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Mr Samuel Seow


Samuel Seow (LLB Hons)

Advocate & Solicitor, Singapore
Managing Director, Samuel Seow Law Corporation
Registered Patent Agent, Singapore
Registered Foreign Lawyer, Hong Kong SAR
Foreign Legal Counsel, Seow & Associates
Email: samuelseow@sslawcorp.com


Samuel Seow is the Managing Director of Samuel Seow Law Corporation and is also Foreign Legal Advisor to Seow & Associates.


Samuel’s expertise is in the field of intellectual property law and general commercial and corporate law, and he also has several years of experience in dealing with a wide range of property-related transactions, with a special focus on the application of these laws to the entertainment, arts and media industries. He is a much recognised name in these industries.


His experience includes the following:

  • Acted for a popular singer/songwriter Tanya Chua in a dispute with her music publishers. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, we successfully overturned the decision of the High Court and obtained the declaration that our client had validly terminated her contract with the music publishers due to their failure to properly account for the royalties.
  • Acted for Pacific Rim Industries Inc., the proprietors of the mark “Emilio Valentino”, who faced opposition to their trade mark registration in Singapore by the owners of the “Valentino” mark, who alleged bad faith and similarity of marks. We successfully resisted the opposition at the Registry of Trade Marks and also resisted the appeal at the High Court. Upon appeal to Singapore’s highest court, the Court of Appeal, we were again successful and the Court dismissed the Appellant’s appeal. We had to deal with novel issues of law on the meaning of “bad faith” in the context of a trade mark application.
  • Advising on the contractual and financial aspects of local and international deals and structures.
  • Advising on how best to maximise the value of client’s intellectual property, both locally and globally, particularly in the media, arts and entertainment industries.
  • Advising on areas of copyright, trade mark, design and patent registration and prosecution.
  • Negotiating and resolving contractual and IP-related disputes.
  • Representing a wide range of individuals and businesses in the film, television, music, media and related industries including: film, television and record producers and production houses, web site content providers, multinational advertising agencies, actors, management agencies, television, film and music personalities, film financiers, screenwriters, models, artistes, show hosts as well as both established and developing theatre companies, including representing a regional artiste in a well-publicised contractual dispute in Taiwan and Hong Kong in 2001.
  • Establishing and administering the functions of the Asian Script Repository – Asia’s first copyright registration service – in his capacity as the resident legal counsel for the Screenwriters Association (Singapore).
  • Advising on the use and enforceability of restraint of trade clauses in employment contracts.
  • Representing clients from individual buyers and sellers, to corporations on property-related transactions such as sale and purchases of private and commercial properties, financing and loans.


Related Appointments and Memberships

  • Member of Board, Arts and Cultural Development Fund, National Arts Council
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors and Legal Counsel, Practice Performing Arts Centre Ltd/The Theatre Practice
  • Director and Legal Counsel, The Finger Players Ltd
  • Legal Counsel and Member of Board of Advisors, Zebra Crossing Productions Pte Ltd
  • Chairman of Funding Committee, Singapore International Film Festival Ltd
  • Director and legal Counsel, Dream Forest Productions Pte Ltd
  • Director, O School Ltd


Legal Counsel to, inter alia,

  • Musical Theatre Ltd
  • Toy Factory Productions Pte Ltd
  • Drama Box Ltd
  • STAGES
  • l Theatre Ltd
  • National Book Development Council
  • Emily Hill Enterprise Ltd
  • Asian Film Archive
  • Singapore Street Festival Ltd
  • Electric Youth Company Ltd
  • CHEC Ltd / O School
  • Citycare Ltd
  • Kids On Stage Ltd
  • Midas Promotions Pte Ltd
  • LAMC Productions Private Ltd
  • Exclusive Marketing Resources Pte Ltd
  • Resorts World at Sentosa Pte Ltd
  • Miss Earth Singapore Pte Ltd
  • Big Communications Pte Ltd
  • Imagine Omnimedia Pte Ltd
  • Asian Food Channel Pte Ltd
  • Sony Entertainment Television Ltd, India
  • Funkie Monkies Productions Pte Ltd
  • Monsoon Pictures Pte Ltd
  • Revelation Channel Pte Ltd
  • ION Orchard
  • Ascendas Pte Ltd
  • ILUMA
  • Sinema Academy of Motion Pictures Ltd
  • Tinsel Management Pte Ltd
  • All About Entertainment Pte Ltd
  • Kelvin Sng Productions Private Limited
  • Olivia Ong
  • Tanya Chua
  • Shawn Chen
  • Maia Lee


