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The origins of Singapore’s current legal system is bound together with its history as a former British colony. In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company established a trading post in Singapore. Shortly after, in 1826, the British Parliament passed the Second Charter of Justice which in effect imported and applied English law in the Straits Settlements (i.e., the British settlements on the Malay Peninsula, which included Singapore).
During its stint as a British colony, other laws were also implanted by the English into Singapore. In the field of criminal law, for example, the Indian Penal Code of 1860 was adopted by the Straits Settlements in 1872, and used instead of English common law for the relevant offences.
After Singapore gained independence in 1965, however, it increasingly found that the law ‘received’ from the British no longer suited its needs, and started to develop its own autochthonous legal system. In 1993, appeals to the Privy Council (a UK-based body) were abolished. In the same year, the Application of English Law Act (Cap 7A, 1994 Rev Ed) came into force, and set out the extent (and limits) to which English law would apply in Singapore.
Today, Singapore’s legal system, although bearing family resemblances to other commonwealth countries, is very much a law of its own. Like most other legal systems, Singapore takes reference from other jurisdictions to gauge the possible efficacy and necessity of certain legal developments. Judgments from certain jurisdictions may even be considered persuasive in court if we have certain legislative history in common (with UK, Australia, and Malaysian cases being the foreign jurisdictions often cited). However, Singapore courts do decline to follow other jurisdictions on the basis that e.g., the social contexts of the countries are different. For example, there is no Singapore equivalent of UK’s Human Rights Act of 1998, since this was a UK incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights into domestic British law.
TYPE OF SYSTEM
Singapore considers itself to have a Westminster-model parliamentary democracy.
The Constitution is the supreme law of Singapore. Other sources of law include legislation, subsidiary legislation, and judge-made law (through precedents).
LEGAL AID SITUATION
a. Quick summary of some avenues of legal aid in Singapore
- Legal Aid (representation):
All applicants: CLAS (non-capital criminal charges), LASCO (capital charges)
Singaporeans/PRs only: Legal Aid Bureau (civil claims)
Foreigners only: HOME (migrant workers) JWB (migrant workers)
- Legal Advice (e.g., through one-off legal clinics):
All applicants: AWARE (women only), Jamiyah (Syariah law)
Singaporeans/PRs only: Community Legal Clinic, SCWO (women, civil and muslim law, Singapore residents)
Foreigners only: Healthserve (migrant workers) TWC2 (migrant workers) MWC (migrant workers)
Acronyms used (in alphabetical order): AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research), CLAS (Criminal Legal Aid Scheme), HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), JWB (Justice Without Borders), LASCO (Legal Aid Scheme for Capital Offences), MWC (Migrant Workers’ Centre), SCWO (Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations), TWC2 (Transient Workers Count Too).
b. State-sponsored legal aid
- Criminal cases:
The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (“CLAS”) provides legal assistance to anyone in Singapore who faces non-capital criminal charges in Court under the Penal Code or 16 other statutes,  provided that they pass both means and merits tests. This extends to non-Singaporeans and non-PRs.
The Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (“LASCO”) assigns free legal counsel to anyone who is charged with an offence where the penalty may be death (i.e., capital offences, e.g., murder, kidnapping, trafficking in Class A drugs). LASCO will provide legal representation at trial and on appeal, usually with one leading counsel and one assisting counsel. There is neither a means test to pass nor eligibility criteria to satisfy.
- Civil cases:
The Legal Aid Bureau (“LAB”) provides legal aid for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (“PRs”) who pass means and merits tests in civil cases. Also eligible are citizens/residents of contracting states who are involved in applications under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. If the applicant is below the age of 21, the applicant’s parent/guardian must apply on their behalf. The Legal Aid Bureau is run by the Ministry of Law.
The Community Legal Clinic also provides one-off basic legal advice for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. The Community Legal Clinic is run by the Law Society of Singapore.
c. Other existing organizations providing pro bono legal aid
On top of directly state-sponsored legal aid, there are a number of other organizations that provide pro bono legal aid. Some NGOs focus on specific groups of applicants, such as migrant workers (HOME, Healthserve, TWC2, MWC); women (AWARE, SCWO); and startup companies (ACE). Other NGOs focus on specific areas of law, such as Syariah law (Jamiyah), intellectual property matters (IPOS), and consumer complaints (CASE).
acronyms: Action Community for Entrepreneurship (“ACE”), Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”), Consumers Association of Singapore (“CASE”)
d. Number of lawyers
As of 2018, there were 5,336 legal practitioners in Singapore.
SOURCES OF DEFENDANT'S RIGHTS
Singapore Constitution, in particular Art 9:
Liberty of the person
9.—(1) No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law.
(2) Where a complaint is made to the High Court or any Judge thereof that a person is being unlawfully detained, the Court shall inquire into the complaint and, unless satisfied that the detention is lawful, shall order him to be produced before the Court and release him.
(3) Where a person is arrested, he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.
