Legal Environment

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In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
It is very important to read the terms of the contract very carefully. The duty and responsibility of the vendor should be clearly mentioned in the contract.

Singapore is the party to the United Nation Convention on Contract for the International Sale of Goods.

Law Applicable to the Contract
Contract Law in Singapore
Advisable Incoterms
Choose FOB or CIF. Even EXW is also chosen as organising domestic transport is very easy in Singapore.
Language of Domestic Contract
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
The contract laws of Common Wealth nations, especially Australia and Canada

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The organisation responsible for the protection of intellectual property in Singapore is the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS).
Regional Organisations
APEC Intellectual Property Rights Experts Group

ASEAN Intellectual Property Association

International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Patents Act, 1995

Visit: Intellectual Property Office of Singapore

20 years (renewable) Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Trade Marks Act, 2005 (revised)

Visit: Intellectual Property Office of Singapore

10 years (renewable) Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Registered Designs Act of 2000. Visit: Intellectual Property Office of Singapore
5 years and then renewable every 5 years up to a maximum of 15 years subject to payment of renewal fees.  
Copyright Act, 2005
The duration varies depending on the nature of work. Visit: Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
Industrial Models
Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Act, 1999

Visit: Intellectual Property Office of Singapore

15 years (maximum from the date of creation)  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Foreigners can largely expect an impartial trial from the country's judicial system, especially in matters related to business.
The Language of Justice
English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.
Recourse to an Interpreter
English is a widely used language and hence an interpreter is not usually required.
Legal Similarities
The Constitution of 1959, amended in 1965. The country's legal system is based on English common law. Singapore has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

The Different Legal Codes

Overview of the Singapore legal system For details, visit the web site of Singapore Academy of Law
Checking National Laws Online
Law in Singapore
Law Net
Other Useful Resources
Law Society of Singapore
Country Guides
Lawyerment Legal Guide

The Jurisdictions

The Supreme Court Highest court in the country, headed by the ‘Chief Justice'. It consists of the ‘Court of Appeal' and the ‘High Court'.

The ‘Court of Appeal' hears appeals against the decisions of High Court Judges in both civil and criminal matters. The Chief Justice sits in the Court of Appeal together with the Judges of Appeal. For more details visit:

Supreme Court of Singapore

Subordinate Courts The District Courts try all offences for which the maximum term of imprisonment provided by law does not exceed 7 years or which are punishable by a fine only. For details visit : The State Courts of Singapore
Industrial Arbitration Court (IAC) The IAC enjoys the status of the High Court and handles exclusively industrial disputes. For more details visit:

Industrial Arbitration Court


Court Officials

Attorney General of Singapore
The government's chief public prosecutor, he's assisted by the Solicitor General and a staff of deputy public prosecutors, all of whom are legally qualified and recruited through the Legal Service Commission.
Public Prosecutors
A public prosecutor represents the state in court and is equivalent to the US District Attorney. Public prosecutors are legally qualified and recruited through the Legal Service Commission.
Legal Service Officers
They are qualified lawyers employed by the Legal Services Commission of Singapore.

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International Dispute Resolution

Arbitration is recognized under Singaporean law as a legitimate method for settling disputes, used both in the domestic and international transactions.

Moreover the Free-Trade policy of Singapore aims at solving all trade related disputes through consultation and trade-enhancing remedies, setting higher standards of openness and transparency.

Arbitration Law
Singapore Arbitration Act, 2001, based on United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law.
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
Visit this website
Arbitration Procedure
For details, visit this website.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
Singapore Institute of Arbitrators
Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC)
Singapore Mediation Center (SMC)


Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC)

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Latest Update: July 2024