Speaking engagements and Publications

  • Speaking at seminars and conducting courses on the subjects of Intellectual Property as well as Entertainment, Arts and Media laws, including the practical aspects of these industries, giving insight on both legal and commercial know-how.
  • Addressing audiences at the invitation of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore; the Media Development Authority of Singapore; the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts; the National Arts Council; Singapore Polytechnic; Ngee Ann Polytechnic; Nanyang Polytechnic; the Screenwriters Association (Singapore); the Association of Singapore Actors; and Machinimasia, the Asian Chapter of the Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences.
  • Adjunct lecturer on Arts Law for graduating students of La-Salle SIA College for the Arts.
  • Conducting courses on intellectual property rights in the media industry for the IP Academy of Singapore.
  • Co-authoring the volume on Joint Ventures published by Butterworths in the series of Singapore Precedents and Forms.
  • Contributing to the Legal Digest published by Martindale-Hubbel.
  • Contributing to “Singapore: The Encyclopaedia” by authoring the sections on the development of intellectual property laws in Singapore.
  • Arthur of “Brief Copyright Guide for Photographers”, published by the Professional Photographers Association (Singapore).


Other Achievements

  • Listed as a “Leading Individual” in the legal industry by the Asia Pacific Legal 500.
  • Listed as a “Mover and Shaker” in Asian Legal Business


Experts Question and Answers Column

Let our esteemed experts enlighten and advise you on your life issues! Simply email your name, age, question to experts@being-woman.com.sg for us to forward to the relevant expert.

Please allow us to share your question & our experts’ advice online. With a pseudonym, should you want to remain anonymous. You may like to request to stay anonymous in your email.



Question by Mabel* dated on 5th May 2013

Dear Mr Samuel Seow

My brother and I bought a HDB flat together with our mum many years back. 3 of us are flat owners (no occupiers). The housing loan is fully paid up now.

Due to some family differences, my mum decided to buy a HDB studio apartment and stay on her own. On the other hand, I am married but did not withdraw my ownership from the HDB flat as I do not intend to buy a new flat with my husband in the near future.

I understand that if my mum buys a studio apartment, she would need to withdraw her name from the jointly owned HDB flat. Our concern is that should she withdraw her name and move out now, my brother may not honour his promise to return her share of the capital and profit when the HDB flat is ultimately sold. (she paid her share using cash).

How can she protect herself legally?

Grateful if we could have your professional advice.

Thank you.

 

Regards

Mabel*

*Names have been changed to protect identities.



Mr Samuel Seow’s reply :

Dear Mabel,

Hope this email finds you well. We apologize for the delay in this email, as Mr Samuel Seow was away earlier.

Please see his advice as follows:

In response, we set forth below, our preliminary advice.

We confirm that the salient facts in relation to G’s situation are as follows:

- G bought an HDB apartment unit (the “Flat”) with her mother and brother; all three of them are ‘owners’ of the Flat;

- G’s mother now wishes to withdraw from the Flat as an owner in order to purchase her own studio apartment from the HDB; and

- She wants to a share of proceeds (that is commensurate with her contribution when the Flat was first purchased) in the event that the Flat is sold.

In the premises, it will be necessary to determine the form of ownership over which all three of them have in respect of the Flat. Property ownership in Singapore can take two main forms, joint tenancy or tenants-in-common. Joint tenancy is a form of ownership in which the exact ‘share’ of an individual’s ownership in the property is undefined – this form of ownership is more common amongst married couples. Tenants-in-common on the other hand are able to define their exact ‘share’ of ownership in the property and that makes any possible disposition of interest in the property easier as that disposition can be easily quantified in relation to the proportion of ownership.

In the event that the Flat is held by all three of them as joint tenants, G’s mother will have to take steps to sever the joint tenancy such that she will then own the Flat as tenants in common as between herself and the other two owners of the Flat (G’s mother’s severance of a joint tenancy in relation to the Flat in no way affects G’s form of ownership in the Flatvis-à-vis her brother). Such an application will have to be made to the HDB by G’s mother personally.

