A Guide to Sexual Offences in Singapore [Part 4] – Outrage of Modesty and Voyeurism

In our previous articles in this series, we explained what consent is, as well as details on parts of the new Act 15 of 2019 which will better protect minors under the age of 18 from sexual offences, both offline and online. This article will highlight certain sexual offences that commonly happen in Singapore and what you should know about them.

Previously, the term ‘outrage of modesty’ would be synonymous with molest, or inappropriate touching. The new Act 15 of 2019 will now include words and gestures as stated in Section 377BA:

This law is meant to address a very common grey area and clearly defines what is acceptable and what is not. What this means is that certain acts, sounds, or even an object that mimics an offensive sound may now get the offender jailed for up to a year, with a fine, or both.

Examples include an offensive nickname given to the victim, or even certain vulgar facial expressions, even if no word was uttered, as long as the victim can see it or had his/her privacy intruded. 

In a workplace setting, this could include acts like pointing out a female colleague’s physical features out loud, or placing a sex toy on their desk, even if it was meant to be a joke and in more recent cases, including in schools, the act of voyeurism.

What Exactly is Voyeurism?

According to the new Section 377BB, Voyeurism refers to the act of watching someone else committing a private act without their knowledge or permission while knowing the victim will not allow it even if asked. The closest layman term to this would be a “Peeping Tom”.

This includes acts such as:

  • Operating an equipment to commit or enable someone else to observe or record the private act such as placing hidden cameras in the victim’s room or using binoculars or image enhancing hardware to observe someone else’s private act.

  • Operating equipment to commit or enable someone else to observe or record the victim’s genitals, breasts and buttocks that otherwise would not be visible, without the victim’s knowledge or permission like rigging a toilet cubicle with a hidden camera.

  • Intentionally records someone’s genitals, breasts or buttocks, covered or not, without their permission.

The punishment for anyone found guilty of any of these offences is a jail term of up to 2 years which may include a fine and caning.

According to Section 377BB(9), ”In any proceedings for an offence under this section, where a person (A) has made a recording of another person (B) doing a private act or of B’s genitals, breasts if B is female, or buttocks (whether exposed or covered), in circumstances where the genitals, breasts or buttocks would not otherwise be visible, it is presumed until the contrary is proved that B did not consent to A making the recording.

In our next part of this series, we will explain how the new set of laws have been designed to curb the storage and distribution of such recorded materials.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires mediation or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Source: https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/PC1871?ProvIds=P4XVI-P4_375-.#pr376B-

A Guide to Sexual Offences in Singapore [Part 3] – Commercial Sex

In our previous articles in this series, we explained what consent is, and how the new amendments to the law will better protect minors. In this article, we will explain the new laws regarding commercial sex, especially involving minors.

While commercial sex itself is not illegal in Singapore, any activity involving minors under the age of 18, even just touching of a sexual nature, as included in the Act 15 amendment of 2019, Section 376B(4) will be enough to classify it as commercial sex with a minor under 18 which carries a jail term of up to 7 years, with fines and caning.

Commercial Sex Outside of Singapore

To eradicate the problem of sexual offences involving minors among Singaporeans, The Act 15 amendment of 2019 will now also include the same sexual offences being committed by Singaporeans in other countries, making them liable for punishment as if they had committed the offence in Singapore.

This includes visiting or procuring the services of underaged sex workers or participating in illegal sex tours in other countries, as well as establishing or maintaining an inappropriate sexual relationship with a minor even if they only communicate online and never actually meet.

The new act will also address online sexual communication, such as sending inappropriate messages or media to a minor under 18 living in a different country. The law will now treat it as if the minor too was in Singapore when the offence was committed and the offender may be jailed up to 7 years, with fines and caning.

These laws are applicable to all Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents.

Better Protection for Minors Under 16

The new Section 376E includes protection against sexual grooming of minors under the age of 16. In this new act, anyone above the age of 18 is liable for an offence if he/she either communicates, or even shows any intent towards an inappropriate relationship whether the minor is in Singapore or not.