(4) Where a person is arrested and not released, he shall, without unreasonable delay, and in any case within 48 hours (excluding the time of any necessary journey), be produced before a Magistrate, in person or by way of video-conferencing link (or other similar technology) in accordance with law, and shall not be further detained in custody without the Magistrate’s authority.
Information first received about an offence is normally recorded in a ‘First Information Report’. First information reports can be made to either police officers or other authorized persons. The recording officer/authorized person is obliged by law to follow certain procedures when information about an offence is given.
If the information is in writing, the recording officer must note the name and address of the person who gave the report, as well as the date and time the report was received. In addition, if the information appears to be signed, the officer is to file it as a report (s 14(2) CPC)
If the information is given orally and the recording officer considers it practicable to reduce to writing immediately, the officer must ensure that they must record: (i) the date and time of their receipt of the information; (ii) the name and address of the informant; (iii) the information given by the informant; and (iv) any other such particulars as the nature of the case may require. In addition, the informant, the recording officer, and the interpreter (where applicable) must, where practicable, sign this report (s 14(3) and (4), CPC)
If the information is given orally and it is impracticable for the recording officer to write down immediately, the recording officer must (i) make a note of the first information; and (ii) if the information relates to an arrestable offence, record as soon as possible a fuller statement from the informant (s 14(5) r/w s 22 CPC).
If the information is given to any authorized person, the person must immediately record the information in a report and communicate the report to a police officer whose duty is to deal with reports relating to the commission of any offence (s 15 CPC).
2. Arrest, search, and seizure laws
Offences are broadly categorized into offences that are ‘arrestable’ and ‘non-arrestable’ without a warrant. The police’s procedures and powers of arrest, search and seizure in each investigation depends on which category offence a person has committed (or which the police can reasonably suspect them of committing). Arrestable Penal Code offences are indicated in the 3rd column of the first schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”).
To determine if a non-Penal Code offence is arrestable:
- (i) check for specific power of arrest in the particular legislation.
- (ii) if no specific power of arrest, check for the prescribed sentence: punishable with imprisonment for > 3 years = arrestable; punishable with imprisonment for < 3 years or fine only = non-arrestable.
All other offences are non-arrestable unless otherwise specified.
- Arrest without warrant:
In general, a warrant for arrest must be obtained for the police to arrest a person (see ss 69-74 CPC for procedural requirements). However, there are provided certain circumstances in which a warrant need not be obtained. In addition to (a) ‘arrestable’ offences, the following people can be arrested without a warrant under s 64(1) CPC:
• (b) possesses a housebreaking tool without being able to provide a lawful excuse for having it;
• (c) an absconded offender under section 88;
• (d) reasonably suspected to be in possession of stolen/fraudulently obtained property and reasonably suspected to have committed an offence to obtain it
• (e) obstruction of police officer doing duty or (attempted/)escapee from lawful custody
• (f) deserter from Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force, volunteer/auxiliary/special forces attached to the police, or any visiting forces lawfully present in Singapore
• (g) suspect that that person is trying to conceal his presence to commit an arrestable offence
• (h) has no apparent means of subsistence or who cannot give a satisfactory account of himself;
• (i) is known to be a habitual robber, housebreaker or thief, or a habitual receiver of stolen property knowing it to be stolen, or who is known to habitually commit extortion or to habitually put or attempt to put persons in fear of injury in order to commit extortion;
• (j) breach of peace (commission or attempt in the presence of a police officer)
• (k) planning to commit an arrestable offence if cannot otherwise be prevented
• (l) subject to police supervision
• (m) breached detention order
There is other legislation that provides for arrest without a warrant, inter alia –
• Any person who commits or is reasonably suspected of committing an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act (See s 25)
• Any person who commits an offence under s 40 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order & Nuisance) Act (See s 40)
• Any person who commits or is reasonably believed to have committed an offence under the Immigration Act (See s 51)
• Any person who commits an offence under the National Registration Act (See s 16(1))
- Physical but not unnecessary restaint:
Physical restraint: When arresting, the arrestee’s body must be touched/confined unless person submits to arrest by word or action (s 75 CPC)
No unnecessary restraint: The person must not be restrained more than is necessary to prevent his escape. (s 76 CPC)
- Right to be informed of grounds of arrest:
“Where a person is arrested, he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest.” (s 9(3) Constitution)
• General information is sufficient: under what power he is being arrested under and the grounds of his arrest.
• “as soon as may be” – a question of fact in each case
• If not informed, the accused’s arrest and detention can be deemed false imprisonment until he is told (Christie v Leachinsky)
- Right to counsel:
“Where a person is arrested, (…) he shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice (s 9(3) Constitution; s 236 CPC)
• Within a reasonable time after arrest. Need not be immediately after arrest; right to be defended by an advocate must be balanced against the duty of the police to carry out effective investigations. Whether the time is ‘reasonable’ is a question of fact in each case. (Jasbir Singh v PP – 2 weeks; affirmed by the Court of Appeal in James Raj S/o Arokiasamy v PP)
• Right to counsel is not an unqualified right. Accused can only be entitled to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice insofar as the legal practitioner is similarly willing and able to defend him. (Balasundaram v PP)
• No right to be informed of right to counsel
• No right of foreign persons to consular access before statements are recorded.
