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Banking & Finance

MAS Green and Sustainability-Linked Loan Grant Scheme for Corporates and Banks Available from 1 January 2021

With effect from 1 January 2021, corporates which plan to obtain green and sustainable financing may apply under the Green and Sustainability-Linked Loan Grant Scheme ("GSLS") for a grant to defray the expenses of engaging independent service providers to validate the green and sustainability credentials of the loan. In addition, banks which plan to develop green and sustainability-linked loan frameworks may apply under the GSLS for co-funding of specified expenses of such frameworks.

Launched on 24 November 2020, the GSLS is the first of its kind globally that seeks to support the aim of the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") to develop green and sustainable financial markets and products to aid Asia's transition to a low-carbon future.

This Update provides a summary of the key features and eligibility criteria for the GSLS, one of the initiatives under the MAS' Green Finance Action Plan.

Singapore | Banking & Finance | 27 November 2020
Restructuring & Insolvency Regimes in Southeast Asia: A Comparative Overview

As business and commerce becomes increasingly cross-border in nature, it is important for businesses to have knowledge of restructuring and insolvency regimes of foreign jurisdictions. This is particularly relevant in the Southeast Asia region, given the close connection and links amongst the Southeast Asian states.

In this publication, we take a broad look at the key areas of interest in the restructuring and insolvency regimes across the region. The comparative overview covers various differences and similarities in the respective restructuring and insolvency frameworks in these jurisdictions.

Rajah & Tann Asia, as a regional network of law firms, has an established presence across Southeast Asia. Our regional offices have the requisite restructuring and insolvency expertise to assist with your queries and restructuring and insolvency needs across these jurisdictions.

Singapore | Banking & Finance | 11 September 2020
SME Loan Financing Obligations Amidst Covid-19

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has announced a set of relief measures meant to ease the financial strain on small and medium enterprises ("SMEs") in Singapore. Such relief measures include support for SMEs to defer the payment of principal on their secured loans and the provision of loans to SMEs at potentially lower interest rates. Furthermore, on 7 April 2020, the Parliament passed the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020, which provides for support and protection for SMEs which are unable to perform their obligations under scheduled contracts due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. 

Such measures include a six-month moratorium period starting from 20 April 2020 during which SMEs are provided broad protection against legal action and enforcement of security in respect of certain scheduled contracts and temporary modifications to the insolvency regime to limit certain insolvency proceedings. 

This Update discusses the relief measures relating to SME loan financing obligations amid COVID-19. 

Singapore | Banking & Finance | 20 April 2020

Building & Construction

Relief for Construction Firms Facing Higher Foreign Manpower Costs Due to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a whole host of challenges for construction firms. Among them, the cost of foreign manpower necessary for the construction works has increased due to travel restrictions and limited supply. To provide relief for affected firms, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No. 3) Bill ("Bill") was introduced in Parliament on 10 May 2021.

The Bill introduces a new Part 10A to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, which provides a framework for parties to construction contracts to apply for relief from their contractual counterparties if they are affected by an increase in remuneration for work permit holders as a result of a COVID-19 event. Such increase may be caused by border control quotas set by the Government limiting the inflow of workers from particular countries facing a spike in COVID-19 cases, or by travel restrictions imposed by other countries on their citizens.

Having been tabled on a Certificate of Urgency, the Bill has since been passed on 11 May 2021. In this Update, we highlight the key provisions of the Bill and the framework for relief applications set out therein.

Singapore | Building & Construction | 14 May 2021
Extension of Relief Period for Specified Contracts under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act ("Act") provides temporary relief for parties that are unable to perform their contractual obligations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amongst its measures, Part 2 of the Act provides relief from certain legal and enforcement measures for prescribed categories of contracts, and Part 8B provides for cost sharing between parties to qualifying construction contracts for additional costs caused by delays.

On 26 March 2021, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Extension of Prescribed Period) Order 2021 extended the relief period to 19 April 2021 for certain measures relevant to the Built Environment and Real Estate sectors. This is to allow Parliament to consider the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No. 2) Bill 2021 ("Bill"), which the Ministry of National Development intends to introduce on 5 April 2021. The Bill would further extend the relief period to 30 September 2021 for (a) Part 8B of the Act; and (b) construction contracts or supply contracts, or any performance bond granted thereto, under Part 2 of the Act. It would also extend the relief period to 30 June 2021 for options to purchase and sale and purchase agreements with developers under Part 2 of the Act.

 

Singapore | Building & Construction | 30 March 2021
COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act: Re-Align Framework Available from 15 January 2021 and Other Additional Reliefs for Built Environment Sector

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act ("Act") has introduced a series of legal reliefs and mechanisms for businesses and individuals to aid them in managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Update highlights the key features of the latest temporary reliefs: 

  1. The Re-Align Framework, which facilitates the renegotiation of specified contracts for eligible businesses which are significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to be available from 15 January 2021 to 26 February 2021;
  2. Certain additional reliefs for the Built Environment sector have come into operation on 30 November 2020. These include a universal extension of time to the completion date for eligible construction contracts under Part 8A of the Act, and co-sharing of qualifying costs arising from COVID-19 related project delays for eligible construction contracts under Part 8B of the Act; and
  3. The regulations relating to the property tax rebate have been amended to take into account the Rental Relief Framework via the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Transfer of Benefit of Property Tax Remission) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, which was published on 18 December 2020.
Singapore | Building & Construction | 04 January 2021
Changes to COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act: Re-align Framework, Additional Reliefs for Built Environment Sector, Fine-tuning Property Tax Rebate Regulations

Amendments to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act ("Act") were passed in Parliament to supplement the temporary reliefs provided in the Act in the following key aspects:

  1. introducing a new re-align framework for eligible businesses which are significantly affected by COVID-19 to renegotiate specified contracts;
  2. introducing additional reliefs for the Built Environment sector in the forms of: (i) an extension of time to the completion date for eligible construction contracts; (ii) co-sharing of qualifying costs arising from COVID-19 related project delays for eligible construction contracts; and (iii) an avenue for property developers to seek an extension of date of delivery of possession of property and provision of the right for purchasers affected by COVID-19 related delay in delivery of their units; and
  3. fine-tuning the application of the property tax rebate regulations to take into account the rental relief framework provided in Part 2A of the Act.

The Act was enacted in April 2020 to introduce a series of temporary legal reliefs and mechanisms for businesses and individuals to aid them in managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 3 November 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No. 3) Bill ("Bill") providing changes to the Act was passed in Parliament. The changes have yet to come into force.

This Update highlights the salient features of the key changes to be introduced by the Bill and the issues addressed by these new measures.

Singapore | Building & Construction | 16 November 2020

Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A

Further Extension of Electronic Dissemination of Rights Issue and Take-over Documents Beyond 30 June 2021

Issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist and parties involved in rights issues and take-over or merger transactions will continue to have the option to disseminate an electronic version of the relevant offer documents through publication on SGXNET and their corporate websites, beyond 30 June 2021, until revoked or amended by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Securities Industry Council and the Singapore Exchange Regulation (with at least six months' prior notice of any such cessation).

The Singapore Securities and Futures Act requires an offer of securities, securities-based derivatives contracts or units in collective investment schemes listed on the SGX-ST (whether by means of a rights issue or otherwise) to be made in or accompanied by an offer information statement. The SGX-ST Mainboard Listing Rules and Catalist Listing Rules require hard copies of the notices and documents relating to rights issues of listed issuers to be despatched. In addition, the Singapore Code on Take-overs and Mergers requires hardcopy take-over or merger documents to be posted.

The temporary measures and/or exemption allowing electronic dissemination of relevant offer documents were introduced to overcome the challenges to the mass production of hard copy rights issue and take-over or merger documents amid the control measures put in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. They were first introduced on 6 May 2020, and were last extended to 30 June 2021.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 07 July 2021
Further Extension of Alternative Meeting Arrangements Beyond 30 June 2021

On 6 April 2021, the Ministry of Law ("MinLaw") announced that it has further extended the duration of various subsidiary legislation which were previously issued to enable various types of entities to hold meetings via electronic means, beyond 30 June 2021, until the same is revoked or amended by MinLaw.