The punishment for such offences can be extended to 3 years in jail, including a fine, if the victim is below 18, and up to 4 years in prison if the victim is below the age of 14.

Sexual Offences Involving Victims with Mental Disabilities

The new Act 15 of 2019 will now also protect victims with mental disabilities. This includes acts where the offender either touches the victim inappropriately, or makes the victim perform a sexual act on another person. 

The definition of mental disability according to the law is “an impairment of or a disturbance in the functioning of the mind or brain resulting from any disability or disorder of the mind or brain which impairs the ability to make a proper judgement in the giving of consent to sexual touching;”

What is different with this new act is that in a case where the victim has a mental disability, their consent to the sex act may not be valid whether or not, the victim is the offender’s spouse. If there is reason to believe that the offender knows that the victim has a mental disability and had issued threats or deception to exploit and induce the sex act, then the person will have committed an offence.

Anyone found guilty of this offence can be jailed up to 5 years, with a fine, or caning, and if the touching involved sexual penetration of any sort, the offender may be liable to up to 20 years in prison, with a fine, or caning.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires mediation or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Source: https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/PC1871?ProvIds=P4XVI-P4_375-.#pr376B-

A Guide to Sexual Offences in Singapore [Part 2] – Protecting Minors

With the Act 15 of 2019 amendments to the law in response to sexual offence cases in Singapore, there will now be stronger safeguards in place to protect minors below the age of 16, as well as those who are 16 to 18 from sexual grooming or exploitation from online predators, as well as family members.

In a previous article, we explained what consent is in the context of the law and in Part 1, we provided examples of what would be considered sexual offences. In this article, we’ll highlight the various laws protecting minors and what you should know if you have children.

Sexual Grooming of Minors

According to the new Section 376E of the Penal Code, any person aged 18 and above will now be liable for an offence if they initiate or agree to at least one meeting to anyone below the age of 18 that leads to a sexual offence either during or after their meeting. It also does not matter if any prior meeting between them took place in or outside of Singapore.

If the victim is below the age of 14, the punishment for this offence is imprisonment that may extend up to 4 years and/or a fine. For any other case, the punishment may extend up to 3 years imprisonment.

What this means simply is that if you have a child below the age of 18, anyone they meet who is above the age of 18 will be subject to this law. This also includes sexual communication.

What is Sexual Communication?

Even if the person never meets the victim, the new Section 376EB now states it is an offence to send any form of sexual communication to the victim. This includes inappropriate text messages, photos and videos of a sexual nature. It does not matter where it was sent from, or if the victim replies or not. The mere act of sending such communication may lead to a 2 year jail sentence and/or a fine and if the victim is below 14, the jail term may be extended to 3 years.

This also means if you have a child who has access to the internet, it’s best to activate safeguards such as spam filters and monitoring who your child is talking to either online or via their messaging apps.

There are resources available online that guide you on how to activate child protection features on commonly used apps like Whatsapp and Facebook.

Clearer Definition for Commercial Sex Cases

The new amendments on Section 376B now include the definition of what ‘sexual services’ mean in commercial sex involving minors. In a previous article, we highlighted the problem of human trafficking in Singapore and there have been cases in the past where commercial sex workers turned out to be minors.

The new amendment now clearly defines what constitutes sexual offences. The punishment for those found guilty of an offence is up to 7 years in prison and/or a fine, and for anyone who expresses any interest in the form of communication to commit such an offence, may be liable for imprisonment up to 2 years and/or a fine. 

If you are currently in a situation where you may have encountered a sexual offence, or witnessed one – or if you are being accused of one, it’s best to contact a lawyer to better understand what the situation is, and what’s the best course of action to take.