Once the Flat is owned by G’s mother as a tenant-in-common, her mother can choose to then choose to dispose of her share (ownership) in the Flat. As G indicated that her mother wishes take a cut of the proceeds in the event of a sale of the Flat, we advise that she can either:

(a)   Sell her share of the Flat to G and/or her brother for a sum of money of her choosing immediately; or

(b)   Transfer her share in the Flat to either G or her brother by way of an agreement in consideration for a payment of a portion of the sale proceeds (equal to the amount of money she invested when the Flat was first purchased) when the Flat is sold.

Please note also, the provisions of sections 6(d) and 7(1) of the Civil Law Act (Cap 43; Rev Ed 1999) (the “CL Act”) which provide: 

Contracts which must be evidenced in writing

6 No action shall be brought against —

(d) any person upon any contract for the sale or other disposition of immovable property, or any interest in such property;

unless the promise or agreement upon which such action is brought, or some memorandum or note thereof, is in writing and signed by the party to be charged therewith or some other person lawfully authorized by him.

Trusts respecting immovable property and disposition of equitable interest

7(1) A declaration of trust respecting any immovable property or any interest in such property must be manifested and proved by some writing signed by some person who is able to declare such trust or by his will.

In the premises, any agreement in relation to the any agreement and/or arrangement in relation to the Flat will have to be evidenced in writing pursuant to the CL Act.

We trust the foregoing clarifies. Please do not hesitate to contact us should G’s mother wish to convey her share of the Flat to either G or her brother as we will be able to fully assist in both options.

We look forward to being of service.



Question by Christine* dated on 13th February 2012

Dear Sir

My brother and I are co-owners of a HDB flat since 2000. I got married in Oct 2011.
Must i transfer the ownership of the HDB flat to my brother (who is above 35 years old) within 6 months from the date of marriage?

If this is so, and I am planning to annul my marriage, can I apply to HDB to hold the transfer pending the annulment?

Appreciate your advice. Thank you.

Regards
Christine*

*Names have been changed to protect identities.



Mr Samuel Seow’s reply :


Dear Christine*

Many thanks for your enquiry.

There is no requirement that you have to transfer the ownership of the flat to your brother simply because you are married.

the However, if you and your spouse are in the process of/have purchased a HDB flat, you must dispose of your current ownership six months before taking possesion of the new flat, as you can own only one HDB flat at a time. You may do this by transferring the ownership of the flat to any blood relatives (this includes your brother) as long as they satisfy the following conditions:-

  1. Is above the age of 21;
  2. Either a Singaporean citizen or PR (note: for subsidised flats, there must be at least one Singaporean citizen); and
  3. If he is an existing private residential property owner,
    (a)   you must have satisfied the Minimum Occupation Period (i.e. lived in the flat for 5 years) and
    (b)   he intends to live in the flat after the transfer.

If, however, you intend to purchase a private residential property instead, you can retain ownership of the flat as long as you have satisfied the Minumum Occupation Period of 5 years in your HDB flat. 

You may be able to request for HDB to hold the transfer but this will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Please also note that if you and your spouse are intending to purchase a HDB flat, there might be some difficulty in either of you retaining ownership if the marriage is annulled eventually.

In HDB will only allow the flat to be retained by the party whose parents are orriginally listed in the application to buy the HDB flat. Alternatively, if you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement regarding the division of ownership rights, you may instruct a solicitor to submit an "Agreed Matrimonial Property" Plan or "Standard Query" form to the HDB and Central Provident Fund Board, who will consider your eligibility to retain the flat. if either of you are found to be ineligible to retain the flat, the flat may be returned to HDB at the prevailing compensation price, subject to HDB's approval.




Question by Jaime* dated on 19th September 2011

Dear Sir

I am a Singapore PR working in Singapore. I bought a HDB flat with my brother (under PR sibling scheme) about 2 years ago.

I planned to get married next year & to buy a flat with my Singaporean boyfriend.
Since I already owned a flat, I am not allowed to buy another flat.