In this Update, we provide a brief highlight of this extension concerning alternative meeting arrangements in respect of companies, variable capital companies, business trusts, unit trusts that are authorised or restricted collective investment schemes, and holders of a series of debentures governed by Singapore law.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 19 April 2021
SGX RegCo Extends Expiry Date for Enhanced Share Issue Limit for Mainboard Issuers

Back in April 2020, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") announced provisional measures to support issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard ("Mainboard Issuers"). One such measure was to allow Mainboard Issuers to seek a general mandate for an issue of pro-rata shares and convertible securities for up to 100% of their share capital ("Enhanced Share Issue Limit"), instead of the limit of 50% prescribed in the SGX-ST Mainboard Listing Rules. The Enhanced Share Issue Limit is intended to facilitate and expedite the fund-raising process, and was to expire on 31 December 2021. 

On 16 March 2021, SGX RegCo announced the extension of the availability of the Enhanced Share Issue Limit for Mainboard Issuers. 

This Update provides a summary of the conditions for seeking the general mandate for the Enhanced Share Issue Limit while highlighting the updates set out in the SGX press release titled "SGX RegCo allows Mainboard issuers up to 31 Dec 2021 to seek or renew Enhanced Share Issue Limit" dated 16 March 2021.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 06 April 2021
Temporary Measures Extended to 30 June 2021: (1) Alternative Meeting Arrangements; (2) Electronic Dissemination of Rights Issue and Take-over/Merger Documents

The following temporary exemption and/or measures that are provided to overcome the control measures put in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic have been extended to 30 June 2021 ("extension"):

  1. Alternative meeting arrangements for various types of entities to convene, hold or conduct meetings by electronic means; and
  2. Electronic dissemination of documents in relation to rights issues of issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist and take-over or merger transactions.

This Update provides a summary of the effect of the extension. Refinements to the alternative meeting arrangements for companies, variable capital companies, business trusts, relevant unit trusts and relevant debenture holders to facilitate greater convenience and engagement for virtual meetings are highlighted.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 08 October 2020
Dos and Don'ts for Financial Reports Amid COVID-19: SGX RegCo's Expectations

The COVID-19 pandemic has created "significant uncertainty, or even threats to business prospects" to issuers listed on SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist ("listed issuers"). Emphasising the need for "high quality and reliable financial statements", the Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") recently issued a statement on the Regulator's Column on 27 July 2020, setting out its expectations of financial reports, including interim financial reports ("27 July 2020 Statement").

This Update highlights salient points raised by SGX RegCo in its 27 July 2020 Statement which listed issuers, their boards of directors, and management must take note of in preparing financial reports, including interim financial statements.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 07 August 2020
Sustainability Reporting by Issuers During COVID-19: What SGX RegCo Expects

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed extraordinary challenges to businesses and many companies have had to rapidly respond and manage disruptions to business operations. As we transit into the next phase of COVID-19, where businesses gradually resume and borders re-open, keeping investors and stakeholders updated remains essential, and reporting on social factors is particularly vital during this period.

In this regard, the Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") recently issued a statement on the Regulator's Column on 6 July 2020, setting out its expectations on sustainability reporting by issuers listed on SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist ("listed issuers").

This Update highlights key points listed issuers should note in approaching sustainability reporting in this new business climate with reference to the expectations set out by SGX RegCo, such as keeping investors and stakeholders updated and the emphasis on the social aspect of sustainability reporting during this period.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 15 July 2020
COVID-19 and M&A: Key Considerations in a Time of Global Uncertainty

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread uncertainty, and the full impact on the global economy remains to be seen. Understandably, this would lead to questions surrounding the viability and validity of, and impact on, transactions, whether contemplated, ongoing or completed.

As M&A activity continues against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are certain key considerations that should be borne in mind by the parties.

This Update aims to highlight these considerations as well as steps that can be taken to manage the risks caused or aggravated by COVID-19.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 15 May 2020
Temporary Exemption to Allow Electronic Dissemination of Offer Documents for Rights Issues and Take-over or Merger Transactions

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, restrictions imposed on the operations and manpower of printers and mailing houses have posed challenges to the mass production of hard copy documents including documents in relation to rights issues and take-over or merger transactions. Various laws and rules require hard copies of these documents to be despatched.

In response, on 6 May 2020, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Securities Industry Council and the Singapore Exchange Regulation jointly announced temporary measures giving issuers listed on SGX-ST and parties involved in rights issues and take-over or merger transactions the option to disseminate an electronic version of the relevant offer documents through publication on SGXNET and their corporate websites.

These temporary measures take effect from 6 May 2020 to 30 September 2020.

This Update highlights the conditions for relying on the temporary measures.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 12 May 2020
Conducting Meetings by Electronic Means for Corporate Insolvency and Bankruptcy Matters and Corrigendum

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it impracticable to conduct various types of meetings prescribed under written law and certain legal instruments, which require physical attendance. These include meetings for insolvency and bankruptcy matters.

On 27 April 2020, two Orders prescribing alternative arrangements for meetings in respect of insolvency matters and bankruptcy matters were issued under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 (“Act”) that provides, among other things, meetings convened, held, conducted or deferred, on or after 27 March 2020, in accordance with alternative arrangements prescribed under the Act will be deemed to have satisfied relevant requirements under written law or legal instruments.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 30 April 2020
Update: Conducting Meetings by Electronic Means Amid COVID-19

Various control and safe distancing measures have been put in place in Singapore to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures along with provisions under written law and certain legal instruments requiring personal attendance at meetings have caused difficulties to business entities in Singapore in conducting their annual general meetings and meetings involving a large number of participants.

In response to this, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act") was enacted to provide, among other things, that meetings convened, held, conducted or deferred, on or after 27 March 2020, in accordance with the alternative arrangements prescribed under the Act will be deemed to have satisfied the relevant requirements under the written law or legal instrument.

This Update highlights the changes to the period of application of the prescribed alternative arrangement for conducting shareholders, unitholders and bondholders meetings by electronic means and new Orders issued under the Act to prescribe for the alternative arrangements for conducting meetings by electronic means for other types of meetings and business entities.

 

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 29 April 2020
Expectations of Disclosures by Issuers During COVID-19

During this period of disruption to business caused by the pandemic, issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist and shareholders, alike are facing challenges. The economic uncertainty and market volatility make it necessary for shareholders to have up-to-date information concerning material changes in issuers’ business and operations.

Against this backdrop, the Singapore Exchange Regulation (“SGX RegCo”) had, on 22 April 2020, issued a statement on the Regulator's Column setting out SGX's expectations of issuers' disclosures during COVID-19 and considerations to guide issuers in complying with their disclosure obligations under the Listing Rules of the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist.

This Update highlights issuers' disclosure obligations during COVID-19 with reference to the general guidance by SGX RegCo.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 24 April 2020
Measures to Help S-REITs Manage Cash Flow and Raise Funds Amid COVID-19

On 16 April 2020, the Ministry of Finance, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore jointly announced the following measures to provide real estate investment trusts listed on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited ("S-REITs") greater flexibility to manage their cash flows and raise funds, to help them to weather through the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Extending deadline for distribution of taxable income;
  • Raising leverage limit; and
  • Deferring the implementation of a new minimum interest coverage ratio requirement.