Engaging a Lawyer

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Source: https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/PC1871?ProvIds=P4XVI-P4_375-.#pr376B-

A Guide to Sexual Offences in Singapore [Part 1] – Consent

With a proliferation in cases of sexual offences in Singapore, including a four-fold increase in cases of child sex abuse since 2010, there have also been sexual offence cases between family members, as well as within schools and workplaces, and cases involving voyeurism, affecting all genders.

In response, Singapore’s Courts announced the Act 15 of 2019, which took effect in the beginning of 2020, with new laws to better protect women, including consent for marital sex, as well as laws to protect minors from sexual grooming, including those between the ages of 16 and 18. 

Although these recent amendments may seem like the reason there have been more such cases in court these days, the new laws also mean there is a need for clearer definitions and education on what exactly is a sexual offence. 

If you are currently seeking legal advice regarding a possible sexual offence case, you should speak to a lawyer.

The Main Difference is Consent

Most sexual offences are committed without the victim’s consent. In a previous article, we explained the meaning of sexual consent in the context of the law and their respective conditions. However just as with most cases involving intimacy, there will be certain grey areas, usually shaped by moral codes within society. 

A common issue in marital rape cases is that there is an expectation by the husband that sex is an entitlement in the marriage but according to Section 375(4),(5) of the Penal Code, the husband may have committed a sexual offence against his wife if she did not provide consent.

However, if the victim of a sexual offence is below the age of 14, then consent is inconsequential.

What are Sexual Offences?

Is a gentle slap on your friend’s buttocks harmless? Should you give your attractive colleague a nickname based on an adult actor you know? Is it okay to watch someone else changing their clothes from your own window? Is it okay to secretly film and watch videos of your colleagues even if you don’t mean to share them? The short answer to these questions is no. In fact, they might get you into trouble.

Sexual offences can be looked at as a broad spectrum of actions that involve the exploitation of someone else’s modesty or dignity. This can include acts such as making sexual innuendo jokes about a person or their physical appearance, which may seem harmless and funny for some, but may be extremely hurtful and offensive for others, to much more serious offences such as sexual assault and rape. 

Sexual Assault and Rape

According to Section 375 of the Penal Code, any man who penetrates another person’s vagina, mouth or anus with his penis, either without her consent, or if she’s below 14, will have committed rape and will be liable for up to 20 years imprisonment including caning or a fine.

If the offender physically hurts or even issues verbal threats before or while committing the offence, the person will be liable to a minimum of 8 years imprisonment and at least 12 strokes of the cane. 

For sexual assault cases involving penetration, Section 376 of the Penal Code will apply when the offender causes another person to commit the sexual offence either on themselves or on someone else without the victim’s consent, or if the victim is below 14. 

If found guilty, the offender will be liable for up to 20 years imprisonment including caning or a fine and similarly, if there was physical hurt or verbal threats included with the offence, then the offender is liable to a minimum of 8 years up to 20 in prison, and at least 12 strokes of the cane.

In Part 2, we will explain how the new changes in the law will better protect minors from sexual grooming and exploitative relationships.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires mediation or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Source: https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/PC1871?ProvIds=P4XVI-P4_375-.#P4XVI-P4_375-

Family Violence And Circuit Breakers

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

According to a Straits Times article published in May 2020, there was an increase in domestic violence cases in Singapore, with about 476 police reports filed between April 7 to May 6. This was a 22% increase from the monthly average prior to the circuit breaker period, according to the Police.

These cases include assault, causing hurt, using criminal force, as well as criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement.

What are Considered Family and Spousal Violence?

According to the Ministry of Social & Family Development (MSF), family violence is defined as a violent, threatening or controlling behaviour towards your spouse or family members. These can include:

  • Action that causes physical injury
  • Direct or indirect threats of causing harm
  • Sexual assault of any kind
  • Emotional or psychological manipulation or gaslighting
  • Damaging of property
  • Socially isolating the person
  • Behaving in a way that causes a person to live in fear

Even without physical violence involved, family and spousal violence also include verbal abuse, threats, harassments, intimidating and controlling behaviour like setting excessive curfews or limiting access to friends or other family members.