Is there any way for me to buy a flat in Singapore?
Or can I transfer my flat ownership to other person so that I can buy another flat?
Please advice. Thank you.

Regards
Jaime*
*Names have been changed to protect identities.


Mr Samuel Seow’s reply :

“Dear Jaime*
Many thanks for your enquiry.

Under the PR Sibling scheme, the following minimum occupation period has to be met before a disposal in respect of the flat may be made :

  1. Application before 5 March 2010 - 1 year;
  2. Application after 5 March 2010 and before 30 August 2011 - 3 years;
  3. Application after 30 August 2011 - 5 years.

For verification, please bring your identity to the HDB Branch Office to check or using your Sing Pass to login in to HDB website to check the minimum period.

If there is a bank loan in respect of the flat, you cannot simply withdraw your name as a owner of flat and you will have to sell your share to the brother which remains subject to HDB approval and other regulations.

In any event, if you wish to transfer your shares in the HDB flat to your brother, your brother has to meet certain eligibility requirements, such as:

  1. He must hold Singapore citizenship at the time of transfer
  2. He must be of the age of 35 years

If both siblings are currently holding only permanent residency of Singapore, they can explore the following two options:

  1. The brother can opt to sell his shares in the HDB flat to the future husband; or
  2. The siblings have to dispose/sell the HDB flat because both of them are currently holding only permanent residency of Singapore, and a permanent resident of Singapore cannot transfer his/her shares in the HDB flat to another permanent resident of Singapore.

With regard to purchasing a flat with your future husband, we would highlight the following for your information:

  1. For brand new flats, you can apply now with prospective future husband, and before collection of keys , you have to dispose/sell your current HDB flat within the six months window; or
  2. For resale flats, you have to dispose/sell your current HDB flat before you can buy the resale flats

Question by Celine* dated on 28th October 2010

Dear Sir

I signed a contract with a preschool for a year and as a company's rule, all staff had to undergo a 6 weeks training.  it is stated in the contract that the effective date of the contract commencement should be after the training.  That means the contract will run for 12 mths + 6 weeks.  There is also a clause stating that all resignations notice will commence after the end of the contract.

To digest all these, it means simply that I have to work for 12 mths + 6 weeks and then submit a 3 mths notice after that.  Is all this legal?  I know I've signed the contract but this seems unfair to the employee.  Please enlighten me on this.

Thanks and regards
Celine*
*Names have been changed to protect identities.


Mr Samuel Seow’s reply :

“Dear Celine*
Many thanks for your enquiry.

By way of background, it may be of interest to you to know that the legal system in Singapore is based on the English common law system and under the common law system the notion of freedom of contract generally prevails.  “Freedom of contract” essentially means the freedom of a party to enter into a contract if he/she so chooses to and on the specific terms which he/she may consider advantageous to his/her interests.  Therefore, if parties are to enter into a contract in Singapore, the rights and obligations of each of the parties would generally depend on the terms and conditions of the particular contract. 

Of course, there are statutory exceptions in Singapore which may protect certain individuals who have entered into contracts which may be unfair or disadvantageous to them.  An example of which is the Employment Act of Singapore, which provides that in the event any terms and conditions negotiated under an employment contract is less favourable than the relevant statutory provision(s) under the Employment Act, the employment contract will be deemed illegal, null and void.  The Employment Act covers every employee (regardless of nationality) who is under a contract of service with an employer, except for any person employed in a managerial or executive position, seaman, domestic worker or any person employed by a Statutory Board or the Government. 

However, from the facts you have provided us, it appears that you may have signed a contract for services instead of an employment contract.  For your information, a contract for services is an agreement whereby a party is engaged as an independent contractor, such as a self-employed person or vendor engaged for a service fee to carry out an assignment/project for a specified term. Under a contract for services, the party engaged to provide such a service is not covered under the Employment Act and thus the notion of “freedom of contract” would generally apply.  If this is the case, you will be bound by the terms and conditions of the contract which you have signed and you will be bound to serve termination notice only after the moratorium period provided in your contract, i.e. after 12 months and 6 weeks from the beginning of your training.   

As it is unclear which type of contract you may have signed, we would recommend that you contact us directly and let us have a copy of your contract in order for us to better advise you of your rights in relation to terminating your particular contract. We trust the above is helpful.”