This Update provides a summary of these measures affecting S-REITs.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 17 April 2020
Conducting Meetings by Electronic Means Amid COVID-19

Issuers listed on SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist are facing difficulties in conducting their annual general meetings ("AGMs") due to the enhanced control and safe distancing measures that apply from 27 March 2020 to 4 May 2020 ("Control Period") coupled with provisions under written law and certain legal instruments requiring personal attendance at meetings. To address these challenges, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 came into force partially on 7 April 2020 to provide, among other things, that meetings convened, held, conducted or deferred, on or after 27 March 2020, in accordance with the alternative arrangements prescribed under the Act will be deemed to have satisfied the relevant requirements under the written law or legal instrument. The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Alternative Arrangements for Meetings for Companies, Variable Capital Companies, Business Trusts, Unit Trusts and Debenture Holders) Order 2020 was issued on 13 April 2020 to prescribe the alternative arrangements for conducting meetings ("Alternative Arrangements"). On the same day, SGX RegCo (together with ACRA and MAS) jointly prepared a comprehensive and useful checklist to guide listed and non-listed entities on the conduct of general meetings during the Control Period.

This Update discusses the Alternative Arrangements for conducting a meeting or AGM by a listed issuer during the Control Period, with reference to the Order and the Checklist, along with some practical notes.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 17 April 2020
Provisional Measures to Assist Issuers Amid COVID-19

To support issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard during this COVID-19 situation, on 8 April 2020, the Singapore Exchange Regulation (in consultation with the Monetary Authority of Singapore) issued a press release announcing two provisional measures:

  • Enhanced Share Issue Limit: Allowing an issuer to seek a general mandate for an issue of pro-rata shares and convertible securities of up to 100% of its share capital, increasing it from the current 50% limit; and
  • Suspension of Entry into Financial Watch-List: Suspending half-yearly reviews on the first market days of June 2020 and December 2020 to place an issuer on the Singapore Exchange Limited financial watch-list.

This Update discusses the two provisional measures together with some practical notes.

 

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 13 April 2020
Listed Issuers Granted Automatic 60-day Extension to Hold AGMs Amid COVID-19

On 7 April 2020, Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") issued a press release announcing that all issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist with financial year ending on or before 31 March 2020 are automatically granted a 60-day extension by SGX to hold their annual general meetings (“AGMs”).

This is issued in response to the Singapore Government’s enhanced safe distancing measures (otherwise known as "circuit-breaker" measures) to control the spread of COVID-19. From 7 April 2020 until 4 May 2020, all businesses in Singapore are required to, among other things, suspend activities at their workplace premises unless they are essential service providers. These measures have severely hampered the holding of meetings which require personal attendance of the participants (provided under Singapore law and/or certain legal instruments which provide a similar restriction) and the performance of statutory audits on listed issuers for their full-year financial results.

This Update highlights the matters that a listed issuer should take note of in view of this recent development.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 09 April 2020
COVID-19 AGM Pack

As COVID-19 ravages the globe, governments are upending the rules on nearly every aspect of our lives almost daily. These include various social distancing measures to contain the outbreak. Issuers listed on SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist are facing unprecedented challenges in conducting annual general meetings ("AGMs") and meetings in a manner that complies with new legal requirements, guidance and advisories from various regulatory authorities.

We are pleased to bring you the COVID-19 AGM Pack that collates our Updates that share with you the latest legislative developments and advisories relating to the conduct of AGMs amid the COVID-19 outbreak. These include our latest Update titled “Listed Issuers' Meetings to Comply with Safe Distancing Measures Amid COVID-19” which discusses the draft COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill that provides for, among other things, temporary alternative arrangements for conducting meetings in a manner that complies with the prevailing safe distancing measures. The Bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament next week and anticipated to be passed into law shortly after.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 03 April 2020
Listed Issuers' Meetings to Comply with Safe Distancing Measures Amid COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 is greatly felt and measures are being introduced by the Singapore Government to try to minimise further spread of COVID-19. These include safe distancing measures that would render the holding of annual general meetings ("AGMs") or shareholder meetings difficult for issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist which have a large shareholder base.

Issuers are expected to comply with the prevailing safe distancing measures which, among other things, require the organiser of an AGM to ensure that not more than ten individuals are present at the event at any one time. On 31 March 2020, Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo), the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) jointly issued an updated guidance for issuers on the alternative arrangements that may be adopted to ensure that their AGMs are conducted in a manner that complies with the safe distancing measures. On 2 April 2020, the draft COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill which provides for temporary alternative arrangements for conducting meetings in a manner that complies with the Safe Distancing Measures was made available on the Ministry of Law website. This Update provides a summary of this development.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 02 April 2020
Holding AGMs Amid COVID-19: Guidance from SGX RegCo

On 19 March 2020, the Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") provided guidance on the holding of general meetings amid the COVID-19 situation, in furtherance of the latest advisories from the Ministry of Health. The SGX RegCo's guidance was developed in consultation with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

This guidance is a welcome complement to SGX RegCo's previous announcement providing issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist which meet certain criteria two more months to hold their annual general meetings ("AGMs") to approve their 31 December 2019 financial results.

This Update sets out further guidance by SGX RegCo on the holding of AGMs/general meetings amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation.

 

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 23 March 2020
Deadline for Holding AGMs for SGX-ST Listed Issuers Extended to 30 June 2020 Due to Covid-19 Outbreak

Issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist are given two more months to hold their annual general meetings ("AGMs") to approve their 31 December 2019 financial results. Under the Listing Rules of the SGX-ST Mainboard and Catalist, issuers are required to hold their AGMs within four months from the end of their financial years. However, in response to feedback by shareholders who want to participate in and vote at AGMs but may be concerned about attending large-group meetings amid the COVID-19 outbreak, on 27 February 2020, Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) announced that a waiver from the foregoing requirement will be granted to issuers which satisfy the prescribed criteria ("Waiver"). Issuers which are granted the Waiver have up to 30 June 2020 to hold their AGMs.

This Update provides a brief overview of the relevant requirements and the steps issuers can take to obtain the Waiver.

Singapore | Capital Markets, Listed Entities & M&A | 06 March 2020

Competition & Antitrust

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.

Singapore | Competition & Antitrust | 28 July 2021
Treatment of Collaborations During COVID-19: CCCS Guidance

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in tremendous disruption to logistics and supply chains and many companies face challenges in respect of demand. To deal with the effects of the outbreak, collaborations may be necessary between competitors.

Against this backdrop, the Competition & Consumer Commission of Singapore ("CCCS") has on 20 July 2020, issued a Guidance Note on Collaborations between Competitors in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ("Guidance Note"), to provide clarity to businesses on how CCCS will view collaborations between competitors during this exceptional period.

This Update highlights a few salient points from the Guidance Note on the assessment framework CCCS will use to assess certain collaborations between competitors which are put in place from 1 February 2020 and end by 31 July 2021.

Singapore | Competition & Antitrust | 05 August 2020

Contracts & Force Majeure

Executing Documents in New Normal: Key Considerations When Using Electronic Signatures

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to change how we operate business moving forward. With a majority of the global workforce currently telecommuting amid the elevated border control and safe distancing measures, there is an increased need to assess what would be the most efficient way of executing contracts and documents in the new normal. There is therefore more demand for the use of electronic signatures in commercial transactions.

In this Update, we highlight some key requirements or considerations that you should take note of to ensure that a document or contract that has been executed by electronic signatures is valid.

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 13 July 2020
COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 Extended to Leases/Rental Agreements for Commercial Equipment and Commercial Vehicles

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act") provides for, among other things, targeted and temporary reliefs for individuals and businesses that are unable to perform certain contracts due to the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19. These temporary relief measures apply for six months from 20 April 2020 to 19 October 2020.

On 20 June 2020, the Act was amended to (1) extend the temporary relief measures under the Act to leases or rental agreements for commercial equipment and commercial vehicles; and (2) give effect to part of the changes set out in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Act 2020. These changes aim to enhance the temporary relief measures for an inability to perform a scheduled contract specified in the Act.

This Update provides a summary of the changes to the Act that took effect on 20 June 2020.

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 29 June 2020
Fourteen Rajah & Tann Singapore’s Lawyers Appointed by Singapore's Ministry of Law to Serve as Assessors under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act

Rajah & Tann Singapore is pleased to announce that 14 of our lawyers have been appointed by Singapore's Ministry of Law to serve as assessors under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act. They were appointed by the Minister for Law to resolve disputes arising from the application of the Act. The Assessor will decide whether the case is one to which the relief under the Act applies and will seek to achieve an outcome that is just and equitable in the circumstances.