Some of the more common forms of family violence include: 

  • Child Abuse – abuse or neglect of child by an adult; 
  • Spousal Abuse – violence between spouses, including ex-spouses 
  • Elder Abuse – a child abusing the parent; 
  • Vulnerable Adult Abuse – abuse of an adult who may be mentally or physically disabled; 
  • Dating Violence – abuse involving an intimate partner.

What Can I Do When I Witness an Abuse?

While there is no circuit breaker to immediately halt any violence, the most important thing you need to do when faced in a situation either for yourself, or as a bystander witnessing someone else getting abused, is to first call the Police at 999, or visit the nearest Neighbourhood Police Station for help. Below are some useful numbers you may call:

• National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868

• Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6445-0400

• Heart @ Fei Yue Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6819-9170

• Pave Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection: 6555-0390

• Project StART: 6476-1482

• Trans Safe Centre: 6449-9088

• Community Psychology Hub’s Online Counselling platform: CPHOnlineCounselling.sg

• Touchline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252

• Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800

• Agency for Integrated Care Hotline: 1800-650-6060

Engaging a Family Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires mediation or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/coronavirus-more-cases-of-family-violence-during-circuit-breaker-police-to

Maid Abuse in Singapore Remains a Common Issue

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

Among the many headlines that we have seen in 2020, there has been a consistency with the number of maid abuse cases happening in Singapore recently, and especially so during the circuit breaker period.

Living in close proximity with family members for a prolonged period of time can be quite challenging for some, but for a maid, or domestic helper where work is also home, the challenges are different. Besides the cultural and language differences for those who are still new to their employers, the increased work demands have also led some of them towards drastic reactions, like the recent case involving a domestic helper who climbed down 15 storeys from the balcony of her flat to escape her abusive employer.

There are usually two sides in any situation but the key question remains, where do we draw the line between scolding and being abusive?

What is Maid Abuse?

Maid abuse as a legal term, consists of physical and psychological abuse which we have covered in an earlier article. With physical abuse, the Court considers the degree of harm, aggravating and mitigating factors, and with psychological abuse, the degree of harm caused is factored in.

As we have published here, the sentencing framework is meant to guide and clarify maid abuse cases as seen in the examples. These also include emotional abuse, and being forced into “humiliating and degrading” situations. 

This can also include repeated verbal abuse over a period of time that affects the victim’s emotional and mental state, leading to prolonged loss of appetite and massive weight loss even if there was never any physical violence committed. In this case, even words may be enough to cause damage to the victim and may be considered as a factor in court.

Do Working Conditions Contribute to Maid Abuse?

A CNN Report from 2017 highlighted the results of an independent survey by Research Across Borders titled “Bonded to the System” which revealed that a large number of migrant domestic workers in Singapore were vulnerable to labour exploitation, mainly due to a lack of adequate work regulations and legal protection such as being made to work additional hours outside their scope, as witnessed in the recent case involving Parti Liyani, or issues related to their salary. Since there isn’t a traditional minimum wage law in place in Singapore, most domestic workers earn on average, about S$600 a month.

According to an October 2019 survey conducted by YouGov, about 52% of Singaporeans believe domestic helpers should earn more than S$600 a month. About 88% are convinced that domestic helpers are leading a decent quality of life at the minimum, with only 12% describing it as poor. In the same survey, 14% of the respondents have witnessed a domestic helper being abused and 79% of them have heard of someone being abused, of whom 81% of them agree that more can be done to improve the quality of life for domestic helpers in Singapore.  

What Happens if I Scold My Maid But She Accuses Me of Abusing Her?