In general, the police’s powers of search depends on whether the offence is arrestable or not. In general, if the investigation involves a non-arrestable offence, the Police have no automatic powers of search, and will have to apply for a search warrant (s 25 CPC, cf. s 34 CPC).
- Of people:
Search of arrested people without bail (s78(1) CPC)
In this search of the person arrested, the police may place in safe custody all articles other than necessary wearing apparel found upon the person. Search for name and address: any person who is lawfully in custody and unable to give a reasonable account of himself may be searched to find out their name or address (s 80 CPC). Detention and search of people found in a place which is being searched for an object: where a search for anything is lawfully made in any place in respect of any offence, every person found there may be lawfully detained until the search is complete (s 81(1) CPC). Furthermore, if the thing sought can be concealed on a person, the people found in the place can be searched for it by or in the presence of a police officer rank sergeant and above (s 81(2) CPC).
Search of a woman: must be by another woman unless suspected of terrorism or unless the search cannot be made within a reasonable time by a woman (s83 CPC).
- Of premises:
Starting point: search warrant needed to be issued by the court (s 25 CPC).
Search without warrant for items related to arrestable offences: the investigating police officer may search for a document or other thing in any place without a search warrant if he considers the item necessary for his investigation, and: (a) he has reason to believe that the person in possession of the item is unlikely to produce it; (b) he has reason to believe that the item is likely to be removed; or (c) it is not known who possesses this item or thing (s 34 CPC).
These powers include access to and limiting access to any computer if the police officer has reasonable cause to suspect that it is or has been used in connection with or contains evidence relating to the arrestable offence (s 39 CPC).
Search without warrant of the premises of the person related to arrestable offence: police officers are allowed to enter and search any place belonging to/in the control of a person who is: (i) under arrest for an arrestable offence, (ii) connected to the arrestable offence, or (iii) has given shelter to the person under arrest for an arrestable offence (s 78(2) CPC).
Search without warrant for stolen property: police officers rank sergeant and above can without a warrant search a place which they have reasonable cause to suspect contains stolen property if they have good grounds to believe that the property is likely to be removed (s 32 CPC). In addition, any police officer who has authorization by the Commissioner of Police can search premises which are or have been (for the past 12 months) been occupied by persons convicted of receiving stolen property, harbouring thieves, fraud/dishonesty etc. for the stolen property (s 33 CPC).
Search without warrant for a person sought to be arrested: police officers with the authority to arrest (or any other person acting under an arrest warrant) can search any place if they have reason to believe that the person to be arrested is inside (s 77 CPC). In the course of this search, the police have the power to use reasonable means to effect entry for the search, including the breaking of doors and windows (s 77(4) CPC)
c. Pre-trial detention
- Must be brought before a court without unnecessary delay
• When arrest is without a warrant: must be heard before a Magistrate’s Court without unnecessary or unreasonable delay and within 48 hours (ss 67, 68 CPC)
• When arrest is with a warrant/when arrest is by a citizen: must be brought before the relevant court without unnecessary delay
- Exception: Preventive Detention
Article 9(1) of the Constitution states that “no person shall be deprived of his (…) personal liberty save in accordance with law”. However, the Constitution simultaneously provides that any law designed to prevent actions that are (inter alia) prejudicial to the security of Singapore is valid notwithstanding that it may be inconsistent with the rights enumerated in the Constitution, including Art 9 (Art 149(1), Singapore Constitution).
Person may be detained for up to 2 years on order of Minister with the satisfaction of President: Under s 8 of the Internal Security Act (“ISA”), the Minister may order that a person be detained for up to two years if the President is satisfied that it is necessary to prevent that person from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Singapore.
Person may be detained for up to 12 months with satisfaction of Minister and consent of Public Prosecutor: At the same time, s 30 of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (“CLTPA”) allows for the detention of a person for up to 12 months if the person has been associated with activities of a criminal nature, if he has the consent of the Public Prosecutor, and if he is satisfied that this detention is necessary in the interests of public safety, peace, and good order.
Constitutional restrictions on preventive detention: Art 151 requires the authority on whose order the person is being detained to provide (i) grounds, (ii) allegations of fact and (iii) opportunity to make representation. Furthermore, no citizen can be detained for more than 3 months without being given the opportunity to make representations to the advisory board (final decision upon 2/3 of Elected Presidency, Advisory Board or Internal Security Department).
There have been efforts to judicially review the executive’s discretion under the various Acts that provide for preventive discretion. One of the main controversies is whether it the court should use a ‘subjective’ or ‘objective’ test to determine whether the Minister has been reasonable in ordering the detention (see Lee Mau Seng, Chng Suan Tze, and Teo Soh Lung; Michael Hor (2005) for a more comprehensive overview).
d. Enforcing the Rules
Note that the illegality of arrests do not affect the court’s jurisdiction to try the accused. Rather, the accused’s remedies lie in civil proceedings or disciplinary actions against the police.