 The appointed assessors who come from the firm's Disputes and Corporate practices are the following:

  1. Aleksandar Georgiev
  2. Alvin Tan Yong Joon
  3. Alyssa Leong
  4. Benjamin Teo
  5. Clement Chan
  6. Devathas Satianathan
  7. Dominique Lombardi  
  8. Kevin Tan
  9. Lionel Tay
  10. Matthew Koh
  11. Nur Rauda Mohamed Said
  12. Pamela Wong  
  13. Phang Hwee Guang
  14. Yip Li Ming
Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 30 April 2020
Statutory Moratorium Against Breach of Scheduled Contracts Starts 20 April 2020

On 20 April 2020, the provisions in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 Act dealing with the following temporary measures came into force:

  • Temporary relief for inability to perform a scheduled contract specified in the Act that is to a material extent caused by a COVID-19 event; and
  • Temporary relief for financially distressed individuals and businesses by increasing the debt thresholds for bankruptcy and insolvency. 

The Regulations setting out the details for a party to seek the temporary reliefs under the Act were also issued and came into force on 20 April 2020. 

This Update provides a summary of the requirements and process for seeking these temporary reliefs under the Act and includes an overview guide of the procedure diagrammed for your ease of reference. 

 

 

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 23 April 2020
Temporary Relief for Breach of Contract under the New COVID-19 Bill

The new COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill ("COVID Bill") will be introduced in Parliament next week and is anticipated to be passed into law shortly after. As the title suggests, the COVID Bill is intended to provide targeted and temporary relief for parties that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, find themselves unable to perform obligations under certain scheduled contracts – including contracts to which the government is a party. The COVID Bill will also temporarily increase the existing bankruptcy and insolvency thresholds for individuals and businesses respectively, as well as provide more time to respond to statutory demands from creditors. This Update provides a summary of these temporary reliefs under the COVID Bill.

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 03 April 2020
FAQ on COVID-19 and its Potential Impact on Contracts

The COVID-19 outbreak has been a jarring development across the globe, bringing about much uncertainty in the commercial world. In this Update, we look at some of the common questions regarding the potential legal impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on contracts and agreements. This includes a focus on force majeure, frustration and the obstructions which may arise in specific industries such as Shipping & International Trade, Construction & Projects, and Hospitality and Tourism.

 

Singapore | Contracts & Force Majeure | 20 February 2020

Control Measures

Fast Lane for Essential Business and Official Travel Between China and Singapore

On 3 June 2020, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) jointly announced that fast lane arrangements will be in place to facilitate essential business and official travel between Singapore and China. The fast lane arrangements will be established between Singapore and six Chinese provinces and municipalities (Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang).

Under the fast lane arrangements, residents in Singapore who are seeking to make essential travel to China must be sponsored by either a company or a government agency in China, while residents in China who are seeking to make essential travel to Singapore must be sponsored by either a company or a Singapore Government agency.

From 8 June 2020, a traveller sponsored by a government agency for essential business or official travel to Singapore may submit an application under the fast lane arrangements. Applications for company-sponsored travellers may be submitted in a later phase.

This Update highlights the key requirements of the fast lane arrangements which relate to: (1) applications for approvals by the relevant authorities and visas; (2) pre-departure health measures; (3) post-arrival health measures; and (4) controlled itinerary.

Singapore | Control Measures | 05 June 2020
Updated Requirements under COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Control Order

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 were issued on 7 April 2020 to impose restrictions on (i) premises and businesses in relation to the closure of premises and the respective controls on essential and non-essential service providers; and (ii) the movement of people, both in public places and in places of residence. Subsequently the Minister for Health issued the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 and the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2020 ("Amendments"). These amendments introduce additional obligations and requirements, including in relation to essential service providers, essential service workers, occupiers and owners of permitted premises, and operators of specified dormitories.

In this Update, we highlight the key changes introduced by the Amendments. 

Singapore | Control Measures | 14 April 2020
Control Orders under the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures

Under the new circuit breaker measures introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19, one of the key safeguards is the imposition of control orders. On 7 April 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations") were issued under the Act to impose restrictions on (i) premises and businesses in relation to the closure of premises and the respective controls on essential and non-essential service providers; and (ii) the movement of people, both in public places and in places of residence. In this Update, we provide a summary of the movements which are or are not permitted under the Regulations.

Singapore | Control Measures | 09 April 2020
COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures: Suspension of Activities at Workplace

On 3 April 2020, the Singapore Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced that an elevated set of safe distancing measures will be in place from 7 April 2020 until 4 May 2020. These enhanced measures aim to act as a circuit breaker to control the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore by minimising movements and interaction in public and private places. Notably, there will be a suspension of activities at all workplace premises, subject to certain exemptions for selected essential services. In this Update, we highlight the scope and key aspects of the measures requiring the suspension of activities at all workplace premises.

Singapore | Control Measures | 05 April 2020

Dispute Resolution

Admiralty Actions: Service of Warrants of Arrest and Writs on Agent; Dispensation of Security Guard

The maritime and shipping industry has had to adapt to ensure safe and responsible practices amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In keeping with these efforts, the Supreme Court of Singapore has acknowledged the concerns involved in the requirement of in-person service of documents against a ship, and has addressed them by introducing temporary alternative methods of service. From 22 January 2021 and until further notice, service of Warrants of Arrest or Writs in an in rem action against a ship, freight or cargo may be effected by leaving or transmitting the same to the agent of the ship. In the same vein, security guards are also not required to be deployed on board an arrested ship with effect from 15 January 2021 and until further notice.

In this Update, we provide a summary of the requirements of the newly-introduced alternative methods of service and practical steps for complying with these requirements, as well as a discussion of the effect of the dispensation of security guards for ship arrests.

Singapore | Dispute Resolution | 22 January 2021
COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures: Court Proceedings for Essential and Urgent Matters Only

On 3 April 2020, the Singapore Government announced an elevated set of safe distancing measures to be in place from 7 April 2020 until 4 May 2020 ("Relevant Period"). As part of this initiative, on 6 April 2020, the Supreme Court, State Courts and Family Justice Courts announced that they will hear only essential and urgent matters in the Relevant Period. Registrars' Circulars ("Circulars") have been issued by each of the three Courts to identify the matters that may be considered to be essential and urgent. In this Update, we highlight the key elements of the Circulars, including the identified essential and urgent matters and the relevant timelines and processes.

Singapore | Dispute Resolution | 07 April 2020
Keeping the Judicial Wheels Turning: Remote Proceedings in Singapore Courts amid COVID-19

The Ministry of Law has issued a press release announcing that it intends to introduce the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill ("Bill") in Parliament next week. The Bill includes proposed provisions allowing for the conduct of court proceedings using remote communication technology so as to avoid individuals having to physically appear in court. Rajah & Tann Singapore is well placed to manage remote court proceedings, having supported the pilot remote hearings before the Singapore courts and being fully equipped with remote communication technology. In this Update, we highlight the key aspects of the Bill as it relates to remote proceedings in court.

Singapore | Dispute Resolution | 03 April 2020

Financial Institutions

COVID-19 & Insurance: Coverage Issues in a Pandemic World

It has been only two months since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, but the world has probably seen only a fraction of the likely long-lasting economic and social impacts of the pandemic. Whilst various social distancing and lockdown restrictions imposed across the world have slowed down the rate of outbreaks, myriad financial losses to both corporate entities and individuals have already skyrocketed. Many affected persons are likely to turn to and eagerly expect their existing insurance coverage to defray some or all of these losses.