While this may have happened many times before, it is always advisable to be respectful and mindful no matter how badly your maid has erred. Never physically assault her and be wary of cultural and even religious differences when deciding your approach to communicating your grievances with her. If she does lodge a complaint against you, then you should speak to a lawyer.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Whenever you are faced in an abrasive situation with your maid, it’s best to first determine the actions committed and what options you have to deal with the situation. You should deal directly with your maid’s agency but in the event that option is not currently available, then ensure that communication is done in a civil manner. You may also bookmark this site for tips on how to deal in unexpected situations.

If you are currently facing a serious issue, either as a domestic helper or an employer that can’t be solved at home, you should consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through the process.

Help for Domestic Helpers in Singapore

For domestic helpers who need help, you may reach out to the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) or by contacting them at:

  • 1800 797 7977 (Toll-free)
  • +65 9787 3122 (Whatsapp / Viber / SMS)

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

What If Your Ex-Spouse Does Not Provide Maintenance?

In a previous article, we explained what a maintenance order is and how you can get one. If you already have a maintenance order, and are currently in a situation where your ex-spouse has defaulted on these payments, what can you do?

Apply to Enforce the Maintenance Order

Although not compulsory, we advise you to first submit a draft application online via iFAMS, on Singapore’s Family Justice Court’s website to get started. You will need to login using your SingPass ID and have the following documents ready:

  • NRIC or Passport;
  • Order of Court for the maintenance order you wish to enforce

You can find a step-by-step guide to filing this application here

If you are unable to go online, then you can verify your documents and submit your maintenance application at one of these organisations but the process may take longer:

If you are applying for a maintenance order from a divorce proceeding, you may visit these organisations:

Once you have submitted your application, you will then be asked to appear before a judge. If you have applied at the Family Justice Court, you will appear before the judge in-person. However, if you have applied elsewhere, you may appear before the judge via video conference. You will also be required to affirm that the contents in your application and your answers to the judge are all true.

What Happens Next?

Assuming that your application to enforce the Maintenance Order has been accepted, the judge will issue a summons to your ex-spouse with a specified date for a first court hearing of the case. Both you and your ex-spouse are required to attend the hearing and you will have to pay a nominal fee of S$1 for the summons to be issued to your ex-spouse.

If your ex-spouse shows up in court, a court officer will read your application to your ex-spouse who will then have a choice to agree, or disagree with your application.

  • If agreed, the court will record a consent order, confirming the agreement; 
  • If your ex-spouse disagrees with your application, then the court may send the matter for mediation. If both of you manage to settle the matter, the court will record the consent order. 

If mediation fails, the final decision will fall on the court on both parties’ behalf, and both of you will be given a court date to start the process.

If your ex-spouse fails to show up, a warrant of arrest will be issued against the person and if you fail to show up, your application will be struck out.

You are also advised to prepare a calculation of the maintenance you are currently owed. This can be laid out on a table showing the months and amounts owed, including bank statements and documentary evidence of all the expenses you are allowed to claim maintenance for. You should collect and keep your invoices and receipts so that it will be easier for you to keep track of this information.

What Will Happen to Your Defaulting Ex-Spouse?

Court Order: after the court has made the final decision about your maintenance, a court order will be sent to your ex-spouse to pay the outstanding amount of maintenance. This court order will state the amount, also whether it should be paid in a single payment or in monthly instalments.

Fine/Jail Term: under Section 71 of the Women’s Charter, the defaulting ex-spouse may be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 1 month, for each month of maintenance owed. Even with a prison sentence, the outstanding maintenance amount will still have to be paid upon release.

Financial Counselling: in cases where the defaulter is in a precarious financial situation, the court may instead, order the defaulting ex-spouse to attend financial counselling.

Others: there have also been cases where the defaulting ex-spouse was made to perform unpaid community service for a certain number of hours, or even subjected to an attachment of earnings order, where the defaulter’s employer will deduct the maintenance money from the defaulter’s salary to pay it to the court. 

This can also be listed as a debt in the defaulting ex-spouse’s credit report which can be accessed by financial institutions including banks. This will make it very difficult for the defaulting ex-spouse to apply for loans or sign up for hire-purchase schemes in the future.