(i) Lineups and other identification procedures
There is a lack of legislative guidelines regulating the conduction of identification parades. The Courts therefore generally have discretion as to whether they will admit or give weight to the evidence but must do so within the confines of procedural safeguards put in place to lessen the danger of the Court relying on unreliable identification evidence.
Firstly, the Courts will give less weight to evidence obtained from line-ups where the composition of foils is clearly unfair to the accused.
(a) Whether the case is dependent wholly or substantially on the correctness of the identification evidence alleged by the Defence to be mistaken; and if the answer is yes,
(b) If so, whether the identification evidence is of good quality, having regard to the circumstances in which it was made; or
(c) Where the quality of such evidence is poor, whether there is any other evidence that supports the correctness of the identification.
Whether identification evidence will be used and to what extent is subject to the three-step test. If the first limb is satisfied, the second or third does not have to be satisfied for the Court to rely on the evidence.
Singapore’s attitude towards admissibility of evidence obtained from police-led interrogation is also significantly more lenient than practices in other Commonwealth countries and marks a departure from the original intention that police-taken statements should be prima facie inadmissible. This attitude has been justified by arguments that the safeguards put in place for statements obtained by the Police ensure sufficient reliability.
- Oral Statements Taken Before Suspect has been Formally Charged
Under s 22(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, before any person is formally charged with an offence, police officers have the power to compel any suspects or witnesses to appear before them. Police officers have the power to orally examine these persons and take section 22 statements from them as long as they are connected to the proceedings or persons to be charged or already charged with an offence in connection with the case at hand. These section 22 statements are prima facie admissible in Court.
Although the person being examined “shall be bound to state truly what he knows of the facts and circumstances of the case ”, he enjoys the right of silence. This right is not considered to be a Constitutional right.
The right of silence under this section has two limitations:
(a) The accused does not have to be informed of the right of silence; and
(b) The Court can make adverse inferences from the silence.
The Court of Appeal in Kwek Seow Hock v Public Prosecutor held that the Court may draw an adverse inference under Section 22(2) on the person’s failure to mention a fact that may prove his innocence in the statement given to the police during the investigation process. While this rarely forms the sole basis of conviction, it can be used to corroborate or support aspects of the Prosecution’s case.
However, because Section 22 statements are often taken when the suspect has not yet been informed of the charge against him, it makes it difficult for him to discern what facts would be exculpatory and which would be self-incriminating. Section 22 statements are also taken again after the suspect has been charged but where the details of the charge are not fresh on his mind, opening the door to adverse inferences made against the accused when his omissions are caused by forgetting the events or facts relevant to the Charge.
- After Suspect has been Formally Charged
Under s 23(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, after a suspect has been formally charged or informed that he may be prosecuted for an offence, he must be served with or have read to him a notice that contains:
1. Information about the Charge; and
2. The consequences of keeping silent or refusing to give a statement.
There is no right to silence for statements made under s 23 of the Criminal Procedure Code. If the suspect continues to keep quiet or omits important information that is useful for his case in his statement, the Court will have the power to draw adverse inferences based on this silence.
- Procedural Safeguards during Interrogation Process
The procedural safeguards for the interrogation process operate almost entirely retroactively. Accused persons can usually only challenge the admissibility of the statements they made under interrogation or argue that the statements should be given less or no weight by the Court.
Consequences of Breach of Procedural Rules: The Criminal Procedure Code does not prevent evidence from being admitted simply because the procedure set out under the code was not adhered to because “[the courts] are not concerned with how the evidence is obtained as it is not for the courts to discipline the police ”. Any lapse in procedure when taking a statement can only go towards a finding of one of the above two points. No lapse in procedure will in and of itself automatically cause statements to be excluded and no inferences will be drawn from the breach of procedure.
Statements taken by any enforcement personnel can only be excluded under two circumstances:
1. Voluntariness: Firstly, where the statement was not given voluntarily
For the statement to be admissible, the Prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the statement taken by the police officer was given voluntarily by the accused. A statement is not given voluntarily if it is made as the result of a threat, inducement or promise which operates on his mind, such that it robs him of his free will. However, the bar to Courts finding a lack of voluntariness is extremely high.
2. Prejudicial effect > Probative Value
The Court of Appeal’s judgment in Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205 marked a change in attitude towards severe breaches of procedure and their consequences for the evidence’s admissibility. While statements obtained through procedural lapses such as lying to the suspect continue to be prima facie admissible as long as they are voluntarily given, the Court now explicitly reserves the discretionary power to exclude these statements where it finds the prejudicial effect of the statement outweighs the probative value of the statement. This can be found where there have been excessive breaches of procedural guidelines that render the evidence so unreliable as to be inadmissible.