This Update discusses the following potentially difficult coverage issues under some of such existing (and pre COVID-19) commercial insurance policies:

  • Loss of profit/revenue and business interruption;
  • Event cancellation;
  • Credit insurance;
  • Public liability; and
  • Management liability.
Singapore | Financial Institutions | 21 May 2020
FinTech Solidarity Grant & MAS Support Package to Aid FinTech Firms/FIs Financially

On 13 May 2020, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS"), Singapore FinTech Association, AMTD Group and AMTD Foundation launched a S$6 million MAS-SFA-AMTD FinTech Solidarity Grant ("Grant") to help Singapore-based FinTech firms weather the storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible FinTech firms may apply for the Grant from 18 May 2020 to 31 December 2021.

The Grant complements the S$125 million support package announced by MAS on 8 April 2020 ("Support Package") to sustain and strengthen capabilities in the financial services and FinTech sectors amid the current economic slump. The Support Package took effect from 8 April 2020.

This Update highlights the key features of the Grant and the Support Package for FinTech firms in Singapore.

Singapore | Financial Institutions | 15 May 2020
Covid-19 Circuit Breaker Measures - Asset Management

On 3 April 2020, the Singapore Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced that an elevated set of safe distancing measures will be in place from 7 April 2020 until 4 May 2020. Notably, there will be a suspension of activities at all workplace premises, subject to certain exemptions for selected essential services ("Essential Services"). Entities providing asset management services ("Fund Management Companies") are included as providers of Essential Services. In this Update, we highlight the key aspects of the exemption for Fund Management Companies and the requirements they are subject to during this period.

Singapore | Financial Institutions | 06 April 2020

General

Further Changes to COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act Concerning Rental Relief, Collective Sales, Construction Contracts and Meetings

On 4 September 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No. 2) Bill ("Bill") was passed in Parliament, setting out further proposed amendments. The Bill seeks to strengthen the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act by:

(a) Expanding the powers of rental relief assessors;

(b) Allowing applications for the extensions of deadlines for collective sales;

(c) Clarifying the interaction between Part 8 of the Act (which deals with contracts affected by delay in the performance or breach of a construction contract, supply contract or related contract) and other dispute resolution proceedings; and

(d) Enhancing the certainty of alternative meeting arrangements.

This Update highlights the key features of the Bill.

Singapore | General | 17 September 2020
COVID-19 Legal Response Package

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges to many businesses. In the face of a prolonged crisis, companies are forced to adjust to a ‘new normal’ in this era of uncertainty. To guide you through this period, we have specially put together a COVID-19 Response Package which aims to address the current legal issues that are confronting your business.

The COVID-19 Response Package includes business recovery checklists to help your business develop its response plan as you restart operations amid the uncertainties. It also highlights some COVID-19 related measures and responses put in place by the Government in the following areas and how we can assist you to navigate the changes:

  1. Banking & Finance
  2. Competition & Antitrust
  3. Consumer Protection
  4. Corporate Real Estate
  5. Debt Capital markets
  6. Financial Institutions
  7. Investment Funds
  8. Tax
  9. Technology, Media and Telecommunications
  10. Trade
  11. Workplace & Employment
Singapore | General | 28 July 2020
Rajah & Tann Regional Round-Up: Issue 1 - Q1 2020 (Special Edition on COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a deep impact across the globe, affecting all sectors of society. It has fundamentally changed the way we work, the way we live and the way we function.

As governments work to overcome the pandemic and its consequences, policies and measures have been implemented at a swift rate. In this quarterly issue of our Regional Round-Up, we present a special COVID-19 Edition to provide our clients with an overview of the control and support measures put in place in the South-East Asia region and in China. This issue also consolidates Rajah & Tann Asia’s key Client Updates to date on the legal and regulatory developments in response to the pandemic in the respective jurisdictions.

 

Singapore | General | 30 April 2020

Healthcare

Telemedicine before, during and after COVID-19: Key Considerations and Issues

The acceleration in the use of telemedicine is expected to be one of the lasting changes to lifestyles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As defined by the Ministry of Health (Singapore), telemedicine refers to the provision of healthcare services over physically separate environments via information technology, and it includes the exchange of information for clinical purposes between healthcare providers and patients through text messaging, web or mobile applications. In this Update, we discuss the regulatory framework in respect of telemedicine in Singapore and highlight some issues that healthcare providers, employers and patients should note in the implementation of telemedicine.

Singapore | Healthcare | 08 June 2020

Real Estate

Commencement of Part 8C of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020

On 1 July 2021, Part 8C of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Part 8C") and the subsidiary legislation in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Part 8C Relief) Regulations 2021 ("Part 8C Relief Regulations") came into operation. Part 8C serves to provide support to developers who face delays in the construction of properties due to the pandemic and are unable to meet the date of delivery of vacant possession to purchasers under the Sale and Purchase Agreement ("SPA"). Part 8C also allows purchasers to seek, from developers, reimbursement of certain qualifying costs (capped at 70% of the liquidated damages which the developer would originally have been liable under SPA) for expenses incurred by the purchasers as a result of the delay in delivery of possession of their units (after the delivery date/vacant possession date stated in the SPA).

This Update provides an overview of the key features of Part 8C and the Part 8C Relief Regulations.

Singapore | Real Estate | 09 July 2021
Extension to Temporary Relief Measures for Property Sector due to COVID-19 Pandemic

On 28 June 2021, the Singapore Government announced an extension to the temporary relief measures ("June 2021Extension of Temporary Relief Measures") for the property sector. The June 2021 Extension of Temporary Relief Measures extends the temporary relief measures announced on 6 May 2020 and the additional temporary relief measures announced on 8 October 2020 which were granted to offer immediate relief for eligible property developers in view of disruptions to construction timelines arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Update provides a summary of the key extensions under theJune 2021 Extension of Temporary Relief Measures and the relevant eligibility conditions.

Singapore | Real Estate | 01 July 2021
Extension of Relief Period for Specified Contracts under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act ("Act") provides temporary relief for parties that are unable to perform their contractual obligations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amongst its measures, Part 2 of the Act provides relief from certain legal and enforcement measures for prescribed categories of contracts, and Part 8B provides for cost sharing between parties to qualifying construction contracts for additional costs caused by delays.

On 26 March 2021, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Extension of Prescribed Period) Order 2021 extended the relief period to 19 April 2021 for certain measures relevant to the Built Environment and Real Estate sectors. This is to allow Parliament to consider the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No. 2) Bill 2021 ("Bill"), which the Ministry of National Development intends to introduce on 5 April 2021. The Bill would further extend the relief period to 30 September 2021 for (a) Part 8B of the Act; and (b) construction contracts or supply contracts, or any performance bond granted thereto, under Part 2 of the Act. It would also extend the relief period to 30 June 2021 for options to purchase and sale and purchase agreements with developers under Part 2 of the Act.

Singapore | Real Estate | 30 March 2021
COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act: Re-Align Framework Available from 15 January 2021 and Other Additional Reliefs for Built Environment Sector

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act ("Act") has introduced a series of legal reliefs and mechanisms for businesses and individuals to aid them in managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Update highlights the key features of the latest temporary reliefs: 

  1. The Re-Align Framework, which facilitates the renegotiation of specified contracts for eligible businesses which are significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to be available from 15 January 2021 to 26 February 2021;
  2. Certain additional reliefs for the Built Environment sector have come into operation on 30 November 2020. These include a universal extension of time to the completion date for eligible construction contracts under Part 8A of the Act, and co-sharing of qualifying costs arising from COVID-19 related project delays for eligible construction contracts under Part 8B of the Act; and
  3. The regulations relating to the property tax rebate have been amended to take into account the Rental Relief Framework via the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Transfer of Benefit of Property Tax Remission) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, which was published on 18 December 2020.
Singapore | Real Estate | 04 January 2021
Changes to COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act: Re-align Framework, Additional Reliefs for Built Environment Sector, Fine-tuning Property Tax Rebate Regulations

Amendments to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act ("Act") were passed in Parliament to supplement the temporary reliefs provided in the Act in the following key aspects:

  1. introducing a new re-align framework for eligible businesses which are significantly affected by COVID-19 to renegotiate specified contracts;
  2. introducing additional reliefs for the Built Environment sector in the forms of: (i) an extension of time to the completion date for eligible construction contracts; (ii) co-sharing of qualifying costs arising from COVID-19 related project delays for eligible construction contracts; and (iii) an avenue for property developers to seek an extension of date of delivery of possession of property and provision of the right for purchasers affected by COVID-19 related delay in delivery of their units; and
  3. fine-tuning the application of the property tax rebate regulations to take into account the rental relief framework provided in Part 2A of the Act.

