Dow Jones Publishing Co (Asia) Inc v Attorney General

JudgeLord Ackner
Judgment Date05 October 1989
Neutral Citation[1989] SGPC 3
Subject MatterWhether Constitution prohibits power of legislature to abolish or curtail appeals to Privy Council,Constitutional Law,Appeal to privy council
Date05 October 1989
Published date19 September 2003
Defendant CounselLouis Blom-Cooper (Jaques & Lewis) QC
CourtPrivy Council
Plaintiff CounselSir Godfray Le Quesne (Simon Muirhead & Burton) QC

Cur Adv Vult

On 20 July 1989 their Lordships heard a motion by the Attorney General for Singapore that this petition for special leave to appeal be dismissed for want of jurisdiction. Their Lordships announced their conclusion that they had no jurisdiction to entertain the petition and indicated that they would give their reasons later. This they now do.

The petitioner applied in the High Court of Singapore for two orders of certiorari to quash decisions made by the Minister of Communications and Information relating to the Asian Wall Street Journal.
The applications were dismissed by TS Sinnathuray J [see Re Dow Jones Publishing Co (Asia) Inc`s Application [1988] 2 MLJ 414 ] on 15 May 1988 whose decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in Singapore in a reserved judgment delivered on 1 June 1989 [see Dow Jones Publishing Co (Asia) Inc v A-G [1989] 2 MLJ 385 ]. The petitioner seeks special leave to appeal from that judgment.

The Republic of Singapore is an independent sovereign state and the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to entertain appeals from the Supreme Court of Singapore is purely statutory.
The combined operation of Singapore and United Kingdom legislation has the effect of constituting the Judicial Committee the final Singapore Court of Appeal. Article 100 of the Constitution of Singapore provides:

(1) The President may make arrangements with Her Majesty for reference to the Judicial Committee of Her Britannic Majesty`s Privy Council of appeals from the Supreme Court.

(2) Any appeal under this Article shall be subject to such conditions as to leave or otherwise as may be prescribed by any written law or by or under the enactments regulating the proceedings of the Judicial Committee of Her Britannic Majesty`s Privy Council.

To enable effect to be given in United Kingdom law to arrangements made pursuant to art 100 of the Constitution of Singapore, s 3(1) of the Singapore Act 1966 provides:

Her Majesty may by Order in Council confer on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council such jurisdiction and powers in respect of appeals from ... any ... court having jurisdiction under the laws of Singapore, as appear to Her Majesty to be appropriate for giving effect to any arrangements made in that behalf between Her Majesty`s Government in the United Kingdom and the government of Singapore in accordance with any provisions of those laws.

The Republic of Singapore (Appeals to Judicial Committee) Order 1966 (SI 1966 No 1182) (the 1966 Order in Council), made under s 3 of the Singapore Act of 1966, enables the Judicial Committee to exercise jurisdiction appropriately in terms which mirror and reflect the provisions of the relevant Singapore statute, the Judicial Committee Act (Cap 148).
Section 3 of that Act, in its unamended form, provides:

(1) An appeal shall lie from...

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4 cases
  • Chee Siok Chin and Others v Minister for Home Affairs and Another
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 7 December 2005
    ....... 7          On 7 October 2005, the Attorney-General (“AG”), on behalf of the respondents, filed a ... are limited to the prerogative orders: Re Dow Jones Publishing (Asia) Inc’s Application [1988] SLR 481 . ......
  • Chan Hiang Leng Colin and Others v Minister for Information and the Arts
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 29 February 1996
    ......In Re Application by Dow Jones (Asia) Inc [1988] 1 MLJ 222 , Sinnathuray J held at ... her decision on the fact that the appellants had a general interest, as Jehovah`s Witnesses, in studying the tenets of ...In Dow Jones Publishing Co (Asia) Inc v A-G [1989] 2 MLJ 385 , this court ......
  • Review Publishing Company Ltd v Lee Hsien Loong
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 7 October 2009
    ...... for determining natural and ordinary meaning of words–State of general knowledge of ordinary reasonable person–Whether ordinary reasonable ... No 17550 of 2003 (22 May 2008) (unreported) (refd) Asia Business Forum Pte Ltd v Long Ai Sin [2004] 2 SLR (R) 173; [2004] 2 SLR ... Sahabat (M) Sdn Bhd (No 3) [2005] 5 MLJ 561 (refd) Dow Jones Publishing Co (Asia) Inc v AG [1989] 1 SLR (R) 637; [1989] SLR 70 (refd) ......
  • Aspinden Holdings Ltd v Chief Assessor and Comptroller of Property Tax
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 11 September 2006
    ...... CREEDNZ Inc v Governor-General [1981] 1 NZLR 172 (refd) Dow Jones Publishing Co ... Alor Gajah [1967] 2 MLJ 89; Dow Jones Publishing Co (Asia) Inc v AG [1989] 1 SLR (R) 637). The party attempting to ......
1 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 1993, December 1993
    • 1 December 1993
    ...Bridge of Harwich with his characteristic perspicacity put it in Dow Jones Publishing Co. (Asia) Inc. v. Attorney-General of Singapore[1989] 1 W.L.R. 1308 at 1310, “The Republic of Singapore is an independent sovereign state and the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Counci......

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