Video recording: As a practical safeguard and to better assess the arguments on whether a statement was voluntarily taken, the Courts have begun to roll out mandatory video recordings (VRIs) of interrogations and interviews. While VRIs are currently limited to those accused of specified rape offences, there are plans to expand its scope in the future. Although defence counsels will not be able to obtain copies of the recording, they will be given access to watch the recordings at an approved place for however many times they want as well as a transcript of the recording.
Disciplinary Action for Mistreatment of Suspects and Witnesses: Besides procedures during interrogation affecting the statements as evidence, there are Police General Orders in addition to a Criminal Procedure Code which police officers are trusted to follow during interrogation. Breach of procedures under these codes can be punishable. However, disciplinary proceedings relating to lack of adherence to interrogation procedures is uncommon in Singapore.
Right to counsel: There is an inalienable Right of access to Counsel in Singapore that continues to subsist even where the person is remanded under the Internal Security Act. Its source is Article 9(3) of the Constitution: Where a person is arrested, he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. However, no one has the right to be informed of his right to Counsel. Furthermore, the Article does not provide the time elapsed or conditions that must be fulfilled before a person can have their Right to Counsel.
The prevailing view in Singapore is that the right to counsel must be granted “within a reasonable time” after the suspect’s arrest, and this “reasonable time” means affording a “reasonable time” for investigations -- the right does not elapse immediately after arrest. As to the actual measure of “reasonable time”, the Courts have stated that it is instead a question of fact because it calls for a factual inquiry of all the relevant considerations, explicitly rejecting arguments that a reasonable time is within 48 hours. While the Courts have stated that the onus is on the Police officer to show that the right to counsel would impede police investigation or the administration of justice, a largely permissive view has been taken towards delays: Courts have held 2 weeks of no access to counsel to be reasonable despite the Prosecution already having taken a cautioned statement from the accused.
Rights of the accused at all times
CRIMINAL LAW SYSTEM
1. Double jeopardy
The Executive includes the Elected President, the Cabinet and the Attorney-General. The President is elected by the people and is empowered to veto government budgets and appointments to public office. The Cabinet comprises the Prime Minister and Ministers appointed from among the Members of Parliament and is responsible for the general direction and control of the Government and is accountable to Parliament. The Attorney-General is the principal legal advisor to the government and has the power and discretion to prosecute offenders.
Executive power rests with the Cabinet. The Cabinet is led by the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the President appoints other Ministers from among the Members of Parliament to form the Cabinet. The Cabinet is responsible for all government policies and the day-to-day administration of the affairs of state.
(i) Prime Ministers of Singapore
A bailor’s key responsibility is to ensure that the accused attends all court hearings at the required time and date until the case has been concluded. If the accused fails to attend a court hearing, the full bail amount pledged as security may be forfeited. The bailor must also ensure that the accused does not leave Singapore without the Court’s permission.
(viii) What documents must a bailor bring if the bail is being processed at the prosecuting agency and/or Bail Centre?
The bailor must bring along with him the following documents:
• The bailor’s Identity Card or Passport
• The accused’s passport (if it is required by the prosecuting agency or the Court as a condition of bail)
• The documents as stated in S/N 12 below and depending how the bailor wishes to furnish the bail sum.
(ix) What if the bailor cannot speak English?
Court Staff will assist those who are not able to speak English but are able to converse in Malay, Mandarin, local Chinese dialects and Tamil.
(x) What can the bailor pledge or deposit to the court as security for the bail amount?
In addition to cash, the bailor may pledge:
• Fixed or Time Deposit. This is provided the bailor is the account holder with at least 6 months before its maturity, and that the sum has not already been used as a form of security
• Monies in the savings account. This is provided there are no deductions made from that account for GIRO or any other payment. The updated savings passbook or bank statement, must be brought to the prosecuting agency or Court offering bail as the case may be
• Cashier’s Order. This should be made payable either to the prosecuting agency (for Police Bail) or the “Registrar, State courts” (for Court Bail) for the exact bail amount
• NETS payment. This is through the bailor’s own ATM card. Please note that for ATM cards, there may be a maximum withdrawal up to $2,000 per day
• Bailor’s personal properties not exceeding $15,000.
Note: If the bailor is using cash, a copy of his bank statement (indicating Name and NRIC No. of account holder & Account No.) must be provided either to the prosecuting agency (for Police Bail) or the Bail Centre (for Court Bail).
(xi) Can the bailor pledge money or assets that belong to the accused person as security for bail?
No. The monies and properties must belong to the bailor.
(xii) Can the bailor still use his bank account, fixed/time deposit as he wishes after he has pledged the amount as bail sum?
No. In addition, the bank will be notified to freeze the bank account/deposits.
(xiii) What if the bank account has joint names?
Joint account cannot be used as security by one account holder. To utilize such an account as bail sum, both account holders will have to be bailors.
(xiv) When will the bailor get the bail monies back?
