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Ask a Lawyer: What’s the biggest employment agreement mistake?

employment agreement mistake

Employment agreements are arguably the most important element in a professional relationship – not only do they lay down key expectations for both parties involved but they also prevent unethical behaviour on either side – if they’re done right.

Unfortunately, crafting a fail-safe employment agreement is a difficult task and employers are often caught out by weak contracts.

Nicolas Tang, managing director of the Farallon Law Corporation, spoke to HRD Asia on how HR can ensure their employment agreements stick.

What’s the biggest mistake you see from employers, and how can they avoid it in future?

“The most common mistake is not having wording which prevents the employee from stealing or copying trade secrets, confidential information and intellectual property,” Tang says, adding that the risks are obvious.

“The employees soon figure out how the business is run,” Tang tells HRD. “Then they copy the whole concept, take all the material, customer lists and supplier lists and establish a competing business.”

It’s a situation that has hit a number of major firms in Singapore, including HTC, BlueScope Steel, and Tempcool. While many companies have launched successful legal claims, Tang says employers have far more weight behind them if they’ve included a confidentiality clause in their employment agreement.

“It is much easier to win a lawsuit for a breach of confidentiality when you have a confidentiality agreement in place,” he says.

His golden advice for employers is to check employment agreements carefully and use different agreements for different levels of employees.


Crowdfunding in Singapore

With the increase in crowdfunding, are there any loopholes in the current charity laws which could lead to abuse?

The Charities Act requires fund raisers to provide accurate information including the name of the charity or the person to which the donation will be given, the purpose for which the donation will be used, and whether any commercial fund raiser has engaged in soliciting funds.

Any information relating to donors must be kept confidential and all information collected must comply with the Personal Data Protection Act of Singapore.

All donations collected by the commercial fund raiser shall be paid in gross directly to the charity or the person and any payment to such fund raiser shall be paid separately by the charity or the person to the fund raiser.

All donations must be used in accordance with the specified intention.

Finally, accounting records must be kept for a period of 5 years.

These are not the only rules which apply to crowdfunding in Singapore.

For a clearer picture, you should engage professional legal advisers to examine and advise you on the specific circumstances of your case.

Facebook and Social Media Defamation in Singapore

Facebook Defamation Singapore

We have recently been engaged by defendants in relation to social media defamation lawsuits commenced in Singapore.

When posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube or on your personal blog, you need to be careful about what you post, especially if your posts are accessible to the general public and have not been made private or restricted to the people that “follow” or “friend” your account.

The Singapore courts will award damages to those who have been defamed by others on the internet, and it is not a defence to say that you did not use your real name or you did not mean to publish the defamatory words.


Here are 6 things you should know about social media defamation:


  • The legal principles relating to Facebook and social media defamation are similar to the rules that relate to normal defamation.


  • Defamation is actionable even if you posted a photo, or commented on a photo or post.


  • When it comes to internet defamation, the defamation may spread outside Singapore if the readers of the defamatory words are located outside Singapore.


  • The time and extent of the publication would affect the amount of damages which the claimant can claim from you.


  • Sharing a defamatory post (for example, by “retweeting” a tweet), can also render you liable for defamation.


  • It is a good defence to a claim for social media defamation if what you said was true, was fair comment on a matter of public interest or was made as a matter of qualified privilege.



What if I’m accused of social media defamation?


  • Stay calm. Winning a defamation case is not easy, especially if not many people saw the defamatory words, and if the defendant engages a good defamation lawyer.


  • You should consider deleting the offending post as soon as possible, to minimise your damages.


  • Avoid direct communication with the claimant or her lawyer, as you may unwisely implicate yourself or aggravate the amount of damages you need to pay to the claimant.


  • If you feel you have a valid defence, then you should consider gathering and consolidating evidence to defend your case, even before you contact a lawyer. Do screen capture, save and time stamp all evidence.


  • Useful evidence would include the date and time of the post, whether the post has been set to public, limited or private, the size and number of followers to the post or the claimant’s feed, whether the post was shared by anyone, and whether the claimant or any other person had responded to the defamatory words, and how they responded.


  • Consider whether the defamatory words were published only in Singapore or had spread overseas, and if so which jurisdictions the words were published in.


  • You should not apologise or admit liability before considering all your legal options, as the apology may allow the claimant to claim unspecified damages against you.


For more information on Defamation, please visit our sister article Defamation in Singapore

Best Top Criminal Lawyer in Singapore

We have frequently been approached by clients, friends and relatives to advise them who is the best criminal lawyer in Singapore.

Well, many of them are no longer practicing law.


K Shanmugam


Subhas Anandan


R Palakrishnan SC


David Marshall


Our Criminal Lawyer Expertise