We acted in a significant constitutional law case which dealt with the fundamental liberty of free speech. We represented the Singapore current affairs website, The Online Citizen, in responding to the Government’s appeal to the Court of Appeal that the Government is a ‘person’ under the Protection of Harassment Act and was therefore entitled to bring the Online Citizen to Court to seek a declaration that certain statements made by the Online Citizen about MINDEF were false.
In a rare 2-1 split decision of the Court of Appeal, the majority of the Court agreed with our position that it was not the intention of Parliament that the Government could invoke the Protection of Harassment Act and that the Government was wrong to seek the declaration in Court against the Online Citizen.
Our Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, Mr Gino Hardial Singh and Mr Suang Wijaya acted for the 2nd Appellant in the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal in delivering its judgment considered and clarified the law in relation to the presumption of knowledge of drugs under section 18 (2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act. The Court held that the subjective state of knowledge of drugs in an Accused person’s possession must be evaluated against the objective circumstances surrounding the offence and that the reasonable man’s perspective is a useful evidential tool in assessing the Accused person’s state of knowledge.
In another seminal constitutional law case, the Court of Appeal was asked by us to consider the important Constitutional Law issue of whether the Public Prosecutor in deciding whether or not to grant a certificate of cooperation to a convicted drug trafficker, after conviction (which would result in the Court hearing the matter having the discretion to sentence the offender to life imprisonment as opposed to death) was in substance performing a judicial function which offends against the constitutional provision reserving judicial functions to the Judiciary.
The Court of Appeal held that there was no breach of the Constitution as the power was a general power which applied in equal force in an equal manner to all offenders who had been convicted of drug trafficking and that the unique qualities of the Public Prosecutor that rendered his office most suited to make the limited question of whether the Accused provided substantial assistance and therefore deserved the certificate of cooperation. These unique qualities of the Public Prosecutor weighed very much in favour of the Constitutional validity of the provision.
The Court of Appeal had in the context of an employment contract to interprete what the phrase ‘serious misconduct’ entailed. The Court held that as there was no definition of ‘serious misconduct’ in the contract, the most principled approach would be to look to the common law principle relating to discharge by breach (i.e a repudiatory breach) for guidance.
We were successful in arguing a novel point of law in the Court of Appeal in relation to the extent that an employer owes a duty to a former employee in preparing a performance reference. The Court of Appeal agreed with our arguments that the Defendant Company had breached its duty of care in preparing a performance reference for our client and awarded damages to our client.
This case dealt with inter alia the novel point of law in relation to the scope of a non-biological parent’s duty under the Women’s Charter to maintain a child. We were successful in arguing for the husband for a reduction in relation to the wife’s share of the matrimonial assets and for his obligation to maintain the child to end at the point of the grant of the interim divorce order.
The Court of Appeal considered the issue of whether the existence of third party security (security not provided by the debtor, but held by the Creditor in respect of the debt) affected the right of a creditor to be admitted to the bankruptcy process and to prove the full amount of his debt.
We acted for The Online Citizen. We successfully argued before the High Court that the Government was not a ‘person’ within the meaning of Section 15 of the Harassment Act and therefore did not have the right to invoke that section to compel our clients to state that their article contained falsehoods or to take down the article. The case is currently before the Court of Appeal.
We were successful in this claim by a former employee of a multi-national company against the company for wrongful dismissal. This case dealt with whether an employee’s alleged misconduct was sufficiently serious enough to cause the employer to summarily terminate his employment contract. The High Court Judge who heard the trial held that the misconduct was not sufficiently serious and allowed our client’s claim for damages. The Defendant’s appeal was heard by the Court of Appeal, which has reserved its decision.
This case, which was before the Court of Appeal dealt with the novel and contentious point of law on what (if any) reserve management powers shareholders have when the board of directors is at a deadlock.
This was a Constitutional Law case heard by the Court of Appeal which dealt with the issue of whether the retroactive amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act (“MDA”) which enable some drug traffickers who were already convicted and sentenced to death to apply to be resentenced to life imprisonment instead, violated Article 12 (1) of the Constitution.