applied without mercy or listening to case facts)
                                                1. *** To start an action, one will have to issue a "writ" against the other with in intent to sue him in court. A writ contains all the particulars of the action and legal reasons to sue.
                                                  1. Such laws are uniformly and strictly applied without mercy as common law became known as the strict arm of law.
                                                    1. Equity introduced to adjust the strictness of the Common Law by making sure that the law is fairly applied, that make sure that justice is served and to make sure that judgement is fairly and equitably served => what s "fair and just" or reasonable.
                                                      1. Early times in UK, Equity introduced by different judges from Common Law courts. Now, Common Law and Equity are dealt with by a single court by the same set of judges.
                                                        1. Earl of Oxford (1965), the King in UK had decided that where Common Law and Equity conflict with each other in a case, then Equity shall be upheld as the final answer.
                                            2. Judicial Precedent/ Binding Precedent
                                              1. Judicial Precedent: general description of judicial system/process, but never explain how to follow. It is a decision of a court, declared by the judge in dealing with common law and equity rules in relation to the circumstances of a case (ration decidendi)
                                                1. Ratio decidendi (or ration of a case) is the declaration of law by the judge in relation to facts of a case.
                                                  1. If current case facts are exactly the same as past case facts of the Higher Court decision, whatever the law is declared by the Higher Court case decision shall be binding to be followed by the current case.
                                                    1. In order to know how and what to follow in the previous Higher Court decisions, one must look at the ratio decidendi of a case.
                                                      1. Ratio of a case is different from what the judges may say of certain statements or legal principles which have no direct bearing on the present case - such "by the way" statements are known as "Obiter dicta", which is only persuasive.
                                                        1. or "Obiter dictum" is what the judges may say have nothing to do with the case facts (no direct value), or nothing much to do with the facts of the case.
                                                          1. Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932): a housewife sued the manufacturer of ginger beer for negligently causing her nervous shock. The ratio is that the manufacturer owes a duty of care to the consumer of his goods who is not in a position to inspect those goods. (Law of Tort of Negligence)
                                                            1. However, Lord Atkin went on to say that everyone owes a duty of care to his "neighbour" - What Lord Atkin stated has no direct bearing on the facts of the case as the case specifically is about manufacturer and consumer situation, so what Lord Atkin stated here is merely obiter dictum.
                                                          2. In some cases, there even seems to be no actual ratio - Boys v. Chaplin (1964) case, whereby all 5 judges give the same result/outcome but 5 different reasoning of law.
                                                    2. What the judges in past Higher Courts cases had decided before, is law to be followed in the Lower Courts present and future cases.
                                                    3. Binding Precedent (or stare decisis): explains how to follow the law from past Higher Courts cases
                                                      1. Court of Appeal (COA), the highest court, need not follow its own past decisions or past Privy Council cases before 1993
                                                        1. Privy Council - Before 1993, highest court of law in Singapore (located in London). Abolished in 1993.
                                                        2. the only way a judge need not follow a past binding precedent is to either:
                                                          1. say that the previous case is not the same facts with present case - to show difference in facts or circumstances
                                                            1. dispute the ratio of the past binding precedent by saying it is in conflict with other cases and should not be accepted
                                                              1. saying that the present case was decided per incuriam - meaning to say that the judge in this case did not fully consider certain statutory provision applying or not wanting to follow a past binding precedent.
                                                          2. Methods to guide judges to interpret statutes correctly when it is applicable to a case
                                                            1. *** Statute (Section 9A of Interpretation Act)
                                                              1. to help the judges to find out the purpose or object for which that particular statute/govt law was created. By understanding the original meaning of such statute from materials like docs printed by Govt Printer, govt docs, Minister's speech in Parliament on the statute before it becomes law, any other records, any international laws or treaties referred to and so on
                                                                1. S.9A is seen to be used by a judge in the case of Raffles City Pte Ltd v. Attorney-General of S'pore (1993) whereby confusion on what it really means by the word, "storey" in that statute, Para 5 of the Property Tax Order 1967 - "Storey" meaning to look at eye level the overall storey height of the whole devt or to calculate each storey in each tower blocks and podium of the whole devt
                                                                2. Past Common Law Cases
                                                                  1. **** Maxims of Interpretation and Construction
                                                                    1. 1) **** The Ejusdem Generis Rule ("Of the same kind") - when a list of fixed/specific examples or items belonging to the same class is followed by general words (like, cats, dogs, and other animals), any more examples or items coming from the general words must still be of the same type of examples or items of the same class (other animals here is interpreted as four legged domestic animals) - Evans v. Cross case.
                                                                      1. 2) ***** The Noscitur a Sociis Rule ("Words are known by the company they keep" - meaning to say that a general word may be differently interpreted when it is used in different statutes (meaning that words may have different meanings when found in different statutes) - e.g. the general words, "public places" could mean "parks and recreational spaces" if it is seen in the statute, "Recreational Parks Act" and it could mean, "govt buildings and installations" if it is seen in another different statute, "Building Control Act".
                                                                        1. 3) *** The Expressio unius est exclusion alterius Rule ("what is expressed as an example excludes other alternatives") - "The clear/express/specific mention of an item" or example or that class for a word seems to exclude any other item or example or class for the meaning of that word (the word only clearly belongs to the example given and the word does not represent other examples) - e.g. if a statute defines the word "vehicle" as "cars only", then "vehicle" does not include "vans", or "buses" or "motorcycles".
                                                                        2. ***** 4 Canons of Interpretation
                                                                          1. 1) *** The Literal Rule - "what you read is what it means". If by reading the statute in its ordinary straightforward meaning and to apply it in its ordinary meaning would lead to absurd results, then the Golden Rule will be used.
                                                                            1. 2) ***** The Golden Rule - an exception to the Literal Rule, whereby applying the straightforward meaning of the statute would be absurd, then the courts will decide differently from such straightforward meaning - re Sigsworth (1935) case.
                                                                              1. 3) **** The Mischief Rule - a broaden exception of the Golden Rule - to find the purpose for which that particular law was created as statute by the govt/Parliament which is to "fill the gap" of what Common Law did not achieve - Gardiner v. Sevenoaks case
                                                                                1. 4) The Unified Approach - the judge will apply all the above rules one by one in a structured manner and if necessary use other aids or instruments to assist in the interpreting of statutes by the judge.
                                                                        3. Structure of Singapore's Legal System
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