Advisory for Law Practices on Elevated Safe Distancing Measures
05 APR 2020
05 Apr 2020 Posted in Announcements
- On 3 April 2020, the Prime Minister and the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced the implementation of a set of elevated safe distancing measures to pre-empt the trend of increasing local transmission of COVID-19. These measures, including the suspension of business activities, are intended to significantly reduce physical movements and interactions in public and private places. Other than essential services and their related supply chains and service providers, all other business, social, or other activities that cannot be conducted through telecommuting or other means from home shall be suspended during the Circuit Breaker period which has been extended to 1 June 2020.
- While legal services in general has not been included as one of the essential services, the Ministry of Law recognises that certain legal activities are urgent and essential, and has worked with the relevant agencies to include the following categories of legal activities as essential services. For these categories of legal activities, law practices are required to submit a one-time general exemption application at https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/.
- Essential and urgent matters specified in the Registrar’s Circulars issued by each court in respect of criminal, civil and family matters wherein:
- attendance by the solicitor is required by the court; and/or
- adjudication hearings fixed under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act;
- Commercial transactions or actions having statutory, regulatory or contractual deadlines (whether local or foreign) for which no waiver or deferment has been or will be granted or transactions or actions for which completion is due or time is of the essence in this said period;
- Conveyancing transactions with deadlines where time is of the essence or with milestone deadlines to be met, including but not limited to exercise of option and completion deadlines, and timelines affecting progress payments, deposits, monies in escrow and completion monies; and
- Urgent and essential Wills and Probate advisory and transactional services (for example the drafting of wills and execution of lasting powers of attorney for the vulnerable), for which no deferment may be made.
- For all other legal activities, where law practices wish to work from the office, law practices are required to apply for time-limited exemption at https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/, which will be approved by MTI on a case-by-case basis.
- Notwithstanding the general exemption granted for the four categories of activities, legal practices must comply with the following:
- All activities that can take place through telecommuting must be done from home.
- Employers must implement safe distancing measures to reduce physical interactions by:
- Reducing the need for and duration of physical interactions;
- Staggering working hours;
- Postponing all group events; and
- Implementing shift work and/or split team arrangements.
- Law practices are encouraged to adopt video and audio conferencing and other technological tools to support their workers to work from home.
- Law practices are also reminded to observe the advisory on strict safe distancing measures at workplace at all times, failing which MOM and MOH will take enforcement actions against employers who do not implement safe distancing measures, including ordering employers or occupiers to cease operations until measures are put in place.
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MINISTRY OF LAW
21 May 2020