Written Answer by Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act concerning event and tourism related contracts
5 July 2021 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Mr Murali Pillai (Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok GRC)
To ask the Minister for Law whether the relief provisions in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act concerning event and tourism related contracts may be extended to cover such contracts (whether entered into before or after 25 March 2020) and performance of which are affected by the Government’s Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures and restrictions announced on 14 May 2021.
- The interventions in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act (the “Act”) were needed to help businesses and individuals deal with the sudden and extraordinary impact of the pandemic last year.
- The Act introduced exceptional relief measures for contracts affected by COVID-19. The main measure involved a temporary moratorium against certain types of legal action. Additional relief measures were provided for event and tourism-related contracts. The Act prevented the automatic forfeiture of deposits and the imposition of cancellation fees, notwithstanding a party’s contractual rights.
- As we said then, we do not intervene lightly, knowing the impact of such interventions on the sanctity of contracts.
- We are monitoring the situation closely. We have reviewed the feedback from event vendors and customers affected by the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures. On the whole, the impact is less severe than that of the Circuit Breaker period last year.
- In many of these cases, the parties have looked beyond the strict contractual position and worked out the matter by themselves, either by postponing the event or if the event is cancelled for good, for the unutilised deposit to be used for other goods or services. In some of these cases, the parties took the cue from the approach adopted by the Assessors appointed under the Act.
- In the minority of cases where parties have not been able to work out a mutually agreeable way forward, they will benefit from some assistance from a mediator.
- The Ministry of Law is therefore working on a mediation framework that will make mediation available to parties that have been unable to reach an agreement with their vendors. This will be in addition to existing mediation avenues such as the Law Society Mediation Scheme and mediation at the Singapore Mediation Centre which parties can already tap on. We will announce the details when ready.
Last updated on 5 July 2021