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

Supreme Court Amends 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure and the Revised Rules on Evidence

In October 2019, the Supreme Court issued two administrative matters (collectively, the "New Rules") amending the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and the 1989 Revised Rules on Evidence. These New Rules took effect on 1 May 2020, and substantially modify the way that court litigation and dispute resolution have traditionally been conducted in the Philippines.

22 May 2020 | Philippines
The Revised Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine in the Philippines

After the implementation of an Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") for two months in Luzon and other high-risk areas, the Philippine Government has gradually started easing restrictions and has begun transitioning to the "new normal".  On 30 April 2020, the Philippines President issued Executive Order No. 112), which adopted the Inter-Agency Task Force ("IATF") for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution No. 30 or the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines ("Omnibus Guidelines") and granted the IATF the authority to modify the Omnibus Guidelines without need of further approval of the President.  On 15 May 2020, the IATF issued the Revised Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines.

22 May 2020 | Philippines
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.
21 May 2020 | Singapore
Singapore Enhances Legal Framework for Maritime Casualty Claims
As a global maritime hub, Singapore stands as one of the key jurisdictions for admiralty and shipping dispute resolution. On this front, the Singapore government has pushed ahead with new laws to further enhance the legal framework.

  • The introduction of legislative amendments to support Singapore's adoption of the International Convention on Salvage
  • The implementation of the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims under Singapore law.
These developments mean that Singapore will be better able to hear salvage claims and allow enforcement of such claims through ship arrest. They also serve to increase the limits of liability for claims against shipowners. Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP's Shipping and International Trade Practice is firmly established in the field of maritime disputes, and parties seeking to better understand these new developments or to take advantage of the country's enhanced dispute resolution capabilities should feel free to approach the team for consultation.

In this Update, we look at the key aspects of the recent legislative amendments and their potential impact on the shipping industry.
21 May 2020 | Singapore
COVID-19: Prohibition on Lockouts and Strikes

In order to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand, the Thai government announced an emergency decree which applies to all areas in Thailand from 26 March to 30 April 2020 (“Emergency Decree”), and has since been extended to 31 May 2020. Under the Emergency Decree, the Thai government has issued several notifications in order to prevent and suppress the outbreak.

One of the most recent notifications is from the Ministry of Labour Re: Referral of unsettled labour disputes to the labour relations committee for settlement and prohibition on employers to cause a lockout or employees to cause a strike during the period of the emergency situations in accordance with the laws on public administration in emergency situations (“Notification”). The Notification came into force on 8 May 2020 and is widely understood to be intended to prevent a potential spread of the disease by prohibiting employee strike action, while also allowing employees who were previously subject to a lockout to return to work.

21 May 2020 | Thailand
Guidance on Notification Procedures of Economic Concentration Cases to the Ministry of Industry and Trade

On 14 May 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Trade ("MOIT") published a guidance on notification procedures of economic concentration cases during the transitional period ("Guidance"), because the new Vietnam Competition Commission has not been established yet. The Guidance is based on the Law on Competition and Decree 35/2020/ND-CP detailing a number of Articles of the Law on Competition.

21 May 2020 | Vietnam
COVID-19: Postponed Implementation Deadline for Personal Data Protection Act

On 19 May 2020, the Thai Cabinet approved in principle a proposal made by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to provide a one-year long postponement of the effective date of key operative provisions of the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2562 (2019) ("PDPA") from 27 May 2020 to 31 May 2021 ("New Effective Date"). This move comes as good news for companies struggling to implement their personal data protection regimes by the original 27 May 2020 date. For example, by the New Effective Date, companies are required to ensure they obtain consent from the Data Subject prior to or at the time of any collection, use, or disclosure of Personal Data, except where consent is not required under the PDPA or pursuant to any other laws.

This Update highlights the implications of the postponement, as well as the key features of the PDPA

20 May 2020 | Thailand
Pharmaceutical Product Registration and Cosmetic Product Notification in Malaysia

As the global COVID-19 cases continue to rise, researchers around the world are racing to understand the virus and working to roll out an effective vaccine.

In this Update, we look at the general requirements and procedure for pharmaceutical product registration and also cosmetic product notification in Malaysia.

18 May 2020 | Malaysia
Public Consultation on the Draft Data Protection (Amendment) Bill
On 14 May 2020, the Ministry of Communications and Information ("MCI") and the Personal Data Protection Commission ("PDPC") jointly issued a public consultation paper to seek comments on the draft Personal Data Protection (Amendment) Bill ("PDP (Amendment) Bill"). The consultation closes on 28 May 2020.

