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(1) Basic features of Singapore building and construction law
26.1.1 Building and construction law in Singapore shares common features with its equivalent in other common law jurisdictions. Contracts between participants within the building and construction industry are typically in standard form.
26.1.2 The terms and conditions of standard form contracts used in Singapore are not identical to international contracts, but follow a similar basic structure.
(2) Relevant areas of law: contract, tort and statutes
26.1.3 Aside from the law of contract, the law of torts also has a significant impact on the rights and liabilities of parties in the building and construction industry.
26.1.4 Statutes and regulations also govern the conduct of the industry and give expression to public policy considerations. For instance, as with many of the Commonwealth jurisdictions, Singapore has introduced legislation to govern the substantive rights of parties in terms of payments, and mandatory dispute resolution in support of the right to timely payment.
A. Types of Contractual Arrangements
26.2.1 Building and construction contracts in Singapore have been shaped by both colonial and indigenous arrangements and practices. There are significant differences between local and international standard form contracts; however, the organisational structure of the local standard form and the contractual arrangements between parties fall into internationally recognisable categories, namely:
  • “traditional” contracts;
  • “design and build” contracts; and
  • traditional contracts
(1) Traditional contracts
(i) Appointment
26.2.2 In the traditional system of contracting, the owner or developer of an intended project first engages someone to administer the contract. For a building project, this is typically the architect. Other professionals, such as the quantity surveyor, structural engineer, and the mechanical and electrical engineers are then appointed. Contracts are entered into between the employer and these consultants. Popular standard form contracts for the appointment of:
  • architects: Singapore Institute of Architects (“SIA”) Conditions of Appointment (containing the Scale of Professional Charges); and
  • engineers: Association of Consulting Engineers (“ACES”)
(ii) Design
26.2.3 The architect or engineer then prepares a design. The architect (sometimes in collaboration with other consultants) prepares documentation in sufficient detail to enable contractors to submit competitive tenders, such as:
  • drawings;
  • specifications;
  • bills of quantities; and
  • other documentation constituting contract documents.
(iii) Tender, design and/or construction
26.2.4 The successful tenderer is awarded the contract. In the course of construction, the design function is usually left in the hands of the consultants. There will not be any competitive design submitted by contractors.
(iv) Contract arrangements
26.2.5 Contract arrangements between parties in a “traditional” system are generally based on a standard form contract. For the construction of buildings, the most popular forms include standard forms and their derivatives by:
  • The SIA (currently 9th Ed.);
  • The Royal Institute of British Architects (“RIBA”); and
  • The Joint Contracts Tribunal (“JCT”).
26.2.6 The public sector has its own set of standard forms for the traditional system, the Public Sector Standard Conditions of Contract for Construction Works (PSSCOC, currently in its 7th Ed).

(2) Design and build contracts
26.2.7 In recent years, the international and local trend has been to move away from the “traditional system” to alternative contract arrangements. For instance, “design and build” contracts have increased in popularity.
26.2.8 Under a design and build contract, the contractor agrees to accept all responsibility for the structure he constructs. In addition to his usual obligations for the completed work, he also agrees to accept obligations relating to design.
(i) Local standard forms
26.2.9 To accommodate such new arrangements, the following local standard forms are available:
  • For the public sector: Public Sector Standard Conditions of Contract (“PSSCOC”) for Design and Build.
  • Real Estate Developer’s Association, Singapore (“REDAS”) Design and Build Conditions of Contract.
(ii) International standard forms
26.2.10 International standard forms are also available:
  • FIDIC Design and Build Conditions of Contract (commonly known as the ‘Orange Book’).
  • JCT series of standard form contracts, the latest of which is the 2005 series (with amendments in 2009 and 2011), for use in the construction of petrochemical and pharmaceutical facilities involving the main contractor in the design of the facilities and the procurement of equipment and machinery, bespoke Engineering Procurement and Construction (“EPC”) contracts are commonly used.
B. Types of contracts and related contract documents
(1) Standard form contracts
26.2.11 Standard form contracts usually contain provisions relating to certification of payment, variations, and defective work within its general terms and conditions which usually has priority over any other document forming part of the contract. The standardisation of such terms and conditions makes the administration of such contracts much easier. In addition, the evolution of changes resulting from case law will be more easily identifiable in standard form contracts.