The Act was enacted in April 2020 to introduce a series of temporary legal reliefs and mechanisms for businesses and individuals to aid them in managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 3 November 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No. 3) Bill ("Bill") providing changes to the Act was passed in Parliament. The changes have yet to come into force.

This Update highlights the salient features of the key changes to be introduced by the Bill and the issues addressed by these new measures.

Singapore | Real Estate | 16 November 2020
Additional Temporary Relief Measures for Property Sector due to COVID-19 Pandemic

On 8 October 2020, the Singapore Government announced additional temporary relief measures ("October 2020 Additional Temporary Relief Measures") for the property sector. The October 2020 Additional Temporary Relief Measures, granted in addition to the temporary relief measures announced on 6 May 2020, offer immediate relief for eligible property developers that are affected by and have experienced disruptions to their construction schedules arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, the Singapore Government has emphasised that these temporary relief measures do not alter the Government's prevailing residential property market cooling measures.

This Update highlights the key features of the October 2020 Additional Temporary Relief Measures, summarising the relief granted and the qualifying criteria.

Singapore | Real Estate | 09 October 2020
Temporary Relief Measures for Tenants and Landlords, Purchasers and Developers in COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Act 2020 (Updated 11 August 2020)

The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("principal Act") provides for, among other things, targeted and temporary reliefs for individuals and businesses that are unable to perform certain contracts due to the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19.

On 5 June 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed in Parliament. The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Act 2020 ("Amendment Act") aims to revise the principal Act to provide for, among other changes, relief measures relating to tenants, landlords and intending purchasers, including a framework for rental relief. On 31 July 2020, the provisions in the Amendment Act setting out these relief measures as well as the statutory limit on the amount of late payment interest and charges for arrears under certain prescribed contracts came into force. In this Update, we share with you the key features of the provisions of the principal Act and the subsidiary legislation that deal with these measures.

Singapore | Real Estate | 11 August 2020
Temporary Relief Measures for Tenants and Landlords, Purchasers and Developers in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Amendment Act 2020 (Updated 7 July 2020)

On 5 June 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed in Parliament. The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Act 2020 ("Amendment Act") was gazetted and came into force partially on 20 June 2020. The Amendment Act amends the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 to provide for, amongst other changes, relief measures relating to tenants and landlords, purchasers and developers by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including a framework for rental relief. These changes have yet to come into force.

On 7 July 2020, the Ministry of Law released a note on the rental relief framework in the Amendment Act, providing further details on the entitlement to rental relief and the relevant relief mechanism. The Ministry of Law has also indicated in this note that the rental relief provisions in the Amendment Act will come into force by end-July 2020.

We earlier issued a Client Update highlighting the key measures in the Amendment Act relating to tenants and landlords, intending purchasers and developers.  The write-up has since been updated to reflect the clarifications provided by the Ministry of Law and to keep you in the know on the latest information.

Singapore | Real Estate | 10 July 2020
Regulations for Property Owners on Passing on Tax Rebates to Tenants

In response to the commercial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Resilience Budget was announced to grant property tax rebates for qualifying properties for the period of 1 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020. While the owners of such properties would receive the rebate, owners are expected to pass on the benefit of the rebate to their tenants, if any.

On 13 May 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Transfer of Benefit of Property Tax Remission) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations") came into operation. The Regulations provide further details on how owners are to pass on the rebate, including: (i) the formulae for determining the prescribed amount of benefit that must be passed on to the tenant; (ii) the prescribed manner and time for passing on the benefit; and (iii) the information to be provided to the tenant. In this Update, we highlight the key points of the Regulations that property owners should take note of.

Singapore | Real Estate | 15 May 2020
Contracts between Housing Developers and Buyers Added to Scope of COVID-19 Temporary Relief

On 13 May 2020, the Government announced amendments to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Temporary Relief for Inability to Perform Contracts) Regulations 2020 (collectively, "Updated Regulations"). The new amendments allow property purchasers of a unit in a housing accommodation from housing developers to obtain temporary relief for their inability to perform their obligations under:

• an option given by a housing developer to an intending property purchaser, and/or

• a sale and purchase agreement between a housing developer and a property purchaser

This Update highlights the key features and implications of the Updated Regulations.

Singapore | Real Estate | 15 May 2020
Temporary Relief Measures against Disruptions Caused by COVID-19 and 'Circuit Breaker' Measures for Eligible Property Developers & Married Couples

On 6 May 2020, the Singapore Government announced temporary relief measures for eligible property developers and married couples affected by the COVID-19 'circuit breaker' measures. Eligible property developers will be granted six months' extension of time to comply with the regulatory and authority-imposed timelines / deadlines, including completing the construction of the development projects and selling the units being built, while eligible married couples purchasing a second residential property will be granted an additional six months to sell their first residential property so as to be eligible for a remission of the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty paid on the second property. In this Update, we look at the key elements of these temporary relief measures, as well as their efficacy for property developers.

 

Singapore | Real Estate | 08 May 2020
Conducting Meetings Relating to Collective Sale Amid COVID-19

On 27 April 2020, the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Alternative Arrangements for Meetings for Management Corporations, Subsidiary Management Corporations and Collective Sale Committees) Order 2020 ("Order") was issued to provide for alternative arrangements for the following types of meetings to be conducted by electronic means:

• General meetings of management corporations ("MCs");

• General meetings of subsidiary management corporations; and

• Meetings of collective sale committees ("CSCs").

There are difficulties in conducting general meetings for collective sales (commonly known as en bloc sales) and meetings of CSCs in a manner prescribed in the Land Titles (Strata) Act while the control and elevated safe distancing measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Order, which is deemed to be in force from 27 March 2020, allows such meetings to be conducted, wholly or partially, by electronic means from 27 March 2020 to 30 September 2020. With the exception of meetings of CSCs, they may also be deferred to a date no later than 30 September 2020.

This Update focuses on the key issues to note for holding a general meeting of a MC for the purpose of a collective sale and a CSC meeting by electronic means pursuant to the alternative arrangements set out in the Order.

Singapore | Real Estate | 04 May 2020
Measures and Relief against COVID-19 and their Impact on Property Owners and Tenants

A suite of relief measures has been rolled out by the Government through the Unity Budget, the Resilience Budget and the Solidarity Budget given the COVID-19 outbreak. Amongst other things, the measures include property tax rebates for owners of eligible properties and rental waivers for tenants of Government agencies. To supplement these measures, the Government, on 7 April 2020, passed the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act"). The Act provides targeted and temporary relief for parties that, due to the ongoing COVID 19 outbreak, find themselves unable to perform obligations under the scheduled contracts. This Update provides a summary of these measures and their impact on property owners and tenants.

Singapore | Real Estate | 08 April 2020

Support Measures

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.

Singapore | Support Measures | 29 July 2021
Budget Speech 2021 – Emerging Stronger Together

After an unprecedented year in which Singapore experienced its worst recession since independence and with the global battle against COVID-19 far from over, Budget Speech 2021 was delivered by Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat on 16 February 2021. With the theme "Emerging Stronger Together", DPM Heng laid out the following plans to tackle Singapore's immediate challenges:

  • The COVID-19 Resilience Package to reopen Singapore safely and sustain the momentum of its recovery;
  • The Household Support Package for families, with greater support for families in need;
  • Singapore's investments in economic and workforce transformation to emerge stronger; and
  • The Singapore Green Plan 2030 to enhance sustainability and deal with climate change.