For more information on dealing with a defaulting ex-spouse, it’s best to consult a specialist family or divorce lawyer who can guide you on your next steps based on your situation. 

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, family disputes to high-profile criminal cases. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Additional Resource: https://singaporelegaladvice.com/law-articles/what-happens-if-your-ex-spouse-does-not-provide-maintenance

How Do You Change Your Name in Singapore?

Expat Laws in Singapore

Whether it’s for religious purposes, or simply because you have found a more meaningful alternative, you are allowed to change your given name in Singapore. However to get this process started, what documents will you need? How much will the process cost? How long will it take? Can foreigners change their names in Singapore too? These are some of the commonly asked questions that we will address in this article.

The Deed Poll

To officially change your name in Singapore, you will first need a legal document drafted by a lawyer called a deed poll. You have to be present at the lawyer’s office during this process so that the lawyer can verify your identity and witness your signing, also known as the “executing” of the deed poll. This document will then serve as your declaration that you will be renouncing your current name and taking on a new one.

The simple reason why a deed poll is necessary is because Singapore authorities only recognise any name changes executed with a deed poll. 

If you are above the age of 21, you will need to bring either your NRIC (pink/blue), or 11B if you’re serving your National Service, or passport. If you are doing this for your child below the age of 21, then you’ll need to bring your NRIC or passport, together with your child’s original Birth Certificate with evidence of your relationship with the child. If the original Birth Certificate is not in English, you will also need to include a certified true copy, which includes a notarised English-translated version. The deed poll process usually costs around S$100.

If you are looking to change your child’s name, the consent and signatures of both parents are required. However, if you are in the midst of a divorce, or facing resistance from your ex-partner, then it’s best to consult a lawyer to guide you through this process.

Changing Your Name in Official Documents

Once you’ve executed the deed poll, you will then have to update your particulars with the authorities, starting with your NRIC.

NRIC: Log on to ICA’s website and under e-Services, you can submit a “Change IC Particulars (Self)” application with a digital copy of your deed poll. This application should be processed within 3 working days and ICA will mail you a collection notice within a week. You will then need to collect your new NRIC in person at the ICA building. Please bring along your original deed poll with the documents stated in the collection notice. You will need to complete this process within 28 days of changing your name and the application fee is S$60.

Passport: To apply for a name change in your passport, you have to apply for a new passport. Simply follow all the instructions listed here on ICA’s website.

A deed poll cannot be used to change the name on your birth or marriage certificates however, an exception applies if you are changing the name of your child who is less than 12 months old. You may change the child’s name without needing a deed poll.

You will also need to manually update all the other relevant organisations that you have been registered to with your new name. This includes your current company, banks, memberships and other accounts. You may also have to update your name on your existing credentials including your academic and professional certificates. 

What Exactly Can You Change About Your Name?

Some of the more common name changes in Singapore include:

  • Changing the order of the words, eg. Michael Tan Meng Seng to Tan Meng Seng Michael;
  • Changing the spelling of the name, eg. Micheal to Michael;
  • Inserting married names, eg. Rebecca Lee to Rebecca Lee-Tan;
  • Inserting Baptism or religious names, eg. Michael Tan Meng Seng to Michael Angelo Tan Meng Seng;
  • Inserting, deleting or modifying an English or Western name even if you are not Christian, eg. Tan Meng Seng to Michael Tan Meng Seng;
  • Inserting, deleting or modifying any punctuation in your name, eg. Michael Tan Meng Seng to Michael Tan Meng-Seng;
  • Inserting, deleting or modifying your hanyu pinyin name;
  • Inserting, deleting or modifying the Chinese or Tamil characters in your name

Please remember that you cannot change your race, religion or other particulars with a deed poll. You will need to contact ICA directly for more information on how to amend those. Although rejections are uncommon, the ICA may reject certain names, especially those that are offensive or vulgar. Names that resemble famous politicians, or containing honorary titles such as ‘Datuk’ or even ‘Sir’ might also be rejected. There is also no limit to how many times you can change your name.