The draft PDP (Amendment) Bill sets out the proposed amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 ("PDPA"). These amendments are precipitated by the global shift towards a digitised economy, and the exponential increase in the need for and usage of personal data in business transactions and growing threat of data breaches. The amendments are intended to ensure that the PDPA keeps pace with the changing circumstances, while providing for effective protection of personal data in the digital economy.

In this Update, we highlight the key amendments to the PDPA that organisations should take note of. Please note that this update is not a comprehensive list of all the proposed changes to the PDPA pursuant to the PDP (Amendment) Bill. The full Public Consultation Document and the draft PDP (Amendment) Bill may be accessed here.
15 May 2020 | Singapore
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.
    15 May 2020 | Singapore
    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.
    15 May 2020 | Singapore
    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.
    15 May 2020 | Singapore
    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.
    15 May 2020 | Singapore
    Navigating Construction and Insolvency: SAL Report on SOPA and Corporate Insolvency
    The Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act ("SOPA") regime is widely used across the construction industry. However, its interaction with the corporate insolvency and restructuring framework has been less than clear, resulting in potential insolvency-related issues arising from SOPA adjudication. The Singapore Academy of Law thus convened the SOPA-Insolvency Law Sub-Committee ("Committee") to explore these issues and to recommend subsequent steps where appropriate. In April 2020, the Committee issued its Report on the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act and Corporate Insolvency and Restructuring ("Report").This Updates looks at the concerns identified under these issues and the Committee's analysis and recommendations in the Report.
    14 May 2020 | Singapore
    BSP Grants Relief Measures to Manage the Financial Impact of COVID-19, Temporarily Suspends Administrative Proceedings, and Issues Guidelines for the Implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act

    The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (“BSP”) Monetary Board has approved the granting of relief measures to BSP-supervised financial institutions (“BSFIs”) to enable them to extend the same relief measures to their clients, borrowers, and employers in view of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) imposed by the Philippine government in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines. The BSP also temporarily suspended proceedings of administrative cases at the BSP’s Office of the General Counsel and Legal Services-Investigation and Prosecution Group due to the Luzon-wide ECQ. It likewise directed all BSFIs to comply with Section 4(aa) of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.

    On April 24, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte announced another extension of the ECQ in high-risk areas which include Metro Manila, Central Luzon (except Aurora), the CALABARZON Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), the island of Cebu, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, and Davao City, among other areas until May 15, 2020.

    14 May 2020 | Philippines
    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.
    13 May 2020 | Singapore
    SGX to Remove Minimum Trading Price Framework and Refine Criteria for Exiting Financial Watch-List from 1 June 2020
    On 11 May 2020, the Singapore Exchange Regulation ("SGX RegCo") announced that with effect from 1 June 2020:
    • The minimum trading price ("MTP") rules for issuers listed on the SGX-ST Mainboard will be removed; and
    • The criteria for exiting the Singapore Exchange Limited ("SGX") financial watch-list will be refined.
    This follows a public consultation exercise conducted by SGX RegCo from 28 November 2019 to 27 December 2019 seeking comments on proposals relating to the above changes

    This Update highlights the removal of the MTP rules and the refinement of the criteria for exiting the SGX financial watch-list.
    13 May 2020 | Singapore
    Does the "Dual Railroad Track System" Still Exist under the SOP Act?
    The Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act ("SOP Act") seeks to alleviate cash flow problems in the construction industry. It sets out a mechanism by which contractors can make progress payment claims, and employers must either pay the claimed amount or, in the case where the amount is disputed, file a payment response detailing the reasons for their differences and objections to the claim, jurisdictional or otherwise. The Court's authoritative guidance as to the operation of the SOP Act and the scope of its previous decisions is important to both stakeholders in the construction industry and legal practitioners alike.

    In the recent case of Shimizu Corporation v Stargood Construction Pte Ltd [2020] SGCA 3736, the Court of Appeal had the opportunity to deal with the issue of whether progress payment claims under the SOP Act can still be submitted following the termination of the contract. It found that the SOP Act did not provide an independent right to payment; instead, a claimant must establish its right to payment pursuant to the contract itself. The "dual railroad track system" argument - whereby a party possessed a statutory entitlement to a progress payment that was separate and distinct from a party's contractual entitlement to the same – was conclusively rejected

    The apex court's decision reaffirms the approach taken in the case of Far East Square Pte Ltd v Yau Lee Construction (Singapore) Pte Ltd [2019] 2 SLR 189 ("Far East") that "in order to determine a contractor's entitlement to submit payment claims under the [SOP Act], the court must necessarily have regard to the provisions of the underlying construction contract".
    13 May 2020 | Singapore