(2) Non-standard form contracts
26.2.12 In contrast, the general terms and conditions of non-standard form contracts, may be less easily identifiable and may require greater scrutiny for contract administration purposes. In the absence of a priority of documents clause, ambiguities could be difficult to resolve and the contra proferentem rule would apply against the contract originator.
(3) Related documents
26.2.13 Disputes could occur if the contract is contained in or evidenced by the main contract together with drawings, specifications, bills of quantities, exchanges of correspondence, and quotations. It may be contested as to which related documents form part of the contract: Ohbayashi-Gumi Ltd v Kian Hong Holdings Pte Ltd [1987] SLR 94; [1987] 2 MLJ 110, CA). Related documents are either admissible as evidence in the interpretation of contracts, or as express terms.
(i) Admissibility of extrinsic evidence in the interpretation of contracts
  • does not contradict, vary, add to or subtract from the contract’s terms;
  • is relevant, in that it would affect the way in which the language of the document would be understood by a reasonable man;
  • is reasonably available to all contracting parties; and
  • relates to a clear and obvious context.
However, the plain language of the contract must be ambiguous or absurd, before the Court is allowed to interpret the contract differently from that demanded by its plain language.
(ii) As an express term
26.2.16 The High Court decided in favour of Sheng Siong. It found that a plan of the premises annexed to the final tenancy agreement showed a supermarket, and therefore constituted an “express provision” in support of such a precondition.
26.3.1 In Singapore, in order to comply with the requirements of planning and building legislation, the appointment of a `qualified person´ by the employer is often necessary (Building Control Act, Cap 29, s 6(3). The qualified person must be a registered architect or a professional engineer. The qualified person has statutory obligations that he must properly discharge.
A. Architects
(1) Regulated by the Architects Act
26.3.2 Architects in Singapore are regulated by the Architects Act, Cap 12, While the Architects Act does not define who is an architect, “architectural services” are defined under s 2(b) to include selling or supplying for gain or reward any architectural plan, drawing, tracing or the like for use in the construction, enlargement or alteration of any building or part thereof.
(2) Registered architect
26.3.3 Under s 10(1), no one can "draw or prepare any architectural plan, drawing, tracing, design, specification or other document intended to govern the construction, enlargement or alteration of any building or part thereof in Singapore" unless he is a registered architect with a practising certificate or unless he is someone working under the direction or supervision of such an architect. Under s 10(3), the designation “architect” or any of its derivatives cannot be used by anyone unless he is a registered architect.
(3) Board of Architects
26.3.4 A register of architects is kept and maintained by the Board of Architects (see also s 8). The Board is also responsible for the issuance of practising certificates and exercises overall control over the profession. It has power to conduct disciplinary proceedings and may cancel the registration of any registered architect or suspend him from practice in specified circumstances.
(4) Other professional bodies
26.3.5 In addition to registration, most architects are also members of professional bodies. In Singapore, the main body is the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) ( Besides membership of the SIA, architects educated abroad are often also members of foreign professional bodies like the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for those educated in the United Kingdom
(1) Regulated by the Professional Engineers Act
26.3.6 In Singapore, engineers are regulated by the Professional Engineers Act, Cap 253. There are no restrictions in Singapore against anyone describing himself as an “engineer”. Under s 2 of the Act, “professional engineering services” and “professional engineering work” are defined; however, there is no definition of the term “engineer” or “professional engineer” in the Act.
(2) Registered engineer
26.3.7 Nonetheless, a person must be properly registered under the Act before he is entitled to call himself a “professional engineer”, or use the word “engineer” or the abbreviation “Er.” or “Engr.” as a title before his name, or to use any word, name or designation that will lead to the belief that the person is a registered professional engineer.
(3) Professional Engineers Board
26.3.8 A Professional Engineers Board was established by the Professional Engineers Act. The Board keeps and maintains a register of professional engineers, a register of practitioners and a register of licensees. The register of professional engineers contains the names, qualifications and other particulars of all persons registered under the Act whereas the register of practitioners, kept and maintained annually, contains the particulars of those professional engineers with practising certificates.