When a case has concluded or if the bailor has been granted a discharge, the bailor may obtain the return of the full sum of bail monies deposited. For Court Bail, if cash was deposited with the State courts, the bail amount would be directly refunded to the bailor by the Accountant-General by way of crediting directly into the bailor's bank account furnished by the bailor at the point of standing bail. The bailor may enquire from the Finance Section (Tel: 6435-5869) of the State courts should there be any further queries. For Police Bail, the bailor can contact the IO assigned to the case for more information on refund of bail sum.
(xv) What if the bailor no longer wishes to stand as bailor for the accused person?
The bailor will have to apply in writing (min. 1 week in advance) to the Court for the application to be heard. During the court mention, the bailor must be personally present together with the accused for the application to discharge as bailor. Once the bailor is discharged, to secure the release of the accused pending hearing, the accused must arrange for a substitute bailor.
(xvi) Can the accused leave Singapore after bail is given?
The accused person may only leave Singapore with the permission of the Court. Both the bailor and the accused must be present when the application is made to leave jurisdiction. The application can be made at the next court mention. If it is urgent, the accused can request in writing to the Court seeking an early date to make the application. In such instances, it is common for the Court to increase the bail amount to allow the accused to leave jurisdiction.
(xvii) What if the accused person fails to turn up in court as required?
If the accused fails to attend Court as required, a Warrant of Arrest may be issued against the accused. The bailor will also have to attend a hearing to explain why the full bail amount should not be forfeited. The latter is commonly known as a hearing for the Bailor To Show Cause.
(xviii) Will fresh bail be offered after an accused person is first charged in court?
Whether the original Police Bail will be extended or fresh Court Bail offered is at the discretion of the Court.
(xix) When should the bailor attend court?
The bailor should attend court:
• At the first court hearing of the accused person, where possible
• If the bailor wishes to apply to the court to discharge himself as a bailor
• If the accused wishes to make an application to the Court to leave Singapore
• Where the bailor has been asked to Show Cause why the bail monies should not be forfeited as a result of the accused failing to attend a court hearing.
(xx) Can the bailor later ask for the bail amount to be lowered?
The application may be made through the accused. The granting of such an application is rare.
(xxi) What if the assets that the bailor pledged are insufficient to meet the bail amount forfeited?
When the bail amount is forfeited and the assets sold are insufficient to meet the forfeited bail amount, the bailor will have to pay the difference. If the bailor does not pay, enforcement action will be taken.
(xxii) Is there a channel to request to review or appeal on bail related matters?
There is no channel to appeal against a decision on the bail offered for Police Bail before an accused is charged in court. If an accused has been charged in court, and it is felt that either bail ought to have been offered or that a lower sum of bail ought to have been offered, the accused can request for a bail review to be conducted. If the bail amount was forfeited whether in full or in part, the aggrieved bailor may appeal to the High Court against the forfeiture.
(xxiii) Where is the Bail Centre?
The Bail Centre is at the Crime Registry of the State courts.
The Crime Registry is located on the ground floor of the State courts,
1 Havelock Square, Singapore 059724.
(xxiv) What are the operating hours of the Bail Centre?
Mon-Thu 9.00AM - 6.00PM (Last registration at 12.30 pm & 5.00 pm)
Fri 9.00AM - 5.30PM (Last registration at 12.30 pm & 4.30 pm)
Sat 9.00AM – 1.00PM (Last registration at 12.00 pm)
FIRST COURT APPEARANCE
The accused will be informed of the date to appear in Court once he or she is on the police bail bond. He or she may instruct his or her counsels to act on his or her behalf. The lawyer may attend the court session with the accused. However, if the notice is too short, the accused may attend court session with his or her bailor and seek for adjournment while looking for a lawyer to represent you. The court will allow the adjournment and to extend the police bail or to place the accused on court bail. Each offence you are alleged to have committed will be listed as a SEPARATE CHARGE.
1. When Charged in Court
(a) Pleading Guilty
It is always advisable to have an understand of the minimum and maximum punishment that the accused may receive for the alleged offence that he or she is charge with. The accused must accept whatever punishment the Court may sentence. The Statement of Facts (relating to the accused/the offence that he or she had committed) will then be read out. There is no need for defence counsels if the accused is ready to accept the sentences that are to be meted out to him or her. However, counsels must voice out should there be any dispute with any of the facts.
Should there be any dispute with the Statement of Facts regarding important issues, the Court will NOT accept any plea of guilt. He or she will be directed to claim trial to the charge.
(b) Not Pleading Guilty
A Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) will be fixed in the event where there is no admittance of guilt.
(c) Trial Process
The Prosecution will present their case by calling their witnesses to stand and asking them questions.
(ii) Cross Examination
The defence lawyer will be allowed to question the Prosecution’s witness.
They can challenge and/or contradict what the Prosecution Witness has said with documentary evidence (if any). The challenge will be based on what was said or not said. The Defence lawyer will also put forth events according to the perspective of the accused to check if the Prosecution’s witness agrees with it.
The Prosecution would then ask their witness further questions, to clarify their answers given to your lawyer during cross-examination.
