September 4, 2017

Construction & Infrastructure Partner Conrad Campos advises property buyers to discount the usually attractive illustrations of the development as they may be subjective, as published in The Straits Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Construction & Infrastructure Partner Conrad Compos advised that beyond mandatory particulars such as location and land tenure, which must be provided accurately, buyers should discount the usually attractive illustration or depictions of the development as they may be subjective in The Straits Times. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 3 September 2017. Hey, where's the fountain? Some condo buyers question lack of design features that had been advertised earlier Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 3 September 2017 Author: Annabeth Leow Several unit owners at Braddell condominium E Maison have raised the question of design features that had been advertised earlier but did not feature in the completed project. The topic came up at the condo's first annual general meeting (AGM) recently. While the meeting broke up over a disagreement surrounding a vote for members of the management council, several owners had voiced their disquiet about certain design features. They said a roundabout and a fountain were among features cited in marketing materials but not seen in the finished condo. But developer Top Global said at the meeting on Aug 17 that the roundabout "was not constructed as its turning radius did not comply with (regulatory) requirements". The fountain could not be provided as the area was a designated fire engine access road, it added. "We wanted the residents to form their own management council and to begin managing their estate, (that's) why we called for the AGM earlier than we needed to," a Top Global spokesman said in response to a Sunday Times query. However, the AGM did not go as planned, the spokesman said. "Owing to the disruptive activities of these select few residents, there was no way to carry on with the poll and the AGM in a proper and lawful manner," the spokesman said. Another AGM will be called in due course, he added. E Maison owners may not be alone in questioning the lack of certain design features. Snazzy sales brochures can pique interest, but sometimes the reality may be different. Lake Life, in the Jurong Lake District, was billed as a "smart" development when it hit the market in 2014. Media reports spoke of how the executive condominium could run a driverless electric shuttle bus, subject to the authorities' approval, and units could have features such as Internet appliance control. The project was popular, drawing more than 1,200 applications for its 546 units at the launch. Lake Life obtained its Temporary Operation Permit last December, but neither of the much-heralded features has turned out as some expected. The driverless shuttle is still a no-go, while the smart-home packages do not come built in. A spokesman for developer Evia Real Estate told The Sunday Times "there is likely a misperception on the provision of the smart home", which must be bought from a preferred vendor. The spokesman said: "In all marketing materials, we have mentioned that the autonomous shuttle services will be available subject to (the relevant) authority's approval." As of now, driverless vehicles are being tested only in the one-north area. "In view of the current situation", the spokesman said, the developer will provide free daily shuttle bus services to nearby MRT stations, with plans to do so until a management committee is formed at the first AGM. Accountant William Loo, 38, cited price, location and nearby amenities as the key factors that drew him to his new four-bedroom home. Still, he said, "smart-home (features) would have been fun to have". Beyond mandatory particulars such as location and land tenure, which must be provided accurately, buyers "should discount the usually attractive illustration or depictions of the development as they may be subjective", said Mr Conrad Campos, a partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing. He said developers are obliged to provide only features depicted in the showflat or models at the showroom, in the specifications they offer for the purpose of payment of the booking fee or in the sale and purchase agreement. While projects must meet all regulatory standards, developers can start selling units as soon as they have written permission to develop the land, building plan approval and a housing developer's sale licence. An Urban Redevelopment Authority spokesman said when changes must be made to meet standards, "the developers do not need to obtain consent from the purchasers". But "to minimise subsequent design changes, (Qualified Persons) should ensure that their development plans comply with all relevant agencies' requirements before the project is marketed".
September 4, 2017

Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth interviewed on Mediacorp Radio 938Live on how families can navigate through a divorce peacefully

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing's Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth was interviewed by Mediacorp Radio 938Live on how families can navigate through a divorce to achieve peaceful divorce resolutions. The interview was featured on 938Live’s Women of Worth segment on 26 August 2017 and the encore was aired the next day on 27 August 2017. In the second of her two-part series in the segment, Michelle shared the avenues available to families negotiating a divorce. Michelle, a certified IMI Mediator and Collaborative Family Practitioner, highlighted the general steps to filing for divorce and how there are more amicable and less painful methods to ending a marriage. This includes having parties to come to an agreement on their outstanding issues in an open and non-tactical way, then filing proceedings via a simplified track. She also shared the pros and cons of these peaceful alternatives in comparison to a litigious court process, and shared examples of how these methods would be more beneficial to families, especially those with children. She added that the introduction of child representatives to the panel on the Family Court ensured children's opinions were taken into consideration in a formalised way and emphasised the importance of integrity in proceedings as the “family moves on and restructures itself into a new family unit”. Please listen to the podcast for the full interview.
August 24, 2017

Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth interviewed on Mediacorp Radio 938Live on the topic of spousal and child maintenance

