An amendment to the Constitution to appoint a new class of judges, known as International Judges, is one of the proposed changes to four laws for which public feedback is being sought.
These judges will hear cross-border business disputes and have the same powers as a High Court judge. The Law Ministry's proposals are to pave the way for the setting up of the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), which is being created to reinforce Singapore's position as a centre for dispute resolution.
The idea was first floated by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon in January last year. A committee was set up to study the creation of a court specialising in international commercial cases. It released its report last November.
Law Minister K. Shanmugam announced the SICC's establishment the following month, and last month told Parliament that his ministry was preparing various changes to the law to set it up.
On Tuesday, the Law Ministry said it plans to table four Bills to change the relevant laws necessary for the initiative to go ahead. It proposes to amend the Constitution to provide for the President to appoint, on the advice of the Prime Minister, a person who has the qualifications, experience and professional standing to be an International Judge.
It also proposes changes to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act so that the SICC can be established as a division of the High Court. A proposed change to the Evidence Act will allow judges to take judicial notice of foreign law and do away with proof of foreign law in certain situations. Finally, it proposes that the Legal Profession Act be amended to allow foreign lawyers to appear before the SICC and, if the case goes higher, the Court of Appeal.
The consultation version of the Bills is available on www.minlaw.gov.sg and www.reach.gov.sg. Feedback can be posted from now until April 30 to the Ministry of Law or e-mailed to MLAW_Consultation@mlaw.gov.sg - See more at: http://sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore/story/call-feedback-changes-law-new-court-20140410#sthash.TqN034lE.dpuf
This article was published on April 10 in The Straits Times.
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