(4) Other professional bodies
26.3.9 Besides registration as a professional engineer, an engineer in Singapore is usually also a member of a professional body, like the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES) or Association of Civil Engineers, Singapore (ACES). Many engineers who are trained overseas are also members of foreign professional bodies like the Institution of Civil Engineers, United Kingdom.
Quantity Surveyors
26.3.10 The term “surveyor” encompasses a large number of fields, including:
    • building surveyors who examine and evaluate defects to buildings;
    • land and hydrographic surveyors;
    • valuers of properties; and
    • quantity surveyors.
(1) Regulated by the Land Surveyors Act
26.3.11 The registration of land surveyors is provided for under the Land Surveyors Act, Cap 156. It is also provided that no person can certify to the correctness or accuracy of any title survey unless he is a registered surveyor who has in force a practising certificate. Surveyors practising other types of survey work, such as topographical, engineering and hydrographic surveying, need not be registered under the Act.
(2) Land Surveyors Board
26.3.12 A Land Surveyors Board is also established by the Act. Among its other functions, it keeps and maintains a register of surveyors, a register of practitioners, and a register of licensees.
(3) Quantity surveyors
26.3.13 Quantity surveyors, who are sometimes described by themselves and other construction professionals as “costs consultants” or “construction economists”, are responsible for the evaluation of construction costs.
26.3.14 These costs would usually include site preparation costs, labour, material and equipment costs, professional fees, taxes and maintenance costs. There are no registration requirements before someone can practise as a quantity surveyor nor are there any prohibitions against anyone styling himself as a quantity surveyor. There is no equivalent of the Board of Architects or the Professional Engineers Board to govern the professional conduct of quantity surveyors.
(4) Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers
26.3.15 Many are also members of the local professional body for valuers and surveyors, namely, the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (“SISV”). SISV has three divisions that represent the various fields of surveying, namely, quantity surveyors, land surveyors, and valuation and the general practice surveyors. An acceptable degree or professional qualification and at least two years of relevant postgraduate experience are necessary for membership. A person can also seek membership of professional bodies like the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, United Kingdom which conduct examinations in the various fields of surveying.
Duties, Obligations and Liabilities of Owners, Architects, Engineers and Surveyors
26.3.16 The obligations of the owners, architects, engineers and surveyors are determined by the agreement between parties, regulations and statutory requirements, and common law.
(1) Standard form contract
26.3.17 In Singapore, professional bodies like SIA and ACES have published standard form agreements that architects and engineers can put forward to the person engaging them. Contracts of engagement can also be specially drafted, or adapted from the standard form agreements. A contract might just state that the terms and conditions of engagement are to be “in accordance” with the standard agreement of the relevant professional body: Soon Nam Co Ltd v Archynamics Architects [1978-1979] SLR 123.
26.3.18 The arrangement between parties generally determines each party’s duties, obligations and liabilities.
(2) Traditional building contract model
26.3.19 In the traditional building contract model, the obligation of the employer or owner includes:
      • securing planning permission and regulatory permits to enable works to proceed, under the Planning Act (Cap 2323, 1998 Rev Ed);
      • allowing the contractor sufficient possession of and access to the site to enable works to proceed, viz. a physical means of access and opportunity to enter the site by this access: LRE Engineering Services Ltd v Otto Simon Carves Ltd (1983) 24 BLR 127 at 137.
      • Paying the contractor on time; typically, this is made through progress payments on an interim valuation of works completed up to a particular date or milestone.
(3) Duties of an Architect or Engineer
26.3.20 The general duties of an architect or engineer can include:
      • working with the project manager (if any);
      • completing the design and overseeing the development of the project;
      • taking on the role of a “lead consultant”;
      • supervising the works and ensuring the owner’s interests are properly served by the contractor;
      • performing the role of both certifier and approving authority, on progress payments and final accounts, and other issues such as prolongation, quality, and workmanship; and
      • the positive obligation of informing the quantity surveyor of defective work, such that the work is not included in the interim valuation (in the absence of express terms to the contrary).
