Sources of Law
As with other common law counties, the primary sources of Singapore's laws are:
Muslim Law in personal legal matters, such as family law and inheritance, is also a source of law by virtue of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA) (Cap 3, 2009 Rev Ed). Muslim law is administered by the Syariah Court.
For more information on the sources of Singapore's laws, see The Singapore Legal System by Eugene Tan and Gary Chan - on Singapore Law Watch (open access).
Singapore's Legal System & Legal History
Singapore has a common law legal system as a result of its colonial past as part of the British empire. The influence of the English common law on the development of Singapore law is generally more evident in certain traditional common law areas, such as contract, tort and equity, than in other statute-based areas such as criminal law and company law. Although judicial decisions from England and other Commonwealth jurisdictions are not binding on Singapore courts, Singapore has paid great deference to English decisions until recently, as Singapore departs from the decisions of English courts and develops its own local jurisprudence. Jurisdictions such as India and Australia have strongly influenced the approach and content of some of Singapore's statutes.
|For an excellent introduction to Singapore's legal system and its history, see The Singapore Legal System by Eugene Tan and Gary Chan - on Singapore Law Watch (open access).|
See also The Singapore Legal System by Damien Chng and Jack Tsen-Ta Lee - on the ASEAN Law Association's Legal Systems in ASEAN: Singapore website (open access) (updated in 2018).
For a detailed history of the legal system, see:
Image Source: Wikipedia
Modern-day Singapore was founded by the British. Singapore, together with Malacca and Penang, the two British settlements in the Malay Peninsula, became the Straits Settlements in 1826, under the control of British India. In 1946, Singapore became a Crown Colony. Self-government was attained in 1959. Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 but left the Federation in 1965 to become a sovereign, democratic and independent state.
Singapore is a constitutional republic with a secular government. Its structure of government is set out in the Constitution and is based on the Westminster system of the United Kingdom. Governmental power is distributed across three branches of government: the legislature, executive and judiciary. Separation of powers is a basic feature of the Constitution. Singapore has an elected President as its head of state. Singapore’s legislature comprises of a single house of parliament.
Singapore is a multiracial and multi-religious society. The indigenous people of Singapore are Malays, who are recognised as such in the Constitution (Article 152(2)). The national language is Malay (Article 153A(2) of the Constitution), but the government recognises four official languages: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English (Article 153A(1) of the Constitution). The predominant languages spoken are English and Mandarin.
The following resources include general country information - history, demographics, economy, politics and government etc.
Doing Business in Singapore
Rule of Law and Human Rights in Singapore
The World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - Country Profile for Singapore (open access).
Update on the Rule of Law for Human Rights in ASEAN: The Path to Integration (2016) (open access) (published by the Human Rights Resource Centre). Includes a detailed chapter on Singapore.
Amnesty International's latest report on Singapore
US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Singapore
Bünte, Marco,'The Rule of law in Illiberal Contexts: Cambodia and Singapore as Exemplars' in:
Latest Legal News from Singapore Law Watch
English Language Newspapers
The most popular and authoritative English language daily newspaper in Singapore is The Straits Times. This paper began in 1845.
Other Research Guides