eOasis is Rajah & Tann Asia’s legal publications portal, where you can view updates on the latest key legal and regulatory developments in Asia, prepared from a practitioner's viewpoint.

What's New on eOASIS

Shipping Law Updates
The Shipping Law Updates is a publication by our Regional Shipping Group which marshals legal expertise, industry insight, and commercial acumen in the fields of maritime and trade from the diverse talent pool of specialist lawyers at the Rajah & Tann Asia offices. The publication provides a snapshot of the key legal, regulatory, case law and industry developments in the region that have an impact on the shipping industry.

In this issue, we report on the amendments to the rules of service of admiralty writs and warrants of arrest in Malaysia to ensure safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We also look at developments in the rules for the registration and licensing of shipbreaking and ship recycling in the Philippines.

05 Aug 2021 | Singapore
Shipping Law Updates

The Shipping Law Updates is a publication by our Regional Shipping Group which marshals legal expertise, industry insight, and commercial acumen in the fields of maritime and trade from the diverse talent pool of specialist lawyers at the Rajah & Tann Asia offices. The publication provides a snapshot of the key legal, regulatory, case law and industry developments in the region that have an impact on the shipping industry.

In this issue, we report on the amendments to the rules of service of admiralty writs and warrants of arrest in Malaysia to ensure safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We also look at developments in the rules for the registration and licensing of shipbreaking and ship recycling in the Philippines.

05 Aug 2021 | Malaysia
The Reform of the Singapore Court System – Keeping Pace with Changing Business Needs
On 26 July 2021, the Courts (Civil and Criminal Justice) Reform Bill ("Bill") was tabled for its First Reading in Parliament. The Bill seeks to reform the Singapore court system to keep pace with the changing needs of litigants and businesses seeking to resolve commercial disputes, creating a more efficient and facilitative framework.

The Bill sets out a host of amendments, including a number of changes directed at improving how the court system functions in relation to the practical and experiential concerns of litigants. In this Update, we explore some of the key changes in the Bill and how they may positively impact the user experience of Singapore litigants.
03 Aug 2021 | Singapore
Relaxation of Limitations for Foreign Arbitrators or Representatives in Thai Arbitral Proceedings

In an effort to promote Thailand as an arbitration-friendly venue and a regional hub for international arbitral proceedings, the limitations imposed on foreign arbitrators and representatives who are appointed to act in arbitration proceedings in Thailand have been relaxed.

Previously, foreign parties may have been discouraged from choosing Thailand as the venue for arbitration because of concerns on the limited selection of arbitrators and representatives due to restrictions on foreign arbitrators and representatives. Foreign arbitrators were required to undergo an onerous and time-consuming process to obtain a work permit, while foreign representatives were prohibited from acting in arbitration proceedings in Thailand unless the dispute was governed by foreign law or the award would not be required to be enforced in Thailand.

In this Update, we look into the amendments introduced by the Arbitration Act (No. 2) B.E. 2562 (A.D. 2019) ("Arbitration Act (No. 2)") which expressly allow the appointment of foreigners as arbitrators or representatives, together with remaining restrictions for foreign arbitrators or representatives such as visa requirements.

03 Aug 2021 | Thailand
High Court Sets out New Sentencing Framework for Tax Evasion Offences
For justice to be achieved, like cases should be treated alike. When a court is faced with two very similar cases, it should arrive at broadly similar outcomes. Consistency in sentencing – encompassing both the adoption of a consistent methodology as well as the achievement of consistent sentencing outcomes – is therefore crucial to ensuring a fair justice system.

In Tan Song Cheng v Public Prosecutor and another appeal [2021] SGHC 138, the High Court agreed with the prosecution that previous sentencing decisions under section 96(1) of the Income Tax Act lacked a consistent or coherent sentencing approach. As such, the High Court substantially endorsed the five-step framework proposed by the prosecution, transposed from the five-step framework in Logachev Vladislav v Public Prosecutor [2018] 4 SLR 609:
  1. Identify the level of harm and the level of culpability;
  2. Identify the applicable indicative sentencing range;
  3. Identify the appropriate starting point within the indicative sentencing range;
  4. Make adjustments to the starting point to take into account offender-specific factors; and
  5. Make further adjustments to take into account the totality principle.
In this Update, we elaborate on the framework and examine the factors to be considered.

02 Aug 2021 | Singapore
Legislative Changes Take Effect on 24 July 2021 to Implement Salvage Convention
As a global maritime hub, Singapore is one of the key jurisdictions for admiralty and shipping dispute resolution. In 2019, the Merchant Shipping (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018 was passed in Parliament to implement, among other things, two key developments, namely, the International Convention on Salvage, 1989 ("Salvage Convention") and the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976 ("1996 Protocol"). The provisions relating to the 1996 Protocol that serve to increase the limits of liability for claims against shipowners came into force on 29 December 2019.

With effect from 24 July 2021, the relevant provisions in several pieces of legislation came into effect to implement the Salvage Convention. These revisions mainly aim to allow special compensation claims arising from salvage operations that averted and mitigated the effect of environmental damage even if the vessels or their cargo were not salvaged successfully. They also extend the Singapore High Court's admiralty jurisdiction to such special compensation claims, thereby allowing enforcement of such claims through ship arrest.