Can Foreigners in Singapore Change Names Too?

Technically foreigners, including Permanent Residents, can engage a Singaporean lawyer to execute a deed poll in Singapore. However, the name change also depends if the person’s home country recognises it depending on their respective laws and regulations.

If you are a foreigner residing in Singapore planning to change your name, it’s best that you first check with your respective embassy or consulate office in Singapore to determine if the deed poll executed in Singapore will be recognised in your country. Otherwise, it would be advisable to do it back home.

What About Singaporeans Living Overseas?

If you are unable to return to Singapore during this period, then a deed poll may be executed with a foreign lawyer and you may then update your new name online at ICA’s website. You will then need to contact the Singapore embassy’s consular section in the country of your stay to change your name in your passport.

Is a Deed Poll Mandatory?

Do take note that a deed poll is not necessary if you plan to include your married name to your original name on your NRIC as long as you submit your marriage certification. For name changes based on religious purposes, ICA will require a Baptism or religious certificate to process your application.

If you are currently planning to change your name or your child’s, you should consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through this process.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Additional Resource: https://singaporelegaladvice.com/law-articles/how-do-i-legally-change-my-name/

Child Custody, Care and Control: What You Need to Know?

Divorce cases involving a child will lead to decisions on who wins custody of the child, who is given care and control, as well as the access order granted. 

According to the Women’s Charter, a “child” is defined as a child of the marriage who is below 21 years of age. This definition is also the main statute governing child custody in Singapore under the Guardianship of Infants Act and the Administration of Muslim Law Act. Therefore, this law applies to every person in Singapore regardless of race or religion.

What is The Difference?

Child custody refers to the authority given to the custodial parent, or parents, to make major decisions for the child such as choice of school, religion and health-related matters.

Care and control is only given to one parent. This parent will be the child’s primary caregiver and will be involved in the child’s daily life while the other parent will be granted reasonable access to visit the child for a certain period. This order is necessary when the parents are separated and the court will require convincing evidence to deny this access to the other parent.

If the father had been the primary caregiver before the divorce, the court may grant shared care and control where time spent with the children will be split amongst both parents equally but this is subject to several factors including feasibility and the child’s welfare. Above all, the welfare of the child is paramount.

Care and control orders can also include a ‘penal notice’ where there are specific terms and responsibilities that the parent living with the child will need to abide by such as specific times to allow access to the other parent. If those terms are not complied with, the aggrieved parent may take the matter to court to seek recourse.

Child Custody Orders

There are about 4 types of child custody orders that are granted in Singapore courts:

  • Sole custody order: only one parent is granted custody of the child. Usually granted in cases where the couple’s relationship has broken down irretrievably, or one party concedes custody.
  • Joint custody order: both parents share equal custody rights over the child. This is also one of the more common custody orders granted in Singapore courts where both parents are expected to communicate with each other and reach a consensus when making decisions for the child.
  • Hybrid order: one parent will be granted custody over the child but will still be required to consult the other parent on matters relating to the child’s welfare.
  • Split custody order: custody of one or more siblings split between both parents. This is not very common as the court will usually encourage siblings to stay together. 

When a child is under custody or care and control order, nobody other than the custodial parent can take the child out of the country for a period of more than one month. The non-custodial parent can only be allowed to bring the child overseas with the consent of the custodial parent or the court.

Access Orders

The non-custodial parent, usually the father, will be granted unsupervised access to the child. The access orders are meant to be fair and reasonable to serve the welfare and best interests of the child and will be determined by the court. Access periods can also be specifically on weekdays, weekends, school or public holidays.

If there is a reason to believe that the child may face potential physical or emotional abuse, or if there is a need to assess the non-custodial parent’s relationship with the child, then a Supervised order will be granted where the session will be supervised by a third party.

