Singapore Shipping Laws

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Singapore: An Overview of Shipping Law

Singapore is today one of the busiest ports in the world. With more than 130,000 vessels calling at the port of Singapore annually, it acts as a maritime gateway to Asia. Backed by good infrastructure and governmental support, it is also home to more than 150 of the world’s top international shipping groups. The importance of the maritime industry to Singapore, and to the rest of the world, has led to a modern, sophisticated and constantly evolving legal framework.

Singapore law has developed in line with the country’s growth as a maritime hub, in terms of both modernity and speed. As a former British colony, Singapore inherited the English common law tradition. Although Singapore courts have built on the foundations of English maritime law (both statutes and common law), it has gone on to develop common law legal principles shaped to suit the needs of a modern free-trade port.

Today, Singapore court judgments are even referred to in other jurisdictions.

“This is a most valuable judgment, both for its depth of analysis and the width of its comparative law survey.” - The English Court of Appeal in The Alkyon [2018] EWCA Civ 2760 commenting on the judgment of the Singapore Court of Appeal delivered by Rajah JA in The Vasiliy Golovnin [2008] SGCA 39

The Singapore Academy of Law has produced a booklet entitled “Singapore: An Overview of Shipping Law”. In this booklet, you will find an overview of the Singapore legal system and summaries of some of the more significant Singapore laws and court decisions relevant to the maritime and trading industries.

This booklet is not intended to be a substitute for taking legal advice from a Singapore law practitioner.


These booklets are produced under the auspices of the Promotion of Singapore Law Committee of the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL). 

SAL would like to acknowledge the following contributors:

Corina Song
Allen & Gledhill LLP

Chen Zhida
Helmsman LLC

Eugene Cheng
West of England Insurance Services (Luxembourg) S.A.
NUS Centre for Maritime Law

Magdalene Chew
AsiaLegal LLC

Tan Hui Tsing
Gurbani & Co LLC

With special thanks to Loh Wai Yue and his team from Incisive Law LLC for translating the booklet into Chinese.


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