(4) Duties of a Quantity Surveyor
26.3.21 The general duties of a quantity surveyor can include:
      • preparation of tender documents;
      • contract documentation work;
      • providing estimates for feasibility studies;
      • advising on construction procurement; and
      • supporting the architect or engineer in certification, in the evaluating the contractor’s progress payment and final account claims.
(5) Duties and obligations under design and build contracting model
26.3.22 In a design and build arrangement, the functions of design and construction are integrated. The design architect, structural engineer and other design consultants are not directly employed by the owner, but employed instead by the contractor.
26.3.23 In comparison to the obligations under a traditional arrangement, the architect or engineer is not expected to extensively supervise or administer the contract, except where statutory regulations require professional oversight. Instead, the contractor takes on additional obligations, such as ensuring that the works delivered are fit for purpose.
26.3.24 Further, the architect and engineer are not directly accountable to the owner, but may be liable in tort.
26.3.25 Subject to express provisions, the obligations of the quantity surveyor are generally similar to that of the traditional contracting model.
(6) Liabilities of professionals
26.3.26 In common law, an architect is subjected to “minimum standards” in carrying out his duties. These duties include:
      • The duty to act in good faith and to the best of his uninfluenced professional judgment: Aoki Corporation v Lippoland (Singapore) Pte Ltd [1995] 2 SLR 609;
      • The duty to perform his duty, or exercise his power with reasonable diligence and in accordance with the contract: Lian Soon Construction v Guan Qian Realty Pte Ltd [1999] 3 SLR(R) 518 at [22];
      • The duty to act fairly and on a rational basis in making any determination: Liew Ter Kwang v Hurry General Contractor Pte Ltd [2004] 3 SLR(R) 59; [2004] SGHC 97;
      • The duty to apply professional skill and function, but not to be an agent of the developer: Hiap Hong & Co Pte Ltd v Hong Huat Development Co (Pte) Ltd [2001] 1 SLR(R) 458; [2001] SGCA 17.
26.4.1 Performance bonds provide the employer with some security against non-performance by the contractor: see Wah Heng Glass & Metal Products Pte Ltd v Gammon-CCI Construction Ltd [1998] SGHC 48 for a brief description of the purpose and usage of a performance bond.
A. Performance Bonds Issued in Singapore
26.4.2 In Singapore, the bond is usually given by financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies, who in turn act as sureties. The amount secured is typically 5% to 10% of the value of the contract. It is typically issued valid for one year and subject to annual renewals until the completion of the project or the expiry of the maintenance or defect liability period. The extent and security provided by the bond depends on its nature and type, and its terms and conditions. The only standard form performance bond used in Singapore is found in the appendix of the PSSCOC.
(1) Nature and types
26.4.3 Confusion could arise as to the meaning to be attached to what is commonly referred to as a “performance bond”, for four reasons:
  1. It has been described by various labels, including:
    1. performance bond;
    2. b. performance guarantee;
    3. c. first demand bond, or its American sibling, the stand-by letter of credit.
  2. In its application or usage, it could be used to secure various stages of the construction process. The documentation concerned is often described with reference to that particular process. For example:
    1. tender or bid bond;
    2. advance payment bond;
    3. retention money bond; or
    4. maintenance bond, etc.
  3. Conditions attached to the call on the bond can differ, depending on whether it is:
    1. payable on demand (“demand bonds”); or
    2. upon proof of default (“default bonds”)
  4. It could require the surety to either:
    1. pay money; or
    2. perform the works left undone by the contractor.
Such a bond is usually given by the parent company of the contractor. However, such a bond is not popular with local employers who prefer cash payment. They are usually accepted by MNC employers operating in Singapore, who have engaged contractors from their home country under arrangements and conditions similar to those found in the home country.
26.4.4 Disputes typically involve whether the conditions attached to the call on the bond have been triggered, and in particular, whether an injunctions against the financial institution is justified.
