Ian Roberts and Melissa Russell of Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore highlight the biggest legal changes facing businesses in Singapore


Data protection

The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Act 2012 (Act 26 of 2012) was approved in October 2012, and will come into force on a staggered basis, with certain provisions being implemented on 2 January 2014, and the rest on 2 July 2014.

The measures it will introduce include the establishment of a Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) to enforce the PDP Act, and the broadening of the definition of personal data to include electronic, as well as non-electronic, data.

More important, the act will allow the PDPC to impose fines and enforcement mechanisms against individuals, companies and their directors and officers.

Insurance Act amendment

Significant changes to the Insurance Act of Singapore (Chapter 142) took effect on 18 April 2013. The act regulates the Singaporean insurance market and has recently been amended to enhance the powers of the regulator and introduce anti-solicitation provisions for non-licensed insurers.

The amendments significantly increase the awards and penalties for certain breaches of the act by an insurer, its directors and even employees in some cases.

Section 40B of the revised act now expressly provides that a “parent supervisory authority” will, subject to the approval of the regulator and under conditions of secrecy, have the power to conduct an inspection in Singapore of a locally licensed insurer.

Employment Act

Singapore’s main labour law, the Employment Act (Chapter 91), is up for review. The last review was in 2008. Given the complexity of some of the issues under consideration, the Ministry of Manpower of Singapore has announced that the review will be conducted in two phases.

The first phase, which is envisaged to end in the first quarter of 2013, will look at extending coverage of the Employment Act to include better protection and working conditions for professionals, managers and executives, short-term contract workers and low-wage workers; improving employment standards and benefits for employees; and reducing rigidity and augmenting flexibility for employers.

The second phase, starting in the fourth quarter of 2013, will examine more complicated issues, such as enhancing protection for employees in non-traditional work arrangements and creating better dispute resolution mechanisms.

Companies Act

The Companies Act (Chapter 50) of Singapore is up for review. The Ministry of Finance of Singapore has recommended various amendments to the Companies Act, and aims to table the amendment bill in parliament by the end of 2013.

These amendments are the largest number to be made to the Companies Act since it was enacted in 1967, and would affect companies, small and medium enterprises, retail investors and company directors. 

Ian Roberts is a partner and Melissa Russell is a senior associate at Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore, a joint legal venture between Clyde & Co and Singapore law firm Clasis