In this Update, we look at the key aspects of the legislative revisions that took effect from 24 July 2021 to implement the Salvage Convention and the potential impact on the shipping industry.
30 Jul 2021 | Singapore
MPWT Issues Prakas Requiring Companies to Apply for Registration and Permit for Digital Hailing Services for Road Transport Operation

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has issued Prakas No. 100 Pr.K.PW.RT dated 21 June 2021 on the Conditions and Procedures of Issuance of Permit to Companies Conducting Digital Hailing Services for Road Transport Operation in Cambodia ("Prakas").

This Update provides the key features of the Prakas.

30 Jul 2021 | Cambodia
Sustainability Updates - Compliance with Environmental Laws: Road Towards Achieving a Healthy and Sustainable Triple Bottom Line

Almost every other day on various platforms, we receive feeds and articles on the importance of putting in place Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG") policies that contribute towards ethical and responsible way of carrying on business, with the golden mantra on being ‘sustainable’. Recently reported events also demonstrated an increasing shift in investors’ investment criteria and objectives, that place significant emphasis on ESG policy disclosures and compliance with the law in assessing how well the investment will fair in the market. We see companies faced with compliance issues being adversely affected financially, resulting in the loss of goodwill from the negative media coverage given the growing investor sentiment wary of ESG risks. In the most extreme cases, this has come at the risk of losing access to an entire market. From regulatory actions taken by US authorities on Top Glove shipments over concerns of alleged human rights concerns, to the unprecedented ousting of directors at Exxon Mobil by activist investor group Engine No. 1, and ongoing bilateral discussions taking place relating to EU imports of Malaysian palm oil – these incidents demonstrate that both the investors and businesses may have underestimated the ESG imperative at their peril.

In this Update, we take a closer look at some of the environmental law compliance issues frequently encountered in Malaysia.

30 Jul 2021 | Malaysia
Five Years On: The Development of Arbitration Laws and Institutions in Myanmar

It has been five years since Myanmar enacted its Arbitration Law 2016 to begin its journey of modernising its legal framework to promote arbitration as a viable mode of alternative dispute resolution in Myanmar. Over the past five years, whilst important strides have been taken to move forward on the development of the necessary framework and institutions, significant roadblocks have also been encountered, most recently with the COVID-19 pandemic and the military coup. 

In this Update, we will take stock of the current development of arbitration in Myanmar, covering (a) the legislative framework; (b) the domestic arbitral institution, namely the Myanmar Arbitration Centre; (c) the recognition and authentication of Myanmar arbitral awards in foreign jurisdictions; and (d) the treatment of arbitration processes by the Myanmar Courts.

30 Jul 2021 | Myanmar
Application Period for Simplified Insolvency Programme Extended to 28 July 2022
The Ministry of Law has announced that the application period for the Simplified Insolvency Programme ("SIP") has been extended to 28 July 2022. The SIP helps eligible micro and small companies facing financial difficulties restructure their debts or wind up via simpler, faster and lower-cost restructuring processes. Entry into the SIP is initiated by the applicant company submitting an application to the Official Receiver. The application period was originally set at six months (from 29 January 2021 to 28 July 2021). However, in light of the continued challenges in the business environment arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the application period has been extended for another year.
29 Jul 2021 | Singapore
MAS Consults on AML/CFT Notice for Precious Stones and Precious Metals Activities & Updates on AML/CFT Notices for Financial Institutions and Variable Capital Companies
The Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") is seeking comments on changes to the requirements on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism ("AML/CFT") applicable to financial institutions regulated by MAS ("FIs") and variable capital companies ("VCCs") under the purview of MAS for AML/CFT obligations. The proposals are set out in the "Consultation Paper on the Proposed New AML/CFT Notice for Precious Stones and Precious Metals Activities and Updates to AML/CFT Notices" ("Consultation Paper") which is open for public consultation until 10 August 2021.

The key proposals in the Consultation Paper concern:
  • Setting out the AML/CFT requirements applicable to FIs dealing in precious stones, precious metals and precious products in a new AML/CFT Notice.
  • Updating the existing MAS AML/CFT Notices for FIs and VCCs to provide for: ­
    • New requirements relating to digital token services for FIs;
    • New requirements relating to shell company that presents higher money laundering and terrorism financing risks for FIs and VCCs:
    • New wire transfer and correspondent account requirements for credit card or charge card licensees;
    • New disclosure requirement to designated non-financial businesses and professionals and VCCs for licensed trust companies and approved trustees; and
    • Other clarifications on the requirements relating to group policy, identification and verification of customer and beneficial ownership exemptions.
This Update provides a summary of these proposals.

29 Jul 2021 | Singapore
CCCS Announces Plans for General Business Collaboration Guidance Note to Replace its Guidance Note on Collaboration During COVID-19
In July 2020, to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Competition & Consumer Commission of Singapore ("CCCS") issued a Guidance Note on Collaborations between Competitors in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ("COVID-19 Guidance Note") to provide clarity to businesses on how CCCS would treat collaborations between competitors during these exceptional times, as well as examples of collaborations that would fall under the COVID-19 Guidance Note. The COVID-19 Guidance Note, however, is due to expire 31 July 2021.

On 23 July 2021, CCCS confirmed that the COVID-19 Guidance Note will no longer apply from 31 July 2021. Interestingly, however, CCCS announced its intention to consult on an upcoming draft General Business Collaboration Guidance Note to provide businesses with more clarity on common collaborations between competitors.
28 Jul 2021 | Singapore