(2) Demand bonds: Only fraud or unconscionability will permit injunction against payment
26.4.5 It has been recognised that performance bonds, particularly, those expressed to be payable on demand, stand on a similar footing as irrevocable letters of credit and that an injunction restraining a call or payment upon the bond will not be granted unless fraud or unconscionability is involved. There is also no distinction between the principles to be applied in the cases dealing with attempts to restrain banks from making payment from those dealing with restraint of beneficiaries from calling upon the bond: Bocotra Construction Pte Ltd & Ors v Attorney General (No 2) [1995] 2 SLR 733 (CA).
(3) Clear case of fraud or unconscionability required for injunction
26.4.6 The sole consideration in the application for an injunction is whether there is fraud or unconscionability. The party seeking the injunction would be required to establish a clear case of fraud or unconscionability in interlocutory proceedings. It is not enough to raise "mere allegations". In the UK, an interlocutory injunction will not therefore be granted against a bank which has given a bond or guarantee to restrain its payment, since the bank must honour it according to its terms, unless it has clear notice or evidence or fraud: Edward Owen Engineering Ltd v Barclays Bank International Ltd [1978] 1 All ER 976. As regards the standard of proof of fraud, the courts have accepted, for cases involving letters of credit, what is known as "the Ackner standard" in assessing allegations of fraud in applications for interlocutory injunctions (propounded by Ackner LJ in United Trading Corporation v Allied Arab Bank [1985] 2 Lloyd's Rep 554; applied in Singapore in Korea Industry Co Ltd v Andoll Ltd [1989] 3 MLJ 449).
(4) Unconscionability is distinct from fraud
(5) Strong prima facie case of unconscionability for contractor to restrain employer as beneficiary
26.4.10 It has been suggested that the "current conception of the ground of unconscionability by the Singapore courts may be disproportionately wide in light of the causes that have led to it being introduced as a disjunctive ground for injuncting a call on a performance bond" (see Injuncting Calls on Performance Bonds: Reconstructing Unconscionability [2003] 15 SAcLJ 30). The article contains a detailed discussion on this subject.
26.4.11 More recently, Quentin Loh J has pointed out on case precedent, the call of the bond was considered unconscionable “where either the beneficiary of the performance bond had by its own default contributed to the circumstances which founded the call, or both parties were wholly innocent”: Ryobi-Kiso (S) Pte Ltd v Lum Chang Building Contractors Pte Ltd [2013] SGHC 86 at [19] ).
A. Explanation of Subcontracts
(1) Usual practice for contractors to engage subcontractors
26.5.1 In Singapore, as is the case elsewhere, it is usual for the contractor to engage sub-contractors to whom he will owe and be entitled to contractual obligations according to the terms of the sub-contract. For larger projects, sub-contracts are also usually in standard forms that are mostly derivatives of the main contract forms. There would be appropriate cross-references between the main and sub-contract forms and some provisions of the main contract may even be replicated in the sub-contract. The sub-contractor will not normally owe any direct contractual obligations to the employer or consultants.
(2) Subcontracts can vary considerably in type
26.5.2 The type of contractual arrangements that can be arrived at in sub-contracts can vary considerably. They can involve the supply of labour only, a supply of goods and materials only, a supply and build arrangement, or even a complete “design and build” arrangement. Most of the principles of law applicable to a main contract would also be applicable to a sub-contract.
B. Employer’s selection of sub-contractors
(1) Traditional system: Employer selects specialist contractors who enter into sub-contract with main contractor
26.5.3 In the traditional system, it is usual to provide in the main contract, terms that allow the employer to select for the main contractor, certain specialist contractors whose participation in the project he desires. The specialist contractor is then usually made to enter into a sub-contract with the main contractor. This process is usually described as a “nomination”.
(2) Two standard form nominated sub-contracts widely used in Singapore
26.5.4Two standard form nominated sub-contracts are in wide usage in Singapore. They are:
  • the Standard Conditions of Nominated Sub-Contract for use in conjunction with Public Sector Conditions of Contract for Construction Work 2008 (now in its 5th edition); and
  • the SIA Conditions of Sub-Contract for use in conjunction with the main contract (now in its 4th edition).
