Appeals to High Court under POFMA

INFORMATION NOTE: APPEALS TO THE HIGH COURT AGAINST MINISTER’S DIRECTION OR DECLARATION UNDER POFMA

       BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND APPLICABLE LEGISLATION

  1. The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act 2019 (“POFMA”) and the Supreme Court of Judicature (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation) Rules 2019 (“the POFMA Rules”) came into operation on 2 October 2019.
  2. Please see here for the POFMA and here for the POFMA Rules.
  3. For more information on what is covered under the POFMA, please see here.

     

    APPEAL TO THE HIGH COURT

  4. An appeal may be filed in the High Court  only after an application has been made to the relevant Minister to vary or cancel the Part 3 or Part 4 Direction, Account Restriction Direction, or Declaration (as the case may be). For more information on how to make this application to the Minister, see here. 
  5. If the application to vary or cancel the Direction or Declaration was refused in whole or in part by the Minister, and the person wishes to appeal to the High Court against the Minister’s decision, he must file the appeal in the High Court within 14 days after the Minister’s decision not to vary or cancel the Direction or Declaration. 

     

    APPLICABLE PROCEDURE

  6. An appellant may obtain an early court hearing date (as stated at paragraph (f) in Step 2 below) only if he complies with the  procedure that applies to the filing of an appeal in the High Court against a Minister’s decision under the POFMA as set out below:      

Step 1: Filing of appeal documents

(a)   The appeal is filed by way of an originating summons (“OS”) and supporting affidavit (“supporting affidavit”). Please see the standard forms of the OS (Form 1) and the supporting affidavit (Form 2) as found in the First Schedule of the POFMA Rules.

(b)   The OS and supporting affidavit should be filed electronically into the eLitigation system. If the party filing the appeal (“the appellant”) has no access to the eLitigation system, the OS and supporting affidavit can be filed at the LawNet Service Bureau (Level 1, Supreme Court Building, 1 Supreme Court Lane). For more information on the Service Bureau’s opening hours please see here and please see here for the POFMA User Guide on the step-by-step guide to filing a POFMA Appeal.

(c)   At the LawNet Service Bureau, the appellant should state clearly that an appeal is being filed under the POFMA. This is to enable the LawNet Service Bureau staff to facilitate the processing of the appellant’s filing of the appeal.

(d)   Court fees, as well as transmission fees, processing fees, e-service fees and Service Bureau handling fees, where applicable, are payable at the time of filing the appeal.

Step 2: Attendance before the Duty Registrar

(a)   After filing the OS and the supporting affidavit, the appellant must attend before the Duty Registrar to request a hearing date for the appeal. The Duty Registrar’s chambers is located at Level 2 of the Supreme Court Building.

(b)   The appellant must attend before the Duty Registrar in accordance with the following timelines (“the required timeline”):

·on the same day of filing if the OS and supporting affidavit were filed within the office hours of the Registry; OR

·on the next working day if the OS and supporting affidavit were filed after office hours of the Registry.

(The office hours of the Registry are on Mondays to Fridays (excluding public holidays), from 9.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.)

(c)   In order to attend before the Duty Registrar, the appellant must first go to the Legal Registry counter located at Level 2 of the Supreme Court Building to get a queue number to see the Duty Registrar.

(d)   Once the Duty Registrar calls the appointed queue number, the appellant is to proceed to the Duty Registrar’s chambers.

(e)   The Duty Registrar may check that the requirements under the POFMA Rules have been complied with and give directions. The directions given by the Duty Registrar must be complied with.

(f)   If the appellant attends within the required timeline and the OS and supporting affidavit are accepted by the Registry, the Duty Registrar will fix the hearing date of the appeal on the 6th working day after the date the appellant attends before the Duty Registrar or the date the OS and supporting affidavit are accepted by the Registry, whichever is the later. This is unless the appellant requests for a later hearing date.

(g)   After the OS and supporting affidavit have been accepted and the hearing date for the appeal fixed, if the papers were filed at the LawNet Service Bureau, the appellant should return to the LawNet Service Bureau to collect the accepted copies of the OS (with a case number assigned) and the supporting affidavit.

(h)   If the appellant does not attend before the Duty Registrar within the required timeline, the Registrar may fix a pre-trial conference or a hearing date for the appeal as the Registrar deems fit, being a date not earlier than 6 working days after the date on which the OS and supporting affidavit are accepted by the Registry.

Step 3: Service of appeal documents

(a)   The appellant must serve the OS and supporting affidavit on the Attorney-General no later than 12 noon on the working day immediately after the documents are accepted by the Registry.

(b)   The documents must be served on the Attorney-General in any one of the following three ways:

  • email at AGC_POFMA@agc.gov.sg,
  • electronically via the eLitigation system (to be requested at time of filing), or
  • leaving a copy of the documents in an envelope marked “POFMA APPEAL”, at the reception counter of the Attorney General’s Chambers at 1 Upper Pickering Street, Singapore 058288.

(c)   The appellant must file an affidavit of service OR a Registrar’s certificate of service within 2 working days after the date of service on the Attorney-General.

Step 4: Further affidavit(s)

(a)   The Minister, through the Attorney-General, may file and serve on the appellant an affidavit in reply. This must be done within 3 working days after the date of service on the Attorney-General.

(b)   No party may file or serve any further affidavits for the appeal except with the approval of Court.


    REPRESENTATION BY A LAWYER

7.     An appellant who is a company, Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) or an unincorporated association is required by the Rules of Court to be represented by a lawyer. Any person seeking to represent a company, LLP or unincorporated association will need to apply to the Court for specific approval to do so. For information on the applicable rules and how to make such an application, please see Self-Help User Guide

   HEARING DATE OF THE APPEAL

8.     If the appellant has also applied for a stay of the Minister’s Direction, the stay application will be heard at the same time as the hearing of the appeal, unless the Duty Registrar directs otherwise.

9.     If any party does not appear at the hearing, the Court may proceed with the hearing of the application in the absence of that party.

     COURT FEES, HEARING FEES AND COSTS PAYABLE FOR THE APPEAL

10.     The relevant court fees and costs payable by an appellant who is an individual (a single natural person) are set out below. For non-individuals, the usual provisions and fees in the Rules of Court will continue to apply. 

 Court Fees
 Filing the OS$200
Filing an affidavit (including exhibits) $1 per page; minimum fee of $10
 Hearing Fees (Identical to fees set out in Rules of Court)
 Days 1-3 -
 Day 4 $6,000
 Day 5 $2,000
 Days 6-10 $3,000/ day
 Subsequent days$5,000/ day 


 11.     If the appellant is financially or for any other appropriate reason unable to pay the court fees or hearing fees, the appellant may apply to the Court hearing the appeal for a waiver or refund of the fees. The Court hearing the appeal may, after hearing the parties or upon the appellant’s written request, waive or refund all or any part of the fees. This applies whether or not the appellant is an individual.

12.     The Court may also direct that all or any part of the court fees be paid by any party, or be apportioned among all or any of the parties.

13.     The appellant must, if the request was not made at the hearing itself, submit a written request for the waiver or refund to the Court not later than one month after the appeal.

 *Disclaimer: This Information Note serves as a general information source only and nothing herein should be construed as any form of professional advice. This Information Note is not exhaustive and may not cover all information available on a particular issue. Before relying on this Information Note, you should do your own checks or obtain professional advice to your particular circumstances.

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 POFMA

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