(iv) Submission of no-case to answer
If the accused felt that the prosecution has not proven the case against him or her, he or she can consult and instruct the defence lawyers to give a submission on NO CASE.
(v) Post Trial
1. Making closing submissions. - Both sides will have to summarize all the evidences and make respective arguments to the Court.
2. The Court will then decided if the accused is guilty (convicted) or not guilty (acquitted). The court also has the power to reduce the charge against the accused.
3. Can the accused contest the Court’s final decision?
If the accused is convicted after a trial, he or she can appeal against the Court’s decision on his or her conviction and/or his or her sentence. However, if the accused have pleaded guilty, he or she can only appeal against the sentence and this appeal must be filed with the Criminal Justice Division’s Registry within 10 calendar days from the date the verdict of the accused was announced. It is important to note that there is no guarantee the appeal will be successful and always advised the accused to consult the advice of the defence counsel when making such important decision.
(only applicable to accused who are sentenced with the death penalty)
Singapore’s President may grant pardons, reprieves, respites and re- missions under Article 22P of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (hereinafter ‘Singapore Constitution’). Article 22P of the Singapore Constitution also states that ‘The President, as occasion shall arise, may, on the advice of the Cabinet, grant a par- don’.
Article 21 of the Singapore Constitution clearly lists out the discharge and performance of functions of the President. The powers of the president consist of 4 things and unless otherwise provided for the President must act on the advice of the Cabinet. Article 21(2) lists eight specific matters which the president has personal discretion and a final open-ended one: the President has personal discretion in performing ‘any other function’ authorized by the Singapore Constitution.
However, under Article 21(3), the President must consult the Council of Presidential Advisers before performing functions specifically provided for. Under Article 21(4), the Council may be consulted in performing some of the independent functions provided for in Article 21(2). Hence, the President has both independent and dependent powers.
In relation to the power to grant pardons, there have been arguments stating that the open-ended Article 21(2)(i) when read together with Article 22P suggests that the President is not bound by the Cabinet’s advice in such matters.
- See e.g., the landmark case of R v Wilans, a Straits Settlement (Penang) case which held that English law up to 1826 (both common law and equity) was introduced to Singapore through the 1826 Second Charter of Justice.
- See e.g., Yeo, Morgan & Chan, ‘Criminal Law in Singapore & Malaysia, Rev 2nd ed.’ (LexisNexis: Singapore, 2015) at 1.22-1.27
- Ministry of Law, ‘Our Legal System’ (2018) https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/our-legal-system.html
- Arms & Explosives Act (Cap. 13); Arms Offences Act (Cap. 14); Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act (Cap. 50A); Corrosive & Explosive Substances & Offensive Weapons Act (Cap. 65); Dangerous Fireworks Act (Cap. 72); Enlistment Act (Cap. 93); Explosive Substances Act (Cap. 100); Films Act (Cap. 107); Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (Cap. 184); Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap. 185); Moneylenders Act (Cap. 188) [Sections 14 & 28] 12. Penal Code (Cap. 224); Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap. 241); Undesirable Publications Act (Cap. 338); Vandalism Act (Cap. 341); Women’s Charter (Cap. 353) [Sections 65(8) and 140(1)(i)] [Section 65(8) – any person who willfully contravenes a protection order] [Section 140(1)(i) – has carnal connection with any girl below the age of 16 years]
- See http://www.lawsocprobono.org/Documents/CLAS2015_PRINT%20(updated%2018jan16).pdf for more information
- Supreme Court of Singapore, ‘Legal Assistance for Capital Offences (LASCO)’ https://www.supremecourt.gov.sg/services/self-help-services/legal-assistance-for-capital-offences
- To qualify for advice, assistance, and aid, applicants have to pass the means test. In addition, to qualify for aid (representation), applicants also have to pass the merits test. The means test qualifies people with (a) disposable income of $10,000 and below, and (b) disposable capital of $10,000 and below. Means test notwithstanding, the Director of Legal Aid can also qualify other applicants who are facing hardship. (see: https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/dam/minlaw/lab/About%20Us/Legal%20Aid%20Bureau%20-%20Flyer.pdf) Note however that there are some civil matters for which the LAB does not provide legal aid, such as defamation cases, as well as proceedings before the Small Claims Tribunal and the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents.
- Legal Aid Bureau, ‘Do I qualify for legal aid?’ (2018) https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/lab/en/eligibility/do-i-qualify-for-legal-aid.html
- Law Society of Singapore, ‘General Statistics’ https://www.lawsociety.org.sg/About-Us/General-Statistics
- s 2(1), Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”).
- James Raj s/o Arokiasamy v PP (“the Messiah”)  3 SLR 750
- Lee Mau Seng v Minister for Home Affairs, Singapore & Anor [1969-1971] SLR 508; Chng Suan Tze v Minister of Home Affairs  MLJ 89 and  2 SLR 525; Teo Soh Lung v Minister of Home Affairs & Ors  SLR 40
- Michael Hor, ‘Law and Terror: Singapore Stories and Malaysian Dilemmas’ in Victor V. Ramraj, Michael Hor & Kent Roach, eds., Global Anti-Terrorism Law and Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) 273-294
- CHEN, Siyuan and CHUA, Eunice. Wrongful Convictions in Singapore: A General Survey of Risk Factors. (2010). Singapore Law Review. 28, 98-122. Research Collection School Of Law.
