Prospective Overruling in Singapore: A Judicial Framework for the Future?
The doctrine of prospective overruling has been applied in Singapore since the 1990s with a focus on the applicability of nullen crimen nulla poena sine lege embodied in the Singapore Constitution. The underlying objectives are to maintain fairness to the accused persons and to protect their legitimate expectations in criminal cases. The recent landmark decision in Public Prosecutor v Hue An Li has extended the applicability of the doctrine beyond criminal cases to also include civil matters. Though the general default position is that judicial pronouncements apply retrospectively and prospectively, the High Court has indicated that judges may exercise their discretion to limit the retroactive effect of such judicial pronouncements. It has developed a framework comprising a few factors for determining if prospective overruling should be invoked in a given case. The factors include the extent of the entrenchment of the existing rule or principle, the extent of change of the law, the reliance on the existing law and the level of foreseeability of the legal change. This judicial framework points the way forward for prospective overruling in Singapore and, at the same time, allows some flexibility for judicial identification and weighing of the specific factors according to the facts of the case.
Singapore, Prospective Overruling, Judicial Precedents, Stare decisis, declaratory theory, Legitimate expectations
Administrative Law | Asian Studies | Judges | Jurisprudence | Law
Law, Society and Governance
Comparing the Prospective Effect of Judicial Rulings Across the Jurisdictions
City or Country
CHAN, Gary Kok Yew.
Prospective Overruling in Singapore: A Judicial Framework for the Future?. (2015). Comparing the Prospective Effect of Judicial Rulings Across the Jurisdictions. 359-380. Research Collection School Of Law.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/sol_research/1587