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

Malaysian Franchise (Amendment) Act 2020: Key Changes

The franchise industry in Malaysia is governed by the Franchise Act 1998 ("the 1998 Act") which regulates, among others, the registration system and enforcement of franchise businesses in Malaysia. The Franchise (Amendment) Act 2020 ("the Amendment Act"), which brings about some changes to the 1998 Act, was gazetted on 6 March 2020 and has come into force on 28 April 2022. 

In this Update, we highlight some of the more significant changes introduced by the Amendment Act.

23 May 2022 | Malaysia
Framework for Conditional Fee Agreements in Singapore Comes into Operation
Conditional fee agreements ("CFAs"), which were previously prohibited under Singapore law, are now allowed for specific contentious proceedings. On 4 May 2022, the framework for CFAs in Singapore came into operation, opening the door for lawyers and clients to enter into a wider range of permitted fee arrangements. This development has been keenly anticipated in the legal industry, serving to enhance litigation funding in Singapore and support the dispute resolution needs of businesses and individuals.

In this Update, we provide an overview of the key elements of the newly operational CFA framework, including the permitted types of CFAs, the situations in which CFAs are allowed, and the requirements for a valid CFA.
20 May 2022 | Singapore
Building Green Data Centres – Singapore Lifts Moratorium on New Data Centres, Introduces Environmental Sustainability Standards
Data centres are important enablers of the digital economy, but are also intense consumers of resources. In Singapore, the Government had sought to manage the growth of data centres by imposing a moratorium on new data centre projects since 2019. However, there have been indications from the relevant Government Ministries that this moratorium is set to be lifted soon, albeit subject to certain prescribed environmental standards and restrictions. In doing so, Singapore seeks not only to balance digitalisations and decarbonisation, but to harmonise its efforts on both fronts.

In this Update, we look at the lifting of the moratorium on new data centres, the restrictions that may be imposed, and what it means for the technology industry on the sustainability front.
18 May 2022 | Singapore
Additional Conveyance Duties to be Imposed on Transfers of Equity Interests in Property Holding Entities into Living Trusts
On 9 May 2022, the Stamp Duties (Amendment) Bill 2022 ("Bill") was introduced in Parliament. The Bill seeks to effect two main changes: (a) Introduce the Additional Conveyance Duties for Trust, which will be payable on transfers of equity interests in property-holding entities ("PHEs") into a living trust, provided the significant ownership threshold has been reached; and (b) Sets out the stamp duty payable on the renunciation of an interest in a residential property held on bare trust.

The Bill is part of the measures introduced by the Government to plug a gap in the existing Additional Conveyancing Duties and Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty regime relating to the transfer of property, or equity interests in PHEs, into a living trust. This Update provides a summary of the key points of the Bill.
13 May 2022 | Singapore
Online Gambling in Malaysia – not "legally" illegal? - Public Prosecutor v Multi Electrical Supply & Services & 105 Others

Online gambling has been increasing in popularity over the past few years in Malaysia, especially during and after the pandemic. Despite the then Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s promise to table amendments to the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 ("CGHA") in 2017, the then Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement in Dewan Rakyat back in 2019 that the government intends to amend gambling laws to include provisions which deal with online gambling, and the government’s abhorrence of online gambling, to date, the status of online gambling remains a grey area in Malaysia. Laws such as the CGHA and the Betting Act 1953 have not caught up with the times and have not been updated to include express provisions to define and regulate online gambling in Malaysia.

The recent High Court decision in Public Prosecutor v Multi Electrical Supply & Services & 105 Others appears to suggest that online gambling is not illegal in Malaysia, due to the absence of express provisions or laws regulating online gambling in Malaysia. The Court refused to read into a relevant provision of the CGHA anything which would suggest that it can be used to establish the offence of online gambling. The Court further stated that it is not the duty of the court to fill in the blanks in the law when the legislators have yet to rise to the task.

The case highlights the need for the CGHA and other relevant laws to be reviewed and revised to keep up with the times and to close the loopholes.

 

13 May 2022 | Malaysia
Recoverability of Wage Payments Made to Seafarers by a P&I Club as Sheriff's Expenses – A Landmark Decision in India
The Indian courts, in the recent decision of the Bombay High Court in The Swedish Club v V8 Pool Inc. and Other. (Commercial Appeal Nos. 108 and 111 of 2021), were accorded the opportunity to pronounce upon whether crew wages incurred post-arrest could be ranked as Sheriff's (or marshal's) expenses. The judgment also considered whether recoupment of such wages, as well as sustenance provisions supplied by a Protection & Indemnity Club ("P&I Club") pursuant to the Maritime Labour Convention, are also to be treated as Sheriff's expenses by virtue of subrogation to all "top-drawer" recovery.

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP was heartened by the opportunity to act alongside the P&I Club's Hong Kong offices, and to formulate legal submissions in conjunction with its Bombay counsel team. The Club was advised by Kendall Tan and Yip Li Ming from the Shipping & International Trade Practice.
10 May 2022 | Singapore
Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) Imposed on All Transfers of Residential Property into Living Trust
When a residential property is transferred into a living trust, buyer's stamp duty is payable. Additional buyer's stamp duty ("ABSD") may also be payable, depending on the profile of the beneficial owners of the residential property transferred into the trust. The Singapore Government imposes ABSD on the transfer or sale and purchase agreements of residential properties in Singapore as part of the cooling measures on the purchase of residential properties.

On 8 May 2022, the Singapore Government announced changes to the ABSD regime by imposing ABSD at the rate of 35% for all conveyance, assignments or transfers on sale and purchase of residential properties into a living trust that occur on or after 9 May 2022 (regardless of whether there are identifiable beneficial owners of the residential properties) ("ABSD (Trust)"). ABSD (Trust) is to be paid upfront when the residential properties are transferred into the living trust, but is subject to remission if certain prescribed conditions are met.

This Update sets out a summary of the key changes to ABSD (Trust) and highlights some practical issues to note in determining the appropriate trust structure to hold residential properties for succession planning purposes.
10 May 2022 | Singapore
The New Geographical Indications Act 2022: Key Changes

What is a geographical indication ("GI")? A GI is essentially a sign or geographical term used on products for the purposes of indicating the place of origin. The use of a GI would also serve as indication of the good qualities and characteristics of the said products which are attributable to that place of origin.

GIs in Malaysia were initially protected by the Geographical Indications Act 2000 ("previous Act"). However, a new Geographical Indications Act 2022 ("new GI Act"), which effectively repeals the previous Act, came into operation on 18 March 2022. This new GI Act seeks to provide a wider scope of protection to GI proprietors and more clarity in relation to the examination procedure for the registration of GIs.

This Update highlights the new and significant changes introduced by the new GI Act.

09 May 2022 | Malaysia