Illegality and contracts

State of the law in Singapore

As any hapless law student attempting to grapple with the concept of illegality knows, it is almost impossible to ascertain or articulate principled rules from the authorities relating to the recovery of money or other assets paid or transferred under illegal contracts.” Lady Justice Gloster in Patel v Mirza [2014] EWCA Civ 1047.

After the recent Singapore Court of Appeal decision in Ochroid Trading Ltd v Chua Siok Lui (trading as VIE Import & Export) [2018] SGCA 5 hapless law students (and practising lawyers) can now sleep easy. The decision has helpfully clarified and restated the doctrine of illegality under Singapore law. It also took the opportunity to consider the UK Supreme Court decision in Patel v Mirza [2016] UKSC 42 which established a new (and controversial) approach to the question of whether a defendant will be able to rely on the defence of illegality.  

Read our summary report and watch our three minute animation on the roadmap to dealing with illegality and contracts under Singapore law.