Reconsidering Ouster Clauses in Singapore Administrative Law
(2020) 136 Law Quarterly Review 40
Posted: 3 Jun 2020 Last revised: 22 Jun 2020
Date Written: August 31, 2019
Following closely in the wake of R. (on the application of Privacy International) v Investigatory Powers Tribunal and others  UKSC 22;  2 W.L.R. 1219, the Singapore Court of Appeal issued a decision which holds potentially far-reaching implications for ouster clauses in Singapore law. While not engaging Privacy International directly, the court’s decision in Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v Public Prosecutor  SGCA 37;  2 S.L.R. 216 echoed Lord Carnwath’s emphasis, in Privacy International, on the resilience of the supervisory jurisdiction in the face of legislative ouster clauses, albeit on justificatory grounds specific to the Singapore context. In so doing, the decision provided an important signal of the judicial attitude in Singapore towards legislative ouster clauses. Yet, the court’s assiduous avoidance of a direct engagement with ouster clause doctrine represents a missed opportunity to clarify the law in Singapore, which has thus far remained substantially shaped by the framework provided by Anisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Commission  2 A.C. 147;  1 All E.R. 208.
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