C. Incorporation of Main Contract Terms
(1) Express terms and contra proferentum
26.5.5 As the sub-contract obligations commonly mirror that of the main contract (in a limited aspect), the draftsman of sub-contracts typically incorporates the terms of the main contract by reference. As a general rule, anything in the main contract that is not applicable or appropriate in the sub-contract ought not to be impliedly incorporated: Star-Trans Far East Pte Ltd v Norske-Tech Ltd [1996] 2 SLR 409 (CA) .
(2) Whether or not a provision is incorporated depends on intention of parties
26.5.6 The relevant principle in ascertaining whether a provision or a document ought to be incorporated is to ascertain the intention of the parties. Where the meaning of the provisions already in the sub-contract is perfectly clear, there can be no resort to other documents to give another meaning to it. Where the draftsman had purposely left out any condition which he could without difficulty have put in, then the contra proferentem rule may be applied to prevent the clause or document from forming part of the sub-contract: Union Workshop (Construction) Co v Ng Chew Ho Construction Co Sdn Bhd [1978] 2 MLJ 22. Where the alleged clause incorporating terms of the main contract in the sub-contract is unclear or ambiguous, as where it merely provides that “the sub-contractor shall observe, perform and comply with all the provisions of the main contract on the part of the contractor to be observed, performed and complied with so far as they relate and apply to the sub-contract works” it is unlikely that the court will find that such a clause has the effect of incorporating the provisions of the main contract into the sub-contract: Kum Leng General Contractor v Hytech Builders Pte Ltd [1996] 1 SLR 751.
(3) Incorporation via back-to-back provisions
(4) Subcontract formed by conduct
(5) Subcontract formed by oral agreement
26.5.9 In addition, extrinsic proof of oral collateral contracts is admissible under proviso (b) of s 94 of the Evidence Act, if its terms are not inconsistent with those contained in the main agreement.
D. "Pay When Paid" Provisions (now prohibited)
(1) “Pay When Paid” Provisions: Sub-contractor only entitled payment when main contractor receives payment
26.5.10 “Pay when paid” provisions stipulate that the sub-contractor is only entitled to be paid when the main contractor has himself received payment. “Pay when paid” provisions operate even if payments have been certified but not received yet by the main contractor, or if payment has been withheld from the main contractor by the employer due to the main contractor’s own default or breach, and the default or breach was not caused or contributed to by the sub-contractor: Brightside Mechanical and Electrical Services Group Ltd v Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co Ltd [1988] SLR 186; Interpro Engineering Pte Ltd v Sin Heng Construction Co Pte Ltd [1998] 1 SLR 694.
(2) “Pay when paid” clauses prohibited by statute
26.9.5 International and domestic arbitration are discussed in detail in the Laws of Singapore Chapter 4.
A. Building Control Act 1989
(1) Standards of safety and good building practices
26.10.1 The Building Control Act is a prescriptive code. It prescribes standards of safety and good building practice. The legislation provides a blueprint to control legally the construction of building works, the monitoring of existing structures with powers to deal with them where safety is in issue. It is well known that the current legislation was a direct consequence of the Hotel New World collapse.
(2) Every person for whom building works are to be carried out have to appoint an accredited checker as an extra level of control in process of design
26.10.2 A central feature of the legislation was the conception of the role of an "accredited checker". The accredited checker operates as an extra level of control in the process of design. The legislation obliges "every person for whom building works are to be carried out" to appoint an accredited checker. The accredited checker must be registered with the Building Authority and maintain no professional or financial interest (other than the stipulated appointment) in the building works concerned. In addition, only qualified civil or structural engineers of 15 years' standing in terms of practical experience in the design and construction of buildings, in addition to being distinguished by ability, standing or special knowledge or experience could be appointed as accredited independent checkers. This is clearly to ensure that the professional stature of the expert would safeguard his independence when appointed as accredited checker. The appointed accredited checker is required to check the key structural elements in the plans and issue a certificate and evaluation report approving them. This is the independent technical control prescribed by the legislation.
(2)(3) Commissioner of Building Control relies solely on certificate and evaluation report of accredited checker to approve plans
26.10.3 Section 6(1) provides for approval of plans by the Commissioner of Building Control. Among the documents to be submitted with the plans is the certificate of the accredited checker in relation to the adequacy of the key structural elements. By section 6(3), the Commissioner of Building Control is authorised to rely solely on the certificate and evaluation report of the accredited checker to approve plans. Hence, the Commissioner of Building Control has no duty to check the plans when granting "approval".
