How to Handle Legal Implications in Singapore

Singapore has long been a top draw for tourists, business travellers and expatriates and continues to be so as the city-state has something to offer for every sort of visitor. In the present times when crime rates have gone up in almost every nation on the face of this earth and tourists are pervaded by a feeling of insecurity when they travel overseas, Singapore offers a save haven. In fact, Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world where even a heavily bedecked woman can criss-cross the city late at night without the fear of getting mugged.
Since Singapore used to be a British colony, the legal structure of the country has been modelled on the judicial setup of the English Parliamentary System. Many have termed Singapore as a police-state because of its rigorous law enforcement policies. You could be fined heavily even for petty misdemeanours like littering, jaywalking, chewing gum, smoking in the open or for leaving toilets un-flushed!

The Legal Framework in Singapore

The Singapore Police Force is entrusted with enforcing and safeguarding the laws and bringing culpable citizens to book. Before you can start planning your Singapore sojourn, it is imperative to be aware of the legal framework of the island-state and also have a fair idea of dealing with the legal niceties if you’re unwittingly caught on the wrong side of the law.
The principal segments of legal jurisprudence- administrative law, property law, trust law, equity law, tort law, and contract law are generally framed by judges. Nevertheless, criminal law, civil law, family law and company law are of a statutory (as enshrined in the Singapore Constitution) nature and amendments in these specific legal segments are made on the basis of past precedents. The entire legal structure (or infrastructure) of Singapore is supported by the four props of Constitution, Legislation, Auxiliary Legislation, and laws framed by Judges.

The Court System

The Supreme Court of Singapore is the apex court of the country headed by the Chief Justice. The Supreme Court is broadly sub-divided into High Court and Court of Appeal for hearing criminal and civil cases. The           ‘juvenile courts’, ‘district courts’, ‘coroners’ court’, ‘small claims tribunals, ‘magistrates’ courts’, ‘family courts’, ‘traffic courts’, syariah courts, ‘night courts’, and ‘community courts’ make up the rank and file of Subordinate Courts. Before you move the court against someone or before somebody can file a case against find out which court of law you should approach.

 About Dispute Resolution

It goes without saying that moving the court in Singapore could be pretty expensive as well as a very time consuming affair. So, you’d do well to know that no matter whatever the dispute you’re involved in (business, family, criminal or civil), you can go for an out of the court settlement via the procedures of Arbitration and Mediation. A mediator is an experienced legal professional who can help you negotiate with your adversary and arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. The Singapore Mediation Centre is the monitoring and regulatory body entrusted with appointing neutral mediators. Nearly 90% of cases settled through the mediation route have been resolved within a day. The mediation fee is a minimum of 900 SGD for each day for a single party.

The Arbitration process unlike Mediation is legally enforceable. However, you do not need to be present in a courtroom as the arbitrator presides over a case in a private setting. The arbitrator announces a verdict at his own discretion and the same is legally binding on both the parties. The SIAC (Singapore International Arbitration Centre) is the regulatory body that supervises only civil arbitration matters in Singapore. Family law and/or criminal law cases are handled by the respective courts meant for such disputes. The particular court you’ll approach for your dispute resolution will invariably depend upon the character of your case and the amount you’re claiming as compensation. Bear in mind that once a verdict has been declared, it is legally enforceable although you can always appeal against the sentence in a High Court or Court of Appeal.   

Laws in Singapore

Singapore is one of the top tourist destinations in Asia. It is the ‘shopper’s paradise’. Moreover, it is also the business hub of the continent. As a result, Singapore experiences thousands of footfalls round the year from different corners of the world. If you too are planning to visit Singapore in the near future, here is a brief summary of the laws of the country that citizens and tourists alike are required to abide by. Laws in Singapore are quite stringent.

To maintain law and order in the country, the Government of Singapore has introduced some strict regulations which are followed uniformly across the island nation. Breaking laws can lead to serious punishment, such as fine, incarceration and even expatriation. However, as a tourist you are less likely to commit a crime serious enough to get yourself into trouble. But here are few laws and their consequences that you may find useful to keep in mind. Check out the following rules:

Chewing gum ban: Chewing gums are prohibited in the country and chewing, selling and possessing gum are punishable offenses in Singapore. First time offender will be fined 500 Singapore Dollars or U.S.$ 375.

Littering: Singapore is an extremely clean city and laws are strictly imposed against offenders littering streets and public places. If you are found littering streets with even a small thing like a receipt, cigarette butt or chewing gum you will be fined S$ 300 or U.S.$ 225. The amount will be more for larger items.

Singapore also has a law in place which compels a three-time offender to clean roads on Sunday wearing a bib that says “I am a litterer”.

Spitting in public will attract a hefty fine of S$ 500 or U.S$ 375.

Ban on smoking: Entering the country with cigarette is a punishable offense in Singapore. Also, one can’t smoke in public places such as air-conditioned shopping malls and offices, theaters and cinemas, swimming pools, sports ground, parks, bus stations and other shelters. You can only smoke in permitted areas and restricted dining centers. You will be fined S$ 200 or U.S.$ 150 if you are caught smoking in Singapore. For carrying cigarettes, you will be charged with S$ 500 or U.S.$ 375 for each packet.

Jaywalking: Singapore has strict laws imposed against jaywalking. These laws will be applied for walking through the middle of a street, and crossing a pedestrian walkway during red signal. The police are very strict in following the rules and they will promptly hand out a fine of S$ 500 or US$ 375 to the lawbreaker.

Eating in public bus: If you are hungry, you may wait to get off the bus before eating. Otherwise, you will be fined S$ 500 or US$ 375.

Few more important laws to keep in mind

In addition to the above mentioned laws, here are few more rules to keep in mind:

  • Drug abuse and possession of illegal substances may attract jail terms and even death penalty.
  • Corporal punishment will be imposed for possessing drugs, rape, extortion, visa offenses, vandalism and the like.
  • Death penalty is awarded for murder, abduction and possessing illegal weapons.
  • Shoplifting is considered a serious offense and may lead to incarceration.

Every year, thousands of tourists visit Singapore. It is considered as one of the safest locations in the world for visitors. Serious crimes against tourists are rare. So, if you can keep the laws of Singapore in mind, you can certainly enjoy a magnificent time in this vivacious city.