There were also tax measures and changes announced which were categorised in the following manner: 

  • Extending Budget 2020 Temporary Tax Measures to Support Businesses;
  • Updating Singapore's Tax Regime as the Digital Economy Grows;
  • Maintaining the Competitiveness and Resilience of Singapore's Tax System;
  • Emerging Stronger as a Community: Encouraging Philanthropy and Volunteerism;
  • Encouraging Early Adoption of Electric Vehicles; and • Environmental Sustainability.

In this Update, we discuss selected tax measures, changes, enhancements, extensions, and refinements.

Singapore | Support Measures | 17 February 2021
Simplified Insolvency Programme in Effect from 29 January 2021

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singapore government has introduced the Simplified Insolvency Programme ("SIP"), which seeks to support micro and small companies to restructure their debts or to wind up. The SIP has come into effect on 29 January 2021.

The SIP provides simpler, faster, and lower-cost restructuring and insolvency proceedings for eligible companies. It will be available for application for a period of 6 months from 29 January 2021 to 28 July 2021. In this Update, we highlight some of the key features of the SIP – in particular, we look at the eligibility criteria for the SIP as well as the application process.

Singapore | Support Measures | 04 February 2021
August 2020 Ministerial Statement: Further Support for Businesses and Workers

Life seems unlikely to return to normal anytime soon as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to swirl around the globe, particularly for some key sectors such as aviation and tourism. As certain support lifelines provided for in the past four Budgets draw close to their expiry dates without significant alleviation of the need for them, there have been stirrings of unease among businesses and workers. 

On 17 August 2020, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, released a Ministerial Statement setting out further financial support measures to help workers and businesses stay afloat in the short term and adapt by seizing growth opportunities in a COVID-19 world. 

This Update will focus on the measures targeting businesses and workers, which can be broadly categorised into the following: 

  1. Extension of the existing Jobs Support Scheme ("JSS");
  2. New Jobs Growth Incentives scheme to encourage hiring of locals;
  3. Supporting workers; and
  4. Sector-specific relief for aviation, tourism, and startups.
Singapore | Support Measures | 31 August 2020
Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act to Come into Operation on 30 July 2020

On 23 July 2020, it was announced that the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act 2018 ("IRDA"), together with 48 pieces of subsidiary legislation, will come into operation on 30 July 2020.

The IRDA is a significant piece of legislation and its implementation is set to effect major changes in the restructuring and insolvency regime in Singapore. Businesses and insolvency practitioners should be aware of the impending changes and the potential impact on the industry. It should also be noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in certain temporary measures which affect the operation of the insolvency framework.

This Update highlights the key elements of the IRDA, as well as the COVID-19 related measures which relate to personal and corporate insolvency.

Singapore | Support Measures | 24 July 2020
Going Forth: Singapore's Fortitude Budget for Employers, Tenants, and Businesses

With the end of the circuit breaker period on 1 June 2020, the Singapore government has laid out a three-phase approach towards the resumption of normality. Phase One commenced on 2 June 2020 and is expected to last for at least four weeks, although this will be reassessed in mid-June 2020 with a view to shortening it. It is marked by a restart of some economic activities that do not pose a high risk of transmission, such as manufacturing and office work. Telecommuting must still be adopted to the maximum extent. Some major sectors, such as retail and dining-in, will not be permitted to reopen until Phase Two.

As progression to the next phase depends on the COVID-19 situation rather than a fixed timeframe, many businesses remain uncertain as to when they can reopen. On 26 May 2020, the Minister of Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat ("DPM Heng") announced the fourth Budget, christened the Fortitude Budget, to provide further relief in these times of economic uncertainty.

In this Update, we cover key aspects of the Fortitude Budget that relate to employers, tenants, and businesses.

Singapore | Support Measures | 05 June 2020
Control and Support Measures in Singapore Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore has introduced a number of control and safe distancing measures progressively to manage the spread of COVID-19, and to provide relief to individuals and businesses affected by the outbreak. Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 ("Act"), the Minister for Health has issued the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations"), which seeks to minimise the movement of and interaction between individuals with effect from 7 April 2020. As part of Singapore's circuit breaker efforts to pre-empt the increasing trend of local transmission, the Regulations have been progressively updated with enhanced measures. The Regulations are stated to be in force until 4 May 2020 and may be extended if necessary; on 21 April 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the circuit breaker period would be extended until 1 June 2020.

The Singapore Parliament has also introduced legislative provisions in the Act that will afford temporary relief from actions for parties unable to perform their contracts, repay loans or pay rent due to COVID-19 events, and will increase the monetary thresholds and time limits for insolvency and bankruptcy. In addition, the Government has introduced various initiatives to provide financial support for businesses and individuals during this time, including the Unity Budget, the Solidarity Budget, the Resilience Budget together with further support measures for businesses to cover the prolonged circuit breaker.

Singapore | Support Measures | 30 April 2020
Extension of Support Measures for Businesses to Cover Prolonged Circuit Breaker

On 21 April 2020, the Singapore Government announced that the original circuit breaker measures ("Measures") lasting from 7 April to 4 May 2020 would be extended to 1 June 2020 (inclusive), totalling eight weeks of such Measures. These Measures include the closure of all non-essential businesses, which has since been further tightened such that only 15% of the usual workforce continues to physically attend at their workplaces.

The Solidarity Budget (covered in our earlier Client Update titled "In Solidarity: Third Budget to Support Businesses through COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures") announced several relief measures to assist employers in retaining their workforce. This has now been extended to cover the full circuit breaker period, and includes the enhanced Jobs Support Scheme ("JSS") and a second Foreign Worker Levy ("FWL") waiver and rebate.

This Update covers the above, as well as a further announcement from the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM") on its requirements of employers which may affect the receipt of the JSS and FWL payouts.

Singapore | Support Measures | 29 April 2020
In Solidarity: Third Budget to Support Businesses through COVID-19 Circuit Breaker Measures

On 3 April 2020, Singapore announced that she was moving to implement circuit breaker measures to control the spread of COVID-19. As covered in our earlier Client Update, these circuit breaker measures include school closures and shutdowns for all businesses except those providing essential services, and will remain in place from 7 April 2020 to 4 May 2020 (both dates inclusive).

To alleviate the hardship consequent upon business closures, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, announced the S$5.1 billion Solidarity Budget on 6 April 2020, of which S$4 billion will go towards supporting businesses and workers.

This Update discusses the additional support provided for businesses, which includes measures such as further enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme and rebates for foreign worker levies paid in 2020. It also covers other relief measures employed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") to assist small and medium enterprises ("SMEs") with continued access to bank credit and insurance cover, and to ensure interbank funding markets remain liquid and well-functioning.

Singapore | Support Measures | 08 April 2020
Lex Mundi Global Report on COVID-19 Government Support Measures

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 shockwave places many companies at financial risk. As governmental authorities formulate and roll-out new support measures intended to throw companies a lifeline, the Lex Mundi full-service member firms have come together to provide a snapshot of the policies implemented and announced in 104 jurisdictions.

In this wide-reaching report, the content for each jurisdiction is provided locally, by experts on the ground steeped in the local legal business culture. The guide gives a quick and comparative reference for the policies and measures across the respective jurisdictions.

Our Competition & Antitrust and Trade Practice contributed to the Singapore chapter of this guide, which will be regularly updated to take into account changes and additions to the measures announced thus far. If you have any question, do not hesitate to contact Ms Kala Anandarajah (kala.anandarajah@rajahtann.com).

For more information, please click here for the full guide. An interactive version of the guide will be uploaded shortly to the Lex Mundi website.

Singapore | Support Measures | 03 April 2020
COVID-19 Resilience Budget and MOM Relief Measures: Additional Support for Businesses

Since the announcement of Budget 2020 (also known as the Unity Budget) a bare five weeks ago, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat, has unveiled the S$48 billion Resilience Budget on 26 March 2020 to help Singapore weather the "mighty storm" of COVID-19. In a mark of the extraordinary times, this is only the second time that Singapore's reserves have been drawn on in her history.