The court may order for Access Evaluation Reports if necessary if there is dispute between both parents regarding access times.

There have been instances where parents were denied access to the child and if you are currently in this situation, you should speak to a divorce lawyer for help.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, family disputes to high-profile criminal cases. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

The Road Traffic Act and What You Need to Know

The Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2019 (“Act”) that was passed in Parliament in July 2019 took effect starting November 2019. Besides the reclassification of offences, there are new provisions that specifically target dangerous behaviour such as drink driving and using mobile devices while on the road, as well as changes to the license suspension and revocation system. 

While most of the amendments took effect in 2019, some of them will only start in the second half of 2020.

Here are some of the changes you can expect:

Reclassification of offences: Irresponsible driving offences will now be classified into Reckless or Dangerous Driving and Driving Without Care or Reasonable Consideration. This means Dangerous Driving is distinguished from Careless Driving through variables such as whether the driver was in the condition to drive safely, or if the traffic situation required the driver to be extra careful but he/she did not.

The Act also now categorises offences into four tiers which represent the different levels of harm caused. These include Hurt, Grievous Hurt, Endangers Life and Death.

Heavier punishments: For offences including drink driving, driving against the flow of traffic, swerving across lanes at high speed, and speeding past pedestrian crossings when one does not have the right of way, offenders will now face much heavier imprisonment terms and fines as compared to the existing Penal Code and Road Traffic Act.

Motorists who commit a Dangerous or Careless Driving offence under the influence of any illicit substances will also be liable for additional penalties that will be served consecutively. Repeat offenders can also expect higher maximum penalties compared to first-time offenders.

Longer bans: Irresponsible motorists will now be kept off the roads for much longer through the widening of the range of offences that will lead to minimum disqualification (DQ) periods, immediate suspension and vehicle forfeitures. Penalties for driving without a licence, or while suspended will result in increased punishments.

A new aggravating factor: The courts will now be able to consider a motorist’s past compounded road traffic offences as aggravating factors for his/her current road traffic offence.

Forfeiture of Motor Vehicles

According to Section 65AA, The Court may order the forfeiture of a motor vehicle if its driver has been convicted of reckless or dangerous driving on the application of the Public Prosecutor. However, if it can be proven that the person who committed the offence is not the vehicle owner, and that the driver had used the vehicle without the owner’s consent, then the vehicle must be released within one month from the date of seizure. 

The 2020 Provisions

While the latest amendment to the Road Traffic Act was announced and implemented in 2019, some of the new provisions only take effect starting August 2020. 

Section 65B pertains to the use of mobile communication devices while driving. As long as the driver of a vehicle holds a mobile communication in his/her hand while the vehicle is moving, the person will be guilty of an offence and might face up to 6 months in prison and/or a fine of not more than $1,000. Repeat offenders may face double the jail term and/or fine.

At first glance, it may seem like this law does not apply to wearable devices like smart watches, as long as it is worn as intended on the wrist. However, if you are using that device for a communicative function while driving, then it becomes an offence.

What is Communicative Function?

According to Section 65B(3), communicative function refers to any of the following:

  • Sending or receiving audio phone or video calls;
  • Sending or receiving of electronic documents, this can include .PDF or .DOC or any files from work;
  • Sending or receiving still or moving images, this can include photographs or gifs;
  • Sending or receiving audio or video files such as music or films;
  • Providing access to the internet, such as turning on your wireless hotspot for your passenger while driving;

If you have been summoned for a traffic offence recently that falls within one of these amendments, then it’s best to speak to a lawyer who will be able to guide you on your next course of action.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, family disputes to high-profile criminal cases. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Source: 

https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/RTA1961?ProvIds=pr64-,pr65-,pr65AA-,pr65A-,pr65B-,pr67-,pr67A-&ViewType=Advance&Phrase=driving+without+licence&WiAl=1