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth was interviewed by Mediacorp Radio 938Live on the topic of spousal and child maintenance. The interview was featured on 938Live’s Women of Worth segment on 19 August 2017 and the encore was repeated the next day on 20 August 2017. The interview describes the avenues women can turn to with regards to claiming maintenance and enforcing arrears of maintenance.  Michelle, a certified IMI Mediator and Collaborative Family Practitioner, highlighted that “it would be wise for everybody involved in the dissolution of the marriage to really look at how best they can restructure their family moving forward.” She offered legal perspectives on what women can do when ex-spouses attempt to reduce maintenance payment for children and when there is a need for additional financial support. Michelle also elaborated that “the reason behind the reduction would need to be examined” as there could be a change in circumstances where “one of the parents has lost a job, for example, and some changes need to be made in that respect”. Please listen to the podcast for the full interview.
August 23, 2017

Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail comments that there would be legal challenges for Bank Negara to assert any enforcement action against entities outside of Malaysia in a Channel NewsAsia article

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail was quoted in a Channel NewsAsia article titled "Bank Negara says statement on SGX's ringgit futures trading was meant for Malaysians". The article was first published on Channel NewsAsia on 18 August 2017. Bank Negara says statement on SGX's ringgit futures trading was meant for Malaysians Source: Copyright © Channel NewsAsia Date: 18 August 2017 Author: Brandon Tanoto SINGAPORE: Bank Negara Malaysia on Friday (Aug 18) said that its recent statement which criticised the Singapore Exchange’s (SGX) trading of ringgit futures was meant for Malaysians. In a news conference, Malaysian central bank governor Muhammad Ibrahim said: “Our statement is actually for those market players in Malaysia. We want to remind them that any trading of dollar ringgit outside Malaysia ... is illegal, it’s not allowed for Malaysian players. “That statement is not meant for anybody outside Malaysia because we don’t have any jurisdiction over those engaged in illegal activities outside Malaysia. But for those that engage in that transaction within Malaysia, that will be against the rule, the prevailing rule, and if they are found to be engaging in those illegal activities, we will certainly take action, it is adequately provided under the law.” He added: “It’s also important to note that these are not new policies, not new regulations or new rules. The rules have always been there, we are just highlighting that the ringgit is a non-internationalised currency and it should not be traded outside.” Mr Ibrahim said any international bank that has an operating licence in Malaysia could face legal action if it facilitates ringgit futures trading on the Singapore Stock Exchange and the Intercontinental Exchange. He added that any ringgit transaction in Singapore involving a Malaysian client and a bank licensed in Malaysia will be subject to Malaysian law. Mr Jimmy Zhu, chief strategist at Fullerton Markets, said it is not surprising that Bank Negara Malaysia has focused its enforcement action on international banks which are licensed in Malaysia. “Such moves are set to drive the volatility of emerging market currencies higher. Some regulators could find it necessary to curb excessive speculative positions in the market,” he said. Mr Nizam Ismail, a RHTLaw Taylor Wessing partner, agrees with Mr Zhu. “As Bank Negara has supervisory oversight over these banks, it would be administratively easier for the central bank to apply pressure. There would be legal challenges for Bank Negara to assert any enforcement action against entities outside of Malaysia, especially if it is unclear whether Malaysian domestic laws have any application to ringgit futures contracts created outside of Malaysia, to begin with.” Bank Negara has previously taken measures to restrict the trading of the ringgit offshore. In November last year, it forced currency traders overseas to stop driving the ringgit lower. It also demanded that banks operating in Malaysia sign a commitment to cease trading of the currency on the offshore non-deliverable forward market. The move came after it saw how onshore rates were taking cues from abroad, as well as the fact that much of the trading offshore was speculative and had a huge influence on the ringgit's value against the US dollar. Bank Negara recently said that the supply of and demand for foreign currencies became more balanced after the implementation of its measures. Mr Stephen Innes, the head of trading (Asia Pacific) at OANDA, noted that the measures Bank Negara took benefitted Malaysia because it stopped “all the waves of currency speculation”. “Clearly the Malaysian central bank remains vigilant and on guard for any unwanted speculation on the ringgit. But certainly investors would have expected that Bank Negara Malaysia would have been more receptive to reintroducing the Malaysian ringgit to global markets via a highly regulated exchange." He also noted that allowing international investors access to more freely tradable and open markets would have been great for the Malaysian capital market, citing that international investors can easily hedge their ringgit exposures. The SGX rolled out the trading of ringgit futures on its exchange last month. According to SGX’s Market Statistics Report for the month of July, trading volume of the ringgit derivative contract on the Singapore market came in at only 172 trades - compared to 2,202 for the Japanese yen and 4,536 for the Korean won. The bourse’s website also states that its forex products are tools to limit the impact of forex volatility and manage risk. It likewise said that SGX is not authorised to list the trading of any contract without the prior approval of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.