(4) Commissioner has discretion to carry out random checks on structural plans and design calculations and may revoke approval if any information given previously was false
26.10.4 Notwithstanding the earlier section, section 5(6) gives the Commissioner the discretion to carry out random checks with respect to structural plans and design calculations of the building works. The Commissioner also retains the right to revoke acquiescence of the building plans if satisfied that any information given in respect of the approval had been false in a material particular.
(5) Government and public officers are excluded from liability by reason that works are carried out in accordance with the Act or works are subject to approval by the Commissioner
26.10.5 Section 32 is an extremely comprehensive exclusion of liability of the Government and public officers. It even protects the government and any public officer from suit arising by reason of the fact that any building works are carried out in accordance with the provisions of this Act or that such building works or plans of the building works are subject to inspection or approval by the Commissioner or the public officer. Accordingly, the Building Authority has been given unequivocal protection which the decision of Murphy v Brentwood District Council [1991] 1 AC 398 achieved to a limited extent in England in 1991.
(6) Amendments were made in 2003 to move from procurement methods to design and build, give the Commissioner the power to stop dangerous building works and may require the person for whom works are being carried out to take actions to avert such danger
26.10.7 In September 2007, further amendments were made to update building control systems, to enhance building safety and raise professionalism in the industry.
26.10.8 For instance, section section 8(f)(ii) introduced a new requirement for developers to appoint an Instrumentation Specialist Builder (“ISB”). The scope of the Act also extended to “Underground Building Works” under part II of the Act. Builder’s licensing was introduced. Provisions on existing requirements were also strengthened.
26.10.9 In 2008, the Building Control Regulations and the Building Control (Accredited Checkers and Accredit Checking Organisations) Regulations were similarly amended, and the Building Control (Builders’ Licensing) Regulations were introduced.
26.10.10 These changes are delineated in “A Guidebook to the Changes in Building Control”, published by the Building and Construction Authority.
B. Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2004
(1) Singapore’s Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2004 incorporates most key features of New South Wales’ Act with several differences
26.10.11 In 2005, Parliament introduced the Building and Construction Industry Security for Payment Act 2004 (“SOPA”) in Singapore. The Act is primarily based on the New South Wales Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999 (Act 46 of 1999) (“the NSW Act”). The NSW Act and SOPA have similar structure and purpose, with several important modifications in SOPA taking into account local concerns and circumstances. However, frequent comparison has been made between the NSW Act and SOPA in Parliamentary debates.
(2) Most standard form contracts in use in Singapore have been amended to accommodate the Act; Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Regulations 2005 accompany the Act
26.10.12 SOPA came into operation on 1 April 2005. Since then, most of the standard form contracts in use in Singapore accommodate the provisions of the SOPA. In exercise of the powers conferred by section 41 of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2004, the Minister for National Development has introduced the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Regulations 2005 ("the Regulations") that accompany the Act. Like the parent Act, the Regulations came into operation on 1st April 2005. The Regulations contain, inter alia, requirements that were left by the Act to the Minister to prescribe.
(3) Legislation’s far-impact on practices of construction industry
26.10.13 The legislation has also had far-reaching impact on the practices of the construction industry. For instance, amendments have been made to the Public Sector Standard Conditions of Contract to bring it in line with the legislation.
(4) Primary objective of legislation is to reduce difficulties faced by construction industry
(i) Purpose
26.10.14 The primary objective of the legislation is to redress the difficulties faced by the construction industry in obtaining payment for work done and services rendered. The intention of the legislature is unequivocally to facilitate payment in the construction industry. In that regard, the Act not only categorically affirms the right to payment, it goes further and also provides a mechanism for obtaining payment through the speedy dispute resolution procedure of adjudication. Anticipating that efforts may be made to impede the right to payment, the Act prohibits any attempt to hamper the right to payment with its anti-avoidance provisions.
(ii) Process
(a) Jurisdiction of adjudicator and natural justice
(b) Jurisdiction of adjudicator and validity of payment claim