Apart from the relief measures that directly assist households, the Resilience Budget sets aside funds to implement new schemes and enhance existing ones to support businesses in these crippling times. Key measures are elaborated on below, together with a consolidation of recent non-Budget measures implemented by the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM") to provide relief to employers to cope with manpower issues.

Singapore | Support Measures | 31 March 2020

Technology & Data Privacy

In Containing COVID-19 and Complying with the PDPA: Practical Tips

As part of the DORSCON Orange risk assessment, organisations have started implementing precautionary measures to minimise the risk of further transmission of COVID-19, including requiring visitors and employees to fill in health declaration forms to enable ease of contract tracing. When implementing these measures, organisations should be aware that large amounts of personal data may be amassed, and hence should pay particular attention in complying with the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 ("PDPA"). The Personal Data Protection Commission has released an "Advisory on Collection of Personal Data for COVID-19 Contact Tracing" on 13 February 2020 ("Advisory") to provide some guidance in this regard. In this Update, we look at the key aspects of the Advisory and how organisations can ensure compliance with the PDPA.

Singapore | Technology & Data Privacy | 12 March 2020

Trade

Guide on COVID-19 Vaccination: Regulatory Issue

COVID-19, the disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has spread across the globe causing severe economic and social disruption worldwide. While the world continues to see the detrimental effects of COVID-19, it also begins to welcome the unfolding global endeavour of vaccine development and deployment. The global pharmaceutical industry has announced its commitment towards developing vaccines for COVID-19, and several vaccines have since been authorised by various national regulatory authorities for public use, with vaccinations taking place in several countries across Southeast Asia.

This quick guide explores the various regulatory issues arising in different parts of Southeast Asia, briefly covering vaccine registration and administration, as well as each country's regulatory framework, as of 20 April 2021.

Singapore | Trade | 10 May 2021
Joint Ministerial Statement on Ensuring Supply Chain Connectivity amidst COVID-19 Situation

On 7 April 2020, a Joint Ministerial Statement was issued by Singapore, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Lao PDR, Myanmar, New Zealand and Uruguay regarding their collective response to combat COVID-19 and its repercussions on trade disruptions. In this Update, we highlight the commitments by the countries to maintaining open and connected supply chains, and to working closely to identify and address trade disruptions with ramifications on the flow of necessities.

Singapore | Trade | 07 April 2020

Workplace & Employment

Managing Manpower Costs: New Guidelines on Wage Cuts and Updated Tripartite Advisory on Retrenchments

In an encouraging sign, Singapore's third-quarter economic growth has expanded by 7.9% in the third quarter from the 13.2% contraction in the preceding quarter. However the economic fallout of COVID-19 will not dissipate anytime soon, especially as new waves of infections continue to surge worldwide. While the government has been encouraging businesses to retain workers where possible, it is now acknowledged that retrenchments and/or wage cuts may be inevitable. Accordingly, there have been two new developments for employers to take note of:

  1. Release of the National Wages Council's ("NWC") 2020/2021 Supplementary Guidelines ("Supplementary Guidelines"), which will apply from 1 November 2020 to 30 June 2021; and
  2. Updates to the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment as of 17 October 2020 ("Updated Advisory") issued by the tripartite partners, being the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM"), the National Trades Union Congress ("NTUC") and the Singapore National Employers Federation ("SNEF").

The Supplementary Guidelines sets out principles for wage cuts, while the Updated Advisory provides guidance on conducting retrenchment exercises. We provide an overview of both developments in this Update.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 20 October 2020
Employment Agencies to Comply with New Licence Conditions for Fair Hiring

With effect from 1 October 2020, the Ministry of Manpower will require all employment agencies in Singapore ("EAs") to comply with the fair recruitment requirements set out in the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices ("TGFEP") when recruiting on behalf of their clients. The TGFEP contains fair and merit-based employment guidelines that all Singapore-based organisations are expected to abide by.

These new guidelines will be imposed as new licensing conditions on the EAs, and non-compliance may result in demerit points, suspension or revocation of an EA licence or prosecution.

This Update highlights the new licence conditions that EAs must comply with to ensure fair hiring.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 26 June 2020
Employers Required to Notify Salary Reduction Measures

On 29 May 2020, the Employment (Returns on Salary Reduction Measures) Notification 2020 ("Notification") came into effect. The Notification requires any employer with more than 10 employees who intends to reduce operating expenses by implementing measures that result in the reduction of salary of any employee to submit a return to the Commissioner for Labour in a prescribed form within the prescribed period.

The Ministry of Manpower has earlier issued an advisory titled "Advisory on salary and leave arrangements during Circuit Breaker" that among other things, set out notification requirements for cost-saving measures with salary reductions during the circuit breaker from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020. The Notification applies to employers in Singapore with effect from 29 May 2020.

This Update outlines the requirements in the Notification.

 

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 29 May 2020
Resuming Workplace Operations: Safe Management Measures

Following the Multi-Ministry Taskforce's announcement that the circuit breaker measures would be progressively-eased over the coming weeks, the Tripartite Partners have issued Safe Management Measures on 9 May 2020 ("Measures") for employers to establish a system to ensure a safe work environment and minimise the risks of further outbreaks. The Measures issued by the Tripartite Partners must be implemented by employers which are allowed to resume operations, including employers allowed to operate during this period and those permitted to do so after 12 May 2020. For employers resuming operations after the end of the circuit breaker period, the Measures must be in place before they can resume operations at the workplace. An outline of the Measures is set out in this update.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 13 May 2020
Laws Enforcing Telecommuting, Safe Distancing (and More) at Workplace Take Effect 2 April 2020

On 1 April 2020, the Infectious Diseases (Workplace Measures to Prevent Spread of COVID-19) Regulations 2020 ("Regulations") were issued to give legal force to prevention measures against the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace. The Regulations apply throughout the control period of 2 April 2020 to 30 April 2020, inclusive of both dates. Its rapid implementation indicates the gravity of the current situation and the government's determination to ensure compliance. The Regulations apply to employers, principals, and occupiers, and set out prevention measures against the spread of COVID-19 to be put in place at the workplace, including safe distancing and telecommuting.

[Note: Following the Singapore Government announcements on 3 April 2020, new enhanced safe distancing measures will take effect on 7 April 2020. This relates most importantly to the need to work from home. The measures have been significantly tightened, with the critical point that “reasonably practicable” has been removed. The measures critically result in the requirement to close all workplace premises and retail outlets except for certain specified essential services. Non-compliance will result in an offence. This Update must thus be read with reference to these new measures.]

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 03 April 2020
Latest - Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment in View of COVID-19

In view of COVID-19, the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trade Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation issued an update to their Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment ("Advisory") on 11 March 2020. The Advisory sets out possible measures to manage excess manpower and is intended to help employees continue to retain a job amidst a likely prolonged difficult period even as employers work towards keeping their businesses and employees' jobs viable. We highlight some of these updates below.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 17 March 2020
FAQs for Employers: Practical Tips on Dealing with the COVID-19 Outbreak

The COVID-19 outbreak across the world has had a major impact on the economy in many countries, with the Ministry of Trade and Industry downgrading Singapore's 2020 GDP growth forecast to -0.5% to 1.5% on 17 February 2020. With the economy and businesses taking a beating, all quarters in Singapore are holding on to the hope that the situation in Singapore will stabilise soon. The Singapore Government has taken a practical approach to contain the spread of the virus while urging the public to continue business as usual where possible.

As businesses adapt to the evolving situation, we address some frequently asked questions on an employer's obligation to comply with the Singapore Government's defensive measures and to provide a safe workplace for their employees while maintaining business continuity.

Singapore | Workplace & Employment | 25 February 2020

Useful Resources

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) – gov.sg
gobusiness COVID
Ministry of Health: Updates on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Local Situation
Ministry of Manpower: Advisories on COVID-19


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