Public Consultation on drafts of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill, Evidence (Amendment) Bill and Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill
8 Apr 2014 to 30 Apr 2014
The Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”) Committee was appointed in May 2013 to study the viability of developing a framework to establish the SICC. The SICC Committee released its Report on 29 November 2013 and public consultation on the Report was conducted between 3 December 2013 and 31 January 2014. The feedback received was supportive of the initiative and included suggestions on how to make the SICC attractive to potential users.
The Government welcomes the SICC Committee’s recommendation to establish the SICC and thanks all parties who have provided feedback. For the next stage, it will be necessary to pass relevant legislation to advance this new initiative. The Ministry of Law proposes to table four Bills to make the following changes:
- To make provision for the appointment of International Judges (referred to as “Associate Judges” in the Report) under the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, and also to make certain miscellaneous and technical amendments;
- To establish the SICC as a division of the High Court;
- To amend the rules of evidence relating to proof of foreign law; and
- To establish a framework for foreign lawyers to represent parties before the SICC
B Summary of the content of proposed Bills
Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill</b>
The SICC Committee proposed (see Report at para ) the appointment of a new class of judges known as Associate Judges, who will hear SICC matters together with existing Judges of the Supreme Court. The Report recommended (at para ) that Associate Judges be appointed either to hear a specific SICC case or for a specified period, within which they will hear SICC cases on an ad hoc basis. The Report also recommended that when Associate Judges so sit, they will exercise the same powers and enjoy immunities as a Judge of the High Court, although they will not enjoy security of tenure nor security of remuneration.
The proposed Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill adopts the abovementioned recommendations made by the SICC Committee, save that “Associate Judges” will be named “International Judges”. The Bill seeks to empower the President to appoint, on the advice of the Prime Minister, a person who, in the opinion of the Chief Justice, has the necessary qualifications, experience and professional standing to be an International Judge. In addition, the Bill seeks to update provisions relating to the Judiciary, in the form of certain miscellaneous and technical amendments (e.g. to align the definition of a “Judge of the Supreme Court” with the proposed judiciary framework).
The proposed Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill is found at Annex A.
Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill</b>
The SICC Committee recommended (see Report at para ) that the SICC must be a superior court of law to maximise the international enforceability of its decisions. The proposed Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill provides for the establishment of the SICC as a division of the High Court with jurisdiction to hear and try actions of an international and commercial nature. The Bill also contains provisions defining the powers of the SICC, the role of International Judges and addresses other consequential and technical matters.
The proposed Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill is found at Annex B.
Evidence (Amendment) Bill</b>
The SICC Committee recommended (see Report at para ) that in line with the international character of the SICC, foreign law need not be pleaded and proved as fact in SICC proceedings. The proposed Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2014 proposes to allow judges to take judicial notice of foreign law, and dispense with proof of foreign law in certain situations in accordance with the Rules of Court. In addition, the Bill seeks to make a number of ancillary or consequential amendments.
The proposed Evidence (Amendment) Bill is found at Annex C.
Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill</b>
The SICC Committee recommended (see Report at para ) that for cases which have no substantial connection to Singapore, foreign counsel may, upon registering with SICC, have rights of audience before the SICC as well as before the Court of Appeal in hearings that arise out of the SICC (see Report at para ). The proposed Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill proposes to confer the privilege of appearing before the SICC on foreign lawyers registered for this purpose. The Bill also contains a proposed framework to allow for the investigation and disposal of complaints against such counsel, as recommended by the SICC Committee (see Report at para ).
The proposed Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill is found at Annex D. These should be read with the wider amendments to the Legal Profession Act, which are also being consulted on.
C Feedback sought
- MinLaw invites interested parties to provide your views and feedback on the proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, Supreme Court of Judicature Act, Evidence Act, and Legal Profession Act. The consultation period is from 8 April 2014 to 30 April 2014. The public can view the consultation version of the four Bills 1 at https://www.mlaw.gov.sg and https://www.reach.gov.sg . The feedback may be sent in electronic or hard copy form to:
Ministry of Law
Policy Advisory Division
100 High Street
#08-02, The Treasury
Fax: 6332 8842
 Please note that the numbering and placement of provisions in this consultation draft will be subject to technical changes and re-organisation. The final format and placement of the provisions may therefore differ in the final Bills. The final Bills will also contain other amendments that are not the subject of this public consultation.
Annex A: Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill 2014(212KB)
Annex B: Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill 2014(230KB)
Annex C: Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2014(127KB)
Annex D: Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2014(710KB)
Last updated on 14 Apr 2014