- Lee Desmond, "Legal and Psychological Perceptiveness on Eyewitness Testimony" (2002) 22 Sing. L. Rev. 202
- Kunasekaran s/o Kalumuthu Somasundara v Public Prosecutor  4 SLR 580
- R v Turnbull  QB 224
- CHEN, Siyuan and CHUA, Eunice. Wrongful Convictions in Singapore: A General Survey of Risk Factors. (2010). Singapore Law Review. 28, 98-122. Research Collection School Of Law.
- Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205 at 
- Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205 at 
- Michael Hor, ‘The Future of Singapore’s Criminal Process’,  25 SAcLJ 847 at page 851
- Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205 at : These safeguards give rise to the statutory-based assumption that such senior police officers are competent and will discharge their obligations conscientiously.
- s 21(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68): In conducting an investigation under this Part, a police officer may issue a written order requiring anyone within the limits of Singapore, who appears to be acquainted with any of the facts and circumstances of the case, to attend before him, and that person must attend as required.
- s 22(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- s 258(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- s 22(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Also known as the privilege against self-incrimination. Ho Hock Lai, ‘On the Obtaining and Admissibility of Incriminating Statements’,  Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, 249–276
- Public Prosecutor v Mazlan bin Maidun and another  3 SLR(R) 968
- Public Prosecutor v Mazlan bin Maidun and another  3 SLR(R) 968. In the past, the police had to inform the suspect of his right not to say anything before questioning him. This duty was set out in rules 3, 4 and 5 of Schedule E to the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 113, 1970 rev. ed.). The Schedule was repealed in 1976. See Mohamed Bachu Miah v. PP  2 SLR(R) 783 at , .
- S 261 of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Public Prosecutor v Chee Cheong Hin Constance  2 SLR(R) 24 at 
- Ho Hock Lai, “The Privilege against Self-Incrimination and Right of Access to a Lawyer” (2013) 25(3). SAcLJ 826 at 840–842
- Ho H.L. (2019) Criminal Justice and the Exclusion of Incriminating Statements in Singapore. In: Gless S., Richter T. (eds) Do Exclusionary Rules Ensure a Fair Trial?. Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice, vol 74. Springer, Cham
- S 261 of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Law Society of Singapore v Tan Guat Neo Phyllis  2 SLR(R) 239 at 
- s 22(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Public Prosecutor v BDA  SGHC 72 at 
- s 258(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68); see also https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/minlaw/en/news/parliamentary-speeches-and-responses/second-reading-speech-by-law-minister-k-shanmugam-on-the-criminal-procedure-code-bill.html
- Explanation 2 to s 258(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Hor, Michael, ‘The Future of Singapore’s Criminal Process’, (2013) 25 Singapore Academy of Law Journal, 847–873 at 855
- Explanation 2 to s 258(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code
- Muhammad bin Kadar and another v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 1205
- Lum, S. (2018, March 19). Video-recordings of suspects' statements to start in phases. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/video-recordings-of-suspects-statements-to-start-in-phases
- Lum, S. (2018, March 19). Video-recordings of suspects' statements to start in phases. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/video-recordings-of-suspects-statements-to-start-in-phases.
- Lee Mau Seng v Minister for Home Affairs [1971–1973] SLR(R)135
- Lee Mau Seng v Minister for Home Affairs [1971–1973] SLR(R)135 at 
- Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Rev Ed)
- Excepting enemy aliens or any person arrested for contempt of Parliament pursuant to a warrant issued under the hand of the Speaker.
- Rajeevan Edakalavan v Public Prosecutor  1 SLR(R) 10 at 
- Jasbir Singh and another v Public Prosecutor  1 SLR(R) 782 at 
- James Raj s/o Arokiasamy v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 750 at 
- James Raj s/o Arokiasamy v Public Prosecutor  3 SLR 750
- James Raj s/o Arokiasamy v PP  2 SLR 3 at 
- Jasbir Singh v Public Prosecutor  1 SLR 782
- A PTC is to update the judge on how the case is progressing, and to determine if the case is ready to proceed to trial. Trial dates will only be fixed when all parties are ready and prepared for trial.
- This Council is a constitutional body under Article 37B of the Singapore Constitution. It comprises six members, of whom two are appointed by the President, two are appointed by the Prime Minister, while the Chief Justice and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission appoint one member each.
- D A MShubhankar. Presidential Pardon in Singapore: A Comment on Yong Vui Kong v A.G. (2013). Common Law World Review., 42(1), 48. Research Collection School of Law.
- Also see: Yong Vui Kong v Attorney-General  SGCA 9. The ('Pardon Case')